Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hack, hack

I have a cold.

I'm still as busy as a beaver. I just feel like crud while doing it.

At least I'm not feverish and delirious like on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oh yeah, my blog!

I was abducted by aliens and they told me that they couldn't allow me to use the internet because their router password was too long for my laptop to handle.  Sorry you had to wait.

So we had the long weekend there and while my friends to the east simply dug out of the snow, we here at Casa de Collier got down and dirty with our funky funky garage.  Sexy, eh?  We got all Medieval on it and stuff.

Number one -- Clear out a bunch of stuff from the "up top" which is really just a gigantic 6 foot by 20 foot shelf.  Science knows why we had all that crap.  Now, less crap.

Number two -- One 4X8 foot piece of pegboard.  Want it?

Number C -- Cabinet that had got wet in the flood, and was now moldy.  In its defence (Yeah, that's the UK spelling.  You gotta problem with that?) it was kinda old and made of particleboard.  We never really liked it.  I sawed it into bits and we took all the mops, brooms, vacuums, and plant food items and set them aside while I constructed...

THE FLAMING STEP OF THE CALIGARI!  Actually just a wee platform that is, if I take Amy's word for it, "pretty awesome".  Here is a fantastic COLOR picture.

Several times, I just went out there to look at it.  Seriously.

Just your basic 2X4 framing shimmed up level at each of ten joints (with different thicknesses to match the floor), glued in place with fancy schmancy construction adhesive, topped with 1-1/4 plywood (awesomely heavy in a 4X8 sheet), graced with premium 99 cent peel-n-stick tiles and finished off with aluminum stair nosing and painted trim boards.  I even painted the base frame.  This step will outlive me.  This makes me happy.

But wait, there's MOAR!

The (friggin) fluorescent lights in the garage USED TO buzz and flicker like a broken overhead warning sign in a post-apocalyptic movie scene.  No longer.  With the advent of $20 fixtures to replace the crappy four year old $14 fixtures, instant, bright, silent light, holy light bathes our laundry equipment and assortment of stuff.  These new fixtures actually have a very nice efficient electronic ballast.  It's almost like being the ruler of Narnia just stepping out there.

Oh yeah, I'm as busy as a one legged man in a butt kicking contest at work.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


So about two years ago I started dreaming (almost literally) of a big revision to the instrument product that we crank out at the workplace there.  This was not going to be a change for the performance enhancement of the system, or for cutting the cost in half, but it was going to be a huge boon to the worker needing to make one of the things, and it would make it less likely to just crap out all of the sudden.

So for two years I've waited.  About a year and a half ago, we were coming out with our slick new product which is a best seller and makes us a lot of bucks.  At *that* point I was sure we could come up with a MUCH better design for this part of the product.  Alas, the design that was delivered was - in my professional opinion - WORSE than the crappy original part.  I wasted no time in telling my colleagues that this new design was "not manufacturable".  For my trouble, I was told I hurt their feelings.  Literally.  In those words.

Now mind you, it is my job to know whether something is manufacturable, having been hired to use my three decades of manufacturing experience to aid in this assessment.  The organization nominally depends on me to assist the design people to make this assessment, and to guide their work to achieve more manufacturable designs.  My friend Charles W used to refer to me as "the Dennis Miller of manufacturability" based on my zeal and attention to detail in the endeavor.

It was hard to put into words how deeply offensive this "design" was.  The current (very bright and clever) electronics design fellow remarked that it was difficult for him to simply take one apart, and that he was ecstatic to find out that someone else would build the one that he was to work with.

So tomorrow we will be "releasing" the replacement design.  Releasing is essentially publishing the documents that describe the complete design that you will be building.  It allows us to start buying parts.  The new design, with no small inspiration or input from me, will cost far less, take 1/8th the time to build, and be more robust than the three designs it is replacing.  Additionally (my idea, BTW) it will work for all of the products in this format, not just one.

Given our actual level of sophistication two years ago, we couldn't have made this product then.  In a sense I glad we waited, or rather, had to wait.  I know it's a goofy thing to get excited about but I'm really very delighted and expectant about this.  The project to get it into all three products and to get them all re-certified and to have everything done on time is one of the most complicated coordination projects we've attempted.  On the manufacturing side, it is all up to me to make it all work out.  I'm really enjoying the project.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Close to my heart

That would be my left lung. :-) And good friends.

Yesterday we paddled upstream to Rocklin to get our straight Renaissance dance on with our friends Kat and Mark and Joel and their respective guildmates.  For those of you who do not speak jive and renfaire, we drove to Rocklin (2-1/2 hours + 50 minutes for a very bad freeway delay from an accident), and taught two 90-minute dance classes to people in two affiliated Renaissance Faire guilds.  We had a great time teaching and visiting too.  We declined the offer to crash there and paddled back downstream (that would be following the Sacramento River back to the Bay Area) (faster, no traffic and no accident) and crashed in our own bed.  Nice.

Last week was hectic at work.  Two large simultaneous projects coming up; building a new 1600sf manufacturing area in an unused section of the suite we are in, and the re-introduction of our four most popular products with majorly revised guts.  I'll be super busy busy for the next eight weeks or so.