ISC   Information Support Concepts, Inc
A Certified Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE)

Issue 13

Publisher:  Jack Burlin                                Editor:  Patti Hammonds

July 5, 2006

IN THIS ISSUE
Your success story            Monthly product special            Kevinisms            Trivia         

Articles of Interest:  Revisiting the Two Elements of Risk            Part 13:  "When is a toilet like a salt shaker?"

Back to ISC Main Page

Your Success Story

Jack,

I just wanted to say thanks to you and all those at ISC Corp. for the tremendous assistance and professional manner in which you handled all the items associated with our recent LAN Rack purchase, in spite of the set back with the original supplier.  You provided excellent service and follow through that made dealing with you and your company a very good experience.

Thanks again for enabling us to obtain an item that was essential for us to solve a safety issue and for sticking with the problems until we could resolve each issue.  You have truly been a great help and your commitment to seeing the task through to completion has been most helpful and deeply appreciated.  I donít usually find that kind of resolve and just wanted to let you know how much it is appreciated.

Sincerely,

 Michael Johnson
Systems Administrator

 

Monthly Product Special

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Since the "hottest" issue in data centers today revolves around effective methods of cooling and thermal management (see the report from AFCOM in the November newsletter), here is another ISC product that fits perfectly with the theme.  As remote control of data centers continues to grow,  an effective and economical method of monitoring the environment in each cabinet will continue to be a priority.  The SH-2 environmental sensor hub is designed to alert managers/administrators if any of the preset thresholds are exceeded.  The most common factor being monitored is temperature, but with two sensor ports, the SH-2 is capable of monitoring a second factor (like humidity, water, security, voltage, etc.) as well.  The synergy provided by a remote power manager and an environmental sensor is exceptional, as one can alert you of a problem while the other allows you to remotely shutdown the affected component before there
is a catastrophic failure. 
 
Call 800-458-6255 for more information.  Mention the July newsletter article for 5% off*!

*The 5% discount  will be applied to retail customers only, and cannot be combined with other offers. 
 Valid through July 31, 2006. 

The Two Elements of Risk
Continued from March 2006

Most people donít really understand risk.  Nor do they realize they are flirting with disaster in many day-to-day situations.  As an example, what would be the loss to you and your company if your primary server should overheat and suffer damage?

There are lots of ways to deal with risk, but first you need to understand that risk is comprised of two components:

  • The likelihood of an event (this is the probability of something happening)

  • The resulting outcome (what will be the effect once the cause triggers)

 The March 2006 article noted that most people are pretty familiar with outcomes.  They can visualize what would happen in the situation where the company server goes down due to catastrophic failure.  Thousands (or millions) of dollars can be lost, along with significant effects on company operations (such as email, databases, accounts receivable and accounts payable, payroll, etc.).  This article expands the discussion of outcomes for the minority who have difficulties in this area.

 Sometimes, it is easy to understand the effect that will ensue if a certain event happens.  For example, if your server overheats it is pretty easy to understand that it will probably stop working.  However, putting a dollar figure on this event is a bit more difficult to define.

 An anecdotal example from the nuclear power industry illustrates the point very well.  Nuclear power plants require refueling every 18 months.  The refueling processes, called "outages," are scheduled during the Spring and Fall when the demand for power is lowest.  Some plants can be refueled in three weeks, while others take six weeks or longer.  It depends on the type of reactor, the type of fuel used, and what other modifications or upgrades are taking place at the same time.  Since these outages are planned well in advance, the plant can also plan for maintaining the other parts of the generating system, including steam generators, turbines, reactor vessel heads, etc.  These components are not replaced as often as fuel, but still need to be replaced every so often.  Sometimes they have approached the end of their useful life, while other times it is more economical to bring in a new, higher technology (more efficient) unit to replace a less efficient one.  There is also a significant amount of inspection and repair that takes place during an outage.  When maintenance teams find any anomalies, they must be prepared to repair or replace the designated component. 

Left Photo: Cooling tower, turbine buildings, and reactor vessels of a typical nuclear power plant.
Right Photo:  Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant (shown under construction)

When outages run longer than expected, it costs the company in terms of downtime, lost generating capacity, lost revenues/profits, as well as the unanticipated cost of repairs.  Everyone dealing with an outage is very aware of what it costs the company when problems are encountered that affect downtime.  Yet even so, they sometimes make the wrong choice.

During an outage, a team was doing inspections on the steam generators.  They found that the bearings on one generator were wearing out faster than the bearings on the other generators.  The difference was small, but there was still an anomaly.  The estimated cost to disassemble the generator, test it to discover the source of the problem, make any needed repairs, and put the generator back into service was approximately $100,000.  Plant management felt that although there was a slight probability that the generator would fail, they felt the expense was excessive and wanted to get the plant back online quickly.  They chose not to find out why the bearings were showing extra wear, and decided instead to monitor that generator closely and compare the rate of bearing wear with the rates from the other generators.

When the bearings suddenly failed and the steam generator suddenly became useless hulk of twisted metal, the one time expenditure of $100,000 was recognized as a very small price to pay to ensure the proper operation of the generator.  The loss of the generator caused an unplanned outage at the plant.  The generator replacement costs were in the millions of dollars, which does not take into account the millions lost due to the plant being down.

When the consequences are disproportionately high, even very unlikely events can cause huge problems, and need to be reevaluated accordingly.

At the beginning of the article, the question was asked about the loss to the company if the primary server should overheat and be damaged or destroyed.  The costs are going to be higher than most people think.

