The reality of upgrades…

I was, based on an email yesterday thinking back over technology and in particular, the concept of I have to upgrade. There are things that I have and use that I feel compelled to upgrade. There are technologies that faded from my compelled to upgrade list to the nice when I get a chance, and there are devices and gadgets that I never upgrade.

The first category is cell phones. I have replaced my phone every year since 1990. Starting in 1994 I was only carrying one device (PPC phone) before that I was carrying a PPC (Compaq) and a phone. The interesting sidebar with this particular set is the reality of what was part of the phone then and now. A couple of devices I’ve had for years are gone now because they are integrated into the phone. I don’t carry a GPS, Satellite Radio or a music player anymore. Just my phone!

Tablets, used to be I upgraded every single year, but now I don’t feel compelled to do so. I have newer versions of the tablets I use (Microsoft Book and the iPad Pro). I also have a Samsung Note and a Kindle, but for the most part the iPad and Surface Book are my two go two tablets. I haven’t upgraded either of them in more than a year, and I don’t see a compelling reason to do so, in the near term.

Now that brings me, to an interesting point. For example, there are some technologies that I love but don’t upgrade. I do software updates as required but I don’t upgrade the hardware. Amazon Echo is one; I have the first one I got three years ago, the second I bought for the basement and other than adding a new one, I haven’t upgraded the Echo in awhile. It is in a new category for me, buy and keep. I am probably going to buy the new Harmon Kardon Microsoft Cortana device this fall, not because of anything other than I like having voice command in the rooms of the house I am in frequently. It will also fit into that new category of buying it and that is it.

Compelled to replace, considering replacing and buy and install never upgrading are the categories I am talking about today. I may add these to my reviews in the future, as a category right before the actual rating. I haven’t decided yet; I will decide based on reader feedback!



Getting to done, doesn’t always mean digging down only…

One of the things that terrify me now is the great divide in IT. For many years I have argued that specialization isn’t the answer it is, in fact, the opposite. The wrong thing to do if your intent is to improve what is.

Today I see specialization taking over IT. Not that it is bad, but there is a negative reality to that change. As someone that used to run large migrations, you have to have breadth on your team. Having specialists is critical, but you need to have someone watching the specialists with a broader eye.

“quis custodiet ipsos custodes”

The guards, in this case, are sadly the specialists. The right way to do this is the way we have always done this. Since the dawn of time or at least since last year, or until the vendor I specialize in offers a new way of doing it, then we switch to that new way. One of my first IT bosses once told me that the deeper you go, the more you need someone behind you making sure you can get out. He would say “every well you dig has to have a way back out.” I didn’t understand him at first. I remember nervously laughing the first time he said it. But later as we talked about the concepts I began to understand.

If your goal is to drain the swamp, leaping into the middle and pulling the imaginary plug doesn’t solve the problem. In fact knowing, that a river fills the swamp, means you dam the river to empty the swamp. But if you are a specialist you may not look for the feeder water, instead of as I said, leaping into your well without a way out.

It is the sad reality that specialization brings to bear. Although blaming bears for the reality of experts isn’t fair to the bears. The path to the new IT lies with both specialization and generalists. It does the organization no good to be locked to ONE Cloud forever. The great rise of DevOps works in places that have standards and processes around documentation. They can build solutions (Dev) and deploy them (Ops) because both sides are known and understood. In a cloud world, DevOps is a great fit. You know exactly what both sides look like and how they will behave. What we run into is the reality of what was.

Do you remember those apps of September?

I spent a lot of time building out the processes I published in my book “Operating Beyond your Borders,” I’ve lived through the painful reality of complex migrations. I built a process over the past seven years that takes into account not only the reality of migration, but the reality of what happens after the migration.

Is there a way out of this well?


Well digger

My second Cool Tech Review, portable music!

My 2nd review in my new Tech Review series. For regular readers of my technology posts, I won’t be only doing tech reviews I just thought I would kick this off with a couple.

Today I want to talk about the evolution of portable music players and why I still have one. So first off, portable music players have evolved considerably.

