I remember when I upgraded my 300 baud modem to a 1200 baud modem. I was flying. I couldn’t believe how much faster it was. Then came the 2400, 9600 and then what I knew would be the faster modem ever, the 56K. Wow, how wrong I was. It’s all about speed nowadays. Some people even take the speed of the Internet connection they can get into consideration when buying a new house. I will admit that I did check it out before I moved, but in the end I moved to a place that had nothing but dial up. That was several years ago, and now I am flying at 7mbps.
If many people do decide where they will live based on Internet connection speed, Kansas City is about to see a population explosion. Google just started offering their 1 Gigabit service. I just can’t imagine that speed. I almost wonder if that is just too fast. I mean, what sites are you going to connect to that will provide you with that kind of download speed? But we have to remember, the best technology is not built for today, it is built for the future. Remember when it was believed that 640K would be enough for anyone? While today we can’t see the need for gigabit speeds at our home, that day will come and it will most likely come sooner than we think.
Before you put your house up on the market and start looking for a home in Kansas City, there are a few things you should be aware of. First off, the cost is 70 bucks a month. If you want to bundle it with TV, you are looking at $120. The install fee is $300. Costs like this make it more expensive than Cable or DSL, but when you figure out the cost per mbps it’s cheap. If you do sign up for the bundle you will get 1TB of cloud storage and be able to record up to eight shows at a time. Also, early adopters may be able to score a free Nexus 7 tablet when they sign up. Customers will need to pay 10 bucks to register and a neighborhood will need to have at least 50 registered customers before that service may be available. This means you will want to make sure most of your potential new neighbors are as geeky as you.
So, after careful consideration I have decided to postpone moving to Kansas City (the moving truck was half packed already). For now I guess I am stuck with my 7mbs until Google comes to my town.
As an instructor, I am always on the lookout for tools that can assist me in the classroom. With the virtual classroom becoming so popular, I find that some of the tools I use in the traditional classroom don’t work so well in that environment. One of the tools I use the most when teaching a traditional classroom, of course, is the whiteboard. So, I am always looking for a good whiteboard solution for the virtual classroom.
In the past I talked about Dabbleboard and Lucidchart. Both are nice products, but I am always looking for something better. I just found a service called cacoo.com. It is similar to Dabbleboard and Lucidcharts, but I find that it combines some of my favorite features of both of them. The service has three levels of accounts, with the entry level being free. It includes a number of objects that you can add to your diagram and allows you to upload your own. You can share your diagrams with others by simply entering their email address. Once you share the object with someone, both of you can then edit it together in real time. As changes are made, both parties see them immediately. It even includes a chat feature so that you can send messages back and forth as you work on the diagram.
This is just a few of the features the service offers. You can, of course, save the diagram and export it to a PNG. There are additional features available in the paid plans such as the ability to see editing history and exporting it to additional file types such as PPT or SVG. The paid plans start at less than five bucks a month, which is pretty cheap. All in all it is a cool service and is definitely worth checking out.
What’s the longest that a hard drive ever lasted for you? I will admit that I have been pretty lucky. Most of my hard drives ran out of usefulness before they ran out of life, but that is no more the norm. I trust hard drives to last a couple of years. I guess I really should say I expect hard drives to last a of couple years. I don’t trust them to last long enough save my current documents. So, of course, I backup my data on a daily basis and sometimes more often than that for the really important stuff. I hope you do the same and if you don’t, start today. But what if I told you there was a way to store data that would last over a million years?
At first, a million years may sounds a little extreme. Who has information that needs to stay accessible for a million years? The folks responsible for disposing of nuclear waste, that’s who. It seems they think it would be nice if the inhabitants of this planet a million years from now knew where this stuff was buried. However, when they went across the street to the big box store and asked the resident geek which DVD would last that long they found that no such storage exists. So they made their own. It is a drive made of two sapphire disks, and the data is engraved using platinum. The disks are then fused together.
So, how do they know this will really last a million years? It really is just a guess. They abused the drive by dunking it in acid which simulated a million years of decomposition and it held up just fine. Now that they have a storage device that will last a million years they still have one problem. What language should they use? Who even knows how people will be communicating by then?
Now for the bad news. You most likely won’t be picking one of these up at Best Buy anytime soon. They cost about $30,000 a piece to produce.
Of all the technologies that have changed the way we do business over the last 20 years, I think email has made one of the greatest impacts. We no longer have to wait days to receive a document in the mail. We just click a button and it appears in our inbox. Of course, with every great advance comes new challenges. Nowadays it isn’t good enough to be able to get your email from your PC so we are now able to receive it on our phones, tablets, e readers and even our TVs. The problem is, how do you manage your email when you are accessing from so many different devices? For example, if you read it on one device, do you want it marked read on all devices? I know if I read an email on my phone I want it marked read on my iPad but not on my PC. I use my PC as my primary email and calendering system and all the other devices are used primarily for convenience.
