Don’t hate the game, hate the cheaters…

20170101_150504062_iOSI need to clean my office.

That, by the way, was my new year’s resolution for many years, until I gave up. Now I just post that I should do that from time to time. I did clean my office nearly six years ago, and then again four years ago in both cases because we were moving. Sadly since then, the influx of gear and the outgo of things I was getting rid of has reversed. So there is more stuff now than there is space.

There is, however, a reality that occurs. I am a technologist. As part of what I do, my cool tech posts and blogs in various locations, I review a lot of technology. My rule for reviews has always bene if I don’t own it, I don’t review it. That is why for many years if I did a printer review it was an HP printer. I only owned HP printers from roughly 1990 to 2011. I had an HP laser for a long time because it supported both PC and Mac printing. I had an HP plotter and for a time (nearly eight years) an HP color laser. During this period we chewed up printers pretty quickly. We had inkjet all-in-ones that lasted one or two years before we got a new one. There was a time when I started moving to Lexmark printers, but that was short lived. Things changed around the time we moved to Maryland in 2011. First off, Canon printers while not cheap, actually tend towards cheaper toner than the HP printers do. By a lot, in fact, I found out. Plus, the Canon printers supported new devices connecting faster, including Android Tablets and iOS devices connecting and printing.

The other thing I will not do is take freebies. That means all my Yelp reviews, all my technology, and hardware reviews; I bought the device. Since I do make money has a technologist it is the only ethical way to do this. It is like a couple of companies I’ve worked for, that didn’t pay for their software, that isn’t ethical, and I left. The same is always true when you do reviews. If you don’t own and use the device, and you got the device for free, how can you review it? Now, I will say that I have gotten free tools that I have reviewed from Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns. But in all cases, I provided a service to the campaign first, and they gave me a free device. So in effect, the device was payment for services rendered. Sometimes in the crowdfunding came product is less expensive than money.

20160528_153000067_iOSIt is in the details of how people act ethically, that you find out the kind of person they are. People that are willing to ignore things like legal music, legal software and therefore willing to put their needs ahead of what is fair, right and moral, will do many things that aren’t ethical beyond the stealing of software, the stealing of music or movies.

We, our family, got an email from our internet provider that someone had downloaded an illegal, unpurchased movie from our IP address. We freaked out, everyone checked their hard drives and verified that it wasn’t on their computer. We did find out that the offending computer was in fact owned by a guest who doesn’t visit anymore. But I went out and bought a copy of the movie so that we would be legal, on our side. Why? Because having legal music, legal movies and legal software is the right thing to do. Regardless of the cost. You see, if you don’t, then you can never point the finger at someone else and accuse them of well, cheating.

My reviews are of things I own, either given as part of payment for services or paid for by me, either backing a campaign or exercising my delightful Amazon Prime membership. When the device arrives, I use it. If I find that it does what it said it would do, I review it. If it doesn’t, it goes into the, unfortunately, growing slag pile of my office. That is why I need to clean my office, the great mass of unwashed devices that weren’t worthy of a review.

I used to, many years ago do reviews and post them as the Savvy Tech Guy. That site is now long gone, but the concept is the same, the rules were the same, and of course the reviews were of things I owned, and used.

Don’t pirate software, music, movies or for that matter anything. If you do, you deserve the impact and penalties that come next. You also forfeit the right to ever complain about other people abusing systems because you are a system abuser!

.doc

Fair is paying for what you use. Period.

Upcoming cook tech projects I am excited about!

20150805_001827102_iOSWhat three things that are coming in the next say three months are things I am excited about? It is a question I am often asked. Sometimes by technologist that are interested, other times by those who wish to become technologists.

The first thing is coming this week. It is the Storm portion of the Bloomsky system. This is the wind direction, rain amounts, and wind speed add-on. I can’t wait to get it out and deployed. Yes, I am a weather geek. I can’t help it. Most of my posts on YouTube this month are time-lapse weather video. The Storm adds many additional readings so again, something I am looking forward to in the near term.

