Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy New Year, You April Fish!

Happy New Year … at least that's what I'd be saying if the Gregorian calendar hadn't been implemented in the late 16th century. But because of the calendar change in 1582, we have been able to plan nefarious deeds and shout "APRIL FOOLS!" this time of year.

All Fools Day has been around for a long time and has been celebrated by many different cultures, but its origins remain a mystery. Some historians have linked it to the Roman festival Hilaria that celebrated the vernal equinox, or the coming of spring. But the more common practices of April Fool's Day come around when the calendar was changed shifting the new year back 3 months.

When the calendar change was made, many European countries were slow to adopt the change. Even for the countries that accepted the new system, news traveled slowly to the outreaches of civilization. The people that didn't get the news didn't realize the start of the New Year had moved to January 1. In their ignorance, they continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1. They also became the butt of jokes and hoaxes including having paper fish placed on their backs. They victims were referred to as April fish, said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

But being gullible is human nature. When someone promises you on time delivery, you expect to get it and delivering on time is just good business. But what happens when you have to shorten up a lead time? Will your supplier of furniture for education, healthcare and business needs get it to you on time? At what point do you risk getting a fish on your back?

You can count on Spectrum Industries to work with you to meet your delivery date target, even if it is moving! Spectrum has manufactured innovative furniture for education, healthcare and business needs and will step up to get you your product when you need it. So don't let a calendar change make you look the fool. Look to Spectrum Industries to get you product to you when you need it and how you want.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spectrum Industries Host Optimists

Bright and early Wednesday morning they rose and came to a meeting. You don’t have to be an optimist to do that, but it’s nice to be an Optimist. The Chippewa Falls club of Optimist International met for a 6:45 am meeting hosted at Spectrum Industries.

Optimist International is an association of more than 2,900 Optimist Clubs around the world dedicated to "Bring out the best in kids." Adult volunteers join Optimist Clubs to conduct positive service projects in their communities aimed at providing a helping hand to youth. With their upbeat attitude, Optimist Club members help empower young people to be the best that they can be.

Approximately 20 members of the club met in the Chippewa River Room in the First Avenue facility with coffee and pastry to start their day. A prayer began the meeting followed by members reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and birthday wishes sung to observe several members births. Some business matters were attended to and then off for a tour of Spectrum’s First Avenue’s facility lead by Dean White, Executive Vice President of Manufacturing and Dennis Barka, Vice President of Process Control. Scott Dorn, Executive Vice President of Sales/Marketing then presented a slideshow overview of Spectrum before the group recited from the Optimist Creed and the meeting was adjourned.

The Chippewa Falls Optimist has been serving the community since it was charted in July of 1969. Chris Cunningham, Chippewa Falls Club President said that on a yearly basis, the club holds quite a few projects and programs to help the community’s youth. Among the list are the Childhood Cancer Campaign, essay contests, dictionary donations and scholarship, as well as a variety of community events.

When asked how many members make up the Chippewa Falls Club Cunningham said there were about 32, but she paused and optimistically said, “We’re always looking for more members.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sometimes Higher Seeds are Just Upsets-in-Waiting

Predictions are down the tubes. Hopes for being known as the local Nostradamus are dashed. You played it safe by choosing the favorites and the favorites have let you down big time!

This is a common refrain heard from hoop enthusiasts during the regionals of this year's NCAA basketball tournament. It is also a very common refrain Spectrum Industries hears from our new customers. Some high-profiled competitors have slick marketing campaigns and very slick sales representatives that make big promises on products that just can’t deliver. Many of our customers have turned to Spectrum when the big guys’ products fall apart or when their customer service is simply no help at all.

Spectrum products are built to last using quality materials and quality, ISO 9001:2008-based manufacturing methods. Our lecterns and carts are not trendy ideas whipped together and hastily distributed just so that we can be first to the market square. We listen to what our customers really need and make sure that all their specifications are met – before and after a sale is made! That way our product sells itself and we don’t have to rely on glitzy schemes to drive sales.

Many famous sports announcers have a tendency to play it safe when it comes to their Final Four picks. In such decision-making, one program’s perceived prowess generally trumps another program’s cohesion and character. Our customers know that cohesion goes a lot farther than empty promises!
Busted Bracket image courtesy of senatorsforum
Teamwork image courtesy of thegoldguys

Friday, March 25, 2011

First Wiki Launched Today

WikiWikiWeb, the first wiki or user-editable website, was launched on March 25, 1995 and still is a valuable source of information and sharing.

The concept and development of the “Wiki” came from Ward Cunningham in a hope to create a web page that was quickly editable by the users. In Cunningham’s case, it was to establish and promote an exchange of ideas between programmers within his company.

Cunningham originally was going to call his new platform “QuickWeb,” but later he remembered a Honolulu language term for “fast” used by an airport counter employee. The employee told Cunningham to take the Wiki Wiki Shuttle, a shuttle bus line that runs between the airport's terminals. "Wiki Wiki" is a repeating of "wiki", a Hawaiian language word for fast.

From the “Front Page” of the WikiWikiWeb:

The idea of a “Wiki” may seem odd at first, but dive in and explore its links! The “Wiki” is a composition system; it’s a discussion medium; it’s a repository; it’s a mail system; it’s a tool for collaboration. Really, we just don’t know quite what it is, but it’s a fun way of communication asynchronously across the network.”

Today wikis are compiled about a variety of subjects and from all aspects of life including hobbies, professions and games. Some of the interesting wikis include WikiTravel, WikiHow, WikiBooks, CookBookWiki, ProductWiki, Muppet.wikia and of course the expansive Wikipedia.

Software and services are available so anyone can start a wiki on a topic of their choice. Wiki services include PBWiki, WikiSpaces and Wikia among a few and if you really want to get start your own wiki, check out the Wiki Choice Matrix to find that wiki service that fits your needs.

