I think my dog hates technology…

I was thinking, tongue in cheek or maybe not tongue in cheek about a problem I have. My dog, my pal, my buddy Dylan doesn’t like technology. He likes me, well I think he likes me, but he does not like technology. He doesn’t mind watching TV and relaxing before we go on a walk. But he hates my iPad, computer, and iPhone. He hates them a lot. At night, as things are settling down from the day, I like to sit and watch the evening news. Dylan will often come and sit with me, or sit in my lap. If, however, I am holding my iPhone one of two things happens. He will swat at the phone with his paw, or he will get up, glare at me and walk away.

Does anyone else have this problem? I know it is not an overall dog issue because I can pet Raven (our other Lab) and hold my phone and she doesn’t care. Dylan though expects my full attention and doesn’t like me holding my phone and petting him. I wonder if that is the next evolution in dogs. That dogs new behavior will be no longer accepting the presence of technology when their human is petting them, sort of a dog 2.0 if you will.

Televisions he doesn’t care. In the fall and winter, his favorite activity is lying by the fireplace and relaxing as I watch football or basketball game. By the way, this behavior of Dylan’s is not shared with the other humans in the house. Just me, but then I am his person, so there is a natural tendency for him to be more demanding of me. The other thing he often does is, when I am in my office working in the basement, he will come down and demonstrate his frustration by carrying things out of my office. I wonder who is training who?

Author’s Note: When I yell at the TV during games, Dylan will bite my feet, he doesn’t like yelling. I guess he is training me.


Trained by a dog

The rise of music my way

I have had and listened to XM and now SiriusXM radio for more than fifteen years. I was one of the early adopters back when there were two companies, Sirius and XM. I had a portable radio (now you just need a smartphone) and a home radio. The portable radio doubled as my car radio playing via FM onto my car stereo. I could also take that same portable radio with me when I traveled for work (which back in the day I did every week).

Now, all three cars I own have SiriusXM radios built in. I love having the ability to listen to the kind of music I want when I want to listen. Now you can also get traffic and weather information to your SiriusXM device. I have both weather and traffic on my car currently, and we also have SiriusXM’s weather service on the boat. The technology of satellite radios has improved including better integration and better reception overall.

The funny thing about the radios is, I have the same number today that I had two or three years ago, but I don’t have the same number of places that need a radio now. I no longer have a home radio; we use the streaming SiriusXM service for that. I don’t have a portable radio; you can use your smartphone for that. Funny how what once was four radios, is still our radios but now they are in different places.

My next goal for SiriusXM is to offer a  boaters subscription that allows you to shut that radio off in November and turn it back on at the end of March. We don’t, in the Bay area, boat when it is freaking freezing cold. The rest of the year we are boating through!


techno wanderer

Sort of kind of a new column. Cool Tech meandering…

Slowly but surely I am going through my electronics hoard (my not description of my office) and getting rid of items I no longer need or use. Other than records from the old days, most things I try to get rid of if I don’t use it for more than six months. I am not always as good at doing that as I would like, but I am trying. Sometimes, the avenues and paths I’ve missed on are the ones I end up donating to schools and Goodwill. That becomes the only option because, well I missed on the technology.

A few side technology notes:

  1. I played the new version of Madden (18) on the Xbox over the last few days. First, of all the graphics on the system and in the game are amazing. The quality of images and the overall smoothness of gameplay has improved over the last 4 or 5 years.
  2. Jabra Evolve 80 headset. I carry it in my computer bag, and honestly, I use it more often now than I have in the past. In part, it is a great tool for Skype for Business calls and meetings. It is also a great pair of headsets to use during training and other online non-interactive and interactive meetings.
  3. I continue to use Walabot frequently; I am finding it is a great tool for finding the many wires in the house. I also use it heavily when it comes to hanging things in the basement. I have hung a few things that require, well that they not fall or that the stud is hit directly. The Kapp Smartboard in the basement requires a solid, secure wall mounting, so the Walabot was an amazing addition to the arsenal.

There are some solutions I consider when removing devices from my collection. The 5/6 month rule is a starting point. I also find lately that I am looking at devices and trying to reduce the number of functional things I have with me at any time. I want to reduce the weight of items in my computer bag going forward. I want to reduce the clutter in my office space going forward. I continue to work on this! (all of the things I find that I don’t use end up on eBay if you are interested).


Family Historian

Of weather gadgets and wireless networks…

I spend a lot of time looking at, considering, evaluating and sharing information about weather. In part that is because as an avid boater, the weather has a huge impact. But 98% of the reasoning is that my father also loved weather gadgets. I inherited that love of weather gadgets from him. I have posted some time-lapse videos on my YouTube Channel. I suspect because I am a snot for the most part, that my title Yesterday’s Weather is not very nice. It is easier to project what Yesterday’s weather did than it ever could be to project the nearly infinite possibilities of today’s weather let alone tomorrow’s.

Consideration for weather stations is the connection. Recently I had to move my Bloomsky as it lost the connection to my wifi network. That in part is my issue. I intentionally acted created a wifi network for weather stations (I have the two Bloomsky and NetATMO). I didn’t go and purchase a high-end wireless router; I just got the cheap one. My rationale being I wasn’t going to secure the network and was only attaching weather devices to it.

