The new windows is, well should be in the next few days, available if you are running Windows 10…

Today, many of you that upgraded to Windows 10 will begin downloading the newest version of the OS. There are some things that you will find in this new operating version that is incredible. For me, the biggest additions are greater integration with Hololens and the emergence of more 3d tools.

holome Saturday editionThe 3d art tools are incredible. Plus, if you consider that they are freely available, they are even more incredible! When I started in computing, I was a Macintosh user. Back in the day, we used something called SCSI (small computer system interface). The rule of thumb was seven devices in a daisy chain with the last device having a terminator. That rule wasn’t one that always worked. First off, you could have multiple daisy chains connected, in the PC world each would plug into a PCI, EISA or ISA bus slot and provide you with access to the SCSI devices. Scanners, hard drives and many other things connected via SCSI, back in the day. Backup tapes were the biggest use in the data center world. SCSI had limits, but you could connect it reasonably quickly.

Then came USB and the advent of the plug (and sometimes pray). Where often the device could plug into the computer and the computer would recognize it, and begin using it right away. In theory, the capacity pf a single USB port on a computer is infinite. It isn’t; you still have issues with data capacity if you stretch the system too far. If you string nine hard drives on a single USB port and then copy files to all nine hard drives at once, you will quickly find that capacity is critical. When your computer has to buffer data, and the data buffering exceeds the available physical memory, well you end up with a slow computer.

USB of course now has friends, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Both of those allows you to have a wireless connection between the device and your computer (or phone or tablet). These also expand the ability of your computer and your cellular phone and tablet. The early days of what was to become wireless networking were interesting. You were bound to a very small space. Now you have to worry about how far into the neighbor’s yard your wi-fi signal is carrying and why is that person in the car sitting there with their laptop?

The what, how and how many things connected to your PC has changed racially in the past 20 years. That collection of connections would make a nice museum exhibit now. I remember the days of SCSI when you had a hard drive and a scanner connected. Whoa, be unto you if you turned the wrong one on first!

Now you only turn the device on as you need it. You can right click on most things and eject them when you are done. You aren’t bound to restarting your computer if you start things in the wrong order! You used to be by the way!

The new version of Windows 10 is exciting. The 3d art program is impressive. The world of rendering and delivering 3d artifacts continues to expand. The conversion to a printable object still requires a little more effort.

Further integration of Azure services into Windows will be interesting. Integration of office, Hololens, and other functions will also be intriguing. I used to have computers in my basement as a lab; now I simply spin things up on a VM. Azure integration today allows me to quickly spin up a server, see what I need to have in place and then shut it down and move on to the next thing. Hyper-V is a pretty straight forward Hypervisor overall.

(Hyper-V is the hypervisor for building virtual machines and comes with some versions of Windows 10. I say some because I have never tried to load it on the home version of windows 10, I have Windows 10 Professional at home for a lot of different reasons).

Enjoy your new operating system!


I actually like Windows 10

Cool Tech projects and images….

Some years ago, I bought a car seat cover that did massage and heat. It was back in the days of cars without heated seats. We no longer consider heated seats a luxury, so all three cars have them! That means my massage cover went away. Recently I got a car with massage built into the seats. I cannot say how amazing it feels to turn on massage as you are sitting in Washington DC traffic. Between listening to audible books, XM music and getting my back rubbed I have to say it makes the commute so much easier!

starting file for comic effectI recently backed a campaign on Kickstarter for a UV camera or one that takes and shows images based on UV light. This is just another amazing thing you can do with your cellular phone. While I am not a huge advocate of using your cellular phone as your only camera, I do think so of the adds on area fantastic.

One of those add-ons is the Seek Thermal camera. Why do you need a thermal camera? Well, the easy answer is to check the seals of the windows where you live. Or, to check how hot the engine in your vehicle is running, or to just see cool images of what produces heat around you. Seek has a great iPhone application, and I love what you can do with it. The images shared today on my blog come from the seek them. They are of my lab, sleeping under my desk, his cave!

I won’t jump on my digital camera soapbox. Personally, I think the world of digital cameras is exploding around us. But that is my soapbox, so I will only say, that the world of 360-degree cameras is one to watch in the next six months. Cameras are coming that can stitch the 360 image right on the camera instead of requiring software. That is a huge change for the devices and will be one that I think makes them easier to use, and therefore more full spread.

