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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Social Isolation at the Speed of Light - Ham Radio Operators Undeterred During Spring Contests

After weeks of news media frenzy on the Covid-19 epidemic we’re all weary of the social isolation imposed on friends and families. Many stay connected via television, and social media but another social network remains unseen to most. Amateur radio operators (known colloquially as ham operators) populate their FCC licensed radio spectrum sandwiched between commercial radio and TV channels. There are over 730,000 federally licensed hams in the US, with several million internationally. In spite of Covid-19, the global ham radio community remains actively social, communicating long distance wirelessly.

By day I’m an investor, writer and technology consultant. After hours the large computer screen on my desk becomes an SDR display for my amateur radio station (SDR is Software Defined Radio). Last night I tuned in to monitor several ham radio contest events. The month of April features many Spring season “QSO parties”. A QSO party is a contest in which hams make radio contact with as many other stations as possible in a predetermined time period (usually a day or two). WA7BNM (Bruce Horn) publishes a comprehensive list of ham radio contest schedules with eight events scheduled this April. [1] Thanks Bruce for a great resource.  

As a hobby, amateur radio has evolved to a new level of sophistication. SDR is Software Defined Radio. Recent adaption of FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays, a specialized ASIC device technology, (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) found in communications electronics now provide a graphic view of the RF spectrum and its radio signal inhabitants. Utilizing “direct RF (Radio Frequency) sampling” techniques, ASIC technology extracts a radio’s received spectral data and displays it on a computer screen much as an integer number line, or in this case a spectral line extending above and below the zero point frequency (with zero referencing the radio’s tuning dial pointer). SDR graphic displays have revealed that as ham radio operators, we also comprise a real life “Matrix”. Hams populating their FCC allocated radio spectrum can be seen as individual signal traces along the spectral line. The signal traces scroll over time on a “water fall” display leaving after image “foot prints” behind. Run the embedded YouTube video I’ve prepared and you can see the spectral display I’ve described (approx 2 minutes run time). [2] The signals you can hear are captured by the tuner centered on the spectral display. Switching display modes can also provide an oscilloscope view of the signal’s audio envelope. In the past, radio receiver display technology was little more than a box with an inscribed tuning dial. SDR technology was first seen in military applications but now enabling ASIC device technology is also utilized in many automotive and consumer products. The display images in my video were taken from my Icom IC-7610 transceiver. Icom’s first SDR radio the IC-7300 features an Altera EP4CE55F23I7N Cyclone IV E running at 200MHz) which facilitates simultaneous audio processing and graphic display of this information. Advanced specifications aside, SDR has helped enhance the “social” aspect of our hobby. At a glance hams can “see” live radio spectrum to quickly identify lone signals or clustered contest/network activity. Tuning the radio is simplified. Point at a signal trace on the graphic display and a mouse click will tune there instantly, minimal dial tweaking necessary.

Ham radio contest enthusiasts empowered by SDR have infused the community with new interest. Many of these social contest events feature highly coveted award certificates. A few examples are: The DX Century Club award, (DX meaning distance) is presented to operators confirming contact with one hundred international stations. Similarly there’s a Worked All Countries award, Worked All States award and Worked All Counties Award (challenging as you must confirm radio contact with hams populating every state county in the US). 
In spite of the Covid-19 epidemic amateur radio remains a vibrant, socially active hobby connecting hams globally. In times of emergency, natural disasters, or communications outages, hams provide a volunteer base of highly skilled communications operators with global reach. Although there’s been no call for ham radio communications during the current Covid-19 epidemic, a valuable volunteer resource stands ready. In the interim, social distancing at light speed is great fun. Dropping out of warp now. See you on the web.

For additional background on SDR technology see my March 2017 article “New Trends in The Field Programmable Gate Array Market - Software Defined Radio”.  [3]

For additional information on Amateur Radio see the American Radio Relay League web site. [4] 

Stay safe out there.   

