If you do not live in an English-speaking country, your language will make use of all sorts of odd characters, such as "ä", "ö", "ü", and "ß" in German or "你" and "我" in Chinese. Of course, you intend that such characters, if used in your web page, blog posts, or text files, come out correctly on the screen of your readers. In my course on Distributed Computing, there actually is a lesson on text encoding, but I can only briefly touch the topic there. Here I just want to summarize it a bit more comprehensively.

Today, I attended the fresh logistics Asia 2017 exhibition in Shanghai, a trade show for all elements involved in the logistics of fresh food delivery. Fresh food logistics are basically logistics with added requirements regarding temperature, delay, and safe handling of the transported items. The exhibits ranged from production machinery, delivery cars, fork lifts, and big and small containers, and storage systems over appliances like freezers, fridges, cooling systems and doors, registers to food and beverage products and supply offers. Like in case of the Intertraffic China 2017 exhibition I visited about ten days ago, the focus was more on hardware, with very cool exhibits and demonstrations.

For me as a researcher in optimization and mainly interested in the planning and the operations research making logistics and supply chains efficient, it was particularly interesting to see that even at such a rather hardware- and product-oriented fair, several exhibitors focusing on digitization, data management, and optimization of the logistics aspects were present, such as 晶链通. Yet, this subject was less prominent compared to the Intermodal Asia 2017 exhibition, maybe because large-volume container transport on a global scale over a heterogeneous network of carriers makes central data keeping an absolute requirement. Optimization and planning is enabled by the availability of data, it cannot work easily with Excel sheets. This is why I think that a technological evolution will probably start with better ERP, CRM, and warehouse management software, maybe as SaaS systems, for logistics and supply-chain management. Such systems have an immediate and obvious advantage for their users, as they enforce a clear work structure and allow for central statistical analysis. Based on the data collected, it becomes possible to move towards automated planning and optimization instead of starting with the latter.

Sometimes, I come across the need for creating temporary files in my (Java) programs. For this purpose, I usually use Java's NIO with the Path API instead of the old File API. Here I discuss how a directory for temporary files further be scoped in time with Java's try-with-resources.

Yesterday, I attended the Intertraffic China exhibition in Shanghai. Unfortunately, I only had a relatively short time to spend at the event. Nevertheless, I found the wide variety of companies exhibiting quite impressive. Products were presented from many traffic-related fields such as traffic management, safety, infrastructure, and smart mobility. I personally found the solutions for electronic traffic management most interesting. Similarly to my impression from the Intermodal Asia exhibition earlier this year, I think that there is a very clear trend towards electronic, online, optimized management of logistics and traffic. Maybe this is even more than a trend and already the standard?

Some time ago, I discussed why global optimization with an Evolutionary Algorithm (EA) is not necessarily better than local search. Actually, I get asked the question "Why should I use an EA?" quite a few times. Thus, today, it is time to write down a few ideas about why and why not you may benefit from using an EA. I tried to be objective, which is not entirely easy since I work in that domain.

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