Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Future is Physical: how the Internet of the future — including supply chain, manufacturing, and commerce — is physical and robotic (more thoughts on drones)

First, a couple of paragraphs of background. While I have written a little about drones, John Robb has a blog called Global Guerrillas where he writes alot about it and other topics. Well worth reading. In his blog he talks about something called Dronet (Drone Net) and it got me thinking about the idea of a network of drones and how it will interact with what we think of as the Internet.

That said, I expect there will be resistance to the idea of Drone Net. I also think even if it is built, it will pivot away from drones and warfare to something bigger and broader, just like the Internet pivoted away from ARPAnet to something bigger and broader. Drone Net will just be a part, a small part, of a newer and bigger Internet.

That brings me to the subject of this post: the next Internet.

This new and bigger Internet will be physical. It won’t be focused on just being threatening or military. It won’t be Skynet or Dronet.  It will be called something neutral like Courier-Net or ExpressNet or simply the Net. Just like Apple evolves a device but keeps the same name, we too will do the same thing with the Internet.

Some of the ways the new drone enabled Internet will work are:

    • instead of businesses and other institutions shipping good and services via trucks and planes, they will send them via this new Net. Part of the new Net will be a network of thousands or millions of drones continually in motion. All supply chains will merge into the Internet. People will order Things, and the Internet will route drones to get those Things to People.
    • Instead of business manufacturing parts and goods in a factory, they will print them with 2D or 3D printers or maybe even bio-printers. (Iimagine printing something that looks like and tastes like and has the nutrients of an apple, but not an apple). Robots will do any pre and post work with the printed devices and then have them delivered to you via a drone. Non-manufactured goods (e.g. antiques) will be selected and packaged with a combination of people and robots.
    • You may have these printers at home for small things, just like you do now. But over time, there will be advantages to centralization of these facilities, so they will be centralized, though not necessarily in factories. There may be showrooms to convince you of the need of the product, with big printers in the back. Or they may be underground, part of our infrastructure, delivering up the goods we want, much like our current infrastructure delivers water and electricity and gas to us now.
    • People will have their own drones that are part of the new Net. For example, you may have a self driving car (which is merely a drone) that is connected to the Internet. It will figure out the best way to get your from A to B, just like Google Maps does now. Other drones will clean your house. (You have a bunch right now and you call them Appliances, not drones. Appliances are drones that are not very smart, aren’t connected to the Internet, and don’t move around.) Other drones will get rid of rodents and other pests (up to and including other drones). There will be entertainment drones, security drones, maintainance drones, drones you can’t even imagine having yet, though you will. (Teeth cleaning drones, for example.)
    • Drones will be relatively cheap. Look at your smartphone now. Think about how fast and better they have gotten even as they have become cheaper. That will be the case with drones. You will have butler drones to help you manage your drones.
    • IT companies always need new IT things to sell to you. Those things will be drones.
    • Just like you have appliances, in the future, you will just have drones. Unlike your current appliances, they will not stay in one place. They may not even stay in your house all the time (any more than your smartphone or your laptop stays in your house).
    • These drones will be part of the Net. Already Belkin makes switches that you can turn off and on from the Internet. This will soon be the case for all appliances. You will use a “remote” to talk to these devices, instead of the limited panels they have now. Or you will talk to a butler drone that does the rest.
    • Drones will be made attractive to people. Ever wish, after making a meal, that the kitchen would clean itself? Drones will do that. Ever wish someone would wash and fold and put away the laundry? Drones will do that. Put the cat or dog in and out? Wash the windows of your house? Paint a room? Drones will do all these things. People will ask: how did people ever live without drones in the same way people ask: how did we ever live without the Internet? Instead of asking Siri for the weather, you will ask Siri to make a soup for lunch.
    • Everyone will have drones, because drones will be everywhere. What will separate rich and poor people is how many powerful drones they can get at a moments notice. Everyone may have small drones, but not everyone will have a drone squadron that can build a 10 story building. (And yes, they won’t be called a Drone Army….it will be a more pacifistic term like Drone Squad or Robot Crew or Android Team.)
    • Speaking of Android, Google has shown how to market robots to be cute and attractive (just think of the robot mascot for Android). I would not be surprised to see a company that has brand names like Android and Nexus making drones soon. I expect no less from Apple and other IT companies.
    • Think of a thing you want to do. Drones will be capable of doing that for you. That’s the future of the Internet. That’s your future, too.
    • I used to think the future was Digital. Now I think the future is Physical.