Another fun crowd funding project that recently arrived is the flip stylus. While the Apple Pencil is beautiful, it doesn’t have heft. When I am working on an idea and drawing, I need a little heft. The reason for that is my personal drawing evolution from chalk to whiteboards. I like having a whiteboard pen in hand when I am thinking. Flip provides that – and it is very accurate! Plus you can “flip” it, and you have an eraser.

20170412_095518000_iOSYes, I know I am a geek. In part, because everyone sends me emails saying what do you think about this product or that product. There was a time when virtually everything I had was a beta or running a beta version of its operating system. There are many things in my home that are now production software because the value to me now is their functionality, not missing cool features. That change has occurred in the past three years or so. It is mostly because I often made my wife have to learn things quickly to use things she wanted to use. I feel sorry for doing that, so I started reducing the moving pieces in our house. Frankly, I have to say I prefer not having all the moving parts sometimes. The technology category of just work is one I have come to consider valuable.

What that means it that TV’s, remotes and speaker systems do not run beta software. That way they are always working. We ended up getting home automation remotes in the living room and the basement. These remotes allow you to control all the media and home resources in the house quickly. Plus, in the living room, you can put up the video from the outside cameras if you are curious about what is going on around you without going to doors or windows. Going to a door or a window tells someone that you are home. Once the person sees you, they won’t stop knocking!

I am going to feature on this blog some of the artwork my sons created in digital art this year. I only have one son’s artwork right now, still waiting for Luke’s but today the featured artist is Nick. Oh yeah and a thermal image of my dog, Dylan!


I don’t know what I am today…

Of the gap between people and the failure to listen…

My father always taught me that every argument has two sides. Make sure you understand the other side even if you disagree. My grandfather always taught me to listen, to hear exactly what the other person is saying before disagreeing. The differences between people, he always told me, is the distance between your ears. If you don’t listen, then the gulf is wide, if you listen then the gulf isn’t that great.

Being frustrated is ok. It is ok to hear rhetoric and in hearing it, step back for a moment and then breathe. We like those who passed before us need to consider those who follow us. Will be remembered as the last generation or the first?

I know that as a technologist the systems I have contributed to, helped build and deliver have been used to make the world a better place. But I also know that they have been used as places to spread disinformation, places to share ideas and ideals with which I struggle. The problem isn’t the technology it is the fact that information spreads so quickly, even if it is wrong.

Consider, as my father said, both sides. Decrease the distance between us by listening. We are unique, and we are not unique. In that difference and similarity, we have to find more common ground. There is enough anger in the world already.

One of the most exciting technology changes over the past year or so is the ever-increasing reality of the drone market. I posted a view of Greenwood Indiana from above on my blog today, the images in that post were taken from an airplane that we were in, flying over Greenwood. I have similar pictures of our house in Maryland, but from a lot lower. I took video of the top of our house with our drone and posted those on our youtube family history channel.

It is a concern of mine as to how far drones should go. One of the things I projected a few years ago was the concept of modular drones. Drones that allow you to carry and deliver different information pending the attached payload. I’ve seen. However, that concept misused already. Someone shared, anonymously video of a drone with a gun attached, that could be fired remotely. I would say the concept and process of controls would be difficult, but I’ve seen my kids operate a joystick, their ability to place a hovering object exactly where they want it on a screen, makes the reality of drones with weapons a little scarier.

DJI_0010What this creates is an ever increasing need for governance around Drones. Today, the FAA has stepped in and created no-drone-fly zones around the major airports. I would suspect based on those no-fly zones (but I do not know this for a fact) that other zones are also no-fly, that are not currently airports. That said, we need to understand that initial statement on my blog today, listen. The logic of do you think this is the right thing to do, is critical. More and more often as I consider and evaluate drones, I ask myself that. Indeed, I have posted some posts on many different platforms poking fun at the ever expanding technology of drones. Not that poking fun isn’t also a way to get issues out in the open to have them discussed.

Let’s start the broader conversation about what it means to be responsible, as far as drones. If you have a metal detection zone and you are on the beach, I think the rule should be that you don’t hover over humans. If you have a drone with a 4k camera, you don’t fly over people you don’t know. I understand the joy of seeing your house from the air. It is cool to see things from above. If in trying to see people you know you fly over people you don’t know that is cool. But if you are hovering over a person that isn’t in your family, worse, hovering just because they are famous, then if your drone gets shot out of the air it isn’t the other person’s fault. It is your fault! Let’s have a little restraint.

