Wandering IoT security and other disconnected topics…

Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Rick and Karl (the dog)I am going to make a small change in my professional blog starting today. From time to time, or several times a week I am going to share the pictures of my father and my grandfather. Some of the pictures will be from more than 40 years ago, they have never been seen by another other than the photographer twice (once when taken, once when developed) or have only been shared with family members. It is a small change but one I am going to try to do for a while. I have more than 40,000 slides scanned now and need to share some of them.

Today’s images are of the Wisconsin River, near Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin.

Yesterday I realized just how rusty my UNIX command skills are. Trying to install on a device running embedded Linux and I am really rusty. A little research is in order to figure out what command I am running incorrectly. Sadly, the skills we don’t use are the ones that fall away.

The concept of connected projectors is one that interests me right now, first off because I got the new XGIMI H1 device and secondly because I am trying to reduce the wires in my home media room. Today I have a wire running across the floor from time to time to use the PC running Oculus Rift. In part because of the reality of cabling, in part because the video card doesn’t have two HDMI out puts. That is a device that would be a huge market boost for VR/AR systems an HDMI in with two active outs. Today there are a lot of HDMI switches (one in, switch one out).

Sep18_16I’ve been playing with a product called Prijector. Interesting solution, it connects to your projector and to your network allowing you to connect. The XGIMI H1 has android/iOS integration already, so I am using the Prijector for my computer. First off it is a great solution for the problem of creating a network connected projector. The software is easy to install.

I do like the native iOS software that came with the H1 better overall (it is easier to use) but you don’t have the flexibility Prijector gives you with a PC connected. Again, the goal of a network connected projector is to reduce the number of wires. Currently with the computer and Oculus Rift installed (plus other devices) there are a large number of cables in the media room.

Yesterday the Federal Trade Commission opened up its 25,000 dollar grand prize for anyone submitting a solution to the reality of IoT and home security. The link takes you to the description of how to enter the program.

Personally, I am an advocate for creating modular home security components for IoT devices across he boards, industrial, commercial and home. A modular security system would allow the owner to remove the existing security module and replace that module with another one. The overall cost of deploying IoT devices would be lessened with this model. Additionally, given the nature of IoT devices the security module could be reprogrammed to move it from existing software levels to a new software level quickly. The reality of security is more making the attacker have to guess multiple times, rather than one time and in.

Sep20_26Of course, rewriteable IoT device security modules do present a problem, the hacker can also rewrite the security module. That is why the removable part is also important. I can take my video surveillance device and remove the existing security chip to place a new one into the device. This allows companies to quickie upgrade to newer security, the same for home owners. Without massive replacement projects (just someone walking around lifting existing security chips off IoT devices and replacing). You could even create specific location rules for security changes of IoT devices, forcing a local presence rather than a remote presence thus reducing the remote change risk.

Overall, it is a really cool contest from the FTC. Nice to see the US Government start thinking about the security of the art of the possible!



All pictures copyright Henry O Andersen.

Wandering the edges of cool tech and presentations…

I at times play beyond the bleeding edge of new technology. Based on that I am going to be more up front about cool Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects. I am willing to risk money on something that may never come to be. Based on that if you are not willing to risk money, do not back the more extreme projects I back.

The ones that interest me right now have to do with supporting my wife in her job. She at times works with patients from a number of nationalities and language barriers can be huge, when your job is helping someone prepare for the death of a family member. The translation systems that plug into your ear and allow you to hear and speak another language are interesting to me. It is an extension of the cellular device and using translation as a service. There are companies such as Language Line and other’s that provide this as a physical service, but the cost of those services is pretty high, and at times the speed is a limiting factor. Plus, you are speaking into a phone, getting a translation and there is by default always a slight delay.

Another area of technology that has peaked my interest for years is that of Robotics. The upcoming Aibo, Jibo and Keecker products are interesting. All three have extended development projects that led to their existence. Each is looking at the problem from a slightly different angle so it is interesting to see where they end up. Keecker is more a personal entertainment device, or as they call it a home pod. A device designed to make your entertainment experience that much better. Jibo is a static robot, in that it doesn’t move, but offers a number of potential interactions for the elderly and for children. When I was traveling years ago, I recorded myself singing the song I wrote for my kid’s bedtime. That way they would always hear me signing the Moon song before they went to bed. Finally, Aibo is another interesting project that is more aligned with the traditional robot. Both Keecker and Aibo are not fixed in one place and can move.

