Today, Apple empties my pockets

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It has been a big day for Apple products. The iPhone 6, 6+ and AppleWatch all popped in to existence… sort of. These products in and of themselves are little more than tech kitsch. However, they have a game changer.

ApplePay.

Apple designed ApplePay to replace credit cards. I will not need to bring cards with me for payment anymore. I do not carry cash and will not carry cards. The only thing I will need to have with me is ID. Imagine how much less I will have to carry around with me in my daily life.

With the AppleWatch I can open locked doors, like the front door of my house. I can start my car. I can unlock…

In fact, there is my kick starter idea. I will build a lock that is unlocked by the AppleWatch. It will replace combination and key locks. It will have a rotary dial (like a combination lock) connected to a generator that will provide enough power for the lock to receive and process data from the watch.

In this way someone at the gym will not have to even keep a key with them while running, playing racquetball, or swimming.

Will I pay $350 for a watch? I do not know. I do not wear one now. I can say that Apple has provided me with motivation though. No keys, no cards, and empty pockets ūüėČ

Yesterdays work for tomorrow…

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And now I submit the top half of Printrbot simple.

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This is a project that I will finish on Friday. I receive the volume upgrade then. I will be printing on a metal heated bed, using a simpler design than most 3D printers, for lower cost, and similar quality.

To make this clear I feel that the 3D printing revolution is in desperate need of a Steve Jobs. Someone to make a printer for, “the rest of us.” One that, “just works.” Until then I will enjoy figuring out everything that this little joy can do. And yes, there will be pictures.

LOOK! I live in the future (well almost)….

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You have likely read of the exploits of my 3 year-old daughter. We went to the Denver Mini Maker Faire on the weekend of May 3rd and 4th. This is a follow-up to tell you what I have been doing since then. 3-D printing is now what the home computer industry was at the end of the 70’s. While I was at the Faire I saw and smelled many 3-D printers. Despite the smell I decided to see if I could find one to fit in the budget.

Make did a special on 3-D printing. I purchased it, read through it, scanned it, flipped through it, looked for other articles on-line to compare to, and purchased the digital version on my iPad Mini. All my reading kept coming back to one printer. I slowly, deliberately, and unremorsefully fell head over heals for the printrbot simple Maker edition. I found one for $250 and snatched it up.

This was the work I did on Friday, May 16th:

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Here you see the circuit board with some cables plugged in. In front of the bottom of the circuit board there is a metal rod popping up. That is the Z axis (up and down) motor. On the left are some steel cylinders. These are the bearings for the X axis (left and right). I will be sliding 10″ steel rods in them. The printer table will sit on these steel rods.

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On the left is the logo for printrbot. The back of the pc board is logo’d. The total height is about 6 inches (at this point). This is not a large printer folks. The surface construction is laser cut plywood. This is convenient because it glues together with bolts holding stress points.

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The little sanding drum that is sticking out is the X axis motor. Between the bearings there is an end stop switch . This way the bot knows when it can not pull any more.

This was an hours work, at a leisurely pace, late one Friday night. I ran into a problem with a power connector that I solved to my satisfaction.

This reminds me of seeing the Apple 1 in a wooden case.

Denver Mini Maker Faire Day 2

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Let me open by saying,”May the fourth be with you.” Abigail wanted to start with another picture of R2-D2. I think she has a crush on him ūüėČ

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Next she wanted to go look at the SteamPunk shop again. She found some jewelry she really liked, and Sam was kind enough to let her try it on for a picture.

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After we got the pretties out of the way, Abigail wanted to play fetch with some of the robots.


She would have done this for hours. It is really neat to see her interacting with technology this way. I look forward to the day that a company comes along and does for robots what Apple did for computers in the late 70’s.
CubeCraft was a must stop as well. Abigail loves to build with blocks, and these innovative toys kept her focused. That is an impressive thing for a toy to do to a 3-year-old. I look forward to hearing from Jeremy that these toys have gone in to production.

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Abigail enjoyed creating a glove monster. The lady that helped her do this was an angel. Sadly, I did not get her name which is more a reflection on my skill than hers.

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We got to visit one of my favorite booths at the Maker Faire. SparkFun is one of the best bunch of individuals I have seen in the business. They truly understand that they are interacting with people who want to build it better. SparkFun went out of their way to do this, not just by teaching soldering. They offered a kit (free of charge) that you could solder, and have a game (Simon), watch (LED screen), or a little “bug.” We picked Simon.

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Passing one of the booths we saw airplane kits. These interested her. Abigail asked the lady that ran the booth if Abigail could build one. She got to work showing my little girl how to put together an airplane. Abigail could hardly wait for it to dry to go outside and try it out. The plane will survive long enough for Abigail to get some use out of it.

