DIY in the end it is about your customers…


Back in the day I did a lot of DIY computer projects. From adding memory to a computer (remember how hard it was to add memory to a Macintosh SE/30? You removed the case and then had to fish the memory into the case and hopefully at that time you got the memory seated correctly. If you didn’t you had to start all over.

Before the SE/30 I also upgraded the onboard memory of my Apple IIc. Back in the day you had to have a special torq wrench to open the Macintosh computer. I still have that torq because I just can’t get rid of it.

Why the DIY discussion?

First off because I do a bit more DIY now with the Kickstarter and Indiegogo stuff I am doing. But more to the reality of ease of use. The harder it is to complete a task the more frust4rating that task is. (Other than walking – that I like to do no matter what).

In the exceptional book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” Robert Pirsig (the author) talks about quality. In particular the fact that the father in the book works at a place that makes home BBQ grills. He says they come up with a number of ways to assemble the grill and then they ship the hardest version with he grill.

It is in the end about quality.

But more importantly it is about time. When I was years ago installing memory in my home computer I had more time. Now I have more knowledge and more tools but I have less time so the failure rate that is acceptable goes down quickly.

It is in the end also about simplicity.

Finally its about usage. I have over the years collected a number of devices that I use virtually every day. I have also collected a number of devices I use on occasion. Finally there is a collection of things I use for decoration (manual typewriters re one example. I don’t use them anymore but I love having the old Royal Typewriters around.

It is effectively also about need.

Yes I’ve heard the need vs want argument before. The definitions of want vs need normally I’ve found fit the goals and expectations of the person conducting the argument. IE things I need are very different from things you need.

It is about need.

So when shipping a DIY project help me out a little. I’ve told a number of Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects over the past few years – ship really good directions. Some of them actually listened and really do. Some ship without directions and they wonder why afterwards that their product is rated lower. Bing Bing –

Ship good directions.

Hire someone off the street you don’t know to come in and using your directions set-up the device. That is the ultimate litmus test for directions. Random off the street person comes in and sets things up – they work and then they are good directions.

If they are unable to set-up it up, start over and begin new directions. It is not as Phaedrus was doing (select the hardest directions to ship) rather ship the easiest directions. Lowest mean time to productivity.

It is in the end about your customers.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

A point of inflection. Or a point of self-examination–is it the right time?

Yesterday I got a great email about my Eduverse/Syncverse concept. It was horrible personally but a great idea. The author said “why don’t you start a crowd funding campaign and build it” which is horrible because I know I should but it scares me. A great idea I have bandied about for a long time. I just haven’t pulled the trigger.

For a fleeting second I wondered in the end if perhaps the teacher had arrived. That in fact the student was more ready than I had thought.

So I throw that thought out to the ether. Anyone interested in changing the world? Let me know via email.

It got me thinking a little at least yesterday. I need to consider the value of the idea and see if there in the end is something there to be shared. That is why it is painful for me. The reality of any idea is that the idea is good until it is on paper.

Once an idea is on paper (that is my term for codified and ultimately shared) you are open to other ideas around the concept. It is within the concept of other people reviewing that modifications have to occur. I believe in sharing ideas when they are ready. I am just concerned that I don’t have enough packing peanuts around this one today.

So in the end it is good that other people see the value. Its bad in that I am not completely ready to throw this tiny baby to the wolves. So I sit and wonder.

With cloud computing solutions a small startup like this can get running very quickly. The problem isn’t getting this up its keeping the solution up and funded. It is all the interconnections to all the various groups that would need to contribute to the success.

So I continue to think about it.

  • Is the timing right?
  • Is this something that could be a project?
  • Will it, in the end be able to accomplish the dream?


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

The student is ready when will the teacher arrive?

Yesterday I talked about accessibility technologies and well in the end that they could be better. They are certainly better now than the first time I used them many years ago but they need to get better.

There are entire classes of technology that could/should be implemented in our schools to help kids and teachers build tomorrow. It worries me sometimes when I walk into a school to give a talk and the projector they have is 10 years old. It “has to warm up” the teacher says and then if you watch carefully they will cross their fingers.

World class schools mean more than open doors that welcome people in. World class schools mean they have the tools they need not only to deliver results but to exceed expectations. Robotics teams with 3d printers so that they can create and build new parts right there, that day. Science labs with imaging systems that allow them to see the tiny and the large, the near and the far away.

But as I argued many years ago now in “The Syncverse” (well only 3 years ago but it feels like a really old argument) world class in that we also open the doors of education throughout the world. That we create a shared and common environment where teaches can post lessons they are proud of for other teachers to use anywhere in the world. Where the lectures of brilliant people (Ted) can be easily used in the classroom (ok this one is happening now) but also that these great minds can work with classrooms equipped with Skype technology (or other voip systems) to check in on the progress.

Indiana University had a program many years ago called STEPS. (student and teacher electronic productivity system) it was a concept before its time. It was and remains part of the basis for the EduVerse within “The Syncverse.” What caused STEPS to struggle and ultimately killed the project? It was built in the time of dialup connections. I remember going to remote schools to help the teachers there learn how to best use STEPs. Waiting for the screen to draw on the monitor was awful. It was a concept before it was time for the concept.