Another component or interesting tool I am looking forward to in the near term are two robotic assistants that will hopefully be arriving in the next 2-4 months. That being Jibo and Keecker. Now Keecker is more of a multi-media interactive device (homepod) where Jibo is more of a stay in one place and interacts with people device. Keecker includes a built-in speaker and a built-in projector. Both of these devices are exciting as far as what can be done in the robotics field. Keecker offers the broad concept of the Screen as a Service. Jibo is a tool built to help connect people. One of the things I missed when I was traveling was the ability o see my family’s faces from time to time. These new social robots help a bit with that.

20150612_200506000_iOSWith boating season soon here (less than 35 days in fact!) there are some things coming in the technology and boating space that are interesting but I think given time and distance I will bring all of that together into a separate post. I have quite a few things that both interest me and excite me as we head into the brave new world of a new boating season.

I am waiting for two underwater ROV’s that are coming later this spring. The OpenROV Trident (I previously had an OpenROV product, it was incredible) is a exciting underwater exploration tool. I am excited about the new version. The second underwater ROV that is also hopefully shipping this spring is the Fathom One. First off, both are exciting. I am looking forward to being able to explore what is under our boat. Or what is in the Cheseapke bay without having to get into the water. I love being in or on the water, but it is fun to know what is there, first.

So these are the cool tech projects I am waiting for this spring. Now if we can just hold the overall good weather until say June things will be perfect. I was kind of hoping to photograph some snow (got a little bit in the time-lapse of two days ago), but I’ve since decided that seeing blue skies and temperatures well above freezing is one benefit of global warming I can live with.

Time to get rolling!

(images today courtesy of my cellular collection)

.doc

Technologist…

I have an idea, more a dream but it could solve a growing problem…

20141117_005537278_iOSI am going to focus on cool tech for this blog, again. I need a break from the world around me and tech has always been useful. One of my personal favorite sites, well actually two of my favorite sites, are Indiegogo and Kickstarter. In both cases, I like some things about the two websites, and I don’t like other things. One of the things I like about Kickstarter is the user interface after you’ve backed projects. I don’t like the post backing interact that Indiegogo has.

Why would I bring this up? Well in part to stay away from current events and other disturbing news. But also to point out the interesting difference the two largest crowdfunding systems have taken. There are other crowdfunding sites beyond the two I use, but they are currently the largest.

I’ve recommended some changes to both teams running the sites. So far they haven’t acknowledged them so I thought I would share them here. The first is the ability to like a project versus back a project. There are technology projects I back and then there are artistic projects that I sometimes back but sometimes just don’t have an interest in the topic. I would like, however, to be able to like them. I only share projects that I am personally backing on my Social Media feeds. That is a rule of mine having to do with if I am asking you to accept the risk (no project on either site is ever guaranteed) than I have to have already accepted the same risk.

So suggestion number for KS and IG, have a like button. A like button would allow people to show that they have seen and reviewed the project, liked it, but didn’t back it because it is not a project area they usually invest in or consider.

Second suggestion is having better communication between projects, users and between the managing sites. The reality of crowdfunding is optimism and hope. The fact of risk is that when people risk their money, they get angry. I always tell project creators that reach out to me (and many do) that they need to ignore the Sue Birds. A flock of Sue Birds will always appear the day after the projects first missed the deadline. Just like in the real world, in the world of crowdfunding dreams, people threaten to sue the minute something doesn’t go as planned. I call them Sue Birds. I would love to have the ability to remove the Sue Birds from any forum. Perhaps both KS and IG could implement a Sue Bird filter for the rest of us?

I20150201_211513386_iOS have several more ideas, but I am keeping those to myself. For the most part, because I am trying to figure out a way to turn one of them into a campaign for future reference. In the past five years, more than 100 campaigns have reached out to me. I feel like I helped all 100, but in some cases, I was more of a conduit to other resources than I was a particular resource to help them. One of the things I have told all the campaigns was to step back and evaluate their TAM. (Total Addressable Market). Everyone, from massive companies to minor players always assumes that if they have created a blue ocean (limited or no competition) that they can control 100% of the market. The reality of laws in many Southeast, northeast, east and central Asian countries, North, Central or Southern American or the European Union or African countries is the reality of monopolies. Most places go after companies that have complete control of the market in their country.