Regards to all,
 
Thomas D. Jay

Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel



Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor.  No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated.  Thomas D. Jay opts out of requests to share personal information or unidentifiable user data. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitrationThomas D. Jay retains all copyright and moral rights to his published material, content and brand marketing, and shall in no case be represented, depicted or characterized by parties/entities other than his published "About Thomas D. Jay" descriptor. Contractual agreements are to be written and interpreted in the English language and are subject to the laws of the United States. These terms and conditions shall supersede any conflicting agreement. Clients, vendors and concerned parties should check my blog site at www.thomasdalejay.blogspot.com for periodic updates or changes to theses terms.


References and acknowledgements:

[1] WA7BNM, Bruce Horn web site. 
https://www.contestcalendar.com/index.html  

[2] Thomas D. Jay, YouTube Channel Video 
https://youtu.be/fMkHVz23lkw

[3] Thomas D. Jay, Blog article, New Trends in Field Programmable Gate Arrays
https://thomasdalejay.blogspot.com/2017/03/new-trends-in-field-programmable-gate.html 

[4] American Radio Relay League web site
arrl.org



Friday, March 27, 2020

A Work at Home Update

My work at home video greeting.  Like most of you I've been working at home this past week. Working at home is nothing new to me. It's been a routine for many years as I've managed sales and marketing organizations in the semiconductor equipment industry.  I've lived in Florida for over ten years now.  It's similar to silicon valley as we have palm trees and warm weather year round.  We have hurricanes here but no earth quakes.  Business wise it can be quite different as the aerospace industry and NASA have been established in Florida for many years.  There are a few wafer fabs but nothing like Silicon Valley.  On a positive note the cost of living is significantly lower and technology companies are everywhere.  There's no state income task and energy is inexpensive.  If you're a technologist seeking a new challenge or if you're retired, you should consider Florida for relocation.  I moved here years ago after a divorce hoping to start a new family.  If you're fortunate enough to have a faithful lady bring her with you.  Florida is a great place to raise a family. 

Be safe everyone.  Have a great weekend!

Regards to all,
 
Thomas D. Jay

Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel



Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor.  No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated.  Thomas D. Jay opts out of requests to share personal information or unidentifiable user data. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitrationThomas D. Jay retains all copyright and moral rights to his published material, content and brand marketing, and shall in no case be represented, depicted or characterized by parties/entities other than his published "About Thomas D. Jay" descriptor. Contractual agreements are to be written and interpreted in the English language and are subject to the laws of the United States. These terms and conditions shall supersede any conflicting agreement. Clients, vendors and concerned parties should check my blog site at www.thomasdalejay.blogspot.com for periodic updates or changes to theses terms.






Thursday, March 26, 2020

Using Semiconductor Manufacturing Technique to Combat Covid-19



Containing the Covid-19 virus has been an unexpected challenge. Many business and retail stores are closing or reducing hours in an attempt to halt the spread of the illness. In particular, local restaurants and fast food chains are grappling with losses. The food service industry is particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 as the virus can be easily propagated during food preparation and service/delivery to customers. Given this epidemic, we might utilize already established semiconductor industry technique to address and minimize this concern.

Keeping Products Clean and Isolated During Transport

Semiconductor manufacturing systems destined for a clean room wafer fab are assembled in a clean environment and specially wrapped prior to shipment. Typically systems are triple wrapped in a protective plastic covers. After arrival and offloading at the wafer fab, the first protective layer is removed and discarded along with any dust contaminants collected during shipping. The system is moved again to a prep and clean area where the second protective layer is removed. Finally after positioning in the wafer fab, the third protective layer is removed from the system. This procedure ensures the maintenance of a clean environment in the wafer fab and the particle integrity of the process tool.

Food Service Product Cleanliness During Transport/Delivery

Most consumer products are commonly wrapped or otherwise packaged in containers of some sort. In combating the Covid-19 virus, the concept of triple wrapping might be transferred to the food service industry. Bulk lot food transport and fast food delivery to customers could benefit from this concept. Food products would remain isolated/protected during transport with the final protective layer removed by the customer. Similarly this concept can be implemented for pharmaceuticals, medications and other consumer products.