If you ever want to know how many people are using Facebook, Twitter, and….well just about anything else social media related…

Then check out this post: (Feb 2013) How Many People Use the Top Social Media, Apps & Services?

A comprehensive compilation of social media stats. Very impressive.

In the summer of 2007, the DJIA was valued at just over 14,000. Then Obama came along. Now? Just over 14,000. :)

I mention this because Daniel Gross (@grossdm) on twitter pointed out this article, which was written in March, 2009: Michael Boskin Says Barack Obama Is Moving Us Toward a European-Style Social Welfare State and Long-Run Economic Stagnation – Is this true?

It’s true that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was low when that article was written, dropping to a relative low of 6,626.94. However, Obama took office in January, 2009. During the summer and fall of 2007, the DJIA was just over 14,000. It then proceeded to fall month after month, with big drops in the fourth quarter of 2008. And just who was in office in 2007 and 2008? President Bush.

What has happened since March, 2009? The DJIA has been rising consistently, with a small dropoff in July, 2010, after which it recovered and now stands at just over 14,000 as of February, 22, 2013.

There is still too much unemployment as well as other problems with the U.S. economy. But the stock market has been the beneficiary of President Obama and his form of governing.

And by the way, who is Michael Boskin? According to the article, “Mr. Boskin is a professor of economics at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He chaired the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush.

All DJIA come from here: Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) History

Testing to see if my ifttt recipe will allow me to email blog posts

If this works, the recipe is here:

The success of Google’s new Chromebook (Pixel) and Glass

It may seem odd to talk about the success of these two devices. Many of the reviews that I (and likely, you) have read have said that the Pixel is a great device, but too expensive and to be avoided. And Google Glass is not even shipped yet. Given that, how can I talk about their success?I think their success can be measured in another way. Regardless of the success of these or other offerings, Google is successfully positioning itself as a leader with regards to emerging technology. This is important for IT companies. If you are perceived as failing, then regardless of how good your technology is, it will always be framed in terms of your failing to lead. (see RIM/Blackberry or Microsoft). Likewise, if you are someone like Apple, a perceived leader, then whatever you do is measured in those terms. Given that, Google succeeds on the whole even if individual products do not. Furthermore, Google was gaining a reputation for missing the mark (Wave, Google+). Products like these can help change that perception.The Verve has two good reviews of these products here (Chromebook Pixel review) and here (I used Google Glass: the future, but with monthly updates). If you want to know more about these products, I recommend those articles.Finally, since this is IT related, I should state these are my opinions only and do not and do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of my employer (IBM).

Have a Posterous blog? You need to migrate it soon.

Why? Because it will be soon the end of Posterous (R.I.P. Posterous). The good news is that you can migrate from Posterous to other platforms, but you may want to do so soon.

7 Million ways to Make Lentil Soup (in a slow cooker)

The great Mark Bittman has 7 Ways to Make Lentil Soup, and if you want to start out with making any of these, I think you will have a delicious meal when you are done.

An even easier version is this. Take this list of ingredients

  1. 1 cup of green lentils, rinced
  2. 1 can (28 oz) of stewed tomatoes
  3. 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  4. 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  5. 1 onion, chopped
  6. 1 rib of celery, chopped
  7. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 3 bay leaves
  9. 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  10. 3 Tbps curry powder
  11. 1 tsp cumin
  12. 1 tsp coriander
  13. 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

Add them all to a slow cooker (4 quart / 4 litre) size or bigger, stir, then  cook on low (8-10 hours) or high (4-5 hours). Remove bay leaves before serving. That’s it! Easy.

