Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What is Positive Train Control or PTC?

What is Positive Train Control or PTC for short?

PTC or positive train control is a railroad safety system for rail systems that do not include subways, light rail or trolleys.  Positive Train Control is a US rail safety system, enacted by the US Congress, which mandates that all high speed commuter railroads, Amtrak and freight rail systems have in place a means of automatically stopping or slowing trains to prevent accidents.

See PTC video by MTA in New York.

Not For Subway, Light Rail or Trolley Systems

Subways, light rail and trolleys already have safety systems in place called “Train Protection Systems”, which in the case of the New York City subways, have been around without too much variation since 1904.  The New York City Transit Authority, which controls NYC subways and buses, is in the process, as of this writing, of updating their train protection and signaling system.

In most subway systems, when a train passes by a green light, that green light then becomes red and it triggers what is called a "trip stop". This "trip stop" is a metal lever which raises up and and stays in that position while the signal light is red. 

When the signal light switches to yellow, the "trip stop" moves into a downward position and when green, it becomes recessed, so that there is no connection with the trip stop trigger on the passing train car(s).

(See the video below, shot by a knowledgeable New York subway enthusiast. This video details perfectly what NYC subways' train protection system is and shows it in operation)

The purpose of the "trip stop" is for when the track signal is red, (which usually means that there is a train very close ahead and probably in a stopped position) no approaching train can pass by the red signal without having the brakes on the train being triggered. This will of course bring the train to a complete stop.  Let me reiterate this:  The train protection system I have just described only exists on subway systems around the world.

I have spent time describing what positive train control is not and where it is not deployed, since there are certain media outlets reporting on Positive Train Control as being in operation on subway systems.

Digging Deeper Into Positive Train Control

Positive Train Control is a system that uses computer technology, wired and wireless communications devices such as ethernet cards/modules and always-on power supplies, which will indicate to railroad administrators where a train is and how fast it is traveling.

Positive Train Control Video

Positive Train Control will also allow railroad administrators to pre-program speed restrictions on segments of track that cannot support a certain speed because of track conditions, thereby negating the creation of a hazardous condition on that section of track.  PTC will also allow for the safe operation of the train in case the train operator becomes disabled or disoriented (eg. sleep apnea, DUI/DWI), whereby the train will slow and if necessary stopped.

Positive Train Control Video

In recent rail accidents, train operators have revealed that they were unaware of where the train was at a certain point in time during the transit route. We expect train operators/engineers to operate said train in rain, snow, sleet, hail, sunlight, night time, day time, fog, cold and heat. Imagine if you will driving down to, for example, Washington DC from New York City and remembering  every speed limit, road condition and nuance during this 230+ mile all of the above conditions.


It is no wonder that most rail accidents are due to "human error" and PTC being deployed will help to ensure the smooth and safe operation of the US rail network.  There are over 240,000 miles of railroad tracks in the United States, most of which are owned and operated by the freight Tier 1 freight rail companies such as CSX and Union Pacific.

Positive Train Control Photo

Positive Train Control (PTC) Considerations

Amtrak has indicated that any rail network that is not fully compliant with PTC, will not be allowed to use the tracks that it owns or administers. For example, if NJ Transit and SEPTA are not compliant, SEPTA will not be allowed to use rail going from Philadelphia to Trenton NJ or NJ Transit will not be allowed to bring its trains into New York Penn Station

Because there are so many different regional commuter rail systems, it behooves everyone to use the same types of networking equipment, so that an Amtrak Siemens locomotive and a Bombardier locomotive, can each respond to commands sent by the PTC computerized network. This is one of the main challenges which is slowing the timely adoption of PTC across all rail systems.

