The concept of smart watches is evolving. Semi review Apple iWatch Series 2, plus a discussion of security…

First off, I was one of the original backers of the Pebble Smart Watch. I wore a Pebble from the day they shipped the very first crowd funded devices (in 2012 or so) until two weeks ago. This is not my giving up on the Pebble, two family members are still wearing them. This is my succumbing to the dark side because of the cookies.

Automation, information and analysis are the three key components of why we have IoT solutions expanding rapidly. Human beings are not truly as effective with repetitive tasks as they are with coming up with ways to well automate the repetitive tasks. Human planting evolved from digging by hand, to using a plow, to having a horse or donkey pull the plow to tractors. Automation is a component of what we do.

So why launch into a discussion of automation when talking about a watch? The concept is simple frankly. I called it in 2012, Screen as a Service. I modified it to be SCRaaS so that it fit the as a service model. I’ve seen and added a number of devices to the overall concept. Nexdock, an external screen for your cellular phone allows you to operate your cell phone like a laptop. PopSlate allows you have an external battery and second screen for your cellular device. And the Pebble Smart Watch, allows you to modify and interact with your cellular device by checking your wrist. Except that there is more, so much more.

The Series 2 iWatch changes the game. Look I stayed away from the Apple Watch at first. It was expensive and the Pebble could do everything it could do. Except that it is apple and they control the environment. So the reality that was the iWatch Series 2 was a huge step forward.

· I can use my watch as a phone. (ok the watch as a speaker phone) Literally answer, talk to people and connect with just the watch. It means I am free to leave my phone anywhere in my hosue, or anywhere at work and I can still directly interact with the phone. The dream started when I first saw Dick Tracey’s watch phone has arrived!

· I can also dictate and respond to text messages DIRECTLY on the watch

· It has an integrated GPS

· I can connect to my home automation system from my watch. Scenes, lights, media sources are now all available on my watch.

The what and why of my technology journey is complex. I have over the years felt that the circular slide rule I got when I was 13 was part of the path. That may be as much a testament to my father as anything else. But if the dream started there, Dick Tracey was a contributor to what was possible.

In my concept SCRaaS, the reality is that you can effectively from any device consume the screen that is available. But the other side of that is that any screen becomes an interactive platform. You can manage the notifications on any screen. You can use the screen as a tool to consume information and respond quickly.

This new found capability does however require a level of security. The first thing to turn off on the new iWatch is the “let your iPhone unlock your watch.” Why? If someone hacks your phone they then have your watch as well. Why would you care? I mean if your phone is hacked its bad. Why would someone getting your watch as well be worse? Because the watch can turn on the video camera and audio of your phone remotely. You just expanded the range a hacker has to attack. So a different pass code for the watch and the phone. Change your passcodes reasonably often. I am struggling to do so every 90 days but that’s probably what you should do.

SCRaaS is here. There are shipping devices now that make your personal device into a powerhouse. Something that you can carry, and leave your laptop at home.


Futurist, and SCRaaS fan…

They are coming, are you ready?: The IoT/CPS revolution is near…

I shared the IDC study on IoT and the issues/concerns for implementation etc they found. I’ve seen a couple of other studies that found the reality of IoT integration and skills as well as security and management to be concerns.

First off, IoT security is an interesting problem. It’s interesting because it won’t only impact large corporations and government agencies. It will impact everyone. All of us. From a compromised watch on your wrist that is recording everything onto your compromised cellular phone and sending that off to someone in another country. To simply enabling physical security holes in systems, blind spots and other ways for people to access places they shouldn’t be able to be in. The potential is limitless when considering the reality of security.

At the same time, the world is hurtling down the IoT highway at a rate of more than a billion new devices every year. I talked about the concept from a connected to my phone and using my phone’s network and processor to co-processing but connected to software on my phone for data collection IoT devices. There are many more out there. Devices that will connect to your Wi-Fi network in your home to provide you with critical information.

