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Month: December 2008

A Look Back at an Ugly Year

A Look Back at an Ugly Year

This past year contained some of the most severe economic turmoil since the days of the Great Depression. Even covering only the major events (catastrophes) of 2008 would fill a major city's newspaper, so I'll just provide a synopsis of those things that shaped the past 12 months. A Federal Reserve-backed fire sale of Bear Stearns foreshadowed the oncoming near-collapse of the global financial payments system. By the time everything was (is?) said and done, Lehman Brothers collapsed, Read more [...]
DICOM Makes a Difference

DICOM Makes a Difference

What?  It's December 24, 2008 - Christmas Eve, and I just got a present.  It's a book, and I can scarcely read a word of it.  That's because it's a how-to book on DICOM* written in Japanese.  Since I can't read it, there's no point putting in my briefcase to review on the next flight.  Instead, it stands proudly on my bookshelf beside a copy of the DICOM Standard in Chinese.  So what?  What makes me proud is knowing that I play a role in Read more [...]
The Government as Grinch

The Government as Grinch

The punishing impact on business of over-reaching government regulation is always painful to watch - the latest example is especially poignant given the time of year.  Several recent stories in the mainstream press are highlighting the immense difficulty and expense suffered by toy manufacturers as they struggle to comply with product testing requirements established under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, signed by President Bush earlier this year.  (See http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-toys23-2008dec23,0,2707481.story)  Read more [...]
Have a Merry — and (Electrically) Safe — Holiday

Have a Merry — and (Electrically) Safe — Holiday

As the famous Carpenters' song goes, it's that time of year -- not only "when the world falls in love," but when there's an increased risk of electrical-related problems, from old extension cords fraying and causing electric shocks, to electric space heaters causing fires, to portable generators leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. Most of us manage to get through the holiday season and winter months without any such incidents, but consumers still need to be Read more [...]
Have a Happy Fake Free Holiday Season

Have a Happy Fake Free Holiday Season

Counterfeiting is not a seasonal crime.  Yet the year-end holiday season seems to be a time when cautionary warnings about the dangers of buying counterfeit products are more prevalent.  Like reminders to check batteries in a smoke detector when changing to daylight savings time, the holiday season seems an appropriate time to warn about safe practices.  Just last week, US Customs in Newark, New Jersey seized 31,000 pieces of counterfeit holiday tree lighting that had arrived from Read more [...]
Green Energy Storage is becoming Red Hot

Green Energy Storage is becoming Red Hot

According to a news release from S&C Electric Company "the concept of energy storage has become a practical reality. Utility companies are now installing energy storage systems on their distribution circuits to gain experience with these new distributed power resources, and determining how best to use them for both planned applications and contingency events." So what makes these energy storage systems GREEN? First, these Distributed Energy Storage Systems (DESS) can be used to help Read more [...]
Saved by Zero(ish)?

Saved by Zero(ish)?

The Federal Reserve took us into uncharted territory yesterday, cutting the federal funds rate target to a range of zero to 0.25 percent. Interestingly enough, as historical as it was, it didn't really matter whether the FOMC lowered the rate by 50 or 100 basis points since the effective funds rate had already been hovering just above zero for several weeks, making this part of yesterday's announcement mostly a formality. The more important stuff was the actual verbiage inside the Fed's Read more [...]
Seeing the Future

Seeing the Future

Some say they can see the future better at night. Now I have some insight into what they are talking about. As you may know, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is filling the government role in advancing energy-saving solid state lighting (SSL), which uses light emitting diodes (LEDs) to provide illumination. As part of its commercialization program, DOE recently assisted the City of Oakland, California, and Pacific Gas & Electric in demonstrating the energy saving potential of SSL Read more [...]
Electrical Safety – Ohio Back on Track.

Electrical Safety – Ohio Back on Track.

Common sense won the day as the Ohio Board of Building Standards voted for a second time to adopt the 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC) on December 12th .  This cleared up a confused year in which Governor Stickland succumbed to pressure from the Home Builder's Association of Ohio and signed an emergency order reversing the board's earlier approval of the NEC 2008 and calling for public hearings. Fortunately those public hearings only strengthened the case for the Adoption of NEC 2008 Read more [...]
New DOE Chief Should Be Open to Electrical Manufacturer Solutions

New DOE Chief Should Be Open to Electrical Manufacturer Solutions

President-elect Obama's new energy secretary, Steven Chu, should prove to be someone the electrical industry can work with. The Nobel-Prize winning physicist is a proponent of alternative energy sources and energy efficiency, two areas in which electrical manufacturers can provide valuable expertise as well as actual product solutions that are on the market now.