Tech wiz on the tech tipping point….

I know that as a technologist I sometimes struggle with the edge of success. Or as Malcolm Gladwell called it the tipping point. It is that exact moment when something goes from a hobbyist or cutting edge to the mass market. That moment when potential and market intersect and the product becomes something everybody has to have. For a time it was a gaming console. There was a time when every house had to have a gaming console. That isn’t the case now, but it was ten years ago. Flat screen TV’s were all the rage, and for the most part are still. Streaming services became the rage more than ten years ago, but haven’t slowed down. They, the streaming services have changed their business’ considerably. They now produce exceptionally interesting content that is only available on their service.

The tipping point is often a price point. Ninety-nine dollars, 99 cents all seem to be magical lines of demarcation. If it goes above either, then the interest in it changes. The two price points also follow game changers. In the mid-2000s most mobile applications cost between 4.99 and 19.99, the launch of the Apple iTunes store changed that to 99 cents. The 99 dollar price point seems to be magical for speakers, headphones and so on. What is interesting is what is included with the products today. A television of 2004 or 2005 might have HD picture. It might have HDMI, but at the very best resolution, it wasn’t anywhere near the TVs of today. It was also larger and heavier than the flat screens of today.

Now a TV has the android tv OS integrated, offers many more features than previously available. It always weights a lot less now and has a much better screen. The Tipping point for TV’s seems to be 499, and 999 depending on the overall features and size you are looking for. More expensive TV”s have more features and more slots for HDMI connections. Some of the newer TV”s actually have the Chromecast system built in. That said it is all about the price point. HD TV’s in 2003 were 3000 to 4000 dollars. They were huge boxes that had a screen between 20 and 50 inches and a cabinet that would be two feet deep. They often used the old RGYB system of video connection. HDMI was new, and back then the cables were expensive.

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Tech Wiz

What applications are installed on your computer?

There are four programs that I have had installed on my computer for many years. Fractal’s Painter application (now owned by Corel) is one of them. Cakewalk, the music production software is another one. Dragon naturally speaking is the third. Microsoft Office is the fourth installed program (although it is multiple programs Visio, Project, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Outlook,  and publisher). All of these programs have been installed on my computer for more than ten years. I use all of them frequently — office the most, Painter and Cakewalk the least. But least is two-three times a week every week. I have paid probably quite a bit for the upgrades as well.

These four programs are four I always upgrade. The next tier of applications for me is the ones I think about for a week or so before I upgrade. That list is my second tier of programs and includes several applications. I use the MindManager Mind mapping program although not as much now as I used to, still from time to time it is critical. The other is the video ending software Pinnacle. I upgrade both of these when they come up, but I think about it before I do. Camtasia is a program I upgrade when the times comes, but I don’t use as often as the top four programs on my computer. Camtasia is a great screen movie creation package. I often use Camtasia to demonstrate how to do something on a computer.

I do have open office installed on one computer in my house. I don’t rely on it, but I use it frequently. I also have access to the Google docs, sheets tools and do use them as well. Mostly to transition information from people that use Google products more frequently than I do. Sometimes, the best way to transfer a document is copy and paste! That got me thinking today about the software I use. What software package is the one I use the most? In fairness, I took Outlook out of the list. Yes, I check my email personal and work every day. But it is not something I spend hours with. I suspect Visio and Word are the two applications I use the most (time). PowerPoint is next and then Outlook, Excel, publisher Camtasia, Dragon, Painter, Cakewalk, and then probably last and least Access. Each has its value. But all of them are on my computer and have been now for many years.

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Tech Wiz

How did you learn to type?

I posted this on MyLot earlier, the concept of where did you learn to type computer or typewriter. I learned to type on my father’s Royal Typewriter. Just like the one in the picture. I found that typewriter on Etsy. I wanted to have one like the one I learned on. It is not an electric typewriter although I did have one of those as well. It was a manual typewriter. I have three now. I have two portable typewriters, one modern that I use for envelopes and one that was my fathers. The one that was dad’s was a Royal Portable from a long time ago. The last typewriter I have is the one in the picture! As much at times to honor my father, but also because I loved learning to type on the typewriter. I now, with the delete key can type on my computer around 70 wpm. I remember taking a typing class in High School (my father’s an idea at the time) and getting up to around 50 wpm. I am a much better typist now than I was as a senior in High School.

