Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Best Toy for Any Kid or Inquisitive Adult Alike

I feel like a kid again.  I just have so many questions I want to ask, and I just don't know where to start or for that matter, where to stop.  I start with an easy one - "Is it going to rain today?" It takes no more than a second, and she replies that it does not look like there will be any rain. What should I ask next?  I think for a moment and then decide to get a little more creative...really test out how smart she is.  I ask if there are any dog parks nearby.  Immediately, she brings up a list of the 10 closest places for me to take my babies for some play time.  Okay, this seems too easy...I really need to test her out now.  I ask her to send a text message to my mom.  She then asks me who my mom is and after giving her my mom's name, I can dictate a message to her.  HA!  No more texting while driving for me...(I really only did that at stoplights, when stopped, so keep the nasty comments to a minimum here).  Now I start going crazy.  I have to find out everything she can and cannot do for me. There seems to be no limit...until...I ask her why my Twitter account is not working.  At first, she tells me she would rather not say.  Now that, I found rather amusing.  She is toying with me now.  Then she says that she cannot help me with Twitter but suggests that she can search on Safari if I would like.  OMG!  How will life ever be the same.
Now let me digress for one minute...Twitter stopped working today for some unknown reason. Not only could Siri not tell me what was wrong but apparently neither could anyone else.  It is amazing to me that apparently, the only way to know what is and is not going on with Twitter is via Twitter so if it goes down, people do not know how to otherwise communicate about it.  Okay...back on topic...
Yes, I got my new iPhone 4s today. I am one of those "early adopters" that Apple knows and loves.  I cannot seem to go more than a few months without the latest and greatest. My husband has to be pretty damn proud of me making it as long as I did without making the change, especially with all the torturous commercials that Apple put us all through this holiday season.  Then on top of that, all my friends who had one just had to show me how great Siri was.  I have been jonesing for one since the first commercial where people are asking for reminders and dining advice and directions...heck, the phone seemed to practically use itself.  No wonder Apple has been selling out just about everyday all over the country.
How Apple took voice recognition from only understanding one in about every 50 things I said on my iPhone 4 to being able to write emails, research the web, learn about me and my family, and tell me how to bury a body...not like I ever need to know that but it seems to be a favorite question to ask Siri according to several things I have read about it so far...I will never know.  Just another mystery that is Apple.  That is why there are so many of us early adopters.  They just keep making things so much better than before.  They seem to find a way, with every new product, to make me feel like I did every Christmas when I would run up the stairs at the crack of dawn to see what Santa had left me.  The joy of discovering for the next 6 months (or more) all the really cool things that this new gadget can do, just in time for me to buy the newest, the greatest, the latest....that is what Apple knows how to create.
So enough babbling here as I have a new toy to play with!  What question do you have for Siri?  Come know you want to ask one!  I think I am going to see how many times I can ask her "why?" about something before she throws up her ... well ... before she says "I'd rather not say."

Monday, December 19, 2011

To "Check In" or Not....That is the Question

I was just on a trip this past weekend with a friend who religiously used Foursquare. Now, I am not saying every 5 minutes he was checking his new LAT/LONG coordinates, but when we changed venues, he wasted no time pulling out his mobile device to check in and get his points and potential badges....yes, badges. Nothing magically fell out of the sky for him to proudly pin to his chest, but he was quite proud nonetheless.
I have been hearing about this Foursquare and certainly been wondering why my old boss keeps ousting the Mayor of his local Post Office. I certainly know how easily one can get caught up in these social media games. I mean I lost much of my recovery time a couple years ago to Zynga. Thank God I decided to go to school as it forced me to quit. It was like a drug. I just could not get enough prizes each holiday so I could redesign my three farms. But there was still a lot of anonymity there. You were only friends with who you wanted to be friends with and others, if you let them come and marvel or do slave labor so they could try to be as cool as you, only knew you in the imaginary world. It is not like they could hop in their car and come introduce themselves to you in person. Which in many cases could be pretty scary.
Foursquare has a lot of the same rewards that drive you to want to participate more and more...some are just virtual bragging rights, but I just read an article in CIO magazine how companies use Foursquare to give discounts to customers. One example that was discussed was American Express - check in at some stores or restaurants and you pay with your AMEX and you will get an instant discount. I mean, any discount is pretty cool but if I was in line behind some Y-gen buying the same top (because I just cannot let go of my youth) and we both paid with AMEX but she paid 20% less, I would be pretty pissed. The poor clerk who have to weather one of my Irish/Italian temper flare ups would be likely pissed too. Here I am speaking in a "frustrated tone" (some accuse me of yelling but it is just a more stern tone), and she is telling me if I would just get with the times and "check in" like anyone else who is in the least bit tech savvy does, I too could reap the rewards and maybe even get to be Mayor someday.....but then everyone would know I am still shopping at one of those teenie bopper shops and we just cannot have that.
It is still this whole idea about people knowing where you are. Something about it still gives me the heebee gee bees. I mean, I only just started using Twitter and I barely use Facebook so perhaps I am not the best one to judge it. I guess I just wonder exactly how connected do we need to be and why do i get punished with no discount from AMEX though i am a loyal customer, just because i did not want to broadcast to the world where I was. Is tweeting and texting and emailing at practically time from practically any place enough.
And talk about the impact on businesses. When our friend checked in at each restaurant, comments about that restaurant instantly came up....thank goodness they were good or I would have looked like the idiot who did not do the proper research to find us some good eats. Imagine how easy it is now to tank a place that has bad service. It could really impact how we as consumers well, consume.
So for now, I am just not quite there to jump into the Foursquare mix....I mean, I did not see a "Queen of the World" badge and surely everyone knows that would go right to me anyhow. Plus,I don't want to have to keep track of where I have to go if I am going to stay on competetive nature would just feed on this environment and suddenly that time I thought I was getting back with school done would now be launched into my campaign to get all th badges and rule all areas I could. I think that could be bad all around. I will just remain anonymous and go out with my friends who have taken the dive so they can tell me if the place is any good or not.
What do you all think about whole idea of telling everyone where you are all the I missing out on something truly valuable?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cruising at 30k feet

