We live in tough times these days, what with the roller coaster stock market and unemployment, not to mention pirates.

Luckily quality does not seem to be an industry affected by this last job hazard just yet. However, if you have a pirates-on-the-job story, I-and probably just about everyone else you know-would be very interested to hear it.

Things here atQualityare a little tamer. My recent work experience led me not to the Gulf of Aden but to the securely landlocked Arizona for the recent Automated Imaging Association (AIA) Vision Show in Phoenix.

The state I previously associated with the Grand Canyon, John McCain and golf also is a showcase for great spring weather and bright new convention centers.

Some of you may have skipped it rather than shell out for travel expenses, but it’s also difficult to measure the opportunity cost of not going. Still, I’ve also heard that some integrators didn’t make it because they were too busy, so good for them. If you ask nicely, those of us who attended the show will share our newly acquired wisdom and/or show paraphernalia, and hopefully we’ll see you next year.

Not to brag, but thanks to the conference and show, I now know more about camera interfaces, and I have a new mouse pad. Both have already come in handy.

During the camera interface session, Jerry Fife of Point Grey Research explained USB 3.0, which is 10 times as fast as USB 2.0, and said commercial products are expected to arrive by 2010. This definitely sounds like something to follow.

Steve “Mr. Camera Link” Kinney of JAI also shared his Camera Link wisdom. It is the only standard that incorporates real-time signaling, control and communications over the interface, and the AIA Camera Link committee is discussing the next generation of the standard now.

Meanwhile, for those of you who didn’t get to the show, may I suggest another online offering?

Are you LinkedIn?Quality Magazine is. Join our group at www.linkedin.com. In only a few days, we received more than 100 contacts, and we would love some company.

Find theQualityMagazine group at the LinkedIn Web site and search groups to find us. While you’re at it, join the machine vision group or any of the others. But join ours first. The Linux Users group will be there when you’re done.

With 4,542 members at the time of this writing, clearly the Linux Users group is on to something, though the Ubuntu Users Official Group has 8,262 members. Watch your back, Ubuntu-we’re right behind you.

If you’d like to meet new people or reconnect face to face, next month the International Robots & Vision Show will be held in our backyard in Rosemont, IL, just outside Chicago.

Follow up with the old contacts and pick up where you left off at the vision show in Phoenix.

By the way, I think the Twitter phenomenon is reaching heights not considered by its founders. The application has now grown to where doctors are sending Twitter updates during brain surgery and Oprah’s just sent her first message. Visit www.twitter.com to learn more.

Let me know what you think of all this technology-and remember to send those pirate-related job stories to [email protected].