Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The future is clear. Less Is Most Definitely More.

Article first published as The Future is Clear - Less Is Most Definitely More on Technorati.
We are on the verge of yet another revolution in technology. Just as the transistor was the turning point taking us down the road for the modern electronics devices we enjoy today, the next turn is about to be even more revolutionary than you can image.

Conventional materials such as plastics that you are used to seeing are quickly going to be minimized, or completely eliminated all together. Instead, alternate materials, some that you may not expect, will be implemented into the design and functionality of future devices.
Take for example, the HP LiM (Less is More) concept computer designed by Jeffrey S. Engelhardt. The white "book" is actually the computer itself, constructed using an aluminum frame, with bamboo, yes, bamboo fabric stretched around to cover the computer interior. This is ingenious, as heat is the main enemy of computers. Using a stretched breathable natural fabric allows amazing ventilation of the system, while lowering manufacturing costs by up to 65%.
The concept system seen here features a 19" transparent tough OLED display, a virtual trackpad projected onto the desk surface, and wireless keyboard to eliminate cable clutter. More can be seen here.

As I wrote in a previous article back on October 31st, 2011, entitled "You are Looking at the Future - Called Graphene", it is certainly going to be a major component in crafting our future tech.
Flexible OLED displays and Graphene will certainly lead to advancements such as wearable devices that are built into the clothes and gear that we wear, further integrating technology into our everyday lives, and our dependence on it.

Another example is, (don't laugh), Google Goggles. Here is Google's concept video of what life will be like with a virtual screen directing our lives as it happens. Google Goggles is part of their "PROJECT GLASS", which can be seen here.

If all that isn't enough, add these technologies into the mix:

GPS: Global Positioning System for the purpose of determining the device's (and usually by default, the user's) current location on Earth.

BUMP: Shares contact information and photos by simply bumping two phones together. Just open Bump, hold your phones, and gently bump your hands together -- Bump will magically do all the rest. There are two parts to Bump: the app running on your device and a smart matching algorithm running on Bump servers in the cloud. The app on your phone uses the phone’s sensors to literally “feel” the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then Bump just routes information between the two phones in each pair.

RFID: Radio-frequency IDentification is the use of a wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency to transfer data from a tag attached to, or embedded within an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking. RFID tags can be attached to clothing, possessions, Livestock and pets may have tags injected, allowing positive identification of the animal, or even implanted within people.

NFC: Near Field Communications builds upon Radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems by allowing two-way communication between endpoints (devices). NFC is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity, usually no more than a few centimeters.

By utilizing these technologies, our electronic devices can communicate with each other, and the world around them, live, in real time.

There is your sneak peek into the very near future of our tech as it becomes more inseparable from our lives as we know it.

I would love your thoughts and comments, please share with your friends.

-J. D. Redmond

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ice Cream. Can you taste the technology?

Article first published as Chocolate Ice Cream. Can You Taste the Technology? on Technorati.

There is more tech in those chocolate chips than you can possibly imagine. Talk about kilobyte karma in your Ben and Jerry's Karamel Sutra!

First it was home computers, then cell phones, tablets, flat screen TVs, technology is now completely ingrained, integrated, and inseparable from our everyday lives. Now, technology takes yet another step, designing the actual food that we eat. Ice Cream.

Not just the ingredients, but way down to the molecular level, changing the way it tastes, feels, consistency, and shelf life. This is Einstein Level particle physics at work here.

Dr. Alan Gray, at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, stated "If you zoom in and look at substances and were able to view them at a microscopic level, you would see that there are actually made up from quite complicated structures of different materials."

Jay Gould, at Cray supercomputer, said "...you've got to have a lot of compute power, It's not just a laptop...if you used just a laptop to generate some of these computations, it might take five lifetimes."

Cray super computer published a special document that explains it as "Over the last 12 years, a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh’s Soft Condensed Matter Physics group and the Edinburgh Parallel Computer Centre (EPCC) has developed simulations of soft matter systems using the lattice Boltzmann method and the parallel computing code "Ludwig" to accurately capture the physics of systems such as mixtures, suspensions and liquid crystals. Understanding and controlling the phase separation of liquid mixtures, for example, prevents the formation of those ice cream compromising ice crystals and improves the shelf-life of frozen desserts - one of the many practical applications of the research." The full document can be viewed here. while the Nvidia blog is here.

Initially researchers ran the code on over 200,000 cores on the Cray XT5 Jaguar system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, then switched over to a GPU system that used fewer resources.

Controlling "phase separation" in ice cream can also benefit other complex liquids, such as motor oil, cosmetics, paints, and other foodstuffs.

The next time you lick your favorite flavor, think about the storm of electrons it took swirling around to fabricate the taste, texture, and experience you are enjoying in your mouth.

