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Natural Disasters and Information Technology

posted Aug 12, 2014, 7:39 PM by Michael Bray

This latest round of wildfires has really brought home the importance of crowdsourcing, particularly for hyperlocal events. My information technologist heart goes out to those who are struggling with finding a balance between the importance of the local feet-on-the-ground posts across social media, what the official word should be, and filtering all the garbage and redundant information out. It's a puzzle and needs more study...I like puzzles...and study...hmm...

Also, it's 2014...I'm still upset I don't have a flying car...we have all these satellites cruising around and have made great strides in drone technology...some near-real-time fire perimeter data should not be out of our grasp.

My Ode to Sciatica

posted Aug 10, 2014, 12:30 PM by Michael Bray

Sciatica you have more in common with
Scythes and Scissors,
Than you do Scintillation.
Begone you scary schmuck,
I have things to do

Wildfire Twitter Feeds

posted Aug 4, 2014, 8:41 AM by Michael Bray   [ updated Aug 4, 2014, 10:43 AM ]

Lesson In The Mess

posted Aug 3, 2014, 3:25 PM by Michael Bray

My typical procedure for breaking up a bag of crushed ice is to pick it up and drop it several times. Today that occurred on the kitchen floor. Today that bag decided to break open and shoot ice cubes all over my kitchen...

As I raced to get the broom and the dustpan...to get all the ice cubes swept up quickly so they wouldn't melt all over the floor...it occurred to me...

Ever had a day like that? A month like that? Ever felt like you had to sweep up all the problems immediately, before...what? You give them some time and they melt and you mop them up? You give them even more time and they melt and evaporate?

Hmm...

A Cell Phone Is Not A Sat Phone...

posted Aug 3, 2014, 2:33 PM by Michael Bray   [ updated Aug 3, 2014, 3:09 PM ]

Since December of 1998 I have been employed in rural telecommunications. Early in my employment, this included providing computer and data network support to a small, rural cellular communications provider, which is now part of a nationwide cellular communications provider. 

Please help me to educate the masses with this simple phrase, "A Cell Phone Is Not a Sat(ellite) Phone." I have had this conversation no less than three times in the past 30 days with intelligent people who somehow believe their cell phone communicates directly with satellites for its voice and text communication functions!

Now, as with all things tech, there are a couple of factors that may be contributing to this false information. The first is that, yes, our networks - almost all communications networks either directly or indirectly - receive their "timing" from satellites. Feel free to look into that further, I am not going to go into it in this post.

Secondly, for GPS (Global Positioning System) enabled devices, yes - your device is communicating with satellites for that functionality. The GPS radio in your device talks to the GPS system, but your calls and text messages don't take this path...currently...that I'm aware of...call your local NSA office for details...no, not really, even if you have one, don't call it.

Also, it is technically possible that a cellular communications provider - or a wireline communications provider - could be transporting some of your traffic via a satellite link. I suspect there are a few of these - very few - the latency involved in this particular design means it is only used as a last resort.

So..., the next time you hear a friend tell another friend that their cell phone talks to satellites...please resist the urge to smack them upside the head and share this post with them. It is easier and not as likely to end up in court.

READ THIS:
http://www.howstuffworks.com/cell-phone.htm/printable

He Never Lets Go

posted Aug 3, 2014, 1:50 PM by Michael Bray   [ updated Aug 3, 2014, 1:52 PM ]

My life has been chaotic...yes, I think I'll go with "chaotic"...since January 17, 2012. I believe I can now see the faint glow of a light at the end of my personal tunnel. 

Throughout this experience, I have failed miserably at remembering the message of this worship song; however, through the experience I believe My Lord has been teaching, guiding and preparing me. My perspective, on many things, has changed for the better. I am more centered, more in touch with my weaknesses and my strengths, and  much more understanding of The Power of The Holy Spirit and The Grace and Love of God The Father and God The Son.

May His Love and Grace fill you today and every day, in the face of storms and in the calm between.


