Mel’s Picks May 2008

Online Engineering Courses 1. Online Engineering Courses
MIT, that powerhouse of engineering and science education, publishes what it calls OpenCourseWare. This is a Web-based repository of the course materials used in various MIT classes and degree programs, free to whoever wishes to download and use them. If you're looking to brush up on a subject or learn something new, it may be worth your while to look through the list of available course materials.

Engineering Blog 2. Engineering Blog
Misumi USA Inc. supplies mechanical components to the machine industry and, as a result, knows a lot about materials, machining, and other related topics. Now, the company is sharing its know-how through its blog. Trying to understand the difference between the various types of stainless steel? Or attempting to decide whether the catalog or the CAD drawing has the correct dimensions? Check out the blog to read about these topics and many more.

Maker Trend Maps 3. Maker Trend Maps
As an independent, nonprofit research group, the Institute for the Future spends a lot of time thinking about emerging trends and how they will affect our lives, in terms of both work and play. As a result of watching the great surge in Making (people either designing and building their own original items or deconstructing and remaking existing ones), the Institute has created (and released under a Creative Commons license) a Future of Making map—a summary of the various trends they see and how this may affect how products are manufactured and distributed in the future. You can download the map (in PDF form) here.

New to Bookshelves

Industrial Data CommunicationsIndustrial Data Communications, 4th Ed.

Author: Lawrence M. Thompson
Publisher: ISA
ISBN: 978-1-934394-24-3
Page count: 268

The dedication of this softcover book reads "This book is dedicated to the many practitioners of various disciplines who, through no fault of their own, have arrived at a position of needing knowledge of industrial data communications just to survive." I think that tells you all you need to know about the intended audience: People who need practical, useful information about industrial data communications.

There are nine chapters, three appendices, a glossary, and an index. Chapter 1 covers basic communication concepts, Chapter 2 covers communications models, and Chapter 3 discusses the various serial communication standards. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 explain local area networks, network software, and industrial networks and fieldbuses, respectively. Chapter 7 is about wide area networks, Chapter 8 covers internetworking, and Chapter 9 discusses security. Appendix A reviews number systems, Appendix B talks about the history of industrial data communications and its sources from the instrumentation and telecommunications industries. Finally, Appendix C covers media—the copper, fiber-optic, and wireless used to transmit data.

Although this isn't a very thick book, it contains a lot of information. If you need to know about industrial data communications, then this is most definitely the book for you. It's well-written, informative, and supplements the text with diagrams, tables, bibliographies, and relevant Web sites.