Tech Wiz, what applications and platforms do you use?

I was thinking yesterday as I drove home from the boat, what are the applications I can’t live without. First off I do understand that for most people in and of itself, that is a misnomer. It is also not something most people think about, and I understand that as well. I should probably in asking the initial question clarify further, mobile application, a tablet application, and computer application. Which platform do you use when you are using your favorite application and then, what is your favorite application and what does it do?  That got me thinking even further there are applications we use for entertainment, exercise, and productivity. Based on the three distinct categories there aren’t three top applications that I use. Reality is it is closer to 10. Instead, I am going to publish my top application per platform. I am separating mobile devices into two categories (wearable) and cellular.

(the link to the actual poll questions is embedded at the top)

Top Application Wearable (on my watch)

  • Low/High Tide application

Top application mobile device

  • Fitbit

Top application tablet

  • Bejeweled (ok yes I am addicted)

Top application PC

  • MS Word

I know the applications in the list, and the platforms in this list have changed. I could add a couple of new platforms (multi-media device) and music/streaming device. I could also add a category for the favorite voice-controlled application. You could even argue that you could add even more categories and we probably will, but for now, the four categories are enough. As part of my newly adopted Tech Wizard robes, I am making this a high-level initial poll. Please feel free to comment on your top applications by the platforms I’ve listed above. If you have a different top platform and application list those in the comments as well! Thanks for contributing to the first Tech Wiz Poll on “where does my favorite application live.

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technologist

Backup your memories, just in case!

Online storage is an interesting question. I know, for example, that I use Amazon Prime’s free photo storage (Did you know about that? If you are a Prime Member, you can upload all your pictures to Amazon and have a cloud backup of your pictures, for only the cost of the Prime membership. Which, for the most part also gives you free shipping (two-day). I know, as much s we buy from Amazon in the year, that we pay for the Prime membership with just shipping. Video, music and photo storage are value adds at that point. As a Tech Wiz, I have to tell you, have multiple copies of your families digital or digitized pictures. The more copies you have, the better you will be in the long run! I also have a copy of my pictures on Microsoft’s one drive. Plus I have a copy on Carbonite. But my three online (and four offline) copies are more because I lost some pictures many years ago. I have vowed ever since then to never go through that again.

I lost around 1200 pictures. Now that seems like a tiny amount. But they were the only digital pictures we had from several events. There are film pictures we’ve scanned from that period, but some of the most pictures were originals.

I know, I have harped on backups for a long time and three different blogging sites. I cannot tell you the impact of not having pictures. I am sure most of you have experienced it. Lost pictures and video can be painful. Both from a not having it anymore, but also not being able to share it with other people. Backup your photos, trust me, so when you think about it next. Spend 12 dollars and get a 50 gig drive on Apple, Microsoft or Amazon (or use that aforementioned free service).  Now, if only I could go back in time to that young IT person and warn him of how stupid it was to move all the family pictures to an external drive that was roughly five years old already. The smell of smoke the next morning was devastating.

The reality of digital images isn’t that we lose them. The reality is we have many more to lose. I can’t you how many times they cut to a person whose house just burned down. We made it out alive, but we lost everything. Sure, we can replace the things, but not the pictures.

plus the reality of digital images, if you take many more pictures. We are not limited by the cost of film or the 24 or 36 pictures on a single roll. Remember the days of carrying 2, 3 or 4 rolls of film? That film takes up physical space. Now, we simply point, shoot and then copy to our computer. Some cameras even have built-in wi-fi connection. Icloud, OneDrive and others allow you to automatically copy your pictures to the cloud. Amazon provides free cloud storage of all your phones for Amazon Prime members. The resources are there, back your pictures up!!!!!

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backup your pictures!

What about printers?

First off, a huge thank you to Carol for the great name idea. I am adopting her recommended name, although I did modify it slightly. This new column will focus on new technology ideas and concepts. The Tech Wiz column, however, is more about setup and use not the more esoteric business technical reviews I do at other times. Without further adieu, welcome to the wacky world of the Tech Wiz. Wizard of explanation and overkill. Overkill in that I am going to cover one topic as the Tech Wiz in much greater depth. Today’s Tech Wiz topic is that of printers. What printer does the tech wiz recommend and are there things to consider when getting that printer?