I did an IoT/drones/robotics talk for high school students a couple of years ago, in that talk I had a number of IoT devices that I shared with the kids, plus a look at the art of the possible. The art of the possible changes virtually every single day so that talk was always a blast. The last one I gave I had a line of kids waiting to talk to me well after school ended. The teachers had to come in and tell the kids they had to get on the buses, but that I would come back. So, I did go back and sat in the lunch room talking to some of the brightest people I’ve ever met. The best part of the talk was the very first time I gave it, when I launched the drone and played back the video of the drone watching the audience. Some principals were not comfortable with a drone flying in their auditorium so I only did that a couple of times. But the concept was cool and I showed the video of that to the kids that didn’t get to see the live drone.

Keecker will change that presentation I am sure. Having a portable projector that comes when you call it (via your cell phone for the connection and communication) will be pretty cool. Since it is also a device living in that connected Internet device space it will also fit in nicely.

Perhaps in a new presentation I can call Jibo from Keecker and have a conversation with someone sitting in my house. The only thing that worries me in the end is all the bandwidth. I am 1 step away from the maximum bandwidth Verizon offers via FIOS. (No cable modems are not as fast as fiber. I know they advertise that they have the fastest in home wi-fi but really? You are interested in things that live in your house only? You don’t connect to Netflix, Amazon instant video or Hulu? Because while the fastest in-home wi-fi is great for the family history pictures on your network, it does nothing for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon instant video).

Plus, I can also demonstrate the Hololens.

See, already rewriting my IoT presentation to share more things that are here, the art of the possible a lot more today than it was just a year ago,



The Rise of Cloud Brokers….

cloud brokerI had a discussion yesterday with someone that I wonder about. It was one of those discussions that afterwards you wonder, what exactly started the conversation. We ended up talking about the concept of cloud brokers. Yes, I know that is not a topic of conversation that most, if in fact any people bring up or have. Even at the geekiest holiday parties. The conversation was around technology and what is coming, I postulated as I have been for the past several years that brokers will rise. In fact, for the most part they have, but the overall concept left now is the automation.

The person in question does not see the value in brokers. I understand that, although I don’t understand the market logic of denying brokers. I think there are many organizations that will benefit from broker technologies. In fact, I think personally that my concept of the City Broker remains a variable way to solve the initial implementation problem. I also see value in a US Federal Cabinet level agency have its own broker to build and deploy solutions.

Most people today look to the market as it has been for the past 10 years. It is evolving and as is often the case those who spend to long standing at the edge of the cliff looking at the sunset are the ones that get left there when the tour bus packs up and drives away. For a variety of reasons brokers are coming. The what and who of that eventual automation is the question.

EvolutionI believe it is critical that cloud brokers be of two distinct natures. The first is the inward facing broker, not that it only has internal services. Rather than for large companies or US cabinet level agencies the broker is run within the organization, both owned and managed by that group. The second broker is a broader municipal or regional government broker service. The goal of the second is to create a safer stronger overall computing environment.

The reality of hackers is that they will find weakness in systems. Therefore, the stronger the walls of the system the better everyone will be. The security framework that a municipal broker can offer is pretty big. It won’t solve the problem, but it will start the process of moving a little further and a little faster towards a better place.

For large corporations or cabinet level US Federal, or for large government sponsored agencies throughout the world having a broker internally gives them a couple of layers of control. They can enforce strict you cannot build in the cloud without approval rules. They can also manage the cost and the reality of systems. Look, I’ve moved applications to the cloud at the request of customers many times. I’ve told the customer at the time that the applications didn’t need three, four or more VM’s but I was over ruled. With a metering system in place such as what a broker can offer, you gain the ability to know which systems are over preforming (need to increase the number of VM’s) and which ones are under performing (reduce cost by releasing machines).

DevOpsEffetely and in reality, brokers are inevitable. I believe given the concepts laid out in this paper the broader reality of cloud brokers will become real in a short-term view. By short term I figure 24 months for the rise of the internal agency and large corporation brokers. That is just a good financial decision for the two to make. The city broker is one that will take longer, but is one that will benefit many more people throughout the world.

The last component of the overall concept of brokers is the reality of the coming tide, IoT. The value proposition of the IoT explosion is amazing information. The really bad thing is security and data management. Not traditional data storage, but live feed massive data what do we do with it? That data management layer begs for an IoT broker, given the reality of how devices connect it also calls for an integrated gateway layer that sits in the cloud (there are three available right now, Azure’s IoT device gateway, the IBM BlueMix and the Amazon IoT gateway).

