Technology does more than meets the eye

There is a lot of fun “toys” out there when it comes to the world of technology. Most things are designed, built, and used for a specific purpose. In many situations though, people use something for a purpose much different than it was originally intended. Here are just a few standout examples:

Xbox Kinect

Original use: “With Kinect for Xbox One, command your Xbox and TV with your voice and gestures, play games where you are the controller, and make Skype calls in HD.” (from manufacturer’s website)

Another use: Kinect Fusion offers the ability to utilize the sensors in the Kinect camera to create a 3-D model of a real-life thing. For example, you can stand still, let the camera check you out, and VOILA! A digital, 3-D image of you appears on the screen.

One more use: The Kinect, mixed with a projector, can turn any surface into a touch-screen computer. Check it out.

Graphing Calculator

Original use: These behemoth of calculators are used for solving complicated mathematical problems. Probably the best-known maker of these these devices is Texas Instruments. Many of us have used their calculators during those long hours of math class. Little did we know that these puppies easily could have supplied us with hours of fun.

Another use: Play games. Yes, you heard correctly. Someone out there cleverly designed some games we all know and love to run on the processor of these machines. Games such as Tetris, Doom, Super Mario Brothers 3, Pokemon Stadium, and even counter strike. Obviously, the controls will be a little clunkier than our trusty console, PC or handheld device, but it passes the time in Calc. 2020.

Post-it Notes

Original use: Post-it Notes came to be by accident. In 1968, a scientist at 3M in the United States, Dr. Spencer Silver, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead, he accidentally created a “low-tack,” reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. For five years, Silver promoted his “solution without a problem” within 3M both informally and through seminars, but it failed to gain acceptance. In 1974, Art Fry, a colleague who had attended one of Silver’s seminars, came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmark in his hymnbook. Fry then utilized 3M’s officially sanctioned “permitted bootlegging” policy to develop the idea. The original Notes’ yellow color was chosen by accident, as the lab next-door to the Post-it team had only yellow scrap paper to use, and thus was born the Post-it.

Another use: Self-stick notes are not just used for taking notes or marking a book. There is a type of self-stick note art that is very impressive. Check out this exhibit and just simply google “sticky note art” and you will get a myriad of awesome things.

Technology, whether it’s used for its original purpose or not, is never boring! Think about how you might be able to expand the use of one of your favorite technologies. You never know what kind of new technology you might come up with!

 

image source https://www.flickr.com/photos/artimageslibrary/4865440372/

What do Furbies and cloud computing have in common?

The dawn of AI is here and it’s all possible because of cloud computing.

Let’s go back to the ’90s when Furbies became popular. The little toy fur ball had a small bit of Artificial Intelligence. It may be hard to believe, but that little guy had more computing power than the Apollo 11. Yes, the spacecraft that landed man on the moon. Fresh out of the box these AI fur balls would talk Furbish, the language of the Furby. After children had interacted with them for a while, their Furbies would learn certain English words. Furbies could even interact with each other if you had multiple units. Furbish was translated into 24 languages.

Furbies were not only cute (if a cross between a hamster and an owl is your idea of cute), the fact that they were able to “learn” a few words made them endearing. However, they obviously didn’t show the intelligence or the discernment of a human. But that would change a few years later when in 1997 a team of programmers and chess experts programed a machine called Deep Blue. The supercomputer had enough reason and logic to beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov at chess. The Russian had the upper hand the first few games, but Deep Blue progressed and eventually beat the chess Grandmaster, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.

Watson is our next step in the progression of AI. Watson, an artificially intelligent computer system, was programed to be able to listen to a question (think Siri on your smartphone) and then answer that question. To prove how brilliant this AI was, in 2011 TV quiz game Jeopardy had Watson on a show and matched it up against two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. At the conclusion of the competition, Ken and Brad lost to Watson.

Enter cloud computing. For those who are familiar with the cloud, you know that it’s not just a buzz word. The platform is essentially thousands of remote servers working together in a centralized location. Users can then access the data either created or stored on those servers via a device such as a handheld device or laptop.