AM/FM radios were the first. Then we had Cassette tape players and then the CD playing portable devices. Interesting in that because of their size the AM/FM radio units struggled to get a good signal. The Cassette tape units destroyed the tapes you were listening to, the CD units also over time damaged the CDs.

Up rose the portable music players with a hard drive. At first, the market was flooded with some products. They integrated the concept of portable music stored on the device, and some also offered connections to streaming sources.

These included:

  1. Zune (with FM HD Radio and stored music)
  2. Sirius XM (with Satellite radio and stored music)
  3. FM adapter for some other devices including the iPod
  4. Archos (storage music, AM/FM adapters and the ability to get live TV)

My journey was as follows.

  1. AM/FM Device used mostly for workouts and replaced about every 5 to 6 months.
  2. Next was the Creative Rio I had that in the car for a long time. 20 gigs of music storage was about 2/3’s of my Mp3 backup library then
  3. Zune (I had three different Zunes I miss them still)
  4. Sirius Portable radio (used for travel, you could use the portable connection and FM broadcast ability to have your radio in the rental car).
  5. iPod Classic
  6. Finally the last Device I’ve owned, the Pono Music Player.

I have gotten rid of all of my devices except the Pono. The last two devices I owned are the ones I will rate for this post.

IPod Classic                      8

Pono Music Player          8



Back to cool tech reviews, DJ Phantom 3

As promised here is the first of my technical reviews.

I am rating and reviewing the DJ Phantom 3 drone. I don’t have the 4, I thought about upgrading but the one I have is perfect for what I need right now.

Drone requirements (for me initially)

  1. Easy to fly
  2. Integration with a device so I can quickly grab the video images and share them
  3. GPS so it can follow me when I am wandering

Based on the first requirement I have tried about 5 different drones. The problem with most of them is that they fly well but the controls are hard. In part because, some of them use tablets and phones as the actual controller and I am not coordinated enough for that to be viable. There are several Drones on the market that can be managed with your phone. If you are not coordinated enough (like me) to understand the reality of a drone flying, you may struggle with these as I did.

Drone flying is a little different. You are flying a remote device. The remote device is moving in relation to the controls you have in your hands. The first rule of thumb is set to home with every slight. Once the drone turns on, and you are ready to fly set that location as home. That way if you get in trouble while flying you can always press home and the Drone will return.

The other thing I learned recently, check for Hawks in the air. Apparently, they do not like Drones flying in their space.

I modified my initial easy to fly, too easy to fly using the Yoke. A yoke is similar to the old Radio Controlled systems I used to use back in the day (flying RC planes) and is a familiar setup for me.

In the end, I choose the DJ Phantom 3 as mentioned above as the drone I would use.

My overall rating for the device is broken into three distinct ratings.

  1. My rating for the yoke controller for the Phantom series of Drones is a 8.
  2. My rating for the software included with the Phantom is a 8.
  3. My rating for the overall smoothness and fun of the flying experience is a 10.

My overall rating for the DJ Phantom 3 Drone series is an 8.5!


avid drone nut

Building the many things of the internet…

One of the cool technology areas that are exploding right now is the area of build your own or create your own Internet of Things Device. The number of creative solutions you can hand a child (or a big child like me) are growing. I thought I would share a few of my favorites.

1. Agic – literally draw electrical circuits with their products. They also have a printer, you can print electrical circuits on their specialized paper.

2. 3d printers – virtually any of them now. Most of them have good software that converts images, there are tons of sites on the internet that share the files and away you go!

3. Littlebits – I love their kits! They have school kits for helping your child’s school!

4. The brilliant folks from Raspberry Shake. Have a seismograph in your home. Think that is more scientific than you want to be, donate one to your school. Mention my code in the coupon code for a deal!  My code is Rsend17.

5. MODI – IoT building blocks!

6. Last, but not least none of the companies and products listed today are least! Meeper Bots, using their engine create robots with Lego. Kind of a really cool product!

For the most part, I have included links to Amazon stores set up by the various organizations. Meeper and Raspberry go directly to their sites. I have used, experimented and started over with all these products. Modi is the newest, Agic and 3d printers are the oldest things I’ve used on this list.

The many potential uses of these kits are astounding. Personally, I love putting together sensors and working towards creating a mesh system for both power delivery (using Agic) and communications (I haven’t figured that one out yet).

