My ice cream has melted what do I do?

The great IoT security gold rush of 2016 started on October 19th, when the publicly available DYN DNS servers were subject to a DDOS attack, that may or may not have included malicious IoT devices. Since that attack I’ve seen several articles published talking about IoT security.

First off, we need to be careful. There are many fish to fry here, and picking the first one is hard. Security is critical, important and should be one of the top considerations. But it should only be one of the top considerations. It is important that we consider the reality of everything that has to happen. Security is neither the chocolate sauce nor the whipped cream of an Ice Cream Sundae. It is in fact, the bowl. Secure and protecting the Ice Cream from its inevitable decline (melting and providing the consumer with a delightful sticky awful mess). The bowl represents the security. The spoon is the user interface and finally the various toppings and actual ice cream are the reason people come to the ice cream shop.

The Ice Cream is best served in the bowl. As a parent, I can tell you the cone problem actually is much worse than people tell you. It is a mess. Cones, are replaceable security components however that fit well with the concept of mobility. So, the cone represents mobile security. I have for a long time heard many people talk about the concepts of MDM (mobile device management) but they always speak of containers, HTML 5 type or remote device control. The cone is our mobile security solution that we need to evolve.

Let’s consider the melting ice cream our security breach. The cone has two distinct weak points as far as holding ice cream. The first is the tip or base (sugar cone or waffle) that once soggy allows liquid to escape. The bowl (traditional network or cloud) actually catches the majority of the melted Ice Cream and therefore has reduced risk) We can overload the bowl, which will cause data leakage but for the most part the bowl is more secure than the cone.

As the world moves closer to the cone and away from the bowl we need to figure out how we can create removable cone and removable bowl security. By removable I mean that the security module of the solution can be updated quickly. I can, if needed replace my bowl or cone without worrying about the contents melting, being exposed to something (someone sneezing perhaps) or other risks that make it impossible to enjoy my ice cream.

To me the easy answer is two staged. Either the concept of a temporary security solution that encompasses the ice cream during the transfer or a new container that replaces the existing container without pause. The reason for this is cost over time. Mobile isn’t just a tablet or a phone. It is all of the IoT devices that are carried, moved or used on the go. Static IoT devices are more like the ice cream sundae, they don’t move. So, we have a clear delineation of security within the concept of IoT.

You can secure everything. You have to balance the reality of applying a bowl to a mobile device (it won’t work effectively) or trying to improve your cones so that they don’t leak (also something that may not be a good use of money). Or you could perfect non-melting ice cream, that only melts in the presence of a specific chemical (with say the makeup of human saliva).

Reality is the minute information leaves your ice cream bowl, it is at risk. The additional risk that organizations incur is the reality of security hardware. If I cannot replace the security stance of my IoT farm, I am at risk. If it isn’t easy to replace or upgrade security, organizations will lose sight of security updates. It’s called configuration drift. It happens frequently. Where devices are out of alignment with standards and don’t get upgraded. They end up on an exception list and a human being has to go from device to device updating them. Time becomes the enemy, and you end up with a lot more melted Ice Cream in your environment.

Modular IoT and Mobile phone security is a simple answer the industry can quickly embrace and extend. That and locking IMEI chips so that once a phone is stolen and it is reported, that IMEI can never connect to the cellular network again. Making the stolen device useless.


Carry baby wipes in case of Ice Cream melting!

Wandering the reality of IoT, kits and crowdfunding…


Sometimes it is the little things that matter. In the case of IoT (CPS) devices the little ones are often the only thing that matters. From small cameras to unique sensors IoT devices are expanding rapidly. In fact, at a rate that is amazing frankly.

Why talk about that rate now? It is not to once again declare that I believe the analysts under estimated the number of deployed and deploying IoT devices. It is more a realization that the world is evolving and technology, once a catalyst for that change is now the driver of the change.