So this is my first blog post since finishing my Masters program when I actually have time to stop and think...about what I think...rather than what the professor needs to hear to give me a good grade. Not that my emerging tech blog was that but certainly a lot of the other writing I was doing was and to be honest, I did not spend much time on the blogs....just enough time to realize that hey, I rather like rambling on about my thoughts on things and certainly not something I get to do in my writing for work.
I plan to have a couple blogs actually. This one where I get a bit more into things from my perspective and not always about tech and then one I will start in the coming weeks on the CERT/CC page but that will have a tech and the politics around cyber security as my main focus. So stand by for more on that.
I am sitting here, on a plane, thinking how freaking cool it is that I can write a blog, stay up on Twitter, and send work emails all while I am trapped in this small confined space for four hours. I did not feel like craining my neck and squinting to try to see the blurry screen hanging from the ceiling three rows up from me so I decided to throw on some tunes at full volume and start typing. I do think the technological advances that have been made to allow us to stay connected in flight are if they can just come to the realization that me reading my ebook on my iPad or playing some Angry Birds and rocking out to Linkin Park so I cannot hear the screaming child behind me is not going to take down the plane or prevent us from taking steps I guess.
So, as I turned off all my electronic devices (flight sttendant kindly reminding us mere mortals what an electronic device is....really...something with an on/off switch...if it has a battery? I mean come on), I pull out the old fashion method of reading...yes, actual paper (my hands covered with the paper cuts to prove how I have fallen out of practice in handling those dangerous weapons). At least I had the forethought to bring something to read.
At this point in a flight, I pull out the rags to find out what is going on in the lives of all my favorite stars' lives - I mean how many babies is Angelina going to have? Are Jen and Brad getting back together? Is Lindsey Lohan in jail, rehab, or fighting with her girlfriend again? You know, the important stuff. This time though, I pull out the DHS "Blueprint for a Secure Cyber Future". WHAT?!? Who am I? What has school done to me? I am supposed to be on vacation but I am just compelled to read it! I have to know what the roadmap for the way forward is...the gears in my head start can I help make this happen? What is my role in the success of this?
So many questions to ask and answer but all I know is I want to be a part of it because I am on a plane, tweeting, working, and blogging. That means I am connected which means I am also vulnerable. There are bad guys out there that want to take advantage of our advancement...I want to do what I can to stop them so that the next time I fly, maybe I can avoid all these damn paper cuts.
Check out the Blueprint at

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A new kind of spy

Anyone who has gone to the International Spy Museum has seen all the different was the Intelligence Community has tried to cleverly spy on its adversaries. Flying objects have been tried before but none like this before. "The Nano Hummingbird navigates by changing the angle and shape of its paper-thin wings—which beat 20 to 40 times per second—and can hover in place for up to 11 minutes. It is also small enough to fly through windows or other small openings, strong enough to carry a microphone or camera, and stable enough to maintain a highly controlled hover, even in gusts of wind." I mean, it will still it's's
not like a hummingbird could come hovering into a cocktail party inconspicuously. Well, at least not without the chance of some timid party attender afraid it is a big bug swatting at it with her jeweled clutch. There would go who knows how many million of dollars of tech.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Siri-like voice recognition coming to cars


I am an early adopter...if something new comes out, I must have it. I am just going nuts waiting for Dec 2 to arrive so I can get the new iPhone at the discounted rate...I keep telling myself it is worth $300 to wait a few weeks but it has not been easy. The commercials every night showing off the Siri capability does not help matters. Now cars are going to upgrade to this tech. My car is pretty cool but have to admit the voice recognition is not exactly perfect...when I ask it to call my mom and it thinks I say call Tim Thomas...I mean really...they don't even sound alike. How am I going to convince my hubby I need a new car though just because I can have a better conversation with it. That one is going to take some work.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crowdsourcing for Cancer