Multi-layer plastic packaging might also address other concerns. The shelf life for consumer products in plastic packaging varies. The plastic bottles used for water and soft drink packaging provide an approximate one year shelf life. Tested with a helium mass spectrometer most plastics have an equivalent air leak rate approximating 1x10-6 standard cc/sec. (about one year). To be safe I dispose of bottled drinks with packaging dates exceeding one year. Plastic bottles wrapped in plastic might provide another layer of protection against exposure to hazardous materials. Reuse of the very thin plastic bags we encounter in retail and grocery stores should be avoided. Get a new one.

Larger Scale Decontamination/Clean Room Procedures

The semiconductor industry is unique in that computer chips are manufactured in an ultra- clean environment. A single microscopic speck of dust can contaminate and ruin a microprocessor or memory chip. To ensure the wafer fab (the computer chip factory) remains ultra clean, workers in the fab are dressed in hooded clean room suits. Covered head to toe, protective face masks and gloves also prevent dust particles from reaching process tools and product devices. Entering a wafer fab approximates the decontamination procedure seen in the movie “The Andromeda Strain”. After donning a clean room suit (a bunny suit) workers enter a secure, enclosed load locked entrance. After the entrance door locks behind them, bunny suited workers are particle decontaminated with a cluster of filtered high pressure air jets (an air shower) which spray them to remove clinging dust particles and debris. During this process workers rotate themselves in the air shower to expose all of their suited surface area for effective cleaning while a particle counter in the load lock measures the dust particle count per cubic foot. When the particle count is acceptable, workers can enter the wafer fab through the load lock exit door. If the particle spec is not met you can’t get in. The entrance to the fab remains locked, and the air shower cycle repeats until the particle count is acceptable. Only then will the fab entrance open. If this seems a bit extreme take heart in the knowledge that the isolation imposed by the bunny suit is offset by the thought of air showering with a friend.

A similar clean room protocol might be utilized for food service/other industries if the public health threat of viral contamination persists. Although viral organisms are very small (some of them only angstroms in size) conventional clean room procedures can greatly reduce their propagation by using effective isolation and packaging techniques during manufacturing and transport.

Kudos to Intel Corporation for donating clean room suits during the current Covid-19 epidemic. It might be possible to adapt other semiconductor resources and technique in the fight against the current epidemic.

Be safe everyone.  See my video update below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxI9lBae90Y

Regards to all,
 
Thomas D. Jay

Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel



Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor.  No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated.  Thomas D. Jay opts out of requests to share personal information or unidentifiable user data. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitrationThomas D. Jay retains all copyright and moral rights to his published material, content and brand marketing, and shall in no case be represented, depicted or characterized by parties/entities other than his published "About Thomas D. Jay" descriptor. Contractual agreements are to be written and interpreted in the English language and are subject to the laws of the United States. These terms and conditions shall supersede any conflicting agreement. Clients, vendors and concerned parties should check my blog site at www.thomasdalejay.blogspot.com for periodic updates or changes to theses terms.

Disclosure: I currently own shares of Intel. I purchased these shares prior to the Covid-19 epidemic and am invested for the long term. 



Monday, March 23, 2020

During the 1990 Persian Gulf War Kuwait Existed on the Web - We can Work at Home


This morning the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ opened electronically for the first time with a minimal complement of personnel on the floor. Traders are working remotely, and it appears that some of CNBC’s broadcast personalities are operating in isolation mode. I trade from home and am tracking market activity as I type this blog post. This is nothing new for me, I’ve worked remotely for many years. For many the concept requires some adjustment.