-J. D. Redmond.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Bogey Man In Your Pocket

Article first published as The Boogie Man In Your Pocket on Technorati.
You have a smartphone? It's already too late. He has your bank account number, passwords, confidential friends list, and much more. Forget your social security number and your fingerprints, all a professional fraudster needs is your smartphone. It's the equivalent of a burglary in one insidious move. He doesn't even have to steal it.
Every day it seems, you hear about security breaches at major companies like Sony, and personal attacks via viruses attacking your home computer, identity theft, etc. There are many news stories (UK telegraph & Mashable for example) giving examples how vulnerable smart phones are.
No doubt about it, the boogie man is out there, and he is hot on your heels after you. Now there is yet one more way he can get to you, find out your user names, passwords, who you call, who calls you, who your friends are, your calendar agenda, and even track where you go. The vast majority of people are wide open to attack without even realizing it.
Your Smartphone. It has a processor, memory, an operating system, it is a COMPUTER shrunk down into the palm of your hand that happens to have a phone function, but it is primarily a computer.
Your smartphone is every bit as vulnerable as your home computer, in fact even more so, because we do absolutely nothing to protect them. Most people install antivirus software on their computers, but somehow, not our phones, yet we use our smartphones to store highly personal information on, such as banking details, credit card numbers, employee number, etc.
Compounding this, more and more apps are relying on device browsers to run, while browsers on mobile devices aren't as secure as home computers. 
Small screen sizes also inherently add to the problem of people out and about on the go hastily clicking on links without really reading and understanding what they are doing.
This is a particularly juicy target for nefarious individuals who want to do you harm. In fact, McAfee, the antivirus company that regularly releases threat reports, states that in the fourth quarter of 2011, the number of mobile malware samples jumped from less than 150 in the third quarter of 2011, to well over 400 in the fourth quarter.
According to McAfee, the first Android exploit came with the first SMS Trojan discovered in the wild in 2010, since then the landscape has become more and more volatile, with sophisticated  malicious code seen in the official Android Market during the first half of 2011 like DroidDream, DroidKungFu, and Plankton.
I have compiled a list of ways you can protect yourself and prevent your device from falling under the control of someone else...
* Don't click links in emails that may have you download something or sign in to a website using your username and password. Always go directly to the website. For example, if you get email from Bank of America, don't click any links in it. Instead go to the Bank Of America website directly by typing in the URL in your browser.
* Don't visit websites that aren't "known" to you. You have very little to fear from Ebay, Amazon, Google, CNN, etc... but unknown websites with lots of ads are just waiting to inject some nasty malware code into your device via your browser.
* APPS: The ultimate culprit, trojans. There are thousands of apps tempting you to download some free new super app that does wonderful things, but hiding within may well be malicious code with evil intent, even opening a backdoor into your device to transfer your information out.
* WiFi: Try to avoid using public WiFi on your smartphone. This opens up your device to the wild west of the unknown on the internet because there aren't any network security measures in place. Public WiFi hotspots are playgrounds for hackers seeking to harvest data from your mobile device.
* Activate installation password protection measures to prevent your device from downloading apps or files without your permission
* Install antivirus software on your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device. Among some of the mobile security software offerings:

Total Defence, formerly a division of CA Technologies.
Webroot offers protection for both Android and iOS devices
Macafee Mobile Security
Norton offers Norton Mobile Security 2012
and finally Kapersky Mobile rounds out the list.

Good luck out there. Enjoy your device, you can, if you exercise a bit of awareness and common sense.
- J. D. Redmond

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Article first published as Techno Desire Cubed on Technorati.
Behold the latest advancement in personal computing by Xi3.com. This tiny tot of a computer packs a behemoth punch of computing power.

We have come a very long way in 31 years since IBM first introduced the first (now considered a monstrosity) Personal Computer (5150 PC) in 1981.

Just so you tech buffs don't start arguing amongst yourselves as to the original PC specs were, here they are: CPU: Intel 8088, 4.77MHz , RAM: 16K, 640K max, Display: 80 X 24 text,  Storage: dual 160KB 5.25-inch disk drives, Ports: cassette & keyboard only, OS: PC-DOS v1.0.

Xi3 has managed to truly re-design the PC from the ground up. Gone is the run of the mill single motherboard design concept we are all used to seeing in both desktops and laptop form. Instead, they use a modular back plane architecture concept.

Because the Xi3 architecture separates standard system components, such as processor and memory, from customer or special application requirements, the Xi3 design approach allows for rapid and inexpensive development of new and innovative technologies.

This is the first architecture to separate the SouthBridge chip of a chipset solution from the core processor and the NorthBridge chipset. This innovative "SouthBridge agnostic" design means that any number of SouthBridge chips can easily be developed into a working product regardless of the processor or NorthBridge in the "core" design.