I walked away from the conversation realizing that the distance between where someone is, and the future isn’t how far can they see. It is ultimately being they willing to actually look.


Broker lover, cloud dreamer

Information age not here yet. Information for that age, h3ere now but well…

One of the things that always interests me is the concept of measurement. There are a number of types of measuring devices including Geiger counters, wind meters and infra-red cameras. Each measures a specific thing. Each thing, impacts you in a different way so knowing what is, is important. As a boater, I am also interested in Radar because it tells me how close things are to my boat. I am also interested in the downward looking sonar that tells me how much water I have under me. With a boat, you don’t want to venture into water that is well too shallow for the boat you are in.

All of these things provide both visual and auditory feedback, they are the seniors that make up part of what we now call the Internet of Things. Some of them are not connected today and therefore are not IoT devices. But the number of connected devices in the various spaces around us are increasing every single day.

It is something I have changed since getting my first pocket pc phone, now more than 15 years ago, what additional measurements can I take, have or make available via the devices connected to my phone. I realize that the path I was on originally (sleeves for my pocket pc) was not the right path. Stopping what you are doing to add a different sensor or sleeve isn’t optimal. In fact, the evolution of what is in the phone has been incredible. Accelerometers make great seismographs. Well not great but they can tell you if that is you shaking or the ground under you shaking.

One of the problems with more functionality on devices is the reality of usage. If the device becomes too complex to use, people won’t use it. That is why the world of bite-sized software has exploded. Software that uses one feature or function of your phone, really well. An easy to understand and consume interface that results in your quickly catching on to how and what to do.

The other side of bite sized software for me, is the concept of integrated messaging. Where the data from a variety of device sensors is presented to me, as the consumer, in a single unified screen. There are a number of systems that have this capability today. Android and iOS offer this natively. The problem I have is my social feed overwhelms the traditional sensor data screen so I have a secondary application I can launch that forces the social feed to the device pop-up window.

All of this to collect data. All of this creating the concept of Micro Data systems. Micro being the new IoT Buzz word, from Micro Grids (localized power grid) to Micro Weather (localized weather information). All of the data we have moving to the Micro delivery model. Start small, build and share information, eventually the data will show not only the reality of weather (Micro Weather stations show the fluctuation within a small to large geographic area). But also, the direct impact (what the Micro Grids generating power during the day and consuming power during the night with little to no generation).

It can be like drinking from a fire hose. What seems like a funny idea. But a firehose pushes out water at more than 60 psi. That is way more than your facet and way more than you can drink. So, the inundation that occurs when trying to drink from a firehose leaves more water outside of you than the small amount you are able to consume.

The flood (inundation) is a scary reality of both the devices we carry and the future state of IoT. The evolution of humans to absorb that type of information quickly is occurring but it takes 3 to 4 generations (or roughly 50 years) for that to occur. For now, we have those who struggle to stay with the pack and those who are left behind.

You see that flood is only going to increase. Today you can measure a lot of the world around you. Spike, a measurement tool by Ike is a great tool that lets you take your cellular device and measure distance in fairly large areas. Dario allows you to measure your blood sugar using your cellular device. Withings has a series of exercise and measurement tools you can connect to your cellular device (I love their blood pressure cuff). The world of data connected to your device is increasing. Now to a degree using connected versions of devices can help you cut down the noise (you only care when the readings are outside the range you set) but it does increase the amount of data you consume.

The future of information is coming. The information age is near. Not here yet though, so please post on every single analysts post that says the information age is here, NOT HERE YET.


Anti Informationageistic blogger

Some of the why behind my reviews and my love of technology…

IMG_0158I got an interesting comment yesterday to my Bloomsky weather station review. The first question was easily dispatched and I sent the person an email with my explanation. The easy answer why a home weather station is as follows.

1. The NWS tends to place sensors in large metropolitan areas. It is always 4 or more degrees hotter in DC than it is in Germantown Maryland.

2. The NWS sensor in Germantown is actually in the middle of a fairly large area of buildings, and is on average 2-5 degrees warmer than the more suburban area I live in.

3. Because of the first two knowing the temperature actually outside my house, important!

The second question asked is a little harder. Why am I such a gadget person? Well not just gadgets but what got me started in the world of technology. I began my career as a school teacher many years ago. At the time I entered education two things were happening. I had grown up in the house of one of the most unique educators in the country. I also grew up in the age of the birth of personal computers. Those two things combined to give me a view both on my future profession, education as well as life in general. Test it using the scientific models I was raised with. Explore it using the reality of what is possible with technology.

