Category Archives: Misc.

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/

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.

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!

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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Lots of memories in a wooden bat

 

While growing up in Southern California I played four years of Little League Baseball. For me, nothing said baseball more than a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. A wooden Louisville Slugger, of course. It wasn’t as if we had a choice back then; in those days, a bat was only made out of wood.

I hadn’t really thought much about bats in recent years until my boss returned from Kentucky. He was visiting Louisville Slugger. He got to hold bats made for The Sultan of Swat (Babe Ruth), Jackie (Jackie Robinson), and The Splendid Splinter (Ted Williams). Actually, Ted Williams was so great a hitter that he was also known as “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.”

Dave, our marketing guru, is a lucky guy to be sure. Who doesn’t want to hold the bat of “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived” or the bat of “The Great Bambino” or the bat of Jackie, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball and who broke barriers in more fields than just baseball? But lucky us to be protecting the data of Louisville Slugger who made bats for all of those great hitters and continues to make bats for many of today’s great hitters.

Mozy backs up the data of the makers of the Louisville Slugger. That’s a win-win in my book.

The Louisville Slugger has been around a long time. Long enough for my dad to have used the bat, though not always for the right reasons. I remember him telling stories about growing up in San Francisco and knocking down advertising signs along Taraval all the way to the dunes with a bat as a youngster. I know, not the best reason for swinging a bat. But he redeemed himself long ago by becoming a rocket scientist and working closely with the Apollo Space Program. And teaching my brother and me the finer points of playing baseball and the proper use of a Louisville Slugger.

I still remember those batting fundamentals that my dad was always drilling into my head and my older brother’s head:

-The label goes up!

-Hands together—and line up the knuckles!

-Don’t break the wrists!

And, of course:

-Keep your eye on the ball!

Always keep your eye on the ball. That made such an impression on me that I can hear those words today as if I were hearing them for the first time. When I followed that rule and the others, and when I managed to hit the ball on the sweet spot on that wooden bat, the sound was enough to tell me that fielders were gonna be moving—and I’d better be hustling my way to first base.

Although memories tend to intensify our experiences from years ago—for better or for worse—I can remember that I was just an average ball player who never batted above .200. But I loved the game, and some of my choicest memories are playing catcher and feeling the sting of a fast ball popping in my glove, watching my brother pitch against future Hall of Famer Robin Yount, and knowing that my dad was logging stats in the announcer’s box.

Throughout my life, I have strived to “keep my eye” on life’s proverbial baseball. That has helped me to focus in spite of life’s distractions and disappointments. In some ways, I suppose I’ve succeeded from what I learned by focusing on those batting fundamentals, which for me really come down to three words: focus, focus, focus. If it’s important enough, you’ll focus on it. Looking back, playing baseball certainly taught me more about life than I ever could have appreciated as a youngster.

Say what you want about the financial benefits of the aluminum bat, but there’s nothing like the wood of a Louisville Slugger. And there’s nothing better than good memories, except making tomorrow’s memories today. So, keep your eye on the ball. Good things are bound to happen, including those few but wonderful moments when you hit one out of the park.

See why Louisville Slugger uses Mozy by EMC. http://mozy.com/product/testimonials/louisville-slugger

For more baseball, check out our infographic Social Media at the Old Ball game.

When good vibrations led to touchdowns

I remember it well, that electrifying experience of watching 22 plastic players vibrate on the field as my brother and I screamed at our players to do anything even remotely resembling what occurs in real gridiron football. If you were offense, you screamed even louder, wishing against all wishes, hoping against all hope that your team would make a coordinated and vibrated effort to move the ball closer to the end zone.

Truthfully, there wasn’t any coordination, but there was plenty of loud buzzing as your 11 team members vibrated wildly down the field—or up the field or across the field or in tight circles anywhere on the field, depending on the unpredictable characteristics of the shiny metal turf. Would there be a touchdown this time? Please, let there be a touchdown, just this once!

I’m talking about Electric Football. My brother and I were having fun with this game sometime in the mid-1960s, long enough ago that today’s gamers with their Madden NFL 15 or other digital football games might find it hard to imagine that little plastic men in undistinguishable uniforms could be propelled to glory by an electrical charge.

 Although we had options like punting or kicking field goals, they were just as likely to fail as was the man with the little felt football that was on a vibrating path that hopefully ended in the promised land. The right promised land, that is.