What does that mean to you? Consider a tiny sleek all aluminum cube computer producing specs like this: 1.8 Ghz Dual-Core 64-bit 3400e, 1MB L2 Cache, supported by the 780E NorthBridge and SB710 SouthBridge chipsets, 2GB DDR2 memory, with dual 2560X1600 display outputs, eSATA 3.0, 2.5 and 1.5 support, USB 2.0 support, 16GB mSATA SSD (up to 129GB).

The environmentally conscious, will certainly appreciate that it sips power, consuming only 20 Watts! Large scale businesses will enjoy the fact it will keep their power bills down.
The perfect computer doesn't exist. There are positives and minuses with all of them regardless of manufacturer, make, model, or brand. With that in mind, here are some downsides to consider with the Xi3 system. While being highly versatile, the hardware and components are strictly proprietary... you won't be going down to your local electronic store to get a replacement part or upgrade. This means you have to rely on buying from the manufacturer, and paying the price they set.

The Xi3 cube computers are far MORE than adequate for everyday all around use both in business, office, and home environments. Only hard core power computer users like Gamers would need more computing muscle in their rigs.

Xi3 has done a remarkable job in redesigning the home PC, and the way we look at it, clearly with the future in mind. Bravo.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Not So Neat, When It's Obsolete

Article first published as Not So Neat, When It's Obsolete on Technorati.
In the stampede to make tech devices smaller, flatter, and thinner, are we sacrificing common sense for vanity?

The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) just wrapped up in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was the largest show in the event’s history, with more than 3,100 exhibitors across the largest show floor  – 1.861 million net square feet of exhibit space – and drawing more than 153,000 attendees from all corners of the world to see the newest, latest, and greatest in the world of tech offerings: Cell phones, TVs, computers, video games, cameras, appliances, and more. If it's tech, it's here.

The driving force of this annual show, is the insatiable demand by consumers for more and more tech. We blew past 2G, then 3G was better, now 4G is pushing data transfer speeds to your mobile phone as fast or faster than your home internet connection! Look at the offerings of any wireless carrier, it is a veritable arms race who can cram the most tech into their mobile devices. People demand larger and flatter screens, higher image density, LCD, Plasma, LED, more pixels, more more more more more.

The show also attracts all the press and independent tech reviewers. These privileged individuals get to see products in person 3-6 months before the product shows up on store shelves, while the general public gets to see glimpses of the new tech through the eyes of the reviewers.

This year, several in the press came back from the show, grumbling and  commenting that it was "boring" this year.
How on earth can a show with over 3,100 exhibitors taking up the better half of 2 million square feet produce a show that can be written off as boring by certain tech reports and reviews? Out of the thousands of exhibits on show, was there nothing there that captured their interest? Obviously not.

What can we expect from manufacturers year after year that are forced to produce innovative gadgets that warrant space age headlines and mind boggling concepts?

Are we, as consumers, inspired by these techno geeks putting unreal pressure on manufacturers to invest millions of dollars into research and development in this current financial climate, to outshine their current and  existing products, some of which haven't been released yet? When the iPad 2 is released, the iPad 3 is already in the works.

Does vanity, or a need to be first with the latest trend, cause an imbalance over necessity? It's now reaching epidemic proportions to have, say, the iPad 3, when you just bought the iPad 2 a few weeks ago, and it is already pushed to one side.

The financial cost to a business of research and development to come up with new tech at breakneck speeds is alarming on many levels. Consumers say they want to be clean and environmentally conscious, yet at the same time, they want the ultimate new tech, replacing it sometimes several times a year, and at what cost to the environment? Besides the obvious physical problem, the invisible issues of cadmium, lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium leeching into ground water can devastate water sources and earth for eons to come. This is not an environmental rant, however valid that point of view may be.

We are all guilty of it. We all like the next big thing, but if we like what we have and it does the job well, do we really have to have that shiny new gizmo just because promotional advertising tells us we do? Are you sure you want to spend $600 for the Samsung Galaxy Tablet when it's life expectancy with you is around 3 months; and for 2 of those months, you are drooling, salivating, and coveting the next model about to be released? As a tech professional, I get to handle and examine, operate and compare, many new products as they are launched by major manufacturers. There are some stellar devices among them; but most are superceded in a matter of months by their own brothers and sisters on the production line. So why the rush - why the race? Are consumers confused with regard to need over greed?

We aren't talking about inhibiting progress and invention here; it's a matter of injecting a little logic into the equation, and establishing if we really need to obsess about owning every new piece of gadgetry on show.  Is it imperative to be able to switch on your Samsung washing machine from your mobile device from 30 miles away? I don't think so. When it happens to me, I just ring the lady next door to do it for me.  :P

 Everybody loves an upgrade: something better and smarter than what we already have ~ but do we have to do it at this pace, and spend as much as we do? Perhaps it's time for reflection to allow the technomania to cool down a little.