Archive for September, 2012

Dha-guhr – That I Am!

September 28, 2012

I am “with cold” with a sore throat and a bit of a fever, and my head is fuzzy – just not quite working at 100% – just a little off… So, I spent part of the afternoon watching cooking shows on the TV. Just two: Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods”. These shows are usually interesting to me. I have been in more than 80 countries, and every country I have visited has a gastronomy boast.

Bourdain’s fun – he tells you what he likes and what he doesn’t and why. Anthony was in Italy this afternoon – he loves Italy, and so do I.  I would gladly live there just for the marvelous food. As long as you don’t cross the local Mafia boss (just kidding), life would be great. I have a cousin in Rome who knows the local people and great authentic places to eat quite well after thirty or more years there.

My first time in Italy, I spent significant time in Venezia, and carbonara for breakfast was the local treat. Long, soft noodles, gooey egg and cheese sauce, and crunchy, salty pancetta – just a great way to start the day, and I have never found such tasty carbonara anywhere here in the States – never. Mr. Bourdain had a meal with carbonara on his show this afternoon, and it brought back great memories of Italy – nothing beats carbonara for breakfast!

Andrew’s fun, too – he tells what you should appreciate about what he doesn’t like, and he eats it anyway (unless it has walnut in it).  Mr. Zimmer was in Chengdu, Sichuan, China – I have never been to Chengdu, and I want to go. This is the world’s capital for chiles – I love hot, spicy food, and I can stuff chiles down my throat until the cook quits cooking! One of Mr. Zimmern’s tour guides came with a tag-along named Dha-guhr, and that brings me to the title of my post – actually, this is the second thing that brings me to the title of my post, so read on!. I need to go to Chengdu!

The first time I was in China in Shanghai, and last time I was in China in Beijing, I heard the word “dha-guhr” mentioned behind me throughout my trips. I know a little Mandarin – just a little – I can be polite, ask simple questions, count, but I stop right about there. One word I do know is “dha-guhr”.

I learned the word “dha-guhr” in Ulan Bator, Mongolia in the ’80’s. My hotel was a local place with local furnishings including the most peculiar bed I have ever slept on. It was about 1-1/2 M square – about 4 or maybe 5 feet square – you were supposed to sleep rolled up in a ball with a heavy blanket to keep warm. The old Chinese man who would come into the room during the night to put wood in the big. blackened pot-belly stove always grunted when he saw my feet hanging over the edge. “Dha-guhr,” he’d say every time on his way out. I learned about that word “dha-guhr”…

Like many words in Chinese, there are two sharply different meanings depending on context. Dha-guhr literally means “big piece of meat” in Mandarin Chinese. Dha-guhr is 1) the big clumsy oaf, or maybe the country bumpkin, or 2) the big boss, or the “big cheese” (maybe the local mafia boss in Italy, Mr. Bourdain) depending on context.

In Shanghai, I had to bend my head to fit in the elevator (dha-guhr, I heard behind me). In Beijing in a alleyway restaurant, we needed to move the tables around a bit so that I would fit (dha-guhr). In Beijing in a restaurant bathroom, I just could not close the door (dha-guhr). In Shanghai, the subway cars were, well, smallish, and I was heads and shoulders taller than anyone around me – I could see to either end of the entire train, and everyone in the train could see me (dha-guhr). Zimmern’s tag-along was 2.2M or about 7-ft tall athlete Dha-guhr – an apt nickname.

In Italy, I was the big boss (dha-guhr). In China, more the clumsy oaf (dha-guhr). That’s OK. Great food in either place! I’m big – 3 ft shirt sleeves, 3 ft waist, 3 ft from crotch to the floor. I can look imposing (dha-guhr), and I can be clumsy (dha-guhr).

I have a trip to Taiwan coming up (dha-guhr).

Gluing Stainless Steel – Some Footnotes

September 26, 2012

UPDATE – See Final Footnote at Bottom re. the Armstrong Method.

A conversation with a friend included this comment:

Well, Brian, just how strong were these glued joins?

And from e-mail:

Did the join strength you tested confirm the claims of the manufacturers?

Were the joins strong enough to use adhesive applications in lieu of brazing? Well, were they?

