Chasing a circular slide rule…

As a technologist, I know that there were some things that shaped my love of and use of technology. The first, was the presentation of a circular slide rule by my father to me, around my 15th birthday. I loved that slide rule. It was more than simply a slide-rule-in-the-round. It had a periodic table of the elements on one side. It had a sheet with mathematical formulae on the inside. I used it an almost every day. It, that circular slide rule and the Swiss Army Knife I got in Ireland were my constant companions.

From those two items came the next tool for me in the technology space. The Apple IIc computer. I went from the IIc to the IIgs. My ex-wife told me, right before we ended our marriage that in fact “the computer thing would never amount to anything.” I guess in the end people can be wrong. My ex-wife certainly was. My love of those original computers moved me towards the Macintosh computers. I had a Macintosh SE, SE/30. Macintosh IIc, Quadra 700 and then a PowerBook. The PowerBook (color) was mine for about three days and then became my current wife’s computer. (I tried to convince she wanted one, she said no, saw me using it a few times and decided she had to have one). My current wife has always supported me; it is why she is current and won’t be an ex.

Macs were left behind when I joined Microsoft. I was a PC guy from then onward. When I left Microsoft, I got a new Macintosh MacBook. But that is not a story relevant to the evolution now discussed. The reality for me being now, I still seek that circular slide rule. I measure the devices I have against the perfect memory of that slide rule. I realize it is perfect because it is no more. The evolution however of computers is what drives me now. I look towards devices as tools. Each performs a specific function. My iPad is my portable communication device. My iPhone is my connected always with me device. My laptop represents the tool I use to build IP at work and to build and consider IP at home. All of this technology simply a tool. From understanding what is under the surface of the water, to take pictures from above, technology is a tool. It is something I use, happily because of a circular slide rule.


still seeking a circular slide rule

Of ROV’s Drones and snapping selfies…

One of the first ROV’s I got was the Brookstone ROV. The original had tank treads that you could drive remotely with your cell phone or tablet. The new one, called the rover is a little more flexible. Both of them allowed you to send the device into a remote room and return video from that remote location. You could also use the microphone on the device to listen to what was being said at that remote location. I still have the device in the basement of the house. I do from time to time light it up and send it out to see what it can see in our basement.

(We currently have four dogs living with us. Of the four dogs, two Serenity and Raven have declared this device unacceptable. Both bark and chase it.)

The world of what you can see is expanding. The first expansion was the explosion over the last two years of the drone market. No, I have not accepted the right of a selfie drone to buzz me yet, but drones are everywhere. The product that intrigues me or the classification within the drone space that I think is the future growth area is that of modular drones. Modular drones allow you to have more than just a camera with your drone. If technology changes (360-degree cameras are coming soon) you simply by the mount and away you go. Aguadrone is a product in the space that starts out with two modules now, sonar and camera both of which are waterproof as is the drone itself!

Finally, we get to the last remote operated vehicle delivering video and images back to you. That being the world of ROVs. Vehicles designed to go where humans require special equipment to go to, underwater. 300 feet or so for many of them. The professional quality ROV’s go well beyond 300 feet. But for a hobbyist interested in what is at the bottom of the lake they like to hang out on, 300 feet is plenty. All of these devices allow you to record video on your mobile device. The only selfie I would approve is an ROV selfie, 200 feet underwater!



The bag revolution…

Someone asked me the other day what I carry with me in my bag. First of all, it depends on where I am going and my goals there. My rolling bag is one I would take if I was going to do a presentation or just going to the office for the day. I have a power strip, speaker, and projector that are all small, portable but do a great job. All of that, of course, means that I can get into my car and carry my bag with me. If I am going to the Washington DC Metro, I take a backpack and a much lighter array of tools.

The evolution of what you take and what you need is interesting.

What I have realized though is that bags haven’t improved in a long time. Yes, you can get solar powered bags. You can get 11,000 mAH batteries to take with you. But the concept of the bag is the same now as it has been for a long time. Yes, there are and have been innovations in the bag space, but it remains a pretty much as it has been for 20 years market. Backpacks, rolling bags, and luggage are pretty much the same as it has been for a long time.

I am not going to spend column space redesigning the bag. I have a ton of ideas, but well that is a different time and place. The reason for my discussion today is the reality of technologies evolution and the static nature of bags.

As the concept of “mobility” evolves I hope someone pays attention and delivers the bag that supports the mobile life. I do have to say, that doesn’t mean a bag that is a speaker. Or a bag that becomes a selfie drones. Speakers booming in the park can be too much. Selfie drones circling you like flies are also annoying.


bag fan,

Of blogs and posts…

I sometimes struggle with topics for my blog. In part because I will not often allow myself to post political rants. I do, and have in the past post political rants but not very often. I decided based on one I posted a few years ago to no longer do that. The number of trolls that post created was far worse than I expected. I’ve heard now, that trolls are even worse now than they were then. The siren call of political ranting is high right now. I am resisting, but the hold on resistance is less than I would like.