You probably see where I am going with this. The next logical step for AI is to let the cloud do the computing at lightning speeds, like Watson did on Jeopardy, and then send that information back to the device or AI being, such as the character Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek. We can see an early concept with CogniToy’s green dino. The green dino is a child’s toy about the size of a teddy bear that can carry on a conversation on different topics, tell a story, and even answer age-related questions. The intelligence grows or matures with the child. In fact, the green dino even has the ability to discern whether or not the answer is a little too mature for the age of the child, at which point the toy will tell the child to go ask his mom the question. All of this “smart” dino’s responses are computed in the cloud.

Currently, the only limitation of AI is being able to reach a Wi-Fi connection. However, as municipal wireless networks (where the entire city has access to a Wi-Fi signal) become more and more popular, this AI obstacle may not be around for much longer, allowing AI to continue to grow intellectually.

With giant tech companies such as Google buying up AI startups and cloud computing advancing so rapidly, it’s reasonable to expect ongoing funding for AI—and artificial intelligent beings in our lifetime. All thanks to cloud computing.

My name is Colton and I work for Mozy

 

Meet Colton. Colton is an integral member of our partners team here at Mozy. Colton works with our partners to help grow their business by selling EMC product to their customers. Colton quickly impressed management and worked his way to a few promotions since joining the Mozy Sales team. Colton is a vocal Pittsburgh Steelers fan and is a proud pogonophile and for all intents and purposes is the Brett Keisel of Mozy.

I define my workspace as…

“The Command Center.” It is a perfectly organized disaster. That is how I like it. Too clean stresses me out and too cluttered makes me uncomfortable. It’s got to be just right. My computer and monitors have got to be in just a way to make me efficient without distracting me. Some may call this a delicate balance. I would agree.

A device I can’t live without….

I’m pretty plugged in so it would be hard to answer this question. The obvious answer is my phone, and it is probably the best answer. But so much media streams in and out of my house that many other devices would be a close second. Anything from a PS4 or Xbox to my Roku and Chromecast. Take your pick.

When I arrive at work, I typically start my day off by…

Reviewing if I accomplished my goals from the previous day, and setting new goals for the current day. I then dive into whatever will help me accomplish the goals I just set.

How long have you worked for Mozy?

Three years in one capacity or another.

I do/do not listen to music at work and it helps me work better because …

I don’t usually listen to music because I am often on the phone. The few times I do listen to music I do because I need to avoid distractions and get something done.

If you could be in one TV sitcom or movie, what would it be and why?

I will answer this question in two ways.

If I had a chance to be part of the cast of a TV sitcom or movie, it would likely be “The Walking Dead.” It would be fun to kill Zombies and be part of something unique and ahead of its time.

If I could live in a TV sitcom or movie as if it were real life, I would like to live in the world of the movie “Remember the Titans.” I would love to have been part of an intense sports story on top of experiencing all the insane racial negativity and cultural biases. I would love to have been a part of that challenge.

Outside of work, I am passionate about …

Many things. First and foremost, my family. My wife and I have a two-year-old girl and a boy on the way. Outside of that I am passionate about board games and video games during the winter, fishing, camping and other outdoor stuff in the summer, and sports year round. Steelers, Jazz, Penguins, Diamondbacks, Juventus (I think I covered any sport I care about in order of how closely I follow them).

My eating habits are …

Poor and picky habits to be frank. I love Italian food, but I am also a pizza and pasta snob. I’m not a huge fan of anything that grows from the ground.

If I could be someone for a day, I would be…

Mike Tomlin, head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I would love to be involved at the highest level of the sport, but I wouldn’t want to be on the field. Mike is a coach who hangs around a legendary organization and it would be fun to be a large part of it, even if just for a day.

The “secret sauce” that makes me who I am …

My passion to help people I love and care for. It’s important to love what you do, but more important to love who you do it for more.

One thing that makes me unique is….

My beard is unique. It is my mane that sets me apart and shows a unique side of my personality. Most people can only dream about such majesty and grandeur. (I hope that comes across sarcastically and not in arrogance.)

