Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy Holidays, and I hope 2010 treats you better than the last. Heck, I hope the next DECADE treats you better than the last.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

JMP 8.0

I upgraded to JMP 8.0 this fall, and it's great.

I'm in danger of being redundant, since I've mentioned this software package FOUR separate times over the past couple years: here and here in 2007, briefly in 2008, and again this past summer. But I've used the software regularly since 2005 for data analysis and presentation material. I really like it.

Anyway, I wanted to give props to SAS for the latest version of JMP. There are a few big things they added (I liked the animated graphs) and several smaller additions, but the best feature for me has been the graph builder. In the past when I was trying to see a trend in data I would graph some things as linear plots, try them as contour plots, maybe add histograms. In other words, I would play around with it.

Graph builder sort of automates that process. You can interactively add data to the x-axis, multiple sets of data to the y-axis, separate plots with the same x-axis, separate sets of data on the same plot, etc. If you don't like what you see, remove a set of data, or graph it differently. It's helped me out with two specific problems already, which makes it worthwhile in time savings alone.

I don't work for SAS, I don't get any compensation from them. I just really like the software.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Instrumentation Finder website

There's a relatively new website called Instrumentation Finder. To quote from their intro page:

This site aims to provide a one stop shop for any and all Instrumentation requirements whilst providing all users with the option to source equipment from overseas suppliers outside their normal purchasing reach.

I've tried it out some and it is a) heavily biased towards UK and Europe suppliers (they say that is changing), and b) still a work in progress. But I certainly like the idea of a website specifically for finding instrumentation manufacturers and their products.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

FIRST robotics

I posted over a year ago about FIRST Lego League and how my oldest son liked it. Well, now my second son is in middle school and decided to join the robotics club as well. They had their regional competition a few weeks ago and just barely missed the cutoff for the state championship.

He was disappointed about it, but I know he had a lot of fun. From an engineering point of view, I thought the best part was the night before the regional competition. I stopped by for the last half hour of their planning session and got to see them toss ideas back and forth, debug code, and try out different ideas for solving a tough challenge. In other words, it was a lot like a group of engineers solving a problem. Cool.