Enter the dusting robot…

Alexander Graham Bell famously asked his assistant, Watson, for help after spilling something in the Laboratory. The reality of that ask was that Watson was in another room, and it was the first message sent via the technology that would later be known as the Telephone. Bell, whose wife was deaf, was trying to invent something to help his wife hear. Instead, he changed the world, although he didn’t know that at the time. Yesterday I got a spreadsheet via email after shutting down my work computer. I needed to review the sheet and make sure it had the changes I had made to the original incorporated but frankly looking at Excel on your phone screen isn’t easy. Then I remembered, there was a way to see it much larger.

I walked to the dining room and launched the Keecker application and shared my screen from my phone to the wall. Ok, I shared my phone screen to Keecker and Keecker shared it with the wall. I could see the screen now projected on the wall. Just that projection ability alone makes have a portable projector worthwhile! Come here Keecker; I need you! Now if only Keecker could also wield a duster. The iRobot Roomba does a great job of vacuuming the floors (again four dogs living in the house now, we end up with lots of hair on the floor, often). Every day around 1 pm, Roomba kicks off its daily vacuum routine and cleans the floor on the main level. Now if Roomba could dust as well as vacuum the main level that would be a winning combination.

Can you imagine the delicacy a dusting robot would have to have, plus the dexterity? The things we need to be dusted are higher in the air, on shelves. Or on the mantle over our woodstove. Or, anywhere in my office (it is dusty). I know if we hadn’t ripped the carpet out of the twins bedrooms, their rooms would still have a layer of dust on the shelves and furniture (other than computer desks and beds things they use every day). The dust in places in their rooms was five years deep. I know that because we replaced the last floors in our house nearly five years after buying the house (we have carpet in two rooms now, the master closet and my office all the rest of the floors are wood or tile).

A dusting robot would be really useful!

.doc

failure to dust…

finding new tech markets…

There are many things I have chased for many years. Technologies that I thought would be well, better than the ended up being. I spent some years chasing the projection laser keyboard. I finally found one that works well, but that quest took many more years than it should have taken. There are some other things that I have chased. 3d printers and 3d scanners are technologies I’ve chased until I found the answer to my issues. Sometimes when you chase new tech, you have to realize you are going to fail overall. Failure isn’t a bad thing. Everyone on earth fails at least once in their life, or in my case I often fail once a day. Failure is something we all have to consider and prepare for, period!

I seek technologies for two specific personals and some professional requirements. For me, it is comfort and time. Comfort, when it comes to technologies are technologies that help me feel better. Nice speakers connected to the music I love would be an example of comfort technologies. The other thing I seek from technology in my personal life is saving time. I understand that if it takes me a little time to learn a device, but over time I will save time that’s ok.  Time is one thing we never have enough of. Those are my primary personal drivers for the technologies I consider. I do at times also evaluate the impact of technology on the world around me, but that is less critical for me than the first two, Comfort and time.

Professionally, however, I have to consider a few other things, and the impact of technologies becomes more critical. I often argue the importance of markets when considering technologies professionally. That’s why I number of crowdfunding campaigns have reached out to me, helping them make a reality TAM (TAM is Total Addressable Market). The reality of markets is this, potential vs. real. If the market for technology is 1 dollar, you as a company will be able to control less than a dollar. Where that dollar has multiple slices what you are aiming for is initial control of more than 60% of the market. That sadly has nothing to do (in many cases) with your tech and more with your market plan). Controlling more than 60% can get you in trouble with the various global governments (monopoly) controlling less than 50% is ok as well, but then more critically what is the size of the overall market. The reality of technology for me is often the overall reality of the potential market the technology impacts.

