Innovations



Dear Reader,

Exploration and Innovation have previously been the domain of Universities and Governments marshaling their collective resources.  How does humankind’s drive to colonize Mars in the digital media age take shape?   In the form of a reality show.   Yes, you heard right, Reality show.

It is possible to think that television has been lost in the sea of digital media, but apparently not.   From its inception, television has been leveraged to communicate, bring us together as a digital society, and socially engineer our future selves.   Presidents became closer to mainstream America, we share entertainment, atumblr_mqxvemvpsO1r01w8mo4_1280 (2)nd we witness events as a nation. We all held our breath while Apollo 13 was clinging tenaciously to life.  Broader still, other countries share our adventures into television media.  Although television now has rivals in the Internet, Cell Phones, and Tablets, television has grown to be a dominant force in our global community.

Television with the onset of reality programming has provided  Mars One‘s entrepreneur,  Bas Lansdorp, with the means to finance his dream of colonization of Mars.  Mars One is a non-profit organization working towards the goal of colonizing Mars with the first four people by 2023.   Working within our current technology, Bas, is currently seeking volunteers to go on a one-way trip to Mars.   If anyone ever told you to “Get Lost!” this is the way to do it.

As immediate as 2016, the project will be capable of unmanned demonstration.  The Mars One website showcases a complete list of FAQ’s including the business model, cost of the project, and its feasibility.  Its creator has managed to recruit an incredible amount of support including a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, and world-wide suppliers for all the technical resources they will need.

The Journal of Cosmology said, “…, to attain it [an outpost on Mars] would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays been replaced with a culture of safety and political  correctness.” in an article exploring the proposal in 2010.   That article goes on to analyze the potential challenges faced in such a venture.

NASA’s footage of Mars Moons passing each other from the Mars surface is beautiful.   There are individuals willing to take the risks involved in a one-way trip to Mars to be able to witness this firsthand:

This will be an epic media event.   mars-one-childrens-t-250The entire worldwide community will watch these events unfold.   Bas Lansdorp has thought of everything.  Where would any pop media event be without T-Shirts?

Advertisements

cloud-computing (2)Dear Reader,

I remember when the internet was on college machines, text-based only, and you could go get a cup of coffee while your conversations scroll up the screen at 1200 symbols per second (baud).  At the University of Rhode Island, if Brown U was down so was URI.   Human nature then was what it still is today.   Remove all the flash and dazzle of parallax scrolling, quad core computing and terabytes of information, and you still have people at the heart of the machines.

So it came as no surprise to me that people tried to hack each other’s accounts, tried to phish for information, blackmailed others, took down servers, or otherwise tried to commit mayhem on a digital scale.  Technology was advancing, not human nature.  The thing with technology crimes is that generally they require more intelligence than a hit-and-run robbery making the criminals more difficult to catch.

For quite aimagesCAMYXG9Nwhile,  I believed the cloud culture to be more fluff than fact – inherently prone to data break-in and server crashes resulting in data loss and unreliable services.   Something for large companies to take risks with for business needs and  Cloud Computing News has extensive articles examining ideas crucial to businesses in the cloud.   Then I got a smart phone.   Between the phone and my home computer, the value of the cloud became apparent.  For a techy, I’m a bit of a latecomer to the cloud.   However, coordinating across devices IS a problem without the cloud.   Some have USB ports, some don’t.  Some are not compatible with others or your friends’ or colleagues’ machines.   He has an Apple … you have a PC ..  they have a Galaxy …   You have an Android tablet … and so it goes….

Apple has iCloud to coordinate, but it doesn’t play well with others – if at all.   To be honest, as I’m becoming more than passing acquaintances with my iPad I’m wondering how Apple gained the popularity it did.  (Anyone feel free to comment here on their behalf)  You can barely multitask, there are bugs just as with any other piece of equipment, and the security is a poor step-child to PC security.

PCs have a variety of cloud applications to coordinate – DropBox, EverNote, and software to create and run your own personal cloud Tonido.

As time has gone by since I’ve been active on the internet, I have realized that the amount I’ve been hacked has been extremely scarce.   One of my accounts was hacked and spamming friends.   I changed the password and solved the problem.   That was it.   Any viruses I caught was from downloading torrents.   I grew tired of repeatedly fighting off viruses especially after I caught a rootkit.  However, its under my control.   Run a good KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAvirus protector, create complex passwords, don’t put identifying information on the internet such as social security numbers, birthdates, and the like and you will most likely be fine.

