Tech Oops project

 I traveled a lot for ten years. Lots and lots, over 1.1 million mile sin ten years. During that time I stayed in a lot of hotels. I normally tried to stay in Marriott’s because, well because of this story. The first time I went overseas was an interesting trip.  I had a “child” passport when I was in Thailand. A Child or Minor passport (in the US) expires when you are 18 years old. But, by the time I was traveling internationally again I was a few years past 18. I ended up filling out the passport application so that I could travel to teach a class in Amsterdam. When I was 11 years old, I had no problem sleeping on the plane. I figured it would be no problem a few years later to, well sleep on the plane.

Boy was I wrong. I couldn’t sleep at all. As you get older your circadian cycle gets more and more set. So traveling internally without preparation can be tough. I slept about an hour on the way to London, then not at all on the short flight from London to Amsterdam. In retrospect, I should have done the direct flight from Chicago to Amsterdam, but I was being a good corporate citizen and took the cheaper flight!

I was fried when I got the hotel and thought, well I have nothing to do, I will take a nap (I was two days before the class started on purpose). My coworker wasn’t arriving until much later that day, so I laid down and went to sleep. I was really tired. I was asleep for at least 3 hours. I regretted that the next day but the sleep was interrupted by a noise.

I was startled awake and suddenly confused.

I couldn’t for the life of me, remember where I was.

I picked up the hotel phone and called the front desk.

I said “where am I.” in retrospect a literal question. I got a literal answer

“you are in room 1012 sir.”

‘No, what country am I in?” I asked the follow up literal question

“Holland sir.”

I hung up and sat there for a few minutes. Then I remembered why I was in Holland.

In the future, I learned a few tricks for international travel.

1. Make sure you leave early in the morning and do not sleep until you are on the transatlantic portion of the flight.

2.Get out and walk when you get to the hotel!

But the first time was the hardest. I do know where I am now!


Tech Oops Story!

It is time for another funny tech story that is more story than tech.  In this one honestly, my wife wasn’t laughing on the deck. She was causing the situation. Many years ago when we lived in Cincinnati Ohio my wife worked in Advertising.  One of the accounts she worked with was a large Cincinnati based consumer products company. Another they often worked with us an Oil company near Cincinnati. The company had completed a project the year before 100 years of racing. It, the project represented hand-drawn cards with information about race cards (100 of them to be exact). The project went so well that the company came back to have a second project with my wife’s company.

She came home one night to explain the baseball card project. We’ve got ten cards, and we are going to get them signed. By a case of oil, get a signed card. Only some of the cases had cards of course. My wife sent people off to Pittsburg, Houston and other places to get cards signed by many famous baseball players. The next day she called me at my office to say she was going to have to get cards signed as well. She said she would tell me where that evening when she got home.

As we were sitting down to dinner that evening I asked, “who are you getting to sign cards?”

She looked and said (knowing full well the impact of this “some guy in Chicago named Ernie Banks.”


My wife snickered (a not nice form of laughter).

She left Sunday afternoon.

I went to work Monday – Wednesday, Thursday like normal.

Friday came. Back then, I had two phone lines, and one was my line; the other was to support the execs. No one had the second number.

It rang.

“A voice said Scott, and I am having trouble with my Think book.”

I would love to say I was happy about the call, and I wasn’t it was almost time to leave for the day.

I walked the person through a couple of troubleshooting steps. I kept hearing a laugh in the background of the call. I thought I recognized the laugh.

The last step worked. (well its always the last step that works right?)

The person said, “Scott do you know who this is?

I didn’t know.

“Its Ernie Banks Scott.” Then I heard the laughter again. This time loud. “Here talk to your wife, Scott.”

My wife just laughed.

At least I got to talk to Ernie Banks!!!


Another Tech Oops story

I thought about Ghostwriters challenge for me to write funny stories in the wander project — something to make her laugh she said. I have decided to make this my personal mission for a while. On occasion, I will share dumb things and crazy things that I have done as an IT professional.

I realized I have as many stories of me doing goofy things as a technologist. Then I realized why not share all the funny stories. So here are just a few of my very best personal stories of oops in the technology world.

I was working in New York City and was presenting a document to a customer around 4 pm. I was getting ready for that, finishing the document cleaning it up and then I figured I needed to 12 May 15 copies. So I settled down, found the printer that was on my co-worker’s desk, plugged it in and hit print.

To borrow from the three stooges, “I tried to print, and nothing happened.”

