Still fun, still irreverent and still Jim Pinto!


Some years ago Nick Denbow, happily still involved with the Automation Insiders publication, wrote an article with the thought provoking title Who are the automation thought leaders?  Among those was the irrepressible Jim Pinto, who, to quote somebody else and out of context “hasn’t gone away you know!”

True he did retire after a fashion and commenced what he called his bucket trips, trotting around the globe with the lovely Deb at his side. Of course he did not give up writing and sharing is thoughts with us. As he said himself “But, I’m a writer. As my friend Jack Grenard said, ‘a writer cannot not write.’ So, I’ve decided to continue to write the “irregular and irreverent” eNews.” And he does. We marked his chage of direction in our piece “Floreat Jim Pinto!” in 2012.

This week, on one of those bucket trips, they hit the medieval and very lively city of Galway, about 20 miles east of the Read-out hub on Galway Bay, on where, in the words of the Bing Crosbie classic, the sun goes down!

Eoin Ó Riain and Séimí Pinto!

Eoin Ó Riain (Read-out) and Séimí Pinto! (The prince formally known as Jim!)

Now when somebody of eminence in automation visits our neck of the woods we do try to meet up and make them welcome. I guess it’s an Irish thing! And so we did.

And we changed his name for the occasion to the Irish version of Jim, “Séimí!” His sur-name, like the man himself, is untranslatable!

So how to describe Jim Pinto’s impact! Dick Morley (another automation thought leader), said of his writing, “When you read Jim, you have the feeling that you’re looking through a telescope’s magnifying end. With Jim you get to use the telescope with the microscope in the right direction: you see clearer, and you see things you cannot see with the naked eye.”

Pinto’s Books
Leabhair_PhintoAutomation Unplugged: Pinto’s Perspectives, Pointers & Prognostication! (Published 2003: ISA Best Seller in 2004! pdf format only available)
Pinto’s Points: How to Win in the Automation Business. (Published 2006)

And for answers to all those questions you wanted to ask but were afraid to, just go to his website!

Jim honoured me some years ago to right an introductory piece for a section of his 2006 book, “Pinto’s Points: How to win in the automation business!” and I think perhaps I could repeat some of what I said there. It is part biographical but mostly it described the impact of this man whom I first “met” on-line 20 years ago when the internet was but a babe! I had been visiting the US on and off for about ten years. I lamented the fact that Americans in jobs like maintenance engineers etc seemed older and more tired in comparison with what I was used to, Professional people were inclined to be as well but worked in perhaps a more dedicated and serious way, and for longer hours. There was one thing missing. That something was – humour.

“Like a breadth of fresh air in the frenetic rush-rush of the world of automation burst Jim Pinto. Like most of us who received the benevolent influence of Mother England’s domination, he managed to make her language his own, and – combining this with an incisive mind and a superb gift of observation – he earned the title of ‘Poet Laureate of Instrumentation and Automation.’ Everythinh he touched was fun. He called his company Action – and so it was. And when the internet finally started to infiltrate even the most conservative of companies, he was ther with the wonderul URL of Wonderful!”

I pointed to a word, among many that I learned from him – “DISINTERMEDIATION – it is a Pintoism that has stuck in my mind. It is a word typical of the man. It is a word which makes us smile before we ask, ‘What does it mean?’

“This I think is the essence of the Jim Pinto. And it is nowhere more evident than in his poetry. It is funny, but it is serious!”

This week Read-out met the man and sat down and chatted face-to-face. And we have a photo because as somebody said “If there isn’t a picture it hasn’t happened!”

Thanks for the fun Jim, and may your list of bucket trips never be exhausted! And may you never cease to be irreverent but always full of fun and laughter!

PS: DISINTERMEDIATION? Don’t know what it means? Let Jim tell you! As he told us 15 years ago.

Who are the automation thought leaders?

Which automation thought leaders are in your INBOX?
Nick Denbow
Nick Denbow muses over thought leaders and publications in the Automation Sector on both sides of the Atlantic.
(This article appeared in the July 2013 Issue of his publication Industrial Automation & Process Control Insider.)
Current Issue

Today was a brilliant day, a sunny day, but one at the month-end when I should be writing. So in an unusual day off, a few things became clearer. That ‘Automation Thought Leader’ – why should we only look at suppliers? There are plenty of others who make a call for attention in the automation community. But the ones with a major part to play are the editors and commentators, both on paper and on-line.

The thing about such editors is, mostly, they just don’t want to shut up. In comparison to the company ceo or technical guru, who retires, or steps down, one way or another, at – well maybe 60, possibly as late as 65, but often at aged 55 – these editors just keep on going. Maybe because the writing and opinionating is in their blood, but maybe because they need to keep earning some publication fees: one way or another they keep going.