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At the end of the day, why does all this matter? My three-year old said it best, “Daddy, can we turn off Dora and build a project?” One girl who want’s to do more than she sits and watches. I would have bought three tickets for the Faire had I known that it would spark in her little heart the desire to talk to people, ask what they are doing, and then…

Do it herself.

Denver Mini Maker Faire: Day 1

Denver Mini Maker Faire

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Abigail went to her first Maker Faire today. It was my first Maker Faire too. This was also the first Maker Faire in Denver. To start off the show, we got a picture with R2-D2:

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While wandering around we got to make different types of art. First we used a styrene paper plate as a plate in a printing press. Later Abigail got to make a sculpture out of colored junk.

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Next, she built her own toy selecting parts from 4000 pounds of used and discarded toys.

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She went on to paint part of a mural that other children assisted with and worked on.

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A more creative day together I do not think we could have had. I got to stop at the SparkFun booth, and look forward to visiting there again tomorrow. My favorite booth was Mago’s Magic Shoppe, oddities and curios. It had the right flair to provide many of the props I will want when telling stories of a Lovecraftian nature.

Denver Mini Maker Faire: Day 2

Why Aereo wins and why it matters

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We live in an amazing era. Technology delivers delivers information to people regardless of format or distance. This fact scares the Broadcast Television market. An entire industry is kept up at night because someone small has come to challenge them.

Computers do three jobs. One job is input and output. We have to get data into a computer, and have to have a way to get something out of the computer. The second job is processing. The data is brought in, context is applied, and the resultant information is sent somewhere. Job three is storage. Users store information for recall moments later, hours later, days later, weeks later, months later, even years later.

A computer is a system that can perform these three tasks. In electronic computers we separate these three building blocks with wires and things called buses. A bus is an orderly system of wires and hardware that allows data and information to be moved from input, to or through processing or storage, to output as needed.

When mainframes were the primary systems used, I/O (input and output) was physically separated from storage and processing. An operator would sit down in front of a terminal to supply input. That input would pass to the mainframe for processing and storage. When needed, output was provided to the terminal so the operator could interact.

Fast forward half a century and we are doing the same thing again. This article exists because an iPad provides I/O. WordPress.com processes and stores data from the iPad. WordPress.com is acting as the mainframe, and an iPad is acting as the terminal. The current term for this separation of I/O, storage, and processing is “the cloud.” The bus that is used to tie everything together is a combination of wired and wireless connections and hardware.

The term “cloud” has to do with how we break up and separate I/O, storage, and processing. Interestingly enough, the term cloud applies to another popular wireless network that separates I/O from storage and processing. The network in question is referred to as “broadcast network,” or “television broadcast network.”

When an individual sits down in front of a television, they are viewing output. The output occurs in pictures and sound. However, pictures and sound are not what was delivered to the output device. Data in the form of ones and zeroes was sent through a network to the output device. The output device processes the ones and zeroes into graphics and sound. The graphics and sound cross a bus after processing and are then presented to the individual watching television.

A broadcast system emits a carrier wave on a certain frequency. The television receiver is designed to make use of this carrier wave. The fact that you receive signal wirelessly occurs only because of how strong the signal is. Weaker signals travel similar distances by the use of a copper wire.

Television broadcasters want you to believe in magic. They pretend like the process Aereo uses is in some way taking advantage of a loophole. Aereo is accused of using an unfair tactic to skirt the law. Now for the fact of the matter. There is a portion of a paragraph above that is in bold. This portion explains how TV works. It also explains how Aereo works. The ONLY point of concern comes from the italicized portion of the same paragraph.

The entire case Television Broadcasters have brought before the Supreme Court asks one question. What is the maximum length of the bus that is allowed when moving audio and video from a processor to a display device? Television Broadcasters want to control the functionality of the technology we refer to as “the cloud.”

Television Broadcasters feel they deserve a special exception. The rest of the world and the technology in it functions using a set of rules. Broadcasters want to change the rules after 50 years to do what is in their interests. I understand that television broadcasters run a business. I understand they choose to do what is in their own best interest. What I can not understand is why they would endeavor to dupe people into believing nonsense.

Only one court has been duped in to believing nonsense. I am not surprised that it was a court in Utah.

A Mac Book Pro, an iPad Mini Retina, and an iPhone

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There is hope that this will not just be another “switch to tablet” story. ¬†It begins as many do in a home office. ¬†The daily use system at the time was a Mac Book Pro. ¬†New Horizons had shifted to using Adobe Connect as its education content delivery system. ¬†As an Information Security instructor this meant that it was a good time to test teaching using only an iPad.