So the old girl has learned new tricks.   I’m a fan of the Cloud after all.  I may even work to set up my own Cloud for fun.


Dear Reader,

I have always been a very average person. So how is it that I am innovating a new application for the educational field?  Magic?

Its actually nothing anyone else can’t do.  Its born of the fruits of hard work,  networking, marketing — all the work that anyone puts into building a career.  Plus, its seeking solutions to problems along the way.    20130810-131904.jpg

When I was running my own business and began running into difficulties, one of the representatives at SCORE explained that I had the ability to analyze where the gaps in my small business were and solve the problem. I’m no longer running my own business, but gap analysis enabled me to process this current dream into vision.  “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” is not just for Gen. George S. Patton in times of war, but for those of us entrepreneurs in difficult business environments.  Innovators are perceived as perfectionists. I decided that perfection is overrated – mostly because people are not perfect and never will be.   I never let flaws stop me from progressing or reassessing my strategy.

My cousin teaches at a full immersion school. The American children learn all their subjects in fluent French. She needs an application to take her vocabulary words and create a weekly puzzle for the children to play with. She currently creates this by hand and it takes hours.  She asked me to develop an application to create the puzzle for her.  When she gave me the specs for this, I immediately Googled to find previous work to use as a guide. Surprisingly, this has not already been developed. As I dug into the algorithms necessary for this project, I realized it was just a little beyond my current experience.

Do I give up? Not at all.  The gap was in some of my experience — software engineering design in OOP paradigm. So, who has those abilities? Software engineers. I began emailing. I found such an individual with the abilities and willingness to work with me on this.

To those who believe they are incapable of innovation – you are correct. To those who believe they are capable of innovation – you are correct. Limits are challenges to overcome unless you see those limits and absolute.


EmbracingTheGreysDear Reader,

imagesCAM94OVNI’m not overly artistic although I have some sense of design – evidenced by my blog design and matching Facebook Fan page.  When I saw Fresh Paint on my Windows 8 Laptop, I was mildly interested at best.   Until I combined my stylus with a paint brush with the touchscreen….  Witness my mid-life crisis, also named “Embracing The Greys”.   I started a blank canvas, and the app accessed my webcam.   This started as a picture.   I chose a brush shape and color and dragged my virtual bristles through the picture on the screen.  But wait!  There’s more!

I uploaded a picture I had taken with my digital camera while driving around Rhode Island and took an impressionistic approach… Mystic Scenery came about.  Do I expect to launch a career in art?  Not likely.   But I figure if I can do this with Fresh Paint, I can only imagine with a real artist can accomplish.MysticScenes


mobile256Dear Reader,

Its mind-boggling. Operating systems, devices, apps… all vying for our attention and all declaring their superiority over the competition. So which one is the best? Yes.

I came at this backwards. I never saw the point in apps on my phone and my first-ever app device was my new pc. The touch capability was revolutionary for me more than any perceived advantage to apps.  I purchases a smart phone just to remain current with technology  and I was quickly won over.  The advantages became really apparent. newspapers, email, twitter, LinkedIn, freelance work while commuting for work.  It totally depends on your particular needs / wants for technology.  Competition and customer preference have created a fairly level playing field.  Hopefully this post will give you a starting point.

If you know what your uses and price point are can really help. Do you live more mobile or stationary? Heavy keyboard user or total touch? Cell phones are an awesome device because you have your phone and a lot of interactive capability. However, as large as the Samsung Galaxy gets, you are still looking at a total screen size of approximately 5″ x 2.5″. Text can still become fairly microscopic on a device like a phone — not to mention the restriction of typing.

Next up is a tablet. The downside? No phone calls. The upside, much bigger screen and some have optional keyboards you can buy. They are great for productivity and possibly game play, but they are not a full-fledged laptop. Tablets and some cell phones can cost as much as laptops. Is the lack of functioning worth the portability?

Another factor to consider is the aggravating pre-installed apps that you would prefer to remove from your Android or Apple device and you can’t. You can on a Microsoft device. Also, Windows Phone won Endgadget Reader’s Choice of the Year.

