Wandering STEM, STEAM and my favorite CSTEAM

Are you looking for a seismograph for your kid’s school? Or perhaps home? https://shop.raspberryshake.org/ But if you use my code RSEND17 when you check out, you get another 10% off!!!!! The image shared with this post comes from my shake in my basement. We live in Maryland, near a fault (in Virginia) so it is important to watch and know. The reality of STEM education (I prefer CSTEAM to STEM but oh well) is the increase of technology, engineering, and science crucial in our schools. A seismograph is a great way for a teacher to introduce some concepts including geology (plates and movement), engineering (buildings that can survive earthquakes) and mathematics (figure out force!).

When I was teaching 2nd grade, we used Science as a tool for reading, as well as many other topics. The easy button is that kids love the experience of science. The rise of the STEM concept and now STEAM (adding Art to the process) is great. I believe adding a C (CSTEAM) introduces the concept of communication and collaboration. I won’t spend more time on the overall concepts of CSTEAM, Seismographs and so on.

From drones to 3d printers, STEM, STEAM, and CSTEAM are ways to help kids, and young adults understand the world they are going to enter as adults. It is almost drone season, time to get out my stick so I can knock selfie drones out of the sky (Kidding). There are some interesting drone products shipping this year, and I am interested in seeing what is going to be in the market by the early spring. Always fun to see the art of the possible wander our way!


CSTEAM dreamer

The drones are coming!

I spend a lot of time talking about the concept of, the release of and eventual use of Modular Drones. From the addition of the FLIR drone module to the addition of 360-degree cameras, the potential is beyond amazing. There are some industries that have already rushed to embrace the drone world. Oil and Gas pipelines use drones to patrol the pipeline from above. The unblinking eye of the drone sees leaks faster sometimes than a human would.

2018 will be the year these new styles of drones hit the ground running. You can today, replace the capabilities of many drones. It is not, however, a rapid plug and plays or screw and unscrews operation. It takes a little time. With the newer faster release modules you will be able to swap modules quickly. From sonar to 360 cameras on your drone in less than the time it takes to land the drone, and swap the battery.

Drones today, at least the smaller ones that are commercially available, have a battery reality. I say reality because they are bound to between 20 and 25 minutes of maximum fly time per battery. The modular drones will have the similar flight time limits. They will, however, be able to produce much more data.

  1. Sonar
  2. Underwater or waterproof camera images
  3. FLIR infrared imaging
  4. Metal detector

All of these will require modification to the drone, and to the devices. Personally, I know the FLIR device is shipping now. I would love to get a chance to test and play with it. From a flying over my neighbor’s roofs and letting them know how much that they are losing would be a value-add. The Sonar modules are coming soon. The others are more wishful thinking, 360 cameras are out, and the gimbals have been announced. The last one, metal detectors have been advertised but not as of yet shipped.

2018 the year of the modular drone!

Author’s Note: Yesterday December 18th, 2017 a drone was used to find a lost hunter in Virginia. Because of the hunters bright Orange hat, but also becuase they deployed a drone to search a lot more ground than humans can!


I don’t just make this stuff up!

Of AR/VR and excuse me what world am i in now?

The concept of AR/VR is increasing and becoming more and more relevant as we head into the latter half of the second decade of the 21st century. It is funny to me, as I read the pundits and analysts with widely varying estimates for the application of VR and the market size and application for VR/AR. One of my favorite writers posted an interesting article asking is this the year that VR/AR solutions grow past Pokémon Go?

There are some applications available and possible for the ever-growing world of VR/AR. In that ever-expanding potential lies some interesting market possibilities. I advocated the creation of security maps in AR/VR and of course there is the infamous reality of a VR library. IE you can walk over to the card catalog to find a book. All of this leading back to a product I have mentioned in the past. The product being the broad category technology Oculus Rift, and the interesting AR/VR interactive reality that is Microsoft Hololens.

Since My last AR/VR post, the new Windows headset shave begun to ship as well. I’ve been playing with the overall Windows experience and it isn’t as smooth as Oculus today, but it is a much smaller overall investment. Where this market shifts to is what the analysts and pundits are chasing. Like most technology markets, this is one that I believe will be consumer driven. As Pokémon Go exploded the reality of AR to the larger mass market, there is something coming. What will be tomorrow’s change and ultimately tomorrow’s technology in the AR/VR space? I think the reality of what Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Instant video can do in the AR/VR space for me is the next big step. The beauty of the projection is we shall soon know!



