Newsletter Issue # 16

Real Time Automation's - Best Darn Newsletter 

Best of 2013
2014 Technologies
Fun Facts and Trivia

Get a free RTA whoopee cushion this month only!

Email your name and address to: jladd@rta- by February 28th to claim your steal of the month.

Goodbye 2013
I Hate Cats
Modbus TCP vs. Modbus RTU
ASCII Revisited



Practical tips and information for young engineers. This issue, featuring:

- 2 Ears, 1 Mouth


Best of 2013

A Column of personal opinion by John Rinaldi, Founder and Owner of Real Time Automation.

I’m writing this in 2013 and my desk is littered with best of this and best of that lists. So I see no reason why I can’t have my own list of the best and worst moments of 2013.

Best Conference in 2013 – The M2M Show in Las Vegas. This conference really opened my eyes to HTML5 and WebRTC - technologies that I talk more about in the technical section of this newsletter.

Best Answer to Customer Inquiry in 2013 – The guy that fell asleep on the United flight and woke up in a dark, cold airplane. He calls United to tell them he’s locked in the plane. They tell him he’s not on the airplane because they have procedures in place that make missing a passenger like that impossible.

Best Books in 2013 – My goal is always to read a book a week but sometimes the books are long and complex so that’s not possible. In 2013 I read about 30 and my top four follow.

"Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results” – The best book on creativity I’ve ever read. A well-documented creativity process where you manipulate the attributes of a current product to achieve an entirely new, breakthrough product.

"Kingdom Man” – This is a God-centered book on masculinity and manhood. Dr. Evans describes how a man should lovingly lead his wife, his family, his church and his community. It’s a very traditional message that has disappeared from our culture.

"The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization Revolution” – The best book I’ve read on building a culture within an organization. Culture is probably one of the most important and least focused on duties of managers and corporate leaders.

"The 50th Law” – Never believed I would have found a book by a rap star to be the most personally inspiring book of 2013. His message of resilience, persistence, accurate thinking and absolute fearlessness in the context of transforming from a crack dealer to rap star to a music industry executive to an entrepreneur with multiple businesses is well-worth reading.

Best Supplement in 2013 – I rediscovered Vitamin D. “Vitamin D” is really a hormone and not a vitamin. Very valuable to those of us in the north where we get little direct sunlight. It enhances our immune system and fights inflammation. I take D3/K2 which I get on Amazon (as always check with your doctor).

Best Trip in 2013 – Tie between 3 weeks of exploring Bologna, Italy and my scuba dive trip to Florida where I did my first cave dive and my first shark dive.

Best Health Advice from 2013 – Avoid the white stuff; breads, pasta, white rice and the all the rest. If your waist is on the wrong side of 40” you have a date with a heart attack. Better start a more healthy diet and some exercise.

Best Exercise in 2013 – I always avoided it in the gym but I learned in 2013 that the recumbent exercise bicycle is very valuable as it puts pressure on the balls of your feet. The balls of your feet are actually an acupressure point and have lots of positive effects on your health.

Best Relationship Tip in 2013 – If you’re interested in really improving your relationship with your wife, try this. Each day from today until Christmas, look for one wonderful thing you appreciate about your wife from that particular day and write a few sentences about it in a journal. Then give that to her as a Christmas present. The act of looking for kindness, generousness, honesty, love and all the rest will change how you treat her which will change how she treats you and improve your relationship. She’ll love the journal and best of all; you won’t have to shop for a Christmas present next year.

Best Career Advice in 2013 – Keep Learning. The economy is in transition. The only way to prepare is always be learning.

Best Football Game in 2013 – Auburn - Alabama (only if you’re not a fan of the tide).

Best Money Advice in 2013 – Pay yourself first. Ten percent, right off the top into a long term savings plan. Even if you find $20 on the floor, contribute $2 to the fund.

Best Personal Advice from 2013 – “Once you have determined who you are and what principles you believe in (you’ve done this, haven’t you?), don’t be afraid to communicate that clearly and consistently by the way you live your life. Ignore whatever criticism that may come your way and forget about wooing those who cannot be wooed.” Dan Kennedy from

Worst Moment in 2013 – I get swindled out of 400 Euros on the street in Bologna Italy.

