Computer Hacks Every Farmer Should Know

computer hacks

Computer Hacks Every Farmer Should Know

Back in the day, farmers would use time-tested skills to bring in the herds and harvest the crops. Today, the modern farmer is given a powerful boost by some very high-tech gadgets. When the laptops, GPS and WiFi are working properly, they can be a huge help in tracking crop yields and predicting future growth patterns. However, all it takes is a single frozen display screen to bring your work to a screeching halt. As tempting as it might be to toss that computer into the combine, there are some simple computer hacks you can perform to get your computer back up and running.

Write Down Your Error Codes

A computer that refuses to boot up could present an error code on your start up screen. Jot down the error code for reference. Next, check your owner’s manual to find a troubleshoot fix related to that error code. If you have access to a second computer, do a Google search for the error code; between customer support sites and many computer users taking to forums to share solutions to computer questions and problems, chances are you will be able to find some helpful tips and tricks.

Write Down Your Calibration Values

Just because you enter data on a computer, that does not mean you shouldn’t have a hard copy of your information. Keep a record of any calibrations that might pertain to your yield monitors, acre counters or any other information that you need to enter into a program. Although they may help your computer system, some of the fixes you may need to perform could erase all of your stored data. If you have a notepad with the numbers you’ll be able to reenter your data, instead of having to start from scratch.

Forced Restart

When your computer freezes (it happens to everyone), try a forced restart. After turning off the computer, wait a full minute before restarting. This will give your system a chance to fully reboot and reconfigure. Hopefully, this will be the only fix you’ll need.

Power Down

If the forced restart of the computer doesn’t work, try powering down completely by turning off your tractor and unplugging the display. After 60 seconds, plug everything back in and restart. If there is still a problem you may want to try a cold boot. For this hack, you’ll need to shut down all power. That could mean disabling the tractor’s battery cable to remove any possibility of electrical power feeding into your unit.

Call For Help

If all of these reboot measures have failed, it’s time to call a service technician. Depending on the problem, they might be able to guide you through a solution over the phone, but when all else fails, bring in the service tech and let them work their magic.

Always Back Up

This is a lesson most people learn too late. You should get into the habit of backing up your data on a regular basis. Most systems allow for a regular backup and you can also make copies of your data onto a flash drive. This way in extreme failures, you’ll always have your data ready to reload in to a new system.

Miner Operator Safety: What Every Miner Should Know

miner operator safety

Miner Operator Safety: What Every Miner Should Know

One of the most dangerous jobs for an underground miner operator is running a cumbersome piece of heavy equipment, known as a continuous miner (CM). With a large rotating drum equipped with coal cutting “teeth”, simply being in close proximity to these machines puts their operators at risk. These operators are also exposed to the dangers typically associated with mining, such as restricted and poorly ventilated workspaces and reduced visibility, which can hinder response time in recognizing and avoiding hazards.

Let’s take a closer look at two of the hazards miners need to be aware of when dealing with miner operator safety:

1)      Safety positions when operating continuous mining machinery;

2)      Black lung disease from restricted and poorly ventilated shafts.

Continuous Machinery Operation

A study done by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that operators predominantly chose locations that gave them the best view for their work. The clearest views were found from the operators post on haulage vehicles and at the center line of the machine, at the back. The areas with the greatest visual restrictions were the left edge of the cutting drum and the floor at the front of the machine.

The safest positions were found to be those furthest away from the machine, underneath a supported roof, locations with access to fresh air, and areas clear from any tripping hazards or haulage equipment. The two positions that were identified as best fulfilling these requirements were at the right of the drum and just near the cutting head bits of haulage vehicles. However, the operators only used these two locations 30% of the time; offering a limited view of the machine, these positions make it tempting for the operator to move closer in order to operate the machine without restriction.

Having a good field of view in order to operate the machinery at maximum efficiency is important; however, operators should always consider their safety first. According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), 4% of total mining accidents occur during continuous mining machine operations. These accidents are preventable and with proper training can be reduced.