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

Cloud Computing is an answer, not the answer…

One of my favorite things in life is thinking about the art of the possible. I don’t always do that from the point of reference of what is now here. I do it, from the combination of what is coming and what is here to arrive at a view of the horizon.

Why? I learned that many years ago from my second IT boss. He was a former GE professional and came in to manage our helpdesk. He taught me to look, not at what I saw, but what could be there if I waited. I have never forgotten that. We are still, to this day friends because of that.

Plus he was an awesome boss. I won’t mention his name because that isn’t fair to him. But he was a great boss!

In looking over the technology window right now, I see some interesting trends. One of them is the reality of cloud computing. In particular the rise of Hybrid (and the drifting off of Cloud Brokers). The economic reality of cloud is saving the organization money. The technical reality of cloud is reducing the churn within the IT organization. If, and it is a big if, we take the long-term view of the cloud solution for our company we see that it pushes us in two directions. We can become a more agile and responsive IT organization at the same time also able to reduce the cost of solutions.

This tipping point though is one that most companies continue to seek and not find. Proactive IT is a logical move for cloud computing, cost savings is a logical outcome. Both, however, are elusive, because effectively we still have the same problems in the cloud that we have on premise. It is the new risk of cloud, the rise of expert cultures that drive towards the right answer.

Cloud is here. Proactive IT has value. Cost savings are good. But reality is, cloud is not the only thing you have to do. Cloud is not the only answer. It is an answer but not the answer.

To paraphrase Star Wars, “These are not the answers you are looking for…”



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!

Why innovators struggle and please stop yelling at them!

There are two ways of thinking about technology. These two go back to the very beginnings of what we now call IT. The reality of is the network up or is the network down. The adage electronics only fail when they are on, or build redundant systems to avoid failure points, remain the same now as they have been for many eons of IT systems.

The thing is, it isn’t always that way. Yes, we can build systems that designed from the ground up to consider and effectively create a path to success. But the reality all things fail, including manual systems that rely on users. What happens when Bob, isn’t around? This is where the reality of CSTEAM comes into play. STEM education and now STEAM gets us a framework for education. How do we deliver training to users that are not only targeted but also efficient!

We use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) and provide that via a connected environment that encourages information flow. I call this reality CSTEAM. It encompasses concepts shared in three of my books in the past years.

• The Syncverse

• The Innovators Dilemma

• Intergenerational Knowledge Transfer

The reality of information flow is value. One of the trends in the past five to ten years is the move of innovators away from big business. They have begun the transition to crowdfunding projects. But the risk for the project creator is the reality of the harsh world of crowdfunding. I have watched campaigns start, and the sue birds didn’t even let the campaign finish. I have seen massive social media campaigns started against campaigns. Plus, with a company (IBM) that is struggling to find its way in the digital world now diving directly into crowdfunding as an Indiegogo Partner, I think at best the ground is unsteady now.

If information is the critical piece, then how it moves within the system becomes the end game. Most people don’t know that you need to balance not only your total addressable market (TAM) but also the COGs (or cost of goods sold). We don’t always think about the fact that making something requires a manufacturing plant (or our garage)time, effort and shipping. It also requires advertising, contingency systems and if there is a software element, developers. So TAM and COGs become the worst enemy of getting a product shipped.

CESAll of this then baked around the other reality of innovation. You aren’t building all of the systems in the crowdfunding world for your eventual market. In fact, you are building a much smaller amount. Your cost per unit will be lower later. Your profit margin will be higher. The Boston Consulting Group and the experience curve have shown this to be true over and over. The more you build, the better you get at the building. But when you are small, struggling to get that project across the ever moving finish line, it is hard to step back and smile. You are the little guy, not the mythical David with a shot at bringing down Goliath; there are many other metaphors that fit better here. The best one is you are 4, and the cookie jar is a way to high to reach without an adult. When you are a small company, you are beholden to the manufacturer. They, control your destiny. You, sadly, have little if any impact on their destiny so as they tell you about delay after delay the best you can do is smile and nod.

That information about manufacturing and how it works is not available when you are outside the confines of a large R&D department. Well, it is available, but it is not written down and easy to get to if you aren’t in the safe confines. You have to know where it is.

The reality of innovation is you are taking a chance. A CSTEAM system for innovations would be something of value. I think I know exactly what it would look like!


Innovator, dreamer