Printers have three distinct types of Thermal, Laser, and Inkjet.

  1. Thermal printers require specific paper to print on and use heat transfer to print.
  2. Lasers take a powder and using a laser to burn the powder onto the paper.
  3. Inkjets like lasers use dots of ink; they don’t use a laser to burn the powder, instead use dots of liquid to form what you are printing.

The first thing to consider is cost. Cost of a printer has two components, how much does the printer cost, and how much do the supplies cost? The cost of supplies, however, is a huge variable. There was a time when in our house we printed between 2000 and 3000 sheets of paper every month. Now e probably print less than 300 in a month. Let’s use that lower number to price a printer.

Laser                                                            most expensive to buy initially

Thermal                                                        least flexible (normally only prints specific things like labels)

Inkjet                                                           Least expensive to buy

Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that in your house you print 3000 sheets of paper a year. Based on that let’s cost the print per page cost.

Laser                                                           Most laser printers come with a starter toner cartridge that normally printers ~3000 sheets. No additional cost

Thermal,                                                     The cost for this one, is the cost of the additional paper

Inkjet                                                           Inkjets focus on a cheap printer; cost is the Ink, you would need 4 or more Ink refills beyond the initially included ink.

In this model, it is pretty close to breaking even with Laser and Inkjet printer costs. The thermal is specialized and most likely is more expensive regardless, but if you need the specific outputs, you won’t care. In year two, as long as you don’t burn up the printer (maximum prints is something to research – how many prints before I have to replace the drum of a laser). If you intend to move into the second year and a second 3000 sheet of printing, the laser is cheaper than the Inkjet. You have to pay more upfront for a laser, but over time it becomes cheaper. Unless you are occasionally printing in color then overall the inkjet is cheaper.

Tech Wiz

Future Tech and a cool new site!!!!

I was looking around my office this morning, trying to find a topic or focus on my tech blog today. I sometimes struggle, not writer’s block now I can move past that, more lots of topics which one do I choose. It is a problem of content rather than a problem of production. As a technologist, I often call myself a nomad, there are many things I am intrigued by and interested in. Today I am thinking about what is coming. I have in the past few years looked at 3d printing, 360-degree cameras, IR cameras, and Drones. I have posted information about ROV’s and talked about multi-media devices frequently. The future is always interesting, first, in that, you can guess incorrectly and secondly because it, the future, will always arrive!

The interesting reality of tomorrow is the expanding world of cameras. I have spent a lot of column space lately on the art of the possible. There are some interesting cameras that are “coming” including a UV plug-in the camera. Want to see the damage UV light is doing to your skin, well this is the camera for you. Voice translation is another area that is expanding. I’ve tried two (Pilot and Travis), and both are good. Dedicated hardware and the ability to do offline are the goals for both this technology. Offline, because when your e in a foreign country today, you will pay through the nose for data on your cellular phone, so having offline mode makes the technology more usable.

Another interesting change recently is that of search engines. I was an early user of Shodan. Shodan was a search engine designed to search for devices connected to the internet, and/also internet of things devices. A new search engine that I have to say is really interesting is Listen Notes. https://www.listennotes.com/ is the link, and honestly, it is quite interesting. The engine searches Podcasts on the net and provides you with a convenient search engine to use. I started playing with it today; the system is free. Overall it found my podcast quickly (search for DocAndersen) and delivered the page cleanly. I was very impressed both with the speed and the other interesting podcasts I’ve found so far. I don’t often review websites but Listen Note is a great tool for the tool belt!

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future tech nut

to image the night sky…

I spent a lot of time playing with cameras. From vacation, and other images, cameras are important to me. The reason I was considering and talking about cameras this morning though, has to do with one of the cameras that I don’t often share pictures from. That being the telescope I have with an integrated camera. I would say most of my rationale for not sharing the images is the reality of living in the burbs and light pollution. Light pollution is all the lights that mark human habitation. If you fly over the US at night or fly into Europe at night, you will realize just how much light human beings generate to drive away the darkness. Every city pumps light into space.