I’ve spent a lot of time recently with a series of IoT device kits. Two of them, Littlebits and Tiny Lab are impressive in what you get and what you can do, quickly. Personally, I am a gadget person, which you may have gotten from my blog by Osmosis, but just in case I am stating it. The Littlebits kits really let you explore what you think is possible.

That got me thinking, not about the rate of IoT but instead around the concepts of what is possible now. By possible now I mean what I can grab, deploy and use quickly. I looked over my last 10 cool tech blogs and that’s when the trend started to hit me, the reality curve.

I published a series of blogs about innovation more than 2 years ago. In those blogs, I talked about the shift from old world manufacturing innovation to new world innovation. Where the concept of crowd funding was changing the very nature of innovation.

Scott’s Crowdfunding Rule: If you back something that is a variation of something that has been done before you are backing a low-risk project. If it is something that has never been done before than be patient, supporting and don’t threaten to sue. The further you are away from basecamp the less complaining and more understanding the backer should be.

As innovation evolves, there are sticky areas that cause issues. One of the sticky areas right now is the reality of manufacturing. The reality of manufacturing is cost. That is the driver for the manufacturer. When something costs X and they are only going to get X+1 after retooling and running the process they aren’t likely to rush. Manufacturers make money on the 3rd run, 4th run and so on. The first run of anything they make less. So, their incentive is to run the longer part runs whenever possible. Certainly, they will reach out and offer crowd funding campaigns good pricing, but the value for them is in the long runs.

That is a place where I’ve seen campaign after campaign fall short. Estimating the time to actual retool and build their great gadgets. It takes more time than you think.

I have pushed, cajoled and argued with both Kickstarter and Indiegogo for more than 2 years now on the concept of Superbackers. First, I do not believe you can be a SuperBacker if you have ever once posted a comment threatening to sue, report a campaign or any other form of threatening. Superbackers should be as professional as the campaign. If the campaign fails to deliver than the SuperBacker should report them to Kickstarter or Indiegogo quietly. Not loudly and in public. There are many campaigns I have backed that have not delivered. It makes me sad to say the least, but it is the reality of running on the cutting edge. Your feet get cut at times.

If you back, be nice.



4th (and final) in my alternative energy series…

Image result for Home solarThis, is my 4th and last post in my alternative energy series. Why is it the last? Well frankly I am interested in a lot of things, this is just one. I may come back to this series later, I have in the past also posted about the concepts, ideas and dreams that make up Transactive energy.

First off, the goal is the creation of Microgrid, maybe not at the hosue level, but certainly within a neighborhood. Sharing the power generated by the sun will greatly reduce the reliance on fossil fuel power plants. This in turn over time (the more global solar the more impact) impact the production of greenhouse gases. In particular, the HOCO compound briefly produced in the production of carbon fuels and ultimately the cause of climate change.

(Not by the way a naturally produced chemical reaction in the quantifies needed to create the problem that is climate change today).

First post solar savings

Second post the solar decision (or wind decision)

Third post adding a backup or whole home power storage and provision system

Your solar or wind implementation depending upon your situation, helps reduce your carbon impact. We’ve removed 9.7 tons of carbon from the world by having our solar array for the past 14 months. Being green actually feels good.

Image result for home wind turbineThat said there is still the reality of night time and no wind situations as I discussed yesterday. Embarking on a reduced reliance household involves more steps that a wind turbine or a solar array as I talked about yesterday and the day before. The links above go to the three previous articles in this series. The intent of the series is to talk about what we’ve saved, how we decided and finally our generator, the last piece of our Microgrid.

What is a Microgrid you ask? That is any group of buildings, houses, or single house that can and does maintain its own infrastructure for producing the power consumed in that location. As we move forward into the brave new world of Transactive Energy we will see an equalization of the power produced and the power consumed. Where the power company takes the power, you produce in your home Microgrid and shares it with another customer’s local to you. You get credited for the amount of power you produce that you share.

