For those of you who didn’t catch the play on words in the blog post title, but are curious, the hint correlates to a well known R&B group from the 90’s, not just the subject of this post.
Though its four months later and 49 degs warmer right now, it is 11:55pm. After a long workday (even working from home), tonight we celebrated my son’s high school graduation.
As many are, during this pandemic, the usual gathering of friends and family was all for naught due to you-know-what. What was truly awesome in the midst of this was how, his school, the faculty, staff (of which my daughter is one of them), students, and parents managed to turn this into a joyous occasion.
As with all schools, they have been closed for the last few months and classes have been completed virtually. The process for preparing for a graduation ceremony to a great deal of planning, but was followed up by flawless execution. Being as though my son’s graduating class is very small, last week the process was to have two families come to the school, in thirty minute intervals so that each student can walk across the stage, receive his or her diploma, take the usual pictures with the headmaster (principal) of the school and family, then head home. That whole process took 20 mins. Only immediately family was allowed (because it was most likely the case that said family had no one suffering from COVID-19 symptoms), thus no family members who didn’t live in the household, or friends, were aloud.
Many of the activities you would see at a graduation – faculty speakers, valedictorian and salutatorian speeches, musical selections, etc, were all pre-recorded or provided by archived video. When all was said and done, each aspect of the graduation was coordinated together, in sequence, and streamed via Zoom. The Zoom link was provided to family and friends, weeks before, and from the beginning of the graduation exercise until the closing, it was as if you were watching a ceremony on TV.
Despite the necessity of conducting the entire event virtually, it was a seamlessly executed, blessed event. I, for one, am glad to see where advent of internet technology has taken us and allowed this Class of 2020 graduation to be a grand success in the midst of what is currently being called the “new normal”.
Greetings all. Glad to have you back for this special edition of the Tech Times Podcast. This episode is a departure from my quick thoughts on the evolution of consumer internet technologies and a detour to a longer podcast. I had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO and founder of BLR Rocket Technologies AND Binary Inc., Lemon.
I first came across Lemon on Twitter in September 2019 when he was posting updates on the development of his company, BLR Rocket Technologies. BLR is an up and coming thrust vector controlled (TVC) model rocket technology company who aims to provide TVC-based model rocket technology demos as well as custom flight computers to such enthusiasts. He’s also the founder of Binary Inc, a software company focused on developing software for businesses via coding in-house software for hobbyists and makers that we open-source for anyone to use.
During this episode, we discuss the ever-increasing popularity of TVC model rocket technology, his background in it, its wide ranging presence on Twiiter, its effect in the STEM community and other topics. We also discuss his new startup, Binary, its goals, and the future of the company.
You can find BLR Rocket Technologies and Binary Inc, on the web at the following locations:
For those of you that follow me on Twitter(@MrFresh), youâ€™ve seen daily posts about my progress during this 100 Days of Code challenge. Iâ€™ve embarked on my third try at teaching myself how to code in Python. In short, the first was following tutorials on Codecademy, along with a book I bought, back in 2013. The second stint was trying an â€œIntroduction To Computational Programming Using Pythonâ€ course given by MIT, an online MITx course, commonly known as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). The first go around, I spent too much time just doing tutorial section after section. While that was ok, I wasnâ€™t really applying what I was learning. The MOOC was good, but there were so many global students involved with much more programming experience than me, that I kinda felt out of place, found myself spending too much time on the courseâ€™s Facebook page, resulting in it being difficult to meet the class assignment due date deadlines..
They say the â€œthird timeâ€™s a charmâ€. Iâ€™ve been putting in at least an hour everyday but this time around, Iâ€™m using the same book purchased years ago, â€œPython Crash Course â€“ A Handâ€™s On, Project Based Introduction To Programmingâ€â€¦ANDâ€¦building a project as as I learn. The latter is probably the most single important approach one can take when learning how to code. Picking something to build that you (or even someone others) can find useful, allows you to apply even the most minimal knowledge to something concrete. Iâ€™m seeing that this approach was the missing part in keeping me interested.
Here are a few other tips you may find useful:
Donâ€™t try to learn everything at one time – find an approach that will allow you to become grounded in the basics, and move forward only when youâ€™re sure you have a grasp of them.