No one gets 100% of the market. No matter how big the company is or how experienced they are in pushing products into the market, they get the smaller number, the total addressable market or TAM. I tell every company I work with at the KS/IG level to step back and fix their market estimate. You see the best you can do is much smaller than your ambition.

That said I have a great idea for a way to solve the problems that many KS and IG projects have. It is a simple method that solves the short and long term projects many crowdfunding projects have.. Hopefully, someone from KS or IG reads this and reaches out to me. I would be happy to share my idea with them. I will volunteer to help the first one that reaches out to me, gain the competitive advantage of being in a crowdfunding Blue Ocean.

Images today from my cellular phone collection

.doc

Indiegogo SuperBacker

Kickstarter SuperBacker

Just another cool tech post!

20170216_103050231_iOSI have some friends (and I probably should consider this as well) that are downsizing. The concept of moving from larger to smaller. Taking the big buckets of stuff and moving what you need to a smaller bucket and getting rid of the bucket. You know, downsizing!

One of the interesting realities of downsizing is the computer. Octel, a company that is based in the Netherlands, has downsized the PC to pocket sized. Now unlike the PocketPC of old, which included an integrated screen, this is just CPU, memory and storage in a small box. It is about the same size as the pocket PC phones of old. The Sirius-B series is a little smaller than some of the old PPC phones.

Why would you move to such a small computer? Well first off unlike the desktop computers or laptops that we lug around, this fits in a shirt pocket. Without issue in fact. As you can see from the shared pictures, it is quite small and easily held in your hand or your pocket.

From a presentation perspective, it is easier and in the long run safer than carrying a USB key with you. Now you have your whole computer in your pocket! This system like the Bloomsky weather that I post time-lapse videos from on my YouTube channel is one of those cool tech things that if you are in the market is well perfect! The product is small, wisely has its heat sync on the side (that way you can lay a little drive on top of it) and is easy to use! I had my Windows 10 home up and running in about 6 minutes.

All things being relative, you could, in fact, replace a PC with the Sirius-B from Octel quite quickly. I am running Open Office on my version and able to connect it to my network, easily interact with my various devices (ok I have quite a few devices on my network). I wouldn’t most likely load a full copy of MS Office onto the device today, but that is more because I just don’t have that much storage. It is a great tool though for quickly connecting to and checking something on the internet or if you need a computer that is instantly on! Also, it is small enough that I can put it right on top my monitor in my office. A great Cool Tech addition if you are looking to downsize.

Two more Cool Tech updates today. The first is my update on the Apple iWatch. I like the fit and finish of the iWatch. I can honestly say that like Dick Tracey I do take occasional phone calls on my watch. Mostly when I am charging my iPhone, and it is in the other room. Or when I am well, just geeking out. I cannot wait for the upcoming CMRA product. That is a watch band that connects to your iWatch and lets you suddenly have Facetime Video calls with people from your watch! Smart Watches are a personal quest, so this is fun!

20170216_103059546_iOSThe number of 360-degree cameras on the market is increasing as well. I have played with several of them so far. Bubl remains the top product so far, but there are any number of devices that are appearing and quite easy to use. The newest option is the concept o go cameras, such as what the Go-Hero’s offer. But these new 360 cameras offer it with an interesting twist. I can’t wait to see what they can do underwater.

All of that said it is also interesting what other features are offered in 360-degree cameras. Most of the cameras today are smaller; some are offering exciting mounting systems, or interesting storage solutions for the images. One that I have been playing with a lot lately is the Vyu 360. They ship some interesting case, and mount adapters including a waterproof case for the camera, my only complaint is it doesn’t have a fishing line eye hole. That would make it ten times cooler

I suspect that there is a camera that will ship that includes an eye hook and a waterproof case. That way you can lower it into the water.

(this is just lowering it two-three feet into the water there are ROV’s coming that will let you explore 100 to 200 feet below you).

Ah to live in interesting times!

.doc

cool tech geek

The next great idea is already here…

IMG_0049Great ideas are like mushrooms in that they appear at times where you least expect them. They are also like flowers, delicate and something that you have to stop, view and consider heavily before moving on. That difference, Mushroom to Flower, is what makes a great idea special.

