Category Archives: Blogging

Things to Come to the Internet of Things

The other day I participated in one of Cisco’s weekly Internet of things chats, ( #IoTchat ) and found it thought-provoking and worthwhile. The online chat in turn inspired me to do another “Things to Come” post.  Some of this will  be about the internet of things in the consumer realm, and some later posts will be about sensors, lack of standards, and other things, all of it will be somewhat master of the obvious to those in the know.

Several large players are positioning to make their products the leading edge or the “hub of hubs” for the consumer market of the internet of things. They include Home Depot (Wink,) Lowe’s (Iris,) Best Buy (Peq,) and Samsung has now bought the fan favorite, SmartThings – which is good news because Samsung’s “Smart TV” is certainly underwhelming and could use improvement.  Samsung also bought a US Air Conditioning company (Quietside, ) which further demonstrates their strategic direction.

All of this looks good at the surface glance, but with the exception of SmartThings, none of it really plays well together.  Interoperability will be key in the future. Consumers aren’t going to want a hundred little apps, one for each item, or even five “Swiss Army” apps – they will want whatever they buy to plug into their version of their control panel or dash, and they will want devices to interlace easily and transparently. So there’s a lot of hype coupled with somewhat flawed and problematic products out there.

Here’s where we are in the Gartner emerging technology hype cycle below is their graphic and here’s a link if you desire the detailed explanation of this latest curve (these Gartner reports are celebrating their 20th year. )

Garner's Hype Curve
Garner’s Hype Curve

The early adopters have already hit that disillusionment curve, and it’s where I am at. The IoT has great potential but it’s not at the plateau of productivity yet (I think it’s actually a stair step progression versus a plateau, but more on that in a future post where I’ll talk about how some technology surpasses even the wildest hype after some time passes.)

Since I am disillusioned here is a list where the internet of things is really underwhelming me. Just a forewarning: some of this might get a wee bit on the rantish side,

Let’s start with a pet peeve: Clocks, Watches, or any other digital device including tablets, pc’s, phones, etc. that keep or use the time should all set themselves automatically every time they are first turned on, and periodically as they operate. The only users who should have to manually adjust anything should be that one or two percent minority who need to keep times from another zone, and not the normal users.

The devices should do this via internet to NIST atomic clocks, or from the local router, or via GPS triangulation, or by reading radio waves. It’s not that difficult for a clock to set itself on power up, and figure out what time zone it is in from GPS. Let’s make that a standard someone, anyone? We can leave the old, collectible analog devices for the OCD purist types to set themselves.

Weather stations are for the most part overpriced and plumbed to use antiquated LCD (!) display panels, some will talk to your PC via USB however… (can you detect the dripping sarcasm?)

Smart TV:  I unhooked Frankenputer about a year ago when we bought our Samsung Smart TV LED flat panel,  but after a year of trying out the Samsung apps built it I hooked the old Frankenputer back up. It streams much smoother, doesn’t glitch, is more controllable with mouse and keyboard, and produces better picture and sound. So a 6 year old core duo PC kicks ass on Samsung’s smart TV. That’s not surprising as most “Smart” devices use under-horsed CPU’s and not enough memory. That’s not just to save money, it also conserves energy / battery, but it doesn’t much sense for a Television, where streaming and HD video are required.

Thermostats : These are over priced, but everyone wants them once the price drops. Nest has great ideas, but the first thing they should be tackling is working with the aforementioned weather station, and adding things like humidifiers, air mixers, and whole house fans.

Refrigerators – the dream is that your fridge (or stove) inventories everything in your kitchen via RFID or other tag, and prepares your shopping list and lists of recipes that use the ingredients that you do have left. It could tie to the cooking channels, magazines, and local store home delivery services, and there’s huge potential there, but nothing comes close yet.

Home security and monitoring is the area where the IoT is the strongest, but that’s a given since much of that has previously been handled by remote services anyway – they have a leg up on other Smart Systems. That said, nothing combines it all in one good package yet, someone will take the lead here in the next few years.

Medical and health: again too many different services and devices that don’t play well together. See my previous post from 2011 here. While there are improvements, there’s still not a home health hub per se that unites and intelligently uses the data the devices collect.