But while we have seen a major change in the respected ceo list recently, fully reported, maybe another change in the editors and commentators, the major industry pundits, has also been happening, and we have changed some of our normal sources? So look at what you now read, and think whether the major media sources you follow, and people who you listen to, have changed in the last few years?

Plus, break your normal reader silence and tell me who you listen to, maybe we can learn something from one another!

INSIDER leads the pack
Looking close to home, it was around three years ago that Andrew Bond retired as the Editor of the INSIDER, after 14 years, in September 2010. In May 2012, Jim Pinto stopped his weblogs and automation newsletter (INSIDER, May 2012 page 5). As a part of the media hiatus following the crash in 2008 and the turmoil following the rise of the internet, the very successful UK-based Talk websites, where I was an editor from 2002 to 2010, all crashed out, after being acquired by a panicking publisher. Maybe the media publishers are still trying to find their new position in the world, after riding through that downturn of 2008, but not having the right approach for the internet based age that followed.

Patrick Raleigh

So in the UK we have the Process Engineering paper magazine that was about to be chopped, bought out of the publishers by a management group, who retained the services of the editor, Patrick Raleigh (right). Always a champion of reports written from the customer point of view, Raleigh has now decided to leave them and start a freelance venture of a newsletter in this format. (Though he remains in an advisory capacity – More on this story!)

USA-based magazines
Maybe the automation and control printing industry in the USA has embraced online content and websites better than in Europe and the UK. Or maybe they have more reserves, deeper pockets, and less freelance competition. To an ‘outsider’, it does seem that the main freelance web-based competition from the USA is more specific, topic led, like the blogs from Eric Byres at Tofino Security, or Black Hat and others.

However, there are two people that stand out, in editorial circles in the USA, and these are Walt Boyes from Control Global, and Gary Mintchell from Automation World. It was in the March 2013 issue of the INSIDER where we reported that Mintchell was stepping down from his role as editor-in chief at the magazine, the one he founded 10 years ago. While his photo still appears on their website, Gary has started a personal blog, Manufacturing Connection, as a freelance vehicle.

What was more of a concern earlier this year was that Walt Boyes’ regular contributions to his ‘SoundOff’ blog on  seemed to tail off! Lucky guy, he seems to have been able to take some time out. Now, despite some really off-putting major bugs in the ControlGlobal website over the last month, he seems to have come back in full voice, which is reassuring for us all. (Note: He had other things on his mind – including his wedding!) One of his interesting blog comments was that he was disappointed to not have Darius Adamczyk of Honeywell answer any of the Control magazine pre-submitted questions in the press briefing held at the end of May. Needless to say Adamczyk did not answer the question posed by the INSIDER either, but a written answer did follow, as reported last month, from Jason Urso. Where did the questions come from, that Adamczyk did choose to answer, one wonders?

The aging issue
These two guys in the USA, and at the moment, the INSIDER from the UK, and Read-out from Eoin Ó Riain, firmly grounded in a beautiful part of the west of Ireland, are the main editorial based sources from, with respect, relatively aging editors who don’t have to toe the company line any more, so are more than likely to say what they actually believe.

What seems to happen in UK magazines is that the ‘Publishers’ use relatively young (low cost?) editors, typically from another industry, to edit their automation/control magazines. Plus their actual column inch space for editorial is very restricted, the suppliers write most of the articles and pay for the pages. Plus after cutting their teeth in automation/control for a year or so, they are moved on to a different industry.

Where we can find exceptions in the UK and English language magazines are in the UK with Suzanne Gill, editor on Control Engineering Europe, and from Germany with Frank Jablonski on Process Worldwide. But whose articles do you read and appreciate? Let me know, I can’t read them all. In the USA, I have been impressed with some of the past reports from Renee Robbins Bassett, on Automation World, but I have not found many of her on-line articles traceable here recently.

So let’s look at some of the more interesting comments in the last month: Walt Boyes on the ISA topic – again To be honest Boyes was preaching to the converted when I read his comments on the appointment of the new ISA ‘presidentelect/ secretary’. On 23 June his report, said that he had stopped writing about the ISA some years ago, but this new event needed a comment. Back in the March 2013 issue of the INSIDER I also took up a similar issue with the ISA when suggesting in a review of their approach to wireless standardization that their commercial interests in the WCI organization had been the main factor behind their rejection of any WirelessHART compromise.

But the new guy, selected to be the future president of the ISA, is reported by Boyes to be an investment banker, someone in whose hands hopefully the investments of the large reserves of cash propping up the ISA will be made safely: he has already attained the leadership of the ISA investment committee. So maybe the ISA is to become a financial vehicle pure and simple, and ignore the membership: Walt knows about these things, as unlike me, he is still a member. Maybe the new president will also consider another name change – I suggest to the Investment Society of America – but probably that will not be on behalf of the membership.

