Tom S.

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On November 19, 2016, Tom S. commented on Wells Fargo: Banking in the Digital Age :

Interesting that online banking has led to so many retail bank closings. Moving more and more banking services online will probably only increase this trend as you mention, through things like face to face chat with employees for things like basic questions and banking services. I think a great new online banking trend is the proliferation of personal finance tools. This is really helpful for things like budgeting and tracking spending by category. If Wells Fargo can develop an app that lets you plug in your budget and then the app tracks how much you are spending in each category and whether you are above or below budget for a given period, that would be extremely useful.

Thanks for the architecture article (I enjoy the subject). While Gehry Technologies pioneered the use of collaborative software in the architecture and structural engineering space, it could really be applied in any design capacity to streamline the design process. The ability to design a physical product in a team must require a great deal of work on many separate aspects of the product design. I would imagine that sometimes the component that one designer is creating could be incompatible with an adjacent component if the two designers are not communicating. I think having everyone linked to the same “master” design file such as the one that GT is using with their software program would really eliminate this sort of miscommunication and wasted effort.

On November 19, 2016, Tom S. commented on LEGO in a Digital World :

That’s too bad that kids are losing interest in LEGOs. This article caught my eye as a former avid-LEGO user. I think these new ideas are compelling – crowdsourcing designs, the LEGO movie, LEGO Dimensions, LEGO computer games – but they get away from the key value proposition of the toy – building a physical product with your hands. The more you steer away from this then the less relevant the brand is going to be. I think it would be better to integrate the physical LEGO blocks with digital space using sensors or something where the LEGOs can interact with the internet. Maybe you could build a LEGO object that then gets scanned in to be the spaceship for a computer game or something. That would put the tangible LEGO blocks front and center while still tying into digital media.

On November 19, 2016, Tom S. commented on Michelin: Tires-as-a-Service :

The idea of integrating data analytics with tires is an interesting one, especially since tires aren’t a product one typically associates with complex component parts, sensors, or anything other than rubber. One thing that occurred to me is that this technology they have developed that gathers information on fuel consumption, tire pressure, temperature, speed, and location would be well-applied in the field of self-driving cars. In a world where everyone is mindful of fuel efficiency and cutting costs, building the Michelin programs into these self-driving vehicles would reduce the amount of wear and tear on the car and reduce fuel consumption (could have written about that for the climate change post too).

On November 19, 2016, Tom S. commented on Building the 21st Century Government :

That’s great that India is moving so much of its government services online. When I was there, the tricky part wasn’t just the infrastructure limitations of the country, which is still developing, but lack of awareness of how those infrastructure limitations would affect me. I think the availability of this data to the citizen will help solve this.

For example, trains were frequently late, and sometimes by a matter of hours. It would have really helped to know this in advance through an online portal, so that I wasn’t sitting on the track.

Another example is power outages. When I was there is 2007 there wasn’t enough power in Bangalore to power the whole city, so they would shut off the power to one section of the city at a time in order to allocate it equitably across different neighborhoods. Each day the lights would turn off randomly in our office for a half hour at a time. One day we sat for hours and the power didn’t come back so we all went home. It would have been nice to have a schedule of planned power outages so we could plan around this.

Very interesting how a big oil and gas company like BP still can seek out alternative energy investments to offset growing concern over fossil fuel use. While it still seems like their core business will be in supplying oil and gas for the foreseeable future, supplementing this with wind farm investments will help diversify their energy portfolio and make them more attractive to investors. Ultimately, the oil and gas suppliers are still essential to the world economy, but hopefully through more fuel-efficient technology the world will be able to use these energy sources in a way that minimizes impact.

On November 6, 2016, TKS commented on Wine – a Californian dream – or nightmare? :

As a former California resident, I definitely find this concerning. Not only is wine a big consumer product for the state but the Napa vineyards draw a lot of tourism. I think the crux of the problem is that there is very little viable land for growing grapes worldwide, and the land that is viable (Northern California) is particularly valuable for that purpose. As climate change continues to affect this industry, do you think it will make other parts of the country viable for vineyards that were not previously? Will Oregon and Washington become viable spots for wine production as the temperate zone shifts north?

On November 5, 2016, TKS commented on Turbulence Ahead for United Airlines as the Globe Warms :

I also wrote about aviation, but from the perspective of an aerospace design firm. The airlines can’t reduce the number of flights without sacrificing their core business, and they can’t better utilize capacity on those flights (most flights are full), so the only thing left is to try to design more fuel-efficient aircraft. I think your article points to this in a number of ways (lighter airframes, etc). At the end of the day, United’s only lever is to demand more efficient airplanes from their suppliers, and the greater their engagement is with companies like Boeing and Airbus, the better they will be able to meet regulations eventually passed by the EPA and reduce their climate impact.

On November 5, 2016, TKS commented on Save the planet, drink more beer. :

You had me with the title. I recently visited the Lagunitas brewery in Northern California and they had sustainability and emissions reduction initiatives similar to New Belgium ones described in your article.

What strikes me is how, in the craft beer industry, there is a convenient alignment of sustainability and cost savings. The water recycling and methane recycling projects mentioned in your article do good for the environment, appeal to consumers, and lead to cost savings. If there’s any lessons here, it’s that good businesses explore the overlap between social/environmental good and supply chain cost reductions.

On November 5, 2016, TKS commented on The US Navy: Are the Oceans Reaching a Boiling Point? :

Thanks Mark, but I actually wrote the Boeing article.

I was on an aircraft carrier for seven months and remember the process of discarding waste. It basically involved dumping it off the back of the ship. I’m a little skeptical of military efforts to combat climate change.

I think minimizing environmental impact by the military is best accomplished through the procurement process. Once the ships, aircraft, and vehicles are in the hands of the operating forces they are going to be utilized according to their needs, whether the design is energy efficient or not, and I don’t see them being upgraded to more sustainable models. However, you could push for low emissions vessels and planes by expressing these priorities to Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, BAE, Northrup Grumman, and so on.