Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Automotive idea

I saw this hint on PBS' Motorweek magazine (http://www.mpt.org/motorweek/goss/2903.shtml):

Suppose you have a problem with the car-it has a misfire. Check engine light's on, maybe the check engine light's flashing; one thing's for sure, the car is sitting there and it's real rough at idle. So if you have exotic test equipment like an expensive Snap-On tool, well, fine. Hook it up, you can do the diagnostic work and so on, but not all of us are going to be lucky enough to have something like this.
So how do you go about doing it yourself? Well, first thing you do is you listen. You go back to the tailpipe and you listen for a "missing" sound, when instead of the gentle purr that an engine normally makes at the tailpipe, you're going to have-and going to be able to hear-the "missing" sound. Alright. Once you've done that, then you come up here and you use your own form of thermometer. This is a digital infrared thermometer. Now the engine is running, it's fully warmed up. These have a laser pointer on them, and you point the laser at each one of the runners of the exhaust manifold, one at a time. This is a four cylinder engine; you go down the line, you do all four of them. Six cylinder engine, do all six; eight, of course, do all eight.
Now, as you shoot each one of these, what you're going to see on the back of it is the temperature reading of that particular exhaust runner. You're looking for the one that is significantly colder than the others. "Misfire" means that cylinder isn't firing, so there's no heat being generated, so the manifold is going to be colder beside the cylinder that is misfiring. Pretty clever, very easy to do, because you can do this in a matter of a couple of minutes, where even hooking up the scanner is going to take three our four times as long. These are very inexpensive (see our KI-110 and KI-111). So it's a very valuable tool to have around the house and around the car.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This just in - ‘12 Days of Christmas’ will cost you: $87,403

Partridge, pear tree prices decline, but gold surge pushes up index

Making one's true love happy will cost a whopping $87,403 this year, a small increase from last year, according to the latest cost analysis of the items in the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

That's the grand total for the single partridge in a pear tree to the 12 drummers drumming, purchased repeatedly as the song suggests, according to the annual "Christmas Price Index" compiled by PNC Wealth Management.

The price is up a mere $794, or less than 1 percent, from $86,609 last year.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Merry Christmas to all!

(Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc - www.reverendfun.com) used with permission

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don’t just thank ...

Here's another thought-provoking entry from Jeffrey Gitomer's blog:

It’s likely you will be with family over the holidays. Great times. Reunions. Happiness. Tears of sadness and joy. Great food. Gifts. People you love. People you kind of love. And did I mention great food? Most people (not you of course) celebrate by adding to their waistline during these times. But I’m going to share a major strategy.

Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, families will gather and talk about old times. Growing up, vacations, past holidays. They all start out, “Remember the time that…” and they go on to tell a funny or poignant story. THESE STORIES ARE GOLD.

These golden lessons and stories are all around you, and many of them fit your selling situations, and relationship-building process. Real stories authenticate you. They make you more human, more approachable, more relatable, and even (if the story is right) more trustworthy.

First get the stories rolling:
• Start by asking folks to tell their most memorable story.
• Then ask about best times or best lessons learned. Ask people for stories where they learned lessons from mistakes, embarrassing moments, funny responses, and successes.
Listen with the intent to understand (don’t interrupt):
• Listen for incidents where a lesson was learned.
• Listen for funny events or responses that are yours to retell at the appropriate time.
• At the end of the story, ask questions or request the person to elaborate or fill in missing details.
• Look for the reaction of others. It’s a hint as to how your customers may be impacted.
•Take notes. Don’t let the lessons, the lines, the humor, or the any of stories get lost in the heat of the moment. You will NEVER remember everything without taking notes.

As the stories are being told, listen for the lessons behind the endings:
• Lessons from parents, teachers, siblings.
• Lessons you learned as a child. Playing with others, school, winning, losing, getting hurt.

Often the lessons are the result of something extreme:
• The time you got into major trouble.
• The game winning score.
• The fire, the illness, loss of a friend.

Once you have the story, and can see how it applies to your life-view.

Every story I tell conveys a lesson or makes a point. Many of the stories I tell make people laugh. Many have been collected from holiday gatherings. All of my stories are personal to me. They are original.

The secret to storytelling is your enthusiasm. If you’re talking to one, or one hundred and one, each person must feel like you’re telling it for the first time, even though you may have told it 100 times before. The passion will lead to the emotion of what you want to convey.