Be mindful to avoid what I call â€œtutorial purgatoryâ€ – spending too much time watching tutorial after tutorial and not taking to write actual code. Try to write your own code similar to the exercises you follow, perhaps even modifying an exercise to add what youâ€™ve learned in other areas.
Find a way to document what you learn, via writing it down in a journal or doing so online (Evernote, One Note, GitHub, etc)
Put in some time studying and writing code everyday – consistent actions end up forming habs.
Take advantage of anyway you can with the coding community available to you – often times those there are willing to help you.
Again, continually write code, even the smallest, simplest programs, with comments in the proper style. Not only will it help you learn coding itself but get you familiar with the code editor and IDE you work in.
Participate in the #100DaysOfCode challenge. Itâ€™s one that is beneficial to anyone just starting out through those with vast experience.
The challenge, in and of itself, is often helpful because there are many going through it, as well as just starting, that provide a vibrant, robust community of those willing to help and provide motivation. Iâ€™m exactly three weeks in and look forward to putting in the work everyday at this point (even knowing that theyâ€™ll be some hard days ahead).
I keep my progress posted on Twitter, as a note page in my Evernote account, and in a small blue notebook. At some point, when I feel that GitHub will be useful for me, Iâ€™ll create and maintain my log there, just as many do already. So far, my project is coming along nicely, itâ€™s nothing spectacular, but getting a glimpse of what I know Python can do, there will be lots of room for improving the code as I learn.
If you’re fortunate enough to have Labor Day off and not working as I type this, I hope you’re enjoying the weekend.
This post signifies the return of a podcast I started back in the Summer of 2013, entitled Tech Times. It started out as an answer to the annual AudioMo challenge and evolved into a podcast I actually enjoyed doing. Part of the enjoyment came via the ease of using my iPhone to record the episodes on the go and quickly upload them, with tags and artwork, to the then BLIMS server associated with the ADN (Application Developer Network) for streaming and/or download. ADN was primarily a place for developers to talk software coding, app development, and the like, but subjects were wide open beyond that. It was a user run, free microblog, with the developers creating the infrastructure and apps to build it. It was like a young Twitter without the advertisements and other aspects that Twitter is now known for. A nice breath of fresh air with great members. With ADN going away, that site has now evolved to Pnut which is essentially the same as ADN with many of the same users. I’m fortunate to have been able to grandfather in after the transition, and still engage their regularly.
After listening back to all of the previous Tech Time episodes today, I found it interesting to compare what was then to what is now, in terms of how the technology of these topics evolved. That said, I’ve decided to continue the podcast by now employing the ever simple to use Anchor app in the iOS Store. It didn’t take long for me to create the trailer episode, add background music from the app’s library, add tags, and submit for possible upload to a number of different streaming services, including Spotify, pending approval.
I’ll be posting episodes 11 through 22, one a day, through the middle of September, then start the new episodes after.
So yes, this should be fun again, especially talking about my thoughts on some of the current technology that wasn’t even in existence or barely in existence 5 – 6 years ago, as well as those that have evolved. You can stream the new episodes after 11 Sep 19 here: Tech Times – The Podcast. Hope you enjoy listening.
I’m an AFOL. You may be asking what that is. I grew up playing with and very much enjoying Lego as a child, back in the day, like in the 70s (LOL). Since it has evolved, just as I have, I never really lost interest and have become an AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego). If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a few recent tweets from me on just how much this “play system” has evolved, especially in the area of robotics. I started getting into the Lego Mindstorms robotics kits about six years ago – nothing heavy, just dabbling here and there. It got to the point where I developed a six week summer camp Mindstorms Robotics curriculum for my son’s school and got involved with the local 4H chapter to see how that curriculum could be evolved for the next year, as well as help me with one of his school science projects involving robotics.
In any event, I got the urge to play around with a simple bot I built some time ago and found an Android app that I downloaded to my daughter’s old Droid. Took it for a spin last night. This kinda rekindled my interest in it again because I hope to be doing some software coding for it next year, to use along side the graphical user interface code blocks programming app designed by Lego (these kits are used by young kids all over the world so… 🙂 )
Anyway, that’s it for now. Should be fun getting back into it when I have time as it’s technically stimulating, for sure.