The evolution of the keyboard from the manual, to the mechanical and now the chicklet, has been interesting. I find that if you like a keyboard or keyboard type, keep it! You can type faster on an keyboard you are comfortable with than one you don’t like. I don’t, miss the typewriter. I am not one of the world’s better spellers. I suspect I am one of the not good spellers in the world. Based on that I much prefer the computer, where my many creative spellings are caught (mostly) before I share my posts! If you look at the typewriter itself in the picture, you will notice that there is a page with the little “The Great American Novel,” from the contest. I love the bad opening line contest. I have submitted entries many times. I have never won, but I love the concept. I wonder if I would be overjoyed in winning that contest for dismayed that the editors felt my opening line was the worst opening line that year. I guess that is one of those enter and hope you don’t win contests.

Typewriters and pens have been a long love of mine. I love writing with a pen, and I love typewriters. I don’t often type anymore, but I do from time to time. I remember the days of learning. I do miss that old Royal of my dad’s but more because at this point I miss my dad.

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Tech Wiz

Tech Wiz take the positive pledge…

The picture with the post today is a long time family tradition. Fran, my daughter’s dog, used to always wear a bow on Christmas day.  When opening Christmas gifts, one of the Labradors wears a bow. Fran and Dylan have both succumbed to that tradition, and they both tried to get the bow off as quickly as possible. There were many Christmas’ spent getting a bow back on Fran. Raven, on the other hand, loves to wear clothes. She thinks she is a people, so anything that resembles people she loves to wear.  I’ve never met a dog that loves to wear clothes as much as Raven does. This is her last night at our Christmas Eve celebration, with a bow that stayed on her head a long time! No technology involved other than the digital camera that took the picture. Being that it is Christmas morning 2018 we have Christmas music playing on every speaker in the house.

Today I would like to take a sojourn a bit away from technology, in the sense that I am not talking about the tech pieces around us. Rather I would like today to talk about the reality of the internet we live with every day. It is one of the greatest, and one of the worst things to ever impact the world. Just because someone says, something doesn’t make it true. In particular accusations, threats and other things are done on the internet are forms of Cyber Bullying. It worries me that the reality of the anonymous connections that is the internet allows for so much dishonesty. I have spent my life helping build what is the internet now. I started getting teachers in the State of Indiana to use a program called STEPS (Student, Teacher Electronic productivity system).

I read an online teaching society for many years — the Dead Teachers Society which existed on Bitnet, and later on a Listserv DTS-L. Always trying to get people to examine the reality of the world around them. There is no anonymous on the internet. If someone wants to find you, they will. It is why I truly love the Reddit rule, Remember the human! The only person that keeps you honest keeps you from lashing out, is you. You are the controller of the internet. If you push positive messages when there is a chance, it makes the internet a little better. But no matter what always remember the three rules of the positive Internet pledge!

  1. Always verify information on the internet with a second and even a third source.
  2. Remember the human behind the screen.
  3. If I complain, and I have every right to complain I will make sure to post the fix with the same level of noise! If you should this is wrong from the mountaintop, climb back up and shout its fixed when and if it gets fixed!

Happy holidays to all and hopefully the drive to a happier new internet 2019!

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positive pledge

Tech Wiz on Wireless speakers…

One of the things I have done over the years is figuring out ways to solve issues for me with technology. I had a home theater setup many years ago in Cincinnati Ohio. The wires were everywhere; when we first moved to Indiana, we continued down the path of a wired home audio speaker. But over the years I wished ever more for wireless. Arrive the Bose and the Sonos Wireless speakers. You can still plug the speakers into receivers, but also they can interact with the world as standalone speakers (Pandora, SiriusXM, etc.). Or they can connect to a traditional Audio Visual receiver (I have a Yamaha Receiver) that allows you to share phonographs, cassette tapes, and even laser discs.

Not that this is a wireless speaker column, rather, the connected home of tomorrow will most likely include wireless speakers. I have a wonderful device called Pocket Ethernet. It plugs into my network and has an iPhone application that lets me view what is on my network. One o the things that worry me about the corporate, and home networks of tomorrow, is we don’t always know how much traffic is generated on the network. For example, Netflix at my house normally during a standard day will be about 5% of the network traffic. Streaming music (Sonos Speakers) represents about 2% of the traffic on my network. The reality of IoT device son my network represents 29% of the total traffic.