And speaking of field goals, in Electric Football, each team included a plastic phenom with a catapult leg that was capable of “kicking” the puny pigskin through the goal posts, and even way beyond the boundaries of the stadium. But unless you were lucky or highly skilled with these kickers, the only play resembling an actual field goal would be my brother or me flicking a player through the goal posts out of frustration because the ball carrier vibrated up the field for a touchback when he should have vibrated down the field for a touchdown. I remember there being a lot of touchbacks, but far fewer than there were players just vibrating off the field as if they’d lost their desire to play.

Times have changed, of course. Mine and my brother’s Electric Football game is long gone (though you can still find versions of it for sale on eBay). Consider that early versions of Electric Football used solid-color plastic players to represent whatever team you favored. That worked great, as long as you didn’t mind an all-yellow team). Yesterday’s teams were comprised of 3D unknowns without statistics or college pedigree. Today’s games emulate the actions of professional athletes. In fact, Madden NFL 15 pulls game updates throughout the real NFL season and updates player ratings in the game.

But maybe times haven’t changed as much as technology has. Sure, with Madden NFL 15 games can be saved in the cloud and synced to other devices, but it’s still just a game. Win or lose, it can be a lot of fun. And it allows us to compete in a game whose outcome can never be fully predicted. Likewise, it allows us to keep things in perspective, unlike the old days when you could flick a player across the field and through the goalposts for an extra point.

Be sure to read Mozy’s blog next week. It will feature an infographic about the progression of the football video game. From plastic and metal to LED blips, to trackball to showboating and even late hits, we can still enjoy the game without turning on the TV.

Trust me, I’m not lying

We trust people who lie, in a roundabout way. Come again?

Recently, I read Ryan Holiday’s national bestselling book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

Holiday claims he made his living by manipulating the media, by distorting the newstelling. He did that by manipulating, distorting and spreading half-truths, and creating and promoting rumors that he knew to be false and then letting them enter the public’s imagination through blogs and other sources. Once respectable media picked up on the story—even if only to link to the blog without confirming or denying the accuracy of the information—the public often assumed it must be true.

Holiday says he wrote this book “Because I’m tired of a world where blogs take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it.”

Now, Holiday wants people to understand how the media works.

If what Holiday writes is true, then all of us bloggers are manipulators to a certain degree. After all, we want to convince you of something—to do something, buy something, believe something, or even to not believe something.

According to Holiday, “Blogs must—economically and structurally—distort the news in order for the format to work. As businesses, blogs can see the world through no other lens. The format is the problem. Or the perfect opportunity, depending on how you look at it.”

What Holiday means is this: A blog writer has just a few seconds to hook the reader. The so-called “bounce rate” on blogs—the percentage of readers who leave the site without clicking any of the links—is very high. If we remember that the purpose of the blog is to promote an idea or sell a product or service, then a successful blog writer has to follow certain rules to decrease the bounce rate.

High on the list of rules to follow is to create a catchy headline. A great headline means that you are going to grab your readers’ attention, at least long enough for them to remain on the page and read the first line. Of course, the first line has to be catchy, too, if the reader is going to continue reading. And keep the paragraphs short. And always remember that readers are busy and have quite a few options when it comes to where they are going to spend their time reading. So the blog should not exceed a certain number of words.

I learned early in my career as a journalist that no matter how mundane or complex a topic may be, a good writer has to find an angle. For example, a famous actor becomes more interesting when the local newspaper highlights that he attended high school in town and was the one who spray painted something derogatory on the water tower at the edge of town the night before the homecoming game against the school’s biggest rival. Then you jump the story to page 4 because on page 5 there’s a full-page ad announcing a sale at the local department store. Good stories sell papers, and advertisers buy space so that readers will see their ads and ultimately buy their products or services.

As Holiday emphasizes, writers need to find not only the angle, but the click-driving headline or an eye-catching image in order to generate comments and click-throughs.

But it’s important to remember that there are many things worth reading, doing, buying, believing or not believing. The onus is on each of us to do the research. In other words, we need to study the issue; we need to do our homework; we need to avoid being manipulated. We need to make a genuine effort to figure out what’s accurate or inaccurate.

