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Until Next Time – STAY lean!

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There’s Always a Better Way And More Than One Solution

While this may be a brief post, it serves to exemplify my often stated phrase:

There’s always a better way and more than one solution.

Versalytics.org

I was perusing a Wikipedia article on the Fortran programming language and paid special attention to a short block of code to calculate the area of a triangle. The program was using a formula that I didn’t recognize from all those years of learning!

The code makes a reference to Heron’s Formula to calculate the area of a triangle where the length of all three sides are known. Searching on Wikipedia brought me to Heron’s Formula page and the formula to calculate the area of a triangle as pictured below:

This formula does not look at all like the “Area = 1/2(base x height)” formula we learned in school.

Heron’s formula may not be an easier way or even a better way. It is perhaps, just another way! Personally, I prefer the method we used in school, but I’d be curious to know if there is a case to be made for using Heron’s formula instead.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Versalytics

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February 2nd is Groundhog Day! A great day for Lean Thinking.

Although there is no correlation between a groundhog seeing its shadow and the arrival of Spring-like weather, groundhog day is a tradition celebrated by many in Canada and the United States. If the groundhog casts a shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter; otherwise, Spring arrives early.

Perception is a matter of perspective. What we perceive and believe to be true directly influences our thoughts and behaviours. Whether the groundhog sees its shadow does not change the meteorological and officially recognized 1st day of Spring, which arrives when the sun moves across the celestial equator from south to north, a phenomenon also known as the Vernal Equinox.

This year, the first day of Spring is March 19, 2020, as this is a leap year. Otherwise, March 20 is the first day of Spring on non-leap years. We’ll believe it’s Spring when the weather aligns with our perception of what Spring is.

For others, Groundhog Day overshadows Candlemass, a Christian holy day recognized from the early 300’s AD and has deeper roots than any groundhog day celebration could ever have.

Some may have no idea what groundhogs are or never had the opportunity to see one. Others may simply recognize Groundhog Day as the name of the classic hit movie “Groundhog Day” (Columbia Pictures – February 12, 1993) with a great cast of characters including Andie MacDowell, Bill Murray, and Chris Elliot.

What does this have to do with lean thinking?

Meetings, events, training, seminars, charts and data may attempt to convince us that we are a lean company, but when we see and feel the difference, we’ll know its real and the true never-ending journey to lean begins.

Another takeaway is ensuring everyone is on the SAME page! Its not a movie, not a religious event, and definitely not a dream. Enjoy the journey.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resources

The Goal for OEE in 2020

What is your goal for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) in 2020? I suggest keeping it simple:

A continually increasing trend in OEE over time.

OEE can be an elusive metric unless you understand what it measures: Ideal Run Time vs Actual Run Time expressed as a percentage. The formula “Availability x Performance x Quality” categorically quantifies, expressed as a percentage, how OEE is affected by each factor.

Read “How to Calculate OEE – The Real OEE Formula With Examples” for a thorough introduction and explanation to calculate OEE correctly.

Correctly calculating OEE is only the beginning. To continually improve OEE over time is where the journey truly begins. As the formula to calculate OEE suggests, it cannot be treated in isolation.

Micro Lean and OEE

Although OEE is not necessarily considered a “lean” metric, the opportunities for improvement may very well be. To improve OEE, identify opportunities where the most significant increases exist and focus on the sub-trends for Availability, Performance, and Quality.

An opportunity to improve exists for every factor that is not 100%. As suggested by our post “Micro Lean in 2020,” the devil is in the details. The culmination of many small improvements can compound to yield significant positive results.

In practice, Availability and Quality tend to be the primary areas of focus. TPM (Total Preventive Maintenance), SMED (single minute exchange of dies), Quick Tool Change, and Six-Sigma represent best practices serving as mechanisms for change to help address these issues in kind.

As new initiatives, these programs quickly address the significant issues. The challenge is to seek opportunities for improvements continually. When viewed through the lens of “single-piece flow,” the opportunities are endless.

More advanced tools such as Va/Ve (Value Analysis / Value Engineering) and QFD (Quality Function Deployment), DOE (Design of Experiments), and TRIZ may help to explore opportunities that are not immediately obvious to the untrained eye.

The key is to recognize the goal and keep it in focus. The fun begins when we accept the challenge to maintain a continually increasing trend in OEE over time.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resoures

How To Calculate OEE – The Real OEE Formula with Examples, Versalytics.org

Calculate OEE > A list of articles here on Versalytics.org

Micro Lean in 2020

Lean thinking affects all facets of an organization. Every person, activity, product, service, process, system, or method represent an opportunity for continuous improvement.

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If the devil is in the details, then lean thinking extends to understanding and improving the “little things” we do every day, not just as teams, but as individuals too. Lean thinking embraced at a personal level can collectively bring significant change to the company as a whole.

Lean companies are not immune to complacency. If it is indeed a journey, the pursuit of perfection through the elimination of waste never ends. Unfortunately, significant improvement opportunities also fall victim to Pareto’s law as the “low hanging fruit” becomes harder to find.

Lean initiatives identify and address high dollar opportunities at the onset. As time passes, the motivation and interest to pursue the minor and few remaining opportunities begin to dwindle.

Lean thinking at the micro-level gives us cause to become aware of, and to review, the activities and habitual routines we perform every day. Many small steps can make for a much-improved workplace. “The Best Way To Measure Your Personal Brand Success,” by Pia Silva (Forbes contributor – August 1, 2018) also supports this manner of thinking.

The “little things” from a company perspective may represent “big things” from an individual perspective. We can make the company a better place when we make improvements to our workspace.

Micro-lean for 2020 may be the next best thing. As has been said many times before, “There’s always a better way and more than one solution.”

Until Next Time – Stay Lean!

Versalytics

Related Articles and Resources

The Best Way To Measure Your Personal Brand Success by Pia Silva (Forbes contributor – August 1, 2018).

How to connect to MySQL using TCL tdbc::mysql

Setting up a MySQL database connection using TCL on a Windows based machine should be easy.

When you enter package require tdbc::mysql, it should return the version of the tdbc package.

Unfortunately, the following error is displayed instead:

couldn’t load library “libmysql.dll.15”: this library or a dependent library could not be found in library path

Running TCL 8.6.9 Error Message executing command “package require tdbc::mysql”

The solution:

The message suggests the “libmysql.dll.15” or a dependent file could not be found in the library path. After searching my system, I discovered this and any related files didn’t exist on my machine.

Download MySQL Connector/C – Product Version 6.1.11 for Microsoft Windows. Download the ZIP Archive applicable to your machine (X86, 32-bit or X86, 64-bit).

Extract the zipped file into a local sub-directory. The “lib” directory contains the two files we need to copy TCL/bin directory: libmysql.dll and libmysql.lib.

To find out where TCL is installed, press the “Windows” key, search for the TCL command shell, or Tk graphical console, and right click the icon, click “more”, then click “open file location.”

This will bring you to the short cuts in the “Start Menu / Programs / sub-directory for your Tcl installation (Magicsplat Tcl 8.6.9 in my case.)

Right click on the Tcl command shell and click “Properties.” When the window opens, click “Open File Location”

This will open the “bin” directory for your Tcl installation. Copy libmysql.dll and libmysql.lib from the unzipped folder to the Tcl\bin directory.

Exit and restart the Tcl shell. The package require tdbc::mysql command now shows the tdbc version as expected. A subsequent command to create a connection was also successful.

package require tdbc::mysql

tdbc::mysql::connection create dbcnxn -user root -db sandbox

Now that we have a working connection, we can follow the documentation and carry on with the real work at hand.

If you’re wondering, yes, TCL is the language of choice for some applications. All in a day’s work.

You can also watch our video Making Connections – TCL and MySQL on Windows 10.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resources

Timeouts and Incubation Periods

pexels-photo-169573

Programming is fun until … you hit a wall, and the solution seems out of reach. Rather than sit and wait for a solution to appear magically, it’s time to take a break.

A timeout may be the answer to finding the solution. If you’ve ever experienced that moment when the answer to a question suddenly pops into your mind when you weren’t even aware you were thinking about it, then you’ll understand the benefits of a much needed timeout.

The time between understanding the problem and discovering the inevitable solution is the incubation period – the timeout. The critical element here is a clear understanding of the problem. Then let your subconscious mind work on the problem for you while you change your focus.

The Zeigarnik Effect will serve to remind you of the unfinished business in due time. In the meanwhile, go for a walk or take a nap to clear your mind. When you return, a fresh eyes review may offer more than expected.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resources

Learning Java Using JShell

Java programming is not hard to learn, but proficiency in the language takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. JShell can significantly reduce the time required to learn many of the core features of the Java programming language.

As a prototyping tool, JShell makes it easy to write and develop a code snippet without having to compile and run a complete program to test it.

What is JShell?

Java 9 witnessed the introduction of JShell, and it persists with the latest releases. It is a read-evaluate-print-loop (REPL) tool that can be used to write and execute Java code, load code from a file, save code snippets, and more, all using a simple command-line interface.

Learning Java using JShell

Learning Java using JShell, by Christoph Tornau (Packt Publishing), is an excellent introduction to the Java programming language using JShell and is especially suited for beginners. While it does not cover all the formalities of writing a full Java application, it does cover the fundamentals of the language itself including:

  • Data types: int, byte, double, float, String, char, and boolean.
  • Variables: Declaring variables.
  • Operators: Using logical, conditional, compound assignment and unary operators.
  • If and If-Else statements
  • Switch expressions: Note that switch expressions are a preview feature and are disabled by default. Run JShell with “–enable-preview” to enable switch expressions.
  • Loops: While, Do-While, For, and ForEach
  • Arrays
  • Methods
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Classes and Objects

Using JShell to teach the fundamentals of Java is a smart approach taken by Christoph. It eliminates the distractions of having to choose from a variety of editors or IDE’s (Interactive Development Environment) and provides a simple “clutter-free” means to focus on Java alone.

The video course is ideally suited for beginning Java programmers and serves as a soft introduction to using JShell with Java.

Interestingly, Learning Java using JShell does not spend much time covering many of the JShell commands and key combinations that make using it that much more effective. What follows is a brief introduction to JShell. I have also included some helpful links to additional articles and resources at the end of this post.

Java Version 9 or Later

To run JShell, you must have JDK9 or later installed on your computer. You can get the latest version of the JDK for your operating system from Oracle’s “Java SE Downloads” page.

You can check the installed version of Java by typing “java -version” at the command prompt in a terminal session as pictured below:

Running JShell

To run JShell on windows, start a terminal session by typing “cmd” in the search bar and click on the “Command Prompt – app.”

When the command prompt appears, type “jshell” and press enter. Some Java language features, such as switch expressions, are available in preview mode only and disabled by default. They can be enabled by typing “jshell –enable-preview” at the command prompt as pictured below:

For a brief introduction to JShell, type “/help intro” without the quotes as suggested when the jshell opens in the terminal. For a list of commands, type /help. Oracle’s Java Platform, Standard Edition Java Shell User’s Guide, provides an in-depth review of JShell’s core features.

You can set the feedback mode using the “/set feedback mode” command where the mode is replaced by either “verbose,” “normal,” “concise,” or “silent.” For example: “/set feedback silent” displays the absolute minimum amount of information. You can also use the /set command to create customized feedback and prompt settings.

For help on a specific command or subject, type /help followed by the command or subject of interest to you. For example, when you enter “/help /list” at the jshell prompt, the requested help information appears on the screen as pictured below:

JShell Commands

The JShell commands available in version 12 as displayed on our system are as follows:

  • /list [|-all|-start]
    • list the source you have typed
  • /edit
    • edit a source entry
  • /drop
    • delete a source entry
  • /save [-all|-history|-start]
    • save snippet source to a file
  • /open
    • open a file as the input source
  • /vars [|-all|-start]
    • list the declared variables and their values
  • /methods [|-all|-start]
    • list the declared methods and their signatures
  • /types [|-all|-start]
    • list the type declarations
  • /imports
    • list the imported items
  • /exit []
    • exit the jshell tool
  • /env [-class-path ] [-module-path ] [-add-modules ] …
    • view or change the evaluation context
  • /reset [-class-path ] [-module-path ] [-add-modules ]…
    • reset the Jshell tool
  • /reload [-restore] [-quiet] [-class-path ] [-module-path ]…
    • reset and replay relevant history — current or previous (-restore)
  • /history [-all]
    • history of what you have typed
  • /help [|]
    • get information about using the jshell tool
  • /set editor|start|feedback|mode|prompt|truncation|format …
    • set configuration information
  • /? [|]
    • get information about using the jshell tool
    • same as /help
  • /!
    • rerun last snippet — see /help rerun
  • /
    • rerun snippets by ID or ID range — see /help rerun
  • /-
    • rerun n-th previous snippet — see /help rerun

JShell Subjects

To learn more about a given subject, enter one of the subjects from the list below after the /help command. For example: /help intro

  • intro: an introduction to the JShell tool.
  • keys: a description of line editing support to navigate and edit snippets and commands.
  • id: a description of snippet IDs and how to use them
  • shortcuts: a description of keystrokes for snippet and command completion, information access, and automatic code generation
  • context: description of the evaluation context options for /env /reload and /reset
  • rerun: a description of ways to re-evaluate previously entered snippets
  • shortcuts

The “jshell>” prompt doesn’t offer help unless you ask for it. There is more to this seemingly “archaic” interface than first meets the eye. and it is worth taking the time to look further.

Why use JShell?

As a developer, it is convenient to test a snippet of code without having to formally compile and run it to see if it’s going to work. Working with APIs can also be a challenge. and JShell is a perfect environment to learn more about them.

JShell is even integrated into the JetBrains IntelliJ IDE so you can reap all the benefits and productivity gains it has to offer and makes knowing what JShell is and what it can do for you even more relevant.

Some seasoned Java programmers are not aware that JShell even exists. I can only stress the importance of staying current with updates when they occur as they usually introduce new features and ways to make writing code that much more efficient.

As I’ve said many times before, “There’s always a better way and more than one solution.” Learning Java using JShell by Christoph Tornau is yet another example of that.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resources

Ruby Programming For Everyone

Ruby is a great language, especially for beginners. The syntax of Ruby is intuitive, easy to understand, and easy to get started. If you have no prior programming experience and 1 hour and 44 minutes of time you can learn Ruby.

Ruby Programming For Everyone by John Elder (Packt Publishing – ISBN 9781839211997) is a video training program designed to take you from the absolute basics to advanced Ruby programming techniques in less than 2 hours.

You will learn how to install Ruby on your computer and rapidly progress from the traditional “Hello World” program to more advanced Ruby programming techniques. Each video is short and concise, allowing you to learn at a pace that’s ideal for you.

Ruby is one of my favourite languages simply because it’s easy to get things done quickly. If you’ve never programmed before, or simply want to see what Ruby has to offer, Ruby Programming for Everyone is a great way to get started. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resources

Lean Programming – 5S for Code

I enjoy coding and learned many programming languages over the years. As diverse as these languages are, there is one trait that is consistent among them all: every instruction matters.

The principles of Lean, defined as “the pursuit of perfection to achieve excellence through the continual elimination of waste,” can also be applied to programming. The seven forms of waste are:

  • Defects: Bugs in our Code. Avoid using clever tricks or complicated code where a simple statement or expression is just as effective.
  • Overproduction: Features or functions that are not required,
  • Waiting: Synchronous versus asynchronous processes, load times, code sequencing, multi-core threading, distributed networking,
  • Inventory: Redundant Code,
  • Motion: Inefficient algorithms, poorly designed UI,
  • Over-processing: Unnecessary functions or capabilities. Deliver the solution requested per the scope of the application, no more, no less.
  • Transport: Movement of resources or data. Consider in memory processes versus disk intensive transactions, or client side versus server side data processing.

There is a notable difference between “sloppy programming” and clean code written by someone who knows better. Have you ever spent hours attempting to decipher someone’s code, or even your own? A clean, readable, and well documented file is much easier to work with and, more importantly, understandable.

5S Your Code

We can minimize some forms of waste by using a method known as 5S. IDE’s such as those offered by JetBrains, allow us to create a workspace for a given application, but we can extend this concept to each file or script too.

  1. Sort (Seiri): Eliminate all unnecessary tools, functions, comments, and resources. Choose meaningful file and variable names to minimize tedious and redundant comments in your Code.
  2. Set in Order (Seiton): Use an effective directory management strategy to organize all your files for quick and easy reference. Deploy an effective “Model, View, Controller” strategy when developing your applications. Restrict your functions to a single purpose to better enable re-usability.
  3. Shine (Seiso): Set and follow standardized coding guidelines and naming conventions. Deploy rigorous version control standards.
  4. Standardize (Seiketsu): Publish coding guidelines and maintain your Code accordingly.
  5. Sustain (Shitsuke): Cascade requirements and communicate expectations throughout the organization. Continually review and update the guidelines accordingly.

5S is one of the fundamental elements of Kaizen and, when practiced regularly, helps to minimize the seven wastes, allowing you to work effectively and efficiently.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!

Related Articles and Resources

What is 5S? – kanbanize.com