In fairness, the IoT devices include home security cameras and video is large. IoT devices also include weather stations and other connected devices. The remainder of the bandwidth is normally desktops and laptops in the house. The reason that fluctuates is that my wife and I are often carrying laptops when we wander off to work. The twins head off to college during the day, so the bandwidth fluctuates. There are no longer periods, however, where the network has zero traffic. Sometimes, very late at night, we dip down to 10% total network utilization. But that is probably our baseline. The connected home of tomorrow will probably have a 10-20% baseline. The network of tomorrow remains an interesting thing to think about!

The reality is this; if you know what is on your network, it is easier to find an attacker. If you also understand your network, you can figure out what needs to be turned off to increase bandwidth as needed. Knowing makes you smarter!

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tech wiz

Tech Wiz on the Google home devices

Yesterday was a moving thing around in the basement. Mostly getting things into the previous room that was my daughters. Now, it is once again my second office. Well, it is a second guest room that I have my office stuff in. The other thing in that office is the desk my grandfather made for me when I was born. It has a plague my dad added on it; it was in his office for years. I have my dad’s old principal desk and the desk my mom had made in Thailand. My sister and I used the desk in Thailand, and it is in my wife’s office now. I guess old desks are critical; we also have the old rolltop my grandfather had in his office both at the Lake and later when they moved back into town.

Now I have more room in the basement which is nice. There are things I need to move around still, and I need to set up several technology things, but I am closer now than I was. I have been enjoying the Google Home device in my office. My wife has the Google Home Speaker in her office. It works very well for what she uses it for (listening to music). I have the Google Home from JVC that allows me to watch YouTube videos and interact with Google. One of the things that I really think is cool is starting a video on the Google Home and then projecting to the Keecker. We moved Keecker to the basement yesterday, and I watch several YouTube videos to play around with that functionality!

I posted a new question on MyLot about the Google Home devices.  The Google home is more than just this Google Home. IT also includes connections to Android Devices, Chromecast (it acts as a Chromecast) but it connects to all the Google Devices in your home. That includes the Nest Smart Thermostat, and the NEST home smoke/CO detectors.

As we move further and further into the connected further, more and more devices will be connected. Are you ready for that?

(PS no rating as this is not a review).

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tech wiz

Tech Wiz on Think Board X and Rocketbook!!!!

First, as a follow up to my review yesterday, I wanted to share two things. The first (click here) is a link to the Rocketbook site. The second is that you can buy Rocketbook products on Amazon.com.

Having a flexible whiteboard is truly of value. I like the 8.5 by an 11-inch version of the Think Board X.  It allows for the creation of smaller, portable whiteboards.

Follow on reviews for the Jabra Evolve headsets. I have two, one for my PC and one for my Cell phone. The wireless headset offers Bluetooth connectivity and noise canceled microphone and headset. The USB connected evolve does the same thing. I use them virtually every day, and I find them to be the most effective tools for conference calls I’ve ever found. Speakers are nice, but being able to walk around more with the call, is critical.

In cleaning out the stacked portion of the basement, I did find my Miracle Remote. One of the very first universal remote controls made. It was built on the Pocket PC OS. A lot of the crew I worked with in Cincinnati Ohio bought one. I had it set up and was using it as recently s 2005. It isn’t hard to use remote and remains a treasured memory. It is funny what is important over time.

We have a universal remote now, that does a lot more than the old Harmony Remote did. But the connected devices you do, can and may control is a lot more than it was back in the late 1990s when the Miracle was first released.

I also found a couple of HDMI devices on my office TV that I had forgotten about. The original AirTame (that has been replaced by the new version of the product) and the original Chromecast. I need to spend some time over vacation cleaning out and selling a number of items on eBay that I have been pack-ratting for a while now. My answer has been pushing it to the back for a while, I need to stop that.

Nothing like a high tech wander on Saturday!

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technology wanderer

Tech Wiz review of the Think Board X!

There is a crowdfunding success story that I am proud to be a part of. The company produces the Rocketbook. They have great software and fun erasable notepads. Their newest product is the incredible Think board X! I love whiteboards; I have several in my house. Two made with Ideapaint, two Thinkboard X  and one large whiteboard in the basement. I can honestly say there have been times that I have filled all of the whiteboards I have. I am putting the thinkboards on the wall today. I’ve used them on the flat surface and the table in the house. But my wife said if I stuck them to the table I could plan on limping for a while. Knowing that she would probably kick me, I decided not to mount them. The Thinkboard is a whiteboard surface with a tactile or sticky back.