,doc

technologist…

2018 the year of AR 1.0

The lack of noise today without a roofing crew on the roof of our house has pushed me to a more whimsical and philosophical mode today. I do from time to time wander down the path of whimsical.  In the world of technology, whimsy is not always as simple as it can be in the world of poetry and blogging. Between Donatella and her system view of technology and John Boyd’s OODA loops, we find little whimsy. Whimsy, after all, is a variable in an equation. Today, however, I do have a somewhat lighter, somewhat whimsical thought process. I read an interesting article proposing that 2018 was the year of Virtual Reality 2.0. Or VR 2. The reality of VR is the 1.0 products haven’t shipped yet. We are still well before the first major products. They weren’t, I would say at this point they were the year of VR.05. We have iterated VR to .2 now. VR 1 is coming.

(Dylan’s VR Dog Experience does not involve technology if anyone was interested)!

Virtual Reality will continue to improve. There are some solutions available now on the market, some VR concepts. I’ve played with several and find all of them lacking in one way or another. Technology that is hard for all to use becomes extremely niche. If to join in the fun you have to master the use of a joystick or a game controller, then well not all will succeed. I know that reduces my chance of succeeding.  VR and its cousin AR have that limit today. AR opens interesting doors that VR will follow through eventually. The interesting initial reality is the Hololens Technology from Microsoft. Where you can suddenly have a heads up display for a repair person that will allow the tech to see the system the way it should be. Using the HoloLens cameras to determine if, in fact, the problem is something already known by simply scanning and comparing. But also for the tech giving them a “this is now to do it” walk through using the AR tech as teaching, supporting and guiding toolset.

Sadly, and truly it is sad for me to say this, 2018 is not the year of AR 2 and VR 2. It is the year of 1.0. The initial promise of the features and functionality of the technology. The ending of the vaporware reality of what we have today providing us with the glimpse of beyond what is possible. AR technology is just beginning to add value in the world around us. You can buy a HUD or heads-up display built in, or added to your car. It augments the information you have, while making it easier to interact with your cell phone and yet keep your eyes on the road. Oculus and ANTVR have realized impressive VR headsets and VR environments for the computer. Microsoft has both Hololens and some VR headsets you can connect directly to Windows 10. All of these products (and again I’ve used several) give you a great starting point. They are the open door of the VR technology. They, like the AR headsets and HUD displays, are, however, only the 1.0 promise.

2018 is the year of VR 1. When it reaches the point where millions of people are using it, we can talk about 2.0.

.doc

tech wonderer

Of networks and security…

I spent many years learning the concepts of wireless networking. Not that wi-fi is difficult, nor is networking, rather there were some paths in the beginning, and I learned several of them. There was the concept of packet radio and the concept of what HAM radio operators use (also packet radio but over much longer distances). Its why I always tell my friends have more than one network and more than one wireless router. The 1 to 2 % overall lost bandwidth is much better than everything cramming into the single point of failure causing your network to lose 10-14% of its overall bandwidth every single day. Two Netflix connections in your home result in a much different network profile than one does.

Author’s Note: Today well actually yesterday a glitch in my network cost me a time-lapse weather video (it ended up being 2 seconds instead of the usual 18-20). It can bite anyone, at anytime!

The reality of networks is that they are not built to be set and forget. But I suspect there are many people that have purchased a wi-fi router and have used the default admin password of 12345678 or Password and have not changed it. At the very least make your password the date of the year and day you met your significant other. Less likely something that someone could easily know about you. Security is as much paying attention as anything. Set and forget is a horrible reality that people need to move past. The first thing I recommend is that every 45 or so days you change your router password and that you change the WPA or WEP key that your router uses unless you are using a 24 or longer character string password. Those are harder to remember and much harder to steal.

My father always said keep honest people honest.

When it comes to security in your home, life and beyond just take a few simple steps to keep yourself safe. Remember as I have said many times before there is no central windows computer. No one could sort through the billions of error messages put out by the computers of the world every day and find the five specifics to your computer. It isn’t possible, probable and it just won’t happen. Be safe, have fun and remember the best person to watch your back, is YOU! No one else knows what you do, what you love, and where you go other than you (and maybe your family). But not all of your family is with you all he time, so be careful out there.