Now that’s something to celebrate.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tough Monday?

Try these puns

1. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall.. The police are looking into it.

11. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

12. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: 'You stay here; I'll go on a head.'

13. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

14. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'

15. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

16. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

17. A backward poet writes inverse.

18. In a democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

19. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

20. If you jumped off the bridge in Paris , you'd be in Seine .

Friday, November 13, 2009


Listen (MP3)
Listen (RealAudio)

Does this resonate with anyone???
(Courtesy of Garrison Keillor/A Prairie Home Companion)

I've been unwanted before it's true
And uninvited a time or two
Today I'm feeling unusually blue
I've been unfriended by you

The hourly updates on your activities
Your joys, your pain, your sensitivities
All of the parties you have attended
No, I've been unfriended

I had twenty-nine friends, an old high school buddy,
A couple of guys from Adult Bible Study,
Neighbors, and cousins, a high school classmate,
And then one morning I had sixty-eight.

The list of your friends: 3000 and growing
Three thousand folks who think you're worth knowing
You're a popular person, you don't need me
You've got Carla and Nicholas Sarkozy

Unfriended, where can I go?
Back to the people I used to know.
The women at church, the guys at the bar,
They could try to unfriend me but I know where they are.

I offered you friendship when I saw you online
I thought you'd become a true friend of mine
You posted a comment, I thought we were close
But now I am toast.

I feel like I'm back in my high school cafeteria
And I get the cold shoulder and I'm sent to Siberia
And no one will talk to me, nobody, none,
I once was befriended but now I am Un.

How could you do it, just delete my name?
I'm not a left-winger, nor an old flame,
I'm not a stalker and you're not a star,
But now I'll expose you for the jerk that you are.

You know it's inevitable that we will meet
In real time on an actual street
I'll be so cool — OMG — how sweet.
And I'll look away as I press delete.

Unfriended, boogers on you
You and all the friends you knew
Have just been unfriended too

Friday, November 6, 2009

10 Reasons Why You Need a PC Oscilloscope

1. COMPACT & PORTABLE By integrating several instruments into one small unit, PC Oscilloscopes (PCOs) are lighter and more portable than traditional test equipment. When used with a laptop computer, you can carry a complete electronics lab in the same bag as your PC.
2. USE YOUR PC DISPLAY The display of a traditional oscilloscope is limited by the physical size of the oscilloscope, and may only be a single color. With a PC Oscilloscope your computer controls the display, so not only do you get a full color display, but the display can be the size of your monitor, projector or plasma display.
3. BIG SIGNAL STORAGE Signal storage is limited only by your PC’s storage capability PC Oscilloscopes store the signals that you are measuring directly on your PC. With the power of today’s modern PCs this gives you vast storage capabilities. Along with allowing you to record lengthy signals this also lets you save signals for reviewing at a later date.
4. SHARING IS GOOD Captured waveforms and instrument settings can easily be shared with others Need to show your customer or colleague the signal you have captured? Just save the waveform and email them a copy. They don’t have a copy of the oscilloscope software? No problem – just export it as text, an image or in a binary format for use with third-party software. If they want to set up their equipment to run the same test, simply send them the oscilloscope settings too.
5. FREE IS GOOD Unlike a traditional DSO, with a PC-based oscilloscope new features and improved functionality can be added at any time with a simple software update. Free software updates means that a PC Oscilloscope is one of the few things that can actually become more powerful and useful with age.
6. ANY PC WILL DO PC Oscilloscopes are external devices that are connected to your PC using the ubiquitous Universal Serial Bus (USB). Virtually every laptop or desktop PC sold comes with multiple USB ports so there’s no problem using your PC Oscilloscope with either a desktop or a laptop PC.
7. HIGH SPEED USB 2.0 can transfer data at speeds of up to 480 Mbit/s. Using USB 2.0 PicoScope PC Oscilloscopes give you incredible performance with fast screen updates and the ability to stream data.
8. ALL-IN-ONE Our PC Oscilloscopes come complete with the hardware and software in one package so there’s no compatibility problems or complex set up procedures.
9. DATA-SCHMATER Using PicoLog you can transform your PC Oscilloscope into a data logger that can log data over extended periods of time.
10. ALL-IN-ONE (AGAIN) When you buy one of our PC-based oscilloscopes you don’t just get an oscilloscope: you also get a spectrum analyzer, meter and data logger. Some models even include a built-in signal generator or arbitrary waveform generator. So with a Pico PC Oscilloscope you really do get a complete test and measurement lab in one cost-effective unit.