I figure I had the wrong drivers for the printer, I uninstalled and reinstalled the printer.

Then I hit print again, and it was going to work this time!

Nothing happened.

I was getting a little frustrated when my co-worker got into our shared space.

He said “something wrong.”

“I am trying to print the document for the meeting.”

“He looked at me, looked at the printer and then said “I can fix that. The printer works a lot better when it is turned on.”

Keeping that quiet and not on the agenda of the next team meeting cost me lunch for a week.


another funny tech story

Ghostwriter challenged me to write a funny story in my Wander Project. I realized sitting at my desk today that I have many funny stories from my IT and teaching careers. I thought it would be fun for the next few days to share some of my funniest stories. Today’s story is from the days when I was on a helpdesk. It doesn’t, however, have to do with a phone call. When I was first on a helpdesk taking calls, I had a good friend that worked with me. We took all the calls (another long story). He at the time was the PC tech, and I was his backup. I was the Mac-Tech, and he was my backup.  We had a lot of fun pulling practical jokes on each other all the time.

This particular story doesn’t shine a bright light on me. I was out of the office for training. My co-worker needed to use my Mac for any Mac calls. I should, knowing him, have borrowed a mac from the storeroom, but I didn’t think of that. Anyway, I got back to work after the training days and sat at my desk. I logged into my PC (we used a PC based helpdesk software our lead engineer had written.) My Mac was usually the last thing I would turn on. Normally what I would do was turn on the Mac, and then I would look over to the phone lines seeing if we had any calls in the queue. Then I would focus on my to-do list on the helpdesk software from the day before while my Mac launched.

Now in those days, there was a specialized sound that let you know when the Mac was having issues. One of those sounds was called the chimes of death. That meant your Mac could not boot. I looked over and saw the screen of death as well (a Mac on the screen with a sad face),. I freaked out, and as I had learned from the Apple folks, I unplugged the Mac and counted to 10. Then I plugged it back in. Same thing. The screen of death, chimes of death when I looked over. Needless to say, my coworker was laughing at that point. I looked over at him and realized, and he had changed the startup sound and startup screen of the Mac to be the chimes of death and the sad mac Screen.

I can’t tell you how dumb I felt at that moment.


One of the great questions I got on my WordPress blog, is why are you always trying to connect the thing to your iPhone. It is a great question, but the answer doesn’t fit in a comment. It is much longer, and so it is my post today. The first part of that question is the phone. I know many folks that read my posts do not use their phone for much beyond talking to people and pictures. I also know that some authors here have noticed the trend of younger people using their phone more. But for me is more to the middle. I am not using the phone to hide from people. I also use the phone for more than talking and photos. If I can avoid it, I still don’t use my cell phone for cameras, often.

What I like to do however is understand the art of the possible. What can be connected to phones? The first thing is weather stations. People always ask me why. I tell them that weather forecasting systems look at 100, 200 and 500-mile blocks of the area. But within each of those blocks, there is significant variance. If it is raining in Washington DC, but not in Maryland, it is going to be hotter in the summer in Maryland. Most of the time, the DC temperature is hotter; there is a lot more concrete in Downtown DC. The other interesting thing about the connected cellphone is the reality of data. I know, again that many people are concerned with the rate of cell phone use. But, I also know in our house it has become a great tool.

The phrase proves it, becomes an internet search. Now we’ve gone one step beyond that and said “show two valid sources.”

The other reality of connecting things to your cell phone is the future. I suspect, this is wholly my opinion, that in the future there won’t be desktops and laptops the way there are today. I suspect what will happen is your phone becomes your initial processor. Now the problem with using a phone in that scenario is that it loses phone functionality. So what happened, again my opinion, is you would plug your phone into a docking station. That station would have a coprocessor, a graphics processor and additional memory. You would most likely have one at home and one in the office. The only thing you would carry is that cellular phone. That is the ultimate reason why I try to connect as much as possible to my phone now!


Choosing the right camera (Part III)

I choose today picture more out of luck than intent. But found it in the folder I shared pictures for the wander project this morning. The image is of our second video camera. We had a VCR camera, or a Video Cassette video camera starting around 1992. We had that camera for some events and family fun outings for about eight years. It just so happened that I was working in Columbus Ohio when the imagination station stores went out of business. I got a great deal on an S-VHS mini camcorder that you see in the picture. VHS was the original type of Cassette video recorder. S-VHS was closer to the quality you saw on television. Although now you can get the quality (HD and 4k) in your cell phone video.

