Considering additional CSTEAM lessons…

I had a great CSTEAM Activity idea yesterday. Taking an old mathematics problem and adding social, science and engineering to the mix of the original math. Plus you can always take the time to express the possible with the art lesson.

A vehicle is traveling at 60 miles an hour with about a 50 % load. At a full load the vehicle gets 28 miles per gallon. The decrease from full to half load adds 2.2 miles per gallon bringing us to 30.2 miles per gallon. This mileage is achieved at the optimal speed of 66 miles per hour. Every mile an hour over 70 results in a decrease of .25 mpg.

First thinking project – how could you better design the vehicle to better handle an less than optimal load?

You can create an engineering team with an artist that could work together to create the first thinking project. A better vehicle based on optimizing the vehicle for load.

The next concept is length of trip. What has to be packed in order to keep everyone happy while the vehicle is moving. The wonder sometimes of the human mind is our limitless imagination. But every journey takes time, and idle hands produce boredom.

What activities work while traveling? We know the rate of speed makes reading difficult for some people. What other activities are there? Watching a movie is interesting but isn’t an option.

It is in the end a fun endeavor. Given a speed and a capability (MPG) what can you do improve the capability, build a better solution to the problem and also what can you do to keep everyone entertained while the journey goes on.

Scott Andersen
IASA Fellow

Gathering the requirements to build OODA loops (or views and viewpoints) and thinking about the impact of bad data…

Yesterday I was thinking about the concept of orientation within the John Boyd OODA loop concept, I was realizing that the orientation fit nicely with the architectural framework of view and viewpoint.

Where the view represents what you see. The viewpoint is from where you are viewing. Orientation is about taking the concept  It is an interesting concept that I spent a lot of time considering.

Modification of a view, orientation or viewpoint can at times produce a different result than expected. That becomes both the guide and the model for what happens next. In the end for OODA loops it is all about coming to a good fast decision. For architects it is about coming to the right solution places in the right context that maps ultimately to the solution.

The reason for the thinking yesterday is a consideration of the ethics of maintaining your view and viewpoint while everything is changing around you. In a good fast decision model you can make bad decisions fast as long as you continue to work the process to produce the good fast end decision.

Sometimes the views generated within software architectural frameworks are static. That concerns me. I used to tell my customer’s when I covered the Midwest of the US, that architectural documents are living documents. That they need care and feeding but they also need to be maintained. For customer’s with large server farms we used to advocate server books. A web page devoted to each server with a wiki at the bottom. As the tech changed a hard drive or replaced a fan you noted that in the wiki. Each time there was a failure you pulled up the page of the server and evaluated the wiki. Have we had this failure on this server before.

The goal of a server book was to build operational efficiency. To overtime evaluate problems that happen and create a continuous improvement cycle for the server farm. If a drive in a machine fails more than once (same drive each time) something may be wrong with the hardware. If a machine keeps losing its fan something else may be wrong. OODA loops run in a continuous manner and result in continued movement towards fast good decisions. That in the end was the goal of the server book as well, move towards fast good decisions by providing the required inputs for success.

For me the saddest reality as a software architect was going someplace and finding the musty, dusty architecture documents that hadn’t been touched since the solution was deployed. Thousands of pages of documentation that were never read (see link to my original thinking on this topic in 2006).

In the end it is process of observation and the data collected from which we build the views and viewpoints (or an OODA loop). If the data is stale, or worse if there is too much data we end up with a partial view and the resulting decision is flawed.

A series of bad decisions can be worse than one fast bad decision that ends up being corrected.

Garbage in = Garbage out.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

The game changing innovations of the past few years…(ok the past 54 years)…IMHO

Yesterday I turned (3×18) which didn’t feel like a milestone year. Certainly 2014 hasn’t been the best year of my life. But an email from a long time reader sparked my interest. He asked me “what are the innovations you’ve seen in your life that had the most impact.”

A great question and one that deserves an answer. I won’t say it’s a great answer because it is far to early in the am for great answers.

Innovations in my lifetime that are amazing:

The delayed conversations between Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Housing in the summer of 1969. I remember sitting on a couch at 2 am listening to the first steps on the moon. My dad was there with me. He explained the gap between speaking, and responding. “It takes time for sound to travel from earth to the moon and back.” My father traveled the world at a time when you didn’t often call home ($$) so he sent letters that took four, five days and beyond to arrive. Some arrived in the post after he got home. Can you imagine traveling 286,000 miles and relying only on a two-way radio? They did, heroes they were.

Apple Computers Apple IIc, it changed the way I viewed computers. Certainly there were many computers to come that would modify the world around them but that first commercial that first Apple IIC in the end changed everything for me.