Now see what we have here!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A bunch of hot air?

Readers of this blog will remember that I appreciate the writing of sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer (http://www.gitomer.com/articles/ViewPublicArticle.html?key=ajcdMibak3OwZBkVc0yjvQ%3D%3D ). He has a comment on company mission statements this week. He thinks that mission statements should be replaced with Customer Promises that simply state what we are committed to in our customer interactions and relationships. Things we do because we intend to do them.

“They are NOT goals. They are NOT missions. They are NOT hype, or marketing drivel (like your mission statement). They ARE promises TO customers, AND commitments that WE have made to ourselves, and deliver to everyone we connect with.”

Here are some of his suggestions (and Saelig responses):

Customer Promises and Commitments (that are all about the outcome)…
• We will be friendly. (Yes!)
• We will be professional. (Yes!)
• We will be helpful. (Yes!)
• We will be proactive. (We try hard on this one - informing customers in case of shipping delays, obsolescences, etc.)
• We will be knowledgeable. (Yes – this is a challenge for products from over 100 companies, however, so we sometimes defer to the manufacturers for in-depth answers)
• We will be easy to do business with. (Yes!)
• We will provide the highest quality products. (Yes!)
• We will do what we promise. (Yes!)
• We will keep you informed as we progress. (Yes!)
• We will maintain great attitudes toward service. (Yes!)
• We will earn your loyalty with quality and value. (Yes!)
• We will serve memorably. (Yes!)
• We will be on the leading edge of technology. (Yes! We’re constantly searching the world for new products)
• We will be an expert resource for you. (Yes!)
• We will use CREATIVITY and VALUE to differentiate. (Yes!)
• We will be committed to earn your loyalty. (With integrity!)
• We will treat all customers the same – LIKE GOLD. (Yes!)

Incidentally, he also states: “If you answer your phone with ‘press one, press two…’ you automatically lose. No matter what you do, every customer hates you before you say a word. Is that true? We have a phone system that asks customers to select 1 or 2 for Sales or Technical inquiries. I’d be very interested to hear if that is a problem for our customers.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Face-to-Face - courtesy of B.A.

I was recently a winner in the British Airways Face of Opportunity Contest, geared towards reminding businesses the value of international business travel. Since I had been notified only two weeks ago, this trip was arranged rather quickly. I had entered via web-based enterpreneur’s information site I use - Startup Nation (www.startupnation.com).

The send off at JFK was by Lord Mayor of London himself – Boris Johnson. 220 entrepreneurial business owners flew to London and points beyond – free, courtesy of British Airways - as part of the airline’s “Face-to-Face” campaign. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London bade the winners of the special flight farewell during an address at JFK International Airport, where he underscored the importance of revitalizing the economy through in-person meetings.
“We strongly believe that face-to-face meetings are crucial for businesses to remain competitive. This campaign represents a commitment to rewarding and stimulating entrepreneurship and bringing relationship-building back to the center of business,” said Simon Talling-Smith, Executive Vice President, Americas, British Airways.
To help reinforce the idea that in-person meetings do drive business, British Airways commissioned a survey of Harvard Business Review readers to gauge perceptions within the international business community about the importance of face-to-face meetings. In a time when business travel has been severely cut, the study aimed to uncover the impact that virtual meetings have had on business growth and relationship building. Results from the survey of over 2,300 Harvard Business Review readers concluded that 95 percent of businesspeople said they believe that face-to-face meetings are key to success in building long term relationships, and 89 percent agree face-to-face meetings are essential for “sealing the deal.”
Meeting at JFK at a champagne reception at 7.30AM on Sept. 15, 220 winning entrepreneurs were treated to a free dedicated daytime flight to London Heathrow (business class), arriving at 10PM BST, and a night’s stay at the premium Sofitel Hotel adjoining Terminal 5. After a gourmet buffet breakfast, we were addressed by the CEO of British Airways Willie Walsh, Lord Digby Jones (UK Trade and Industry Ambassador), and Andrew Sherman (Legal Counsel for the Entrepreneur’s Organization), other B.A. staff and a researcher from Harvard Business Review, speaking on topics ranging from the importance of face-to-face meetings for achieving business success (backed by Harvard research!) to understanding foreign business practices and culture, trends in global business, and legal considerations.