The Valiant Little Heat Pump...?

posted Jul 7, 2014, 5:58 PM by Michael Bray

I'm thinking of writing a new children's book, "The Valiant Little Heat Pump," with early concept apologies to the Brothers' Grimm.

Digital Literacy

posted Feb 3, 2014, 9:46 AM by Michael Bray   [ updated Feb 7, 2014, 3:00 PM ]

Digital Literacy curriculum resources, low cost computer hardware for nonprofits, grant programs for computer hardware, etc.


"The CFL program evolved as a guide for implementing Executive Order 12999, Educational Technology: Ensuring Opportunity for all Children in the Next Century. The order encourages agencies, to the extent permitted by law, to transfer computers and related peripheral equipment excess to their needs directly to schools and educational nonprofit organizations. The CFL website allows eligible recipients to view and select the computer equipment that federal agencies have reported as excess (via GSAXcess®)." (Home Page, 2.7.2014)

digitalliteracy.gov

From their "About Us" page: "The Digital Literacy portal is an initiative of the Obama Administration to serve as a valuable resource to practitioners who are delivering digital literacy training and services in their communities. As more and more jobs and educational offerings are available online, the ability to navigate the Internet is critical to participate more fully in the economy. Jumpstarted by a federal interagency working group dedicated to spurring the advancement of digital literacy across all age groups and stages of learning, the Digital Literacy portal organizes content conveniently, enables valuable discussion and collaboration among users and elevates best practices to improve the quality of digital literacy offerings. We invite users to share their content and their ideas to make the portal more robust and to fulfill its role as a destination for practitioners devoted to enhancing digital opportunity for all Americans"

everyoneon.org/partner/

"Please complete the questionnaire below so that we may pre-qualify all of your constituents for our low cost Internet and computer offers. EveryoneOn will update you with your approval status within one week. If approved- you will receive a unique URL and further instructions to help your members access available offers. Join the movement and help us get EveryoneOn!"

everyoneon.org/c2c/

"Connect2Compete - Being online is critical to a child’s future. Connect2Compete (C2C) is EveryoneOn’s flagship program for families that qualify for the National School Lunch Program. It brings affordable Internet service to the home, so families can use it for homework, job searches, or to connect with their loved ones."

gcflearnfree.org

"GCFLearnFree.org creates and provides quality, innovative online learning opportunities to anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy and math skills needed to be successful in both work and life. By delivering over 750 different lessons to millions of people in over 200 countries and territories ABSOLUTELY FREE, GCFLearnFree.org is a worldwide leader in online education."

goodpc.com/non-profit-computers/

"GoodPC offers high-quality, reconditioned PCs and technology that are perfect for your organization. Save money, and feel better knowing your budget is about to shrink for once."

goodpc.com/connect2compete

From their "About Us" page: "GoodPC is a business built around the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to have technology at their fingertips, at an affordable price. We reclaim, refurbish and resell computing equipment and electronics that still have lots of life in them. The result is terrific, like-new PCs and electronics that sell for a fraction of the cost of brand new products while also protecting the environment."

google.com/nonprofits/

"Google for Nonprofits offers organizations like yours access to highly discounted or free products. These tools can help you find new donors and volunteers, work efficiently, and get supporters to take action." (Home Page, 2.7.2014)

microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/nonprofits/

"Microsoft is proud to work with more than 50,000 nonprofits around the world every year to provide them with affordable access to the technology they need to support their work in local communities, and to leverage technology to help them be more efficient, effective and innovative in doing their important work. Whether it is through our software donations, technology solutions for nonprofit problems, or Office 365 for Nonprofits, we strive to help nonprofits do more good." (Home Page, 2.7.2014)

verizonfoundation.org/

"The Verizon Foundation is focused on using technology to solve critical social issues in the areas of energy management, education, and healthcare. Through the support of our employees and resources, we help address the needs of communities around the world." (Home Page, 2.7.2014)

Quotes - Actions, Words and Writing

posted Dec 30, 2013, 10:25 AM by Michael Bray   [ updated Dec 30, 2013, 10:25 AM ]

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” 
― Mark Twain

"Well done is better than well said."
- Benjamin Franklin

"Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable." 
- Francis Bacon

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."
- William Wordsworth

"I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions." 
- James Michener

2014 Tech Predictions, Let's See What the New Year brings!

posted Dec 20, 2013, 2:44 PM by Michael Bray   [ updated Jun 27, 2014, 9:08 AM ]

This will be a fun experiment...can't wait to look back at it next December!