We can call it the responsibility of drone owners. See if drone owners don’t behave, then the issue becomes one of law. The reason for many laws is not that legislators and government officials like to create laws that have to be monitored and maintained. They have to create laws, post signs and tell people no BECAUSE SOMEONE DIDN’T LISTEN the first time. When it was a recommendation, please don’t do that. Once you increase the distance between you and the other person speaking by not listening, then the gulf is too hard to close.

Listen. Be responsible in how you fly your drone so that the rest of us can enjoy our donors.


Drone fan…

What Optical Character Recognition Package do you use?

Over the years I have used some productivity programs designed to increase my ability to interact with files digitally. From the Epson professional series scanner for the family history project to document scanners, I have considered many. For a long time I used Evernote, but between the cost and frankly the lack of quality in what I was scanning, plus the incredible frustration of getting things out of Evernote made me walk away from that platform.

That said, which of course I just did, I get asked all the time what the best OCR (Optical Character Recognition) package you’ve found is. First off I do most of my work digitally now, but there are still instances where I need to convert things. I have a book scanner (CZUR) that works well scanning in pages of books. If I need to do that, but when it comes to conversion, I usually consider one option.

20140827_161801294_iOSI was, for a long time an Omnipage user. In fact, I started using Omnipage many years ago when I was a Macintosh user. It was the most accurate OCR platform back then by a significant factor. So for many years I dutifully upgraded and kept my copy current. About eight years ago I was introduced to another company and another product ABBYY, and the FineReader product. My last update of Omnipage was four years ago. I haven’t looked back, updated or even used the product since then. Why? Because FineReader is barred none the best OCR package, I’ve found. It also has its mobile application for your phone. So the answer today to the question what and how do I convert paper into digital is FineReader from ABBYY!

In the best sense of customer service, I should tell you that I have moved away from the FineReader for home use. I use the professional product. The reason for the professional over the less costly home version for me is the ability to script folders. I get locked PDF files all the time that didn’t require locking. There is a need for locking files and protecting information. But when you send a locked PDF file to someone on your team, by all means, understand that what happens next is your fault. If you get secured PDF that should be locked, and you open that file, then what happens next is your fault.

FineReader is a great program, and the new version (14) has a spotless new interface. Overall it is my only OCR package now. It does a great job with converting and saving to the PDF Format. It also does an excellent job of converting JPEG images of text, into editable text. That helps when I am turning whiteboards or other written information into a digital file.

I have converted up to 100 pages in less than two hours, with roughly a 98% reliable conversion rate. There are a few things that still cause OCR packages trouble. The biggest is documents that have scribbles and notes handwritten on them. Which by the way is something I am guilty of scanning frequently? I do like to take notes on paper still. FineReader does a good job of converting those overall, but like anything that is more dependent on my handwriting than on the OCR engine.

One of the things I get all the time is questions. What is the best package for doing this? What is the best package for doing that? If you have those questions or just questions, send them to me. I will see if it is something I can answer. Sometimes, it may take some time. (What is the best drone. Well that depends wholly on where you are using that drone and many other questions).

My rules for recommendations of products is that it has to be something I use personally. It is the same rule I have for crowdfunding product reviews. If I am not a backer, I do not recommend the product on my blog, ever. That is my hard and fast rule for product reviews. I also don’t review products that people send me for free. I get those from time to time and I will not review something I didn’t buy. The reason for that is commitment. If I can’t be bothered to buy something and someone sends it to me then by default any review would be, well biased at best.

Best OCR package I’ve used: ABBYY FineReader.


Long time OCR person

Officer, there are a bunch of drones over our umbrella here on the west side of the beach…

Over the last week or so I have started three different blogs for sharing with my mother blog on CloudTweaks. I can say I have looked at and evaluated three various topics. All three ended up in my things to think about later. I do that for when I get a bad case of writer’s block; I can open that folder and see what I was thinking previously. Sometimes that produces something, at times that simply gets me rolling on another topic.

One of those concepts lately has been the reality of the drone market. I would like to say as a point of clarification first that I consider the “drone” market to include more than simply the currently famous flying drone market. A drone represents more than just devices that fly. The market includes the broader ROV market that includes driving and underwater operation as well. This would include the ever growing ROV market like OpenROV and others. But this also allows for some of the original remotely operated vehicles such as the Brookstone remotely operated vehicle.