BA had created this contest in a bold investment move at a time when a lot of business travel is being curtailed. It was good to be in an atmosphere of keen innovators, away from the gloom of recession talk. I was able to network with some other small business folks, involved in enterprises as diverse as political lobbying, sign-making, importing UK novelties, exporting gourmet pretzels, organizing volunteer vacations, etc. BA recorded a 5 minute video interview with anyone who wanted to tell their entrepreneurial story, which I did.

At noon, the formal events were over and we were free to go on to any business meetings we had arranged. I took the Heathrow Express train (free ticket provided) to the PLASA Show at Earl’s Court exhibition facility in London (Professional Lighting and Sound - www.plasashow.com) where I successfully met with a potential new company, who described two lines of products available for us to import. These products are being widely and very effectively used in Europe. Also at the show, I saw another company that doesn’t have a USA rep yet. Details later!

On Thursday, after a great buffet breakfast at the hotel, the Managing Director of another British company only 10 minutes from LHR, met with me and we discussed his company’s exciting products in the solar energy arena.

After 2 days, I returned to USA. The face-to-face trip turned out to be very useful: the contacts I’ve made with UKTI may bring even more opportunities; the companies I did meet with have enormous potential, if we can only get visibility for them. This will present a challenge since they are not in our familiar customer base - we will have to go after new markets! But the new potential is very large!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Attitude determines Altitude

Charles Swindoll (http://www.insight.org/) accurately stated: “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past ... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ... we are in charge of our Attitude. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

MarketingProfs blog had a similar take, addressing the topic of surviving in tough times (http://www.marketingprofs.com/9/how-survive-tough-times-personally-professionally-beck.asp?adref=znnpbsc4389)

“Start by working on your attitude. How do you work on attitude? Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Cut out the negative messages. Stop watching TV news. Stop reading the newspaper. Trust me. In this day and age, you can't help but hear about the really important things. There's no need to seek them out (along with all the negative news and stories).

Avoid negative people. What you focus on determines your reality. If you hang around with people who see everything in a negative light, you will see everything in a negative light. It will become your reality. You can see where I'm headed with this.

If you want positive things to happen in your life, hang out with positive people. Positive people share what works; negative people share what doesn't work. Positive people are more creative. When they are faced with a challenge, they decide to overcome it and are solution-oriented. Negative people tend to focus on the obstacle and get "stuck." Your present reality will slowly shift to a more positive reality as you associate with positive people.

If you really want to kick your attitude into high gear, don't just eliminate negative messages; rather, decide to introduce positive messages. Get your hands on some tapes or CDs that will help you grow. Will you notice an immediate change? No, but you will over time.

The key to making friends, finding prospects, getting referrals, and making sales in challenging times is relationship-building with a positive attitude. Resolve to make a greater effort to take an interest in people!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

MSR's New Shock and Vibration Logger

It was good to have a visitor here at our offices from Switzerland yesterday:
Wendolin Egli, the CEO of MSR, the Swiss company who make unique thumb-drive-sized dataloggers for multiple parameters. Their robust MSR165 datalogger can take up to 1000 acceleration (shock/vibration) measurements per second in all three axes at up to +/- 15g. This logger, internally coated with a proprietary silicone compound, is completely waterproof, and has extremely low power requirements. Its rechargeable 900mAh lithium-polymer battery allows the unit to record shock measurements for up to six months. In addition, temperature, humidity, pressure, light and four analog input voltages can be recorded - over two million measurement parameters - which is sufficient for over 10,000 shocks. Its small size (39 x 23 x 72mm, approx. 69g), the five different measurement variables and its long-term measurement capability make the MSR165 highly suitable for a wide range of applications:
Agricultural/medical technology: animal monitoring, monitoring of breathing, walking, standing, lying and sleeping behavior, prediagnostics and telediagnostics
Aviation: Pilot monitoring, aircraft and flight attitude monitoring
Building services engineering: Building monitoring, heating and climate monitoring
Chemical industry: Transport and storage of chemicals
Laboratory technology: Lab measurements; transport and storage of pharmaceutical and medical products; material, component and storage monitoring
Mechanical engineering: Monitoring of process flows
Museums, churches, galleries: Climate monitoring, preventative conservation, autonomous measurements for touring exhibitions
Performance sport: Telemonitoring, human and material testing
Pharmaceuticals industry: Long term measurements, drug testing, transport and storage of chemicals and drugs
Research & development: Monitoring of prototypes, quality measurements
Textiles industry: Quality measurements
Environment: Air, soil and climate measurements
Green Technology: windmill vibration measurements, solarcell illumination/temperature.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tough Competition?

Readers of this blog know that I like Jeffrey Gitomer's sales and marketing advice. “Competition is healthy!” In his latest issue he offers the following:

The sales weapons to deploy in your competitive war are:

• Value offered in terms of the customer.
• Proven differentiation between you and others.
• A quality standard that includes the word BEST.
• Memorable service.
• Technology. Be the highest.
• Web presence. Be the best.
• Timely/rapid response. Be the fastest.
• Friendly people. Be the friendliest.
• Availability. 24.7.365 is the minimum acceptable standard.
• Knowledgeable people. The most knowledgeable.
• Helpful people. The most helpful.
• Reputation in the marketplace or community. The best reputation. A long track record of success.
• Existing customers who speak on your behalf. NOTE: They’re the ones that create your reputation.
• Oh yeah, sometimes price.

SECRET WEAPON: Testimonials. Let your customers talk about their experiences with competitive products and services. Find customers that used the competition and switched to you. Find a customer who left you, went to the competition, and CAME BACK. Customers can say anything they want about the competition – you cannot. When you talk about the competition, it’s selling. When customers talk, it’s proof. REALITY: Testimonials will beat the competition when you can’t.

I’m interested to know if you think we achieve the items on this list, or if you have a testimonial about anything we sell – we’d be pleased to feature it on our new website. You can now add customer comments on each item! Please do!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Saelig Secrets Pt II

  1. Understand the Importance of Good Technical Support. The ability for a distributor to accurately answer the most commonly asked technical questions about products, both before and after the sale, is vital to successful electronics distribution, as well as essential for good customer service and customer retention. In-depth technical questions often are best deferred to the supplier for handling, though a distributor’s initial advice can be the key to generating sales.
  2. Get a Handle on Shipping/Customs. It is also essential to have a thorough understanding of the costs and procedures associated with shipping and customs handling, so that customer deliveries may be accurately quoted, and so that products are certain to reach their intended destination as seamlessly as possible. This may involve extra paperwork, forms, and evaluating alternative shipping and freight forwarding options.
  3. Know That Success May Also Bring Failure. An electronic components distributor is often faced with the fact that if a Sales and Marketing job is done “too well” and generates record sales, a supplier will see real local market opportunity and will often terminate a distribution contract, in favor of going direct. This common industry occurrence can sometimes be perceived as a negative, when actually, it is a proverbial ‘feather in the cap’ of any successful distributor, as it illustrates marketplace effectiveness to other prospective supplier partners.
  4. Continuously Evaluate Process Efficiencies. Tools and processes for doing business are ever-changing, with new technologies and process efficiencies. Distributors need to be willing and able to continuously evaluate in-house activities for inefficiencies, operational improvements, product/supplier performance and customer feedback. Any overall change in the global economy requires careful assessment and balancing of resources.
  5. Balance Risk with Reward. Balancing risk with reward is a constant challenge for distributors. Judging which and how many products to stock, in order to be most profitable, can be a tricky process, with some inevitable guesswork. One method can be making decisions based upon recent stock turnover, as well as anticipation of known future preordered deliveries. Another method can be making initial determinations based upon supplier recommendations –though, in the case of a new product within a given market, this method may bring more risk than reward.
  6. Have Commitment to Unwavering Ethics/Integrity. A successful electronic components distributor is committed to doing what is right, even when it does not seem to be profitable, expedient, easy, or conventional. As recorded in Proverbs 22:1 of the Bible, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” There have been times when a supplier may refuse to take back product, which a customer has deemed faulty, and a distributor must lose money in the refund, a small price to pay for protecting their good reputation. There are also examples where customers may return product deemed to be faulty, for which analysis revealed customer misuse as the concluded cause of failure. In those instances, successful distributors take the standpoint of “the customer is always right”, and return the product for a refund, though inevitably, the distributor has again lost money –though not its reputation. Typically, few customers abuse such return policies. With unwavering ethics and integrity, a distributor can do what is best for the customer, knowing that in doing so, it has stayed true to its core values – which, ultimately, will form the cornerstone for growth and success.