One of the things that interest me now, in 2018 analysts season is what people think is going to be big next year. Next year is an interesting viewpoint because frankly, it is a lot safer than 2, 3 and four years out. What lies just ahead is within vision. That said there are some technologies that I think people are missing. Missing in that what was before is no longer. There was a time when the US Federal Government drove the IT market (in the 1970’s and 1980’s) that is the US software market only. European IT shops were driven by the major governments of Europe. That changed to IT from larger enterprises driving software development in Europe and the United States. To a degree, those enterprise organizations still drive the software and hardware markets but not as much now as they did.

Sometime during the early 2000’s, we became a consumer-driven economy in the software and hardware world. Enterprise IT companies began trying to solve the massive problems of a consumer first reality, offering cloud solutions to reduce reliance on the reality of on-premise. The rise of cloud begat the rise of the Internet of Things or IoT. It is in the rise of IoT that the final shift occurred. You see the 12 billion devices deployed in the IoT world today (it is many more than 12 billion by the by) IoT is a consumer play more than an enterprise play. The shift now is complete. That honestly is what concerns me about the analyst’s reports. They focus on government and enterprise IT solutions. Frankly, I don’t think that is what is on the horizon now, as much as it was 20 years ago.

<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = “[default]” NS = “” />


techno geek

what is in your backup?

20171112_144654912_iOSA friend of mine called my bluff yesterday. He said “since you are always talking about backing up cellular phone pictures, prove it. So I showed him the pictures on my phone and the backup store (also on my phone using the Carbonite application). The nine pictures I am sharing today had not as of yesterday at 1 pm been backed up. The other 2188 pictures that were on my iPhone picture library had been (I moved a bunch off this morning, I have lots of space, but two gigs of pictures is a little silly).

If you do start a family history project, scanning and adding all the physical images to your digital library don’t forget to backup those pictures you’ve got on your cell phone. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve talked to people that were lamenting not backing up their pictures. Have two copies of your pictures at least (hard drive do also fail) and one that isn’t in your home.  That makes a total of three copies, that is in my world considered close to fault tolerant.

If you want to move beyond fault tolerant, that is doable as well. But that is for my technology posts not for my family history posts. We continue to add digital pictures to our expanding library. When we began the family history project, we had roughly 16 years worth of digital images. From 1998 to 2014. We added 45,000 physical images to our collection that was around 85,000 images as of 2014. We’ve added more than 25000 images in the past three years. Plus we also converted all the old film my grandfather had left me.

Lots of images of what once was!



A great tech tool for bloggers! Blog2Print!

One of the things I am always interested in is ways to capture and backup things that are important to me. I frequently talk about backing up cellular phone pictures. I also back up my blogs. For many years I copied the blog into a word document. Now, I use an automated tool that is wholly online, Blog2Print. There are limits to what Blog2print can do, in particular, the number of pictures per book and so on, but overall it is a very useful toolset. If you are a WordPress blogger, Blog2print helps you, creating an online pdf backup of your blog. You can also order physical books, I’ve done that a couple of times as well.

I am bringing it up now because they (Blog2Print) doesn’t have or didn’t have a Niume plugin. While I had backups of all my Niume posts because I always post yesterday’s post on WordPress today, I didn’t get to make a book from my Niume Posts. I do miss Niume. The world of blogging is hard enough without having to worry, is the platform going to go away.

Our home seismograph got a reading from the Earthquake in Costa Rico two days ago. I shared the actual readout yesterday and again today as the image with my technology blog. I am still learning the ins and outs of having a seismograph. Overall it isn’t that hard.

The concept of you see, measure and of course what you need to know is always interesting. Sometimes information is something you don’t know you need until it is too late. One of the things I am thinking about is how could someone create a unified modular IoT framework both software and hardware. It is something I am noodling right now and may bring it to Kickstarter to build.

Technology is something I enjoy, but it isn’t the only thing I enjoy!



Information matters…

RCB10_EHZ_AM_00.2017111212There was an earthquake in Costa Rica yesterday. My seismograph saw the tremor and recorded it. That is the what and why of having scientific structures and internet of things devices in your home. To be able to interact with information that is important to you. The reality of IoT devices is the reality of information. Both the creation of (such as the Raspberry Shake) or the consumption of information. As we move down the path of what information we have available to us, it becomes an interesting question.

I have a really good friend who has a drone. He uses that drone to check his roof after storms. When the insurance company argued with him, he sent them time-stamped videos of a week before and a day after the storm. The insurance company sent an adjuster to the house and agreed with him that the storm had damaged his roof. Would they have done so as quickly without the drone footage, I don’t know. I do know that he flies over his house, and three of his neighbor’s houses now checking the roofs.

I have another friend I met through the forums for NetATMO, the home weather station. She and her husband also have a NetATMO system at their home. We started talking about weather gadgets online. She and her husband just bought a Bloomsky. I can’t wait to see the video they produce from Idaho. That is the wonder of technology, both the ability to connect and communicate but also the ability to see and record events! Knowing what is going on around you, helps!


technology fan