Tech Wiz considering troubleshooting (I know, again)!

I have a really good friend that works on a helpdesk. He often emails me after helpdesk posts to say things like “tell people that when we are trying to help, there are two reasons why it seems like we say the same thing. The first is, we need to figure out where you are really. The second is the reality of vanilla; if we can get you somewhere that we understand or that both of us understand, we can move forward.” I keep meaning to share that; he has sent it to me about five times so far. Helpdesk professionals, and people trying to help you aren’t mean. They are simply trying to remove all the variables. For example, if you have more than ten browser windows open, that impacts three things on your computer.

  • The processor
  • The network
  • Your graphics chip

On low-end computers, any one of those three will blow up. Getting people to understand that sometimes the problem is on their system is hard. I know it is something that many people struggle with. We, in the US, have spent the last two years playing blame the other person for all the failings around us. The easy way to solve your problems is to blame someone else.

Now, back to the technology issue, if you are trying to run a complex website on an i5 chip, you’ll have a different perspective than someone running an i7 chip and so on. If you are running chrome with ten open websites, you’ll have a different experience than someone else. If the ten sites are loaded with updating information, you will impact both the processor and the network you are connected to.

All of these things are what cause you to have computer issues. There are many more.

As you work to remove the variables, you have to make sure you remove all of them!

I finally shared my friend’s request! I hope this helps you as you evaluate how to solve your problems with your computer.


tech wiz

Tech Wiz on Weather

I am a weather geek and have been for many years. I have had some different weather stations over the years. The first was an outdoor Oregon Scientific. I also had a weather alert radio from Oregon scientific. Here is a link to my daily recap or time-lapse video of the weather over my house. By the way, you can view hurricane impacts on the website as well. There are some Bloomsky systems in North Carolina.  The other side of why a weather station at your house is interesting. It is more than simply something I’ve been doing for years. Knowing what the weather is doing where you are is a very valuable tool. Boaters always want to know what the weather is.

But so do people that want to host an outdoor party. Or (a wedding) you want to know what the weather might be, and then will be. That way you can react accordingly to the weather. The difference between having a great wedding (such as my nieces last weekend) and a bad weekend is the difference between 40 umbrellas by prepared guests, and 2 to be shared amongst 100 people. Sharing can be fun, but when you only have two umbrellas for 100 people, it takes a long time to traverse the wet areas. What you don’t know will impact you. Well at least from a weather perspective if you are not careful. Of course, you do have to consider the source for information, and in my case, I am a weather geek.

The other thing that having a weather station helps you better understand is the flow of weather. We have a dog (Raven) that is terrified of Thunder Storms. Because of the Bloomsky Micro-Weather system, I can tell where the thunderstorms are so that we can support Raven. She is a lot better now about storms than she was a few years ago. But she is clearly terrified. Taking her to my office (and my chair, yes Raven it is my chair) is a start. If we get there early and get the music on, she soothes pretty quickly. Either way, she is so much better than she used to be (running around the house in terror). Now she and her brother Dylan hide in my office. It is important to know when storms are coming!


Tech Wiz

Have you encountered AR?

The explosion of AR/VR capabilities is on the horizon now. The business application of AR is tremendous. The easy button, fastest deployment, is education. Every classroom should have the AstroReality products (Earth, Moon and Solar System) in the classroom for interaction. But museums, which for years have struggled with having enough people to share the great stories are also big winners with AR. Technicians, people that fix and solve specific problems greatly benefit from AR. That is the thing that many people didn’t think was critical in the Apple Product monuments of early September. The changes for the A12 chip that has the most impact was the addition of additional graphics processing.

It is all about processing graphics when you consider AR/VR solutions. In particular, faster processing allows the phone to act as a great AR client. It means that graphics capability is going to be pushed harder tomorrow than it has been in the past few years. The amount of data and how you embed that data becomes critical. The barcode or QR code doesn’t contain the data. IT contains a web link to the information. The graphics processing is both connecting to a web page, after redirection, and then presenting that information. The information, be it video or audio is streamed from the remote location, but the local device has to be able to process that information fast enough.