So, to end my series Why Alternative Energy? Why a Microgrid and why consider a form of whole home battery, generator or other system? Why? Well the answer is complex and easy. The easy answer is you can save money. Currently by having a leased solar system on my roof, I am saving 70 to 120 dollars per month (depends on season). Roughly over the course of a year around 780 dollars that I am not sending to a power company. That is the first reason, selfishly I save money.

The second reason has to do with hurricanes. We get the remnants of hurricanes in the DC area, since moving here a little over 5 years ago, we’ve had 8 times where our power was out for more than 8 hours. The system, based on the number of people around us, takes time to repair. The last two times our generator kicked on once, our solar array kept us going without needing the generator. Meanwhile we continued going on. Nothing was impacted by no power, because like the wild and crazy people we are, we had power!

Image result for climate changeFinally, there is the growing issue of climate change. The more we reduce now before it is too late, the better off our world will be. Personally, I think there should be a law that EVERY NEW large building should have a solar array on it. Period. No question. No argument. No permit if you don’t plan on having a solar array. Why not offset large buildings as much as we can. Then, pass the house bill that died last year so that hoaxes cannot limit solar or wind turbines, period. Leased, purchased or paying for all solar arrays should get a tax break. Why? The home owner is taking the long-term view towards our planet, they deserve a break.

The three reasons have science, numbers and reality to back them up. You don’t add to the consumption woes of the power company on really hot days. In fact, on really hot sunny days you will produce more energy than you consume.

Thinking solar, thinking wind, think Microgrid and then breathe. Because you are helping reduce the risk of future generations looking longingly out the window because it isn’t safe to go outdoors.


solar fan, Microgrid owner

The other side of home solar, what to do when the sun don’t shine!

(Or, if you have a wind turbine what to do when the wind don’t blow) The reality of climate change is one of the huge drivers for us having a solar array on the roof. A recent NIST article sharing the science of climate change cemented my position even further. But beyond the science there is a selfish reason as well.

We live in a metropolitan area of a large city. I am sure you are thinking, so do a lot of people. Since moving to this larger area, we’ve had four major power outages. I define a major power outage as literally more than 10 hours of no power. Based on the amount of air in your house and depending upon the season, you can very quickly raise the temperature in your hosue by 5 or more degrees, or you can drop the temperature by 5 or more degrees in that time period.

Solar Arrays on your roof give you sunlight protection from brownouts. They free you from reliance on the power grid. Now, solar arrays don’t work at night so you still need another form of power. There are many options. I am not advocating the complete move away from connection here, just to make sure you can stay connected when the grid is stretched thin.

There are days that are peak usage days. Those are the days you get a solar array, wind turbine and a backup generator for. Sometimes the sun doesn’t shine (at night it never shines) and times wind doesn’t blow. So, to remain secure in knowing that your home won’t lose power for days or many hours the solar array, wind turbine and some form of backup generator.

SolarCity recently released their new battery backup system for new home installations. Yes, there is an added cost for the batteries (the same battery system in the Tesla cars) but you then have peace of mind, power is always available. The other option you have is a home generator.

Home generators are interesting, they come in two distinct forms. The first form is portable you can take it with you. You have to start it, and frankly it has to be outside. The second is an auto-on generator that sits outside your house and automatically turns on when the power is gone. There is a 3-7 second delay so make sure you have a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) between your electronics and the wall. That way if you are watching there is no interruption of service.

There is a third kind of generator that fits between the two above, that being a solar generator. You can buy one, charge it with the solar panel and then use it when there is an outage. Each of the systems has a value proposition. The advantage for most home owners of actually having a whole home generator is the reality of wiring.

Portable generators require some way to connect to your electronics. They also tend to be smaller than a whole home generator (the larger the generator, the harder it is for it to be portable). Personally, I know, if I were looking for a house today I would make sure it was already wired for a whole home generator. Having one means you never have to worry about power again. Portable generators are awesome, but you have to have the wiring in place as well.

We are currently using a Generac Whole Home generator. The unit is installed in our back yard, it is loud when it tests itself, but not as loud as a whole home generator. Our house was wired for a generator when we bought the hosue (the previous owner ran his business from the basement for a while so we have overkill on wiring.) Although the previous owner committed one of the worst mistakes with a generator, placing the generator in a shed. Never put a gas-powered unit in an enclosed space. You are just asking for CO to fill your house.

The coolest think about the Generac system, beyond the fact that it kicks on automatically is that it has a load system. It won’t power on devices once you reach the peak load. You can also designate which devices have to have power. In our hosue it’s the heating/cooling system and the washer and dryer. In one particularly long power outage (3 days) my wife had to go to the Laundromat. That was, in her words the worst day ever.

Home energy production is the future. A solar array gives you a chance to reduce the impact of your family on the environment and, per the NIST study at the link above, help reduce the impact of humans on the overall global environment.


I am carbon down, power up!

Questions on how, why and what to do for home Solar installs…

Yesterday I talked about the value of using solar power at your home, now. I got a great series of questions (one right after the other) fired at me via email from a long-time reader. She asked the following questions and I, as I often do, decided to share both the excellent questions and the ok answers I provided to them.

Q: What are the options for solar at my house?

A: There are two options you have. The first is to either pay upfront or finance the implementation of a solar panel array on your roof. The cost of this is dependent on two huge factors, how much sun is on your roof and how much power you will need to generate. The second option is to enter an agreement with one of the lease companies that provide Solar Power on your roof, for a small monthly fee based on the KW’s you use.

Q: Can I disconnect from the power grid and stop paying the electric company? (This is a stock image, it is not my house).

A: You can, but… So, first off if you go Solar, it only works when the sun is shining. You can do a combined Solar and Wind system, but still no sun or wind and you have no power. You can do backup batteries which would allow you to reduce the pull of your power company, but effectively the easy answer is you still need the power company.

You can, install a home generator and a Solar Array, so that you are no longer bound to the provided (power company) on any one day or if there is an outage you have power at your house. But staying on the grid is a good idea. It is always smart of have a backup plan.

Q: My HOA is really hard to work with. They have to approve the project before it starts. How can I get this approved?

A: First off, it depends on your state. In some states, they have passed laws that prohibit an HOA from preventing Solar Arrays on home owner’s roofs. In some areas, HOA’s have won court cases against owners so be careful before you start. The US Congress failed to enact a law that would have prevented HOA’s from prohibiting Solar Arrays in the US, but that bill died a horrible death without being passed. So, check your state. Some have laws on your side, some do not. The value of Solar increases the Value of your home, more so in the future than now. But having solar, and therefore cheaper available power for your home, makes your home more valuable.

Q: Won’t it raise the temperature in my attic?

A: No, actually this will reduce by the number of arrays on your roof, the amount of sunlight that actually makes it to your roof and therefore is able to transfer energy to your attic. Solar panels are not insulation but they do reduce the overall heat transfer from your roof to your attic.

To bring all of this tougher I spent a year reviewing and evaluating my options. I consider purchasing and I consider leasing a solar system. I decided on Solar City. Why? Well there is the 5-year option that they give you (after 5 years you can buy the system from them and never pay for day time power again). They, Solar City, has an offline or battery system coming in 2017 for existing homes. That means you will have an array of batteries (just like in the Tesla) that will provide power for your home in the night and low solar days. You will still need the grid but less so. For me the upfront cost of the system measured against the tax rebates and other considerations just didn’t make financial sense.

Overall, our satisfaction with Solar City is high. They do a great job installing, don’t leave a mess and once you are up and running. Things are awesome!


Home Solar Fan

Why Solar? Why now? Save money, save the environment. Why not Solar now?