Worst Web Entry in 2013 – In a post on an employee resources website, McDonald's cautioned its workers against making the "unhealthy choice" of eating fast food items like hamburgers and French fries.

Thank God I Wasn’t Any of Them in 2013 – Anthony Weiner (NYC Mayoral Candidate and Sexter), Lance Armstrong (Bicyclist, Liar & Steroid Abuser), Bob Filner (Mayor San Diego & Woman Abuser) or Rob Ford (Mayor Toronto & Crack Head).

It was a great year. I traveled to a number of places I’ve never visited, did things I never expected to do, exceeded every goal I had at work and developed and deepened friendships. Every morning one of the first things I do is to literally count my blessings. It’s a pretty long list. I’d like to thank all of you for being customers of our little company, for giving me the opportunity to write these silly little columns and most of all, for letting us serve you and help you accomplish your goals.

My absolute best to you and your loved ones in 2014!


Trivia Challenge

· According to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, more vehicles are stolen on what day of the year than on any other holiday throughout the year?

· Roughly what per cent of the Earth's land surface is covered in permanent snow and ice?

· "Champagne powder," "corduroy," and "mashed potatoes" are terms used by skiers to do what?

· What do people wear on New Year's Day in Italy as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year?



Answers located on bottom of page.

2014 Technologies


Information technologies have experienced a massive increase in capabilities and decreasing cost for years now. The price-performance curve for processors, memory and communications capabilities is now bringing a whole host of “Big Bang Disruptions” to all sorts of industries and business models. It used to be that new technologies were generally marginal, low quality and only partially innovative. But what I’m seeing now is Big Bang Disruptions driven by the latest in software, memory and communications that tend to be mainstream, high quality, very innovative and lower in cost. For example, notice how cell phones have displaced photo cameras, video cameras, day timers, watches, maps, auto GPS systems, music players and more?

And there are more Big Bang Disruptions coming. I believe that 2014 is the beginning of a massive shift in how we live, how we work and how we play. Our home lives and our work lives will be entirely different in the next few years. And I don’t say that lightly. I am seeing radical change, the magnitude of another industrial revolution. If you’re a manufacturer, if you’re a system integrator, if you build hardware devices or if you develop software, you’re standing on quicksand. There are unprecedented threats (and opportunities) in every business and every business model. It’s likely that nothing, no product, no business, will be left untouched.

Here's my list of 2014 list of technologies that are going to lead this next industrial revolution.


What is it?

HTML5 is the latest incarnation of HTML. What started out as a simple markup language has evolved into HTML5, an amazing vehicle to deliver information in ways you’ve only seen in dedicated applications.

HTML5 is really a combination of a vastly improved HTML markup language, advanced Javascript and CSS 3 (Cascading Style Sheets). Combine all that with WebRTC, the addition of embedded Real Time Communications in the browser environment to support video, audio and real time data communications, and you have an exponential increase in capabilities. Advancements like allowing web pages to play video, audio, scale, mask, provide perspective, do fades, rotations, flips, spin 3D images, have vector graphics and transport real time data, all with very simple Javascript commands. Not only can you do more but you can do a lot more with much less effort than a native C++ or Visual C application.

Google engineers rebuilt the shooter game, “Quake II,”  entirely in HTML5 code. All of the 3D graphics, networking, local game saving, and other features are entirely in HTML code with some JavaScript. See it here: http://code google com/p/quake2-gwt-port/.

Why is it disruptive?

· It kills a lot of plug-ins, specifically things like FLASH and AJAX. Skype, Go-to-Meeting and other proprietary PC applications can be recreated easily.

· The traditional telephone system we have today and VOIP are less attractive.

· Web applications are now more attractive to developers than native applications. They will be easier, faster, more functional and less costly to build than traditional applications.

· HTML5 Apps can run directly on any device without any reprogramming.

· Web Apps are always up to date – no updates to do. App vendors like the Financial Times and others are already shifting away from apps in an app store to HTML5 Browser apps.

How will it affect Industrial and Building Automation?