The market is evolving considerably. First off we have to consider the use cases. When we consider ROV’s such as aerial or underwater, the use cases pop up pretty quickly. Recently after all the inclement weather in the Southern United States, you saw insurance companies having drones check roofs for damage. The same is possible for fire departments and other first responders, using the aerial drone to determine hot spots and other areas of risk close at hand. For homeowners, the ability to see the condition of your gutters is a huge plus! Why get on a ladder when your drone can tell you what is going on. You can use the terrestrial ROV’s to go places you are concerned to enter or places where you don’t want to put yourself. It is really sad if you send your remote ROV into a crawlspace only to have a badger maul the device. That, however, pales in comparison to the reality of a badger mauling you.

The market is evolving. Underwater ROV’s have some uses. First off you can wander under your boat and check for hull integrity. As if your hull could be “immoral” doing well unspeakable things that must be hidden, and ends up hiding things under water because well no one looks there. More, to verify there isn’t damage to your hull. You can also use a remote underwater ROV to see what is under your boat, from a cool shipwreck or of course sunken treasure. I know some pirate made it all the water to the Chesaepeake bay and hid their treasure that the 1000’s of boats that have already passed over it missed. Seriously, all of them missed the quickly grabbed treasure chest full of non-rusting gold. It won’t even be that hard to drop anchor and upon cleaning the much around my treasure, pull it onto the boat. The hardest part will be lifting the gold bars onto the boat. Unless the pirate pre-bagged everything for future salvage considerations!

droneIt is a growing market and one that I find incredibly attractive. In part because of the rapid growth and in part because of the incredible capabilities this new market provides. I have talked about my favorite product right now the Aguadrone. I cannot wait for the product to ship. A waterproof done that offers you the ability to land on water, take video underwater but at the same time to use sonar and find fish, all of this broadcast back to your phone. Imagine for a second the many beaches where sharks sometimes visit. As a lifeguard you could deploy an Aguadrone and quickly see just what was lurking beyond the edge of the area you are responsible for. It is really sad if the shark leaps out of the water and takes out the drone, but much better the shark munches on drone plastic than on human beings!

Another thing I posted about last month was the concept of metal detection drones (also coming soon). Officer, I went to the beach and because the soda machine has a broken dollar bill converter I got 10 dollars worth of quarters to buy cold soda. Ever since we arrived at the beach, there has been a cloud of drones hanging over us, and people are lurking just outside our area. They think there is buried treasure where our umbrella is, but it is just the quarters I brought for the vending machine. Can you please wander down to this side of the beach and make them go away?

Now if you will excuse me my drone is playing keep away with my keys!


I guess I keep droning about drones…

Cool Tech wander project issue 12.1

I am a fan of technology. For me, it started a long time ago, and it continues to this day. I see not only the potential but also the value of technology in our lives. I have, over the years listened to some of the great technology speakers as well.

One of the things that I find interesting is the reality of what and where. What “I”s, what the person is speaking is talking about in the technology world. Where is the connection of that person to the overall timeline that is technology in our world?

We call the concept of being an early adopter the bleeding edge. Not that the devices are sharp, and in carrying them in our pockets we are cut and bleeding but that the devices as constituted don’t always work exactly as promised.

My rule for cutting edge technology is two-fold. I talked about this the other day, so I won’t repeat the whole thing, just that the one thing I don’t have on the cutting edge is my phone. That is my device for communication, and I lived through the initial era of technology with phones, and won’t relive that less than good experience.

What I look for now is something I find a partial business case. It doesn’t have to be a full case, just one that makes some sense to me. The reason I am comfortable with a less than full business case is that tomorrow the entire business case may appear and that way I am ahead of the game.

There was a time when learning the night before was enough. That time has passed, and now it is important that you pick your waves carefully. Those heady days of technology for technology sake are over.

By the way, learning about boat technology on the fly is not a good idea. In fact, I would argue that it is at best a bad idea. At worst it is something you will regret. The other one that I think would be worse is learning how to fly after you’ve taken off, without another pilot there. You see taking off is one thing, landing is truly another thing.

Complexity is the enemy. But, complexity is also the worst case scenario. The problem is that most people don’t buy everything they own at one time. In fact, most people build their things over time. You buy the TV and sitting on your couch you realize that to get the full theater experience you need to add speakers. Then you realize more than the speakers you also need to make the room darker. Then you realize you have to add sound tiles to the ceiling, so the sound fills the room better. Before you know it you’ve added a bunch of things to your media room.