If you build it, they will chatter. That is my new Internet of Things tag line.


IoT magician!

VR, what is and isn’t today..

I have spent the past four months expanding my Virtual Reality systems. I suspect in some cases that don’t sound good. What I’ve done are installed two different VR headsets. Well, one headset that is designed to be a virtual window into the virtual reality on the computer and the second is a VR/AR headset that allows you to create an interactive computing environment around you.

During that time I have spent considerable time building out potential use cases for the technology. Different ways that the systems, headsets, and solutions could change or modify how the world perceives and operates the overall solutions.

There are two distinct types of AR/VR systems. The first is a wireless or wired headset that connects to a gaming console or a computer. The computer then or the game system presents the VR environment, and the headset is the presentation system for that. The other style is more self-contained. The headset includes the compute resource required for the creation of the Virtual environment.

Now all this said, the recent CES show ended with everyone talking about the virtual systems that were displayed. Within the computer or game console driven VR systems, there were two varieties shown the world, wired and wireless headsets. The second type of all on one device don’t have or require wires other than the reality of charging the device.

That got me thinking of all the use cases I have considered in the past year for VR. First, off the two types of devices have very different visual impacts. The game console or PC-driven VR goggles require space, and you can’t move around with the devices. The phone or tablet driven systems are smaller, but frankly, you don’t have the graphics power to deliver a solid VR experience. You end up with a lesser quality presentation. That will continue to evolve and improve.

Right now the two systems I am using the most are the Oculus Rift and the Sony PlayStation VR. I do have a couple of others, but for now, they are sitting in my closet. As AR (Last year’s Pokémon go) gameify the world around us, you will see more and more systems available. Welcome to the brave new world of VR!


VR fanatic

Good morning will the owner of the red drone please stop buzzing the podium…

The phone rings, we are trained from an early age to answer it.

“Hello” future you says. Dreading of course, that this, in fact, a sales call.

“Hi, this is your neighbor, just down the street from you.”

“How are you?” you ask, happy to not be winning a cruise or speaking to a pharmacy offering discount heartworm medication for the dog you don’t own.

“Well, we have a small problem.”

“Oh my,” you say, not knowing this neighbor well but concerned because they have an issue.

“You see we have a tree in our backyard that is 151 feet high.”

“Ok,” it is quite conceivable that the utter lack of understanding comes through in the way you say OK.

“Your drone can only fly 148 feet when fully loaded. It has to jettison some of its cargo to make it over that tree.”

Suddenly you are flooded with guilt. You have called the grocery store nine times now to complain that they haven’t delivered your milk. Well that your drone hasn’t had the milk when it landed in the back yard. “oh,” you respond the request for the nine phone calls and the realization that your done doesn’t land to jettison its load.

“The tree is on the other side of my yard, and frankly your drone has dumped the milk on my kids nine times now. It has made our swing set into a sticky smelling rotting milk mess.” The voice not pleased continues “Can you do something about that?”

You are glad for a moment that phones have mute buttons as you laugh, the image of small children running around in a rain of milk is, well funny. “Of course, I will make sure that they send the groceries in two drone runs instead of one. Please apologize to your wife and children for the inconvenience of milk falling from the sky.”

“They understand, they would just like to play outside without getting wet.”

“My deepest apologies again.”

“It’s ok, the neighborhood on the other side of you that makes cookies is the real problem. They order the big things of molasses. The drone has to dump half the load of molasses on its way over the tree, so the milk washes some of the molasses off.”

Thank you mute button you imagine stick molasses falling from the sky coating his children.

“Again I am so sorry. We will fix this!”

“Thanks” The click of a line going dead.

A conversation that is both interesting, comical and well probably never going to happen. It is probably, however, the script for a future movie. Can I get Brad Pitt to star as me?

Last month I talked about the need for drone governance. We have many beginning rules for drones in many states. We need more. The ever growing reality of drone delivery means there needs to be at least some measure of control. Otherwise, we are all going to be sitting on our front porches waiting for our drone delivered dinner, while our neighbors are avoiding the drone launched burritos falling around their yard.


Drone fan, milk avoider