Of Rivers, Change and rates…

There is a wonder when you take a moment and separate from technology and enjoy the joy of nature. Add to that the quiet rushing sound of a river and the gentle quiet that is nature. It isn’t Walden’s pond and I am not Thoreau. But it is a moment where you can forget about technology. You can release the world and drift away.

It is the balance we all seek. Where technology, humanity and the press for innovation and change slow for a moment and give us the time we need to stop, reflect and find our center. In finding our center we can begin to assimilate the changes around us.

Time slows in the woods. Or when you are outside walking. When you walk inside on a treadmill it is excursive. It is you staving off the attacks of time and the impact of the food you eat. But when you are outside it is you connecting wit the world you are a piece of. We are all pieces of the island, all pieces of the world around us and we are bound to that world.

The Eagles wrote a song many years ago now a line from that song “she pretended not to notice she was caught up in the pace” applies more now with the rate of change than ever before. We may not be pretending, but I think we often get caught up in the pace. We let the pace of change flow around us. It becomes less of a thing we notice as the change accelerates faster and faster.

The rate of change increasing around us. What was cool yesterday in the afternoon is passé now the next morning. We lose people in the the eddy’s of the river. They pause for a moment in an idyllic technology pool and stop moving forward. I am comfortable with the change rate today but I know it is not possible to be forever.

I used the relaxation of separating from technology and realizing it also described the actual rate of change. Rivers are all about flow. The rate and speed of the flow, the height of the bank and the amount of water in the River. All of those things apply to the actual water. The idyllic qualities of nature lie beyond those measureable qualities of the river. It is the connection between your inner human reflections.

The other side of why a river, is the concepts of eddy’s and pools, as well as current. The river is always moving from where it starts to where it will end. If you don’t pay attention you can end up much further along than you expect. The place where your quiet existed may be many miles behind you.



It’s coming–the TURKEY Holiday POV Video!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To think about nanny cams. Or hidden cambers or who is actually watching you, right now. The concept of video interaction isn’t really an interaction is it. Someone is watching you. They are tracking not only the stores you go to but they also log into that store and track what you buy, when you buy it and if that gift gets returned. It is the mix of CPS, and data analytics.

Tis the season to be watched.

I used to envision a room where people sat and stared as people wandered around the mall shopping. Watching them remotely to ascertain their habits. I know that is cynical but it was what I thought for a long time. I suspect its probably something that while possible isn’t probable.

A conversation thought yesterday – when will the first movie be released that was fully shot from an aerial drone? Drone POV. Or how about a movie released that is fully VR? Actors providing avatars and voice talent but not actually in the movie.

Then I started thinking about a heat resident video camera that provides the first holiday feast Turkey POC. As the meat is sliced off the Turkey, as the stuffing cooks inside the bird you will see it, holiday bird POV.

A new holiday tradition is born. Let’s watch us tearing the holiday bird apart from the inside Smile.

My problem is always that my imagination runs wild. In this particular case it has run well beyond wild into the realm of strange. But you get the idea. As cameras and sharing evolve things will appear that we probably don’t want to see.


The fun thing about tradition is that it evolves. The Turkey POV video will be a great addition to every family tradition!


Turkey POV Videographer

I automate. We automated. Automation is h3ere.

clip_image001[4]The most amazing thing about automation is the work it removes. I still remember the original 1984 commercial, the computer for the rest of us. It showed computers as something more than fancy typewriters. Those first computers that began to trick out were the start of the revolution. At the time it was low cost computer versus premium computer. That was quickly over. The low cost computer won. In part because it had relationships and connections with the giants of the services industry at the time (IBM and HP). But a funny thing happened on the way to a PC on every desk.

First was the net computer. A computer with virtually no storage and running everything from the network. It was a device just before its time. Later the emergence of the Chromebook from Google actually achieved that netbook goal but that took years to arrive. I often work on and post my blogs from my Chromebook. They are actually quite useful.

clip_image002[4]The tasks that computers have automated are amazing. Doctors can quickly see the X-Rays taken of your knee or arm. Except they often use the newest innovation in the process, the non-pc tablet. The 2007 birth of the iPhone changed how people used their personal devices. Prior to the iPhone there was the cheap hardware and expensive software model that Microsoft built for the PocketPC. That market had worked well in the past (it was the original model of PC’s – cheap hardware and expensive software.) Apple changed that. Not full applications anymore. Not expensive applications. The revolution of the iPhone wasn’t the iPhone it was iTunes. It generated the completive solution Google Play. That begat the competitive windows Store and the world moved to small bite-sized cheap applications. It was a brave new world and one that was ready for automation.