Guilty pleasure…

Dungeons and Dragons. I know I am a tabletop game nut, but I never thought I would dive so deep into the rabbit hole. Now that I have, I can’t get out. Don’t judge me.

 

Three ways the world is harnessing technology for the greater good

Recent advancements in technology have provided us with convenient ways to improve the quality of life. We no longer have to bum a quarter off of our parents or a stranger to make a call. We have remotes to nearly every electronic device in our house. But did you know that the same technology that is making our lives more convenient is saving literally thousands if not millions of lives in developing countries? Let’s take a look at three ways that technology is making life easier throughout the world.

Omniprocessor

If you’re a bit squeamish, this idea is one that may take a little while to get used to. One of the most recognizable faces in the tech industry, Bill Gates, recognized that urban sanitation is neglected and under-invested. He has a point. Nearly 1.5 million children die from contaminated food and water in developing countries. Gates and his foundation saw potential in a concept that would take raw sewage and turn it into potable water along with other benefits such as ash and electricity. The Omniprocessor addresses that issue by producing water that meets or beats the water standards of the supermarket brands through a profit-creating process.

Along with being able to harvest potable water from raw sewage, the Omniprocessor also creates electricity. The electricity that is created powers the processor and will even create extra power that the community can use or sell. Through the process of extracting potable water from the sewage, the waste is burned down to an ash that can be used or sold to benefit the community as well. All processes meet strict EPA standards, so there is no harm to the community.

Empower Playgrounds

Empower Playgrounds harnesses the energy of children (wouldn’t we all like to have the energy of a child!) in rural third-world countries to further their education. By providing a high tech merry-go-round, the kids essentially create energy for their village. To better visualize this, just think of a windmill lying on the ground. The kids act as the wind that propels the windmill, but in this case it’s a merry-go-round. The merry-go-round is connected to a gearbox that acts as a speed increaser, which powers a shaft that runs a generator, which sends a charge to a deep cycle battery. The battery can then power up rechargeable lanterns, which the school children use at night to be able to study what they learned at school that day. This allows the children to stay in school and complete their education.

Mosquito-zapping lasers

Malaria was eradicated in the United States in the 1950s. Other developing countries aren’t as lucky to have such a deadly disease contained. Nathan Myhrvold and his team set out to find a way to lower the risk of malaria by eliminating malaria-carrying mosquitos with lasers. Using a combination of store bought electronics his team developed a device that can blow mosquitos right out of the air. It’s pretty fascinating. Watch the Ted Talks video. The laser can target a moving mosquito and then zap it with a laser. The contraption is even smart enough to discern whether or not the insect is a mosquito rather than a beneficial honeybee or butterfly by the beat frequency of the insect’s wings. A perimeter could be set up to protect a hospital or a home from malaria-carrying mosquitos and could save as many as to 627,000 lives per year.

We look forward to seeing how the next generation will harness the power of technology to benefit the world for the greater good.

 

 

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I did it my way

After I got home from work yesterday I popped in one of my favorite Frank Sinatra CDs and listened to it on my stereo. Call me old fashioned, but I still like listening to CDs through a two-speaker system.

This morning when I got to work I was reminded of an infographic that we published a couple of years ago, 50 Things We Don’t Do Anymore Due to Technology. The blog generated more comments than our blogs usually do, in part because although many of the things on the infographic are things that many of us don’t do anymore, others still do. So we thought we’d visit the topic again, in part to see which habits of yours have changed during the last two years and which ones have remained the same.

To get us started, let me share with you a few of the so-called old fashioned habits I’ve willingly carried into the 21st century. You already know that I buy and listen to CDs. And as much as I love reading on my Kindle, I still enjoy a good book in hardback. And a good story is often worth re-reading more than once. For example, I knew the movie “Unbroken” was opening at the end of the year, so before I saw it, I reread the bestseller by Laura Hillenbrand.

Since I’m pretty sure that my wife doesn’t read this blog, I can reveal one of her habits that is, well, pretty old-fashioned (even though she is not old). She doesn’t like using the clothes dryer much because she says it causes clothes to wear out too fast. So she hangs just about everything to dry on lines in our basement. (She felt pretty good about her clotheslines when a few years ago she came across a book by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, who mentioned the benefits of not using the clothes dryer to dry clothes.)