Understanding Black Lung Disease

Another area of concern is the medical condition known as Pneumoconiosis or Black Lung Disease. Black Lung cannot be cured, but it can be prevented. Essentially, there are two levels of this disease:

  • Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP)
  • Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF)

In both cases, the lung is damaged through the persistent inhalation of coal dust. Because of inhaling the dust, the air sacs can become inflamed. This leads to tissue scarring and difficulty breathing. The most common symptoms of either type of Pneumoconiosis are persistent coughing and shortness of breath. The proper way to diagnose the condition is with a chest X-ray or pulmonary function tests administered by a healthcare professional. Some mines offer free chest x-rays, a program that all workers should take advantage of, as detecting early signs of lung disease can go a long way towards halting the progress.

There are treatments available to moderate the symptoms of Black Lung, but this condition can never be cured; once the lungs are damaged, the effects cannot be reversed.

Preventive Measures

The first line of defense against Black Lung Disease is for miners to utilize a proper respirator mask. The mask should fit securely over the face, be kept clean, and be used anytime the worker is in the mine. There are additional measures that can be put into practice to minimize the chances of developing the condition.

Consider the following:

  • Any time coal dust comes in contact with skin, it should be washed off with soap and water as quickly as possible;
  • Work clothes covered with coal dust should be removed in a safe removal room at the end of shift. Whoever is doing the laundry will also need to be cautious.
  • After handling coal dust, hands and forearms should be wash before meals, going to the bathroom, taking a smoke break or ingesting any medication;
  • Avoid eating, drinking or smoking in any work area that has coal dust present.

Being Aware

Beyond the preventive measures, there are other points that should always be checked off of safety checklists for miner operators. For instance, at the beginning of a shift, the respiratory dust controls should be examined to make sure they are in proper working order. Workers should be familiar with the dust scrubber and whether or not it has received the proper upkeep and maintenance. Ensuring that all water sprays are functioning at peak performance levels and being aware of the dust sampling results of their work areas are also important safety precautions mine workers should take. Don’t take your safety for granted and always be aware.

Facing the Winter on Oil Rigs

winter on oil rigsFacing the Winter on Oil Rigs

Good pay and solid benefits are the enticing attributes of working on an oil rig. To reap the financial rewards of working on a rig, workers face extreme challenges both physically and mentally. If the intense and grueling type of work was not enough, work conditions on oil rigs can be very dangerous, especially during the winter months.

A typical schedule would consist of 12 hour shifts for up to two weeks at a time and since oil rigs operate around the clock, this means long hours, day or night. As only the most extreme conditions would be cause for shut down of the rigs, workers are subject to harsh climates during their long, winter shifts.

Working in the Extreme Cold

Two weather related, medical conditions you need to be aware of when working in extremely cold temperatures are frostbite and hypothermia. Education on these conditions is very important as in extreme cases, they can be fatal.

With hypothermia, your temperature drops faster than your body can generate heat, resulting in a complete breakdown of your body’s systems. Not wearing the right type of protective clothing can contribute to hypothermia, however, if you are tired, already suffering from an ailment such as a cold or the flu, or haven’t eaten a well-balanced meal, you may also be susceptible.

The initials signs of hypothermia can include fatigue, muscle cramps, shivering and feelings of intense cold. As it persists, slurred speech, a slowed heart rate, lack of coordination and the inability to focus on tasks may also become indicators of worsening hypothermia. Recognizing these symptoms for yourself is hard enough, so workers in conditions where hypothermia is a potential risk need to be diligent about not only themselves, but also their coworkers. If you feel you see the beginning signs of hypothermia in yourself or others, seek medical attention right away.

The other condition workers are susceptible to in the cold weather is frostbite. Unlike hypothermia’s more internal affects, frostbite is identifiable from external markings. Frostbite attacks the outer layers of skin, with the first sign being a whitening of the flesh. After warming up, the skin may become red in color, like a sunburn and the affect area may be a source of swelling, itching, and pain. Here are some preventive measures to take against hypothermia and frostbite:

  • Wear layers. It’s not clothes that keep you warm, but the fact that they lock in the warmth of your body. The more layers between you and falling temperatures, the better.
  • Always cover your head and neck. These areas are where most of your body heat will escape.
  • Choose wool or synthetic fabrics. Clothing of these types of fabric are the best to keep you warm, while cotton which “breathes” should be avoided since you don’t want to release your body warmth.
  • Try to keep moving at all times.
  • Avoid directly touching any metal surface.