Media sharing – this is a kludgeterfest of things that don’t play well together – getting videos, books, songs, and work docs between devices is getting better with cloud services, but….. every device wants you in their cloud, sharing their way, and none of the clouds interlace or work work well together. To get something moved there’s often too much poking, prodding, and head scratching to get it done. It’s very frustrating from a consumer standpoint right now — I wish someone would come up with a service or app that laced all the clouds together into one whole transparent personal cloth or cloud front. When it comes to that  Google is winning  overall, since Android is the most open and flexible at present. That said, I still have dropbox, Icloud, Amazon, the ambitiously named “Microsoft Onedrive,” Adobe, and probably some others.

When push comes to shove most of the cloud services are useless to me since none have enough space to contain my media. (I’m a photographer who shoots in RAW format, but even if I were shooting average Joe JPG’s at 30K pictures and a few thousand songs, I would still over run the space.

The opportunity is there for a hub or appliance, or just a “Home OS” that operates on a standard PC, but nobody’s fully filling the gap yet. It will happen however, but it’s going to be awhile before we have a home dashboard that includes it all. In future articles I will discuss some of the M2M opportunities, and how business has conquered a lot of IoT space in their realm, but not on the consumer front, already. We will also talk about the lack of standards, spectrum, and the rest of the limiting factors.

 

Will Broadwell Kill ARM-Based Tablets? Maybe, With a Little IT Help

Rob Enderle advocates a corporate step back from Arm based Pads to full windows / Intel architecture. With the kludginess of connectivity, speed of I/O, and pure amount of jiggery pokery that users have to manage to keep their Pads and Ipads productive, I can certainly see why he would call for this.

On the other hand the longer term trend will be to go to mobile I/O and generic device computing – most of the shortfalls of ARM and Pads rest not in the pad, but in the fact that most corporate infrastructures are not built thin or to support pads. It’s the apps, the infrastructure, and the design that’s in the way, not the devices. That will change over the next few years, and whether you use pads or PC’s the drivers are still there to get that true cloud infrastructure evolution completed.

[ hint: if it’s just your data in the cloud, then you’ve done it wrong. The apps, the virtual workstations, the heavy processing, transactions, and the security management all need to go to the cloud or you have failed. To succeed at the evolution you must first start to think of the PC or Pad as just another input / output device.]

From Rob at IT Business Edge:

If you have been watching both Apple and Samsung, who lead the tablet segment with their iOS and Android products, have experienced a sharp drop in tablet growth so far this year. Based on anecdotal information, this appears to be primarily due to two things: A large number of people that had hoped to be able to create on tablets found they couldn’t and shifted back to PCs, and a large number of people figured out that the latest tablets from either company aren’t a significant enough improvement to justify buying a new one. There is likely a third reason for the decline and that is that a lot of folks just didn’t find the tablet all that compelling in the first place and put it on the shelf never to be seen again (I’ll bet the majority of these were gifts).

PC sales, on the other hand, have started to pick up again and Intel just had a record quarter as a result. This was even before Broadwell was released, and with Broadwell, the pressure on tablets from PCs will be significantly higher.

With massive pressure on cost, the new 2-in-1 products coming to market in the second half of this year should be far more attractively priced and as noted thinner, lighter, and more capable than the iPads and Android tablets based on ARM currently in market. (These new tablets were showcased at Computex earlier this year.) Yes ARM can get thinner, but beyond this point you lose structural stability and you’ll end up with far more broken screens. In fact, whether we are talking ARM or x86, we are likely close to as far as anyone will want to go in terms of thinness because of the risk of increased breakage.