But the model is sound. It is possible to build this system, This Syncverse and deliver it. Not simply storage of things you need or use, but beyond that. An interactive system that allows teachers, students, professors and professionals outside of education to connect, share and develop new ideas.

Tomorrow sits in classroom. There in the seat right in front of the teacher (because perhaps like me that child is a little too social) or in the back of the room working on independent projects. Imagine what we could do with “The Syncverse” sharing the concepts of education around the world.

I know the idea will work. STEPs was there, functioning and working for three years. We built the Society of Dead Teachers into a world wide organization for a time using only the Internet, sharing ideas, concepts and support with teachers in Europe, Asia, Canada, the United States, South America on a daily basis.

The need is there. The student is ready. When will the teacher arrive?


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

A world where everyone can access the computer they need. Focused on making a brighter future…

In the past year or so I have been gathering and using a number of devices designed to add access to computing resources for those with disabilities. I am posting this as a rant because frankly after using a number of these devices I find them lacking the ease of use components that would make them far more effective.

First off none of these devices are easy to set-up (other than the ones built into the Macintosh OS or Windows). I have the Tobii eye scanner – it works very nicely and allows those without control of their hands/arms to still use a computer with their eyes. Positioning is critical for the eye tracking devices.

I’ve looked at a number of other devices in this space as well. Text to speed conversion is an interesting one. Dragon Naturally Speaking is the best I’ve used to date, but it takes considerable time to set-up in order to increase reliability to the point where it is truly effective. The other thing I have noticed about Dragon frankly is that the more powerful the PC you run it on the faster and better results you get.

Device Simplicity is a two way street. First off it increases the number of things your cellular device can do and therefore makes it more effective as a tool. It increases the number of connections your computer can have therefore making it more effective. But it also has to be easy to use. It is as much a struggle to enable access using various devices as it used to be in the Windows 95 days to plug something into your computer.

A single device that allows you to interact with the world around you easily and effectively. A device that connects with you in whatever manner you require. The connection between a specific person and the device should also be unique for security purposes. Not something simple like a catch phrase always uttered by the person but a combination of things that mark that connection unique. But not in the end a 13 character password that must be entered each time that becomes a prohibitive hill to climb using some of these devices.

Interaction should be via voice, eyes or motion as well as touch and keyboard. This entire blog was created by Dragon Naturally speaking, including going back and correcting my many spelling errors (so if I missed one my apologies).  This sadly is the way I talk so any grammar issues are there as well. I don’t much love grammar in the English language.

It has to become easier. I believe and have stated before that we need to spend more money on education. Across the board teachers are underpaid and we don’t devote the future to the future. I also believe that we need to get a much better experience for those who cannot use the computer by the current points of entry. Voice has gotten so much better in the past five years (kudos to Nuance – I live their products). Eye recognition is much better and a growing area of development – still needs work. If there is a better solution than the Tobii hardware and software please let me know – I am happy to try it out.

Access is about automation. Removing mundane and repetitive tasks and making it easier to use the computer, and in the end easier to do your job. Personally my next experiment is to use dragon while wearing a blindfold. Not that I would be able to be blind but at least to experience the frustration of not seeing a visual system.  I won’t publish those results because I suspect that will not be pretty.

There are many more automation tools that are effective. I use ActiveWords an unrated and frankly very unused program for automating tasks. Over time ActiveWords watches how you interact with the computer and allows you to set-up quick shorts cuts. It is a great tool for quickly speeding up your computer interaction.

In the end there are a number of tools available but they need to become even better. Personally I think Apple and Microsoft should license ActiveWords and embed it right into the operating system. Then it would have even greater flexibility and make it even easier for those with disabilities to use the computer.

On this journey we take into the great void of space we need to make it easier for everyone to keep up. All have a voice and all have something to say!


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!

(this blog produced by Creative Technology & Innovation using Dragon Naturally Speaking and ActiveWords on a tablet PC.)

Digital Camera’s have change the world (and are being changed by Cellular Cameras).

I was thinking about this on Christmas while watching a basketball game. Digital cameras have really changed the world. That is the opening problem statement of my book “The Syncverse.” My grandfather and father were avid amateur photographers taking pictures from roughly 1958 until 2014. During that time they were predominantly taking slides and still pictures. They took between 2o and 25 thousand pictures. That is the basis of the family history project we have been doing the past 4 months.

My dad slowed down on pictures and really stopped taking new pictures in roughly 2010. Jakki and I since roughly 2002 have taken 65,000 digital pictures or more than twice as many pictures. First off the things you can photograph now are so much more varied. You have cameras that can go underwater with no loss of picture capabilities (other than light). You can attach your DSLR or get a specialized camera that fits right on your telescope. Stop motion, panorama or even Microsoft’s Photosynth project make photos better.