You’re body needs plenty of nutrients and fluids for fuel, so if you’re thinking about going on a diet, the time to start is not while working on an oil rig in the winter. Although fluid intake is important, this should not include alcohol. Alcohol tends to thin out the blood vessels which does not mix well with cold weather.

The Living Conditions

When working on an oil rig, there are three options for accommodations; commuting, staying at a camp, or living on an offshore rig.

If commuting to the jobsite from a nearby home, ensure you have a dependable mode of transportation. A truck that won’t start or tires that can’t handle the cold weather conditions won’t be tolerated. If you don’t show up, someone else will gladly work to earn the high pay.

Living at a jobsite camp and living on an off shore rig are very similar. You will be provided with a place to sleep, meals and basic amenities; don’t expect anything fancy or exciting, but do prepare for tight quarters. Make sure to pack or download plenty of reading materials or other activities to keep you occupied on your off hours as Wi-Fi should be available, but may not be dependable. However, with the long and tiring days, most down time will consist of sleep.

Due to the sheer weight of the necessary equipment, along with climate changes that ensure safe ground conditions, the window of opportunity for landlocked oil rigs, makes obtaining work at these sites a seasonal opportunity. That’s not to say you won’t find work during the off season but you’ll have to be diligent and flexible to keep up your employment.

How In Shape is Your Employee Health and Wellness Program?

employee health and wellnessEmployee Health and Wellness Program

Many employers provide healthcare benefit packages to their employees, helping to ensure their valuable workers are able to meet their health needs such as doctor’s visits, dental care, eye exams and prescriptions at a reasonable personal expense. Despite the advantages and opportunities that receiving benefits through work provides, this does not ensure that workers are making the best lifestyle choices when it comes to their personal health.

Even when receiving proper medical care, an individual’s health will be greatly impacted by their eating and exercise habits; and let’s face it, when it comes to food and fitness, we could all use a little extra motivation. At the end of the day, all companies depend upon the work of their employees; and if employees are to remain productive, they need to stay in good health. This is why it is vital for companies of all sizes to embrace an employee health and wellness program.

For example, British Petroleum (BP) employs up to 7,000 staff members who are “landlocked” in the central Texas office. Additionally, they employee roughly 3,000 workers on offshore oil rigs where physically demanding work is an everyday occurrence. Since 2006, BP has partnered with Healthways to develop a comprehensive wellness program for all of their employees, whether on land or sea. As part of their health and wellness plan for those working on the oil rigs, medical professionals are even flown in by helicopter to provide medical screenings right on the rigs.

Included in the BP Exploration program are the following items:

  • Regular cholesterol and BMI screenings;
  • A health risk assessment that each worker completes for themselves;
  • Online support and resources through a company website that offers diet, exercise and stress reduction tips;
  • Team based health challenges;
  • Rewards for healthy improvements.

Thanks to those health challenges, 60 members of the BP Atlantis platform recently joined the popular American weight loss program “The Biggest Loser.” While the contestants were sweating off the pounds on TV, the Atlantis crew was shedding their own extra weight while working in the Gulf of Mexico. The crew’s “biggest loser” reportedly dropped 40 pounds during the course of the groups health challenge.

An additional bonus for the Atlantis program was their reduction in food costs. In fact, orders for junk food dropped by as much as 50 percent.

BP is just one example of a company’s implementation of a successful health and wellness program. Many large corporations have created web portals dedicated to supporting their employees’ health and wellness. Along with virtual help, companies are also offering offline support in the form of health coaches and group meetings. Some companies are even adding fitness centers to their buildings, giving employees a convenient location to work out at before heading home for the day. With positive changes, workers will bring their new attitudes and healthy lifestyle outlooks home to their families, who will also reap the benefits of a company health initiative.

The only way for a health and wellness program to be effective is for the entire company to get involved. Your company may already have a program in place. If they do, are you putting it to good use?