We tested the strength of the joins – we tested dozens of joins… Unfortunately, we did not have any sophisticated apparatus to measure join strength – we relied on the “armstrong” method of testing by four able, middle-aged men tugging and pulling in various ways to force join failure. In general, we believe that manufacturer claims are reasonable. Here is what we found:

The lap join – the 1/2 sq-inch plate-to-plate joins were incredibly strong.

Of all the trials, the acrylic joins submerged in water for 10 months all failed with two men pulling together to break the join; these joins were strong enough that one man pulling could not break the join.

All other lap joins tested survived four men pulling to break the join. Wow!

The irregular surface join susceptible to peel – the rod and ring join showed a wide range of strength among the trials tested.

The H8610 acrylic join failed with the one man holding the ring stationary and another man twisting the rod – it took some “heaving” and “grunting”, but the join failed.  This adhesive was the strength standout for the acrylic adhesives, though, and all other acrylic trials failed with considerably less grunting!

The DP420 epoxy required two men twisting the rod to break the join. The E-214HP epoxy required a bit more strength from the two men twisting the rod to break the join than the DP420 epoxy. All other epoxy joins were broken with one man twisting the rod.

So, this is all rather subjective, but the conclusions were apparent to all four of who gathered around the pile of joins…

Some elements of application still need to be investigated to fully evaluate these adhesives. The most significant consideration we did not explore was adhesive thickness. We suspect that there is an optimum join thickness – greater than which and the join will fail by pulling the adhesive apart while leaving adhesive on both substrates, and less than which and the join will fail by pulling the adhesive from a substrate. We suspect that join thickness is less of an issue for epoxies in general. For our trials, we used a binder clip to apply uniform squeezing force on all joins, and the result was a thicker join for a more viscous adhesive. None of the manufacturers could give us guidance on optimum join thickness.

We are satisfied that a lap join can indeed replace a braze or a bolt. The irregular join where peel force is evident may fail in the real world application where the braze currently serves the application adequately; however, the manufacturer will give the epoxy a whirl and see if it survives!

Happy gluing.

Final Footnote – a friend asks,

Say, Brian, what is the Armstrong Method?  It sounds sophisticated, but nothing here is sophisticated…

Well, my good friend, the Armstrong Method is a play on the words “Strong” and “Arm”. When you don’t have a sophisticated tool, you are left with no other choice than brute force methods. You can shy away from that embarrassment by referring proudly to the “Armstrong Method”!

Gluing Stainless Steel – a Problem Revisited

September 23, 2012

About one year ago, I was drawn into a problem with an acquaintance: is there an adhesive application that can replace brazing for two small pieces of stainless steel? The answer is, “Yes, maybe…” At the time, as my buddy and a few more mutual friends were dragged with me into answering this question, well, we all “strayed into the weeds” before we answered the question. It was an interesting experience, though, and there are things to learn and pass along.

First, just for the record, a description of one of two applications we considered (the second one was a plate to a plate or “lap” join):

Join a 316 stainless steel rod onto an irregularly shaped 316 stainless steel piece with a permanent, mechanically rigid bond. The rod is 10 mm in diameter, and it rests on top of the other piece. The other stainless steel piece is a ring that has been crudely machined to “cup” the rod along a portion of the length – for about 20 mm. The current solution is to braze the pieces.

The dominant force applied to the join is a peel force – the ring wants to twist away from the rod with a variable force as high as 25-30 Kg. The service environment of the assembly is warm, humid ambient air – about 40 C and 95% with a dilute vinegar content in the water vapor at its most extreme state. The assembly will be periodically cleaned in hot water and hot air dried.

So, that was the original requirement. Can a hi-tech adhesive replace the braze?

Conversation drifted to include considerations for precision machining the ring where the rod lies. Adhesive trials tested a multitude of products including epoxies, methacrylates and acrylics, cyanoacrylates (superglues), one-part adhesives, two-part adhesives, two step adhesives (using an activator), VHB (very high bond) adhesives on transfer tape, etc. There are a LOT of adhesive products… None of the “party” of problem solvers except for myself were engineers, though one was a chemist. We downloaded application guides and data sheets.The most promising manufacturers were phoned for advice. We all learned a lot about adhesives.