When we bought our home, there was a woodstove in the house. My father had a woodstove in his house on the farm (it was in the wrong part of the hosue honestly). This one is sitting in the middle of our living/family room (the previous owner had made the basement family room into a true home theater with blackout curtains and blackout paint on the walls). The wood stove actually heats most of the hosue (other than the basement). The basement stays relatively warm due to my technology that runs all the time (routers etc). I wish now, that the woodstove was actually in the fireplace cut out in the basement as it would heat the entire hosue. As it is, on days that get down into the 30’s with day’s in the high 60’s we can leave the furnace off and heat the house with the wood stove.

So, for roughly 300 bucks in firewood I can cut my power bill by roughly 500 or more dollars per year (my gut is probably way more than 500). Add to that the reality of non-snow covered solar panels and I can cut my overall power bill by 1000 or more per year. That is after subtracting the cost of the solar installation and firewood. That is sadly without trying to save. If we were trying to save there are a number of other things we could reduce.

Now, if we look at the heat produced by the woodstove, we lose a percentage of that because it is in the middle of the house not the basement. The same is true of solar – we lose the major production mid-day because more is produced than we consume. That enters the future world of Transactive energy where energy produced becomes energy paid for. A study released in August 2016 found that there was more solar power than coal power produced in the US as of 2016. So, President Obama’s dedication and investment in solar power is beginning to pay off.

Still on nights when it is cold outside, a nice warm fire makes a difference. That and having one of my mother’s couch quilts. Before solar my average power bills in the summer are in the table below – with the new bills to compare.


Before Solar (woodstove only in winter

After Solar (still using wood stove)


Gas 45 Electric 120

Gas 45 Electric 80


Gas 20 Electric 350

Gas 20 Electric 250 (worst month)


Gas 60 electric 150

Gas 60 Electric 90


Gas 150 Electric 150

Gas 150 Electric 90

So far total monthly savings: 120 dollars in spring. 300 dollars in the summer. 180 dollars in the fall and 180 dollars in the winter – 780 dollars per year just having solar in savings.

The path to a better tomorrow lies through Transactive Energy. Good part of the path does. We still have issues that clean energy doesn’t solve.


Transactive Energy Fan!

There are times that I wish I was still teaching. CSTEAM is one of those things that reminds me of what could have been…

There are times I miss teaching – right now it’s looking at the art of the possible with IoT devices. In particular, the capabilities you can offer students in the classroom with Raspberry PI and Littlebits kits. Potential is achieved not just because it exists but because it can be produced and developed quickly and/or easily. I taught a summer technology class in the day’s where our 20 meg HyperCard stack on Dinosaurs took 20 floppies and lots of swapping to load. I can build an IoT camera with more memory that that Macintosh SE had all those years ago. And that camera is smaller than a dollar bill in total size.

The concept of STEAM for education, well I believe in CSTEAM (connected Science technology engineering art and math) is beyond amazing right now. The kits from Littlebits are so easy to use and integrate quickly. You can quickly integrate Raspberry PI instances and build compute and low level hardware programming, quickly and easily. This is not the realm of rocket scientists or companies with massive R&D budgets. You can get started in this space for less than 100 dollars. (US).

This of course carries on a dream I had as a former educator. One that my father had first, and passed on to me. The concept of getting science more integrated into education. Beyond science, adding the components of engineering, technology and math to build out and deliver a holistic view of skills kids will need as they embark on the edge of the almost nearly information age.

I added the C to STEAM. Why? Because I believe that connection is a component of what needs to be educated today. It is not just the connection of social media. It is beyond that; connection is a huge component of the future information age. What is connected, what will be connected and later what should have been connected all along. Connection isn’t just the social handshake of “liking” something on social media. It is the connection of people to resources beyond where they are. In my book The Syncverse I talked about this concept. I expanded the concept further in my book Inter-Generational Knowledge Transfer. All of the books leading (links below) towards the concept of easily moving information from where it is to where it needs to be.