I have personally over the past few months been publishing a few ideas that I think will solve some of the initial issues facing full on IoT implementations. First off, the concept of modular security for IoT devices (or more broadly the US Government National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) ululated guidelines around Cyber Physical Systems (CPS). Modular security simply moves the device security to a single chip. Certainly that presents a risk, in that the chip can be identified and compromised. But the value proposition is replacing the security chip not the IoT device. The other concept is that of Mesh sensor systems. This is a system that is self-reliant and interactive. Where there are multiple connects between the IoT mesh and the world. In a mesh network scenario, the CPS devices are smart enough to know their direct connection isn’t working, so I move my critical data to another form of communication. Mesh network IoT/CPS systems present another bad actor risk, where I block the direct connection of a series of IoT/CPS devices and offer a false network for the data to be pushed to. In that scenario there may be IoT/CPS capabilities to be utilized that I won’t talk about here. But one of the easy ways this particular security hole would be a two-way validation on the security chips of a mesh. Not knowing the size of anyone mesh, and no one device knowing how many others it is connected to, would increase the ability of the system to reveal hacked devices quickly.

The most intriguing thing however in the IDC study was the sudden appearance of skills as a problem for IoT/CPS implementations going forward. I’ve actually predicted part of this problem more than 3 years ago in my innovation series of blogs. The reality of innovation is that some of the people that would normally be cutting edge driver sin companies, have moved on to crowd funding opportunities. I talked about that in my book on innovation. There is an environmental issue that causes innovators to move to startup’s. In part this is a distinct issue of inter-generational knowledge transfer and in part an enablement of a new market.

One thing organizations can do is consider building an IGKT that aligns with their organizational goals but is also adaptive enough that it can support new ideas and new thinking. This is not forcing the boiling of the great ocean of knowledge management to get a teaspoon of table salt. This represents a multi-party system that is designed to support Knowledge Transfer. You will lose some innovative thinking to Crowd Funding. You will also lose some historical organizational reference points to retirement. This system better enables the development of people and processes to capture information. The goal of the system is to remove the expert tradition from your organization and create a vibrant growing creative and inspiring organization.

There isn’t one answer to the problems 40 billion IoT/CPS devices will create. There are however things that can be done now, that will reduce the impact of risk then. When you are up to your neck in water, surrounded by alligators it is hard to remember your assigned job was drain the swamp.


Yea though my sensors tell me everything I will not fear checking the actual weather myself!

A visit to a museum tomorrow, that covers today…

The art of the possible, can you with what exists now, make something happen? It is the innovators dilemma truly. Can you build it? The marketing and sales dilemma happens after that (can you sell it?) and *is it something people need/want?). Bound around every leap forward is the two, three, four or more steps sideways and backwards. Things that missed.

Evolution, Revolution or scrap heap seems sometimes to be the three options. There is also just beyond evolutionary (market not quite ready) or evolutionary (not possible based on what is available today). So there are more than the three. When I was eight or so the Pet Rock craze happened. My father wouldn’t buy me one, instead he gave me a rock called Jim. I didn’t see the humor nor the message until I was older at the time I felt like throwing Jim. I didn’t then, but I understand now. Part of jumping the edges of innovation is a willingness to buy a rock, and pretend it is a pet. You will make mistakes on the cutting edge of dreams.

That is the joy of being a Kickstarter and Indiegogo fanatic. I know I’ve picked some duds. Projects that were more marketing than technology. PT Barnum standing in front of a tent hawking the amazing bearded lizard that smokes cigars and talks about Niche. A talking lizard sure, rare. One that openly talks about Niche, wow beyond amazing. The fact that you buy a conversation with one priceless! You get the idea. Something that is too good to be true.

As a technologist I try to apply that marketing lens to the projects I post. I have shared more than 100 projects on my blogs in the past five years. During that time 1 has been cancelled (it happened last week) and 99 are still either in flight or have landed. My 99% success rate measured only in the fact that only one of the projects has been cancelled to date. Cancelled projects that return all monies raised (as the one I just posted about) are ok. Ones that take the money and disappear, not so much. Or ones that realize the technology they are dreaming about is not possible now.

It is a mentality to be a crowd funding backer. Not to be angry and stomp your feet but to know the difference. The old Latin Phrase Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware truly applies to crowdfunding. If it sounds too good to be true, check it. It probably is. 1st generation anything is potentially just a collector’s item (remember the first 3d pen?) or it is the precursor to a 2nd, 3rd and so on generation device.

Someday my collection of early IoT and crowd funded devices will look good in a museum. Collectible because people will want to remember how we used to create 3d objects. (you had a 3d pen? OMG ROFL oh yeah and the only reason for using OMG and ROFL is that in museums there are text speak translators, no one talks like that anymore anyway). The concept of the future is one that is shrouded as it should be in mystery. You cannot see past the silken veil that hides tomorrow. Someday historians looking back will laugh at the analysts calling this the information age. “You couldn’t even think commands for your wearable devices then. Information age, they were the dark ages of technology. They recharged their batteries! Can you believe that every night they plugged their devices in and then when they woke up they used BLUETHOOTH to connect them. So primitive. So not the information age).

