President’s Message December 2010

December 3rd, 2010

A few months ago, AcmeLabs moved to digital reporting of all documents to customers. This is a move away from printing certificates and invoices and mailing them by slow post. If customers require or desire the printed media then no problem, we will be happy to accommodate.

This is really just another step for AcmeLabs Global Laboratory Management System. This software tracks not just samples and shipments and analytical data, but also is the repository for all documents. These documents include client sample submission forms, quotes, reports, etc. For instance, this means I can quickly find and display our clients sample submission document (as a PDF) for a group of samples submitted to our office in Ankara, Turkey just as easily as a submission to Guyana or Whitehorse. This is really powerful stuff. In I.T. speak, this is often referred to as “cloud computing”, where the internet provides the communication backbone so that local information can be collected from local offices and made available globally. This is critical for our management of our business, so that we can quickly see problems and respond. This global operating model reflects that exploration is a global business serving highly mobile customers and customers that are operating in remote regions. The software that AcmeLabs uses also provides our customers with the ability to track all their projects and geochemical related information. We call this AcmeAccess. We are constantly updating AcmeAccess tools to make it easier for our clients to track their samples and obtain their data quickly and efficiently.

This then, leads us to the topic of digitally secure electronic documents. These are documents that have a “Digital Certificate” to guarantee their authenticity. While such encryption software is available today, this is a rapidly changing area that we are watching closely. AcmeLabs will move to providing digitally secure documents in the very near future.

The movement towards digital documents is not that unusual these days but it means the days of going to a clients office and seeing a foot high pile (or higher!) of certificates on the floor, are numbered. I think that is a good thing but I am struggling with the concept that all things digital are better. For instance, I heard on the radio today that the sales volume of electronic books has now exceeded the sales for printed books at! Wow, that surprised me, and not in a positive way. The announcer went on to proclaim that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the printed book. Hmmm, even though I take some pride at being up to date on most technological change, I don’t like that thought at all. Further, I don’t know anyone that owns a Kindle or an iPad but I can safely say I know a whole bunch of folks that are regular readers of books!

This makes me think of the onset of the digital camera. Not many years ago, everyone took pictures with some variant of Kodachrome or Ektachrome . (I also note that my spell checker doesn’t even know these words!) These products were responsible for the vast majority of the photographic world from the 1930’s through until production ceased in 2009. In a few short years, digital cameras have completely taken over the market and everyone I know has one or two. The one I have takes wonderful pictures, but one comment from my brother got me thinking. I was showing him my new camera and he made the remark; “You think that’s a camera? No, that is just a device where pictures go to die.” Yes, a flippant remark, but like many such comments, carried a serious opinion along with it. I think he may be absolutely right.

For those of you that don’t know my brother, he is a Geophysicist and has been working his magic for over 30 years. Over this time, he has made many technology upgrades as computer systems evolved. But in most cases this evolution has not been seamless. This has forced him to keep a version of each old technology system operational, so that he can access the reams of old data generated decades ago that still resides on tape, cassette, 8 inch floppy disk, 5 inch FD, 3 1/4 inch FD, or now, a USB thumb. His garage looks like computer museum and periodically a client will call him looking for some old data. This will put a smile on his face. So you may wonder why I seem to digress. Well, because I don’t think many of us are like my brother. That is, when our home computer systems need to be upgraded and our hard disks need to be backed up (or they fail) we are going to lose a lot of those digital images. I have quite a lot of old family photos that are 60 to 70 years old. I can’t imagine how my photos from 2010 will survive for 70 years. For most of us, they will not survive by being captured by Ektachrome. Is a similar fate approaching for our books?

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