The automation was simple at first. For the most part it was the birth of X-10. You could turn on lights and turn off light switches remotely. You could open and close your garage doors. The software ran on a computer so you had to leave your computer on all the time. The big change was the power of the computer and the ability to connect and automate all those new devices. X-10 begat Z-wave and Zigbe. It also began the home automation revolution. But there were other automations happening at the same time. From your car and your handheld, the automations were just beginning.

clip_image003[4]First it was the appearance of GPS chips in the Cell phone. Then the growth and appearance of Cameras. The camera on the cell phone has done more to change the world in a short time than virtually any other technology ever has. For that matter you could argue that connected cameras do more to change the world than anything ever has. Every event now has a cell phone video of it. Nothing escapes the electronic eye. All is seen and all is shared. This is good if you are a member of law enforcement trying to solv3e a crime. It’s bad if you are someone that has made a public mistake.

The cell phone is so much more now than it was 10 years ago, 5 years ago even. You have your own seismograph in your hands. You have a decibel meter in your hands. You can quickly add a Geiger, UV and barometer to your cell phone. All of these things are automated components. You launch a single application on your phone and you interact with the device you added.

This brings us to the newest tipping point of automation. The great input debate. In 2007 with the launch of the iPhone Steve Jobs said we don’t need a stylus. Your finger is all you need for input. But there is a reason why humans use pencils. So with the new iPad Pro, you get a pencil. Microsoft has improved stylus input with Windows 10, and many Android phones come with a Stylus. The best one I’ve used so far? The Samsung S pen, it automates the use of the Stylus. When you take out the S pen the Stylus menu is turned on. But more than the pencil which is a way to connect with the device we are moving to a new world of automation. Motion and voice activation are so much more powerful than they ever were before. The Amazon FireTV makes your living room a voice control center. Xbox One can also control everything from the voice sensor. Voice is here. Motion as well, the Leap controller is a blast to play with and motion has a lot of value. There are 10 crowd funded campaigns (Kickstarter and Indiegogo) that focus on motion sensors. Tobi has an eye sensor that tracks your eye movement so you can control your computer with your eyes. The automation of what is possible is amazing!

The dream of automation is to remove the need for humans to do things that are reptile and boring. The end game of where we are is that we are on the verge of the next big wave of automation. From the 1980 release of the PC Jr., the 1984 release of the Macintosh the world changed. In 1995 it changed again with an operating system as popular as a Hollywood movie. People lined up overnight to get the first copies of Windows 95. 2007 pushed the world back to the handheld and the innovations that have happened in that market are amazing. The Cloud changed how organizations consider data centers. The Internet of Things and now Cyber Physical Systems connect everything to everything.

What’s next?



A vision of technology futures…(and a thank you to Carl Sagan and NASA)…

I haven’t put up Christmas lights in many years. Mostly because its winter and you have to take them down when the season is done. I know it’s a form of holiday cheer, but frankly I think the modern CPS world could replace it. Permanent lights that allow you to have security year round (as motion is detected the light come on) but the bulb is capable of producing multicolored lights so that you end up with a festive house for every holiday you celebrate.

The internet of lights – it’s a thing!

As the season gets colder one good thing is there are more clear nights. I think the first time I saw a telescope I was hooked. It started for me with a friends 2nd grade presentation on NASA. I was hooked on the Indy 500 before then (still love the technology, cars and the race but its not my sole passion as it was in 2nd grade). Yes I followed NASA and was horrified with the loss of life in the Apollo capsule. Virgil “Gus” Grissolm was from Mitchell Indiana which is just south of where Indiana University sits in Bloomington Indiana. There is a memorial for Gus Grissolm in Mitchell I have made the trip many times. That movement when I became a space nut changed everything for me. I ended up literally, looking to the heavens.

Carl Sagan opened that door even father. Exploring the world beyond where the astronauts were going. Looking at the billions of stars in the sky and wondering.

Suddenly it was normal to look up. It was normal to shine your flashlight at a distant star and wonder how long it would take that light from the flashlight to speed across the galaxy to that far star.