Someday the world will maintain a Wi-Fi presence only for museums to display how pre-information age technology from 2020 worked. We don’t allow the non-integrated non-secure network to connect to the rest of the world. But it does connect between the two museums. So you can sort of understand the reality they lived with in 2020.

An 8-year-old kid, with his mother at that museum, tugging on her coat. “Look mom, I think that man over there has something wrong with him. HE IS TALKING TO his device.” “No Billy,” the mom answers “that is called a cellular phone. They used to carry those so that they could talk to each other. Before we had the embedded universal system.” The 8-year old’s eyes huge, his mouth open the sound “OOOO” escaping into the museum air.

The evolution and revolution pieces are growing around us. Technology is changing rapidly. Eventually we will reach the glorious information age. Where information moves easily and freely and the concept of security is ubiquitous.


Future information age dreamer

Just another Shameless review : iPhone 7 plus

It is funny, I was back in the day, an Apple fan boy. I went away from Apple products for many years. But was pulled back in by the iPhone. Recently I upgraded my iPhone to the new 7 plus. I know there are many people that hate the lack of a 3.5 mm audio plug. I don’t really care at this point. I don’t use headphones other than the noise cancelling headphones when I am flying, so the impact of no audio jack is little to none on my use.

What I am most impressed and most intrigued with is both the new Series 2 iWatch and the fit and finish of the iPhone 7. First off, back when the first integrated Kindle came out (Amazon owns Audible) that played Audible books and stored Kindle eBooks, I could fit all my eBooks and my audible books on a single device. I took my Kindle with me and used it as the audible book player in the car. Sometimes, when you are stuck in Washington DC traffic it is nice to listen to someone reading a book to you. I cannot however keep all my audible and kindle books on my Kindle anymore. 30 gig of audible exceeds the capacity of my device to handle everything. So I am pulling down all the audible files onto the new iPhone 7.

1. First cool feature – 256 gig of ram. Amazing storage.

I don’t like the new home button. It is far too sensitive and my fingers are too large so it has been an initial learning curve for me. That is going to take some getting used to!

Let’s talk about the upgrade experience. Windows 10 is the first really easy Windows upgrade. It does however require you to have all your drivers up to date and current. With the iOS 10 upgrade Apple changed the upgrade game again. My wife has an older iPhone 5s. Well she did. It is on iOS 9 and she wanted to upgrade to my old iPhone 6s plus since I was getting the new 7. I had already upgraded the 6s plus to iOS 10. So I started off by backing up both the 5s and the 6s plus. Then I upgraded to the new iPhone 7 plus and in a matter of 30 minutes or so, had my applications, folders and the vast majority of settings on my new phone. I had however a compatibility issue between my wife’s old phone and her new phone. At least I thought I did. I was in a hurry and did the move from her iOS 9 phone to her new iOS 10 phone without upgrading the OS on the 5s first. It worked perfectly. I was shocked that you could easily move between OS’s and phones. Awesome job Apple!

2. When upgrades are easy it makes customer’s happy. THE UPGRADE was nearly painless (we did have to input a few settings that didn’t carry over. But, given that the settings that didn’t move were passwords, I am actually happy that I had to reenter the passwords).

The screen is brighter, as expected, frankly every single iPhone since the first one I had (the 4) when returning to Apple Fan Boy status, has improved the screen. So I won’t give kudos for a better screen. Camera remains a continued improvement. But again expected so no Kudo. Water resistant makes the devices a little more resilient but would have preferred water proof. So no value there.

Faster process and graphics co-processing is good. Functional integration with the Apple iCloud remains a core component of the OS.

iOS 10 is a good improvement, although with every new release there are always little annoying issues. Again the home button change is my only annoyance at this point, but it has been a tougher than expected learning curve. Size wise the 7 plus is roughly the same size as the 6s plus. A little different (narrower).

I have tried most of the day to day applications I use and they function as expected. I am slowly but surely trying all the external connection devices I have (that used the 3.5 audio jack not lightening) and wandering around looking for a battery pack for the device. So far, being as it is new, the battery packs are not yet released. The lightening to audio jack is released, but as always I am looking for different. I think personally a battery case with a 4000 mAh battery, two lightening jacks and an on the top 3.5 audio jack (if you think about phone positioning, charging on one end and audio out on the other makes more logical sense). I suspect that is a great product idea, if you build it, send me a link and I will help you get a customer base!