B.C.Premier and Alberta Premier Reach Deal on Pipelines

Pipelines Deal: B.C. Premier Clark, Alberta Premier Redford reach deal on pipelines

B.C. Premier Christy Clark and her Alberta counterpart Alison Redford have reached a broad framework for an agreement to satisfy B.C.’s five conditions for supporting oil pipeline development in the province.

Ms. Clark said there are various “possibilities” for B.C. getting its “fair share” of revenues from projects that the working group will explore.

“There are lots of different forms of economic benefits,” she said. “We don’t know what form that economic benefit for British Columbia could take a whole number of different forms. That’s why we have that working group coming together to talk about how that economic benefit will look.”

To read more on the Alberta and BC Pipelines deal, view the complete article:

Quebec Raises Mining Taxes In The Province

mining taxesWhat is worse – getting slapped with a tax that is lower than was expected or getting slapped with any tax?

Obviously, no business wants to be burdened with additional taxes, but it appears there is a new taxation scheme targeted at Quebec mining operations with the goal of bringing additional (and much needed) revenues for the Quebec government that can’t be avoided. The good news is that this negotiated plan appears to be a lot less severe than the one proposed on the campaign trail last year.

The goal of the next taxation plan is to collect upwards of $1.8 billion in revenue over the next 12 years. To get there the mining industry has a few options. Companies can opt for either fixed mining taxes or a tax on profit. With the fixed tax option a company would pay 1% on operations that have generated less than $80 billion of product. For those companies who have produced more the tax would jump to 4%.

With the profit tax option, the tax would be 16% on mines that reaped a profit margin of less than 35%. Any profit margin that jumps to more than 50% will have to pay as much as 28% in additional taxes. Clearly, this is all going to keep the mining company accountants busy crunching the numbers.

All of this doesn’t seem as harsh as the original proposal put forth by Premier Pauline Marois when she was running for office. That plan included a sweeping 5% royalty on metal production, and a 30% hit on what was referred to as any “super-profits.” If all goes according to plan there would be a boost into the government’s coffers of $370-million in 2015. That would be up from the projected $320-million.

The early consensus from the mining industry appears to be, “It could have been worse but it’s still a tax.” The new tax plan is expected to be signed into law and go into effect in January.


Safety Matters to Us

safetyProtecting the safety and health of our employees, customers, and the community is a core value of Mainland Machinery.

Metal fabrication is a dangerous job; so you don’t stay in business if your employees negatively impact your clients’ business operations or suffer workplace injuries. To us – the engineers, welders, installers, and project managers that work on projects – it is important that employee safety is taken seriously.

We want to ensure that our employees safely return to their families each and every day; therefore, Mainland has made it a priority to be a leader in industrial safety. In order to be successful in the development of our safety procedures, we empower our employees and strive to develop individual leadership, teamwork, and management involvement.

Led by our Safety Manager, Dennis Clark, we have created the FABSafe program which focuses on safety integration within our project operations. We are constantly reviewing our performance by taking customer and employee feedback into account, assessing our alignment with industry best practices, and integrating our findings into our daily operational practices. With the FABSafe program, project managers engage in crucial planning sessions before work begins on any phase of a project. This process allows the team to identify and strategize how to reduce any foreseeable risks, in turn allowing the company and customer to benefit from more efficient projects.

Since implementing FABSafe, as well as joining the BC Forest Safety Council’s SAFE Companies program, we have become a leader in industrial safety. As a company, we are immensely proud of our team’s achievements within safety standards and are pleased to note that as of August 2013, we have reached 1,000 days without an on the job injury. Last year, we obtained a COR score of 100 percent and this year we are well on our way to receiving a 99.5 percent rating from the BC Construction Safety Alliance.

Having a low accident rate is something that we aspire for;  it is evidence that the measures we are taking to protect our valuable employees are effective. Our people are deserving of, and enjoy being a part of an organization that ensures that safety is priority and that their lives are being cared for on the job site. At Mainland Machinery, we know that our clients also appreciate our low accident rates which testify to the level of safety and productivity you can count on for your projects.

The need for safety is an ongoing and full-time process which requires company-wide participation. We are dedicated to building solutions for our clients, while having a reputation as a metal fabrications company where safety is not an afterthought but the backbone of our quality and execution processes.