• Readers might also like this blog item from ControlGlobal: Next-Gen Process Control Leaders (16/7/2013) and Process Automation Generations Talk to Each Other (5/8/2013)

Floreat Jim Pinto!


Many readers of Read-out, and followers the Read-out Instrumentation Signpost and our assorted blogs look forward to Jim Pinto’s insights as narrated in his newsletter, Connections for Growth & Success™, which is published now at varyingly regular or irregular times. The September issue has just hit our mailbox and is as usual filled with interesting and thought provoking insights.

For many years he hosted what were called Automation Company Weblogs, originally intended as an aid to the improvement to the running these companies by showing what people thought should be done. The companies themselves rarely appreciated the good intentions behind these writtings and observations which, I think, meant that these descended into a collection of gripes, real and imagined, into the activities and/or idiosyncracies of these enterprises.

He comments: “Many regular website visitors will have noticed that, after 10 years, I stopped the automation company weblogs. The consistent negativity was getting me down, and I’m happy I stopped. Some cynics actually wondered if I’d been “bought off”, while most others wrote with positive support and understanding. I must tell you, I did consider giving up on eNews. But, I’m a writer. As my friend Jack Grenard said, “a writer cannot not write”. So, I’ve decided to continue to write the “irregular and irreverent” eNews. But, the tone and flavor will change. It won’t focus much on automation business commentary. So, those who’ve signed up for automation company news may not wish to stay on the list. For those, please send me a simple email with “Remove from eNews” in the subject line or text.”

However we need not fear that he is, like all good rugby players, in any danger of fading away. In fact I think he is more active than he ever was in his eventful life in automation! And again to streach my rugby analogy still ready for a set scrummage any time! “I’ll continue to write my monthly column for Automation World – I’ve been doing that for about 10 years now and I’ve witnessed the magazine’s emergence to US leadership in the automation business. Founder and editorial director Gary Mintchell feeds me with ideas and I enjoy his regular demands to come up with original, challenging editorial. Your regular feedback is gratifying  – thank you! Being a Technology Futurist remains my primary avocation, so you’ll read more of my prognostications. In addition, I’ll include commentary on societal trends (I’ll avoid politics) and global economic shifts (related to futures). And anything else I can sniff out; wherever my nose leads. In addition to my writing, I do an occasional consulting gig with people or companies I like. Plus my regular speaking engagements which often generate enjoyable world travel. Hey! If your company needs an entertaining and motivating speaker for your sales meeting or industry gathering, please get in touch.”

I have heard him speak and what he says in no idle boast, he is interesting, entertaining and above all challenging. Book him and tell him Read-out told you to.

And our message to Jim Pinto is simple, “Floreat!”

What matters now!


Happy Christmas to you

So this is Christmas!

It is a time when we try to concentrate on the things that really matter in our lives. Our loves, our personal relationships and remembering things past. Unless of course we subscribe to the Scrooge philosophy of Bah Humbug.

Nevertheless after such a year as we have just experienced it is useful to consider the priorities and changes that are occuring so quickly in this day and age and how they effect our “working” life and therefore indirectly our “personal” life.

This morning I got the latest blog from Chris Rand and he was was giving a present for the year end. A little light holiday reading he called it.

Apparantly our good friend Seth Godin has got 70 “big thinkers” to contribute to a free eBook called “What Matters Now” with inspirational articles about “Things to think about (and do) this year”.

Download now!

So here it is for you too. Read and enjoy!

May we wish all of you and your families every blessing for Christmas and in 2010 every success and prosperity.

If you want a bit of Automated Music played by real Robotic Instruments we refer back to our Yuletide Control.

An of course you will need some directions about getting everything ready for Christmas. If all else fails see sketch!

Ready for Christmas

And finally no Christmas would be complete without a Jim Pinto Christmas Carol, would it?

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except for my mouse
My grandkids awoke to ask what was the matter
‘Twas not Santa Claus, ’twas my keyboard clatter

One would think that my friends would all be fast asleep
But my email keeps going click-click and beep-beep
‘Cause elsewhere in the world it’s tomorrow already
And my flood of email comes strong, fast and steady

While the old fashioned types still send their regards
By snail-mail with postage and hard-copy greetings-cards
My cyberspace friends simply copy and paste
Their cute email greetings, just in time with no waste

I type “Froehliche Weihnachten” for my German friends
My “Feliz Navidad” Spanish greetings extends
And my English buddies get a “Chin-chin old chap!”
“Put a prawn on the barbie!” is my Down-under rap

While others send few cards with stamps and lick-lick
I send off six thousand email cards with a click
The answers come back at almost speed of light
That’s what makes my email go beep-beep in the night

But please cyber friends, don’t email too much
Don’t just have a virtual holiday  – go touch!
I wish you all a good time and good cheer
To all Season’s greetings! And a Happy New Year!

The real Christmas!