Other things I do or sometimes do that might be considered old fashioned:

  • Subscribe to a local newspaper
  • Subscribe to a weekly news magazine
  • Write a letter (with pen on paper!) to a family member
  • Send Christmas cards every year
  • Try on shoes at the mall and buy the same shoes at the mall
  • Heat up leftovers on the stove

How about you? What things are you still doing in an old fashioned kind of way even though it might make more sense to do them with the assistance of modern technology? Come on, let us know—there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Do you listen to vinyl records? Do you make your own yogurt? Do you open a can with a hand-crank can opener? Do you shave with a straight edge razor? Do you prefer to bake your own bread?

When we’ve logged sufficient responses from our readers, we’ll create an infographic with our findings.

And since this is the Mozy blog, I might add that I do back up my home computer with Mozy. So I am not as old fashioned as some of my habits might indicate.

I don’t always have a good reason for doing something the way I do it, other than I just like to do it that way. As I like to say—and as Frank was so fond of singing—I did it my way.

 

*We would like to hear from you. Really! Let us know what things you still do in an old-fashioned kind of way (give us the details if you want to share) even though technology would let you do it easier or faster.

New Mozy Support Portal better than ever

As a user of Mozy backup software, you know that the Mozy team is constantly looking for ways to expand our Support offerings. So we’re very excited to announce the launch of our new Support Portal, which is the result of feedback from our customers, industry trends, and other research. In addition to introducing new features such as context-sensitive search and device responsiveness, we’ve also researched ways to make it easier for our enterprise customers to manage large client bases.

Not sure if you’re using the latest Mozy backup software? The Health dashboard (pictured on the left)  lets you see how many of your organization’s machines need to be updated with the latest version of Mozy.

Check out these new features:

All Mozy customers

•   Task-based structure: We recognize that you are looking for information when you visit the portal. We’ve made that information easier for you to find with our new structure based around the activities for which you want information; for example, restores, account, setup, etc.

•   Product filtering: If you are looking for help on a particular product, you don’t want to have that information obscured with information about another product. So, once you are logged in to the portal, the only information you will see will relate to your product. If you want to see other product information, simply change the product filter at the top of the page to the product you are interested in.

MozyEnterprise customers

•   Case collaborators: You can now add one of your colleagues (admins) to a case so that they will also receive any updates on the case to make it easier for an internal help desk to manage their case load.

•   Health dashboard: Enterprise admins can now see at a glance how many machines in their install base have had successful or unsuccessful backups. In addition, the Health dashboard allows admins to view how many machines are using the current version of the Mozy backup software and how many need to be updated. You can view a short video of the Health dashboard here.

•   Health system: From the dashboard, you can drill down to a list of your machines, filtered by version or status if you want, and from there log a support ticket, request a support chat, search the Mozy Knowledge Base for any errors shown, see the size of the backup, view cases, or analyze the log for a particular machine.

Currently underway is a Mozy Community update, which is scheduled to go live later this year.

To view the new Support Portal, visit http://support.mozy.com/. Be sure to sign in to get the most out of the Support Portal.

The new year is the right time to try out a new gadget or two

Someday it would be great to attend the Consumer Electronics Show (better known as CES) in person. The world-renowned electronics and technology trade show attracts thousands of companies and industry experts to Las Vegas from all over the world. But until I get that invitation, I’ll just enjoy reading and watching snippets online of the different products being demoed. This year I saw everything from super strollers that have phone chargers to amazing cars that can do things once only seen in science fiction movies to smart home gadgets for just about anything you can think of to dog collar cameras. The creativity and innovation displayed at CES is exciting.

Even with all of the incredible technology at CES, I think most of the gadgets on display at the conference are things that the average person isn’t going to purchase, in part because they are a little out there. In other words, most of us don’t have a practical application for the gadget. Yeah, some of these gadgets are cool, but I’d never really use them.

On the other hand, there are a number of gadgets and technologies at CES that are practical and would make sense for the average Joe to use. And new and cutting-edge technologies are becoming easier and easier for the average person to use and afford.