All of this said the phone of today can handle AR. It is fully capable of delivering the overall experience. What you gain is the ability to have more and more content. The line between AR/VR can be blurred with more processing power. One of my favorite types of VR implementation is the interactive real-world experience. There is one, that truly is interesting the VR helicopter tour of Las Vegas. It is a real helicopter tour, but in the VR world, you can do a lot more. The other interesting VR/AR merge is the tour of the Apollo 11 capsule It is a real world (AR) application of a virtual experience (VR) and the merger is really quite impressive. Finally, I’ve mentioned before the exceptional AstroReality application of AR. A physical model of the moon, with AR triggers. All of these, require more and more capability on your device going forward.


tech Wiz

Cell phones and the rush to new….

There are two big things I got out of the Apple announcement of yesterday. That phones are moving towards enough memory that they are impactful (512 gig is the new max iPhone). The other big thing I got is that Samsung and Apple (Snapdragon 845 the Samsung flagship processor and Apple A12 processor) are bettering big on AR/VR capabilities. Both of the new flagship processors are heavy graphics processing capability. That shows that AR at the very least is on the direct horizon. VR is a little further out from a phone perspective. The size of screens continues to get larger and ultimately the phone you carry is as much a personal choice as anything. I carry an android phone for work and an iPhone for myself. The differences at this point are not major.

The twins have the new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and love it. They don’t like the color of the pen, but oh well. A free phone is a free phone! One of the things that moved me to the iPhone was overall stability. I came for stability; I stayed for the applications. My kids, on the other hand, have many more android applications at this point that I do. I have a few, most applications that I use and leverage all the time. Walabot is my big Android application. I use that wonderful device all the time. The remainder and predominance of the phone attachments I have are for the iPhone. Funny how things change but they don’t change. Many years ago, I used to have some add-ons for my Compaq PPC.

The other consideration with 512 gigs of storage on the phone is what do you load locally, and what do you store in the cloud. Today, I have all my music backups in the cloud (music I have purchased, as well as backup copies of the nearly 1000 CD’s I,  have in my basement). Today I also have all my kindle books and my audible books on my iPhone. The audible books are local because of that way if there is limited or poor connectivity I can still listen to my books. I listen to Audible books on the way home from work every day. It helps pass the time, but also other than conference calls, let’s me continue to be productive during the commute. Sometimes my commute is more than 90 minutes. Although with my new route, very seldom two hours anymore.


Tech Wiz

New iPhones and The Shack…

I know that as a PPC/future state Windows Phone user in 2007 we made fun of the iPhone. It didn’t have a stylus. How could you use the phone without a stylus? The boy was we wrong; it was easier to use the iPhone than it was to use the PPC and later Windows Phone. I think in part, the stylus was natural for me because I grew up before the age of touch computers. In fairness, I grew up in the age before windows.  Not windows you look through, but windows for PCs. My first computer with a GUI was an Apple IIc. That was back in the days of DOS computers. DOS as is Disk Operating System not the Denial of Service that DOS has become in the internet era. Back when you a flashing C:/ prompt.

I got back further than that, to the CPM days, to the Tandy computer days. There was a time when “The Radio Shack” was less a bad mall idea, and more of the place to be. When radio shack was the place, us geeks went to. We would wander the aisles of Radio Shack dreaming. Ham Radios and computers, connectors and wires that we would look at and dream. The Radio Shack named for the communications area of a ship. Everything that was needed for, well every project we could dream up. They, Radio Shack, even introduced us to do more. There were kits you could buy at Radio Shack that taught us how to wire things properly. How to connect and create circuits that turned on a light. I guess we were, back then easily entertained.

Were the original Angry Birds just turning an LED on or off?