With the rise of cell phones, and the ability of digital cameras to often do still and video in one camera, the stand-alone Video recorder has gone the way of the dinosaur (That always makes me laugh. We forget that it is possible a large meteor hit the earth, and the Dinosaurs did not die from their mistakes, rather the misfortune of not having weapons capable of knocking an asteroid off course). The Video Cassette record (handheld or home-based) is no more. The reality of cameras today is something I’ve now spent three different posts. It is all about knowing what you need from a camera. The value of a camera is what it does for you, not what it does in advertising!

For example, when picking a camera with small children in the house, who liked to take pictures, I picked a camera that could be dropped. Now, boating and being on the water, we need a camera that can shoot underwater but can also get wet. The interesting thing now is the rise of specialty cameras. That is the end of this column. Specialty cameras include those in the list below (and more)

1. Infrared cameras or cameras designed to capture images of heat. Many companies that come to your house to check your windows carry a camera like that to show you the amount of heat your windows are leaking. It is also used for looking at engines and other things that you want even heat distribution.

2. AR cameras – this is a new category and is heavily being consumed by Realtors. Your actual future in a house you are considering buying may tip the scale!

3. Video doorbells so you can see who is at your door, Or who stole your package.

4. Connected security cameras, yes the thief and can break in and break your security camera. But not until after the camera has sent the image to the cloud.

5. High-speed cameras (100 Frames per second or more) sometimes called slo-mo and often used in sporting event replays but also interesting for personal use as well.

The specialist cameras (which also include 3d and 360 cameras mentioned before) give you a chance to figure out what works best for you.

The most important rule when considering having or not having a camera is quite simply what do I need!


What is the value of a writing site?


The video cassette recorder burst on the scene in the 1970s. It allowed us to stop watching live television and record things to watch. It began the concept that would later evolve into Streaming. Record something you were busy doing something else when the show was on and watch it later. How many of you remember the sad realization that you recorded a football game and ended up with the movie Heidi instead (inside hoke sorry about that). The funny thing was the VCR was the first step. VCRs could be standard, super-8 or they could be ¾ or ¾ SP. The less easily consumed names were normally used by professional television studios. At the launch of the VCR, there was also a competing product called Betamax from Sony, but it died.

After a while, the market evolved again. You see music added a new model of delivery. First, there was the LP or Vinyl. Then the eight-track tape. It did have eight unique tracks and was in theory better quality than an LP. That became the cassette tape, and then finally the CD. Later the CD would give way to the wholly digital MP3 file.

Now all the parts of the streaming universe are available.

The rive of the DVR allowed people to pause live TV. It allowed you to watch what you wanted to watch when you wanted to watch. Netflix, originally sent you one, two, or three DVDs at a time. You kept them, watched them and sent them back. Netflix sent you the next available movie in your queue. Then they started streaming the videos — streaming video. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney, CBS, HBO, and the list goes on forever. It seems all started sending you videos where you were when you wanted to view them. The evolution of watching has changed television.

So, based on the evolution of TV, what is the evolution of Virily? What comes next?

I will ask some poll questions for you to have fun with. Is Virily the VCR, Betamax, or the DVR?


Choosing a camera 3d vs 360

Today based on my last couple of posts, I am going to talk about 3d versus 360 cameras. First, is the reality of the technology and then we will talk about the differences in what you can and cannot do. The picture is a 360-degree picture taken of my mess office this morning.  Right after I worked out and went downstairs to start my workday. I should probably stop in the shower first, but I have early morning calls to be on.

3d cameras have, like the new iPhone 3 lenses (which by the way is a feature the new iPhones are adding, 3d). It allows you as the camera holder to take a picture that offers length, width, and depth. The primary 3d cameras I have played with are video. I have seen 3d still cameras, for the most part, they were not cheap (at the time I saw them).

A 360-degree camera normally has two lenses. Although there are newer ones that have three lenses. Many 360 cameras can also take 3d pictures. The newer 360-degree cameras can do more as well. The difference is placement. A 3d camera has all three lenses places on the same side of the camera. The 360 lenses are normally two on one side and one on the other side (for the ones that have 3).

3d camera

Pictures that add depth overall

Frequently video, stills are also possible

360 camera

Pictures that add depth If 3d is important to check the camera before buying!)