My personal love of technology comes from that influence. First NASA, then Carl Sagan and his TV show. I know comics and others added and Billions to what Sagan said but I don’t care. His show opened the world for me. He expanded on what NASA started and gave me a vision of what could be.

I grew up in the time of technologies expansion. Technology was born of the industrial revolution as humans expanded their use of tools to automation. Jobs that once took 10 people were replaced by Fulton’s steam engines. Steam engines were added to ships and suddenly ocean travel didn’t need a breeze or a prevailing wind. You could go anywhere just point the ship!

Suddenly automation was the goal. We pushed further and further into the application of technology. The two great wars of the last century forced an acceleration of automation. The war that came after the last great war, dubbed the cold war, accelerated technology even more. As a technologist that gives me pause, I wish peace had driven the change but that wasn’t to be.

People say “I got into technology to change the world.” I find that to be old thinking. Technology has already changed the world. My father traveled the world as part of his profession. He wrote us letters that were airmailed to us, he would be away from 4-6 or more weeks at a time. Normally it was every summer he was gone starting around 1974. I traveled as a professional and the change between 1996 when I started traveling and 1974 when dad started was the reality of cellular phones that could be used anywhere in the world. Where dad wrote letters that were shuffled onto airplanes and a week later in the mailbox of the people you sent them to, I could call. Twice a day in Asia, once a day in Europe. But I could call. I could log into my email and send pictures.

People ask me all the time where is technology going. What is next? What will we see. I think the time of great technology revelations has passed. Technology is here. The next big thing is integration resulting in more automation. We will see that coming. It swill slides into our lives in the middle of the night and we won’t even notice. You see Technology changed the world 100 years ago. We are only just now noticing it.



My predictions for the Nexus of Automation (Tablet’s) future…

yesterday I talked about the iPad pro experience. Part of the reason for that was continuing the concepts of CPS. The tablet regardless of OS has become the Nexus of automation. From drawing with a pen or stylus, typing or voice command and motion the tablet is our device now. I know people that carry one or two with them everywhere.

Once I grabbed my laptop now I grab my tablet. It is the nexus of my automation projects. To automate you have a platform. The Tablet is the end point of the platform. That brings me to an interesting reality. Touch is the modality of tablets. The real value is being able to touch and interact with the screen (I find myself at work sometimes touching the laptop screen to scroll only to remember it doesn’t have a touch screen).

Voice is interesting. I can honestly say that Cortana and Siri frustrate me equally. I find them struggling with simple phrases and forcing me to interact with the device directly in a number of situations. Amazon somehow in a more limited setting (Echo and Fire TV) has done a better job but they that system is limited compared to the more open ended Cortana and Siri.

The Leap motion controller contirnes to improve with every software release. Again however each of the new input modalities has limitations. Voice doesn’t work in a number of environments. In particular if there is noise voice is not reliable. Motion only works if you have the space to make the gestures. Traditional touch input works and is common now, so people don’t look at you the way they used to (I remember back in the day of flip phones, I had the only touch device on an airplane and people used to stare).

As more and more CPS sensors are deployed in more and more places you will pull more and more data into your tablet. I project a subtle change in the market in the next couple of years.

Android and iOS tablets specialize in the “bit sized application” concept. Applications that are small, present on the small screen well and don’t require massive inputs from a keyboard. Applications that push you to a Windows Tablet or to a laptop or PC require a screen and input from a keyboard (excel spreadsheets, long reports and documents that require extended responses).

My 3 initial predictions for what is coming…

  1. Initially as I projected more than two years ago there will be the rise of the Screen as a Service. Beyond the Microsoft dongle, Google Chrome cast or the Amazon Fire TV dongle the TV itself (Samsung does this now, but requires an application on the device) will just be seen as a service that can be consumed.
  2. The next thing will be the ability to as in the movie “The Minority Report” the ability to throw something from the tablet to the larger screen. At this point the need for the full application is reduced, which leads me to ask does Microsoft respond soon and make Windows more like the iOS and Android tablets (able to consume bite sized application data)?
  3. Finally the last big things will be the integration of input types so that you can use motion, keyboard, voice and touch to interact with your device, depending upon where you are and what you are doing. Be intelligent and know that I am talking to my ear bud, and get commands from that. Know on a train that I need to confirm and use touch. Know when it is quiet I can use my voice. Intelligent input switching is the last next big thing.

Devices have evolved from where they were. There was time 2002 or so, when I was one of two or three people on a plane with a touch or smart device. Now everyone has one. Or most everyone on the plane has one. The steps are coming!