IMG_0363But beyond my father there were other people who influenced me. There were two other huge impacts on my life that led me to both portability and technology. The first was my love (also sparked by my father) of NASA. He and I watched the moon walk live. Staying up until 2 am to see Neil Armstrong first step foot on the dusty surface of the moon. NASA enthralled me, drove me and interested me. There is little in my current job you can point to, that doesn’t come from NASA’s direction in the 1960’s and 1970’s. From computing power, computing size, graphics and storage much of that was driven by the quest to land a person on the moon and return them safely.

Another influence in my personal gadget quest was living overseas. As a young man in the US I had access to television (yes there were 5 stations we didn’t have cable in the house until 1971). But I could watch different stations and different shows. When we lived in Thailand there was no television in our apartment. I loved to read anyway. But now reading was everything. I was introduced to the ever-growing world of fantasy, via The Lord of the Rings. But I was also introduced to the works of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and others. Those two come to mind because my love of technology was further expanded in reading their works. Arthur C Clarke was someone I read everything he wrote and the gadgets and items he talked about in his fiction were things I thought would be incredible to have.

You see who I was to be, was shaped by who I was. Growing up exposed to the scientific model developed by my father (the Inquiry Method), exposure to NASA and the amazing feats of space travel the organizations has and continues to perform. Plus, the open door created by Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke. A door that led me beyond what was possible to the dream of the possible.

IMG_0386All of that making me extremely interested in new Technology and the impact of that on the world around me. That my view of the world is less colored by people than technology. I believe that technology has made our world a better place. I believe technology will continue to show us a path that continues to help us grow as human beings. Technology doesn’t care what you believe, what you are wearing, who you talk to or for that matter where you live. Technology is truly agnostic. Holding no belief better. Holding no place better. Holding no one person better than another. All of them are equal in the eyes of technology.

As a person, I believe that as well. I believe in the equality of all via technology. I believe not in the dysphoria of tomorrow. I believe in a brighter future where technology shows us how we can all “just get along” to quote Rodney King. To quote the other King, the Doctor, I have dream. That someday people will be connected. That someday we will cherish the contents of children’s minds and make education the priority globally. A world where all doors are open and all people taught how to pass through the doors equally!



I predict the future and I am right less often than the weather person is…

There are times when I chase down technological rabbit holes. For example, many years ago I found a Bluetooth headset that allowed you to record calls, not on your phone, but on the headset. At the time, it was really cool, now it is kind of passé. I do, from time to time miss badly on trends. In fact, I suspect my success rate is roughly 30%. Good for baseball, bad for predicting trends.

Frankly I would chase the rabbit down some of the holes again. Not because I am stubborn (ok that in part) but more because while it isn’t realized today, the vision of the technology is coming. It is future tech and will have a huge impact later. Then there is tech that I love, because I use it all the time. But over time my thinking around that tech changes. 3d printing is an example. I believed two/three years ago that everyone would have a 3d printer in their homes by 2020. I don’t think that anymore. Mostly because you can order 3d prints from someone else and let them spend the hour or more adjusting the printer (although, I haven’t had that problem with the Dreamer from Flashforge see my shameless review). I suspect that many people will be 3d printing fans. But I suspect the reality is there will be many different types of printers in people’s homes. Fewer than I would have guessed a couple of years ago. I cannot wait for the first company that opens a chocolate printing store. 3d chocolate prints as a part of a greeting card store.

Like I said, I’ve missed on a few over the years. Mobi-Net was one I missed on badly. The precursor to Wi-Fi. Back in the wired computing days, Mobi-Net was the portable network you could use at work, in the park, in your car and virtually anywhere. It sadly died. As it a couple of other wireless networking products I thought would hit it big. Wi-Fi was easier, cheaper and more effective than the others were, so in the end it became the future.

The museum devoted to swings and misses in Technology would be a very large building. Computer companies that came, and went. There was a time when Apple allowed companies to clone the Macintosh but that passed quickly. The 5.25 inch floppy begat the 3.5-inch floppy which created the market space for Zip drives and Bernoulli drives. Have you seen anyone using either of those devices in the past few years? I do still have a USB 3.5-inch floppy drive, and I have a zip drive but I haven’t connected them in more than two years.

Today’s post is more of a cautionary tale. While I am certainly one of the people that future proofs the future by guess what is big next, I am not the only one. There are many people whose livelihood is guessing what will be big tomorrow, in technology. They have similar success rates as I do. So, while they predict something, it doesn’t mean that is the absolute path. It just means they have looked at the market, at the technology and have decided this is possible.