Happy 7th birthday to the NikeFuel Band. I won’t wax poetically about this fitness tracker because I’ve provided a number of previous blog posts I’ve done that go into depth about my relationship with it. Breaking with the one-photo-a-day approach, I’ve included a few of my favorite video and images in honor of today.
The Fuel Baand wasn’t just designed to be an activity tracker but also as a bit of fashion statement, as with there gold and silver editions.
Unlike the Apple Watch, the idea behind the NikeFuel band was to track all kinds of activity. If memory serves me correctly, the Fuel Band tracked 288 types of activities, and allowed for customized input of ANY activity, as opposed to the Apple Watch which iists 66 different workouts, including an entry called “Other” which only allows you to save the workout as “Other” or one of the 66 in the watch’s list. Below is an excellent video explain what’s behind the idea of the FuelBand.
And this video is the official launch of the NikeFuel Band (it’s about 40 mins long).
There’s still a good number of folks that wish the FuelBand would return, despite the ups and downs it faced. I really, really enjoyed its entire concept.
I’m a bit of a gadget monger. While I don’t keep every bit of outdated, dead tech (I’m about to throw some on eBay and Craigslist though), I have kept a few devices. Kept not only for nostalgia, but good memories of using them as my tech journey continued along. One item I fondly remember using is the Motorola Razr V3 above. It was my second mobile phone and I loved everything about it, from its sleek design, lines, futuristic look, operation, and form factor. After leaving it for two BlackBerrys and then the iPhone, I always wished I would still be able to use it on current networks. It was early last year that I actually became weary of all the convenient technological features (believe it or not) of my great iPhone and actually longed for the days of simplicity (and truthfully far less distraction) of a mobile phone.
Surprisingly, Verizon announced today that they are re-introducing the Razr V3 in limited quantities, only 200,000…but the cost of $1500 a pop…$1500?? No. I’m sure there are those with pockets deep enough to easily scarf one or two of these apparent “collectibles” up, but…nah. At the same time, I’m glad to see it back. If they were to release one at a far cheaper cost, I’d highly consider going back, even if Adele didn’t have a flip phone😏. (Sunny Mabrey is mad hilarious! LOL)
I started seriously, or maybe I should say consistently, going to the gym in my very late 20’s…(yeah, yeah, there have been a FEW hiatuses, but that’s not what this post is about,😂)…long before the iPhone or any wearable fitness tracker was even in existence. It was then that I recorded all my workout data in a notebook: pen and paper.
Fast forward to 2019, when wearables are still the rage and smartphones are pretty ubiquitous, and everyone’s fitness data touches the cloud (if you use these devices for such) at some point. Yes, it makes it convenient, even motivating for sure, but there are still times I write down stuff in notebook – easy access, no power needed, right there whenever I need it on a sunny day (in other words, no “clouds” (get it??) in sight.
…and you’re complaining about that download time, huh?
So, yeah… New Year’s Day, early in the wee hours of the morning, there was a celebration of another type going on at my job. The photo above explains it all – it’s a certificate marking a historic event of a flyby of a mission by NASA and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.
In short, I’ll explain what happens next, a process that is typical of all space missions that gather images for relay back to earth for science processing. Such images are stored on the spacecraft, just as you would save them to your mobile device, computer, or the cloud, until transmission to earth takes place. The New Horizon spacecraft has SSD (solid state drives – hard drives) that store the images taken of Ultimate Thule as the flyby occurred. In this case, during the flyby, it was known that the spacecraft would “go dark” (meaning that there would be no communications with Earth) as the camera was taking the photos – all could go successfully or there could be any kind of anomaly – either way neither could be known in dark mode. Fortunately, communication back to Earth after the flyby sequence essentially meant the spacecraft saying “Hey, my SSD is full and I’m going to start sending you images back to you!” – which is just what began happening. The interesting thing with the design of this is NASA wanted to study the images as soon as possible BUT in order to do so, low resolution images are the first to be sent because of their size with respect to the distance from Earth the spacecraft is. It will be *two years* from now until any hi-res images will reach Earth. So…the next time you’re crying about how lonnnnnng it’s taking to download your file (raises hands)….think about the Ultima Thule images 😏🙂.