Also this morning the Federal Reserve announced it would purchase treasuries, and mortgage backed securities in the amount needed to sustain the economy. While this unprecedented injection of liquidity is welcome news, many business leaders remain tasked with ensuring efficient operations and logistics with a remote work force. While a remote work force can be effective acrossed many business platforms there is no substitute for brick and mortar infrastructure producing and delivering critical tangible product. The challenge is daunting but can be manageable. This morning on CNBC business news, Ken Langone [1], founder of Home Depot announced that competitor, Lowe’s had made its critical inventory available to Home Depot for distribution. It is this spirit of cooperation that must be replicated among our industrial base if we are to succeed in an unprecedented global crisis. Thank you Mr. Langone for your inspiring example and a rousing pep talk.

As my blog title suggests, we might look to Kuwait’s excellent example of how to manage an economy while providing for its citizens remotely. During the first Persian gulf conflict there was an exodus of Kuwait's displaced population to London, Europe and the United States. Perhaps historically, the Kuwaitis took their country with them. With electronic access to their country's wealth and the international banking system, Kuwait continued to function as a country and business entity in the cloud. For the first time in the world's history a nation existed and functioned electronically in hyperspace, untethered from its physical geography. Kuwait's political existence extended to its world wide connectivity with banking institutions, embassies and the United Nations. Similarly, Kuwait's finances and trading activities were all remotely accessible through the stock exchanges and SWIFT computers connecting the international banking system. Many of Kuwait's displaced citizens abroad established temporary residency in Europe and the U.S. aided by the continued financial support of their Kingdom which was fully functional on the web. This impressive logistical feat was managed remotely from London hotel suites and conference rooms with laptop computers and direct access to major financial institutions outside the middle east. See the link to an archived New York Times story [2]: http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/12/business/kuwaiti-bank-serves-an-economy-in-exile.html

Given today’s environment, the Kuwaiti example also underscores the strategic
necessity of implementing a secure 5G network in the United States. Equally import are the trusted foundries (DOD certified computer chip manufacturers) required to produce secure, highly reliable and radiation hardened 5G components. The Covid-19 crisis illustrates the need for our maintenance of a US based infrastructure.

For additional background on our global connectivity you can link to my November 2013 article, The Cloud of Nations.[3]

Be safe everyone.

Regards to all,

Thomas D. Jay
Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel



Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor.  No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated. Thomas D. Jay opts out of requests to share personal information or unidentifiable user data. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitrationThomas D. Jay retains all copyright and moral rights to his published material, content and brand marketing, and shall in no case be represented, depicted or characterized by parties/entities other than his published "About Thomas D. Jay" descriptor. Contractual agreements are to be written and interpreted in the English language and are subject to the laws of the United States. These terms and conditions shall supersede any conflicting agreement. Clients, vendors and concerned parties should check my blog site at www.thomasdalejay.blogspot.com for periodic updates or changes to theses terms.

References and acknowledgements:

[1] CNBC business news 3/23/2020, guest commentator Ken Langone, Founder/Cofounder Home Depot .

[2] New York Times Article, Kuwati Bank Serves an Economy in Exile, Stephen Prokesch 9/12/1990
http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/12/business/kuwaiti-bank-serves-an-economy-in-exile.html

[3] Thomas D. Jay, Blog Article, The Cloud of Nations, 11/28/2013
https://thomasdalejay.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-cloud-of-nations.html

Friday, March 20, 2020

A Covid-19 Advisory and a Message to Students


Another day of Corona virus pandemonium (Coronavirus, Covid-19). In spite of the many warnings by medical professionals and government officials it seems the student population has largely ignored advisories to self isolate and halt the spread of the virus. Recently, many television news outlets featured video clips of spring break students assembled on Florida’s beaches. Many of our younger generation are determined to party and object to the thought of social isolation (is there an ISO spec for this?). It might be difficult to criticize students for their spring break enthusiasm the day after (the permitted) election primary in Florida. Students are questioning the double standard of logic imposed by government officials. By now we should recognize the double standard concept can extend beyond political boundaries and propagate a real public health emergency (political viruses aside).