This week I wanted to share with you a TED video watched about a new way of curing some types of cancer.  Though the cure itself is remarkable, it is the method to which this lab came to discover the cure that I was most moved by.  I don't have cancer and hope I never get it.  I do have a chronic illness that I would give anything in the world for some lab to find some drug that would cure it...this is why this video moved me so. 
Now I understand why drug companies act the way they is all about money...but wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where the result was more important...where what this lab did - sharing their research and tapping in to the power that is crowdsourcing - was how we cured disease? I often cannot believe how much my medicine costs...I luckily have great insurance but know there are so many who don't.  Wouldn't it be great if the greater good - saving people's lives - was more important than the bottom line?
I know...that is a utopia that is unrealistic...but you can always hope...and that was what this video did.  It gave me hope - hope that there are people out there who just want to solve these problems and want to use the power of the community to do it.  To me, that would be truly emerging, disruptive technology.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How connected do you really want your car to be?

In my search for articles this week, I stumbled on an interesting on about how connected cars are becoming.

One of the things I love most about my car is all the technology built into it.  It is like one big toy to me.  All those features make it a pleasure to be in my car...and there are so many more that I know they can move towards.  One of the ones discussed in the article is having your text messages read to you while you are that is all great but will it in turn send a message back using voice translation?  I mean, for tech toy geeks like me, the more features, the better.

However, all these features do have consequences...I want tech to make my life easier but I am also very private.  So....where is the right balance between my toys doing all the cool things I want them to do and yet the consequence not being having to give up privacy?  I guess it becomes degrees of acceptance.  Some privacy for some really cool new capability.

Privacy is not the only concern it one to think about too.  The more connected you are, the more vulnerable you make yourself to potential cyber threats.  One of my friends is actually writing a book about how the technology in your car can be used against you.  

Lots to consider...but knowing me, I will have to try it.  I just cannot resist.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A "bright" solution to our oil problems?

I don't read too many things and think, holy cow - this is frickin cool!  I mean...who thinks up this stuff?  So in my perusing of the masses of information on emerging technologies this week, I tripped across this story -  I don't quite count myself an environmentalist, but I am surely not oblivious to these issues.  Having spent some time over in the desert...yes, that big sandbox in hell...I happen to have some pretty strong emotions when it comes to our country's reliance on foreign oil.  So, any intiative that offers some potential solution is at least worth my time reading and considering.  I also happen to be a huge ocean lover so the whole offshore drilling makes me uneasy, especially after the disaster in the Gulf.  Knowing nothing about oil or how to get it, all I can do is think about how ridiculous it is to me that our gas prices go up and down like a yo yo based on a bunch of factors I don't understand...but seem to be on whether people overseas are going to give us oil or not.  How frustrating is that when you are paying through the nose to drive down the street?  Both my husband and I even traded in our cars for hybrids just so we would at least "feel" like we were doing something to change things...foolish as that is - we know we aren't but dammit, it made us feel better at the time (and we do buy much less gas which helps too). 
So enough jammering on from me...onto this great article...who would have ever thought that you could throw a bunch of mirrors in a field, point them at the sun, and in return, increase oil production??  I mean do these people come up with these crazy ideas - brilliant ideas - and dammit, why could I not have thought of that :o).  I am all about any emerging technology that is creatively looking to solve this problem and my hats off to the oil companies who, though they are raking in the dough off our $4/gallon gas prices, at least they are using some small fraction to change the world...wish it was more but we have to start some place! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The beauty of having smart co-workers

So this week I had some great conversations with some of the really smart people.  The one that I just learn every day from is my partner in crime Mike.  This week he has been helping me to understand what are the best options for our Capstone. There are just so many things out there but just not one that does exactly what we are looking to do.  So how do you bring the best of these things together to make your vision a reality? 
There are many teams out there looking for opportunities to do just that.  Mike had the opportunity of going out to the REN-ISAC yesterday to see what they have been doing to at least automate the ingestion and analysis of data...a necessary first step I think if you are going to get to the point of predictive analytics - you need lots of data and time for that data to start showing trends that can then translate into predictions. Now I can use the knowledge he gained as another tool in our toolbox for our project. 
The REN-ISAC is using the crowd-sourcing approach to solving the network defense, incident response, and analysis problems.  They have moved away from the traditional structured reporting process to a more collaborative, federated approach of ingesting data from multiple sources and letting trends over time and the level of interest in the data direct action - severity, confidence, and do other people care factors.  Hopefully, as their project continues to develop, this paradigm shift will catch on across the cybersecurity community