Newsletter Issue # 12

Real Time Automation's - Best Darn Newsletter 


IN THIS ISSUE
If You Can Believe There's a Poem in my Industrial Automation Newsletter...
Once Upon a Time, in XML Land...
Fun Facts and Trivia


STEAL OF THE MONTH...
Get a free RTA whoopie cushion this month only!

Email your name and address to: jladd@rta- automation.com by June 7th to claim your steal of the month.


SIDE BLOGS
4/26/13
EtherNet TCP/IP Stacks Part 3
4/25/13
EtherNet TCP/IP Stacks Part 2
4/23/13
EtherNet TCP/IP Stacks
4/17/13
ControlLogix to Profinet
3/28/13
Suspicion
3/14/13
SLC 5/05 Networked Connections

 

YOUNG GUN AUTOMATION INSERT - Practical tips and information for young engineers.

 

NEW!!!

We're constantly working on new, exciting projects. Click here to see what's new!

 




If You Can Believe There's a Poem in my Industrial Automation Newsletter...


A Column of personal opinion by John Rinaldi, Founder and Owner of Real Time Automation.

As you faithful readers know I am on a quest to teach my grandson Christopher (14 yrs old) what it means to be a man. Well, at the PTO event in Austin I had a nice conversation with Will Healy from Balluff on Christopher and raising children. I mentioned that I had memorized the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. Will had never heard of it so I thought there might be others out there not exposed to this magnificent work of literature. It says so much about the kind of men we should be, the kind of qualities we should strive for, and how we should conduct ourselves.

Here’s this first stanza.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

This stanza is all about being a patient, calm, cool and collected man who can handle negative people and stressful situations. A successful man understands that others will get agitated, will dislike him, will try to find ways to aggravate him, but yet he doesn’t let it affect him or his mission in life.

The second stanza is more about a mind set and approach to life. I love this stanza.

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

A man must have dreams. A man must think, and not just think but TAKE ACTION. He doesn’t get too elated when things go well or dejected when they don’t. He meets success and failure with equanimity. And most importantly, if everything he strives for is lost, he’ll start again with worn out tools. How cool is that?

The third stanza is about risk taking and perseverance.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

The key point here is that a man is a risk taker. I don’t agree about risking everything but taking a measured risk is important. And when you lose, NO WHINING. Men don’t whine. The last half of the stanza troubled me for a long time. I think he is talking about building a legacy. Establishing something; a business, a club, raising children. Something that will live on long after you.

The next stanza summarizes it all.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

He ends the poem by encouraging men to be virtuous, humble and resilient. The line about sixty seconds of distance run is especially significant to me. I’ve seen a number of good men leave this life much too early. They had a very short, unforgiving minute.

And in the end, if you have the patience, equanimity, resilience, perseverance and everything else he’s described, then and only then will you be a man my son.

What a great message to send to Christopher and the other sons and grandsons. I’ve talked through this poem with Chris, and for his birthday I’m having it framed with a picture of the two of us and a few special words from me. I’d encourage all of you fathers and grandfathers to do the same. It’s a great message and a lasting memory you can give to a special young man.

 

Trivia Challenge

· Pears, apples, cherries, plums, apricots, and peaches are all related to what type of flower?

· Which person hosted almost 300 NBC TV specials, but no regular series, over the course of his career?

· What does the Mexican holiday "Cinco de Mayo" celebrate?

· What is the largest instrument in the string section of an orchestra?

· How many gallons of fresh water can one gallon of used motor oil ruin?

 

 

Answers located on bottom of page.



Once Upon a Time, in XML Land...

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (IBM land) there was a handsome prince and a beautiful fairy princess.

OK, actually there weren’t any handsome princes. Just a bunch of guys with starched white shirts, skinny dark ties and blue suits. And even more depressing there weren’t any fairy princesses. June Cleaver and all the other would-be fairy princesses were home, adorned in pearls and dresses, waiting for the men to return from IBM land.

And what had those heroes been doing with their days in IBM land? One of the important struggles of those days was moving information from place to place; from one computer to another. But when one computer was radically different than another, it was really difficult.

For example, some computers of the day stored their integers with low order byte first and high order byte second. In those systems 01 02 meant 513 (1x1 + 2x256). Others did it the opposite way. In those systems 01 02 yielded 258 (1x256 + 2x1). To make matters more confusing, there were unique data types and different data formats.