By nature, students are social creatures. Colleges and universities are tasked with imparting both knowledge and social skills. The appearance of a pandemic on the scale of Covid-19 could be unprecedented and we might take a different approach in communicating a “party in place” message to the student community.

As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, our Korean friends have excelled in their efforts to contain Covid-19. A tour of Military service is compulsory in Korean society. It’s likely that student participation in the Korean Armed Forces has instilled a greater sense of discipline among their youth. This social discipline may be responsible for Koreans’ success in more effectively containing Covid-19. How might we communicate this discipline to our students in the US?

A popular music video I found on YouTube might be inadvertently useful in communicating the concept of “party in place” (see the video link below).  An industrial site was chosen for the video shoot.  While not an optimal party setting, it provides an example of how we might socialize with minimal personal contact. It’s interesting to note that there are less than ten performers in the group. Some are wearing protective face masks, others are not, but all maintain a distance of at least six feet among them. As they move about the factory setting and emerge outdoors the discipline of their spacing and formation is maintained. Note the formation found at video/frame time index 2:27.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT05GiMlY4g&list=PLVMW-w8WazD4dw2EDmpGbhK-FnFSGnWdB&index=95&t=0s

While you might be critical of this example, (after all it's not a military drill) it seems to fit the current specification for social gatherings (someone needs to create an ISO/MiSO spec for this). Placing limitations on student gatherings has always been problematic. If you've ever told an American how to party you might be in big trouble.  It's our nature. Unnecessary examples: Don't mess with Texas, Don't mess with the US.  Our country began with a great party in Boston Harbor.  Given the Covid-19 epidemic, there's a real public health threat to consider.  Clear the deck, party inside and be safe.  

Students: Covid-19 can be life threatening to yourself and others (really). Be responsible and act accordingly.

I hope you find this blog post useful. Besides, MiSO's has a really cool party video. Be safe everyone.  Have a great week end.

Thanks MiSo. We love you!

Regards to all,
 
Thomas D. Jay

Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel



Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor.  No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated. Thomas D. Jay opts out of requests to share personal information or unidentifiable user data. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitrationThomas D. Jay retains all copyright and moral rights to his published material, content and brand marketing, and shall in no case be represented, depicted or characterized by parties/entities other than his published "About Thomas D. Jay" descriptor. Contractual agreements are to be written and interpreted in the English language and are subject to the laws of the United States. These terms and conditions shall supersede any conflicting agreement. Clients, vendors and concerned parties should check my blog site at www.thomasdalejay.blogspot.com for periodic updates or changes to theses terms.

References and acknowledgements:

[1] YouTube: MiSO music video. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT05GiMlY4g&list=PLVMW-w8WazD4dw2EDmpGbhK-FnFSGnWdB&index=95&t=0s


Thursday, March 19, 2020

In Times of Uncertainty Keep a Positive Attitude

If you’ve been monitoring news updates on the Corona virus and our economy you’re aware of the speculation and uncertainty promulgated in the media. Some business news “contributors”, fund managers and trading firms are expressing uncertainty while others encourage us to stand fast and weather the storm.

Seek Informed Insight

Rather than dwell on conjecture, a calmer voice in the storm was heard today. Ginny Rometti, IBM Chairman and CEO was interviewed on CNBC business news this morning and provided a more optimistic perspective. In spite of current economic volatility, IBM’s employee pension fund remains economically sound and it was reported the corporation is well positioned for the challenges ahead. IBM is also a valuable asset in combating the Corona virus. In addition to Watson’s advanced medical diagnostics, IBM is providing data clearing house resources intended to facilitate the coordination of Corona virus analytics on a global level. IBM is one example. Many corporations contribute to the stability of our economy and are similarly active in the global fight against the Corona virus.

Keep an Eye on Personal Finance

Financial concerns still abound. Many have recently lost money in the stock market. Before you panic and sell at a loss, consult your financial advisor or broker (I am neither). If your stock’s price has plunged, you might want to hold on and consider purchasing additional shares at a lower price. The new average share price will be much lower. When stock market prices rise again (they do eventually) you’ll be better positioned to recover. Using this technique I’ve reduced the average price of my stock holdings by over $5.00 per share. Consult your financial advisor to discuss tactics you might utilize to mitigate any loss.

