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Total (hip) recall

September 1, 2010

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Last week I wrote about a problem I encountered when trying to get my eyeglasses repaired — the lenses would not fit the identical replacement frames, because these frames are made in China, and each batch is different. This is just one example of the enormous quality issue surrounding...

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Consequences of a non-neutral Internet

August 31, 2010

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In recent weeks the Net neutrality debate took a turn--in what direction? Well, we’re not sure yet. Google, aka the “Don’t be Evil” corporation, came out and said network providers should follow Net neutrality, but only to a point. If Internet service providers (ISPs) need to muck with...

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Fabricators saw the end of management before the gurus

August 26, 2010

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Nothing gets the attention of a reader better than a headline that declares the death of something. For example, Wired's story "The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet" has generated all sorts of discussion as people debate whether apps, such as iTunes and Facebook, will continue to grow in...

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Inventory, cash, quarters, and economic growth

August 26, 2010

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If you work at a Chicagoland shop and need to drive downtown, bring a few extra quarters for parking. According to a recent BusinessWeek article, the Windy City’s government received $1.15 billion from a deal with Morgan Stanley, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and Allianz Capital Partners. In...

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How great a sacrifice?

August 24, 2010

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The world watches, the rescuers drill, and the 33 miners wait. The miners are alive, but the conditions are grim. They’re trapped 2,300 feet underground and have taken refuge in a shelter that measures about 525 sq. ft., which means each person gets an area that measures about 3 by 3 ft. The...

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Seeing red

August 23, 2010

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It was a simple task, or so I thought. One of the temples on my favorite pair of eyeglasses — the pair with the Transitions® lenses that are perfect for reading outdoors — broke. I really like the original frames that were less than two-years-old — an inexpensive, yet stylish design from the...

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From Russia, with copters

August 20, 2010

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We get our share of press releases from government offices. You'll be happy to know that all of them are via e-mail. No trees were harmed in the process of distributing this bureaucratic blather. A recent note from Congressman Don Manzullo, R-Ill., stood out, however. A representative of northern...

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How metal fabricators interact with customers

August 17, 2010

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Over the past year I’ve talked to various metal fabricators, from low-volume job shops to specialized manufacturers, and I’ve noticed one thread common to all of them: They’re all high-mix, short-run environments. Volumes vary; some companies process a greater number of short-run jobs than...

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This welding news will get you fuming

August 13, 2010

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Most metal fabricators were aware that welding fume control equipment had to be in place as of May 31 of this year in order to meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's hexavalent chromium [CR(VI)] standard. While not pleased that they may have been forced to...

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Dumpster swimming

August 11, 2010

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Four years ago I wrote a blog post about turning large shipping containers into homes. I found the concept, process, and results fascinating. That post is no longer available, and the links it contained are no longer active — the Web moves on — but the topic of the post, cargotecture, is very...

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Green evolution

August 6, 2010

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I read Vicki Bell’s blog on green job opportunities and, frankly, wasn’t all that surprised to learn that this is still a small niche. While it’s encouraging that green awareness has taken hold and green jobs are out there, it’s a little disheartening that it has taken this long....

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Largest change in our economy since the industrial revolution?

August 4, 2010

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Is there a day that goes by that some politician somewhere doesn't mention green jobs as a possible lifeline for the economy? If not the national economy, maybe a state's or city's? Many politicians are touting and campaigning on green job creation. I was reminded of this by an item on WCCO, St....

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The world needs customers

August 2, 2010

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“What the world lacks is willing customers, not willing workers.” That statement in this week’s The Economist magazine may be one of the most insightful among all the worried economic chatter in the media these days. The magazine’s cover story this week covers the woes of the Chinese...

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Is it time for the small-business initiative?

July 29, 2010

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A small-business initiative working its way through Congress has been making headlines lately. It has the potential to provide $30 billion in new capital for community banks, which would use it as a foundation for lending to small and medium-sized businesses. Whether lawmakers will pass the bill is...

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Time's a wastin

July 28, 2010

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As noted in a speech by John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers — posted on YouTube July 26 — NAM appreciates the fact that the House is spending the last week of July talking about the manufacturing economy, "but it's not enough … it's simply not enough."...

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