They, great ideas, are moments. Something that you remember, treasure and eventually something that you can stop and consider over and over. As I think about the great ideas that I’ve seen in the past five years, there is a number. I consider each of them a treasure and enjoy seeing them over and over!

The iPhone was the first smartphone to change the market. I remember many years ago countless flights where I was the only person that cared when the flight attendant said you can turn on your phones now. Most people turned on their cell phones to call for a ride or to let people know they had arrived safely. I did so to download and check my mail. First via the keyboard/Blackberry device and then via my Pocket PC phone. Slowly over the course of 2007 and 2008 more and more people hit the ground running. As the plane landed, more and more people were connecting and downloading their emails. The Smart Phone became the primary device of connection.

From the smartphone burst the tablet. Apple again actually, with the iPad. I honestly cannot say how much that tablet changed the reality that was computing. I didn’t have an iPhone when they first shipped. In fact, I made fun of them, frequently! What happened next with the Android phones and the iOS explosion changed everything. The great idea both systems pushed was the concept of bite-sized applications (do one thing, well) and with that lower cost. Where in the past the Pocket PC phones had stores, the software was expensive. Now suddenly you could get anything for 99 cents. Yes, there are still specialized applications that cost more. But for the most part, it is a low barrier to entry (cost) and functionality that lives in a small box.

20170215_112636521_iOSGreat ideas need to be reviewed time to time. Those two shifted the world rapidly to a new paradigm that continues o evolve. I would argue that the rise of Cloud Computing was because of the rise of Android and iOS devices. They were the clients for the cloud! The value of cloud was the ability to manage cost over time while offering more and more services. The value of the smart device was the capacity to work anywhere, anytime.

That revolution gave rise to the concepts of the smartwatch. While I miss the Pebble, its place in the market is forever sealed. It was the first true SmartWatch. The SmartWatch that launched a thousand ships! I still recall the sheer joy of having a Pebble.

I think the next great idea is already in the market. Between two products that I have been using extensively for the past six months, there is a new reality. The first product is the Microsoft Hololens; the second production is the Oculus Rift. While Sony has a similar package that works with the PlayStation, Oculus works with any capable computer. Hololens though works on its own. It costs more than the other two (although if you consider a package, Hololens is less expensive). As Windows 10’s next release nears the integration that is already good, will continue to improve between the computer and Hololens but today Hololens stands on its own.

Both Oculus and Hololens present a virtual environment that you can explore. Since both today are tied to the power of the computer you have, your ability to see and do more pretty much unlimited. That raw power is intoxicating.

For me the best thing is being on a conference call, first off it is best as a call, I suspect if I went to an in-person meeting wearing the Hololens I would probably having people staring at me. On the call, as questions come up or concepts I want to explore come up I can quickly search for information. Simply typing into the keyboard that I have paired with the HoloLens to see what is possible. I can have virtually an infinite number of search windows open because I am not bound by the monitor in front of me.

The next great idea is here. VR/AR technologies that will continue to change the world around us and in consuming what we know build what we could know tomorrow for us!

.doc

Pausing everyday for great ideas…

An easy system to backup your home files…

20150117_134008902_iOSI can honestly say in the past 20 years that I have three distinct things always to be true. First off, things change as fast the as the people around the change are willing to change. Secondly, no matter how smart you think you are, there is someone a lot smarter I promise. Finally, the third thing is that the more things stay the same, the bigger the change that is coming will be.

These three rules have helped me move data for government agencies, companies and for organizations that sit between the two (NGO’s and other organizations that deal with the government directly but are not part of the government). People don’t like to hear the bad news, but the reality is moving data can be painful. Even on the best possible days, it can be painful.

One of the things I learned many years ago was anything you currently have you have to be prepared to lose it. That means when considering data, you have to make copies. Not one, or two copies sitting in your house just waiting for a fire or worse, no fire but a lightening strike. Lightning does some hard drives.