Stay Current on Corona Virus Updates

As I type this post, I’m listening to President Trump on Fox News. President Trump and his team are doing an excellent job of managing a complex economy encumbered by a global health emergency. Stay informed and follow health guidelines provided by medical professionals. What ever your persuasion, put politics aside. Let’s work together to make a better world.

Speaking globally, our Korean friends seem to be doing better than most in containing the Corona virus. Kudos to team Korea in this difficult time.

Stay Upbeat

As we all self isolate (sounds ominous) take frequent breaks and keep your spirit up. As I consider the American right to the pursuit of happiness I’m reminded of a popular Korean song (globalism I suppose). I ‘ll leave you with a link to Red Velvet’s “Happiness” music video.

Be safe everyone.


Regards to all,
 
Thomas D. Jay

Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel



Corporate, private entities or publications referenced or linked in this article are the respective owners of their logos, trademarks, service marks, media content and intellectual property. Unless otherwise disclosed, Thomas D. Jay has no financial interest in companies referenced in blog articles or other published media communications. Thomas D. Jay is not a registered financial advisor.  No representation is made to either buy or sell securities. Opinions expressed by Thomas D. Jay are his own. Thomas D. Jay does not employ or otherwise utilize/authorize third party agents to express his opinions, represent his interests or conduct business on his behalf except where formally contractually designated. Thomas D. Jay opts out of requests to share personal information or unidentifiable user data. Thomas D. Jay does not agree to indemnify or hold harmless vendors, clients or third parties to related contractual agreements and reserves the right to applicable legal remedies in lieu of arbitrationThomas D. Jay retains all copyright and moral rights to his published material, content and brand marketing, and shall in no case be represented, depicted or characterized by parties/entities other than his published "About Thomas D. Jay" descriptor. Contractual agreements are to be written and interpreted in the English language and are subject to the laws of the United States. These terms and conditions shall supersede any conflicting agreement. Clients, vendors and concerned parties should check my blog site at www.thomasdalejay.blogspot.com for periodic updates or changes to theses terms.

References and acknowledgements:

[1] CNBC business news 3/19/2020, guest commentator Ginny Rometti, Chairman and CEO, IBM.

[2] "Happiness" Red Velvet music video, YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFgv8bKfxEs

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Corona Virus and the Work at Home Environment


In observing recent news media and LinkedIn chatter, reaction to the Corona virus pandemic has been mixed. In the business sector of our economy the severity of of reactions range from calm, measured statements of guidance to varying levels of uncertainty sometimes punctuated in panic. Similarly, reactive response by LinkedIn netizens has ranged across the board. In response to the recent work at home/quarantine mantra I’m most surprised by professionals’ postings expressing reservations/displeasure about working at home. Many broadcast media personalities (and LinkedIn netizens) now appear on camera in informal attire in a home office environment (or in front of a green screen). We might interpret this as adaptive bravado or a genuine attempt to illustrate the realities imposed by work at home isolation. The Corona virus epidemic is real and must be effectively managed. If you are able to work at home make the most of this advantage. Many working in factories or public/retail venues are not as fortunate as they face the possibility/reality of layoffs.

As a career sales and marketing professional in the semiconductor industry (I’m now semi-retired) I spent much of my work week visiting customers. On the road travel was the norm. With sales responsibility for most of North America I commuted by air on a regular basis. Closer to home I spent many hours in my company car. Office? My brief case, cell phone and laptop were my office most of the week. At home I had a well equipped office from which I managed a multi-million dollar sales territory and several other remote professionals. As a regional team we met on conference calls, customer visits, trade shows and often got in a quick wave as we traversed airports. If you’re a sales and marketing road warrior you’re familiar with this work day norm.

Working at Home

Many professionals are quite comfortable with a mixed itinerary of travel and a home office/office at home environment. Working from home requires discipline. If the idea of working at home alone is new to you, I’ll provide some friendly but essential advice.

- I’ll forego the obvious concerns with children, pets and family. Make the best possible arrangements and accommodations.

- Be properly equipped; phones/fax, computer/video cam etc. Maintain a dedicated a work area if possible, ideally a separate room where a closed door provides privacy and a quite environment. If possible/convenient, forward your office work phone to your home office or cell phone.

- Rise early and be dressed for the business day. Be prepared to receive visitors (at home) or leave at a moments notice. You might be called to your company’s business office or customer site unexpectedly. If you receive a video call you’ll be camera ready. If you’re dressed for business you’ll feel and be more effective and professional. Wear a neck tie when required (on camera or customer site).

- Contract essential services. My company contracted a local travel agent a few miles from my home. When needed the agent could deliver airline tickets/boarding passes to my home within minutes enabling a quick escape to customer sites.

- Contract an air courier, Fed-X, UPS, or DHL for home pick up service and delivery. Be prepared to send/receive important documents any time.

- Telephone answering service or answering machine? One of my reps hired a remote telephone receptionist to take messages. The receptionist was a very pleasant lady and seemed very efficient. A few weeks later he canceled the answering service. While she was a gracious voice on the phone, she had difficulty transcribing the highly technical messages left by our customers. When transcripted, terms like molecular beam epitaxy and electron beam lithography became hopelessly garbled. We laughed and agreed an answering machine might be better suited for our communications. Make the choice best suited for your profession.

- Be proactive. Keep in constant phone contact with your customers. Call to advise them you’re working at home in spite of the Corona virus concern. Assure them of your availability and your company’s services. An advisory phone call to your customer also provides an opportunity to update your sales forecast, shipment schedule or other important information.

- If it’s after 5:00 PM eastern time, call your customers in the central time zone and work westward until 5:00 PM there (or west to east). I would frequently receive phone calls from the Santa Clara factory after 5:00 PM my time. If the phone rang I answered as I often received important shipment information for my customers. Amusingly, some at the factory would grumble if I called there after 5:00 PM west coast time (8:00 PM my time). Set your own best guidelines on telephone hours. If my customers called I answered 24/7.

- Lunch and food. I don’t eat breakfast but have one cup of coffee in the morning. Lunch is thirty minutes including prep time. Your lunch menu and habits may vary but don’t be distracted while working. Dinner is after 5:00 PM. With much to do there should be no idle time.

- I’ll conclude with my commentary on video calls and conferencing. Video calls can be very useful. Example: a hardware customer with a smart phone and Wi-Fi can show you his problem; if process equipment you can see dials, gauges and abnormal mechanical behavior. If a personal call it can be advantageous to better read/assure your customer while negotiating contracts or sales/service issues. Unfortunately many feel uncomfortable on camera (as a TV and radio production student in college I don’t). Many aren’t camera ready and feel self conscious (bad hair day, make up etc.). In addition, with the proliferation of nonsense on the internet many are afraid of being “Skyped”. The definition of the term ”Skyped” varies, some positive some negative or humorous. Resultingly many are uncertain enough that they call using audio only. Unfortunate. After years of Star Trek and the futuristic video calling depicted in movies many are reluctant to communicate via video or the “Skype apparatus”. Be comfortable and professional what ever your choice.

- Multi-task. As I type this post, I’m listening to CNBC audio. I maintain diversity by also surfing Fox News, Fox Business News, Bloomberg and C-Span. Be informed. They might eliminate the Corona virus and you’ll have to go to the office. 

Gotta go and check email/LinkedIn. It’s lunch time!

Be safe everyone.

Regards to all,
 
Thomas D. Jay

Semiconductor Industry Consultant
Thomas.Dale.Jay@gmail.com
https://ThomasDaleJay.blogspot.com
Thomas D. Jay YouTube Channel



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