Additionally, each locomotive must have an onboard computer, power supply/dc dc converter and networking equipment that have been tested and certified as fully operable in high heat, extreme cold, vibration or  "ruggedization". Rugged networking equipment, rugged inverters, rugged ethernet cards/ethernet modules must all be "always on", with a primary power supply and a backup power supply.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Nova Power Solutions - ATR Chassis, Electronics Enclosures, Mil-Spec Enclosures & Rugged Network Equipment

So my Orlando Florida trip went well since I was down there to promote a company, Nova Integration Solutions, that manufactures ATR chassis, COTS chassis, electronic enclosures, mil-spec enclosures and rack-mount, rugged enclosures.

One of Nova Integration Solutions' newest lines of products are rugged COTS network equipment.  This includes ruggedized routers, rugged COTS firewalls and rugged ethernet switches.

The image below features the Nova power solutions product lines displayed in the offices of Nova Integration Solutions in St Cloud, Florida.  The core products of Nova Integration Solutions or NIS are rugged printers. In the image below you can see these products featured prominently along with the office space.

Nova Integration Solutions Product Line of Rugged Printers & Rugged Network Equipment

Nova Power Solutions - NIS Rugged Printers, ATR Chassis & Electronic Enclosures

Nova Integration Product Table

Before heading over to the Nova Integration Solutions office in St Cloud Florida, it was always important to start the day with a hearty breakfast.  Thanks to our friends at Embassy Suites in Downtown Orlando, this is the made to order, super breakfast that they supplied me with daily.  This is a value addition to any guest who stays not only at their property but also at any Embassy Suites in the continental United States.

Of course, I didn't everything that you see on the plate but its nice to know that this type of breakfast is what is served to Embassy Suites guests on a day to day basis.

Embassy Suites Provided Fresh Made to Order Breakfast in Downtown Orlando Florida

Just because I was in a giddy and thankful mode, I took burst shots of the landing at Orlando Airport on my way to Nova Integration Solutions.  Just another view of both business and leisure travel, which is what this blog and post is about.

Orlando Florida Landing

Orlando Florida Descent

Orlando Florida Descending Through the Clouds

In the panoramic images below, you will see the Google Maps and Google Street View images of the Nova Integration Solutions office spaces showing the interior and exterior of the property.

Please Click on the Circled Arrows in the 3D Map to Go To the Entrance of Nova Integration - Home of Rugged Electronic Enclosures, ATR Chassis and Rack-Mount Enclosures

Interior 3D View of Nova Integration Featuring Rugged Printers, Rugged Electronic Enclosures, Sub-Assemblies, Shock Trays and ATR Chassis

Interior View of Nova Integration showing COTS Chassis, ATR Chassis, Rack-Mount and Development Enclosures, Rugged Enclosures & Rugged Networking Equipment

Another Nova Integration Entrance Showing Different Nova Power Solutions such as: ATR Chassis', Electronic Enclosures, Rugged Enclosures and Mil-spec Chassis

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rackspace Solve Event - Cloud Computing Web Hosting at Its Best - New York ,NY

So I and my company, TDI, were invited to a cloud computing summit event, held by Rackspace, a premier website hosting company, out of San Antonio, Texas.  This event is called Rackspace Solve and it was held at the Conrad New York on West End Avenue in the shadow of the Freedom Tower.  Note:  When one is attempting to put on a premier marketing event, the choice of venue is key. The Conrad New York is a perfectly located in lower Manhattan and steps away from all forms of transportation including train, bus, ferry and private car service.

Hudson River from Hoboken NJ

Here was the peaceful ferry ride from Hoboken Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, New Jersey to the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan.  As we drew closer, how could I not take a photo on this clear, bright and sunny day in New York City?

Approaching the World Financial Center in NYC

As I disembarked from the ferry, I walked a short 2 blocks to the Conrad New York hotel, where the Rackspace: Solve event was being held.  Not one to miss a photo opportunity, I took photos of the venue I was headed to.  The images appear to be moving since I took burst shots of nearly all photo subjects with my smartphone.

Entrance to the Conrad New York

Here you can see the interior entrance of the Conrad New York hotel, which is a Hilton property but owned by Goldman Sachs.  It used to be an Embassy Suites several years ago.

