WPC 33 – Helsinki Finland

WPC 33 was held in Helsinki, Finland. Know for, among other things, being the home of Nokia and being a place where the sun barely sets.

This likely will have been my last WPC meeting.  Scott and I announced a few weeks before that we would not be up for re-election as chair of the LPWG and MPWG respectively.  This is both happy and sad for me – being chair of a workgroup was not my favorite thing to do, and I will certainly enjoy getting back to more ‘real’ engineering.  I did enjoy, and will miss the travel and fun that the group had though.

Sunset was at 10:55 and sunrise was at 3:55, so there were about five hours of night, but it never got dark enough that you couldn’t comfortably walk around without any artificial light. This meant that we did a lot of walking around and drank a lot of beers, and ciders – the Finns are apparently fond of both apple and pear cider. We ended up staying out until after 2 the first two nights and staying up until sunrise 3:55 the last night.

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WPC 31 – Eindhoven, NL

Standard disclaimer applies – even though the trip is for work, no work will be discussed.  Reasons:  you don’t care, it’s not interesting and this way I don’t have to be careful that I only say things that are publicly available information.  As it turns out, I have nothing to say about this trip, just some pictures.

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New Experiences

So, here in list form is recorded some of the fun of visiting Taiwan for a week.  Additions as well as an actual literary rundown may happen.


  • Typhoon – disappointing.  The gov’t got all worried after underestimating the last one, so this one was all the rage… at least in print, in reality it was just some rain.
  • Hotel doors blockaded shut – this was part of the overreaction, it consisted of 2×4’s and bailing wire.  Kind of janky for a 5 star hotel.
  • Taipei 101 – currently world’s tallest building, went there for food etc. (shopping on the lower levels) several times and up to the top once.
  • Tuned mass dampers – keep Taipei 101 from swaying in the breeze.  And yield these little souveniers.
  • Scooters outnumbering cars
  • People wearing face masks in public (Michael Jackson style)
  • Taiwanese Karaoke


  • Visiting Asia, specifically Taiwan
  • Flying first class – and busting the seats twice by trying to use my laptop on the plane (which should fall well into the spec for the outlet).
  • Northwest Air lounge – free snacks, food, coffee, beer, liquor


  • Mayonnaise on pizza – yuck
  • Fish, whole on a plate
  • Smoked egg (at least I hope that’s what it was)
  • Kobe beef
  • Lobster halves (tail, guts, brains and all) cooked Teppenyaki style

Magnetic Conference (Denver, CO)

Wednesday through Friday was the 2008 Magnetics Conference put on by webcom in Denver, CO.

Wednesday was the magnetics boot camp, which was pretty much a one day crash course in magnetics.  In theory, this makes up for the fact that neither Josh nor I have any magnetics classes or experience in our background.  It was pretty good, from the point of view of someone who didn’t know shit about magnetics prior.  Some good ideas were had for what we need to be focusing on and how to make the calculations and measurements we need to properly profile the system.  Wednesday evening Josh and I let one of the guys from Invesys buy us dinner at a local steak and seafood place.  Very nice and rather expensive.  Interestingly, where we sat, we got to see several waiter collisions resulting in plates of food flying onto the floor.  Unfortunately, dinner with company reps takes a lot of time and didn’t really give us time to recover on sleep.

Thursday was the first day of the conference.  Various companies did presentations on different magnetic technologies, concepts, developments, etc.  Some of the presentations were very specific to a company’s application, others were more general as far as standards and measurements.  There was also time to browse various vendor booths and meet with more reps.  Apparently the Fulton Innovation sticker on Josh’s laptop was noticed by one of the reps from Vaccumschmelze, so we were tracked down and invited to dinner Thursday also.  Not wanting to be rude, we of course accepted – second night of very good dinner, but very little recouperation.

Friday was a partial day.  Events were pretty much on par with Thursday.  One of the vendors we have worked with in the past and who I have ordered some magnets from was there.  Josh and I were sitting, waiting for one of the talks to start and he came up and asked if I was Matthew Norconk.  It’s very odd being asked that if you’re in a group of about a hundred people and not wearing any form of nametag.  He explained that he knew I was a younger person, and Josh and I were probably the youngest people there.  It was nice to put a face with someone whom, up to this point, I had only had contact with by phone.

Apparently the entire magnetics industry in the US is aging.  There are regulations, mainly environmental, which pretty much keep anyone new from joining the game.  This means that the current players in the market are either staying in, getting out or being bought up.  The result is an inherently shrinking base of magnet suppliers in the US.

Josh and I stayed an extra day, being we had flown all the way to Denver and the conference ended on Friday.  Friday afternoon we went downtown for two main purposes – one was to visit the Flagship REI store, the other was to check out the Confluence whitewater park.  The REI store was cool.  We spent a few hours wandering around in there, but of course, everything being retail priced, and me being cheap, no purchases were made.  The whitewater park was somewhat underwhelming.  It didn’t look that well built – all the eddies were moving pretty good and kind of boily.  We did go check out the near by kayaking outfitter.  Their deal was that for $40 you could rend the boat and gear for the day, and you could bring the boat back and swap for a different one as many times as you wanted to.  While this sounded like a good idea – given that I’d like to get a new WW boat – neither of us were that impressed with the whitewater to want to bother.  Instead, we drove out to one of the parks and went hiking for most of Saturday.  One of the interesting discoveries was that the Denver area is arid enough to support cacti.

More Travel, with Carbombs

Monday I was in Novi for a work meeting with one of our suppliers.  Six of us went down from Grand Rapids and 9 or so of them came up from Ohio.  Lots of discussion on where we stand and where we are going as far as eCoupled building blocks.

Monday night, we went out … the Cavaliers were on, and being from Ohio and all, it was important that we find somewhere to go get some dinner and watch the game.  I naturally didn’t care about that game, but fortunately the Wings were on also.  So, we monopolized three of their four pool tables for most of the night.  There’s something about the joining of those two groups which prompts the ordering of Irish Carbombs.  I ended up having four of them, but I guess it was over enough time to not cause too much issue the next day.

Tuesday we had half a day of meetings, followed by Josh and I flying out to a magnetics conference in Denver for the remainder of the week.