There are times that I wish I was still teaching. CSTEAM is one of those things that reminds me of what could have been…

There are times I miss teaching – right now it’s looking at the art of the possible with IoT devices. In particular, the capabilities you can offer students in the classroom with Raspberry PI and Littlebits kits. Potential is achieved not just because it exists but because it can be produced and developed quickly and/or easily. I taught a summer technology class in the day’s where our 20 meg HyperCard stack on Dinosaurs took 20 floppies and lots of swapping to load. I can build an IoT camera with more memory that that Macintosh SE had all those years ago. And that camera is smaller than a dollar bill in total size.

The concept of STEAM for education, well I believe in CSTEAM (connected Science technology engineering art and math) is beyond amazing right now. The kits from Littlebits are so easy to use and integrate quickly. You can quickly integrate Raspberry PI instances and build compute and low level hardware programming, quickly and easily. This is not the realm of rocket scientists or companies with massive R&D budgets. You can get started in this space for less than 100 dollars. (US).

This of course carries on a dream I had as a former educator. One that my father had first, and passed on to me. The concept of getting science more integrated into education. Beyond science, adding the components of engineering, technology and math to build out and deliver a holistic view of skills kids will need as they embark on the edge of the almost nearly information age.

I added the C to STEAM. Why? Because I believe that connection is a component of what needs to be educated today. It is not just the connection of social media. It is beyond that; connection is a huge component of the future information age. What is connected, what will be connected and later what should have been connected all along. Connection isn’t just the social handshake of “liking” something on social media. It is the connection of people to resources beyond where they are. In my book The Syncverse I talked about this concept. I expanded the concept further in my book Inter-Generational Knowledge Transfer. All of the books leading (links below) towards the concept of easily moving information from where it is to where it needs to be.

The Internet of Things, or Cyber Physical Systems as NIST calls them, opens the door for much more exploration much earlier. Yes, there are risks. One of the realities of technology is that bad actors do take control. Hackers as we call them, seek to control IoT devices to use them as bots in attacks and for other processing purposes. The good news about Hackers is they expose weakness. The bad news is there are more holes than patches at times.

My recommendation is that elementary schools create disconnected sand boxes for young children to consider and play with. That those sand boxes are then shared with older students who consider ways to secure and improve the security of the devices created. Allow for the freedom of exploration safely without forcing rules.

Then use the application of rules as a teaching model for older students. Make the Internet of Things an exploration and a lesson in how to secure many deployed devices. Take STEAM, add the C and you have CSTEAM build around IoT/CPS and security.

That is when I miss teaching. The art of the possible is so much greater now than it was 25 years ago when I left the classroom. Certainly, there was more I could have done then. But now, I could do so much more. Imagine lettings young 2nd and 3rd graders loose creating devices to change the world. Then asking 10th graders and 12th graders to secure those devices. To take them and with the 2nd and 3rd graders launch Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. To build the brave new world, starting with CSTEAM as early as we can. Today is the only day you have. Tomorrow is a promise, but not a guarantee. We need to start building the future much earlier.  It would usher in the information age that much faster than we are going to do with our current systems…

The Syncverse

Inter-Generational Knowledge Transfer


CSTEAM is the future.

Wondering how we get from the Technology age to the information age. The path seems unclear…

I wonder sometimes about what people are thinking. Like everyone around me I wonder what people think about me, but wonder what they are thinking in general. I won’t go on a long Washington DC driver’s tirade; I’ve done that before. But if someone leaves enough space between them and the car in front of them to be safe, why would you cut the second person off? If you cut the first person off I have time to stop. That, by the way is why I left that amount of space between me and the car in front of me.

So, this weekend I was thinking. First off I root for the Chicago Bears in the NFL. They are my favorite team all time and my all-time favorite player (Walter Payton) played for the Bears. My second favorite player is Peyton Manning, so for years I also rooted for the team Peyton played for. I don’t really have a favorite player this year. So, I am struggling to find a second team to root for. I used to follow my father’s rule (root for the local team) but I can’t do that now. I don’t like either of the teams locally. It is a process I guess; I will find a new favorite player.

I am really excited for next spring. The two-different underwater ROV’s I am waiting for should be in my hands. Underwater ROV’s are different than flying drones. Due to the nature and distortion of signals caused by water you need to have a cable between you and the ROV. That said there are a number of systems that you can use and consider. Sonar works underwater very well and the Deeper products offer interesting options. Literally a sonar bulb that attaches to the end of a fishing line and lets you see what is underwater, on your phone.

