Test Information Space

Journal of Tech, Testing and Trends


Posted by cadsmith on June 12, 2010


Seeming contradictions are grist for the engineering mill.  While hints of future issues raise the value of cooperation, vested domains attempt to defend their turf, especially the big budget items. Drama is usually followed by system reorganization, at lesser durations between phases. There are various models for the dynamics, including networking, and these are being shaken out by new entrants. Artifacts tell the story of their environment and culture.

Recent links (about 15): test: usability, cross-browser, debug: lldb, internet of things: Cape Cod, computation: astronomyeducation: computers and data mining, sustainability: contest, population and consumption, art: Sculptris, cognitive: Pinker on mass media.

Book reviews:

How It Ends: From You To the Universe, Chris Impey, 2010

Science doesn’t end in this one, rather it evolves to handle complexity. It is assumed that a general theory of intelligence will be forthcoming. In the meantime, the author seeks to debunk myths, but observes that endings create meaning, and that stories, in addition to facts, are important. Practical limits are respected where known, but measurement of the end depends upon the tool; and adjusting the threshold changes results. The view is systemic. The set of twelve chapters begin from individual perspective and scale up. Each has an introduction that encapsulates the general idea in a scene or person. There are plenty of diagrams and photographs which illustrate the instances, terms, relationships or conclusion. Many of the human fears of impact result in fractional loss of numbers and regression of civilization, but not extinction. This book covers a lot of current thought, e.g. transhumanism, and names or quotes the signature personalities. Much of life is shown as part of a web. Bacteria can survive space and entry to the atmosphere. It is likely that there are other forms of life in the universe or the multiverse. An extensive glossary, notes and reading list are appended.
Incidentally, this does not cover Aubrey de Grey’s theory of regenerative medicine and longevity.

Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology, editors Domenico Grasso and Melody Brown Burkins, 2010

Design is a common topic across nineteen papers by thirty authors in three countries (US, China, Peru) including thirteen states (mostly CA, MA and VA). This is due to the attribute of creativity as part of technology. (It may also overlap educational rivalries between scientific evolution and intelligent design.) The projected shortage of engineers has sharpened interest in improving education, from early through undergrad to faculty. There is an established history that can be improved upon as practice and standards become global. An emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration has several elements such as changes in segmentation from, for example, electrical/mechanical/industrial, proposed curriculums, ethical values, and study abroad. A set of recommended personal values includes analysis, translation and perception. Skills of interest include asking, labeling, modeling, decomposing, gathering, visualizing, and communicating. A case study is shown for the global positioning system highlighting systems design, and technical and business leadership. Holistic contexts include system, strategic, implementation and stakeholder. Cultural approaches reinforce unity of effort. Engineering is eligible to become a guild, like the learned professions for medical, legal, and accounting. Most chapters have conclusions and suggested readings. Sustainability issues are often reported in the news.
Experienced engineers probably have many stories about what could be changed in education and practice and professional societies attempt to be a conduit for this. Some of the skills are innate and show up in play or the use and innovation of tools and artifacts. Many fields are becoming more sophisticated in the use of instrumentation for measurement, visualization, computation and control. Most of these can be scaled to educational versions that include the newest areas of R&D. If not supplied institutionally, they probably will have some free or affordable public or web versions. Where there are few people to handle the tasks, expert automation would be required.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr, 2010

The question is whether people are losing their minds or society is constructing a new type of one. Tools have sticky cognitive effects on their users and the internet, while figuratively turning on the light for many, may also tend to make it harder to look as deeply as before. In order to write the book, the author attempted to disconnect and find seclusion for a while. He cites how changes of this magnitude have been perceived in the past, e.g. Socrates’ lament that writing destroyed the capacity for individual memory, or how the typewriter changed authors’ styles since they could not dwell on the feeling of writing in longhand. Information is meted out in lots of brief interlinked pieces. Email has become streams. Ads are pervasive. The ten chapters review the mind, book, maps, clocks, tech, computers, and AI, amid the dimension of networking. Rather than point to URLs, the story is told in flashbacks, e.g. how Weizenbaum’s ELIZA could earn the empathic confidence of people even though it was mindless. There are ten chapters and four digressions, the last of which looks at the irony of a book on the disappearance of long-term concentration. Notes and further reading are appended. Much of these are valid issues and worth further study. Whether the realtime flow and exponential increase in data to analyze can be paused often or enough is unknown. More direct types of mind links may not be too far off in the future.
For the attention-challenged, a way to get through this book might be to survey it quickly, then skim a few times to make raw impressions, not word for word, rather similar to becoming familiar with a song or painting, then read it backwards for the verbal reassurance. The reader can increase the pass-throughs to pick up more detail where necessary and as time allows, thereby rendering textual memory as well as consideration and opinion. It may turn out that reading is more of a creative process than previously thought, or that there are better tools for the task, as there are for other kinds of digital composition, e.g. like sculpting 3D art. It may then still be possible to frequently parse titles in dedicated slices while otherwise attending to the network. Eventually a learning process may be discovered, akin to development of Gladwell’s outlier mastery status, And, of course, each of the chapters can become a book or digital museum or web-service in the interim, so none of the 3R’s may remain sacrosanct for much longer. There may be a video about this floating around somewhere.

Reverse Engineering: An Industrial Perspective, Raja and Fernandes, 2008

This textbook details how reverse engineering is used for copy, design abstraction and reengineering. This is based on high-resolution digitization and 3D CAD. Results have included reduced inspection time and improved workflow. Quality assurance benefits were standardization and interchangeable parts and reduced manufacturing cost. There are actual examples from automotive, aerospace, and medical device industries, and tables refer to more. Eleven papers discuss definitions, methodologies, system selection and rapid prototyping. The authors diagram a generic process and show how it is customized in each case. The product development cycles includes test. Taxonomies are given for measuring and positioning systems. Legal concerns arise from fair use and patents, and may be handled by a recommended sui generis system. Organizational considerations are listed including a champion, management support, resource coordination, competition, and user participation, e.g. “tribal knowledge” in an aerospace firm. This does get technical and there are some equations. Terms include computer-aided reverse engineering (CARE), coordinate measuring machine (CMM), nonuniform rational B-splines (NURBS), NC machine, multijet modeling (MJM), and computer-aided inspection (CAI).
Merging data and semantic web approaches is outside the scope of this book.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: