Innovative Solutions _______October 2005
In this issue
-- Feature Article: Online Engineering Resources – Part I: Product and Service Related Search Engines
-- On a Personal Note: Falling Leaves
-- On the Lighter Side: Muleheaded
-- Article Policy

Welcome to the October 2005 edition of Innovative Solutions, the monthly newsletter from Innovative Thermal Solutions. If you find this information interesting or useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues.

Word count approx. 1075
Reading time approx. 5 minutes.

Feature Article: Online Engineering Resources – Part I: Product and Service Related Search Engines
Where would we be without the internet? I’m always astounded when I meet someone who says he doesn’t really use the internet. How can that be? It is such a valuable productivity tool. I can’t imagine doing what I do without it. I thought I’d talk a little this month about some of the tools I use on the “net”. There are many basic categories of online resources, including search engines, communities and technology sites. Here is Part I of a three part series on internet resources discussing a few of my favorite search engines. In future articles, I’ll talk about online communities and technology sites. - In the area of search, the main player is, of course Google. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t use Google. I have the Google desktop toolbar installed so I can quickly look up something – anything – without even having a browser open. I use if for product searches, technical information searches, to find the URL of a company. And you can use it for more than just web searches, you can define words, do price comparisons, search groups (more on that next month) and more. I could devote this whole article to Google, but I won’t. The biggest weakness of Google is its strength. It finds too much stuff. If you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary or too ordinary, it can consume a lot of time trying to sort through the thousands of “hits” Google returns. To help through that problem, here are some other search engines worth a try. – GlobalSpec bills itself as “The Engineering Search Engine”. It is a good place to start a technical search. The search results can still be overwhelming, but with a little practice, you can narrow in on a product supplier or service reasonably quickly. It also offers the ability to search for standards and patents. Though if you know you are looking for an ASME ( or ASHRAE ( or similar standard for example, you might as well go directly to their sites. But if you are not sure of the issuing organization this is a good place to start. As for patents I always go to to search and download patents. It’s free if you have the right image reading software. Check out the “Engineering Tools and Useful Links” area on GlobalSpec. It has a wealth of connections to calculators, equations, theorems and formulas, sizes and specifications, etc. All in all a very handy technical site. – If you have been around engineering very long, you are familiar with Thomas Catalog. is the online version. Like Google, the search results can be overwhelming. But on the flip side it is thorough and can be very helpful in identifying service and product suppliers. I generally save this one as a last resort. It just always seems to take me a long time to find what I’m looking for at this site. – “The global business search”. It seems to me that Kelly isn’t as large as the others I’ve mentioned above. But it is well organized and can be a real time saver if you find the product or supplier you are looking for here first. – an online engineering directory. I deal a lot in thermal and fluid issues and as such I haven’t found this site to be all that helpful in finding service and product providers. But it does seem to have a lot of useful information and links to other resources. Check it out; maybe it will better suit your area of expertise.

The above links are several links that I have found useful when searching for product, service, or supplier information. Just for the fun of it, I searched in Google for “engineering search engines” and here is one of the interesting finds:

If you have some favorite search engine or engineering related technical site please let me know.

On a Personal Note: Falling Leaves
I love autumn. It’s my favorite season. I think spring would be my favorite season, glad to put another winter behind us, except spring weather is too often cold, windy and rainy. In the autumn, we get nice sunny days, cool nights and beautiful fall colors. And of course, we can’t forget college football season. Go Big Red!

We spent last weekend in the vineyard, building the trellis we need for next year. It was a beautiful, sunny weekend and it was great to be outside. The grapes far exceeded my expectations for growth in their first year. The trellis is all up now. Next March, we’ll prune the vines and train them to the new trellis. With any luck, we’ll be harvesting our first grapes just two years from now.

On the Lighter Side: Muleheaded
An old hillbilly farmer had a wife who nagged him unmercifully. From morning till night (and sometimes later), she was always complaining about something. The only time he got any relief was when he was out plowing with his old mule. He tried to plow a lot.

One day, when he was out plowing, his wife brought him lunch in the field. He drove the old mule into the shade, sat down on a stump, and began to eat his lunch. Immediately, his wife began haranguing him again. Complain, nag, nag; it just went on and on.

All of a sudden, the old mule lashed out with both hind feet; caught her smack in the back of the head.

Killed her dead on the spot.

At the funeral several days later, the minister noticed something rather odd. When a woman mourner would approach the old farmer, he would listen for a minute, then nod his head in agreement; but when a man mourner approached him, he would listen for a minute, then shake his head in disagreement. This was so consistent, the minister decided to ask the old farmer about it.

So after the funeral, the minister spoke to the old farmer, and asked him why he nodded his head and agreed with the women, but always shook his head and disagreed with all the men.

The old farmer said: "Well, the women would come up and say something about how nice my wife looked, or how pretty her dress was, so I'd nod my head in agreement."

"And what about the men?" the minister asked.

"They all wanted to know if the mule was for sale."

Article Policy
© 2005 Innovative Thermal Solutions. All Rights Reserved. You are free to use material from the Innovative Solutions newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear.

The attribution should read: "By Bob Utter of Innovative Thermal Solutions. Please visit Bob's web site at for additional articles and resources on engineering services and new product development." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)

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