The Internet of Things, or Cyber Physical Systems as NIST calls them, opens the door for much more exploration much earlier. Yes, there are risks. One of the realities of technology is that bad actors do take control. Hackers as we call them, seek to control IoT devices to use them as bots in attacks and for other processing purposes. The good news about Hackers is they expose weakness. The bad news is there are more holes than patches at times.

My recommendation is that elementary schools create disconnected sand boxes for young children to consider and play with. That those sand boxes are then shared with older students who consider ways to secure and improve the security of the devices created. Allow for the freedom of exploration safely without forcing rules.

Then use the application of rules as a teaching model for older students. Make the Internet of Things an exploration and a lesson in how to secure many deployed devices. Take STEAM, add the C and you have CSTEAM build around IoT/CPS and security.

That is when I miss teaching. The art of the possible is so much greater now than it was 25 years ago when I left the classroom. Certainly, there was more I could have done then. But now, I could do so much more. Imagine lettings young 2nd and 3rd graders loose creating devices to change the world. Then asking 10th graders and 12th graders to secure those devices. To take them and with the 2nd and 3rd graders launch Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. To build the brave new world, starting with CSTEAM as early as we can. Today is the only day you have. Tomorrow is a promise, but not a guarantee. We need to start building the future much earlier.  It would usher in the information age that much faster than we are going to do with our current systems…

The Syncverse

Inter-Generational Knowledge Transfer


CSTEAM is the future.

Wondering how we get from the Technology age to the information age. The path seems unclear…

I wonder sometimes about what people are thinking. Like everyone around me I wonder what people think about me, but wonder what they are thinking in general. I won’t go on a long Washington DC driver’s tirade; I’ve done that before. But if someone leaves enough space between them and the car in front of them to be safe, why would you cut the second person off? If you cut the first person off I have time to stop. That, by the way is why I left that amount of space between me and the car in front of me.

So, this weekend I was thinking. First off I root for the Chicago Bears in the NFL. They are my favorite team all time and my all-time favorite player (Walter Payton) played for the Bears. My second favorite player is Peyton Manning, so for years I also rooted for the team Peyton played for. I don’t really have a favorite player this year. So, I am struggling to find a second team to root for. I used to follow my father’s rule (root for the local team) but I can’t do that now. I don’t like either of the teams locally. It is a process I guess; I will find a new favorite player.

I am really excited for next spring. The two-different underwater ROV’s I am waiting for should be in my hands. Underwater ROV’s are different than flying drones. Due to the nature and distortion of signals caused by water you need to have a cable between you and the ROV. That said there are a number of systems that you can use and consider. Sonar works underwater very well and the Deeper products offer interesting options. Literally a sonar bulb that attaches to the end of a fishing line and lets you see what is underwater, on your phone.

That is one that that boats are still short on today. Integration options for cellular devices. Can you image if a boat with 20 speakers or more let you connect to it, like a car does. You could then use your phone when close to shore to play Internet radio right on the boat. Add to that the ability to play audible and other information sources and your boat could become a giant conference room!

Technology integration is a continuing interest of mine. What and how do we integrate. There are ultimately two things here that interest me. The first is the reality of what people think is important. I watch the “tending technologies” lists and sometimes I was blown away. Things that I hadn’t thought of sometimes pop up on those lists. Other times I look at the list and try to figure out what people are thinking.

The reality of sound is one that always makes me wonder. Bluetooth speakers are interesting, first off because of the reality of cell phones. Speakers on cell phones are small and often less than good. Some are better than others but let’s be realistic in our expectations. Like the camera of the cell phone you are limited in what you can do by space, materials and size. So, the external aftermarket of speakers grows.

Connection reality – its why I started talking about the concept of the Screen as a Service (SCRaaS) more than two years ago. The concept being that screens can simply be a service that you connect to and use. Speakers are the same. In fact, the concept of as a Service really benefits the user of mobile devices.

But beyond mobile is the even larger potential of wearable. Today’s hand help mobile devices will give way to more flexible wearable components.