1. Have an off-site backup system in place

a. Hard drive at your neighbor’s house is a great start

I. Make sure you have a copy of their family pictures on a drive in your house as well, it is only fair

ii. You need to make sure that you can easily once a month or so copy your new pictures to that hard drive

b. Off-site such as Carbonite (my favorite) is even better)

c. The combination of hard drive and Carbonite backup is best!

2. Backup your phone, you never know when that phone dies, and you don’t have any of the pictures you were going to have available but never got around to moving.

20150330_003205939_iOSOne of the nice things that Windows 10 provides is the ability to connect your iOS or Android phone to your SkyDrive and do automatic uploads of pictures. While it is automatic, you should still back up your phone as well.

My recommendation is the following configuration:

· One of the WD or Seagate Cloud drives (use this as your home backup drive). This lets you back up your computer and your data!

· Buy a year subscription to Carbonite. (it is cheaper by the way than the first option) And make sure the agent is running on your PC. You probably will have to leave your computer running for a weekend just to get the first backup done.

The value proposition to being able to have a complete backup of your compute systems is well worth the 99 bucks Carbonite charges for a year. The other option is to buy a portable drive and put it somewhere safe that isn’t in your home. Or combine option 1 and option 2 and have an even more robust backup! I know, I’ve lost a lot of information over the years. If you don’t backup the computer through you, increase the likelihood of failure.

Plus Carbonite has a nice on-line application that lets you connect to your backup files from your tablet or phone while you are on the go. They (Carbonite) used to have the best mobile backup for pictures, but they no longer offer that service.

It isn’t hard to set-up a home backup. It is like realizing on a Friday evening that your network is saturated as Netflix throws up its buffering screen and you sit on your couch wondering. Maybe that Doc guy that kept posting about networks, bandwidth and backups wasn’t crazy. Maybe we should segment our home network and backup our files. That way there is less chance of something bad happening!

Images provided by my cell phone collection!

.doc

Backup fan!

Just another cool-tech post!

20150808_155054088_iOSCool Tech posts (my new year’s resolution was to do more, mostly because several readers asked for more)! Let’s start today with an interesting product. There are some weather stations you can have at your home or apartment that are useful. Personally, I have two rules for weather stations now. The first is they have to be connected. What is the value of knowing the weather at your house, if you can’t be away from your house, to find out what the weather there is?

The other thing now is time-lapse video. Well at least for weather. The Bloomsky, an incredible weather station includes both remote viewings (I can tell what the NWS says the weather is in my area and what my home station says the weather is. I find on average a variance of 2-3 degrees most days). Plus the Bloomsky saves excellent time-lapse videos. I have quite a few on my YouTube channel so far.

Bloomsky part 1 is available on their site now. The second tool (which includes more collectible data like wind speed, wind direction, and others) will be available later this year. I can’t wait for the second module. I know I am a weather geek, but it is cool to see.

NetATMO is another great toolset for home weather. You can today get wind speed and direction, rainfall and current atmospheric conditions outside and inside your house. You can have three, four or even five sensors in your house telling you what your air quality and other measurements including temperature are in your house. Why do you care? Well first off our basement is on average 2 degrees cooler than the upstairs is (but heat rises). When we are using our fireplace, though, our basement is 4 or 5 degrees cooler. Something to pay attention to because it impacts home quickly your house can change the overall temperature.

20150429_020953550_iOSBoth of these weather solutions install quickly. Both include an outdoor component. NetATMO also includes an indoor component. Both have the excellent software. There is something to be said for knowing and sharing the weather at your house. The creator of Bloomsky calls it Micro-Weather, where you can quickly see the changes in temperature over both a micro and a macro scale within a geography. You would be amazed at the deltas.

Bloomsky does require a 2.4 MHz network for its Wi-Fi connection. It does not like 5.0 MHz networks. Most in-home routers broadcast on both 2.4 and 5.0 so you won’t have to buy a new router. Now, if you have read my recommendations about redoing your home network, then you already have two wireless routers. I have a 2.4 MHz router dedicated to Internet of Things devices to reduce the wear and tear on my families 5.0 wi-fi network. Having multiple Netflix connections running at any one time drains even the fastest in-home wi-fi quickly!

Images today courtesy of my cellular phone collection!

.doc

Weather geek