That is one that that boats are still short on today. Integration options for cellular devices. Can you image if a boat with 20 speakers or more let you connect to it, like a car does. You could then use your phone when close to shore to play Internet radio right on the boat. Add to that the ability to play audible and other information sources and your boat could become a giant conference room!

Technology integration is a continuing interest of mine. What and how do we integrate. There are ultimately two things here that interest me. The first is the reality of what people think is important. I watch the “tending technologies” lists and sometimes I was blown away. Things that I hadn’t thought of sometimes pop up on those lists. Other times I look at the list and try to figure out what people are thinking.

The reality of sound is one that always makes me wonder. Bluetooth speakers are interesting, first off because of the reality of cell phones. Speakers on cell phones are small and often less than good. Some are better than others but let’s be realistic in our expectations. Like the camera of the cell phone you are limited in what you can do by space, materials and size. So, the external aftermarket of speakers grows.

Connection reality – its why I started talking about the concept of the Screen as a Service (SCRaaS) more than two years ago. The concept being that screens can simply be a service that you connect to and use. Speakers are the same. In fact, the concept of as a Service really benefits the user of mobile devices.

But beyond mobile is the even larger potential of wearable. Today’s hand help mobile devices will give way to more flexible wearable components.

So, I wonder. As I wander around my neighborhood and the aisles of the grocery store, as I sit in a restaurant and watch people go by. I wonder. The grand age of technology has changed the world. What happens when we are able to integrate information, technology and people into a unified system?

We will have reached the information age! That is the most intriguing reality right now for me, the analysts and pundits screaming that we are in the information age. As I said in my book about inter-generational knowledge transfer, we aren’t there yet. People share information when they want to, but finding information is harder than it will be. When we get to the place where people share not because they want to but because it is the minimum and that information is easy to find we will have reached the information age. You see if information is the commodity, you have to not have an expert culture. Today we remain in an expert culture. When that is gone, we move out of the technology age.


Drone man, drone fan!

Cool Tech follow-up’s and wandering…

I have in the past couple of month’s post a couple of cool tech reviews that I wanted to follow up on. The first one because the more I play with the software and hardware included in the system the more interesting I am finding the system.

So the posted review of Littlebits is here. When it comes to technology I have three goals. The first is to automate and simplify things that frustrate me today manually. So automation is my first goal. My second goal is to reduce the clutter of my office. Right now, I have failed miserably in that one. I have sold and donated more than 100 gadgets in the past 60 days and still have far too many in my office. The third and final thing I look for is expansion. By expansion I mean how many tasks can the gadget take on. So far I have played with three of the kits, Cloud Connection, Home Automation and the version 2 of the Gizmo’s and Gadgets.

I really like their software (iTunes and Google Play store). I’ve played around with it quite a bit and have an idea of a couple of projects I want to try. The Littlebits kits are well designed and they put considerable thought into not only how the boxes are arranged but how the items best survive the shipping process. I am really looking forward to what I could invent with Littlebits.

The next technology is the 3d printer. I recently donated my CubeX Duo. It was hard to use and ultimately not a good fit for what I wanted to do. The software was complex and set-up of printing was always frustrating. I researched for a while and ended up with the Flashforge Dreamer. The system is smaller, still offers two colors and loading PLA or ABS plastic is easier. 3d printing in general is about small items (unless you spend a lot of money) but it is also about complexity. As in reduce the complexity of going from dream, to answer.

So far the software from Flashforge is amazing. I find it easy to use, and it also works well with the various 3d creation systems. I have three different 3d scanners so it’s nice that it actually works well with all three.

Another technology that is just changing everything right now is the iWatch/iPhone 7 combination. I know most people don’t want to answer and talk to people via their watch. That falls into the category of those of us who grew up on Dick Tracey, but it is really useful. You can put your iPhone on the dock to change and walk away. 30 feet from your iPhone doing somethi8ng else you can still answer the phone and talk to your callers. Amazing!

I really enjoy the many screens you can use. I got that from my love of the Pebble, changing watch faces to suit my mood. The Apple Watch has some pretty incredible faces you can use. The other things it has at this point are amazing. You can connect your watch to your home automation package. Again, your phone is charging and you have your watch on. You can connect to your phone and your home automation system without taking your phone off the charger. A large number of applications have Apple watch companion apps. With the memory in the iPhone 7 I was finally able to have a device with all my audible books on it (the iPhone) and a device with all my other books (the Kindle Fire). That makes the commute even better now. I can play regular books and audible books in my car easily.

