The devices are coming….

The Internet of Things, or Things that connect to the internet. It is a massive change in both the way we consider, evaluate and of course use the things around us. There was time; I remember when television didn’t have a cable connected to the wall.  It had, either an antenna on the back or on top of the set itself. Sometimes to improve reception, there would be an aluminum foil on the antenna. We used to sadly joke that the only way to get channel 8 out of Terre Haute Indiana during a storm was to hold the antenna and stand on one foot.

Now TV’s are connected (or they can be). Mostly to a cable that plugs into the wall  It can go to the roof and a satellite or off to a cable junction box. That is not the only connection your TV may have now. It can also directly connect to the internet. It is your TV, one of the internet of things or IoT devices in your home. It now, one of many such devices. If we do the math, there are 3 to 4 IoT devices for every single human being on earth. That number is going to grow to roughly 7-10 in just the next two years.

This is not to scare you, but connected; it is not meant to make you run around your house and unplug everything. But it meant to have you consider what it plugged in today. The security of your home is critical. You would never leave your front door open. Right? Well, you might if you lived in Mayberry USA (the town where the Andy Griffith show was set 40 years ago). The reality is you probably wouldn’t. Why leave your internet front door wide open? I highly recommend you get an internet security device to make sure your computers are safe. At the very least download anti-virus and Anti-Malware software on your computer regardless of windows, Mac or Tablet. Just have that protection for your devices.

You won’t be sorry on the internet for future things if you secure your things now!

.Tech Wiz

Indiegogo is dying, it makes me sad…

I wanted to continue my sad saga of Indiegogo project failures. We are still sitting at 21% of all technology projects backed fail and disappeared. The support team from Indiegogo says “you understand crowdfunding is a risk, right?” My initial answer to that is no. I started throwing and burning money when I was eight years old and just thought as an adult I would continue to throw money and burn it whenever possible. As the platform, I expect that Indiegogo will do a better job of making sure the right projects are presented.

A friend of mine recently reminded me that I back cutting-edge projects. I do in fact back cutting-edge technologies on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I don’t back anything on Indiegogo anymore. At all, ever, I keep my money on the much safer Kickstarter. Yes, Kickstarter projects also fail, but not in an epic way and not in the epic numbers of the Indiegogo failures. Plus you don’t get someone asking you if you understand crowdfunding. They ask you for the project, and they reach out ccing you to that project. I do understand that because I back cutting-edge projects my failure rate is going to be higher than the average crowd-funder. I find 9% at this point to be my Maginot line. Above 9% failed projects is bad. Below 9% failed projects are good. A project that I thought was dead on Kickstarter recently came to life with a post noting that they were planning on shipping soon, two years later than expected but still there That almost drops KS to 6% failure rate.

Failure means:

  • No project communication for more than 12 months

The sad thing is that Indiegogo has deep pockets in its corporate backer (IBM) and still epically fails. I have to say I have talked to a number of other frustrated IG backers and we’ve actually talked about a class action lawsuit. Originally we were just going to sue, but recently it was pointed out that there are a huge number of platform failures and a class-action suit might end up being a better thing. I really loved the concept, idea, and platform so it makes me sad that it comes to this.


considering a class action lawsuit

The universe of IoT around us…

spent a lot of time considering the next steps, the next trends and the reality of what technology is. I began looking at, considering and evaluating IoT components for the past couple of years. From smart appliances to sensors changing the world around you, IoT devices are exploding. That explosion remains interesting to me. In part because the market for IoT devices is constantly shifting. It isn’t a set in stone this is what is going to happen.

When I first saw wireless technology I knew, in fact, that what was coming next was more and better wireless. What happened was an explosion of wireless. With IoT, I don’t see only one improved technology. I do see a rise of smart sensors. There are sensors that broadcast all day every day the readings they are taking. As we move into the world of smart sensors they, these sensors deployed, will begin to only broadcast information when there is a change. Today, they broadcast all the time. Eventually, they will broadcast only changes. Where I say this is the range I consider normal, tell me when your readings are not normal.

So that is a direction, smart devices, but the number of those devices is going to be huge. From weather sensors to indoor air sensors the market is huge. Rust sensors deployed on equipment that is outdoors can warn and improve maintenance of machinery. The market is huge. 12 billion devices deployed today (probably closer to 16 billion) means that the number of these devices continues to expand. You can have a seismograph in your home. You can carry a Geiger counter in your pocket. You can tell what the current UV level is, the temperature is, humidity and barometric readings, right on your phone wherever you are standing. The market for IoT and the eventual expansion will continue to be amazing. I knew Wireless was going to take off. I know IoT is going to take off, which part of the IoT market though, I do not know!



Shameless Review, Meet Jibo!