So, when you read about tomorrow, understand it is a picture of what is possible. It is not a declaration of the future, carried back to now by a time traveling technologist. Who only travels back in time to make the world a better place. Oh, yeah and to sit in a coffee shop with Albert Einstein and ask him how he was able to see things no one ever had before. Or to have coffee with Marx. Groucho, not Karl for that lunch by the way.

Like any profession where it is in part gut feel or educated guess (sports are another like that) you have points of failure. Those points of failure denote the lines you draw. They are the edges of what you clearly see. So, when a technologist guesses wrong, there is no intent, no discerption. It is simply that they were, from the vantage point of their line of sight, wrong. It happens. Frankly it happens a lot more than any of us that predict tomorrow would care to admit. As I said earlier, I am truly right on roughly 30% of my overall predictions. A great average in major league baseball. Not so much if you are an NFL quarterback!

That reality is why I keep saying the information age lies over the horizon. It isn’t here yet. There is Too Much Information not at your fingertips.

The change in applications and the eventual long awaited dawn of the information age…

The conflict I see between IoT (or more broadly if we include the integration and management layers Cyber Physical Systems) and the world around us is the reality of software. As a technologist, I have seen, found and use software that has changed the world. But what was once accepted has now changed. The concept of that software however, has changed. What once was installed software that you loaded from a DVD (or CD) or even a Floppy Disk you now download the software. The complexity of software has also changed radically. Yes, there are still large desktop applications, but now there are more and more applications that are actually what I call bite-sized.

Bite sized applications perform one function, well. They may (or may not) interact with an IoT object to provide the information they are presenting. NetATMO is a great toolset, they provide home connected weather stations. You can, quickly using your cellular phone or tablet find out what the actual temperature is outside your door. The IoT devices (wind, rain, outside temperature and air quality, indoor temperature and air quality) are then provided to you in a simple application that is a web page presented on your mobile device. I have one on each level of my hosue so that I can adjust both heating and cooling to reduce heating and cooling costs. My basement is cool in the summer (dark and close to the ground) whereas the upper part of my hosue is warmer. So, I push air down from the ceiling as far as I can towards the basement. I get progress reports by watching all three temperature gauges on my NetATMO screen.

There are other bit sized applications I use frequently. INRIX and Waze are two that rely on remote traffic gathering services to provide me with a view of what my traffic situation is, using colors that are easy to see (red and green) I can quickly tell if I am on the right path to get home.

That is the big initial change driven by IoT devices. As we had further down the path of connection and automation there will be bite sized applications whose sole purpose is linking multiple bite sized application services into a unified screen. Traffic isn’t relevant to boaters. But GPS, with an overlay of radar and weather radar is very important to boaters. Drivers care more about the road in front of them boaters care about the water all around them.

But beyond that change, where there are glue applications that function across multiple bite sized applications it the interesting reality of software. We won’t move away from Monolithic operating systems. Even android at this point is a pretty big monolith. But what will change over time is how we consume the applications on those myriads of devices we leverage every day. We will move to the ever-increasing reality of bite sized applications that provide us with information quickly. The reality of internet searches will continue, but information gathering will be focused. You see, frankly, that is the true of the information age. When I can answer more than 50% of the questions I have every single day with a bite sized application, and I don’t have to search, then the information age has arrived.

Why is that? Frankly searches are important but they waste time. Every search you conduct increases the ability of the system to respond to your searching needs, but the reality of those searches is you are shooting at pigeons in a bar n with your eyes closed. Yes, you may hit one, or you may shoot yourself in the foot. But you won’t shoot all the pigeons. Bite sized, focused information system applications will give you the tools needed to remove the pigeons from the barn. Yes, you can, if so inclined still shoot them. Or you can produce a noise that will drive them out of the barn humanly. Now if you are driving them out of the barn into a blizzard we would probably drop the humanly part. But the concept is simple. You get the focused information you need to complete a task. This is presented in a bite-sized or small window on your device. If the information to be presented doesn’t fit the device, then the user is notified, hey I can’t show you what you want to see, you need to connect to a monitor (my Screen as a Service concept).

In the age of information, we will have data presented to us that is focused, concise and fits our style, needs and displays on the device we have. If, the system needs a larger screen than you are prompted to do so. Nexdock, is a portable screen for mobile devices that is very impressive in its abilities.

The information age will not dawn with the creation of massive amounts of information. It dawns with the birth of applications that give you what you need, when you need it.


Bite Sized Blogger