Now I say seven million ways to make lentil soup because you really can substitute greatly for very different soups. For example:

  • this version has 4 cups of stock and 28 oz of tomatoes, compared to Bittman’s with 6 cups of stock. I think you can play around with the types of tomatoes (diced, plum) and the ratio of stock to tomatoes (only have a 14 oz can of tomatoes? Use it and go with 5 cups of stock)
  • You can use most any root vegetable instead of the potatoes or carrots. Try turnips, parsnips, or yams. Replace the celery with celeriac. I don’t think red beets will work, but white beets might.
  • Replace the onion with shallots or pearl onions.
  • I didn’t have spices 10, 11 and 12, but I did have an Indian spice mix, so I used 3 Tbsp of that instead.
  • Add some sriracha to make it spicy. Or dice up some jalapeno with the onion and toss it in. Red pepper flakes or some hot pepper sauce would also work.
  • If you don’t need it vegetarian, try the different meats that Bittman suggests. Leftover or rotisserie chicken would also be good. Or take some out and put it in a pot with fish and poach the fish until it is cooked.
  • Toss in some cooked pasta or cooked beans to make it more of a stew.
  • Towards the end stir in some chopped greens like spinach or kale or other greens that will wilt in a warm liquid.
  • At the end, add some wine vinegar to give it a bit of bite.
  • Garnish with herbs, or a drop of pesto or salsa verde. Or stir in some tomato based salsa. (Again, do it to your own taste.)

The lentils and the stock make up the foundation of the soup. The rest is seasoning and vegetables (and possibly non vegetables). Feel free to experiment and make the soup your own (and use up the left overs in your fridge or pantry).

IBM on tumblr

As an IBM employee, I am happy to see IBM has their own tumblr: IBMblr | IBM Innovation on Tumblr. There’s lots of good stuff on it, including this:


I also like this:

A woman in IT we should know more about: Melba Roy


I came across this entry about Melba Roy from this tumblr, Vintage Black Glamour. I tried to do searches on her to see if I could find more information about her, but I couldn’t. This is a terrible shame, since Ms Roy appears to be very accomplished, from what I read on the Tumblr. Not to take anything away from the tumblr, but here’s what it said:

Melba Roy, NASA Mathmetician, at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland in 1964. Ms. Roy, a 1950 graduate of Howard University, led a group of NASA mathmeticians known as “computers” who tracked the Echo satellites. The first time I shared Ms. Roy on VBG, my friend Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a former postdoc in astrophysics at NASA, helpfully explained what Ms. Roy did in the comment section. I am sharing Chanda’s comment again here: “By the way, since I am a physicist, I might as well explain a little bit about what she did: when we launch satellites into orbit, there are a lot of things to keep track of. We have to ensure that gravitational pull from other bodies, such as other satellites, the moon, etc. don’t perturb and destabilize the orbit. These are extremely hard calculations to do even today, even with a machine-computer. So, what she did was extremely intense, difficult work. The goal of the work, in addition to ensuring satellites remained in a stable orbit, was to know where everything was at all times. So they had to be able to calculate with a high level of accuracy. Anyway, that’s the story behind orbital element timetables”. Photo: NASA/Corbis.

I think this is an impressive story and we should know more about her. If anyone does, please post it here or the original tumblr. The world should know more about her.

P.S. Yes, I happen to love the IBM computer behind her. That makes her even better IMHO.

How the Chromebook (and maybe an iPad/Tablet) can be a great developer machine

I was skeptical of this, but Carl Franzen pointed out this detailed article: ChromeBook as Developer Machine. It makes a good case for how a developer can get alot of use out of a Chromebook for their development needs. I think the same can be said for anyone with a tablet or iPad with a bluetooth keyboard as well.

Well done. Worth reading.

Yes, many Russians do have dash-cams in their cars. And for good reason…

As this article points out, Why Russians Are Obsessed With Dash-Cams, Russian roads are a lawless place, and your best chance of limiting your liability when you are driving on them is with a dash-cam. Hence, the proliferation of them in that country.

I would not be surprised to see them in North American cars soon. Our roads may be more lawful, but there’s still enough bad driving and bad driving conditions here to make for some interesting footage.


Friday Night Music: Skrillex – Summit (feat. Ellie Goulding)

Love this.

Skrillex – Summit (feat. Ellie Goulding) – YouTube