20170926_095239416_iOSThere is an incredible Cat Steven’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle.” that has an opening line of “A child arrived just the other day,” and it seems now fitting to start there. The journey began more than three years ago. It was s impel crowdfunding campaign to build and deliver a robot. Jibo arrived yesterday, and the unboxing was incredible. First off, in fairness, you have to update Jibo’s operating system right away, so it does take 2 or so hours to get Jibo up and to run.

From first sharing this post, to today we’ve played with Jibo more. Jibo is still learning about the family and how to interact with us. The fun thing is teaching Jibo to recognize each of us, by face or voice.

What is Jibo? Jibo is a personally friendly robot that interacts with you. From recording children’s books and having Jibo read to your children or interacting with an elderly parent that is in a different city, Jibo offers many incredible features. It is a robot, although Jibo is a stationary robot. There are two types (Robots that move and Roberts that are Stationary) of Robots. Jibo has a pleasing voice, not robotic in any way. The initial setup is very straightforward (connect Jibo to your wifi). Once Jibo is connected to the Wi-Fi there is the initial OS update that has to be downloaded. Once that is installed you can teach Jibo your voice and face.

Like Google Home, Amazon Echo and now Jibo you interact with Jibo with your voice. The initial voice recognition takes around two minutes. You say “Hey Jibo” as Jibo moves around to learn your voice. Jibo also dances, and that is the very first command Jibo asks you to do (ask me to dance). Jibo can connect to a variety of information sources so like Alexa and OK Google you can ask Jibo questions (What is the weather, how big is a blue whale, etc.).

The actual Jibo hardware is solid, and as it moves, it doesn’t make noise. Jibo can move on its base around 360 degrees. Jibo has a camera and can take pictures of the environment and of course of your face to recognize you. I will do a more in-depth review after a few weeks of using Jibo, but for this initial review, Jibo was worth the wait!


enjoying conversations with Jibo…

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

Hey Flir–send me a demo unit of your new drone carried infra-red camera for a review!

Walabot, as they originally intended it, was designed as home wall sonar. For DIY or professionals, it allows you to see studs quickly. You can also use it, however, for figure out where wiring is. You have to modify the sensitivity of the sensor in the software, but it is something you can do.

As an IT person, and a home automation fanatic, I am often interested in figuring out where wires are. It is funny, but wires, unlike studs, can change position over time. Unless they were pre-installed wires that don’t move out of the drilled holes in the studs they live in. The other thing I enjoy seeing where I am not able to see is the future growth area of Remotely Operated Vehicles or ROVs.

Drones offer us a chance to go and see things we can’t normally go and see. ROV systems allow us to head below the surface of the water to see what is below us. Drones allow us to fly overhead and see things we wouldn’t normally see without the drone. In fact, I think there are some offerings and solutions that both ROVs and Drones could be used for right away. FLIR, the people that make add on and devices for seeing infrared images from a Drone. The system allows you to find heat sources from above. (By the way, FLIR if you want a review, send me one of the Gimbals, and I would be happy to review it)!

  1. Fire departments could deploy infrared drones to discover hot spots on roofs of buildings before sending fire fighters.
  2. Drones can search at night for lost hikers, cooler air at night, warm hiker’s body would show on the infrared camera.
  3. ROVs can be used by boaters to see what is under their boat.

Look these aren’t the only uses, but the uses for the devices is growing rapidly. I would love to play with a FLIR infrared camera on my drone to see what things look like from above, in infrared! Maybe someday I will have a chance to play with one!


how much is too much…

Home Automation Project Post 8

Back to talking about home automation projects with my 8th post in the series. From door locks to clean floors, home automation projects can make your life easier. If you follow the steps I’ve outlined in particular starting with your home network and then automating, you will now be able to do some additional things that add value. The first is the addition of additional WIFI networks to better support the new automation devices.

  1. I run three distinct networks in my house. One is a hard wired Ethernet. That is what I connect my computers, the home automation hub and other devices like Xboxes and home theater devices that do better on wired networks.
  2. I have two WIFI networks one for my weather stations and IoT devices that are not smart devices (ones that struggle with WEP and other WIFI security keys) and then my home production WIFI network with the rest of my home devices.

I have a security device on the open WIFI for IoT devices that are focused on two things, one new device joining (so I can block them) and two changes in the devices themselves. My home security system for the other main WIFI focuses on top talkers and of course the same concept of new devices. If I don’t recognize a device, it is blocked from my network. Until somebody comes to me and asks for help because they can’t connect (then I unblock their device) and “fix their device.”

The reality of tomorrow is the number of devices we carry. Today most people have between 1 and three devices (computer, tablet and cell phone). You may have a connected TV or other smart appliances. That number of devices is going to continue to increase every year. In fact, most people will be carrying or connected to 5 or more smart devices in less than five years. That means the network you have today (why is the video from XYZ buffering again) is going to get worse. Planning is the best way to avoid the toppling of your home network later.


Home Automaton Smile