Winter 2005 - Copyright 2005 by S. I. Inc.

Going South

S. I. Inc. and Robert Schuldenfrei are moving to Palm Beach, Florida. It will not happen until May at the earliest, but the move is afoot. Bob has owned property in Palm Beach for many years and the time is right to make the shift to the land of the palm trees. The physical move will not impact most of the clients of S. I. Inc. as almost all contact has been in the form of electronic presents. About the only thing we will be giving up is the snow in Massachusetts. The only time we expect to see snow is during our annual ski trips. The picture in the flagge above shows Bob about twenty years ago on one such adventure.

This move is not yet retirement. We will continue to service our clients. Work continues on a Windows based version of MCS-3, described in more detail in the next article. Finally, those of you in Florida who have been getting this newsletter can expect a visit in person from Bob this summer. S. I. Inc. will have a Florida office, but the company will remain a Massachusetts corporation for at least a year. We will be looking to partner with, perhaps two types of companies. One kind of firm might be a marketing communications style of organization. Here our contribution would be marketing consulting of the type we have been doing over the past five years. Some suggestions are offered in the following paragraph. Our web site outlines the approach in a lot more detail. The second type of organization that could use our skill set is one that is delivering computer applications to small and medium sized business in Southeast Florida. Here, our work in computer based manufacturing could be of some value. The second article below introduces the work in this area.

Once the move has been realized, Bob will be calling on marketing communications firms to continue the computer based marketing consulting he has performed over the past number of years. Please reference the web site for more details concerning marketing consulting performed by our firm. In addition to technical marketing consulting, S. I. Inc. hopes to partner with companies to bring to their clients the successful seminar series we have run for Team Computer Systems and Allegiant Systems. We will continue to present Customer Relationship Management and web site management. Our offering will expand to the effective use of Microsoft Office and project management. These seminars are “in the can” and ready for companies to present them to their customers. A seminar is an excellent vehicle to market your services without giving the appearance of the “hard sell.”

It is interesting to reflect as we make this move that Bob has been involved with computer applications since 1963. That is 42 years of experience. If you consider the birth of the electronic computer to be 1939, the first demonstration of the Atanasoff Berry Computer, then he has been involved in the industry for almost two thirds of it’s life. For the record, we strongly believe that John Mauchly stole the idea for his ENIAC machine from a visit with Dr. John V. Atanasoff. We have seen many changes in this field, however it is interesting to note that many of the applications to which computers have been applied are still the same. Systematic inventory control, of which MCS-3 is a prime example, has its roots in the American Civil War. Thus, the application predates the computer by about 76 years. Interestingly, the invention of the electronic computer stands just about midway between the present and the dawn of systematic inventory control.

Progress on MCS-3 in Windows

As indicated in the last issue of the WORKS, we have been working on a version of MCS-3 in C# using a SQL Server database. Progress has been slow, but steady. For the use of their programming tools at bargain rates, S. I. Inc. has promised Microsoft that it will advertise the developed system on our web site by June of 2005. Further, we promised to have a salable product by December 31, 2005. This will be done. We have no idea what will be ready for sale by the end of the year, but the expectation is that we will have at least Inventory, Materials Requirements Planning and Purchase Order available.

The work is progressing at a modest pace for a number of reasons. First, and foremost, is the fact that we are continuing work with our existing client base. Sometimes, whole weeks go by with nary a line of code produced. This is not likely to change any time soon. Second, S. I. Inc. closed up shop for most of October while we were on a trip to Japan. It truly was the trip of a lifetime. Third, since we are writing this code for our own enjoyment we have the luxury of time to experiment. For example, we have tried three different approaches to report writing: 1/ Simple output to a printer or local file. 2/ We have experimented with Microsoft Reporting Services. 3/ We have used Crystal Reports. After coding a number of reports in each system we have focused in on the use of Crystal Reports.

As we get into MRP and Bill of Material explosions we will have to consider issues of computer efficiencies. As long as we are paced by a human at a work station, these problems are easily handled. However, as a process becomes machine paced the natural inefficiencies of Windows, client/server software, and SQL Server begin to take a toll on performance. Our first pass at MRP will be to duplicate what the COBOL program did. This will be fine for our first release. One of the first improvements will be to introduce “server side” processing such that the network bottleneck does not become a performance millstone around our neck.

If anyone, or organization, is interested in working on this project with us, please let us know. I am sorry to say, it will not be a “for pay” opportunity. We will, however, consider an equity position in any commercial software emanating from this initiative. The basis for this adventure is strictly for the fun of it, or some future profits. As was stated in the last issue of this newsletter, this is programming, for me, as a hobby! In the Spring issue of the WORKS you will get another update on the progress of this project.

For additional information:
     Phone: (781) 329-4828

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     S. I. Inc.
     32 Ridley Road
     Dedham, MA 02026