The media room isn’t the only room in the house where that happens. It happens as well in the office, we buy a printer, connect that and then realize that the printer isn’t good enough or that we need a scanner as well so we add that. Or, we start with an all in one printer that has a built-in scanner. Oh yeah did I mention that we still, from time to time need to fax things?

Oh, brave new world.

Sometimes you just have to stop and think bout not where you are but the journey that got you to where you are, now. For me, it initially was a journey into the world of media. I wanted to have a stereo so that I could listen to music. Then I started using a computer because computers were absorbing and as a writer, I found I could type faster on a keyboard with a backspace that didn’t require whiteout for every single mistake. Oh yeah, I make a lot of mistakes. I can type faster on a computer than I ever could on a typewriter, and I don’t have a room full of the smell of white out!

From stereo to computers I continued to expand. When you write on a computer, you have to have a printer. My first printer was one that the Macs in the house, as well as the PC’s, could use. Well, the third printer I bought. I had the old Apple ImageWriter, a dot matrix printer and then the original Apple laser printer. But when I had both Macs and PC’s in the house, I had to upgrade to an HP5p.

I still have some of the stops along the way connected in my media room. I even have a USB 3.5-inch floppy drive, just in case!

Time is the great equalizer. Time however, is what creates the problem in the connectivity and technology space. It is always best to consider what you have and how you are deploying it in your home. Plus you can probably throw away your Betamax now!



The art of the possible…..

The art of the possible, I hear that all the time as we consider, evaluate and build proposals for customer’s. What is truly possible. What can we do, right now? When people say the phrase, it makes me sometimes laugh, not out of meanness by the way, just because it strikes me as humorous.

First off because (I use the phrase first off a lot don’t I) it is simply a phrase that is entirely and utterly irrelevant. What is possible today, is completely not applicable to tomorrow. The reason for the conversation is the reality of the possible. Once a week I get a new email telling me things that Alexa can do. Alexa, being the voice controlled Amazon Echo speaker. By the way, I would like to start a campaign that if your name is Alexa, you cannot work on radio or TV. There are a couple of radio shows I listen to in my home office with a person named Alexa. My Amazon Echo, SingleCue, and Nucleus systems all respond when Alexa is called out.

Luckily the gesture systems don’t respond to all the waving on the TV in my office. That would drive me crazy. I like to listen to financial news during the day when I am not listening to music, so the background noise is often on.

Then I realized that blogs like mine are where people predict the future, not the current. I do from time to time talk about things that intrigue me right now. But for the most part, I am just over the edge of new things, things not quite there yet. I have thought about, considered and ultimately not started some crowdfunding campaigns, as much because of my lack of time as anything. But I do pay attention to what lies over the edge.

You see, on the brink of what could be possible lies the seeds of what will be possible, but right now isn’t envisioned. 360 degree cameras were hard to build, hard to implement and non-existent just three short years ago. Now, you can find them almost everywhere. Bubl remains my favorite, but the new cameras that include the ability to be submerged and still shoot 360-degree video are interesting.

Finding the next thing isn’t hard, you just have to consider what people are doing right now, how that may change and then apply that to something that isn’t real now. I guess now that I’ve written it out, it is hard. A good friend of mine always asks me what I am carrying in my pocket other than my phone. He says that tells him what I am using all the time of the “new age crap you are always talking about.” (that is a direct quote). That is true, right now in my pocket I have a small device that includes a battery and a couple of tools. The battery is for emergency charging of my phone. I’ve used it two times, and it is a nice thing to have on your keychain. It also ahs a laser pointer/flashlight that I have used about 300 times.

20170218_161038386_iOSI have another friend who says, can I buy the stuff you are moving past. She doesn’t like to be on the cutting edge of technology but does find it interesting pursuing the then art of what is now possible. All of this leading me to the reality of why when people say The art of the possible I laugh.

Why do I laugh? I laugh because it isn’t that what is being asked is impossible or even improbable. It is that it is hard to jump on trends before they are trends. So knowing what is possible now, today, doesn’t mean anything about what will be possible.

New is risky, possible is the path to new. But new is impossible now. I am thinking about printing T-shirts that say ask me what is probable. Ask me what could be. I will happily give you ten options knowing that one of them will come true but also know nine of them will fail. You have to choose which one of the ten you want to back!

The art of the improbable gives us the potential for a more exciting art of the possible. What we do, how we do it and of course what we do it with will change. If, you ask me the art of the possible and I giggle uncontrollably, don’t be offended I am not laughing at you. I am laughing at the possible art that the improbably will make.


The walk, the walk is always possible!