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PI just got sexy!

Posted by RJKSolutions May 25, 2011

It is official, I am starting the vCampus PI Coresight fan club. (despite some early reservations over the name of the tool )


Although as vCampus members we won't exactly get any kind of early exposure or real hands on with it until it is released, I want to briefly talk about the concept of it and how excited I seem to be about it even though there is no extensibility model - yet. 


The new search mechanism is exciting, being able to search your entire PI landscape for relevant information is much needed and will work well (it does work well from the demonstrations we have seen so far.)  I raised the concern during John and Eugene's presentation at the OSIsoft regional seminar about the need for user friendly filters (don't over complicate the filter GUI!) otherwise the search will soon become flooded with irrelevant results in large implementations of public displays and PI/AF systems.  I have every faith they will nail the search filters judging by the rest of the tool so far and that the new search mechanism makes it to the other PI client tools sooner rather than later.


Another reason I felt the need to blog about PI Coresight (after the 2nd/3rd time of watching a presentation on it) is I like to think some of the conversations we as a community have had on vCampus have been listened to and in some capacity they are part of or influenced the tool - would we have had that type of influence and open exchange of ideas without vCampus? 
For example, some time ago I talked about having a Yahoo/Google/Bing stocks type trend in PI, another community member talked about a ProcessBook control they have created to mimic the stock trend, etc.  The trending in Coresight is slick, very slick, and in particular having different time ranges across mutliple trends and having a cursor on one trend reflected in the time ranges of the other trends was a useful feature.  The Coresight trends are just like a stock trend but with the good bits from the ProcessBook trend object mixed in. 


I think it is safe to say that when the community speaks, OSIsoft listens!


In John Baier and Eugene Resnick's presentation they also mentioned some of the features coming in later releases around Event Frames (drag & drop an Event Frame and the referenced elements all appear as default symbols, displaying Event Frames on a trend etc) and a favourite of mine being able to associate a display with a particular asset in an AF structure so any subsequent searches use that asset as the default root.  This is the tight integration with AF that we heard about from Laurie on the vCampus discussion forums.
What would be extra cool is to be able to define a custom graphic control to be associated with a particular asset (Element Template) so when you drop it on a Coresight display that graphic is loaded from the Coresight server and changes according to data changes.  I am sure this will come in later versions with the extensibility model via 'strict' graphic plugins.


I am very jealous of Eugene and the others working on the development of this very nice project.


Now I have to go look at some dull ProcessBook displays...


If you haven't done so already then watch the UC 2011 presentation:

LinkedIn, the giant professional social networking company, just filed for IPO (became a public company) and raised $9 billion. Zynga, the giant social gaming company, is reportedly preparing to become public soon and raise even more than LinkedIn. Some believe that Facebook, Pandora, Groupon, Yelp, and Kayak will go through the same procedure soon.


Do you feel a deja vu here? Is "Social Media" the new .com and the bubble will burst? Or there is enough merit to these new comers that will keep them up where they are right now?

Let's do some data mining! One of the powerful set of features coming with MS SQL Server is data mining. To be more accurate, it comes as part of the SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). It comes with SQL Server Enterprise or Data Center. Using that you can build models on top of your data (e.g. a decision tree) and visualize the results for valuable insight into your data. In short, you can turn data into information.


For an easy start, we can start with the Excel client built to work with SSAS in a much more handy way. When installed, it adds a "Data Mining" tab to MS Excel making it available to mine data on the Excel sheets as well as external sources.




There are multiple features and functionalities in the package.




To start off with an easy and cool example, let's try to forecast where a PI tag will go next. For that matter, I used PI DataLink to grab the past 5 hours worth of sampled values of the tag Sinusoid on the Excel sheet and called the columns "Timestamp" and "Value".




Then I clicked on the button "Forecast" from the Data Mining tab in MS Excel. It starts a wizard allowing you to quickly build the forecasting model. All we need to do is to specify the range of the cells containing the timestamps and values (with possibly the column headers) and click Next.




On the next window we are building the model by defining the inputs (both columns in this case) and indicating the first column as the time stamp. Click Next.




Just accept the defaults on the next window and click Finish. The tool builds the model (using SSAS in the back end) and plots the existing data as well as some (5 by default) steps of prediction.




This is how easy it is! By choosing more steps of prediction you can extend the prediction further into the future. Obviously, the farther you get, the less trustworthy the prediction becomes. Also, by choosing the Model tab on the prediction window you can see the details of the predictive model. It can handle more than one independent variable as well.


This way, using our PI System, we can easily turn the insight into action by looking into the future!



For those who don't remember, Minority Report is a science fiction movie from 2002. I've recently watch the show again, on the plane by chance, you should realize that a lot of the technology advancement we see today are similar to what is depicted in the movie. Some examples:

  • Multi-touch Interfaces
  • Retina scanners
  • personalized advertising, which is still in work but we are getting there (refer to this blog post, written by JD Ruckler)

Looking at it almost 10 years after the film is released, it is incredible to see what used to be like flashy CG effects and non-existing technologies is now becoming a reality. Perhaps this is because the ideas contributed by experts in the film continued to make the ideas into reality or others who have used the ideas depicted in the film as a reference for their work. But no doubt, seeing the ideas turning into reality is amazing.

Sometimes, organizations face a project that requires some temporary work by a seasoned and knowledgeable expert on PI System. This kind of expertise gets more and more scarce as the project in hand becomes more specialized and involved. Such "freelance" PI developers form a very important part of the vCampus community.


If you are an organization with occasional need for such work force, how do you currently go about it? Where do you search? What would be your ideal process to find your expert programmer or system architect? Would you like vCampus to take a more active/explicit role in that direction? For example would you like to see a marketplace for such workforce and expertise?


If you are one of those gems yourself who offer their help to other organizations for temporary projects we would like to know you more! How do you see vCampus helping you reach out to your potential customers? Is there anything you would like to see on vCampus to give you more visibility and better reach? How can we leverage the community on vCampus to help this ecosystem evolve?


Our goal here, as always, is to help everyone get more value out of their investment in their PI Systems more easily and efficiently. Read the above paragraph as an attempt toward this final objective!

Okay, so my title may be a little misleading to get your attention but hey, if your reading this then it worked.


In my usual weekly routine I spend a little bit of "me time" to scour the latest innovative ideas, technology and general goings-on in the world and came across a prototype of a "PaperPhone".  To be exact, the title of the research paper read:


PaperPhone: Understanding the Use of Bend Gestures in Mobile Devices with Flexible Electronic Paper Displays 


This naturally got me thinking about PI on smartphones and some of the recent discussions that were posted on the forums.  In the "old days" (not sure if I am part of that bracket just yet) people used to collect data on paper writing down their observations.  Then that paper collected data is entered in to PI via applications and interfaces, such as PI Manual Logger.  Fast forward a couple more years and everyone is carrying around hand held devices running PI Manual Logger Mobile to scan barcodes (although RFIDs would be nice) etc to collect their data and automatically sync with PI.  What if the whole collection process went full circle to the data being collected on paper once again, only this time that piece of (electronic) paper is running "PI Manual Logger 2016 R2"!


I haven't quite figured out what the "bend gesture" for the "next tag in the tour run" would look like so ideas are welcome!  Also, if you make a mistake then don't screw up the paper and throw it in the bin, I am sure this paper costs a lot more than regular paper.







Check out this link from NY Times. Not only it's fun but also it shows a very good example of how you can store a time series event, and then use them for your own predictive analytics in the future. Make sure you click on the "See what the computer is thinking" to see, well, what the computer is thinking! Maybe we can teach kids to use a PI Server this way



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