We live near enough to the city of Germantown that the pollution from the city makes Telescope images not so good. That said I got an adapter for my telescope and my Canon DSLR. While the dedicated camera for the telescope is good, my Canon is a better camera. I am going to try a few Astro-Pictures from my deck and see if, in fact, I can get a better picture. I don’t know why that has been a quest of mine for the past couple of weeks. Other than the 365-day photo challenge, and participating in that challenge the past 175 days. The issue of course, with taking pictures of beyond the earth is the ability of your telescope. The smaller the scope, the less detail you will get.

Macro imaging is something most cameras can do. You magnify the object 9small) and present it larger. Telescopes capture remote light so that you can view it as brighter and more concentrated. In both types of photography, two things impact your image quality. The first is motion. Shaking when focusing far away, or very near, causes a very disturbing picture. Light is the other thing that impacts close and far pictures.

If I can get any decent pictures via the adapter and the telescope, I will share them. It is always interesting to see what comes out. I haven’t tried this type of adapter before, so I am also going to learn something!

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I am a geek

More thoughts on the tech of the last 10 years

One of the big changes in the past ten years of computing is the reality of applications. In 2008 the concept that the iPhone would create, that of applications. Before the rise of the iTunes store and the reality of mobile games, the phone often had the expensive software. I suspect the change to smaller bite-sized, and chapter applications caused some overall changes.  There was a time when we considered a full-fledged application critical. The reality of the mobile world changed that. The rise of mobile sites and greater awareness of what a mobile device could do changed not only how people bought application, but it forced the traditional software houses to move to a new world.

The 99 cent application model has created a new world that created some other interesting things. The add-on market for phones existed long before the iPhone. But Apple is the company that has survived two huge transitions, without losing a significant portion of the overall market share. They dropped the 32 pin connection of the original iPhone and the iPod for the new lightning connector. That changed the overall market by forcing people to rebuy some add-ons. In the past, that kind of change was market changing. Apple just made the change and moved on. The consumer buying that the new model and new hardware was simply better overall. Sales and marketing became suddenly critical components of the overall cellular phone world.

Then Apple did it one more time, pulling the 3.5mm audio jack that had been the stalwart of every phone released from the beginning of the cellular explosion (somewhere around 1991, cellular phones became more than a movie prop).  Now the iPhone didn’t have one, yes they gave you a dongle, but surely that change caused Apple to lose market share right? Well, maybe a very small amount, but not much. The market has changed. iPhone and Android phones dominate the landscape. The reality of bit-sized applications continues to expand. People using the smaller screen of their phone need information served up in smaller footprints than you do on your PC.  All of that change, an entire market in just a decade.

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More on being a technology nomad…

Yesterday I talked, again, about a topic, that of my being a technology nomad. It is part of who and what I do but it is still something I have to stop and consider from time to time.  I often bounce from concept to technology and back to concepts again. I do, however in the best sense of fairness, want to point out that there are technologies I do not often change if at all. For example, printers are an area I don’t often change. For many years I only had HP printers. My level of dissatisfaction with HP’s overall product quality had me move to another printer company. Over the course of the process of our family moving to Maryland, I jettisoned all my HP printers (it did take three years). Now I only have Canon printers in the house.

I also don’t vary or move from the DSLR (Canon) I have. I did upgrade that camera once, but since then I have enjoyed using it. I can’t share any of the pictures taken with that camera on the various sites I publish because of the size. I also don’t edit or modify pictures  But many other things I have moved through options and considerations. The easiest stuff for me has always been protectors and cellular phone add-ons.  There are some things you can quickly consider and add, without committing a lot of existing resources to the new solution. I wandered three different plugs and used iPhone 360-degree cameras. The loss of one company to closure was a tough blow. But I knew there were other options out there.

The iPhone has been a steady state phone for me since 2012. I was a PPC user, then the beginning windows phone user before moving to Android and finally ending up on the iPhone. I haven’t done anything regarding changing or using a different phone since I made the final switch. I do, from time to time miss my old pocket pc phone, but that is more reverence for the past than a desire to go back to that. I guess what I am trying to say a lot of words and examples is that as a nomad I am not completely free. I do, have certain technologies that I have embraced. There are certain technologies that I use every day; I don’t look for the nomadic new technologies in those spaces. I do have boundaries in which I am a nomad!

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nomad