Ok I’ve started to clean my office…

IMG_0776I don’t often post a bunch of technology pictures, but I thought I would today, more for a what are the last nine pictures you took with your cell phone camera? I know that I have to remind myself at times to move the pictures out of my apple drive to my local picture folders. Otherwise, the only backup I have is online with apple. I trust that apple isn’t going out of business just more than only one backup makes me nervous. I do use my cellular phone to take pictures of things I am putting on eBay. But that is more because then I don’t have to resize or modify the pictures you can post them as is from Cellular phone to eBay.

20170810_105440057_iOSI also store pictures taken from my Bloomsky weather station. That in part because it is fun to capture images of the sky. The other of course that we have firmly established here as well as in my other blogs that I am a weather geek.  You will also see pictures I’ve taken to include as cover art for my blogs. I do that because it is more fun to have a picture I’ve taken as the cover art than searching for the perfect picture and then finding out if I am allowed to use it.

20170810_105816897_iOSThe last images are of my office, taken from a firmly fixed mount 360-degree camera that by default and nature only takes about 270 degrees (it has a base, that is mounted on my wall so it cannot take images of itself). I decided I need to take a shaming picture of the mess every day. I am going to make progress this summer in cleaning my office. I did manage to clean off one shelf but took things that were on the floor and stacked them on the shelf. I also have posted a lot of stuff on eBay as well this year. I am, as I said, really focus on getting my office more manageable. I do like having the camera in my office as well; it is a neat view of the office. You can also take video, but not sure why I would take video of a mess.

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messy geek

Of video and change…

video boardToday’s image is kind of a where things used to be an image. It is an old video editing system we had many years ago (circa mid – 1990’s). The device could have two video sources and then would output the playing course on a monitor. Finally, the last connection was a destination. Or you have to have a video camera and two VCR’s to make this work. Sadly, we had all of that. I made about ten videos over the years with this device. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t the professional level machines my video production wife used (ergo, she hated this board).

Why am I talking about old technology tools today? Well in part to mention that everything you could do (with a lot of manual intervention) with that board you can now do on your computer, and frankly the price difference is pretty impressive. The computer based video editing software you can get now has a lot more functi8onality. If you wanted to add music to a video back in the day, you had to pump the music source into the board. Now, you simply drop an MP3 file (that YOU OWN) into your video. Then you are off to the video publishing reality. Personally, I push most of the video’s I do to YouTube, but there are other places you can publish to as well.

What was is no more. Now everyone can edit video right on their cellular devices.  The question I have going forward is ultimately what additional video functionality will move away from professionals and into the amateur world. 360-degree cameras hit the shelves a little over a year ago. 3d cameras hit the market two years before that. AR/VR enabled cameras are available now, (360-degree camera and software). The home video of tomorrow is going to be an amazing experience.

I do miss my manual editing board though. Imagine a new board like that, where you could have a live drone or ROV feed, editing that on the fly with home security footage or live camera footage to create a VR/AR experience. The changes are simply exciting now! I can’t wait to see what is next!

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change junkie

Cool Tech Secret Agent and why not to clean my office.

There are a couple of things I use that are extremely geeky. One of them is the cool Walabot tool. It, Walabot, allows you to see what is behind your finished wall. I use it with my Samsung Tablet and have found studs before installing a whiteboard and other things in the basement. The other thing I am enjoying is the new snake cameras that you can connect to your iPhone or Android and see what is happening in drains and other locations you can reach with eyes, flashlights and other visual systems. I also like both of them, because you’ve seen tools like that in the movies. It is always fun to have secret agent gear you can play with!

That got me thinking, about the tools I use. Not that I am driven by spy movies and want to be a secret agent. I love the Kingsman, but I still don’t own a black umbrella. I have a smaller umbrella that I keep in my bag. The tech that is critical for me is the tech that impacts what I do. Walabot is great for seeing behind walls. The LED lit snake camera is great for seeing where you can’t put your face.

All of those thoughts made me go back and realize I need to go to my office again and purge stuff I am not using. That, by the way, is how my morning brain works. I start off considering a tool and then end up realizing I need to clean my office.

I would like to blame ADHD, but in fact, it isn’t that. It is just that I try not to clean my office again and again.

The last thing, I promise for today, I have found a couple of items that I wanted to setup again and start using. I realized, however, that I do not have the power supplies. There has to be a way to create an application that would take a picture and go out and find replacement parts for the device. It couldn’t be that hard.

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Technologist

Change over time in IT…

There are iconic applications and programs that have shaped the past few years. If we consider a simple progression of email, there has been a lot of change over the past twenty years. In the early 1990’s I used to be the email administrator for a Midwestern IT company. I ran an MSMail system, a soft switch box, and a Lotus Notes infrastructure. We later brought on a Lotus Notes Administrator to reduce the load and moved from MSMail to Microsoft Exchange.

I became interested in the reality of email systems, and for the next 10-12 years, I helped some customer’s move off of Lotus Notes (Later Lotus Domino) to the Microsoft email stack. With a partner, we migrated lots of Lotus Notes (and later Domino seats) to Microsoft Exchange in Chicago. If you think about the economic impact of such migrations, it was significant for both IBM (who had purchased Lotus) and for Microsoft. Microsoft suddenly had long term, ongoing revenue. Ongoing, long term revenue.

The rise of cloud changes everything, but Microsoft got ahead of that problem early on. BPOS became Office 365 and gave both a direction and a path for customer’s with on premise email systems can easily move to the cloud. Just the transition within the email and only from one perspective. There are many other rationales as well as impacts that happened with the progression of email. Moving away from the X.400 protocol to SMTP as the messaging standard was huge.

