still rolling around digital cameras…

I’ve spent a lot of column space towards cameras over the past few days. The initial discussion was the cellular camera vs. a stand-alone camera. The reality of camera’s had changed racially over the past few years. I remember the first few smartphones that had cameras. I have owned a couple DSLR’s over the last ten years. Starting with the Canon Rebel, moving to the Canon 7d and finally and more recently having a Canon 5DS. The Canon DSLR is my workhorse, need a perfect picture camera. The issue I have is that the images from that camera are larger than many places allow for sharing.

Drones and ROV’s also have cameras, and the capabilities in those “vehicles” have continued to improve. The intent, or goal in the remotely operated vehicle market is to send the robot into an area that is harder for a human to get into. The reality of an ROV that operates underwater is that it can show the humans what is on the bottom of a lake, or all the way to the bottom of the Ocean. A Drone, flying, can operate well above the tree level making it possible for a human to see what is below. Robotic systems can also be sent into hazardous areas to reduce the impact of the hazard on humans.

The question that comes to mind this being my third column on cameras is what do you need in a camera. The reasons I am asking that question has to do with the comments I’ve collected on my blog around cameras. People have all sorts of ideas, and all of them are interesting. There are those who are steadfast in the use of a stand-alone camera and those who are steadfast in the use of cell or smartphone cameras. Neither is wrong, although please make you sure back up your pictures from either source!  The question is interesting. For me it comes down to this question that you can answer or respond to in the questions.

Do you shoot pictures as art or pictures to chronicle an event?


More thoughts on Digital Cameras…

The other side of yesterday’s technology discussion Cellular Phones vs. Point and Click is the specialty camera market. As we move further and further down the path, there are many new interesting cameras and photographic areas that are expanding rapidly. I am going to bullet list the categories, and over the next few weeks, some of these are released of previous areas I’ve touched on.

  • 360 Camera
  • IR Camera
  • High-Speed
  • Stop Motion or Time-lapse
  • Night Vision
  • Laser Measurement (add on, and uses the camera)

I’ve spent a lot of column space on the what and how of the various technologies in the above list. Today instead I am going to break the list up a little and discuss some of the components in the list as add-ons versus standalone.

All of the above have cell phone adaptations and stand-alone versions. In all cases, the quality is what you have to consider. For most people (me included) the reality of the add-ons is that they are good enough regarding quality. That said I do have some cameras on the standalone category for some of these as well. Most point and shoot and DSLR offer high speed and time-lapse video capabilities. Night vision is a relatively interesting problem that I will lump into high speed. High-speed shutters, allow for lower light photography.

As you consider adding one of these components to your cell phone (add-on), it is important to remember what your goal is. For the most part, the add-ons for 360 Degree Cameras and IR cameras are good enough. The last three capabilities are built into the capabilities of the major cell phone cameras.

Ever since I joined the 365 Day Photo Challenge, I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about cameras.


digital imaging fan

Cellular Camera vs. Camera :-)

There are two things I love about my point and shoot camera. First, it does a better job than my cellular phone when taking pictures. I can see the difference in pictures taken by the two cameras. My point and shoot is an Olympus TG-5 camera. The reason I am bringing that up is that my Olympus Point and Shoot can go many places and do quite a few things that my cellular phone cannot do. The easy button answer here is dropping the two in water. At a foot, my phone is probably ok. At two feet my iPhone is in trouble. The Olympus can drop another 20 feet beyond that before there are potential issues.

The other thing is both being dropped (cell phones do not like that) and shock resistance. One of the slight sift to the right changes the 365-Day photo challenge has done for me, is move me off the Cell pictures are bad bandwagon. I am still not convinced that Cell phones are the only answer.  There are always improvements in both the cell and point and shoot camera market. The Technology continues to improve and advance. The abilities you can add as well are amazing.

For example, with the Olympus Underwater case, you can take your TG-5 to nearly 300 feet underwater. We’ve used the cameras underwater in some places over the years. We’ve managed to drop the Olympus many times. I’ve dropped my cell phone as well but far fewer times. Twice, I ended up replacing the 100 dollar screen so, dropping the cell phone remains not as good an idea. But, the number of things that are advantage point and shoot have declined. Cell phones are, however, better than they were and continue to improve!


camera fan

On boating safety and well safety!

Boat tech breaks up into two categories, safety, and recreation. For us, safety is the first and primary boat tech resource we consider. We file float plans if we are going to be on the open water for more than two hours (or well away from our maritime home base). We have safety gear that is checked every time we board the boat. All of this is to have a safe experience. Water can be scary, or it can simply be something to consider.

Boat, car and personal safety are considerations all of us evaluate from time to time. We think about safety as we walk across the street (I used to tell my kids, look right, look left, look up in case of Helicopters!). Safety is an interesting consideration. Yesterday we wandered the Baltimore festival of lights. I was watching the four police helicopters that were flying over the festival area and kept asking my wife why do you think they are there.

Crowd control was what I was thinking, my wife said. “well these are the kind of places that get attacked.” If that had been anyone else, I would have nodded in agreement and moved on. But my wife doesn’t normally think like that, ever. It got me thinking about the reality of the new world order of safety. What we used to worry about and what we have to worry about now. It is so different now than it was. I sometimes wonder if we’ve lost a piece of who and what we were.