The manufacturers could have made solving our problem much easier than they did – manufacturers typically had “readers” on the phone to search for terms in their document archives, and read to us from their application guides and data sheets. When we approached the problem with the right amount of knowledge, specificity and “pleading”, the person on the other end of the phone on two occasions forwarded our calls to a product specialist who was a test lab technician in both instances. The manufacturers gave us knowledge, but not insight – the manufacturer representatives we could speak to had no real world experience in a production environment, nor any comprehensive data reporting success gluing stainless steel with their products.

Of all the manufacturers we spoke to directly, Loctite and 3M were the most helpful. Loctite provided us a number of useful publications, introduced us to local distributors, volunteered to send us samples (and they sent us a half dozen different adhesives and dispensing guns), and asked for us to report our experience. 3M also wanted to put product samples in our hands. These two manufacturers were eager to help us, knowing full well that we were trivially small business prospects for them.

Choosing our objective “handful” of adhesives to trial in our garages was challenging. Loctite and 3M would have saved us a lot of time by guiding us more effectively in the product selection process. Neither manufacturer had the confidence in their product application knowledge to recommend the two or three most promising candidate products, and both recommended more than a half dozen products to be certain we would find a “winner”.

After describing our requirements I stated above, Loctite asked us questions that started out like this – in this order:

  • Did we want a structural acrylic, a cyano or an epoxy? “We don’t know,” I said.
  • What were  the materials to bond? “316 stainless steel.” (I already told you…)
  • What were the dominant forces? “30Kg peel force.” “What about sheer force?” they asked. “About the same,” I said. “We don’t know much about peel force performance…” they admitted.
  • What was the bonding area? “About 3 sq-cm.” “How many square inches is that,” they asked? “Oh – a little more than 1/2 sq-in,” I replied.
  • What was the in-service environment? “Like summer in Houston,” I said.

We had already told them these answers when we described our problem, but they weren’t listening to us, quite yet…  And then:

  • What was the allowed handling time – the minimum fixture time? “A minute or two should be plenty of time,” I said. “How about 15 seconds,” they asked? “A little too quick,” I replied. I indicated that I preferred shorter fixture times over longer times.
  • What total allowed process time – the maximum curing time? “Overnight – maybe several nights would be OK,” I said. Time is not of the essence!
  • What was the scale of production – the number of joins per day? “Between one and a half dozen,” I said. This should have told them we needed 30ml or 50ml containers, and some products come only in 400ml and larger volumes…

And then after narrowing down our choices considerably, finally:

  • Did we need to “void-fill” – fill gaps and spaces? “Yes – fill a 1-2 mm void – a 1/16 of an inch,” I said.
  • Could we do UV curing or heat curing? “Heat we can do; UV we can’t,” I said, and it should have been obvious that UV curing was not applicable to our application. I have a toaster oven!

Our trial results were interesting. We tried Loctite H4710, H8000, H8500, H8600, H86010, E-20HP, E-30UT, E-60HP and E-214HP products. We would have been interested in trying H4720 in lieu of H4710, but Loctite did not have small 50ml containers of this product in stock. Two Loctite adhesives proved to pass muster, though – H8610 Speedbonder  2-part acrylic and E214-HP 1-part epoxy. All other Loctite adhesives failed under stress for our application. E-214HP may degrade significantly in a humid environment, and H8600 may degrade significantly due to the heat of numerous washings and dryings. My money is on the E-214HP epoxy for the long term solution!

We tried 3M DP420, 4DP20NS, DP460 and DP460NS epoxies – the NS variety are highly vicsous “non-sag” formulas. And we tried DP805, DP810, DP810NS and DP820 acrylics. The NS non-sag formulas sacrificed significant sheer and peel strength for the higher viscosity varieties on our stainless steel test parts. The acrylic products all fell far short of the epoxies for overall bond strength. The 3M DP420 product was a close second to the Loctite E-214HP for overall bond strength.

Surface preparation was performed for all trials. For acrylic adhesives, surfaces were polished with 400 grit alumina paper, cleaned with a detergent, then isopropyl alcohol, and finally rinsed with filtered water and air-dried. For epoxy adhesives, surfaces were cleaned with a detergent, and then with methyl ethyl ketone or MEK, roughed with 80-grit emory paper, and cleaned again with MEK and air-dried.