So how do you do that? For starters, figuring it out should involve more than simple Internet searches. It certainly involves more than just reading a blog or two. To be sure, technology has made our lives much easier. We have a number of tools right at our fingertips. Literally. But we have to do more. As one of my old journalism professors used to say: “Dig deep for the details!”

Getting down to the nitty-gritty—that which is essential, those specific details about why something is real or true or valid—may take more time and effort, but in the long run, truth is always worth finding. Trust me, I’m not lying.

It’s not about the bike; it’s about what you can do with the bike and technology

1818. When you think about cycling, you probably don’t think of 1818. But the velocipede—as that first two-wheeler was known—for all practical purposes was the first bicycle to hit the road. (Some might argue that the velocipede wasn’t the first bike because it didn’t have a drivetrain and riders had to push themselves forward with their feet. But take a look at a picture. The velocipede is a bike.) It was invented by Baron Karl Drais, who called his invention Laufmaschine or “running machine.”

Cycling has come a long way since the Laufmaschine. If the Baron were alive today, he would be astounded by how cycling has evolved. First, consider that the Laufmaschine was made from cherry wood, brass, and iron and weighed nearly 50 pounds (22.7 kg). No carbon fiber or lightweight alloys back then. Even so, Baron Drais must have been pretty proud that on his first ride he was able to cover 8 miles (13 km) in one hour. For comparison, the speed record on a modern bicycle is 83 mph (133 km/h), unless you’re racing down a volcano. That record is 102 mph (165 km/h) (it would have been faster had the volcano been erupting).

Next, consider that today’s modern racing machines in the Tour de France weigh 15 pounds (6.8 kg). Interestingly, these bicycles could weigh less. They are required to weigh at least 15 pounds. It’s not uncommon for riders to add dead weight to the frame to meet the minimum weight requirement. BTW, if you want lightweight and are not planning to race in the Tour de France, there is a road bike that weighs 6 pounds (2.7 kg). Got $45,000? (Yes, even your bank account will be lighter.)

But these days, it’s not just about the bike. It’s about getting the most out of the bike by adding high tech to the riding experience. The following are some of the ways technology can change the way you approach cycling and improve your performance.

Do you want to track your ride? You can with Strava. By using your iPhone, Android, or dedicated GPS device, you can analyze and quantify your ride. But Strava does more than just measure your performance; it’s designed to motivate you to seek continual improvement in how you ride. You do that by comparing your performance to past rides and other riders who have ridden the same route. If you’re faster than another rider, then you know you’re doing something well. If another rider is faster, then you’ve got some catching up to do. Which might motivate you to train harder to stay at the front of your imaginary peloton. But Strava is more than just about competition; it’s about camaraderie in the biking community. It’s kind of like riding with others who are not riding beside you.

If you like the idea of having a personal trainer but don’t want to pay for a personal trainer (the human kind), there’s the Garmin Edge 305. This GPS-enabled device attaches to your handlebars and automatically measures speed, distance, time, calories burned, altitude, climb and descent, and records all of this data to analyze later. If that weren’t enough, this personal trainer also includes a barometric altimeter to tell you the elevation. The Edge includes a heart rate monitor and a speed/cadence sensor. Clearly, this isn’t your father’s bicycle speedometer.

If you cycle, you know that eyewear is a must. But today’s glasses are more than just eye protection. Consider Recon’s cycling glasses. The Recon Jet glasses provide heads-up display for the serious cyclist. They’re kind of like sunglasses on steroids (but since we are talking about cycling, let’s be perfectly clear that we’re not talking about those kind of steroids) just for the cyclist. Recon’s on-board sensors provide speed, distance, elevation gain, and more. And they connect to your heart rate monitor, power meter, and cadence sensor. Talk about instant information in your face, literally.

Today’s cycling gear can make you look and feel pretty darn good. Carbon frame. Check. Form-fitting Lycra shorts and jersey. Check. Cool looking, multi-functioning glasses. Check. Aerodynamic helmet with catchy design. Check. Technology device to measure and analyze your progress. Check.

But let’s not get too serious about all of this high tech cycling gear. After all, no one says you can’t have a little fun, right? If you’re game and you’re willing to embrace a bit of LED low tech, consider adding rainbow Hokey Spokes to your modern Laufmaschine. Attach these blades with LED lights on your bicycle wheel spokes to brighten your image—and even display text. If the Baron could only see you now! Come to think of it, everyone will be able to see you now, at least at night.