One example of a technology that has become easier to use is media servers. It has been a hope of mine to have a media server; however, because it seemed to be too complicated to set up—and it was definitely too expensive to purchase—I was satisfied to simply explore by reading (and dreaming!) about it. But things have changed! After learning about some of the new technology now available, I realized that purchasing and setting up a home media server was something I could afford to do.

So, I got a computer and installed a program called Plex to manage all my personal media collection. After spending a few more bucks on the Plex app, I now can stream my music and movies through my Google Chromecast to my TV. Without any hesitation, I can tell you that I am glad that I did it. It’s simple and awesome.

My point is that today there is a ton of sweet technologies and gadgets out there, and they are becoming easier to use.

CES is a great reminder to us of the new technology that’s out there. I encourage you to investigate a new technology, software, or app. And don’t be afraid to try out something new! It doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, consider going to your local Home Depot and purchasing Belkin WeMo devices to start your journey to home automation. These easy-to-use outlets and switches take advantage of your mobile Internet so that you can control some of the most common devices in your home from your smartphone or tablet.

Here’s my suggestion to you for 2015: Try out a new app, gadget, program or design. It’s never too late to make it your new year’s resolution. You’ll never know just how simple and awesome it can be until you give it a try!

Mozy gives back

This past holiday season the Mozy team based in Pleasant Grove, Utah, participated in its annual food drive to benefit the Utah Food Bank. This year the results were dramatic. Mozy employees donated 2,153 food items. That’s an average of 13 items per employee. (While we don’t envy the crew that had to cart the items from the second floor of our building to the delivery truck, we do appreciate their efforts.)

When you consider that the average can of food weighs 15 ounces, Mozy’s donations represent hundreds of meals for individuals and families in need.

The following Mozy teams participated in the food drive: Engineering, Finance, Marketing, PM/BU, QA/PgM, Rubicon, Sales, and Support. Of particular note are the efforts of our Support team; members brought in a whopping 1,089 items! And during all of the activity of giving, they never missed an incoming call. Talk about Support’s support!

Thanks to all who participated in the food drive. We look forward to raising the bar next year with expectations for even more donations. But you don’t have to wait until the next holiday season to donate. The Utah Food Bank is always grateful for you canned donations, particularly high-protein items such as tuna and peanut butter. And that’s an effort Mozy is proud to back.

Something Really Scary

Ever since I was a kid I’ve been terrified of water. Fifteen years later I can still remember going to the local water park every summer with my friends. Unfortunately for me, my friends were obsessed with the diving boards; specifically, the highest one. I’d watch them flip, dive, and pose their fearless selves into the deep end of what seemed like sheer terror to me. They would always break the water’s surface with the cheesiest grins. When it was my turn to jump off the diving board all of the fun and grinning came to an abrupt end. Instead, I would tense up and attempt to fight off my nerves by trying not to think about what could be lurking down below.

As a kid, if there’s anything worse than the fear of death, it’s the fear of embarrassment. So I would jump in and Michael Phelps my way towards the nearest ladder, which seemed like an eternity away. The reason for all of this terror goes back to one all-encompassing experience. I saw the movie “Jaws.”  I know that what happened in “Jaws” is not real. There was never a shark named Bruce that terrorized swimmers off the coast of a fictional city called Amity. Whether the movie “Jaws” is real or not doesn’t determine why I’m too scared to go in the ocean, let alone a swimming pool!
It boils down to how I remember feeling and how I feel when I watch a scary movie such as “Jaws.” My 11-year old self and my 26-year old self experience the same psychological and emotional effects whenever I watch a scary movie. My heart rate increases. My hands and my feet begin to sweat. I tense up and feel my anxiety bubbling up. In this state the slightest scare will launch me up out of my wits.

Scary movies are meant to make us feel and think this way. But what sounds scarier: Being involved in a shark attack or having your hard drive crash? Despite all of my fears and still not wanting to go in the water, it was mind boggling to learn that there were a mere 53 shark attacks in the United States in 2013.  On the other hand, 7,280,000 hard drives crash every year! Perhaps I should spend more time trying to prevent an incident that has a 137,358 percent greater chance of happening to me.