How in the world do we move data from one of these systems to another, the men asked?

The answer in 1963 was to standardize the data by encoding all data in the seven bit codes called ASCII – the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Then there was at least a common way of sending data that could be understood from one machine to another. 256 could be sent as 3 characters, a 2, a 5 and a 6. And that helped for a while.

As you can imagine that was insufficient. In 1996 a group chaired by Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems proposed a new mechanism for transferring data; XML or eXtensible Markup Language.

XML became the language of choice for transferring data between two computers, be they a PC, a temperature controller, a programmable controller or an industrial drive. XML was revolutionary as it had the unique ability to transfer data and data descriptions in a format that is hardware independent, software independent, extensible and readable by any other system. Let’s look at a factory floor example to see some of the shortcomings the XML helped us overcome.

Imagine you have a weigh scale at the end of your production line. The weight delivered by this scale is important for your control system as it needs to reject under and overweight packages. It is important to your logistics systems as they need to load that package into a truck and it is important to your production control computer that needs to record how much is produced this hour, day, week and month. There are a lot of uses for this data.

As is typical for systems of this type, the weigh scale delivers a string of bytes in some format every time it completes a weighing operation. There might be a header and trailer that allow you to identify the start and end of the packet but you still have some questions. How exactly are the bytes formatted? Which bytes are the gross weight? Which are the Tare weight? And so on? Do these bytes have the actual weight or are they scaled? Are they in some kind of floating point format? Once you learn more about the data format you could program a system to receive those bytes but what happens if they add a byte somewhere?

If you expand this thought to the hundreds of factory floor devices each containing their own data encoded in their own special format, you get an idea of the problem XML is designed to solve. Using XML, a device transmits a text data file that not only contains the data but carries descriptions of the data as well.

Here is what an equivalent XML file might look like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" ?>
- <Scale_Data>
http://www.rtaautomation.com/images/spacer.gif<from>Company XYZ Scales</from>
http://www.rtaautomation.com/images/spacer.gif<SrcAddr>15</SrcAddr>
http://www.rtaautomation.com/images/spacer.gif<LbsWeight>152.751</LbsWeight>
http://www.rtaautomation.com/images/spacer.gif<GmsWeight>69286.69</GmsWeight>
http://www.rtaautomation.com/images/spacer.gif<LbsWeight100>1.52751</LbsWeight100>
http://www.rtaautomation.com/images/spacer.gif<GmsWeight100>692.8669</GmsWeight100>
http://www.rtaautomation.com/images/spacer.gif<IOPoints>00001011</IOPoints>
</Scale_Data>

The XML data file is superior to the traditional data packet in a number of different ways:

1. The XML data file is completely hardware independent.

2. The XML data file is completely software independent. Any IT program, PLC program, basic program, or the like can read it, find the appropriate tags and extract the data.

3. An XML file is human readable and can be directly displayed by most current browser editions.

4. Data in XML files is extremely extensible. New data can be added at any time. As long as the current descriptors, known as “tags,” are not changed, the receiving software can continue to extract the data it needs no matter how much the rest of the data file has changed.

5. XML data is fixed format. All data is ASCII format and can be easily manipulated into the native binary format of the receiver.

The syntax of XML files is very straightforward and clear. The first line is a declaration describing the XML version number which validates the file. The next line is the root element. The root is the parent element for all the other elements in the file. You will notice that every element including the root has a start tag of the form “<tagname>” and an end tag of the form “</tagname>”. Data is contained between the start and end tags.

XML is not good for high speed, dedicated control applications. These applications require a small number of bytes delivered in real time. XML applications are applications where data needs to be delivered to widely different and disparate and sometimes, unknown destinations in a common, well-understood format.

And because of XML, the guys in the white shirts and would be fairy princesses lived happily ever after.

 

 

 

Fun Facts

·Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a “Friday the 13th.”

·Recycling aluminum results in 95% less air pollution and 97% less water pollution than producing aluminum from natural resources.

·The total weight of skin in an average adult human is 6 lb.(2.7 kg).

·The tiny droplets of water that make up fog are so small that it would take seven thousand million of them to make a single tablespoon full of water.

·Standard time zones were created and adopted in the 1800's because of the railway companies.

 

 

  Trivia Answers: Rose; Bob Hope;The Battle of Puebla that took place between the Mexicans and the French in 1862; Bass Violin; One million gallons
   
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