Automation Futurist.

Not a review just a report on the iPad Pro experience…


I didn’t buy the iPad Air 2, not a real significant upgrade for what I had at the time (original iPad Air). I did decide to buy the iPad Pro. Significant upgrade and improvements. The screen is gorgeous. The switching process was simple and including connecting to AT&T and switching the old iPad to the new one I was up and running in less than an hour. I even choose to reinstall all the applications instead of using my backup. Not because the backup was bad rather because I wanted to evaluate the installed applications instead of installing all of them.

So why an iPad pro? First off the allure of the larger screen was significant. I have the Samsung Note Pro and I love the larger screen. I also love the S pen, so the allure of an iPad with an apple created pen was pretty high as well. I currently am using tablets form all three main competitors (Google Android, Applied iOS and Windows 10). I still use the iPad more than the other two, but the Windows Tablet is catching up. I find that I use the Samsung less and less. It is an interesting change for me (I used to use it all the time).


The screen is amazing. I played with the new Surface at the Microsoft store – it is really improved but the iPad remains a better mobile device (not as significantly as it used to be though).

On the plus for a windows tablet is the reality of applications. While I like the fact that the iPad has word, excel and PowerPoint I don’t use them for creation, I do them them to share with others.

The larger screen size does however make the iPad and amazing whiteboard. I have chased the electronic whiteboard for years, this is one more step in that direction.


(Zamuri remains my favorite Whiteboard application).

I also ordered the new Apple Pencil, it hasn’t arrived yet (two weeks out) but will let you know how that works when I get it.

I really enjoy the pen experience with the Windows 10 tablet. So far that improvement has been substantial by Microsoft! I am hoping however more for the Samsung Tablet experience, frankly they still have the best pen experience of the three so far.

I use my iPad in a lot of different ways. One of the big ways I use it is as a quick presentation device. It is also my idea station where I quickly jot down thoughts and ideas for later consumption. So far the Windows Tablet and Samsung tablet haven’t gotten to that level of easily being part of what I am doing. I suspect the new Surface and the Surface Book in particular may get a lot closer though.


iPad Fan boy…

The value is connection, the need is for good security!

The concept, “connected car” is a really good thing. It expands what you can do safely and with lane protection and other services will help reduce accidents. The reality of the connected car is that like anything that connects to the broader internet, it is a thing and it can be hacked.

Now for those of us who drive in traffic, the connected car adds a tremendous amount of value. With my Bluetooth connected iPhone and my car, I can stream audible books to my car and listen to books while I am driving. Or I can listen to Sirius XM. It makes the trip a little less painful.

More broadly your car becomes a CPS service. From telling you what the outside temperature is (and therefore adjusting the inside temperature to one that makes you more comfortable) to letting you know weather conditions and traffic conditions both around you and ahead the connected car is a data source. Tire pressure monitors tell you when your tires are low (impacts handling of car and gas mileage).

Cars with integrated Cellular Antenna’s and the ability to easily directly connect your phone are coming. Imagine a cellular antenna that adds two bars no matter where you are. There are three places during my commute when that would actually give me a signal where today I have a very limited to no signal.

Cellular GPS’s know where you are and where you are most likely going based on pattern analysis, they pop up a screen (77 minutes to home traffic is really heavy right now). I wish that estimate was more accurate. 77 minutes turns out to be 93 most days, sometimes when the phone says 93 minutes (extremely heavy traffic) I just plug in my Audible book and prepare for a 2.5 hour trip.

Paul Simon once wrote “A bad day’s when I lie in bed and think of what could have been.” Knowing the world around you is why a connected car adds value. Reducing road rage by making it easier to get home, by keeping you productive and entertained makes a 2 hour traffic jam less frustrating.

The problem is of course security. If someone can hack your car and control it while you are driving there is a problem. It is going to happen and frankly there is really nothing that can be done other than follow good security processes. Reduce the surface of your exposure. If the system allows you to create a unique password do so. Yes it takes 2 extra seconds to get going, but if you are late 2 seconds doesn’t matter. If you are early, 2 seconds later means you are still early. So unique pass phrases are one way to reduce the risk.

There are no perfect security systems today. The reality of the connected systems we have around us is that in fact they are connected for a reason. It makes life easier. We are responsible for making the easier life safer!


Smart Car fan!