The easiest way to find you way is to know where you are going…

By the way, the two phrases of the day for me are “I don’t mean to offend but…” and my new all time favorite phrase “you are talking it wrong, out of context or I didn’t mean that.” Communication is a tapestry woven between two people. If one side pulls too hard, the tapestry isn’t going to hang straight. In fact, it is going to look like something that you wouldn’t hang on the wall. Now, there are times when you have to offend someone. I know as a manager there are times I’ve had to tell people that they weren’t effective, adding value or well working out. It is not a fun conversation nor is it one I look forward to; it is just one manager has to have.

In polite interactions and conversations through, we shouldn’t hear that. If someone says hey you hurt my feelings, you should honor that. That way if I ever hurt your feelings, I will honor that as well. It is all part of the concept I have shared before #digitalrude. One of the things I used to do when I was teaching a class of young technologists was told them the three rules. The three rules are quite simply that you pay attention to the world around you.

  1. The person first, device second. Your phone is a device. The human being sitting, walking or near you is a person.
  2. Everyone gets phone calls and texts. When you do, excuse yourself (is it all right if I take this? Is it all right if I check this?” But always remember rule one. Person”s” is always first. If the person is talking, don’t take out your phone.
  3. When in doubt, refer to rule one and rule two. Rinse and repeat!

I cannot tell you how that changes a classroom. It always will change the conversations you have with people. If I know you are invested, so will I be. There isn’t a person I know, that won’t respond to the following phrase with a positive please do response. “I am really sorry I have to take this call.” Picking up the phone and walking away from a conversation, however, will not get a good response.

This isn’t a the way things were, were a better conversation. This is simply a right thing to do, the right way to behave conversation. The digital divide isn’t always about people unable to understand the technology. It is sometimes about people unable to understand #digitalrude behavior!


seeking harmony in a symphony of discord

Of things my father left me and PICO projectors…

There are two things I have in my office that was given to me or inherited from my father that are not technology related. One is my father’s slide projection screen that he had in his office in Bloomington for many years. I have it hanging on the wall in my office and use it as a quick projection screen when I am evaluating the quality of small PICO system projects. ODIN was the first system I played with that I used dad’s old screen for that purpose.

The other item of my father’s that I have is a picture of my father and me many years ago. I do have other pictures hanging in my office. I also have some heavier items hanging on the wall as well. For heavier items, you want to make sure you have a stud supporting the item, so I use the Walabot to find the right place to place the nail. The Walabot system lets you see into walls and figure out what is behind that wall. I use it all the time!

The world of PICO projectors has changed radically over the past five years. Now the projectors have an integrated OS. Why would you care that your portable projector has an integrated OS? Because if you have a WIFI network, you can watch Amazon Instant Videos, Hulu, Crackle, Netflix and for that matter, any of the cable or Satellite TV providers broadcast anywhere you are. The convenience of entertainment, anywhere. Or connect your pc and share presentations with people, anywhere. The last one is the one I am most curious about. When I was little, I asked my grandmother why she liked watching musicals. I asked her the wrong way “why do you like this grandma; people don’t walk around singing.” I got a lecture on the fading American cinema scene and that I should welcome and appreciate musicals more. What I meant to say was its cool you like musicals grandma, they are a great escape. I put people doing spontaneous slide shows with a projector in the same category as musicals. Nice, fun spectacles, but other than Hollywood where would anyone do that?

Pardon me while I wander around my neighborhood sharing presentations with my neighbors. I don’t see any issue doing that do you?


technology smart aleck

More thoughts on the concept, #digitalrude

I got an interesting comment on my recent safe platform blog post. Sadly I suspect the person didn’t read my post which makes the question even tougher to answer. The reality is, as I said previously, I spent many years upgrading and recovering my phone sometimes once a week. My phone is no longer something I wish to have in the mode of constant upgrades. I want stability since it is the primary communication device I use, day in and day out. I don’t jailbreak my iPhone especially because I don’t want to have to reset my device anymore. I do still do that with computers and with one of my tablets but not my phone. I live on my phone now.