I can make the same journey for many other technologies. In fact, as a long time Dragon Naturally Speaking user, you can do the same for voice recognition. Optical Character Recognition (or OCR as it is called) has improved so much that you can do OCR between languages now, as well as directly on your cellular phone. You no longer need a scanner and a computer to convert text to digital. The amount of change generated by technology over the past 20 years is amazing. It continues to be an amazing journey!

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technology transitionalist

ROV’s, Drones and tomorrow…

I am super excited today; I read an email from the TridentROV team. I am excited with the progress they have made and am looking forward to launching the ROV in the bay and seeing what lies beneath the water. The difference between what lies above and what lies below is always interesting. Underwater or tethered ROV’s are interesting products. I had the previous ROV product from the team that is building the Trident. It was well built and never had water issues. My new favorite TV show, Secrets of the Underground, using ROVs in the two episodes I’ve seen so far to see what is under the surface of the water.

Underwater drones have tethers or cables that connect them to the receiver. The main reason is it is very difficult to maintain a wi-fi connection in water. The more water and the deeper it is, the less of a Wi-Fi signal you will be able to maintain. That means for underwater you have two options; the first is have a drone (like Squadron) that lands on the surface and floats but does not go underwater. It has an underwater camera attached to the body, or you can use the Sonar module.

For boaters, it lets you quickly see what the condition of your hull is. Or to see what is ahead of you in shallow water. Or, to stare face to face with a grouper, although it wouldn’t know you were at the other end of the tether.

Now if you also consider those who fix boats, they would have significant use for an ROV. You can quickly determine the status under the boat including propellers etc., without having to pull the boat out of the water. You simply send in the drones! By the way, roof repair professionals that have a drone, reduce the number of times they have to climb on the roof. Do the initial assessment by flying drone; then you don’t have to be on the roof.

The explosion of capabilities is amazing. The amount of data produced is always growing. Effectively you are only limited by the edges of the sky, the length of your tether underwater and how long your batteries last!

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ROV fan

Considering a 360 degree camera?

20170807_090936339_iOSOne of the things that I find exciting in the world of IT, technology and change right now is the area of 360-degree cameras’ From the first launched (via Crowdfunding) more than four years ago now to the many that are already shipping the world has changed. First off, disclaimer/reality check. A 360-degree camera is close to a full circle but you still miss some parts of the image, so the reality is sometimes you need software to stitch it together. There are some solutions and packages out there, so the important thing is to choose wisely. Whenever I say choose wisely, I always remember the end scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusader (you, have chosen poorly).

Determine what it is you want to capture with the camera. Static mounted or fixed cameras can by default only capture 180 degrees. But that can be a valuable 180 degrees. I have one in my office that I use to see what is in my office. It is not for security it is more for reminding myself where I put things. The more mobile 360-degree cameras have some other features that are intriguing. I have crowd funded a couple of them over the past three years. In part because I am a huge fan of crowdfunding. In part because I am an even bigger fan of cameras.

All that said, my buyers, guide for 360-degree cameras.

  1. If you are buying one, know what you are going to be doing with one. For example, if you want it as an adventure camera, get one that supports being mounted on different things.
  2. If you intend to use it underwater, get one that comes with an underwater case made for the camera!
  3. Make sure the memory is enough for what you want to do. A device that supports two gigs of storage won’t take 8 hours of 360-degree action video.
  4. If your intent is to have a 360-degree selfie camera, make sure you can mount the camera onto a selfie stick. Otherwise, all we will see is 360 degrees around where you mount the camera, or if it is shoulder mounted your ear!

The expanding market for these cameras is impressive. Just note the last buyers warning, make sure the software you get with the devices works with your cellular phone or tablet.

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Camera Geek

Talking about what a smart device could be…

One of the things I have been doing a lot lately is talking about the concept of an IoT, or Internet of Things, broker. A broker represents an aggregator of services. The services are both the data and service produced by the IoT infrastructure but also the required security, management and so on required to keep the IoT devices operating. I read a great quote from a scientist that works for the US Geological Survey organization; she said: “when should a volcano sensor be offline?” The easy answer to that question is after lava buries it. That, however, isn’t the right answer. Never would be the right answer if you live near the Volcano. It is a quote taken completely out of context (we have systems that can never be down, being the first part paraphrased of the quote).

Internet of things devices continues to move further and further into our lives. The first issue is the overuse of smart devices. Just because a device can adapt to one thing, does not make it smart. We should probably evaluate the use of the word smart when it comes to IoT devices. Smart devices can understand the reality of the environment in a much broader way than simply turning on or off. Smart devices are what is needed in the IoT space.

Why Smart Devices?

  • Smart devices allow for the creation of MESH networks of IoT devices. A mesh network allows a one to many attacks to response (one attacker, attacking one IoT devices, but the entire IoT Mesh responds increasing the impact of the response). Mesh networks also allow for the concept of shared services within the mesh. An example would be deploying multiple communication systems within the mesh, shared by all devices. (one wi-fi or two wi-fi connections. One Cellular and so on).
  • Smart Devices also only report when there are variances. A smart volcano sensor would only report when the ground temperature changed (rising) rapidly in the course of a one hour period. If the ground temperature doesn’t rise, only do an I am alive pulse once every 4 hours or so.

All of this is measured against need and requirements. Having a smart device, and an IoT broker is a cost based decision. If you are a home user with 20 IoT devices, you don’t need a broker. You may, in the course of building a home automation system build an IoT broker (one solution that manages and delivers the data from all the others). Medium sized organizations may also only have 100, 200 IoT devices and may never need an IoT broker.

The more devices you have, the more likely you will want the capabilities I have outlined in the broker model.

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The days of Smart Devices are here…