The earlier system was Elluminate.  This meant running a Java VM.  This did not work well on OS X because the company that created Elluminate was no longer supporting OS X/Java versions.  An iPad is not a consideration in this environment because Java does not run on it.

The experiment began with the new year. ¬†The new version of iWork, a new iPad Retina, and a truly unlimited data plan all led to the question, “Is a 15″ MBP really necessary for daily use?” ¬†There are games the can only be found on an Intel chipset (Eve, StarCraft2, Diablo3, etc…). ¬†It is also a prosumer rig (Final Cut, Pixelmator, Aperture). ¬†You won’t find these on iOS.

The real question is, is an iPad powerful enough to use daily, and can the laptop stay home?

What about running Windows?  OnLive delivers a full Win7 desktop with Microsoft Office.
Parallels Access can connect to a computer running Parallels and let you run the OS X desktop or any VM installed in Parallels (Win 8.1, Linux, Unix, etc).  So either way there is OS availability .  Either system was functional.  OnLive is nice because you are connecting to a remote system.  It is like using a proxy, increasing your own local security by not exposing you to the Internet.  Parallels is nice because you can install anything you want to, you are using your own machines.

With operating systems covered applications become the next big question. ¬†With a MBP, iPad, iPhone, AppleTV’s… Yes, the decision to use iCloud was an easy one. ¬†Core productivity apps for this test are¬†Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. ¬†EverNote is also a must have. ¬†Since this is a WordPress blog, the WordPress app was another easy pick.

Every day for two weeks Keynote provided teaching presentations.  It worked flawlessly and as expected.  Adobe Connect works as expected as well.  Not as robust as the desktop version, but functional.  The day will not come soon enough when Adobe converts Connect from a Flash base to an HTML5/AJAX base.

None of this would have been possible without a ClamCase.  The onscreen keyboard is great for an edit or two, but a full article definitely needs tactile feedback.

The one great complaint is the lack of controllers. ¬†Many of the games my age group grew up with are available once more for iOS. ¬†SoulCalibur, AfterBurner, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragons Lair, Space Ace, Jet Set Radio, Sonic the Hedgehog, SonicCD, and many others would benefit from a full-sized controller (Xbox layout please). ¬†SteelSeries Stratus is the closest in this regard. ¬†It looks too small for may hands. ¬†Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate II, and Uplink all benefitted from keyboard control.

Between games and productivity the iPad with a keyboard replaced a netbook.  It has also replaced the need to haul a 5 pound laptop around.  If there was a need to bring a device backpacking, this would be it at 1.3 pounds (iPad plus keyboard).

The Apple iWatch

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Today a source at Apple disclosed that the new iWatch concept would be a Bluetooth device.

Maybe you have seen the MicroCell¬†from AT&T?¬† Well,¬†the iWatch¬†will treat¬†an iPad from¬†your service provider like it’s a MicroCell.¬† Any calls that come in will use the iPad as a gateway device and alert through the iWatch.¬† This will happen if it’s a carrier call (typical cell phone call), FaceTime, or any other software that chooses to use it (Skype).¬† The watch will display Instant Messages and notifications as well.¬† Your wired headset (EarPods) will be able to plug in¬†to the iWatch¬†so you can turn them in to a hands free set if you choose.¬† The link between the iPad and the iWatch¬†will use Bluetooth 4.0 to connect, but if a high bandwidth function is needed¬†a WiFi connection to the tablet will be created¬†on demand.¬† This will allow for¬†the battery in the¬†iWatch to last all day.

There is still no word on a release date, but I am hopeful that this will be a sooner, rather than a later prospect.

Is SLATE another Onion?

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I read an article on SLATE about “the middle class myth.” ¬†This is supposed to be comedy/satire right? ¬†Let me point out why I ask:

In this article our character Stanley gets a job:

So Stanley walked over to Interlake Steel, where he was immediately hired to shovel taconite into the blast furnace on the midnight shift. It was the crummiest job in the mill, mindless grunt work..

Then we compare Stanley’s job:

Stanley’s job was more difficult, more dangerous and more unpleasant than working the fryer at KFC

I wonder if the author has ever had oil from a fryer splashed on them? ¬†How is a burn from a furnace worse than a burn from a fryer? ¬†How is shoveling coal more difficult than having to know the settings for a fryer, and haul hot fried food in and out of a fryer. ¬†You shovel in to a furnace, you’re not pulling stuff out of it once its heated. ¬†The author identified that shoveling coal is, “mindless grunt work..” ¬†If you are mindless while working with a fryer, you will pay for it. ¬†The author switches opinions again later in the article:

And anyone with two arms could shovel taconite. It required even less skill than preparing dozens of finger lickin’ good menu items, or keeping straight the orders of 10 customers waiting at the counter.