#digitalrude is a term I have thrown about before. #digitalrude is where someone hides behind the reality of social media and launches rude comments at people. Or they sit in a room and watch the screen of their phone ignoring the human beings in the room. The reality of modern communication is the rise of #digitalrude. Not, by the way, that it is only people under the age of 30 doing this. #digitalrude is something that spans even encompasses all generations. The only difference being now is that there is no accountability for the rudeness. When I was a kid, if you mouthed off to someone there was direct and personal accountability for your actions. If the person were bigger or stronger than you, the repercussions would be a punch. While I do not ever condone punching people to solve problems, it doesn’t solve them; those were the rules we grew up with years ago.

I feel sorry for people that are compelled to do that. They type on their keyboards launching rude comments to the world. Hiding behind a screen name and an Avatar. Never revealing who they are to anyone. Why is that/ Because if you know who they are you can block them, push them out of your life quickly and easily. I have had the misfortune to encounter a few people like this over the past 20 years I’ve been online. For every troll or #digitalrude person, I meet ten or twelve people that I find amazing. That helps me move past that reality.

A wise man once said be careful who you step on, as you climb the ladder of success. You never know whose hand you may need as you fall off that ladder.


adrift in a rude sea

Cool Tech for your car

Cool Tech wander project for today. I am stuck in a today mode. Yesterday I had a lot to do; I got almost ½ done of what I wanted to do. I reinstalled the Automatic car management plug in our van. I also finally got the Navdy installed in my car. It took me a little longer to get to Navdy in the car, because of all the other things going on. But as of yesterday it is done, finished and ready to roll! Navdy was incredibly easy to install by the by.

First off what is a car management port? The ODB, the port is designed to allow a mechanic to connect to, talk to and find out what is going on from the distributed computing system that is your car. Automatic sits in the ODB slot and provides you with considerable information. Such as why is my check engine light on, how many times did I accelerate or drive aggressively, brake aggressively and what is my average fuel economy.

Navdy goes even further giving you the option to see what text, email and so on you’ve received as well as other information at a glance without taking your eyes off the road. Navdy sits right in front of you and reports on what is going on around you. I drove around a little yesterday with it, and frankly it does have an off button. Knowing what is going on in your car via a Heads Up Display (Navdy is a HUD) is really cool. Plus you can do a number of other things with Navdy that make your driving experience even safer!



Safe platforms in technology…what is your safe platform?

I can honestly say over the years I have taken quite a few technology wrong turns. I have and am willing to try many new things; I do however have some simple rules for trying new technology. One of them is the platform I am willing to risk. Back in the bad old days, which weren’t that bad and frankly weren’t that long ago, I spent many a plane ride to Europe restoring my PocketPC phone to the latest and greatest software and then running the backup program to restore all my applications. I did that so many times that I got good at it. In fact, I used to do backups right before I installed applications. That way I wasn’t at risk of blowing up my system.

Those days are now long passed; I don’t mess with beta’s, Jailbreaks or other things with my iPhone. It is my stable platform. I have a couple of PC’s in the house, one is my load everything new and is on the latest and greatest of whatever pc and the other is my stable pc, only load production hardware and software on that system. That way I always have a functional pc that I don’t have to hope the newest whatever has well, taken it down.

This got me thinking yesterday and this morning about the evolution of what is safe in my eyes. For example, not that I leave my Bluetooth stack open for any connection, but I do allow Bluetooth connections to devices that aren’t as stable as my phone. I figure they, the device, aren’t going to take my phone down if they crash. Bluetooth connections also give me a layer of abstraction between my phone and the device. They do at times present risks, in particular, Bluetooth devices can be hacked (it is called Blu-Jacking). But if someone has gotten close enough to Blu-Jack a connected device, most likely they also got your phone, so it is too late. I have a rule; I check my connected Bluetooth devices once a day. If I don’t know a device that is connected I delete it.  The worst thing that happens is you have to recreate a connection you use, best case you just limited the ability of a hacker to take over your phone.

What is your safe technology platform?


Risk has value, and rewards but it is still risk.