The last item up for today is the connected car. The concept of connection in the car is amazing. But when you add a car that insulates you from the road it is even more amazing. When your car and car phone are nearly imperceptible to other people on the call, it is amazing. When you feel like you are riding in a concert hall, it is amazing.

When you can call someone and have directions downloaded to your GPS, without having to spend 10 minutes using the virtual keyboard, that is also amazing. I really enjoy my connected car. The craftsmanship, the driving augmentation (from lane correction, to smart cruise control and radar when driving and parking) is just amazing. I wanted a Mercedes Benz when I was 15. It only took me a few years but I am really glad (and feel really safe driving in DC) that I finally got one. The Mercedes Benz GLE 350 is the best car I have ever owned.

Enough cool tech follow-ups for today. More coming, and another cool tech blast soon.


When you drive in DC all you see of other cars is taillights. Lots of Taillights!

My network has fallen and it can’t get back up….

On October 21, 2016 there was a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) against the DNS provider Dyn on the eastern seaboard of the US. The impact was fairly consistent (and pretty bad) in the am with the attack slowly falling off in the afternoon. It shows the traffic weakness I’ve argued about for the past 10 years. You can choke any one segment of the Internet and cause problems for the entire world.

Back in the dark ages of computing we had a concept called Beaconing in the Token Ring world, basically Token Rings has maximum’s for devices. When you reached that maximum then the next device attempting to connect over the maximum would knock the first inactive device it found off the network. This would cause massive problems on the Token Ring eventually bringing it to a standstill.

The DDOS attack on Dyn carries that one step further attacking a single point on the network that has lots of traffic bound to it. It would be like shutting down all the traffic lights along Broadway in New York City. It would force a manual override, and cause massive congestion. The problem with massive congestion is the reality of why DDOS attacks work. Computers keep trying even if they cannot connect. Plus, the reality of the world is the number of devices out there.

First off the rumored use of IoT devices in this DDOS attack is interesting. Interesting because I think as more and more devices move into homes, there will be more accidental DDOS attacks on the home network than people are going to like.

As in your home network goes from fast and fun to slow and sluggish. The various news channels (I was watching MSNBC at lunch) were talking about lost connectivity to Amazon’s store, Netflix and other’s. I heard a reporter lament, what will I do this weekend without Netflix. The value of broadcast TV suddenly appears. Home bandwidth is going to shrink.

What can you do? Well you have a number of interesting problems as you wander down the path of home networking. In fact, you should probably understand what your requirements are, first.

1. Do you work from home?

2. Do you consume Netflix?

3. Are you considering a Smart Home for automation?

4. Solar panels, wind turbine to power your home?

5. Gamers in your house?

Those three are the quick questions to start with. Your network needs to be different if you work from home, but the value of working from home is today, most neighbors have their lowest consumption during the day (and very late at night) so you are in luck, you will be closest to your maximum inbound and outbound available network bandwidth. Your router won’t be the choke during the day. Unless you go crazy with home automation.

Netflix and all the other streaming services consume a lot of bandwidth. The more computers, TV’s and gaming consoles you have connected to Hulu, Netflix and other’s is the bandwidth you are consuming. Friday nights I have two family members watching different streamed video feeds. My available bandwidth (up and down) is pretty content and 110 to 115 MPs up and down. But the two streamer son a Friday night consume 40% of the available bandwidth. If we add a third streamer we push the network to 65% utilization. The more utilized a network is the more likely you are to have a failure. Every failure causes the device that failed to resend and request the same information again.

So the first thing you can do? Put a second router into your hosue. I have one today that is set-up for one purpose, all the IoT devices in my house connect to the second router. The second router is connected directly to my internet connection. In between my ISP provided router and my Internet connection is a firewall. That is more than most people need, but I am nervous about security so added that extra layer.

I also, in the second Wi-Fi router for IoT, got a router that speaks both Zigbe and Zwave. Those being the two main device connectivity protocols used in the Home Automation world. That allows my router to connect to the majority of IoT devices and do the interpretation in the hosue rather than waiting until the data is in the cloud.

If I get a corrupt or a hacked IoT device, I can simply shut off the routers connection to the Internet and watch the protocol gateway on the disconnected Wi-Fi router. One by one you turn off your IoT devices until you find the one that is hacked and remove it.

Personally based on my estimates I see the average person have between 15 and 20 devices connected and of course the more people in your hosue the more devices you will have (family of 4 having between 60 and 80 deployed devices).

I haven’t talked about the last two bandwidth problems coming, but will cover those soon.


When networks fall, who picks them up?

My Cool New Tech Blog

Time for my long awaited cool and upcoming technology blog. I’ve been promising to write this blog for about three weeks now. So here we go, all tech on this blog is either released as a beta or is in development and available on either Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

Quick review of my rules. I have to either be using the device or funding it on either Kickstarter or Indiegogo. I am adding a new category called devices I have that I love. That is the first device featured today and this new category will appear from time to time in my cool new tech blog series. The other projects are one’s I am current backing and that I find to be amazing!


clip_image002First off, Hololens from Microsoft. First of all, Cortana is truly alive using the Hololens. Easy to interact with and able to perform so many functions it is amazing. The Hololens is available for developers now although soon should be generally available. Just using the Hololens during conference calls has changed both how I use computers, but also how I answer questions. Doctors, Lawyers and anyone that spends alto of time researching, will want a Hololens. Mechanics and anyone that fixes different types of machines will want a Hololens. It is tool that takes what the Google Glass promise was and adds functionality that the Google Glass never even had potential to add. This is an amazing product!


clip_image004VYU360 VR camera, I have backed a number of 360 degree cameras over the past four years. Some of them are amazing and I use them all the time. This is the newest camera I’ve seen in the space that also adds in the capability to stream and create VR spaces. What it has that the other camera’s I’ve backed in this space that is unique is it INCLUDES an underwater case. Simply one of the coolest new ideas


clip_image006The next project up to bat today on Kickstarter is Modi, the Internet of Robotics. The concept is simple (what can you build) and when you consider the options and tools they have included, this is a fantastic kit for kids, adults and those who seek to create the next big thing! IoT device recreation is a wonderful connection point for parents and kids, but it is also something that gives you a chance to figure out how things can be done, better. This is a fantastic starting kit!



clip_image008I have only one Indiegogo project today. I could have many more but this is the one project that I am intrigued by. Taking an interesting look at the concept of personal locomotion. As a longtime swimmer my personal best for a mile swim was 50 minutes. Or just over 1 mile an hour. At the end of that I was exhausted and went to sleep. This project is one of those amazing products that allows you to not only swim faster, but allows you to do so above and below the water. Bixpy. They call it a portable water jet. But if you look at other products in the space they are way more expensive, and have one function. Bixpy has two devices you can get. A propulsion system for your kayak, canoe, or Paddle board. Or a personal move me quickly underwater jet for a swimmer. I cannot wait for this to ship!


Crowd Funding fan

Combining the many services for an NGO City Broker

Cloud broker two...The initial concept of a cloud broker has been floating around for a while. In the US Government report by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) on cloud, NIST called cloud brokers aggregators of cloud services. Beyond that initial definition a number of interesting products have emerged. In fact, I believe nearly four years ago I published a blog talking about the concepts of Cloud Broker 2.0 that includes end to end security and end to end directory integration. The end point to end point security would allow the organization to have remote devices (cellular phones) connecting from the local coffee shop and they wouldn’t have to worry as much about the security of the remote end point. They would secure their solution in the cloud, the broker would provide the security for devices. Using the many available devices to consume information from the cloud.

Now, the reality of wearable technology changes the game a little. So in the concept of Cloud Broker 3.0 there is the broad concept of broker (Cloud + IoT) and integration (data + analysis) that the broker would need to be able to provide. This would be integration between the many data sources and the many IoT, Cellular and cloud services. Leveraging the concepts of cloud 2.0, cloud br4oker 3.0 offers the following:

· Cloud aggregation services

· Aggraded data services (IoT and other ingest services)

· Aggregated data analysis services

· End to end security services

· Unified service catalog

clip_image001We are bound by the reality of the networks we have today on the first three. We are also bound by the nature of data in all of the categories. First off there is the value of information. Information as it exists today. The value of information has many components but realistically for companies there are two critical components – right information, right time for the right action. Is one of the business needs/requirements and risks. The other is the risk of the information falling into the wrong hands. So there the data use issue and the data loss issue. Organizations wind around various security rules around information to prevent the second. They allow various components of their data portfolio to be consumed by remote devices to better support the first issue.

There are two distinct problems with this right now. The first is intelligence of device selection. I have received massive Excel spreadsheets of information while I was on my cellular device with an email (the excel file was an attachment) asking me to review the file. I did not have access to any other device at that time, so the ability to review the information was limited to me resizing the screen over and over. It took 3 times longer doing that than it would had I had access to a larger screen.

In my long argued concept SCRaaS, the Screen as a Service, screens can be leveraged as services within environments. Now, outside of the corporate controlled reality, you have a security risk. It’s not hard to put a memory device on a screen that literally captures all information sent to that screen and stores it. So there has be controls and security around screens that would allow for SCRaaS.

clip_image003That brings up another point that being a structured and managed notification system. Sensitive data should never be presented on a cellular phone. It is far too easy to basically hijack that phone. Even if it’s just looking over the shoulder of the person reading the information. So in the broker 3.0 model we will integrate some of the components of what I called The Myverse in my book The Syncverse. The broker 3.o catalog would include options for storage beyond what cloud providers offered. So where a cloud service offers tiers 1-5, the broker could also offer a new tier of service (managed) that was not on premise of the customer but managed and hosted by the broker. Cloudier to the user, but with additional security options. The first being if you are on a cell phone, you can’t see this. Or to borrow from the song, you can’t touch this. It would allow the organizations IT security team to establish the concept of known and unknown networks. The user could then be informed; you have the following information available but you are on an unknown network therefore it cannot be released to you. This also would allow the IT department to tailor the notification system for the user. Notify them via email that they have a secure file available in the secure store of the Broker (there are many products that do this today). But add to this the additional management of you are on a device that is on an unknown network or you are on a cellular device and need to connect via a more secure method. Also the system can notify you, this data is larger than can be effectively presented on a cellular device switch to a tablet or laptop secure connection. Or switch to a known good SCRaaS device.

All of these concepts then come together in the overall offering that I have detailed as an NGO City Broker. Combining known good data, known good networks and cloud services, with billions of IoT devices to produce a secure compute environment. It still will require that organizations have security teams watching for bad actors. Secure doesn’t mean uncheckable. It just means that the data and devices are secure from stupid.


Broker 3.0 fan, NGO City Broker designer


The images, concepts and ideas in this blog are copyright Scott Andersen

Live to your ethics. Not the ethics of those around you.

I I am reminded of my grandfather’s rule. He reminded me of this all the time. Well actually this one and another rule. The first one was what you say to a person and what you say about a person have to be the same. The other was look before you leap. But that first one is one that sticks with me. It is as much about the ethics of a person that talks about you without you being there, as anything.

Years ago I had a boss that did that. Talked about people behind their backs. Everyone loved the guy because he was a golden boy. But he was truly mean in what he said. He belittled people when they weren’t in the room, but to their face he would praise them. He was also extremely willing to listen to rumors about people, without verifying the source and the intent of the source. Add to that political ambition and the person was more dangerous than people realized.

So I got away as quickly as I could. Not fast enough but I did get away.

That got me thinking this morning about the concept of ethics in the workplace. Ultimately I have to be happy with myself. If I am happy with where I am, then everything else doesn’t matter. I used to let the ethics of others impact me. But I’ve up on that.

Be true to yourself. Be true to what you say about others.

The reason, today, is not to point out the horrible boss I had. It is that I let that bother me for several years. I let that person take up residence in my head, without paying rent. So with a little spring cleaning I am focused on the positive. Instead today it is to honor my grandfather’s rule. If you say something about someone, you have to say it to them as well.

So, that is hard to live by. Frankly there are times in life when saying what you mean and saying exactly what you are thinking just isn’t a good idea. People call them white lies or lies meant to help the person feel better. You don’t tell someone “you look ill” it just isn’t right. You go for the politer, “hey, are you ok?” If they choose at that point to tell you what is going on, then honor that connection and communication with honest feedback.

But they tell you something about someone else, you have to ask them “have you said that to them, or have you asked them directly?” I told my old boss many years ago that he was listening to rumors without any basis. He didn’t care then, but I told him. I was honest with him. He wasn’t honest with me, but that isn’t my problem.

In the end you only have to live with what you do, and how you handle what happens. It is not how far you fall but how high you bounce.


Say what you mean, say it to the person and mean what you say.