So, I wonder. As I wander around my neighborhood and the aisles of the grocery store, as I sit in a restaurant and watch people go by. I wonder. The grand age of technology has changed the world. What happens when we are able to integrate information, technology and people into a unified system?

We will have reached the information age! That is the most intriguing reality right now for me, the analysts and pundits screaming that we are in the information age. As I said in my book about inter-generational knowledge transfer, we aren’t there yet. People share information when they want to, but finding information is harder than it will be. When we get to the place where people share not because they want to but because it is the minimum and that information is easy to find we will have reached the information age. You see if information is the commodity, you have to not have an expert culture. Today we remain in an expert culture. When that is gone, we move out of the technology age.


Drone man, drone fan!

Cool Tech follow-up’s and wandering…

I have in the past couple of month’s post a couple of cool tech reviews that I wanted to follow up on. The first one because the more I play with the software and hardware included in the system the more interesting I am finding the system.

So the posted review of Littlebits is here. When it comes to technology I have three goals. The first is to automate and simplify things that frustrate me today manually. So automation is my first goal. My second goal is to reduce the clutter of my office. Right now, I have failed miserably in that one. I have sold and donated more than 100 gadgets in the past 60 days and still have far too many in my office. The third and final thing I look for is expansion. By expansion I mean how many tasks can the gadget take on. So far I have played with three of the kits, Cloud Connection, Home Automation and the version 2 of the Gizmo’s and Gadgets.

I really like their software (iTunes and Google Play store). I’ve played around with it quite a bit and have an idea of a couple of projects I want to try. The Littlebits kits are well designed and they put considerable thought into not only how the boxes are arranged but how the items best survive the shipping process. I am really looking forward to what I could invent with Littlebits.

The next technology is the 3d printer. I recently donated my CubeX Duo. It was hard to use and ultimately not a good fit for what I wanted to do. The software was complex and set-up of printing was always frustrating. I researched for a while and ended up with the Flashforge Dreamer. The system is smaller, still offers two colors and loading PLA or ABS plastic is easier. 3d printing in general is about small items (unless you spend a lot of money) but it is also about complexity. As in reduce the complexity of going from dream, to answer.

So far the software from Flashforge is amazing. I find it easy to use, and it also works well with the various 3d creation systems. I have three different 3d scanners so it’s nice that it actually works well with all three.

Another technology that is just changing everything right now is the iWatch/iPhone 7 combination. I know most people don’t want to answer and talk to people via their watch. That falls into the category of those of us who grew up on Dick Tracey, but it is really useful. You can put your iPhone on the dock to change and walk away. 30 feet from your iPhone doing somethi8ng else you can still answer the phone and talk to your callers. Amazing!

I really enjoy the many screens you can use. I got that from my love of the Pebble, changing watch faces to suit my mood. The Apple Watch has some pretty incredible faces you can use. The other things it has at this point are amazing. You can connect your watch to your home automation package. Again, your phone is charging and you have your watch on. You can connect to your phone and your home automation system without taking your phone off the charger. A large number of applications have Apple watch companion apps. With the memory in the iPhone 7 I was finally able to have a device with all my audible books on it (the iPhone) and a device with all my other books (the Kindle Fire). That makes the commute even better now. I can play regular books and audible books in my car easily.

The last item up for today is the connected car. The concept of connection in the car is amazing. But when you add a car that insulates you from the road it is even more amazing. When your car and car phone are nearly imperceptible to other people on the call, it is amazing. When you feel like you are riding in a concert hall, it is amazing.

When you can call someone and have directions downloaded to your GPS, without having to spend 10 minutes using the virtual keyboard, that is also amazing. I really enjoy my connected car. The craftsmanship, the driving augmentation (from lane correction, to smart cruise control and radar when driving and parking) is just amazing. I wanted a Mercedes Benz when I was 15. It only took me a few years but I am really glad (and feel really safe driving in DC) that I finally got one. The Mercedes Benz GLE 350 is the best car I have ever owned.