We tried several of 3M’s F9460-series VHB transfer tape adhesives with disappointing results – surface prepped as if for acrylic. These adhesives never dry – they remain flexible and give slightly under stress which did not meet our requirement for a rigid bond. We also tried Devcon’s acrylic Metal Welder and Lord’s 310 epoxy with appropriate surface prep with disappointing results for our stainless steel adhesive test – these two adhesives were simply below average performers in our field of adhesives we trialled.

The summer heat in a garage degraded the acrylic adhesives across the board – they permanently lost about 10% to 20% of their overall bond strength after a summer. Likewise, long-term water immersion degraded the acrylics across the board with more than 50% of strength lost for the several samples we trialled side by side dry and wet.

We had some trouble with 10:1 mixing applicators – three of the Loctite acrylics demanded really precise 10:1 mixing, and it proved to be a bit difficult to do even with the recommended equipment. None of the other adhesives exposed us to this frustration, but we could do this if we needed to.

It would have been much more helpful to approach our problem with this more practical line of questions from someone with current, practical product experience:

  • Do you want a flexible bond (for a high vibration – high motion environment), a strong, durable bond or a permanent, structural bond (from a premium product)?
  • What materials are you bonding?
  • Do you have any operating environment issues – high heat, high humidity, acid vapor? (those conditions eliminate superglues and most acrylics)
  • Do you need to machine the bonded surface? Is the bond exposed to impacts? (points to an epoxy with high compression strength)
  • Will you sacrifice sheer strength for peel strength?
  • What consistency of adhesive do you think will work best for you – runny like water, gooey like honey, gloppy like jelly, or pasty like peanut butter?
  • Do you need a fixture time of seconds, minutes or hours?
  • Can you tolerate a cure time of an hour or two? Up to a day? Several days?

This simpler line of questions would have taken us down the product trees directly to the H8610, DP420 and E-214HP products in a quick conversation.  But we had fun experimenting anyway!

Phone Spam – From India Coffeeshops

September 8, 2012

Telemarketers are bypassing the Do NOT CALL list – legally, and there is little we can do about it. Here’s how they are doing it, and I hope there is a way to stop it…

My phone rings several times a day everyday with “phone spam”, dog gone it, even though I am on the DO NOT CALL list. Some of these latest calls are a new kind of telemarketer calling me, though – these are Skype calls by cellphone from India to my home phone. When most of these calls ring my phone, the Caller ID shows a local number. I see a different number each time. The Caller ID frequently shows: 1 (972) 0 followed by six more digits and UNKNOWN CALLER. If I answer the call, about half the time, there is no one on the other end, and the line drops after a few seconds. When there is someone on the other end, they explain that they are representing local companies to (fill in the blank) repair my roof, fix my plumbing, add new outlets and light fixtures, etc. If I call the number back from the Caller ID record, a recording usually informs me that the number is not in service for the majority.

One time, I engaged the person on the other end in an interesting conversation. The caller was in India in a tea house doing telemarketing before his normal job started – they use a cellphone to call every number on a weekly e-mail from “the boss” through a Skype gateway. The bosses e-mail goes to more than a hundred addressees. If someone answers and the call duration is more than a minute, the employer pays him a fee based upon the detail in his monthly phone bill. If he gets a “lead” with a name and address for the phone number, he gets a bigger fee. He sends the lead information by e-mail to someone else who has an account with a US Internet home services company that pays the referrer (the Indian telemarketer) a fee for every referral.  This US Internet home services company represents a number of local businesses near my home such as roofing companies that pay them for every referral.

Pressing even further, the caller explained that his cellphone number (in India) is 972-045-7852 (yup, that’s what my caller ID shows) – you can look this number up on the Internet at, and this particular caller is apparently somewhere in Uttar Pradesh. Skype passes the cellphone number as the local caller ID information, and this particular caller explained that they request their cellphone number to start with the same area code in the US that their e-mail assignment refers to. He has another cellphone with a local number that starts 7130, and he calls Houston homeowners from another e-mail assignment. He says that the boss has boxes of cellphones that he passes out whenever there is a new client in a new city.

He confirmed that the recipient of his calls would see a local number on their Caller ID, and they were more likely to answer the call. Yes, that is why I answered the phone the first time… He has an Android robot caller app that reads his e-mail for phone numbers and invokes Skype to dial the numbers. The robot caller app dials the numbers in one after another until one number answers; his local Skype gateway drops all ringing calls in progress, of which there may be several, as soon as a number is answered.

Just an aside, Indian cellphone numbers are all ten digit numbers that start with 7, 8 or 9. So, that leaves a lot of cities they can call in the US that will reflect local numbers! And another aside, there are no exchanges that start with a 0 or 1 in the US, and an initial 0 or 1 initiate an operator service or a long distance call. And a final aside, the Do Not Call list we are on, now, doesn’t apply to the Indian caller – FTC and FCC oversight of this problem simply does not exist for the Indian telemarketer.

So, AT&T Uverse and I have been working to find a way to block these incoming calls, and time will tell if the strategy I employed was actually put in place successfully. Some years ago – many, in fact, I helped to define the generic requirements for a VoIP call blocking feature (for AT&T, coincidently), so I understand exactly what they can potentially do for me. Their rollout of call blocking allows a residential customer to only block up to 20 numbers – far too limiting for this new nuisance.

AT&T’s rollout of call blocking for commercial customers is quite different – the intended extension of this feature for a business customer allows for a longer list of blocked callers, but it also allows the business to block all toll-free numbers. The “behind the scenes” feature is simply completing a list and using wild cards for all digits that follow 800, 866, 877 and 888. When Tech Support completes the call blocking request on behalf of a commercial customer, they simply fill in a form – a different form from what the customer would see in their own account management window online, and the tech support staff will simply stop with the toll free 800, 866, 877 and 888 and go no further to finish the number. I asked, “what of you type in one more digit – will the system wildcard the next six digits like it did for seven digits following 800?” “Well, I have never tried it, and no one here knows what  will happen…” “So, try it!” I said to the business account tech support person I eventually managed to get on my side, and they did, and it appeared to work correctly when they received a confirmation of the change back.

So, time will tell whether this strategy is actually allowed by the current AT&T management systems. And all bets are off when the Indian cellphones that this company uses have numbers starting 9722…

Copyright – Smopyright – Bad Law

September 4, 2012

Well, I woke up in “rant mode”. Don’t know why – I mean, I have a smile on my face today, and the cats were happy to see me at twilight.  Maybe it was that dream I awoke from… In my dream, the Intellectual Property Police were walking with me through our home demanding for me to prove that every Book, CD and DVD was lawful – they wanted receipts! They are all legal, by the way. So are my shirts and pants…

I think that Copyrighting is essential to lawful commerce. But don’t go after the consumer for violations. What does the consumer know, anyway? Seriously. Focus on the chain of custody from manufacturer up to the point of acquisition, but don’t focus on the poor consumer.

First, let me give you an inventory of my investment in tangible copyrighted media – I pay a lot money to copyright holders, and that is a fair exchange:

BOOKS – I have more than 300 linear feet of books – all copyrighted, and more than 95% bought new from a seller such as Barnes and Noble or

CDs – More than 4000 – all copyrighted and more than 99% bought new from a seller such as Barnes and Noble or

DVDs – more than 800 – all copyrighted and 100% bought new from a seller such as Barnes and Noble or

Blu-Rays – 0 – ooops, I need to step into the modern world!

Next, let me give you an inventory of my investment in digital copyrighted media:

Well, I don’t know what it is… I mean, I don’t know what is copyrighted and what is not. What the source is authorized to do, and what I am authorized to do. I am certain I have legitimate copyrighted digital media that I purchased from an authorized seller. I may have copyrighted media purchased from an unauthorized seller, and I am sure that I have an unauthorized file or two that is copyrighted that I acquired from YouTube before they scrubbed their library to address copyright concerns. But, fact of the matter is that I don’t know what of my digital media is legal and what is not with regard to copyrights. Some of the digital media is from foreign sources. I just don’t know with any confidence what of my digital media is “legal”, but I am liable, regardless, and I don’t like that.

Oh, and I have authored a book that you can purchase through – it is copyrighted – registered with notice!
A System Dynamics Calculator: A New Visual Approach to Computing for Ordinary People

I recall in 1977 or 1978 preparing for a management meeting as a young engineer. I wanted to distribute a magazine article to promote a conversation. I dutifully phoned the publisher to ask for permission to copy – “I need permission for sixty copies, please.” “That will be a dollar each,” they replied. “OK – here is my corporate American Express Card number.” “No, we don’t take a credit card. You need to write a letter and ask for permission and we will send you an agreement to sign, and you can pay from an invoice after we receive the signed agreement back, and then you can make your sixty copies once we receive your check and it clears.” “Forget it.,” I said, and I made my sixty copies and didn’t think a thing about it when I passed the article around the table and to the audience of observers – SIXTY copies! And I wasn’t the only one passing out photocopied magazine articles for everyone in that meeting. I recall thinking at the time that the Copyright law did not accommodate the consumer need – it was a ridiculous, burdensome law. That was 35 years ago, and this area of law has become even more burdensome and less accommodating to the consumer. In all fairness, the ability to photocopy journal articles has been “addressed” in the industry – you can now pay over the phone and orally accept the extension of the right to use that you can read on the publisher’s website.

So, allow me to “pick away” at this area of law with a rant or two.

1) A copyright costs the author nothing – NOTHING! Declare your work copyrighted, and it is, and it doesn’t cost you a dime for the protections provided by our Government! You can pay $35 or $50 to register a copyrighted work and receive a certificate back from the Copyright Office. You can register your works anytime after their creation. How many copyright holders actually register works? I have no idea – relatively few, I suspect. The big media companies certainly register copyrighted works, though.

Here are several opinions from Brian’s Brain:

If you don’t pay for a copyright – if the author does not register their work, in other words, there should be no protections.

Further, what you pay to register your copyrighted work should be based in part on the value you attach to your work.

And further, the damages you can collect from a violation of your copyright should be capped to a small portion of that value your declared for your work.

And finally, the author should be able to revise the declared value of their work whenever opportunities are realized – only if the author can substantiate it.

2) A copyright holder has no obligation to distribute their work over the lifetime of the copyright. This is fine and good, but even while the copyright holder refuses to distribute their work during the lifetime of the copyright, they can still claim damages from a copyright violation.

Here is an opinion from Brian’s Brain:

If you don’t exploit your copyright by distributing your work for some continuous period of time, then you surrender your right to claim damages until you subsequently do distribute your work.

3) Copyrights have a long lifetime, and it has been extended time and again by legislation. Copyrights survive the death of the creator for 70 years. Copyrights for hired works and company endeavors last for the shorter of 95 years from first publication or 120 years after creation. Rights can be bought and sold and subordinated. Wow – rights that survive the consumer and can be transferred to an entity – a person or company that never participated in the media’s creation…

Here is another opinion:

Corporate interests are apparently better protected in this area of law than individual interests. It should all be the same level of protection… Why not 99 years from creation or up to the death of the creator? Not transferrable. Just that simple. Why not?

4) A copyright notice is not required. WHAT? This is my biggest pet peeve. As a consumer, I may have no way to know if I am participating in a violation of a copyright, but I am liable none the less. And the copyright holder can increase their level or protection retroactively by subsequently displaying a notice after a violation of their rights and exercise those greater rights in disputes that originated before the addition of a notice. I am incredulous – this is an attorney’s fantasy land. What were the law makers thinking.

My opinion:

No registration – no notice. No notice – no rights. No rights until you register your work with a notice prominently displayed.

5) Multiple treaties and agreements between countries cover copyrights for media imported from other countries. This is no surprise – this is simply what countries do. But again, as the consumer, it is incumbent on me to know the copyrighted nature of media I acquire – I am the liable party under US law.

A few last opinions from Brian:

The consumer should not be the target of the law if there is no manufacture, distribution or resale that the consumer actively performs.

The law needs to be concise and readable, and it is not – it is a minefield of special interests and an amusement park for the lawyers.

And I have yet to touch on the DMCA which gives safe harbor to internet service providers. WHAT – the ISP has virtually no liability for copyright infringement that they might enable? Ridiculous…

And don’t even get me started on SOPA or ACTA or the successor attempts at legislation in Congress… It’s all ridiculous legislation. Bad Law.