2014 Tech Predictions

1) Google Smart Watch released no later than March 30th.
This is not a groundbreaking prediction. Many fellow gadget enthusiasts, professional technologists and others agree we will see this by the end of next year (related: http://www.gizmag.com/when-will-google-glass-finally-go-on-sale/28788/ )

2) Someone will release a tablet and stylus combination that makes for a writing experience almost indistinguishable from the pen-on-paper experience. (If this already exists, somebody better tell me before I buy more Moleskine notebooks...and no, the Galaxy Note products aren't quite there yet in my opinion...they're good...very good...but not quite there yet.) 

    Updates: 
3) Google will issue a series of Google Now updates that will quickly overtake Siri's capabilities. New natural language interaction and translation features will set the world abuzz. (related: (12.25.3013 - http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/25/google-wants-to-build-the-ultimate-personal-assistant/)

4) Those who haven't yet enabled two-factor authentication on every service they can will scramble to enable it when a real and serious threat gets worldwide media coverage. (related: http://lifehacker.com/5938565/heres-everywhere-you-should-enable-two+factor-authentication-right-now)

5) The amount of networked devices in homes that currently have broadband access will double between now and Dec. 2014. (related: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/20/nest-protect-review , http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/16/google-testing-smart-thermostat-energysense/)

6) Facebook will have a very serious rival, which will spark rumors of a "MySpace-like Exodus." No real information behind this...just a sense that its time has come.

7) Somebody will finally start to make a serious commercial push to rid us of all these damned keys. ...that may be more of a wish... (1.6.2014, related: http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/06/okidokeys-hands/)

8) This year really began the journey, but 2014 will be the year the mouse diesEek! A Mouse!. Er...the computer mouse that is...the-mouse-as-critter will continue to thrive. (related: RIP Mr. Engelbart: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/03/tech/mouse-inventor-dies/)

9) Advances in recycling technology in the first half of the year will ensure that everyone in the US is familiar with the term "landfill mining," by the end of the year. The technology advances will allow for smaller, portable recycling systems that can separate more of the usable materials from the raw waste materials. (related: http://bangordailynews.com/slideshow/maine-running-out-of-landfill-space-recycling-rates-stalled-but-new-technologies-are-emerging/)

10) Yes...of course...3D printing, yada, yada, yada... (related: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/18/3d-systems-xerox , http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/16/cornell-speaker)

11) Intuit's Quicken will complete it's move to "the cloud," which began with its acquisition of mint.com. If this makes you queasy over security and privacy concerns, fear not, your bank...if you bank with one that covers three states or more...will be extending it's online offerings this year to include most of what you can do with Quicken.
(related: 
http://techcrunch.com/2009/09/13/intuit-to-acquire-former-techcrunch50-winner-mint-for-170-million/)

12) Over-The-Top video content will push Internet Service Providers (ISPs) uplinks to capacity as 4K video streams are provided by Netflix, Amazon and others. Local network caching will provide some relief. Regional ISPs will scramble to find affordable broadband access in time to keep their businesses afloat. , (related: http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/19/5226736/netflix-4k-streaming-announcement-ces-2014http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000947061) (1.6.2014, related: http://ces.cnet.com/8301-35284_1-57616665/samsung-teams-with-amazon-comcast-studios-on-4k-video/)

13) The Google vs. ESRI battle will continue and Google will overtake ESRI, and possibly absorb (see also "purchase") them. (related:Google's success will be largely due to an agreement with these folks, http://icesat.gsfc.nasa.gov/icesat2/ ...No real info. to back that up either, but if I had Google's money...and I knew NASA needed money...I'd be working on it....)

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