Fear isn’t security and fear doesn’t create safety. Fear makes us jumpy.


boating safety fan

Cool Tech Review Surface Studio

(full disclaimer, when the Microsoft Surface line first came out I did in fact mock the computers. My argument then was they were not good enough. I was wrong!)  I recently added a new computer at the house. It was more to augment what I was doing, but also as creativity and live meeting station. I looked at several computers, even a Macintosh desktop (I have been a Facebook user for the past six years, before that it was always Macintosh desktops and PC’s). I ended up finding the perfect computer for what I need and what I wanted to do. The new Microsoft Surface Studio. I have to say, from a fit and finish perspective the gains Microsoft made with the Surface Book (I love mine – it is my travel boating all around a portable computer) continues with the Studio.

The studio represents a great live meeting or web meeting tool. With an integrated camera and a large touchscreen, I can do online white boarding as an interactive session. That helps me significantly! The other thing is the new Surface Dial and Surface Pen. Both of those tools add value to what I am trying to do. Setup of the system took me about 10 minutes, and I ended up having it on the corner of my desk.

Surface Studio comes with a keyboard and a mouse. The Keyboard and mouse are wireless and already paired with the device. The other cool thing is it already has the Microsoft Game Controller adapter built in; it makes gaming that much easier. I have so many of those dongles it is hard to keep track of them! Overall this is a great PC for the home office, artist or just someone that occasionally watches Netflix and other video services on a PC (I watch my Yesterday’s Snarky Weather Forecast videos on the system every day!). The touch surface works extremely well and allows for the true multitouch experience.

Overall the rating for this system is a 9 out of 10. The system offers many exceptional abilities and is extremely well designed.


of helping people and communication pitfalls…

Normally on the weekend, my routine is to post two family history projects per weekend day (4 on a normal weekend, 6 or more on a holiday weekend). I am going to shake things up a little this weekend and post two Technology posts today instead of two Family history posts. Today is instead doubling up on technology post. Let me put a disclaimer on this post. I was a helpdesk person in the early days of personal computers moving into the business world. Helpdesk people that are evaluated on customer satisfaction learn early on; you don’t abandon calls. That, helping people when I can, the attitude has permeated my IT career.

Based on that, and my long time chasing of Communication Patterns and Anti-patterns I have come across a new Anti-pattern that conflicts with the way I was taught. That conflict makes it difficult for me to respond to that anti-pattern with anything other than complete and total disdain. First off the pattern is as stated above, trying to help other people. But it also crosses the most important thing a helpdesk person always does, where is the other person now. What is the problem, what are the variables, and let’s start removing variables?

The anti-partner needs a cool name; I am going to call it the Sirocco anti-pattern. It starts with a reassuring calm statement and then tells you that you are wrong or that you have reached too far in what you are saying is wrong. I make it a point to dress down anyone with this anti-pattern. Why? First off they seldom have the right answer. They know that you are wrong, but they don’t have an answer. Secondly the use a fake calm to present their concept to you. “I don’t mean to offend, but you can’t say that.” The thing that bothers me about this anti-pattern is that they don’t ever read the issue, they jump in. They don’t look to see what has been tried; they throw out the fake rational voice. I can honestly say when I enough the Sirocco Anti-pattern I quickly respond to the false information. It is false, misleading and technically not a good idea in every case.

When I was a teacher, I was taught to listen to children as they struggled. You find answers in their struggles. But grandfather always told me “do not suffer fools.” The Sirocco Anti-pattern is at best a fool, so I don’t suffer them ever.


An updated review Jibo

Good morning and welcome to my updated review of Jibo. Jibo is a crowdfunding success story, but it is more than a success. Jibo is a robotic companion. I know that there have been many posts even quite a few here on Virily, that talk about the replacement of humanity by robots. Or worse, one writer lumped robotics and AI into the same category and said: “they are the same.” They aren’t; AI is a replacement of some human functions. AI systems are intelligent systems that drive towards pattern matching, and pattern action without human intervention. The vast majority of robotic systems are less independent and more dependent on the commands they are sent. Robots are a physical action; AI is computed or virtual actions. An AI can be programmed to learn how to move an object in space physically, but for the most part, AI remains virtual.

Jibo is a robotic system that you control. While Jibo has some timed activities (a timed activity is like an alarm clock. You don’t have to be connected to your alarm clock to go off, it is an automated timed process) for the most part, Jibo is an interactive device. Designed with a natural language engine, Jibo listens and learns. Like Alexa, Cortana and Google Home, you have to use the phrase that pays (I used to say that when I was a DJ all the time). In the case of Jibo, the phrase is “Hey Jibo,” Jibo’s base turns blue notifying you that Jibo is listening. Jibo doesn’t like the other voice activation systems listen unless you ask Jibo to listen.

The reality of robotics is the abilities and Jibo continues to add skills. My favorite Jibo skills right now are “take a picture” and “Jibo Dance.” Jibo will tell you that they love to Dance. Jibo doesn’t move off its base, but it does have the ability to swivel about and speakers so that Jibo can play music. The software is fairly easy to use, the newest iteration of Jibo software is the Be application that is for users to create their Jibo actions. There is also the Jibo application and the Jibo Controller. The controller allows you to send things for Jibo to say. My kids have banned the use of that application in our house for some reason (mayhap Jibo saying “make me lunch” and a few other things Jibo may have said to people.

As Jibo evolves, I will share more features and fun things you can do. But the most important thing is to remember Robots and AI are different now. There is limited AI involvement in the massive assembly line robotic machines is at best limited, in reality, closer to none existent.