DVR. Three words that changed television forever. When I was little if you wanted to see a show, a specific show you had better be on the couch ready to watch when the clock hit the time of that show. Football and basketball games for me drove what I did for years. Now, the DVR let’s me control time. I watch when I want to watch.

Cellular phones are the next big thing. I remember carrying the bag phone, because in the parts of Ohio I traveled in your needed a booster or you wouldn’t have cellular signal. I got a car kit for my phone later that was also a booster and integrated with the car so you could talk hands free. I saw holding the phone to your face as risky in 1996. I traveled the world starting in 2001. The difference from when my dad traveled is that I could at worst call home once a day. No lag like the Apollo astronauts simply the warm voice on the other end of the connection.

The laser printer simply the most amazing tool when you consider the output of the digital world, the inkjet came along soon after and made color printing affordable. I remember the days of the old dot matrix printers. the Apple ImageWriter that if you got the scanning module was both a printer (daisy chain and dog slow) and a scanner. The laser printer changed all of that.

USB. As much as the three letters DVR changed the world of television, USB changed the world of computing. In the apple computer world we lived by SCSI. You could link together as many as 7 devices (and later 14) on the SCSI bus. That was painful, required careful planning and you had better have the right terminator at the end of the chain. USB made adding things to your computer much easier. You simply plug it in. Many devices just work thereafter.

Home Game Consoles. Be it Nintendo, Xbox or PlayStation the home console changed gaming forever. In the 1990’s we played computer games. I had a number of them (my favorites are listed below)

  • Playmaker football
  • Sim Earth
  • Dr J vs. Larry Bird

But when the home console arrived things changed forever. Games started getting better and better. In fact they are amazing now. I do miss the old days of the games I loved. I tried the new SimCity but it just wasn’t as fun as I remembered.

It is a fun list of innovations. They each impacted the world and me personally. They changed the way things were considered, done and ultimately what was done. What will be was but will be again to quote Arnold Horshak.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

The why of my home office…

My role model for home offices was my father. He always had an eclectic office that had things in it used and things that he was interested in. That and a lot of books. I don’t have the books my father had. Most of mine are either moved to the Kindle or stored in the pool table room on various shelves.

Dad’s concept for the office was however simple. It’s the place you use to keep learning to never stop asking the questions and thinking about the different way things could be. For many years dad and I would sit in his office or in the living room and work through different problems, looking at them from every angle to see if in fact there was another way we could do them.

It doesn’t come form the home office but that is a place to start.

So I follow that philosophy. My home office is filled with motion systems and video gear. I am intrigued by the iOT so my home office has iOT systems. (some of those have slipped out of my office and into the house but don’t tell Barb).

On my wall there are Bears, Celtics, Hoosier, Cubs, Bulls and Yankees Pennants as those are my favorite teams always. I watch and root for the Denver Broncos but that is only because of Peyton Manning. They are on the wall near my relaxing chair.  Oh yeah and Despicable Me Minion posters because I LOVE THE MINIONS. Plus a Thai woven Charlie Chaplin letter carrier that my mother gave me 40 years ago. That letter carrir has been up in every home I’ve ever owned or rented.

Like my father and to carry on his tradition my office is the place I go in the early am to think. I blog from my office (unless I am traveling as I was two weeks ago). It is my space. I will admit that after 12 years in Indiana my office was horribly unkempt. It was sloppy and you couldn’t vacuum the floor if you wanted to. That isn’t the case now, the messages are more transient in nature. There are still projects in process but the mess goes away and you can vacuum the floor.

In the end this is my get away space. My place to center and find peace. I think everyone needs a small space like that. Like my father I need a big space because I have a large collection of crap that I need places to keep. My dad was all about books. He had more than 8000 books in his home office. I am all about technology and having the technology around me that I use and need. In the end probably just as much as dad needed his books.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Top 10, 11 oh well list revisited…

I’ve been thinking a lot about my top 10 (11) gadgets for 2014. I posted it to Linked in Thursday evening.  I could have easily made it a top 20 list (22 most likely Smile ). However what I found interesting is the number of consolidated devices that I now have. Where once I carried a lot of different devices when I traveled I no longer carry those.

Perhaps a top ten consolidated gadgets list might in fact be interesting. Or a top ten iOT list of sensors I think are interesting and intriguing.

It’s a high tech world and I love it. I did have some fun with a Christmas Tech post on Safegov if you are interested.

Although in fairness I do still have a Fax machine.