Conrad New York Lobby Area

More of Conrad New York Lobby Area

Conrad New York Top of Escalators

As I approached Rackspace Solve, I noticed how well done the entrance to the event was. I'm not easily impressed, so I paused to take some more photos of the entrance of Rackspace: Solve before going in and seeing all that I can see.

Rackspace Solve Stenciling on the floor at the Conrad New York

Here is one of the first vendor booths I approached which was VMWARE for private cloud services. I took literature from them as well as from everyone, so I can read and learn what each company has to offer and what relationship they have with Rackspace and will have ultimately with moi.


So HP Enterprise provides the backbone platform(s) and hardware solutions that Rackspace uses in its cloud offerings and overall managed hosting platforms.  HP Enterprise on a personal level runs the old fault tolerant Tandem/HP NonStop systems which I cut my teeth on years ago.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Booth

Here is the ballroom where all the action took place, that is, the introduction by Rackspace C-Suite executives, keynote address and some of the large breakout sessions.  From the following slides, you will see that Rackspace announced various strategic partnership agreements at the Rackspace Solve event.
Rackspace Solve Ballroom

Rackspace Solve Announcement

So Microsoft Azure was in the building and gave me much information about public cloud solutions. I have much to read about and much to decide regarding the Azure cloud solution.

Microsoft Booth

Microsoft Cloud @Rackspace Booth

Microsoft Cloud Booth

Where Amazon Web Services didn't have representatives at Rackspace Solve, the able AWS support personnel of Rackspace exhibit the same fanatical support which is a trademark of Rackspace.

AWS Fanatical Support Booth

Here I am behind the booth for Intel.  No reason other than an invited photo opportunity from the good folks at Intel.

Intel Booth

Here is the Red Hat Openstack booth, which as I understand it one of the backbone solutions for a private cloud offering.  I am still collating information regarding public versus private cloud, so this will be an ongoing discussion.

Red Hat Openstack Booth

As I stated previously, Rackspace: Solve was a premier event at a luxury hotel in the World Financial Center of lower Manhattan and in the shadow of the Freedom Tower. As evinced by these sponsors and their levels of sponsorship, it is no wonder that Rackspace Solve was so well run and so well received in the technology community.


Dallas Plummer 

So in the format of a WWE smackdown and boxing match, AWS and Azure champions went toe to toe, promoting the aspects of Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, using a dummy company.  It was fun and interesting and gave me a more broad and useful knowledge of AWS and Azure.

Cloud Smackdown

AWS and Azure Smackdown Slide

Here is Michio Kaku, genius extraordinaire and keynote address speaker.  A very funny guy and a practical applier of technology, both existing and emerging.

Michio Kaku Keynote Address Speaker at Rackspace Solve

Michio Kaku Book Signing

Freedom Tower

Homeward Bound on the Ferry Service to Hoboken

Homeward bound.  What did I learn?  I learned to keep the conversation going.  I learned that Rackspace is not just another web hosting company but a premier company in this vertical. I learned that I am going to make a decision whether to go with a private cloud, such as with VM Ware or Red Hat OpenStack (I hope I got this right.  I'm working on conversations I had with these folks from memory) or go with public cloud and use AWS, Azure or Googles Cloud platform.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

EMI Filter, RFI Filters and Electronic Components - Online Marketing

I am running an experiment on some video for a company I am affiliated with to work on their keywords and their line of business and promoting it into various search engines.  This particular company,

The AllPower Source manufactures and sells electronic components such as EMI filters, RFI filters, Delta filters, single output EMI filters and EMC filters.  They also manufacture DC contactors, circuit breakers, heatsinks, film capacitors, super capacitors and analog meters.