· More and better web presentations from even smaller devices

· More Integrated video and audio

· More standard, lower cost hardware for HMIs. The traditional HMI business may be severely impacted. They can’t compete with the functionalities offered by HTML5 web applications.

· All current OPC Drivers are obsolete. They won’t work with web apps.

The real benefit is that it unshackles hardware from software. Developers will easily build software applications that run on your desktop, phone and plant floor display.

3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)

What is it?

Everyone probably knows something about this one. Essentially it is a plate below a nozzle that shoots material onto the plate. As the structure grows, the plate moves down until the structure is complete. The structures can be built using plastics, rubber, polyurethane-like materials, wood, ceramic, proteins and even CHOCOLATE. Some printers can do over 100 different materials. NASA is testing a rocket engine it printed. Even printing of meat and human organ are under development.

Websites are being setup to hold designs that you can download and print. Currently, the largest one is Thingaverse ( where people upload and share printer STL files. Now 3D scanners are also emerging where you can scan some physical item and re-print it.

Why is it disruptive?

Imagine a world where instead of heading down to the local grocery store when you are out of diapers, you simply download a diaper design and print it. What value is mass production when consumers can produce as needed? What does that do to the entire manufacturing and global supply system? Who needs Amazon drones to deliver anything then?

This changes the entire manufacturing ecosystem and affects global shipping, transportation, energy usage and more. If rocket engines can be printed, what cant’ be? And if people all over the world are scanning and printing your product, what do you do about it? Looks like the troubles of the music industry over the last years are coming to all the makers of all sorts of widgets.

How will it affect Industrial and Building Automation?

Anyone that makes physical goods from any material will be affected. The cost and time need for prototyping is greatly reduced. But the ability to recreate or steal designs is much easier as well. This could help usher in a new industrial revolution of physical goods manufacturing.

Internet of Things

What is it?

Everyone has talked about driverless cars, smart refrigerators and intelligent homes but now the technology price/performance curve has reached a point where this is a reality. Some estimates are that we will have 50 BILLION web enabled devices in 20 years. That might be low. It could be trillions in the next 50 years.

It’s in its infancy but it will grow fast. For example, for a glimpse of the future create an account and try which stands for IF THIS THEN THAT. On that web site you can build recipes which cause web devices to take action based on an input from some other web data provider. That site allows you to build rules and connect anything to anything. It’s limited today but it’s just a bare beginning of how the web is going to change how we work, play and live our lives.

Why is it disruptive?

The IoT revolution is going to transform how we care for the sick and the elderly, how we monitor our health and how we live in our homes. Our bodies will be continuously connected via health sensors. Even Marketing and Sales will be revolutionized though an unprecedented amount of post-sale information. Your customers will likely become crowd source collaborators on future editions of your product.

How will it affect Industrial and Building Automation?

IoT will disrupt the deployment of automation systems in ways we can’t even imagine today. I expect a manufactured component to start out as an IoT device, take input from current customers and interact with other devices to build itself into a custom appliance, automobile or even diaper with advanced new features – all automatically. Anything is possible.

Other Technologies of Note

Crowdsourcing – The concept of customers being part of your design team is going to be a reality. GE recently made a single cache of flight data from its engines available for anyone to analyze and propose ways to increase engine efficiency. You can expect to see this for almost every product. Your design team will more and more be data captured directly from your customers or customers providing information or actual designs.

Automation of Knowledge Work – Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and user interfaces will equip systems to perform tasks now required of knowledged workers.

Advanced Robotics – Driverless Cars (Robot drivers), fully interactive robots with advanced sight and hearing will find use in slightly dangerous jobs in construction, animal slaughtering and soldiering. They will be able to do almost any job.



Fun Facts

·Average snowflakes fall at 3.1mph.

·About one billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year. The holiday is second only to Christmas in terms of the number of cards sent.

·Ice is a mineral.

·A single snow strom can drop 40 million tons of snow, carrying the engery equivalent to 120 atom bombs.

·Hot water freezes faster than cold water.

·The greeting card association estimates that 85% of all Valentine cards are purchased by women.


  Trivia Answers: New Year's Day; 12%; Describe different kinds of snow; Red underwear
  RTA Website