I’ve been out of the blogopshere for awhile, but this topic has been brewing within me for months. As you’ve probably guessed by know, it’s on the aspect(s) of data privacy in this, today’s information age. I can go on for, seemingly, forever citing the many data breaches report on in the news over the last few years – everything from Yahoo, to the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management, to Equifax, to Strava, to the latest faux pas’ involving Facebook and Google. While they all are about personal data (or what I like to also call Personally identifiable information (PII)), what I’m going to write about here more aligns itself with location awareness data.
As we all know, the explosion of location awareness really took off with the invention of GPS, but with respect to social media, the sheer personal alignment came with marrying it to mobile phones and GPS enabled smart watches. I really took notice of it after reading an article in Wired Magazine entitled “I am Here: One Man’s Experiment With The Location-Aware Lifestyle”. This article (see the reference at the end of the post), almost ten years old, really enlightened me to the implications (good and bad) of location awareness. Fast forwarding to today, location awareness capabilities are deeply pervasive. Again, with respect to the social media world, many people see it as welcomed convenience, if not a boon. I personally don’t see it as the latter. While there are aspects and applications of it that are truly welcomed by me in some situations I could name here, the act of using it – just because I can – doesn’t interest me at all. The primary reason is because of the vast development of the technology when it comes who and how location awareness data is being collected and what it is used for. While I certainly have nothing to hide, I dislike the fact that my location awareness data, in the most innocent sense, can be used, in so many ways, to market ads to me – marketing in which I have NO INTEREST WHATSOVER. The fact that this data can be collected against my will, brokered and sold to whoever can male use of it, bothers me, bothers me to the point where I refuse to give it up, willy nilly. I won’t even get in to the aspects of how it can be used for ill purposes (geolocation meta data on photographs uploaded to the web, aggregation of data regarding every place I traveled for a day, how long I’ve been on vacation (or similar) away from my home for ANYWAY to know and for how long simply because I keep uploading pics and status everyday I am gone, checked into, established I reviewed on Yelp, or similar, ultrasonic beacons being used to assess my shopping habits and likes when in a clothing store, etc, etc). The issue I have with apps (especially those smaller companies), is while they ensure that your data is protected via their technical design and terms of service, they can no longer ensure your data will be protected in the same way if their company is purchased by another company. What happens to my, one protected data, then? Sure, this is an everyday, common issue, but still…
I know what you’re thinking….”He’s paranoid, for sure”.
(cues Paranoia Will Destroy Ya/Black Sabbath)
Honestly, because “1984” (and then some) has been here for a minute – I’d agree with you – to a certain extent. Now that you’ve read this far, what do you think? Is it even passe’ to be paranoid at all in this day of of the information age. Is it something we should just accep? I’ve had this conversation with two friends of mine, two I consider to be technically adept, and they both gave me some interesting opinions. They are as follows:
1) Brian Tramuel (@btramuel). He’s is an avid user of the Gyroscope app and is even found on their website with a featured story. Not only is he an avid user, but a subscriber to their pro app (Gyroscope has a free version which I use daily and really like). Essentially Brian’s take on location awareness is not unusual, hey…it may even be common – “Every one is being tracked. The net, for as long as I’ve been using it, has tons of info on me already, so it doesn’t really matter nor am I bothered with putting my location awareness out there.
3) DarrenKeith Wyatt (@myloveformusic2). He made an interesting comment regarding the concern of today’s generation vs future generations. If I recall correctly, his thought was that future generations will have a far greater concern with data privacy, in general, than this current generation. I found that intriguing, because I’d say the opposite – I think it will become SO normal in the future that the concern will vanish.
In short, we are being tracked via cellphone tower triangulation all day everyday. I’m not one to purposely hand over location awareness data freely, 24/7. I continually monitor my app settings on my phone to only use location awareness when needed by me, I make certain (as best as I can) not to embed location data in EXIF data on my digital photos upload to the internet, and a few other things, and try not to post information about my location (DIRECTLY) at anyone given PRESENT time (although it could be inferred if makes the effort of aggregating enough data points (if many) at said given time). Yeah, call it paranoid if you want, but that’s “how I roll”) (pun intended).
I’m truly interested on your take, your opinion…feel free to leave a comment or two (or ten).