Of blog rules and cool tech

There are three rules I have for my blog. If you post an offensive comment, I don’t respond to you. Well, I sometimes do but after two, three times I stop and ignore everything you post after that. It is my blogging rule. The other rule I have is that as long as you haven’t violated the first rule, I do try to answer every question. The last rule I have is that unless we are talking a review, really great or really poor customer service, I do not mention people’s names or companies names in my blogs. If I mention a product, I am recommending either having or never buying that product. In the past, a number of companies offered to provide me with free products in return for reviews. I don’t do that either. I do accept thank you gifts from organizations that I post a good or a bad review about, but only after my blog is published and never with me changing the original post.

Some of the products I have been playing with a lot is the Bloomsky and the NetATMO weather stations. The reality of Micro-weather stations is here. NetATMO has some cool features including the ability to monitor the quality of the air inside and outside your house. Bloomsky, of course, has the coolest feature of being able to take Time-Lapse images of yesterday’s weather. Both of them have great software and allow you to see the Micro-weather stations of your neighbors and nearby, too far away from people that also have the systems.

Another product that I use extensively is a little less high tech than a Micro-weather station. It is the Logitech wireless Keyboard. It lets me type. In the content for my various blogs without requiring a wired connection to my computer. Plus I like the feel of the keyboard. I use the K8000 keyboard and mouse. I have dropped my wireless keyboard a couple of times, so I am actually on my 3rd wireless keyboard (and still using the very first mouse). The system Logitech created with their virtual plug and play USB adapter is impressive. I like the overall ease of use they have created. Both the Keyboard and the Mouse are rechargeable as well, so as long as I don’t forget to charge them, I always am ready to blog. The charging process is pretty fast though, so worst case I limp along on one or the other for a bit until the one I forgot to charge is back and functioning!

Sometimes though, if the computer is misbehaving I still fall back to my old wired keyboard. I keep it around for emergencies!


transition technologist

When does form and style outweigh functionality?

Do form and style outweigh functionality? I worry about that sometimes, from the perspective of people seeking cool looking gadgets rather than considering the functionality as the primary driver. For example, there are some cool looking scanners you can buy and a few that don’t appear or looks as cool. But functionality is critical when it comes to scanners. For a flatbed scanner, you are looking for capability (high-resolution scanning) and flexibility (able to scan some different types of media). The software comes into play once you connect the scanner and frankly there are some packages you can use (personally for images I use the built-in scanning package that came with my scanner).

The form is really important, and so is your style, but not at the expense of functionality. PS, using your cell phone as a scanner isn’t optimal. While it does in a pinch, provide you with an emergency scanner, it isn’t as effective as one would hope. All of this frankly because I’ve spent the last 20 years thinking of better ways to do things. Scanners are pretty much the easiest way to get the paper into your computer. You can shove the paper into the fan slots, but in the end, that doesn’t do much. You can take images with your cell phone of the papers, but that is tedious. Or you can get a simple and easy. To use the scanner. I like the Epson series. They are a little more expensive but the software works well, and they are simple and easy to use. I do have two Epson scanners, one being a flatbed for pictures, the other (shown in the image) being a document scanner.

Don’t get me started on OCR packages. (Optical Character Recognition). I’ve been fighting with them for many years. Swiss army knives are great tools to carry, your cell phone is a Swiss army knife and can do many things. Just remember that you wouldn’t saw down a tree with a Swiss army knife. You should consider why you are using your cell phone to do tasks. Anything that pushes your cell isn’t optimal. The concept of the right device, the right task is important. The Swiss army knife approach is very tempting but again consider that tree. You probably would get a chain saw rather than spend two or three days sawing at the tree with your Swiss army knife.



Wireless and living free, more push-to-talk…

I have been talking about the cool new Push-to-talk technologies that released. One of the things I start thinking about yesterday was the fact that if you were interested in finding a way to improve connection, you could connect a Beartooth or Gotenna to a drone and have it hover in the air. I have talked in the past about the reality of using drones in much more ways. Infrared cameras attached to drones such as the Flir cameras could, in fact, tell a fire chief where the roof was the hottest during a building fire. The hottest areas are riskier for fire fighters, and the donor can get that information safely without risking a fire fighter.