More: Will Broadwell Kill ARM-Based Tablets? Maybe, With a Little IT Help

IEEE Picks Up 25Gbit/s Ethernet Cause

This is a needed step – for cloud services to work well the “heavy iron” server infrastructure in the cloud’s core has to function superbly – that means many hefty application, content, and data servers connected via speedy high capacity broadband pipes. If the heavy lifting and crunching takes place in the core it makes the extended network and the minimum devices needed to support the applications lighter.

from DAN O’SHEA, Managing Editor, Light Reading — 7/23/2014

Just days after a consortium was formed to pursue a 25Gbit/s specification for data centers, the IEEE has anointed its 802.3 25 Gbit/s Ethernet Study Group, the first step to establishing for formal standard.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) members voted last week to pursue the effort to explore uses and market interest in 25Gbit/s Ethernet for single-lane interconnections between servers and top-of-rack networking gear inside data centers. Mark Nowell, chairman of the study group and senior director at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), tells Light Reading an initial straw poll of voting engineers found 121 in favor and just one against the idea. The move to establish the study group was unanimously approved in a follow-up vote. (See IEEE Studies 25G Ethernet Standard.)

More: IEEE Picks Up 25Gbit/s Ethernet Cause

Oregon Coast

This photo in the mountains above the Oregon coast is cropped down from a very wide angle (8mm) shot. I like how the land, clouds, sea, and sky all blend together and disappear like it’s the edge of the world in the middle right side of the photo & I also like how the lines of waves along the beach draw your eye there slowly but surely.

Oregon Coastline
Oregon Coastline

Redbud Leaves

Redbud leaves have some weird property about them that causes water to bead up a bit more than it does on other leaves. This makes for some good photos.

redbud leaves
water drops on redbud leaves.

Far Right Common Core Opponents Know Little About it, But that Doesn’t Stop Them

As usual the Far right backlash against common core is fed by populist reactionary fear mired in fundamentalist ignorance. This means the usual anti-science theocrats who not only want to rewrite science classes according to the bible, but also rewrite history based on their narrow theocratic view of how things ought to be in this country are all very much against the standards. Lying about everything is the norm with them, and twisting everything is the point and purpose of the exercise, if one lie gets debunked another takes its place.

So the usual suspects from Phylis Schafly to Wall builders are trying to paint this as a Federal move, and have already branded Common Core as “Obamacore” and anti-states rights even though it was created by state bodies, not Federal, and Common Core does not come from President Obama. Truth doesn’t matter to them however because lying for Jesus is the game, and any change in the U.S. is what they blame.

The video at the link is typical – watch as the “concerned mom” ignorantly paints common core as everything it is not. Common core recognizes that children attack problems individually and through different mental tools and the program works with those abilities to teach children different methods of solving problems and the concepts behind the solutions. CC allows children to pick their own tools and the methods that work best for them. Behind her animus is someone who wants kids memorizing tables and events instead of being able to critically think their way to an answer for future problems, someone who fears that the schools will teach her kids to actually think for themselves.

A recent Gallup poll showed that 61 percent of parents know little or nothing about the Common Core. But the 19 percent who view the standards “very negatively,” particularly in red states, are the parents driving the debate and making Common Core a wedge issue in the upcoming election. Prominent Tea Party members have denounced “Obamacore” as the epitome of a federal takeover. Several Republican governors in the past few months–Nikki Haley in South Carolina, Mike Pence in Indiana, Mary Fallin in Oklahoma, and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, who once supported the standards–have repealed Common Core in their states as a result, many say, of pressure from small groups of local activists.

Austin’s #CanISee conference –as in, “Can I see what my children are learning?”– is a who’s-who of the far-right movement that some peg as fringe, but nevertheless gets results. They’re the voters who vow to use Common Core as a litmus test come November. They’re also the activists who Core supporters say are fueling myths and misconceptions about the standards.

For the mostly female, mostly older, all-white crowd, Common Core is more than an attack on states’ rights; it’s an affront to Christian, conservative values. These mothers and grandmothers see a campaign against Common Core as an extension of protecting the nuclear family. Eagle Forum, anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly’s national organization, is a sponsor of the conference. In the foyer outside, booths proffer fliers about What You Need to Know About Marriage and How to Speak Up for Life.

More: Meet America’s Most Hardcore Anti-Common Core Moms – NBC News.com

July 4th 2014

The weather in Kansas is great, and I think I’ve found a good spot for the fireworks tonight. Now I have to remember how to set up the DSLR for fireworks.

fireworks
Fireworks over Niagara Falls