Maybe we could just ask Stanley what he thought of his work:

‚ÄúYou‚Äôd just sort of go on automatic pilot, shoveling ore balls all night,‚ÄĚ is how Stanley remembers the work.

So shoveling coal both is and is not better/worse than working at KFC.  Right, I am following you.

Then our author decides to become an economist with this nugget:

According to the laws of the free market, though, none of that is supposed to matter. All that is supposed to matter is how many people are capable of doing your job.

Actually, that is one consideration. Another is what pay people will accept for doing the job. This is a critical component to consider.  If only two people will do the job, and one will do it for less pay than the other (all other things being equal), which do you hire?

It’s time to ask the question that is the point of the article:

So why did Rob Stanley, an unskilled high school graduate, live so much better than someone with similar qualifications could even dream of today?

So far the author contradicts themselves and has no idea how basic economics works.  What wonderful leap in logic can we use to address this?

The argument given against paying a living wage…

This myth, AGAIN?  Living wage?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-petro/the-living-wage-fallacy_b_360534.html

As money does not come from no where, all you do is raise the cost to hire, which drives up the cost of services and products, which drives up the “living wage” so that people can afford the higher prices, which drives up the cost of services and products…

This article can not go anywhere from here.

Some fun with the New Year…

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I turn 40 this year.  So I thought I would ruminate (just learned that word need to get a few miles out of it) on things I have experienced changing.

I remember having a record player when I was 4. ¬†I sat and listened to children’s books on records. ¬†I remember my dad owning a truck that had an eight track tape player in it. ¬†I remember my mother getting a cassette recorder for Christmas (this all happened before I was ten). ¬†After I was ten I saw CD’s, DAT’s, MD’s, audio DVD’s, MP3’s…. ¬†The rate of change for audio formats has been incredible. ¬†Now we do not even bother with the physical media format.

I remember reference to Dick Tracy watches (I never saw an actual Dick Tracy comic).  Apple is expected to release a watch this year.  I find it in the realm of possibility that it could send and receive audio and video.  Think about that for a minute.  Dick Tracy was popular from 1931 to 1977.  It took until 2014 for the Dick Tracy watch to arrive on the scene.

A common mantra is “where is my flying car?” ¬†Here. ¬†Now shut up about it already.

Some things we have cured in my lifetime:

1. Invasive H. Flu

2. Chicken Pox
I wonder if curing Chicken Pox was a good thing now that we are seeing teenagers with Shingles.

Economics in the U.S. brings us this startling truth:

Fiscal Year Federal Spending Federal Debt Gross Domestic Product Inflation Adjustor[55]
Billions[56] Adjusted[57] Increase Billions[58] Adjusted[59] Percentage Increase Billions[60] Adjusted[61] Increase
1977 $409 $1,040 $705 $1,795 $1,974 $5,019 0.39
1978 $459 $1,093 5.1% $776 $1,850 3.1% $2,217 $5,285 5.3% 0.42
1979 $504 $1,107 1.3% $829 $1,821 ‚ąí1.5% $2,501 $5,494 4.0% 0.46
1980 $591 $1,175 6.1% $909 $1,808 ‚ąí0.8% $2,727 $5,422 ‚ąí1.3% 0.50
1981 $678 $1,219 3.8% $994 $1,787 ‚ąí1.1% $3,055 $5,492 1.3% 0.56
1982 $746 $1,252 2.6% $1,137 $1,908 6.8% $3,228 $5,417 ‚ąí1.4% 0.60
1983 $808 $1,294 3.4% $1,371 $2,195 15.0% $3,441 $5,510 1.7% 0.62
1984 $852 $1,300 0.4% $1,564 $2,386 8.7% $3,840 $5,858 6.3% 0.66
1985 $946 $1,396 7.4% $1,817 $2,680 12.3% $4,142 $6,108 4.3% 0.68
1986 $990 $1,426 2.1% $2,120 $3,052 13.9% $4,412 $6,352 4.0% 0.69
1987 $1,004 $1,406 ‚ąí1.4% $2,345 $3,283 7.6% $4,647 $6,506 2.4% 0.71
1988 $1,065 $1,447 2.9% $2,601 $3,534 7.7% $5,009 $6,806 4.6% 0.74
1989 $1,144 $1,499 3.6% $2,867 $3,757 6.3% $5,401 $7,077 4.0% 0.76
1990 $1,253 $1,590 6.1% $3,206 $4,067 8.3% $5,735 $7,277 2.8% 0.79
1991 $1,324 $1,610 1.3% $3,598 $4,374 7.5% $5,935 $7,215 ‚ąí0.8% 0.82
1992 $1,382 $1,624 0.9% $4,001 $4,703 7.5% $6,240 $7,334 1.7% 0.85
1993 $1,410 $1,615 ‚ąí0.5% $4,351 $4,987 6.0% $6,576 $7,536 2.8% 0.87
1994 $1,462 $1,642 1.7% $4,643 $5,216 4.6% $6,961 $7,820 3.8% 0.89
1995 $1,516 $1,662 1.2% $4,920 $5,395 3.4% $7,326 $8,033 2.7% 0.91
1996 $1,561 $1,673 0.7% $5,181 $5,554 3.0% $7,694 $8,248 2.7% 0.93
1997 $1,601 $1,684 0.7% $5,369 $5,647 1.7% $8,182 $8,606 4.3% 0.95
1998 $1,653 $1,721 2.2% $5,478 $5,704 1.0% $8,628 $8,985 4.4% 0.96
1999 $1,702 $1,746 1.5% $5,605 $5,750 0.8% $9,125 $9,361 4.2% 0.97
2000 $1,789 $1,789 2.5% $5,628 $5,628 ‚ąí2.1% $9,710 $9,710 3.7% 1.00
2001 $1,863 $1,821 1.8% $5,769 $5,638 0.2% $10,058 $9,829 1.2% 1.02
2002 $2,011 $1,929 6.0% $6,198 $5,945 5.5% $10,377 $9,954 1.3% 1.04
2003 $2,160 $2,018 4.6% $6,760 $6,316 6.2% $10,809 $10,099 1.4% 1.07
2004 $2,293 $2,082 3.2% $7,354 $6,677 5.7% $11,500 $10,441 3.4% 1.10
2005 $2,472 $2,165 4.0% $7,905 $6,923 3.7% $12,238 $10,717 2.6% 1.14
2006 $2,655 $2,249 3.9% $8,451 $7,158 3.4% $13,016 $11,024 2.9% 1.18
2007 $2,730 $2,263 0.6% $8,951 $7,419 3.6% $13,668 $11,329 2.8% 1.21
2008 $2,931 $2,366 4.6% $9,654 $7,793 5.0% $14,312 $11,553 0% 1.24
2009* $3,107 $2,452 3.6% $10,413 $8,218 5.5% $14,097 $11,529 2.6% 1.27
2010* $3,091 $2,392 ‚ąí2.4% $11,875 $9,247 12.5% $14,508 $11,297 ‚ąí2.0% 1.29

By the time Obama leaves office this country will spend 102% of its GDP.  How long is that going to be sustainable?  By the way, the chart above is a copy from wikipedia.

That brings me to my next point.  In school I was taught to search card catalogs for books in the library.  I remember the birth of:

  1. BBS’s
  2. Apple
  3. AOL
  4. CompuServe
  5. Prodigy
  6. Gopher/WAIS
  7. HTML
  8. Mozilla
  9. Netscape
  10. Internet Explorer
  11. DSL
  12. Yahoo
  13. Google
  14. Amazon
  15. Ebay
  16. Blogging
  17. YouTube
  18. Wikipedia
  19. MySpace
  20. FaceBook
  21. Twitter

This is just off the top of my head.  I remember doing research when you had to have physical contact with media.  When was the last time you went to a library?

I remember watching the first space shuttle launch.  I saw the last one too.  I have seen the rise of the privatization of space travel.

I remember when travel had an almost enjoyable elegance to it.  It was fun to ride in an airplane headed somewhere.  Now it is the one form of travel people try to find a way to avoid using.  Customer service is nonexistent, the TSA is unnecessarily invasive and unsuccessful at its job, and value is ridiculous (what you pay v.s. what you get).  Due to our instant satisfaction training we do not move to other forms of transportation like trains.

In the past ten years we have handed over record number of freedoms for the sake of… fear. ¬†When I was 11 years old I watched a movie called Night Crossing. ¬†An opening scene took place in East Germany. ¬†A family is at a public park having a party. ¬†The police show up looking for a specific individual, knowing that person was at the party. ¬†My mother asked me, “how do you think the police knew exactly where that person was?” ¬†I had not considered it. ¬†The family had to register what they were doing with the government. ¬†That was thirty years ago. ¬†With recent revelations from the Snowden incident it appears our government does not require us to register with them. ¬†They just track us through our electronic devices.

So it has been an interesting forty years on this planet.  I look with apprehension to the future to see what the next forty brings.