Apple Fan Boy, again.

The new IDC study on the Internet of things, and solving one of the problems raised…

The recently published IDC study on the Internet of Things (link here) provides a lot of confirmation for me. The top reasons to utilize IoT don’t resonate with me (increased productivity, process automation and time to market) because frankly I think all three are actually increased productivity. But the numbers represented are interesting.

This study comes to the conclusion that it is all about the data. They catch that security is a huge issue but they miss data movement and management as issues. But that is more a function of people not considering the reality of what you are collecting.

More than, at this point, 60% of all information generated by IoT devices is never used. It is discarded through automated systems that filter what humans need to act on. That percentage will continue to rise, because frankly the projected growth of IoT objects will increase. In fact, most analysts put the number of IoT devices in 4 years to be 4 times what it is today.

The interesting problem for me that they talk about in the IDC study is that of IoT skills. Building skills is something I have a lot of my career figuring out ways to do. I started as an elementary school teacher, my first attempt at building a knowledge transfer system was the creation of the Virtual, and in-person Society of Dead Teachers. Modeled after the movie Dead Poet’s Society and the meetings in the forgotten cave. Except our meetings were normally on Friday and normally at Chi-Chi’s restaurant. It was in the creation of the virtual forum for the society that we grew rapidly. We were voted one of the friendliest listserv’s on the internet twice (once by Kent State University and once by the University of Berlin).

That was the first knowledge transfer system I built. I’ve done this now many times. Another model that I tried as part of the Society of Dead Teachers was the publication of the magazine for the group. Called “Kindle the Flame” the magazine focused on reviewing and discussing technology and ways it could be used, and impact classrooms.

All of this before I built my third system. The third system physically existed before I got involved. What I built was a network people contributing to the system. I was then asked to be part of the team that was redesigning the new system to implement that system. In this new system we mixed the concept of SME’s, Communities of practice and the collection of Intellectual capital. The system worked but we were missing one component.

We were missing the training piece.

In the last attempt I put together of this system I took a broader view. Creating a repository of templates and useful standardized internal information. I built a list of SME’s that could operate independently of central management to quickly solve problems. Then with a phenomenal team we built an education system that mixed online classes, virtual discussions, in-person classes, Vendor provided training materials and a virtual lab that students could quickly log into and practice.

I documented that in my new book. The Edison Scale, or Inter-generational knowledge transfer. The concept is mixing people who know things (SME’s) with information that is known good (has worked to solve problems before) along with vendor provided reference architectures and training materials. Layer over that key and specific training developed internally to assure proper information consumption and you have the system.

It is designed in the book, other than a few pieces that are still in my head. You see, with the information age just ahead of us (yes we are NOT THERE) and the IoT deluge coming, building an Edison Scale system will provide a framework to both encourage young innovators to stay put, but will also create an environment where the existing expert systems disappear. There is nothing worse than an expert hoarding their information because that is how they got to where they are.

There are still a few ideas in my head that I haven’t worked out yet, but will continue to build them and share them on my blog.


Innovation, Intellectual Capital, Training, it is all there and not in a locked PDF file…

The future for ethics is not what can your company do. The future is what can YOU do!

Why are ethics important?

Image result for asteroidIt is a question I have asked myself a lot over the years. The easy answer is that ethics are what bind us to the world we are in. For example, companies that don’t pay for other company’s intellectual property, don’t care about their employees much. Why leap to that conclusion? Simple. If you don’t care about another companies IP, why would you care employees IP? You wouldn’t. So, when you encounter a company that doesn’t pay for its software, do not walk away. Run away as fast as you can. Don’t look back, don’t stop at go, don’t collect 200 dollars just get away.

Who is responsible ultimately if you as a person are working in a situation like that? Is it you or is it your employer? I ask because frankly when I ask that question of younger people I get a different answer than when I ask people my age. I find myself agreeing with the younger view. It is your responsibility; your employer is trying to make money. If they are willing to cut corners to make money, you are responsible for what you do.

That said it is not cut and dried. There are accidents. Situations that exist in the wild that weren’t designed or accounted for. In those situations, you move into a gray area between right and wrong. Where wrong, not paying for software you use, using IP without permission or knowledge of the provider and so, you wander into a gray area. Where perhaps one person willingly copied something they shouldn’t have and that is now widely used. It’s a gray area in that the person did the wrong thing not the company. If, however, the use is widespread it is the responsibility of the company to stop the use of the illegal IP.