Losing all of your data also means losing all of your photos, videos, emails, documents, and more. For some this could feel as bad if not worse than some of the scenarios the characters from scary movies are placed in. A major difference between losing your data and watching a scary movie is the enormous financial and/or personal losses, not to mention the effects from losing your data could end up lasting a lot longer or even be permanent.

Unlike losing your data, all movies come to an end. You might be terrified from the movie you’ve been watching for the past couple of hours, but when the credits roll up you will still be safely scared in your seat. And even when those inevitable feelings of terror and panic return years later, Bruce the shark won’t be inching on your heels in the deep end of that swimming pool.

Securely backing up your data with Mozy is the best guarantee available if you want to keep your fears of losing your data from becoming a reality. True peace of mind really is invaluable. And don’t lose too much sleep worrying about me trying to avoid all bodies of water, swimming pools included. Get that data securely backed up and I’ll see you front row at the movies.

Oh, baby, technology’s sweet!

One of my co-workers recently became a dad for the first time. He and his wife are the proud parents of a baby girl.

As a parent of adult children, I can tell you that parenting these days is a bit easier, thanks in large part to modern technology. Take, for example, monitors. They’ve come a long way, baby.

Today’s technology not only allows parents to use their baby monitor to listen from another room, parents can also use the monitor to talk to their baby and watch their baby. You can even download an app that works with your monitor so that no matter where you are, you can keep tabs on your little one. Using any Internet-enabled smartphone or handheld device, you can listen to, watch, or talk to your baby from anywhere you have a connection. Baby is a star and doesn’t even know it.

The disposable diaper, which was introduced in the early ‘60s, will soon be able to inform parents when baby has done the dirty diaper deed. That’s right: a small moisture sensor will sync with an app that will tweet you whenever baby needs a change. The diaper even has a clever name: TweetPee. It stinks that the diaper is not yet available (it’s currently in beta), but it should be available to the masses dealing with messes soon.

And speaking of diapers, you’ve heard of smarty pants, now there are smarty diapers. Currently, there is at least one “smart” diaper available that can help you monitor your baby’s health using what’s in the diaper. The diaper looks like an ordinary disposable diaper, except for the small colorful square with the QR code on the front. The square accumulates data based on what accumulates in the diaper. The square can be scanned and the data uploaded with a smartphone and then analyzed for possible issues, including urinary tract infections and dehydration, and even diabetes.

These days, even something as simple as taking your baby’s temperature is much easier. Digital thermometers are superfast, super accurate, and super easy to read. Within a matter of seconds a parent can know their baby’s temperature (after an audible alert or flashing light) and see the results on an easy-to-read back-lit screen. Some of these thermometers even store the most recent past readings in their memory so you can identify trends.

Baby car seats have gone high tech, too. The Carkoon baby seat features a sliding protective shell made from Kevlar (a super-strong material that’s even bulletproof) and Nomex (a highly flame-resistant material used by firefighters, fighter pilots, refinery workers, and others) that the company says will keep the baby safe for 18 minutes. The design literally “cocoons” the baby in her seat. This next-generation safety seat also includes a transmitter that alerts emergency services to the accident scene using GPS coordinates.

Regardless of the technology, babies are still babies. With that comes the inevitable crying that results from needing or wanting something. Sometimes the solution is easy: change the baby’s diaper, feed the baby, hold the baby, sing to the baby, etc. One small handheld device may actually help you figure out the right answer quickly in case it’s not so obvious. The CryTranslator is a small handheld device that “translates” your baby’s crying. The device is not designed to replace a parent’s intuition but help interpret why baby is crying and then make suggestions.

Just like more and more parents are relying on the latest technology to make life easier, better and safer for their little ones, more and more businesses rely on Mozy by EMC for data backup and access. From an individual business owner to the enterprise with many thousands of employees and devices, including servers, desktops and laptops, and handhelds located at headquarters and remote and branch offices around the world, Mozy offers complete data protection in the cloud. After all, we hate to see a grownup cry over lost data.

 

 

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