Enough cool tech follow-ups for today. More coming, and another cool tech blast soon.


When you drive in DC all you see of other cars is taillights. Lots of Taillights!

My network has fallen and it can’t get back up….

On October 21, 2016 there was a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) against the DNS provider Dyn on the eastern seaboard of the US. The impact was fairly consistent (and pretty bad) in the am with the attack slowly falling off in the afternoon. It shows the traffic weakness I’ve argued about for the past 10 years. You can choke any one segment of the Internet and cause problems for the entire world.

Back in the dark ages of computing we had a concept called Beaconing in the Token Ring world, basically Token Rings has maximum’s for devices. When you reached that maximum then the next device attempting to connect over the maximum would knock the first inactive device it found off the network. This would cause massive problems on the Token Ring eventually bringing it to a standstill.

The DDOS attack on Dyn carries that one step further attacking a single point on the network that has lots of traffic bound to it. It would be like shutting down all the traffic lights along Broadway in New York City. It would force a manual override, and cause massive congestion. The problem with massive congestion is the reality of why DDOS attacks work. Computers keep trying even if they cannot connect. Plus, the reality of the world is the number of devices out there.

First off the rumored use of IoT devices in this DDOS attack is interesting. Interesting because I think as more and more devices move into homes, there will be more accidental DDOS attacks on the home network than people are going to like.

As in your home network goes from fast and fun to slow and sluggish. The various news channels (I was watching MSNBC at lunch) were talking about lost connectivity to Amazon’s store, Netflix and other’s. I heard a reporter lament, what will I do this weekend without Netflix. The value of broadcast TV suddenly appears. Home bandwidth is going to shrink.

What can you do? Well you have a number of interesting problems as you wander down the path of home networking. In fact, you should probably understand what your requirements are, first.

1. Do you work from home?

2. Do you consume Netflix?

3. Are you considering a Smart Home for automation?

4. Solar panels, wind turbine to power your home?

5. Gamers in your house?

Those three are the quick questions to start with. Your network needs to be different if you work from home, but the value of working from home is today, most neighbors have their lowest consumption during the day (and very late at night) so you are in luck, you will be closest to your maximum inbound and outbound available network bandwidth. Your router won’t be the choke during the day. Unless you go crazy with home automation.

Netflix and all the other streaming services consume a lot of bandwidth. The more computers, TV’s and gaming consoles you have connected to Hulu, Netflix and other’s is the bandwidth you are consuming. Friday nights I have two family members watching different streamed video feeds. My available bandwidth (up and down) is pretty content and 110 to 115 MPs up and down. But the two streamer son a Friday night consume 40% of the available bandwidth. If we add a third streamer we push the network to 65% utilization. The more utilized a network is the more likely you are to have a failure. Every failure causes the device that failed to resend and request the same information again.

So the first thing you can do? Put a second router into your hosue. I have one today that is set-up for one purpose, all the IoT devices in my house connect to the second router. The second router is connected directly to my internet connection. In between my ISP provided router and my Internet connection is a firewall. That is more than most people need, but I am nervous about security so added that extra layer.

I also, in the second Wi-Fi router for IoT, got a router that speaks both Zigbe and Zwave. Those being the two main device connectivity protocols used in the Home Automation world. That allows my router to connect to the majority of IoT devices and do the interpretation in the hosue rather than waiting until the data is in the cloud.

If I get a corrupt or a hacked IoT device, I can simply shut off the routers connection to the Internet and watch the protocol gateway on the disconnected Wi-Fi router. One by one you turn off your IoT devices until you find the one that is hacked and remove it.

Personally based on my estimates I see the average person have between 15 and 20 devices connected and of course the more people in your hosue the more devices you will have (family of 4 having between 60 and 80 deployed devices).

I haven’t talked about the last two bandwidth problems coming, but will cover those soon.


When networks fall, who picks them up?