Why is it sad? Companies and people need to be responsible. So far, many companies have demonstrated that they are not willing or able to be responsible and that is sad.

The same is true for managers. There are, just like in the situation of companies needing to be ethical, ethical behaviors for managers as well.

·Image result for asteroid Don’t judge employees on where they were. Judge them on where they are.

· Just because one person says something, even if they are your (managers) favorite it doesn’t make it true.

· Don’t promise something you cannot deliver.

· If you give vague guidance don’t expect clear results.

· If you DON’T say something to the employee directly don’t say something about the employee.

I have had the fortune of working for great companies (and companies that felt entitled to take IP from partners and other companies). I have worked for bosses whose ethics were beyond reproach and I have worked for front line managers who had no qualms about selling someone down the river.

In the end, you are responsible for what happens next. If where you work is using IP illegally (in violation of user agreements, copyright law, patent law) then it is your job to report it. If your manager is breaking the rules above, it is your job to get away from that manager. You see the situational ethics falls to the lowest common denominator which is always you.

It is not your job to end your career on the hill of fixing bad managers. You can’t. Bad managers who are willing to have squishy ethics are always going to rise in the organization. Just make sure you aren’t in their path when they fall back to earth.


IT Ethics thinker

Cool Tech co-processing connected devices…(that are shipping now!)

On Tuesday I laid out my long time mentor’s ask, talk about shipping cool tech for a change. Yesterday I defined the second category of cool tech I wanted to talk about, co-processing connected tech. Connected cool tech uses your computer, or your mobile device and provides data, but consumes the memory and the processor of the computer/mobile device. The other category I mentioned was the co-processing connected device. They are distinct and different in that one (connected)only functions when the mobile/computer is on and the device is connected. Co-processing devices are ones that have functionality without the computer/mobile device but interoperate for even more functionality with the computer/mobile device connected.

I missed an entire category of those in my initial explanation so I will try and capture the category as best I can today. My rules are I have to use the device personally. While I understand the category is bigger than what I use, that’s the rule I am living within.

Smart Watches

Pebble: I backed the devices when they were first on Kickstarter. I still have the Kickstarter edition 1 of the Pebble. It got damaged in a fall (my fall not the devices) but I still have it. I love the capabilities of smart watches. I believe the open a door too greater and more capabilities. We own two Pebbles now (my wife and daughter are Pebblers).

iWatch: Recently I changed my smart watch. Mostly because well it was something I had thought about for a long time. The Pebble has great functionality but Series 2 of the iWatch has even more. The functionality added by the iWatch is beyond words but I will try. First off you can answer and interact with calls on the watch. Yes, Dick Tracey style. But the one that well pulled me to the dark side was the integration with applications. The little icon in the iTunes store that says “features iWatch application” was interesting. The most interesting addition to my life was the ability to, with my smart watch now control my smart home. You had me at hello, iWatch. Oh yeah and add the Mickey Mouse watch face, touch the face and Mickey will tell you what time it is.


I won’t go into the two that are shipping later this year. I will only detail the units that are shipping right now per my mentor’s request.

Phantom DJ drone: I have the series 3 that includes 4k video and about 14 minutes or so of flight time per battery. The 4 is shipping now and has a little longer battery life. I have owned the DJ 2 and the Dj3 and have gotten wonderful pictures and video from the devices. I’ve included a link to one of the videos shot. The quality is excellent. There is some shakiness of the video but that is from hawks (yes actual birds) dive bombing my drone.

Brookstone rover: great land drone. You can quickly setup it up and run the device anywhere. I also use the Sphero products from Brookstone. All of them have fun interactive software. The rover is cool because you can use it as a remote Microphone and Speaker. It also takes video and has a night vision camera!

Smart Sensors

So there are connected smart sensors that function to automate and secure your home. I won’t list any of the smart home sensors I am actually using in my house because well that would just be asking for an issue. Instead let’s focus on other smart sensors.

NetATMO – so I am a weather geek and it is only fitting that I have a connected weather station. I can tell what the rain, wind and temperature is at my house. Why does that matter? If you live in or near a big city the variance between the city temperature and where you are can be massive. As much as 8 degrees on a really hot or really cold day. Rainfall varies as well so it is always good to know.

More connected and connected co-processing devices that are available now, to come!


Wearables make you cool!