I could have also done my top ten Indiegogo/Kickstarter campaigns for 2014. There are a number of things there that I am very excited about. Keecker and Jibo are the first two that I find incredibly relevant although that list is growing rapidly.

As I said there are a number of devices I left off the initial list. Some because they aren’t the first gadget in the category when I reach for that category. Some because I use them less frequently. Others simply because I don’t use them at all. Those are the ones I used to put on eBAY but will now have to find another way to solve that problem.

I could have added a 12 easily when considering the Epson scanner we are using for the family history project. The problem with that is other than setting the scanner up the first time, I haven’t really used it that much – the kids have but I have not so I couldn’t add that to my top ten list (well 11 list).

Perhaps I should generate a podcast on the top gadgets and just go until I cover everything that is well used a lot.

Happy Holidays All.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

This season–give yourself peace of mind–do an online backup!

I did end up reposting my five favorite gadget list to Linkedin last night. I expanded the original five list to my top ten (yes I can count and I know 11 isn’t 10 but 10 was a tie). I also ranked them in order to usage. You can find that link below:

First off to all my loyal readers, new readers and casual readers I want to wish all of you the best this holiday season.

Many years ago when the Windows Home Server product was launched I was a huge supporter. I had every computer in the house backed up. When that product started to decline a bit, I did move to the newer Windows Storage Server solution. That solution struggles with Windows 8 systems due to some of the new functionality and recently I have move to the old fashioned external HD backup for some of my systems.

That got me thinking.

How many computers in your house are not backed up?

I got an email the other day from Carbonite (give the gift of peace of mind). It made me stop and think. First off, I do have most of my media files stored in an online backup system. That gives me peace of mind as the digital media is the only thing (images and videos of family and friends) that I wouldn’t want to lose.

Using an online backup service isn’t hard. There is a cost but in the end what is peace of mind worth?

So I started thinking.

  • It took 5 months and close to 200 hours to scan 10204 slides.
  • Its going to take 4 months and about 160 hours to scan 7500 pictures.

So to recreate just 1/4 of our digital collection would take more than 300 hours. The video I have on the computer and on DVD so my only risk then is if there is a fire. Recreating those would be impossible at that point. As would recreating the 90,000 digital picture files. So having an offsite backup of those becomes well, critical.

It’s the argument IT shops have been having for many years. How do we protect enterprise critical information? In my case the critical nature of the information may have a smaller (but potentially more devastating) impact. Both have an impact that would be hard if not impossible to recover from.

So give yourself peace of mind and get the online backup you can afford. If something happens that you didn’t project or expect you are at least protected as far as digital files go.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

My top 5 holiday gadgets (5 more to come in another post)…

Everyone seems to do a top ten gadget list for the holiday season so this is my top five gadget list for this year. The gadgets on this list are available now (December 2014) and I think are both interesting and intriguing visions of what is possible. If you want to see the top ten list – I am posting that on Linkedin.

  • Lenovo Thinkpad Helix – great computer, easy to setup and use. Touch screen makes the tablet experience simple. Keyboard and USB 3 expansion make the system powerful. If you are looking for a desktop replacement – this gets really close. If you are looking for a small portable device you can easily use as a laptop – this one is the bomb.
  • Delorme PN60 handheld GPS – I am a map fanatic. I love maps. I love the concepts and processes of mapping. The birth of handheld GPS’s was a personal dream. I’ve used a number of the handheld GPS’s – this one is the best.
  • iPhone 6 plus – its all about screen real estate. Its all about location, location and how big the text is in the email so I can read it. Yes this is not a phone that fits easily in your pocket but it is a phone that will change the game!
  • iPAD Air – ok Apple is winning the handheld/tablet wars right now. From the aftermarket to the reality these are the tablet’s to be using. I love my iPad.
  • Parrot Noise Cancelling headphones – I was a BOSE guy for years. I traveled on airplanes for 15 years. During that time I would leave Sunday night/Monday morning crack of dawn and get on an airplane. If I didn’t have noise cancelling headphones I would land with a huge headache. But the BOSE while cool were limiting. The Parrot allows me to connect via Bluetooth (and if you don’t want compressed audio then connect via the cable!). The application they have for the iPhone and iPad makes this even better, I can tailor how it sounds. And, its noise cancelling to boot! Plus unlike my original BOSE headset, the Parrot has rechargeable batteries.

I will post the other five items on Linkedin and will include my overall rankings. This represents five of the ten top gadgets I se eon the market today in no particular or for that matter any order at all. Check Linkedin later this week and you will find my top ten holiday gadgets list in order of value to me.

Happy holidays to all – as the holiday season has begun in earnest. Now if I could only find Santa’s personal email…


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow