The Most Ancient Computer and the Latest Drilling Software

On December 5, 2013, the Chinese traditional method of calculations using the Abacus was listed as a UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Abacus, called Suanpan in Chinese, is considered as the world’s most ancient computer. It has more than 1,800 years of history. It is worth mentioning that others, such as Japanese cuisine, including sushi and the traditional food preparation methods and their culture have also been listed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The following picture shows the Suanpan I bought a while ago at China town in Houston. It is so cool to have the ancestor of the modern computer in our office, especially since we are an engineering software company.

Abacus and Drilling Software

A typical Suanpan is about 20 cm (8 in) tall and it comes in various widths. It usually has more than seven rods. There are two beads on each rod in the upper deck and five beads on each rod in the bottom deck. This configuration is used for both decimal and hexadecimal computation. The beads are usually rounded and made of a hardwood. The beads are counted by moving them up or down towards the beam. The Suanpan can be reset to the starting position instantly by a quick jerk around the horizontal axis to spin all the beads away from the horizontal beam at the center.

Suanpans can be used for functions other than counting, for instance, very efficient Suanpan techniques have been developed to do multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, square root and cube root operations at high speed. Operating a Suanpan does not require electricity or batteries; only fingers are needed.

In the semiconductor industry there is Moore’s Law, which is an observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel. Moore’s law has proven that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. Most experts, including Moore himself, expect Moore’s law to hold for at least another two decades.

No matter how fast technology evolves, some devices such as the Suanpan, still have the same design as when they were first invented. I don’t know if that’s good news for Suanpan manufacturers. As a software vendor, we have to continuously upgrade our drilling software, not for the sake of upgrading, but to include any new operation methods or new drilling tools that are being used in the field. Our latest Dr.DE (drilling engineering toolbox software) has migrated to the internet and has become a web-based application.

Web-Based drilling software - Dr.DE | Pegasus Vertex, Inc.

I really do not like to change computers, but I love to upgrade software! Maybe this is probably because I am in the software business, but one thing is for sure, having at my reach the most ancient computer and the latest drilling software makes me feel that I have the best of both worlds.

Antique Store and OTC

My brother, who is a civil engineer in Kentucky, came to visit us during OTC in 2013. During his stay here in Houston, we did many things together, including visiting the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) and a local antique store.

OTC is an annual event that takes place in the month of May in Houston. As the largest oil and gas conference and exhibition in the United States, OTC attracts typically 30,000 – 50,000 visitors from around the world. The exhibition area is huge. My brother and I got tired after a couple of hours walking in one of the exhibition halls. OTC covers numerous technical areas which are totally new to us. We got lost in the aisles of booths, instruments and equipment. We felt so behind in many of the new technologies. However, we also felt that we were lucky to be part of the engineering world (drilling software for me) and that we are contributing to the big wave of technology advancement. We felt the vibe of the next generation. OTC is like a stage, where people dance with their dreams and where dreams come true.

After OTC, we visited a local antique market which had many small, individually owned shops selling items that have history. We were delighted to see many items that had quite a storied past, as the shop owners explained their history. We found an old kerosene lamp which captured a moment in our technology development.

These items are like fragments of time. Touching them allows us to travel back in time. When we are young, we spend more time dreaming, looking into the future. As we grow older, we are more occupied by things we are busy with at the present time; less time to dream, more time for memory review, perhaps.

When we are looking back at the past and forward into the future it gives pleasure to us both ways. A couple of years ago, I gave a presentation on TADPRO, our torque and drag model, to SPE Gulf Coast Section in Houston. I used two slides to summarize the history of drilling. The first one was a schematic of the drilling scene 2,000 years ago in China. The second one was a picture of an offshore platform, representing modern drilling technology. Both pictures represented the very advanced drilling technologies being used at the time. Centuries and millenniums elapsed. Our knowledge accumulation from history enables us to stand where we are.

Similarly, our drilling software development is the result of continuous engineering research and development over the past few decades. I have been fortunate to work with people with engineering and information technology backgrounds; some new and some seasoned. We, as developers are getting older, but our software stays young and robust.

As Smooth As A Cruise

“For the next four days and nights, you do not need to worry about making meals, washing dishes, finding restaurants or driving around. You are on vacation!” The host of the first night show in the Disney Wonder Cruise ship disclaimed, while everyone in the audience including me bursted into cheers.

With the exception of those of us who are obsessed with cooking and do not want to take breaks from our daily routines, most people love cruise vacations because they free us from those tedious work and bring us to remote places.

Smooth cruises are as fascinating as exotic destinations. Vacationers are looking for fun, excitement, stimulation and pleasant surprises. The expectations of 2,680 passengers are met by 1,000 crew members. On Average, every 3 guests are served by more than 1 crew member. No wonder I felt the impeccable quality of services.

British writer Arthur C. Clarke made Clarke’s Three Laws. The last one of them is: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” My experience aboard the Disney Wonder Cruise reminded me of our drilling software and consulting services we provide to the drilling community.

On the service side, we do drilling engineering consulting to companies or individuals. It is normally one-to-one. Our drilling software, on the other hand, is often one-to-many. We develop a particular solution, such as MUDPRO (drilling mud reporting software), and provide it to mud engineers all over the world.

MUDPRO - Drilling Mud Reporting | Pegasus Vertex, Inc.

We also realize that many drilling fluid engineers actually make some mud reporting software using Excel spreadsheets to replace paper forms. These spreadsheets might serve the purpose of reporting to some degree. However, keeping track of numerous daily reports in terms of spreadsheets and creating end-of-well recaps are challenging, to say the least.

As a drilling software company, we always want to streamline the daily calculations such as mud reporting. MUDPRO is the solution to remove some of the burdens that mud engineers have to carry every morning and at the completion of drilling.

Drilling Mud Report Sample | Pegasus Vertex, Inc.

Like a cruise ship, MUDPRO is created by a team of petroleum engineers, graphical interface designers, programmers and software testers (quality controllers). Quite a few companies think that we have only a couple of genius developing MUDPRO. Far from that, we not only have a group of people involved, but also have spent a few years to arrive at our current level of comprehensiveness of mud reporting.

As software developers, we know that many engineers can program. It is our feeling that unless you love to code, you should leave that dirty and tedious job to some dedicated professionals like the folks at PVI, because we have an experienced team whose mission and passion are software creation.

Cooking meals, or washing dishes in a cruise ship? I don’t think so. Developing drilling software while drilling a well? That is the reason I recommend PVI drilling software for your next drilling project. This way you can be on cruise control; as smooth as the cruise journey I am taking.  Safe travels.

Hakuna Matata With PVI Drilling Software

A few days ago I watched “The Lion King” with my two little daughters. In my opinion, this animated film is one of the best of all times. It tells a great story of courage, love and family. It also has very nice music and memorable songs.

One of the songs is called “Hakuna Matata”. These words are actually native of Swahili and they can be translated literally as “no worries”. The song is joyfully sung by a huge wart hog named Pumbaa and a tiny little meerkat named Timon. They sing this song to cheer up young Simba, a lion cub, who has wandered away from home and can’t find his family. He is scared and filled with fears, but Timon and Pumbaa turn the negative into a positive telling him that he needs not too worry much because things will be fine.

Hakuna Matata With PVI Drilling Software

The characters sing, “Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase… Hakuna Matata… ain’t no passing craze. It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!”

I love this philosophy. Sometimes we find ways to stress ourselves out and worry about things. We take life way too seriously. Life is too short to be stressed out and overly concerned about things.

There are several things in our lives we can do to minimize this stress. Believe it or not sometimes spending a little bit of money can save worries and trouble down the line and end up saving us more money overall.

Confused? Okay… let me explain. Here’s an example: I recently purchased a car. It’s a nice car but the biggest concern I had when I bought this vehicle was the cost of the repairs and maintenance. My car is a German engineered model, and most people know that cars like these are expensive to maintain and repair. However, the dealer offered me a maintenance plan that I was able to purchase when I bought the car and it covered things for 100,000 miles. It covered everything from oil changes, to batteries, to brake jobs on the car. It even covered my tires. The cost of the plan seemed a little high at first. Then I thought about how much brakes, tires and oil changes cost for the car. When I figured that out, I learned that the plan actually cost about the same price as 4 new tires and 1 oil change for my car. So it actually wasn’t a bad investment.

I’ve had my car now for a year. During this time, I’ve had two oil changes, replaced the battery, changed the brakes and got 2 new tires, all of which were covered at 100% on my service plan. Wow! I don’t have to worry about much with my car. Hmmm… Hakuna Matata! No worries!

Pegasus Vertex costumers have an option to where they can experience “Hakuna Matata” as well. PVI offers an Upgrade & Maintenance (U&M) plan that allows the software user to be worry free. With this plan, the customer can utilize PVI’s world class technical support when they have software problems or questions. The customer also is eligible to receive all of the products upgrades and bug fixes throughout the year. So the software user will always be in good hands and have the latest and greatest features available to them. This helps the customer live a happy and productive life while knowing that they are always going to be able to enjoy their software at the highest level with no bugs or problems. Wow… Hakuna Matata!

“If I die because of this, I’ll be very mad!”

My 7-year old daughter caught cold and ran fever. While taking her temperature, I told her not to bite the thermometer. “There is mercury inside and it is poisonous.” I said.  “Will I die if I accidently break it and swallow it?” She became serious. “You might.” I answered.

“If I die because of this, I will be very mad.” Her comment lost me for a second and then gave me a good belly laugh.

I think it must be logic for her to say that. It is such a small thing, but could lead to catastrophic ending. Her words made me laugh and think.

Our daily lives are packed with small actions. Many of us would think that if we screw up here and there, it won’t be the end of the world. Or at least that’s what we would like to think. It turns out some of the biggest and costliest disasters have resulted from us making a single tiny mistake, such as the natural gas well blowout in Kaixian County, Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality. The blowout occurred on Dec. 23rd, 2003 and released highly toxic hydrogen sulfide killing 234 villagers.

Investigation later showed that this catastrophe was actually caused by many small acts of workplace negligence, including turning down blowout prevention valve and not igniting the blowout gas quickly enough.

Learning from our mistakes is a crucial step in growing and improving ourselves. However, if we could avoid the mistakes but also learn the would-be mistakes, then we earn our credits without paying too much tuition.

One way of doing so, in my mind, is using drilling software for training, simulating different circumstances and observing results. Just like a flight simulator re-creates aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies for pilot training, drilling simulator with drilling software can allow drilling engineers to see the results from various operation parameters.

In addition to training, drilling software offers engineering planning and design. It is like a rehearsal of upcoming drilling operation, in which we can identify potential problems, gain confidence and increase our success rate.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

Recently, I had the pleasure of shopping in a well-established furniture store. The show room is huge with 2-stories of display space. The way they arranged sofas, tables and dimmed lights all created cozy environment. I bought a few items. The salesman made an extra effort by showing me the inventory and check-up places before delivery. The inventory occupies more space than show room. What impressed me the most is the spacious and well-lit check-up place. “We make sure all our furniture are in perfect condition before they leave our store.” That was the moment I felt I was taken care of. Then, I noticed a slogan in the delivery room as shown below:


This triggered me to give a presentation to our development team and write this article.

We develop drilling software. When we demonstrate software, we spare no efforts to show the best sides of models, just as furniture stores create beautiful setting to display them. Before releasing the software, we often go to extreme to debug the code. This is similar to furniture stores’ effort to ensure the quality of goods, only that our products are sometimes used by hundreds of people. Take the example of our MUDPRO (drilling mud reporting software), we have about 500+ active users. If we can fix one bug in MUDPRO, we will eliminate 500+ complaints, replies and would-be frustration from users. This is power of lever: 1 hour of careful coding and testing from our side leads to 100+ hours of saving on both our developers and customers.

As software developers, we do not face our end users very often; however, our products such as MUDPRO meet them every day. In a sense, we are the software we develop and we strive to create a better “we”.

A friend of mine, John, after hearing the story of the slogan in the store, told me: “It may be better expressed: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’” His suggestion became the title of this article. Thank you, John!

Drilling Software: Leap from Map to GPS

Maps are both practical and sentimental. Good maps are easy to read, visually appealing. Back in college, we all consulted maps to plan our trips and vacations. A map was a necessity in a car. As the result of frequent use, maps showed signs of wear and tear, but we hated to throw them away, because we left marks and our stories on them. They accompanied us in many journeys, witnessed our experience, felt what we felt. That was 20 years ago, when one of the reasons to join AAA club is to obtain free maps.

Paper maps are becoming distance memories now. Google map and other online map system have changed our way of travel. Global Position System (GPS) devices have replaced maps in our cars. We obtain road information instaneously, receive warning ahead of time and are informed the travel time based on current speed. Aren’t we lucky to live in a digitalized world?

Last year I visited the city of Seoul in South Korea. My eyes opened widely when I saw the GPS systems in their taxies. It is colorful and 3D with vivid pictures of buildings of various sizes. My tour guide told me proudly, “Our GPS is the world’s best. We call it navigation system.”

Leap From Map to GPS

In drilling industry, we have developed many standards, guidelines, best practices and many textbooks, etc. They are valuable resources to our drilling engineers, just like maps to travelers.

Now, drilling software has become a mature product, readily available to engineers in the office and field. It provides dynamic, on-site analysis and allows us to see what is normally invisible.

That is our drilling software: a giant leap from a map to GPS.

HYDPRO Software and book

Keep Drilling Software Easy - Really Easy

We all know that any joke we have to explain is probably not worth telling. To some degree, it is the same thing when it comes to creating a user interface for drilling software. Every developer has his or her own insight on interface designs, and has them all neatly explained for the customers. But if we have to do that much explanation to our software users, we probably have not designed an easy-to-use product.

As computers become faster, information explodes and schedule gets tight; all of us, including drilling professionals, face the challenge to finish more tasks in less time. Software enables us to do so.

Software is the child of both developer and user. However, not all software is born equal. Software developers and users live in separate worlds.  We developers are in our universe of coding and users are in their reality.

To users, software is a tool to make a job done. Their goal is to use software as few times as possible.

To developers, software coding is our mission, to combine our solid professional skills and elaborate interface designs to make sound software. Sometimes, we tend to make things more complicated than necessary. Part of the reason is that it is easy to do so: just by not planning carefully. On the other side, to make a complicated model easy to use is difficult and time-consuming. However, the hours developers put into programming is well worth, because once the difficulty-made-easy tasks are done in a software, it benefits hundreds of users. The benefits multiply as more people start to use software.

Just like a good joke is the one without having to explain, a good software should be so intuitive and easy that a manual is not needed.

So, keep drilling and keep drilling software easy – really easy.

Keep Drilling Software Easy– Really Easy