Modular drones are available now, and the payload sizes are increasing. Today they, drones, are limited by batteries and of course a maximum height for flights by the FAA in the US and the EU in Europe. A Modular drone allows you to have various components that you attach to your drone to provide additional information. Sonar, Laser Mapping, GPS, Gotenna or Beartooth receivers and many more things can add to your drone.

The other side of the evolution of drones (and beyond drones video cameras everywhere) is the growing reality of personal privacy. I have argued about image ownership sometimes. You see there is a functionality and capability that drones will provide as I talked about in my Pizza Delivery Drone article, as well as a growing security risk. All of which creates an interesting period, as the ancient Chinese curse says of interesting times. One of the things that I watch in the technology space is the creative uses for the various technologies that are available. As I started off with this morning, the new push-to-talk technologies could be deployed on drones as a way to increase the coverage and capabilities of the overall systems. Or just deploy them as stand-alone antenna’s to short term improve communication.

Someday perhaps when you lose something, you will release a cloud of mini-drones seeking the device you have misplaced! That is a great solution to the problem of misplaced items as long as the item is not actually in your pocket!


wireless and living free

Science Wander…

Monday’s solar eclipse, was not captured by my time-lapse  weather station . The sun should be on the horizon visible to the weather station (after 4 pm the sun passes over the house and is no longer visible on the weather station video). Sadly we had cloud cover and didn’t see the event.  I do recall the last one back in the 1970’s; I watched that one with my father. Sad that he won’t see this one. He loved opportunities to teach science to anyone that would listen. I will for a moment today, remember that event and him as I watch the great Solar Eclipse of 2017. I do have to say that the hype about the great Eclipse of 2017 does almost make me want to skip it.

Sometimes events become so hyped that they truly move well out of the event and into the realm of fantasy.

There are some interesting things wandering around the cool tech world right now. One of them is the now shipping Keybo. The keyboard is a virtual keyboard. They shipped a virtual mouse earlier last year. Now they are shipping a virtual keyboard and a piano keyboard ((in one box). That should be interesting. Especially for using with garage band on the iPad, as well as using it as the primary keyboard for my iPhone (sometimes I need to reply to a  longer reply than I like to type on the tiny iPhone Keyboard).I posted my initial review of both GoTenna and Beartooth push-to-talk yesterday I will do a more detailed functionality review soon and share that as well. I did, for those of you following along at home, make progress in my clean-my-office campaign. I got one corner of the office organized. Only 3 more corners to go!


Science Wanderer

Wander push-to-talk technology

Useful technologies that are now available. First of all, back in the day the concept of a push to talk (originally on Motorola Phones, but that is only natural as Motorola was one of the leading companies in the creation, development, and improvement of handheld radio systems).  Push to talk was interesting but not a feature that was going to change the market. In fact, it languished for awhile. Primarily a Sprint feature it never really caught on. In part because while interesting, you were still bound to the cellular provider. You could reach someone instantly with the press of a button and as we did when we were children, push to talk, release to listen.

Beartooth Receivers charged and ready to go!

Two products that are now available and frankly are incredibly interesting in the push to talk space are Gotenna and Beartooth. First off interesting because they provide a platform for push-to-talk communication. Android phones and iPhones can communicate with each other, using the push to talk functionality of the native applications for both products. But there is more, the value proposition of the two products is that they release you from the cellular connection required in the previous push-to-talk implementations carriers had.

Up to ten miles away, or family radio range, without an FCC license. That means you can talk to your other party members, or other people with the Gotenna or Beartooth systems up to ten miles away even with NO CELLULAR SIGNAL AT ALL. No bars, not a problem just push-to-talk!

GoTenna devices sharing for use later!

The two products took different approaches to the problem, and that is good. They don’t work together today (Beartooth can’t communicate with GoTenna), but one can hope for the creation of standards that would allow them to communicate later on. For now, you buy one or a pair of the devices depending on how many people you are connecting. You can then connect your two devices, and you can connect your GoTenna to anyone else that has one. Same is true of the Beartooth, if someone has one, you can communicate without having a cellular connection.

That makes wandering an amusement part much easier and you don’t have to worry about bad cell areas. Plus you get the advantage of instant connection! Overall this growing product area (two companies already releasing their products with a few more announced) is an excepting new area!