The past slipping away now, the memories of Radio Shack less a happy memory and now a sad reminder. Failure is always an option. We strive ever to avoid it, but it is there. We can fail. Radio Shack, in the end, was a sad reminder of that. 50% off. 75% off and then, closed forever replaced by a salon featuring 15 new hair colors you have to try. What was is no more. I wonder what is coming, today!


ah the shack…

Apple’s new phones (and watch) are live now!

There are a couple of things I wanted to catch up from a technology perspective. The first is the impending Apple announcements coming on the 12th of September 2018. September 11 is always hard for me, I suspect it is for many people, but there is something to look forward to seeing after the quiet day. On the 12 apples will be announcing the Series 4 iWatch and 3 (rumor is that it is 3) new iPhone models. The new edge screen iPads are coming later this fall.

Two things I noted:

1. 512 gigs of memory (really useful in the media age).

2. More graphic support (processing) that will empower AR and VR.

I am looking forward to the new iPhones. Now that we no longer use AT&T I’ve noticed that my phone works a lot more often now than it doesn’t work. The overall reality of coverage is something I need to think about some more.

I did hear a great discussion of the Spring commercial (1% doesn’t matter). It was two people I think are brilliant, and they said Spring is right 1% difference in reliability doesn’t matter unless you happen to need 911 services. Then, 1% makes a massive difference. How much are you willing to pay for peace of mind? Anyway, the interesting reality of those new cell phones is the loss of the home button (rumor). The iPhone X, released last fall used facial recognition rather than thumb or fingerprints to log you into your device. Facial recognition is interesting I have to say. Windows 10 and before that windows eight devices offered that as a feature. It works fairly well overall.

Apple does a great product reveal job. I suspect that comes from the old Steve Jobs days of Apple. I will never forget the commercial that introduced the Mac in 1984 and of course the 2007 introduction of the iPhone that changed the world. I don’t think the announcements on Wednesday will change the world. I do think they will be interesting. The Series 4 of the iWatch does offer some new capabilities and has a much better screen!

Tech Wiz

Tech Wiz on VCR’s and stuff like that there….

I love DVR’s. I remember the first time I programmed a VCR. DVR’s are so much easier. I love the new integration of the software and the devices. It is nice to be able to use search to find a show and then set it up to record on your DVR. So much easier than picking the channel and figuring out what time the show is one. Setting up your VCR to record the show or event you wanted to watch. Oh yeah and be careful you aren’t recording over something crucial. Like your wedding or some other tape that had sentimental value (like the 1985 Super Bowl and the Super Bowl Shuffle). Those days are now past us. If you want to watch something, you simply set up the DVR and watch the show when you want to watch it.

Or, watch it on your mobile device. That through that I had about VCR’s last night was because I still have an S-VHS VCR in the basement. The last one I own in fact. I still have a VCR that connects to a computer (from Ion) via USB that allows you to convert the old tapes. I don’t have that many tapes anymore. The majority if not all of the tapes have been converted to digital. I was thinking about removing the VCR from the basement tv. I don’t remember the last time I used it. With the Ion USB connected VCR, I don’t need it anymore. But the last time I plugged the Ion in was more than a year ago so perhaps the days of VCR tapes are finally gone. DVD’s and Blu-Ray devices have finished them off.

(Does anybody remember the Toshiba driving HDDVD?)

Now you can purchase and store movies online, or using Netflix, Hulu or Amazon you can stream movies at will. I wonder how many more years the DVD and Blu Ray players will exist. I am down to only one DVD/Blu Ray player in the house. I have a couple of game consoles that can also play discs, but they are used far more for gaming than watching videos. At some point we should probably reduce the number of DVD’s we have in our collection, Other than the ones we have to keep ILord of The rings, etc.). I suspect we have crossed the 1000 DVD barrier. Like CD’s in the new world, they are no longer needed. It does make you consider what lies beyond streaming though…

Tech Wiz

what dreams may come