Cunningham‘s innovative thinking brought the WikiWikiWeb that allowed others to model the concept and software after it leading to revolution in how information has been shared on the Internet.

Spectrum Industries innovative thinking has also brought a revolution in how instructors share information with students with the Spectrum Instruction & Presentation Lectern line. The unique line of Audio-Visual and Multi-Media Lecterns can give you just what you need to present the right information in an efficient way.

Much like Cunningham’s innovation has touched so many to share knowledge across the internet; Spectrum’s innovations touch many with the opportunity to share knowledge in the classroom.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Forward - Daylight Savings Time 2011

It has been said that time stands still for no one. While that may be true, we might feel just a little bit cheated this weekend when we lose an hour. If you have a clock that doesn't set itself automatically and you’re up to the task, you can be official and add another hour to it at 2:00 am Sunday morning. Most of us, however, would probably prefer to wait until we wake up.

Either way, make sure to remember to spring forward, turn those clocks ahead one hour, and try not to feel too bad about the hour that Father Time has taken from us - he'll give it back to us eventually!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Partnership that Traveled the Distance

On March 14, 1995 an historic space flight took place bringing many firsts with records broken and a new cooperation between two global giants.

The flight of the Russian Soyuz TM-21 spacecraft and Russian Mir EO-18 mission marked American astronaut Dr. Norman Thagard with a lot honors. Thagard became the first American to train on Russian soil, enter space aboard a non-American craft, and the first American occupant of the Mir. Serving as the cosmonaut researcher, He helped conduct 28 experiments in the course of the 115-day flight. At the missions completion, Dr. Thagard was the U.S. record-holder for longest space flight and, with 140 days in space overall, was the most experienced U.S. astronaut ever.

The flight, although several years after the demise of the Soviet Union, still had some disbelief of the union that the two countries now were joined. Thagard trained and worked side-by-side with his cosmonaut travel mates and despite years of conflict between the U.S. and former government of Soviet Union, the Russian cosmonauts welcomed Thagard with hugs. Thagard greeted the Mir commander, Aleksandr Viktorenko, in Russian, "I'm glad to be on the station and to see my friends."

Between March 1995 and May 1998, NASA and Russian scientists conducted experiments designed to answer vital questions about how humans, animals and plants function in space, how our solar system originated and developed, how we can build better technology in space and how we can build future space stations. Thagard's work was the beginning of that union.

He spent a year in Russia preparing for the three-month mission on the Mir space station working with his Russian counterparts to do experiments and joined forces to create solutions for both countries.

At Spectrum Industries, we form partnerships every day with new customers. It's not just about us – we want the result of our partnerships to add value for our customers and their end-users for many years to come.

When customers look for solutions to their laptop management, presentation or desk and table problems, they can look to Spectrum Industries. Whether it is for the educational, healthcare or in an office setting, Spectrum is proud of our partnerships with customers and working together to create innovative solutions that are out of this world.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alaska Highway: Connections Made Through Hardships

This week in 1942, the construction of the Alaska Highway project began after being spurred on by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S. foresaw a need to be able to better protect the most North-Western border of the United States and the highway would tie the contiguous United States to Alaska through Canada to better defend and resupply the “Alaska Skyway,” a series of airfields along the Alaskan coast.

Also known as the Alcan Highway, over 11,000 soldiers with 7,500 civilians were assigned the job of building the 1,600-mile stretch of road and cost over $138,000,000 to complete. The construction was one of America’s greatest engineering feats of the era and completion was not an easy task because of the fluctuating temperatures, weather, and unfriendly terrain.

On September 24, 1942 two regiments, working from both the north and south, finally met at Contact Creek near the British Columbia-Yukon Territory border and the Alaska Highway was formally completed in less than a month later.

In 1943, the road was developed into a standard highway, but use was restricted because of wartime travel restrictions that lasted until 1948 and was not fully paved until 1960. Driving the Alaska Highway today gives the modern adventurers plenty of moments for photographing wildlife and the scenic countryside and has made it much easier to make the connection with Alaska.

Today, connecting people across vast expanses has become much easier with technological advancements in the office and classrooms. Now connecting over thousands of miles is as easy as picking up a phone or connecting with a computer. The Spectrum Industries Inc. line of American made furniture includes distance learning systems and mobile video conferencing furniture that can make the distances seem even closer. But when you get a chance to get away from the office or coursework, traveling the Alcan Highway could be that break you always needed.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Texas Celebrates Independence

Faced with an impending military dictatorship and lacking public education and freedom of religion, the Republic of Texas formally declared independence from Mexico on this day in 1836. This set in motion what would become the 28th state in the U.S., and remains today the 2nd largest state in both area and population. Today also marks the birthday of a famous signer to the independence document, Sam Houston. Houston was the eventual Texas governor, as well as the first and third President of the Republic of Texas. Sandwiched between those 2 terms was none other than Mirabeau Lamar – the “Father of Texas Education”.

The great Lone Star State has come a long way since the days of unavailable public education. There are now over 1,000 school districts in Texas. To encourage diversity throughout their public university system, Texas House Bill 588 ensures admission to Texas-funded universities for the top 10% graduating high school students. With 6 state university systems and 4 independent public universities, the choices are many for those top 10% students. An impressive array of private universities and community colleges only adds to a wealth of higher education opportunities.

Spectrum Industries Inc. has long enjoyed a close relationship with the state of Texas. Our furniture has graced many a Texan classroom, helping integrate technology throughout many K-12 and higher education platforms. It is easy to see Texas’ commitment to keeping students linked with the digital world, and Spectrum is proud to be a partner in the continuing legacy of Texas education.