(With the mentioned Fingbox product I can knock anything off that network that isn’t either of my weather devices). I segmented the network further than I had before. I had to move the Bloomsky closer because of my router choice. I did, however, and still don’t want to have an unsecured network broadcasting way away from my house. You can see my weather network from the front of the house, but you could connect if you stood by the back of the fence of connected. Now, how you deal with angry dogs at that point might preclude you staying there very long.

With networks it isn’t just what and how, it is why!



My vacuum is a robot (or Home Automation post 7)

There are some things I’ve talked about in my Home Automation series so far. I’ve talked about video surveillance and home security. I’ve talked about home door locks and lighting automation. All of these things are fast and relatively easy projects to begin. I also mentioned that having and maintaining your home network is critical. One of the recap things I am going to do today is to list out a number of the products I’ve considered and used in building our my project. Canary is the product I’ve used for Video Surveillance. Yale is the door locks (automatic) I use. I am a huge supporter and long time user of the SkyBell video doorbell system. Finally for network protection and monitoring the Fingbox product is amazing! Finally, I love the Hue lights and have played with them extensively!

The next concept in home automation is as I have mentioned many times making your life easier. In that vein, one of the solutions I’ve used and find impressive is the iRobot Roomba. This system is an automated vacuum cleaner. They have some products, the one we decided to go with integrates with Amazon Echo and wireless or WiFI networks. That allows you to have the application on your phone and vacuum when you are not home! Or tell Alexa to start vacuuming because surprise guests are at the front door!

Our dogs voted against getting the Roomba. It bothers them when they are trying to sleep on the Tile floor in the living room. Other than the Lab complaints the system has preformed extremely well in keeping the main level of our house cleaner. Well, at least the floor. I suspect the dust that collects on higher objects isn’t something that a ground based Robotic Vacuum will be able to clean. Perhaps a dusting drone is in our future? Launch the drone and it will gently dust all the items in your hosue. The Dust Drone© coming to a store near you!


home automation fan

Of drones, ROVs and tomorrow…

I suspect there are more home automation project posts coming, but for today I am wandering over to other considerations.  One of the things that I am always interested in finding and considering is the ever growing reality of Drones and ROVs. I am going to sneak in the third part of that category the growing area of configurable robotics. In particular, I am intrigued by the new robot kit from Littlebits. Littlebits is an IoT creation company that has found a niche with schools and hobbyists.

Their new Star Wars kit is really interesting and one that I am going to enjoy playing with!

Mixing water and flying is interesting for me. In part because of the number of ROVs that are appearing and shipping soon. In part because I am intrigued by the growing concept of modular drones. The first I’ve seen that embraces the modular drone concept is the Aguadrone. The product offers you the ability to see underwater, land your drone directly on the water and then turn around and attach a sonar blub on your drone. It means you can see underwater. You can see fish underwater, and you can swap the modules quickly.

Another interesting mix of the technologist is the new push-to-talk modules and attaching them to a drone. That should greatly increase the distance you can use the push-to-talk devices. Gotenna and Beartooth are the two products in the space that have shipped. I am going to attach one to my drone and see if, in fact, it increases the range. Currently, in the hills of western Maryland, I get roughly 8 miles. For hikes that are stranded, lost or injured, the ability to launch a selfie-drone with a Gotenna or Beartooth module that increases their range to 12-15 miles may be a life saver. Something I often think about!


I know, geek…

What if we designed systems to succeed?

There are some technologies that I wonder why they aren’t taking off. In part because I find them extremely valuable and something that I use nearly every day. Solar power is one that I find interesting. Solar power to me seems like it is lagging in the US. Part one is the reality of Home Owners Associations and the perception that a solar array reduces the value of a house. I am not sure why free or extremely reduced price power that you don’t have to worry about brownouts and other things like that would make your house worth less. I would think, at least I would personally, that every buyer would demand solar on the house.

The other funky reality that I wonder about lately is that of safety in cars. There are some safety ratings for cars today, 5-star crash ratings, etc. I would like to see the airbag safety listed as well. If the airbag deploys can you get out of the car? If the airbag deploys will you be in better shape than if it did deploy and so on? It is a very similar ask that I have for cloud service providers who run around with cost value equations and performance numbers that are only relevant to the person that put them together.

I wrote about a cloud calculator in my last book published nearly two years ago now. (It may be time to start on a new book). The cloud calculator was designed to help customers understand not only what they wanted to build and deploy but also to understand the impact of a specific cloud provider on the solution they were considering. Not all networks are created the same. Not all solutions operate the same way.

I liken the cloud calculator to building a motorcycle. The most important thing for a motorcycle is that it be balanced. If it isn’t balanced, you are more like to “put the bike” down. That isn’t a good thing. You could, however, take the motor and make the front tires much wider. What this would do is make the big more stable. It would also make it much harder to turn the bike right or left. I always tell customers to make sure you know what motorcycle you want first, then, what do you need that motorcycle to include. That is what the cloud calculator system does for you. Like I said you can find it in my current book, Operating beyond your borders.

Another way you can look at the analogy is the bridge in the cover picture. If you design a boat that is too tall or too wide, you limit the ability to the boat to move. Boats that can’t move have to be docked, but they also cannot move in the case of an emergency. If your goal is movement, that isn’t a good design.

Seamless is only a word if it applies to clothing. It never applies to migrations.


technology strategist