Some offer waterproof cases

Video and still pictures out of the box

Someone integrates with Google’s street maps so you can submit images to that system

Honestly, at this point, the biggest differences between the two are more related to capabilities. In particular, if you want to have both capabilities (360 sees all around, 3d sees in front of the camera but also adds depth to the image) you need to go with a 360-degree camera. I haven’t reviewed the 3d camera as of yet only because it was given to me (I won a raffle at a trade show). Both are handheld designed. What that means is that have digital image stabilization built into the camera.

Last part of this discussion is cost. Honestly, you can get a good 360-degree camera in around the 200 US range. I have seen good 3d video cameras on Amazon for around 99 US.

3d cameras do not require software.

Three hundred sixty degree cameras do require software to stitch the 360-degree images.

My recommendation is to get a 360 that also does 3d.  But try the software before you buy!


picking the right camera part II

Yesterday I talked about the first part of my picking a camera guide. There are many cameras available now on the market and getting the right camera can make all the difference. One of the things we always have to consider is cost. If the camera costs too much you will not get the value from the camera. That said, if the camera is someone you intend to use all the time, then the cost basis of the camera should be considered differently.

Coast basis is the net cost to you.

The net cost of a camera ultimately is what will it cost you to take a picture. But there are factors to consider as well. If the camera costs 300 dollars and you can take 10,000 pictures with the camera without repairs or other costs, then the costs basis of the camera is 0.03 cents per picture (US). If the cost of the camera, I more than your cost basis goes up.

•Do you need to take underwater pictures?

•Do you need a fast on camera?

•Do you need a camera that has pre-built scenes or shots?

•The other thing to consider is doing you drop cameras. I know I do, so a camera that survives a fall is also important.

•The last thing is done; you need a high-speed shutter.

•Do you take many kinds of pictures (Macro, long-distance) and need a DSLR or SLR camera?

Many cameras today cover many of the features listed. Most cell phone cameras can do a lot of these functions as well. The most expensive cameras today are the DSLR’s, but honestly I have my fathers SLRs that are more than 45 years old, and they still work today. DSLR’s last longer than point and shoot and cell phone cameras do.

So first consider the cost basis. How much can you spend? Then start considering the functionality that you need and how you will use the camera.

For many people the cell phone is an awesome camera. The cost basis of pictures is low, and you already have one! You won’t most likely be able to drop it, and sometimes if you are on the phone, it becomes hard to take pictures as well.

So, part II – consider what you can spend. Consider what functionality you need.

More to come in Part III.


choosing the right camera

Interesting questions (thanks all) on the follow-up review and 360 camera discussion yesterday!

There are some 360 cameras out there with some different footprints. I like two, but that is because they fit the way I use cameras. One style is what is called action cameras.  That would be unlike a traditional point and shoot, or a Digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) or a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera the action cameras biggest value is that you can easily mount it. I got a GoPro for Christmas three or four years ago. I mounted it on our tandem bike so we can record bike rides. Action cameras also tend to be video cameras, not stills. Another type of camera that is growing in the “life camera” these cameras attach to a shirt, blouse or something you carry and take still pictures all day long.

One of the big things you can do with this is assigned facial recognition characteristics to the software. It also allows you to nearly be as good as CarolDM at capturing pictures of birds and butterflies. After all the camera is always on and capturing images, all those cameras though are not important if you don’t need the functionality. Sometimes I post something about new tech and Lado reminds me that not everyone needs what I am talking about. That is a very important thing to remember. The value of these cameras is only if you need the functionality that is offered by the camera. So for the sake of classification, I will give you the types cameras out and available today, if they don’t do anything for you, feel free to move on!!

•Action-normally suggested, normally video and easily mounted to another device to capture action moments (skydiving, tandem biking, mountain biking, motorcycle riding/racing and so on)

•Point and Shoot – this is an all in one digital or film camera that you point at what you want to capture and click the shutter. The film version and digital version are very similar. The digital version normally also allows you to take video

•DSLR – or digital single-lens reflex cameras are the first cameras on this list that allow you to have a different lens (telephoto, macro, wide-angle) also DSLR’s often allow you to take still and video

•SLR is the film version of a DSLR lets you change lenses does not let you take video.

•The video camera focused on taking video, and a have VCR or Digital capabilities. The digital version can also take still pictures

•Life cameras – small and can be worn and take snapshots at a set interval during the day

•Specialty cameras, these include various features, 360, panorama and video/still images of both (also underwater, Infrared and other types of cameras in this category)!

•Cell phone camera does stills and video

Lots to choose from and lots to consider in the camera world.