Everyone can readily understand these costs:

  • Replacement cost (to buy a new server)

  • Man hours required to physically replace the damaged server

These costs are not so easily understood:

  • Administrative costs (finding the right server, placing the order, receiving the server at shipping, getting the server to the techs to install it)

  • Downtime due to reprogramming

  • Downtime due to loss of data and use of backup data

  • Downtime while the server is not in operation (internal - employees and processes)

  • Downtime while the server is not in operation (external - customers and vendors)

  • Opportunity cost (what "could" have been done with the money instead of replacing the server)

In summary, a small expenditure that protects you from the potential of a catastrophic loss can turn out to be very economical.

Click here for information on this month's product special.  The SH-2 sensor hub is an economical way to ensure your high dollar hardware can be monitored in real time.  Don't put your hardware in danger!  Call  ISC (home of the Rackmount Ranger) at 800-458-6255 for help in selecting the correct product for your application.

 

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Kevinisms

A Kevinism is a funny or intriguing statement or idea from our Vice President of Sales, Kevin Hunt.  Kevin is a big fan of Sandra Bullock, Pizza Inn black olive pizza, and Dr. Pepper (not necessarily in that order).  He is not a big fan of Chinese food, seafood, or other types of "dead" stuff.

In previous articles I have commented on some of the things Kevin likes to do when we are at lunch.  Lunchtime is when Kevin's mind is free to take ideas or words that other people are discussing and then go off on a "tangent."  Kevin is so well known for this that Robin always tells people joining Kevin for lunch for the first time that they don't need to take anything Kevin says seriously while they are away from the office.  She tells people that when they are in doubt, just look over at her.  If she is shaking her head, they know Kevin is "off on a tangent."

We recently had five people from the office together for lunch at the local El Chico.  (See the October 2005 newsletter issue for the story of Joe Chavez and a photo of he and Kevin at the restaurant.)  We were all busily enjoying our meals when Rebecca (one of our two administrative assistants) mentioned that Scott (her man - the wedding is set for April 21, next year) treated her so nicely that he frequently did things like giving her a back rub without even having to be asked.

Kevin was listening very intently, and just at this point commented, "Hey, that's just the way I am!"

Whereas it might be strictly true that Kevin does do nice things for Robin without being asked, within the context of Kevin "going off on a tangent," this statement produced nothing short of hilarity.  The four other people at the table immediately broke up, and I personally could barely keep from shooting salsa out my nose.

You never know what Kevin is going to say at lunch, but you can always count on it being entertaining.  Of course it always helps to have Robin close by as a combination translator/barometer.

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Trivia Question

Here is an easy question for all our observant readers.

What is this a map of?

All correct answers will be placed into a pool for a random drawing at the end of the month.  The winner will receive a free 25 foot reel of reusable velcro cable ties (part number MD88-25RLBK), plus free ground shipping.  Send your answers to: 
Jack Burlin

See next month's newsletter for the winner and the correct answer.

Answer from June's Newsletter.

Q:  How is it possible to draw a triangle with three 90 degree angles?

A:  The secret to drawing a triangle with three 90 degree angles is that it cannot be done in a "plane."  In plane geometry, a triangle can only have one 90 degree angle, and the total of all angles add up to 180 degrees.

This triangle needs to be drawn on the surface of a sphere.  As an example, consider the globe.  If you start at the North pole, you can draw a line down to the equator, then you turn 90 degrees and draw a line on the equator until you have traversed 90 degrees of latitude.  Then draw a line back up to the North Pole.  You will have a triangle with three 90 degree angles.

The winner was Paul Connally.
 

 

When is a toilet

 like a salt shaker?

 

Part 13  Continued from June

     Since the October 2005 issue the following personality types have been defined:
 

The men who prefer the toilet seat up are: Macho Men
The women who prefer the toilet seat up are: Fairy Godmothers
The men who prefer the toilet seat down are: Men of Leisure
The women who prefer the toilet seat down are: Queens of the Realm
The men who prefer the lid down are: Paleolithic Men
The women who prefer the lid down are: Interior Decorators
The men who have no preference are: Philosopher Kings
The women who have no preference are: Warrior Princesses


     In this issue, we address the conflicts that can arise when different personalities interact within the same household.  Conflict is inevitable when multiple personalities interact, although the level of conflict differs depending on which of the four types of men are interacting with which of the four types of women.  The possibilities can be shown graphically in a four by four grid pattern:

  Macho Man Man of Leisure Paleolithic Man Philosopher King
     Fairy Godmother NC + OR - + OR - + OR -
     Queen of the Realm ++ NC + +
     Interior Decorator ++ + OR - ++ +
     Warrior Princess NC NC NC NC

     Here is what the symbols in the above grid represent:

     NC = no conflict,     + OR - = possible conflict,     + = minor conflict,     ++ = major conflict
 

     Conflict Analysis

     First let's examine the areas shown in the grid where there are no conflicts (NC). 

     The thing that really stands out in the grid above regards the Warrior Princess.  These women are simply too busy and/or too driven to care very much about the position of the toilet seat.  It is too trivial to worry about, so the simply accept what their man wants.  This is another reason why we love our Warrior Princesses.  However, if the time should come when the Warrior Princess is pushed too far and the position of the toilet seat DOES become a big deal, then watch out!  The Warrior Princess immediately morphs into a Queen of the Realm.

     The Fairy Godmother has no conflict with the Macho Man.  The Fairy Godmother only wants to please the Macho Man, and her existence is a direct result of being associated with a Macho Man.  Fairy Godmothers usually start out as some other personality type, and come into being when they pair up with the Macho Man.  Once the pairing is in place, there is no conflict, at least as far as the position of the toilet seat is concerned.

     The Queen of  the Realm has no conflict with the Man of Leisure, as they are in total agreement with each other.


Continued next month with the areas where conflicts may arise between different personalities in the same house.

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Information Support Concepts, Inc.
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