So the capabilities are improving. The cost of taking pictures is going down (memory card and storage cost should be included). The number of pictures is exploding. My grandfather and father took 25.000 pictures in 56 years. The cost of those pictures would be found roughly by the 25000 – 2100 digital pictures. Now average the remaining number between 24 picture rolls and 36 picture roles (and let’s assume equal distribution) for a resulting 801 rolls of film and processing. The film was 4 dollars and the processing normally 10 average over the years. That results in more than 12.000 dollars invested in the family history project. When you look at pictures in that manner – you can buy the best digital camera on the market and still save money. Frankly a lot of money in the end.

Good digital camera 400 bucks. You replace it every 5 years. That means over the course of a 50 year period including buying a nice printer (replaced every 10 years but toner replaced every five) means you will end up spending around 8,000 dollars to produce the same output as my father and grandfather did. The thing is, you don’t with a digital camera you produce many more pictures at a much higher rate. The actually cost per picture is only 2/3 of print film producing at the same rate. But in most cases people produce two and three times more pictures. So the net cost is 1/3 of the print picture cost or less.

That doesn’t in the end even include the time spent getting film, and in the end going to the store to get them developed. My father built a darkroom in our house in Sycamore Knolls. In the end now I realize he was trying to cut the cost of his hobby. He spent hours in the darkroom developing the rolls of film and producing prints of that film.

The digital revolution changed photography. The camera included with every cellular device is changing it even more. The great camera companies are slowly losing market share to the innovation of camera phones. Why lug around a DSLR when you have a cellular phone. Goodness knows what the image production rate increases to with cellular cameras over traditional film cameras. Is it 5 or 6 times more images? Your cellular device is with you a lot more than a film camera ever was.

Another craze is of course the appearance of utility cameras. High speed digital camera’s are interesting because they allow you to photograph things people wouldn’t have 20 years ago. You can capture a hummingbird in flight or a baseball on its way to home plate. You can get a photography drone and photograph from above. You can get an aquatic sub and photograph under water. Your cellular device can take panorama, HDR and video images for those moments you don’t have your digital stand alone camera. Most digital cameras are adding features (GPS, projection) that make them more interesting so they can at least compete with cellular phones. The world of 3d camera’s is about to explode. The world of camera’s that you we4ar that snap a picture every x amount of time is growing.

Tomorrow always brings something new. What was, expensive equipment and production becomes expensive equipment but virtually no cost production.

Why of all of this discussion. Cameras are a component of the Internet of things. They produce data that has both relevance and application. The better the camera or more complex the image the more data that is produced.

Its not longer a cost issue. It is a Data of the Internet of things (DiOT) issue. What do I do with all my images.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Reflections on the passage of time and the expression of time as less a thought and more the passage…

Time is an interesting addition to any mathematical equation. For example one of my favorites is how much time does it take water to create the Grand Canyon (hint – its a really long time).

We use and leverage time, well all the time. We wear time pieces as part of not only the fashion we consider but also the statement we want to make. We have clocks on the walls and banks provide LED clocks on streets of cities.

The network flashes the time and temperature as well (sponsored of course by Bob’s your uncle furniture and sally’s salt water taffy). People paying other people to tell us what time it is.

Time in the end is a huge component not just of the world we live in but as well the fabric of that world. Consider how you manage time. If you are a river you manage time by considering how much you can erode in a year. If your goal is a mile deep canyon how many years will you need eroding one centimeter at a time?

The funny thing about time is that it is both temporal in that it extends back to its beginning and forward to its end but at the same time it speaks to the exact moment it is uttered. Time represents not a simple linear line but rather it is a presentation of what was and what could be.

It is the great equalizer and the great potential. In the end time matters but time is not the be all end all.

scott andersen
IASA Fellow

What’s beyond iOT

iOT is an interesting topic, I’ve posted about it a number of times this year. Actually just about everyone has posted about iOT this year. My most recent CloudTweaks post is all about the impact of personal space on iOT. Once the wearable revolution takes off what happens next? There is after an overall limit to the bandwidth and cramming a lot of devices into a small space will eventually cause problems.

What lies beyond iOT then becomes more and more interesting. For a long time the trend in Cellular devices was smaller. The Phablet revolution changed that (and based on my ever reducing eye sight I understand and value that). The interesting what’s next changes in cell phones (64 bit chips and embedded graphic chips) are visible now and no longer beyond the horizon.

But iOT is still emerging and there are many directions it can yet go. Home automation, home information (weather, environment), nanny cams are all increasing not only in number but also in easy of use. I’ve talked about the amount of data being generated in the iOT world.

We’ve all seen the “transition” to cloud slides that presenters use. Starting with a mainframe in the 1960’s moving to cloud by 2005. The transition slide I like to use is the amount of data produced every year in the past 40 years. Do a google search or a bing search, it is staggering. The rate of data production increases every decade. To the point now where it doubles much faster than one would expect.

What lies beyond the iOT? I have talked in various blog posts about the concept I just introduced calling it the data of the iOT. But beyond simply producing data is the realty of analysis. Analysis of the data of the internet of things. It is a mouthful for sure but it is one of the things I think will be coming. The value of a smart device is the data it produces. The value of the iOT reality is the interconnection of all the smart devices. But the benefit of all of this is the evaluation of the data created.

What’s next? The analysis of the data of the internet of things. ADiOT.

scott andersen
iasa fellow