It is also, like the Rocketbook, connected to their software via the barcode in the corner. The Rocketbooks are erasable notebooks. I use them all the time. I love the software, and frankly, it works even better with the ThinkBoard X. The company has also started a new product on Kickstarter, a product that lets you convert existing whiteboards into shareable whiteboards!

The pictures are of the ThinkBoard X as they are sitting on my pool table. They are moving to the wall this weekend. One of the things I am going to use them for is with the touchscreen of the Keecker. Nothing like having a touch wall in your house!

Things I love:

  • Pocketbook software
  • You can use any dry erase marker
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to stick to the wall

Overall the ability to create the smaller Thinkboards is something I am going to play with. I am taking an old clipboard and putting a Thinkboard (the small one) on the clipboard for an erasable clipboard. The larger ones are going on the walls in the basement. It will give me way more whiteboard space than I need, but that is the value!

My overall rating for the Rocketbook products is 10 out of 10!

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Tech Wiz

Tech Wiz on Kitchen Tech

Normally I don’t start with a tech wiz gross fact, but this one fits with a previous post. Many years ago during the US Super bowl, the first set of commercials was one of the worst days for the sewage systems in the US. The rise of the DVR has changed that problem reducing it significantly. Not that it is something to share at a cocktail party. Just, that well knowing is something.

We added a new tradition a few years ago, Benet’s. This year we are going to use the Ninja Air Fryer to make them. Benet’s are good, so having them without all the extra calories of frying them in oil will be better.

Ninja is the tech link to the holiday breakfast.

The Ninja Foodi is a wonderful technology tool in the kitchen. You can make dishes that traditionally require pressure cooking (it makes mean shredded pork!). It blends the air fryer, pressure cooker and streaming process in a single device on the kitchen. It doesn’t make Ebel Skivers, but it makes a lot of the other things we often enjoy.

Plus air frying is so much better for you, than frying in oil.

I am probably more kitchen tech than most people. I like to cook, and I love tech. The things that I like consider and use tend to head more towards the techy side.

The last thing for today is a couple of upcoming reviews. I am doing a more in-depth review of some translation hardware. I am always curious how they compare to Google or Bing Translate. The other thing I am looking to review is the Touchscreen capacity of the Keecker system. Those reviews will hopefully get written during the upcoming Christmas break. I have five days off to work on and catch up! The Tech reviews take a little more time than introducing the Tech. I have to consider how I wanted to use the tech first, and then compare the actual production against the delivered product. That can sometimes be a hard thing to do!

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Tech Wiz

The more I use Keecker, the more things I use it for!

One of the reasons I backed the Keecker project ages ago was the reality of what was possible. The newest version of the software adds two long-awaited features that make Keecker an even more powerful tool. The first is follow me, that is a feature for drones and robots that allows the device to follow your cellphone. Why is that critical? Because if the devices follow you, you can use it wherever you are. Today Keecker is on the main level of our house. He is moving to the basement, where there are more walls we can share! Because Keecker uses the Android TV system, it is also able to launch Android Applications from the Google Play store. Follow me, is as I said one of the two long-awaited features. I’ve played with it upstairs, but we have a section of flooring that has raised separators, and Keecker (as well as the robotic vacuum) gets stuck on the riser from time to time.

Another feature is video calling: not a long-awaited feature, but one that is interesting. I suspect the reality of video calling is something I will use once Keecker is in the basement with my office and me. Video calling will add value for me when it is closer to my work computer. I can use it for the many work meetings we do that use video imaging of the participants. Keecker has a great camera both the front facing standard camera and the top mounted 360-degree camera. I suspect turning on the 360 degrees top facing camera would be a little disconcerting during a video call. I suspect I will host one for myself to see how bad it is before inflicting co-workers with that.

The newest feature they have added (and one that I will be setting up this weekend) is touch projection. Turning your wall into a touchscreen is an incredible feature, and I cannot wait to have the space to try that. There is something magical about having a 100-inch touchscreen to use. It may be the best reason to buy a Keecker yet. Other than the fact that you can have a projector in any room of your house. Oh yeah, and you can run presentations from the google drive. And oh yeah do not forget the great speakers. Now featuring touch screen capacity is a fantastic addition to the product — congrats to the Keecker team as they continue to add value. Now, I just need to move Keecker downstairs so my basement can become a touch screen!!!!

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Tech Wiz