.doc

technologist

Tomorrow is a wistful memory that may never become real…

I know lately, I hear a lot of fear when people talk about AI. As my twins on occasion say “I am nice to robots, you know, for after the uprising when they decide to keep some of the humans aro9und.” It makes me laugh when they say that. In part because I wouldn’t put it past them to think that way, in part because it is funny. AI, however, offers some interesting freedoms for humans in the future. AI would humans doing boring and repetitious jobs to do something else. People always then answer with the statement “AI will take human jobs.” I worry when people say that. It by means in part they don’t always understand. I spent three summers detasseling corn in Southern Indiana. Detassling corn is a manual job today. You pull the tassel off the top of the corn. This allows the tassels of the required corn to fertilize the other corn. It is how seed companies develop new breeds of corn. It is an awful job. Corn leaves are sharp, and like paper love to slice exposed skin. Corn in the summer so it was hot outside, but we had to have thick shirts and jeans on all day. By the end of the day we were so tired we just went home and went to bed.

There many jobs like that in the world today. We can replace some of them with AI systems going forward. A system capable of discerning between corn stalk, and tassel. That would mean that while there would be jobs lost, they aren’t always the jobs people want to be doing.

Picking apples, picking cotton, picking anything that is done by hand today, could in the future be done by an AI driven robotic system. That would release human beings to do jobs that require more interaction. AI present a great opportunity in the future.

.doc

the future isn’t scary, it just isn’t here yet

Cool Tech Wander the bag of tomorrow…

One of the conversations I often have both with myself and with others is the backpack versus rolling bag argument. I have both types of bags and have used both types over the years. There was a time when wearing a heavy backpack while traveling messed up my shoulder. But, there are and remain times when the reality of a rolling bag is at best annoying and at worst, virtually useless. Dragging a rolling bag through snow isn’t fun.  Now, with some of the newer things that bags offer that I find useful is a solar power array sewn into the bag and a power supply. There are a few things that I think future bags could add that would be of value.

  1. Integrated connector for cameras like the go-pro, so you can film as you hike. There are bags that have this now, but the critical thing is to get a single bag with all of them!
  2. Solar power capable of charging an extended life battery.
  3. Wire system so that you can connect to the battery but not have wires hanging out of your bag

Now there are other things that I think would be critical including rip stop nylon bags. I have seen backpacks for kids recently that are bulletproof, while interesting I suspect that is more than I need to consider walking around in the IT world. I would also think that having a wifi router built in would be useful. One that could connect to your cellular phone and the wall plug of a hotel room, conference room or other Ethernet connection and allow all your devices to connect.

The future of bags looks a lot like yesterday. We are closer now, but there are still so many things we need to add to bags to make them more effective overall!

Or, perhaps I need to carry less with me.

.doc

bagologist

A wander, to wander, wandering technology

In the past few years, I have spent a lot of time seeking the perfect VOIP setup. I do a lot of meetings in my job, many of which are online. I find that there are three things I need. The first is the ear noise canceling headsets. I need that because honestly, it is a more natural feel for me. It is a personal choice, I know for a long time I considered, evaluated and owned the one ear smaller earbuds. I always found myself either having to reach up to more often to adjust them or to push them into my ear more. I would love to hear what other people think is critical in headsets so feel free to comment!

For a long time, I also chased printers, but that phase is no longer as critical for me. We are down to three printers in the house; I suspect we won’t go below 3. Two are specialty printers (color laser and large format plotter).  It is an interesting change for me; I used to love having a good printer. Now I don’t care as much. I do have a Canon photo printer, but that is more to print the occasional picture.

The other things I often consider or evaluate are keyboards and Mice. I switched recently to a new keyboard and mouse (trackball actually) from Logitech. I will do a review in a couple of weeks. Keyboards is something that bloggers focus on. The better your keyboard, the easier it is to produce content! I find myself often considering the fragility of keyboards. In fairness to the companies that make them, I drop them on occasion. I need a keyboard that has a strong case. I am not a big fan of the newer mechanical keyboards, but I have tried a couple of them.

Time to roll!

.doc