Ease of use? iPad has it, but so does Windows.

As offensive as it is to Apple who innovated the touch interface and apps, currently Windows can do more. I now own an iPad and an Asus tablet. The iPad apps are better developed than Windows. Additionally, the iPad seems to handle open apps and retain state better than Windows 8 or RT. Since its better for the machine to close apps this is a minor inconvenience to me. However, for productivity, I still prefer Windows. I can close any Windows app by the swipe of a finger. On my MAC I have to click buttons and the screen for quite some time. 800px-Cuddling_with_multiple_devices (2)On my Windows tablet I can go to previous internet pages by the swipe of a finger. MAC still relies on back browser buttons. I have both a delete and a backspace key on my PC. Not so on the MAC — and since I am an intensive typist this is not such a minor inconvenience. On my MAC I lack convenient “end” keys to jump around quickly.  And Windows still multitasks better than a MAC. I’m writing this blog post on my iPad in the WordPress app. I am previewing the post and trying to test the links to see if the work. My device is not opening a web browser for me when I tell it to. Not really useful.  I wound up completing this post on my PC.

Regardless of the device, if you are a multi-device user, coordinating over the cloud becomes a factor. Which app to use? Total personal preference. The same apps are available on all devices including DropBox, EverNote, SkyDrive and Google.   I already had a DropBox account from a volunteer event so it was natural to use that for my own needs.

Whether you are a Mac or PC fan, hopefully this will give you enough information to make an informed decision — or point you in the right direction for your personal needs.

 


danica_mckellar_580pxDear Reader,

I wish Danica McKellar’sMath Doesn’t Suck” had been around when I was young.  I wound up in a remedial math class in the sixth grade because I believed that I was not good at math.  When the other kids said to me, “Congratulations. You’re a dummy like the rest of us. We are all dummies here. Welcome to the dummies class.” I fought. I refused to be labelled a dummy. I wound up back in the advanced math class.

My mother wasn’t much help. When I returned to college as an engineering major she said, “You don’t have the brains for that. Your father can do that. You can’t.” I was reduced to tears. My father got angry and told me not to listen to her. I realized I was really good at math and truly enjoyed it in college. I was scoring ahead of class average through Calculus 2 and I remember how beautiful an integration across two chalkboards was. The jumble of numbers and letters almost danced.

As supportive as my father was he was still surprised. When I found vector analysis intriguing, he said, “You are not doing vector analysis. I do that.” When I insisted I was learning it he asked me to explain it to him. His response was, “I always thought my sons would be doing that, not my daughter. Awesome.” I’ve been lucky to have a lot of good role models. My first cousin, Donna Livant, is an accomplished cancer researcher doing ground-breaking work at her Oncology lab at the University of Michigan. And she is married with a family.

I wonder how many stereotypes arise from a misunderstanding of the different interaction and learning styles between the genders. In addition to a perceived lack of ability women are not viewed as capable of teamwork. My current department is one of the best-kept secrets in the technology field. More than 50% of the management are women as well as the workforce. In the technical field teamwork is not just good for productivity — its a survival skill.

I take a nearly perverse delight in breaking stereotypes.  Trailblazing is not always comfortable, but I find the rewards far outweigh the challenges. I am not living in anyone else’s shadow. Currently, I have the privilege of being asked to be in a series of videos published by Bridge Technical Talent to mentor and foster children’s interests in the technical field. Will this kill the pesky stereotypes? I hope so.

Related articles


imagesDear Reader,

The 10 Best-Kept Secrets of being a woman in the technical field:

  1. You have the freedom to be as independent as you want to be.
  2. We struggle with the same challenges as men.  It’s NOT always because we are women.
  3. We CAN all get along.   We DO understand teamwork.
  4. We get to create our identities — it hasn’t been done before.  We are the pioneers and we are the creator of dreams.
  5. Playing with computers is fun.
  6. We are as smart as men — and they don’t mind us being so.
  7. We are treated equally as men when we work hard.
  8. We are paid equally when we ask for what we are worth.
  9. No one cares how pretty or plain we are.
  10. And the best kept secret of all… No line at the ladies’ room!   The men have to wait!

Next Page »