The goal is to use the various video sharing platforms and see how well they do as opposed to using basic text links to various social bookmarking and free and paid directories.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Trains, Freight Trains and Maybe Automobiles

In and around the New York City tri-state area, there is a maze of freight trains, freight rail companies and a huge rail transportation network...just not in the confines of NYC. Actually, there are many miles of freight rail track in NYC but there is no Hudson River crossing and the closest true rail crossing of the Hudson River is in Albany. This is perhaps why New York City's bridges, tunnels and highways take a beating. There are millions of trucks and some are single trailers and tandems.

If New York and NJ and the Federal Dept of Transportation and Federal Rail Administration got together, along with the fractured Congress and came up with a plan to build not one but two rail tunnels to NJ; one of passenger traffic and one for rail traffic, the region would explode economically.

Here is a video of a CSX freight train in Teaneck NJ, with double-stacked rail cars and hauling most anything imaginable. The video describes the power necessary to fuel these locomotives, and when tracks need to be repaired or tunnels need to be tended to, the power equipment that the work crews use must have robust an mobile power in hot, cold, warm or harsh conditions. These power inverters are made by a sinewave DC AC inverter company in NJ and its an interesting technology.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Heavy Summer Meal - Organic Roast Turkey in a Fresh Ginger Sauce

Here is an organic roast turkey that I cooked a week ago, which I pre-boiled in this huge pot that I have to get the turkey loosened up and which I added fresh ground ginger, sea salt and other "assorted spices" to.  I then put him/her into the oven and covered with foil, all the while basting it for about 2.5 hours.  I stuck a full onion into its cavity to provide additional flavor and what you get is a falling off the bone turkey and with special juiciness in the breast area, which is always notoriously dry in most turkeys.  For more videos and photos of cooking, fitness and just photos as I travel out and about in New York City and NJ, visit:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Facebook App Owns Your Phone - Privacy Compromised on Smartphones

I use Facebook on my smartphone, which is a Verizon Droid Razr Maxx.  I use it when I am traveling and simply when I am bored beyond words.  How one gets on Facebook using their smartphone will be the difference between giving Facebook total control over your phone and ultimately your life or just browsing Facebook for the fun of it.

I go to my smartphones "desktop" and I open the browser which came installed with the phone or I use Google Chrome, which I personally downloaded.  I type in the url, ( and it brings me to the signon screen and I enter my email address and password and I am in.  I am now free to browse Facebook till my battery dies, with no repercussions.

Here is where your privacy and phone security is compromised:

Most people have the Facebook application or App pre-installed on their phone when they first purchase it.  It is on your phones desktop in the form of the big Facebook "F".  Once you click on it, you are immediately logged in to Facebook and your smartphone, its data, location, network connectivity, SD card and all phone call logs are now accessible by Facebook or a hacker who might hack into Facebooks' servers. 

The photo to the left is a screen shot of my Droid Razr Maxx smartphone showing the App Info for the Facebook App, which came pre-loaded onto my phone from Verizon.  It shows the version number, total storage space, data and SD card.

 This screen shot shows the permissions for the Facebook App on my smartphone, which is universal in nature.  It clearly states, that "this app (Facebook) can access the following on your phone":

Your personal information and it can modify or change your phone contacts, email contacts, it can read your call log, read your contacts and write to your call log, that is, it will insert calls or numbers which you never called!  It can access your precise GPS location and approximate network location.  It has full access to your phones network and here is the kicker:  Your accounts:  it can add, remover or create any account on your phone and set passwords!  It can modify, change or delete the contents of your SD card.

Finally, Facebook and the folks behind it can:  record audio, take pictures and videos using your smartphone, read the phone status of your phone calls and the identity of all callers and prevent your phone from going to "sleep".  Now some people might say, "hey, they can't do that". 

Well, Facebook stated previously, "if you don't like our privacy setup, don't use it".  Simply put, if you are going to use Facebook from your smartphone, never, ever use the pre-installed app that came with your phone and never download and use the Facebook app for any smartphone.  Use the browser on your smartphone instead.