Here’s how I set mine up. Maybe it will give you an idea on how you could setup yours. Let’s start with how I want my email to work. I want anything that I read on my phone, iPad, or Mac to be marked read on all of these devices, but I do not want it marked read on my PC. This way, while I am viewing my email from one of these devices and decide to respond later, I don’t have to do anything since it will still be marked unread on my PC. In order to do this I use two email accounts. The first one is my primary email account which is delivered to my PC. I also set up forwarding on this account to forward all email to my secondary account which is used to send the email to my phone, iPad, and Mac. I set up the email clients on my phone, iPad, and Mac to use IMAP. I use SMTP for my PC email account, but you could also use IMAP. That’s pretty much it. Hopefully this will give you some ideas on how you can more effectively use your many email devices.
Recently I blogged about a service called bubbl.us, which allows you to create quick and simple mind maps. This service is also useful if you just want to create simple charts and have no interest in mind mapping. I didn’t mention this because when I need to create a chart, I typically use a product like Visio because of all of the objects that are available to simply drag and drop into the chart. While Visio is a great product, it does have a few drawbacks. The first being that it isn’t a cheap product. It start at around 500 bucks. The other is that if more than one person wants to work on a diagram, each person needs to have the program.
Since most people don’t have a money tree growing in their back yard, (I still don’t know what I was thinking when I cut mine down, but that is a story for another day) I am always on the look out for a good, low cost substitute for some of the more expensive software packages. I think I have found one for Visio. It is called LucidChart. It is an online app that you can run from most any browser. Don’t let the fact that it is an online app cause you any hesitation. Once you start using the app, you will forget it is not a natively installed program. It includes hundreds of objects (shapes) for just about any type of project you can think of. While it is not as simple to use as bubbl.us, it is not difficult and the added complexity allows you to create diagrams that wouldn’t be possible with simpler programs.
So, what’s the catch? Well, the catch (if you even want to call it that) is that the free version has some limitations such as 25 MB storage, maximum of 60 object per chart, and collaboration is only allowed between two people. If you need additional features such as more storage space or the ability to import from Visio, then you might want to look at one of the paid plans which start at just over three bucks a month.
One of the things that I often use my iPad for is to remote into my PC. I do this quite often and not just when I am traveling. Some would say I am lazy since I won’t get up and walk into the other room. I call it being efficient. Currently, my favorite app for remote access is Slpashtop. It is fast and clean. It will even send video and audio to the iPad and does quite a nice job. I am not really looking to change, but my curiosity got the better of me when I found a VNC server that would allow you to remote in from any HTML5 browser, no plug-in needed.
The program is called ThinVNC and it is made by a company called Cybele Software. The first thing I thought was that it should work from the iPad since it does HTML5. I headed right over and downloaded the trial software and had it running in a matter of minutes. So did it work with the iPad? YES! Well, kind of. At first I couldn’t get it to connect, but then I realized I needed to use HTTPS. Once I did that it popped up and asked me for my user name and password. Once I logged in, my desktop appeared on my iPad, but that was about as good as it got. Don’t get me wrong, it worked and I could navigate around, but the performance was horrible. Maybe it’s just that the iPad isn’t up to the task. The product looks pretty cool, and I only tried it on the iPad so I am not about to make any judgements on the quality of the product itself. But, as a remote solution from an iPad, it just didn’t cut it for me. I guess I will be sticking with Splashtop.
I am hearing more and more about mind mapping lately. It seems to be all the rage nowadays. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of Mind Maps, here is how it is define on Wikipedia:
“A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items related to a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing. Other terms include spidergram and spidergraph…”
There are a number of software packages that allow you to create mind maps. I have tried a few of them and found that I was spending more time trying to figure out how to run the program than was actually using it. Because of this, I often abandoned the application and went back to my old style of outlining. Today I found a website that allows you to create quick and simple mind maps. It is one of the easiest to use that I have found. The service is free to use, and you don’t even have to create an account unless you want to be able to save them. You can even export and print the maps you create.
If you haven’t tried mind mapping before and want to take it for a test drive, hop over to bubbl.us and give it a try.
As an instructor, I am always looking for material that my students may find interesting. Today I stumbled across a neat little document that the folks over at Packetlife created. It provides a lot of information in a rather small space. It covers all of the Cisco interior routing protocols on a single page. That is a pretty impressive feat when you compare it to volumes of books that have been written on the same topic. Of course, you can’t fit everything about every protocol on a single page, but the author did a great job of zeroing in on the key points of each protocol and have even included sample configurations for all of them. This is great reference for anyone that is going to be taking any of the Cisco route/switch tests.
You can also order a 36×24 laminate copy of it to hang on the wall of your office. I can’t think of a better way to show your geek pride for only 10 bucks.
I remember when everyone was excited about getting the “new” 802.11g routers for home. They were so fast! We were suppose to get 54 Mbit/s and it was still compatible with 802.11b. We were flying. Soon, (around 6 years later), we decided we needed even more speed and 802.11n showed up to satisfy our ever increasing hunger for more speed. It came with the promise of up to 300 Mbit/s. But as the old saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
American and Israeli researchers have claimed to have transmitted data wirelessly at a speed of 2.5 terabits per second. How fast is that? It is crazy fast. Imagine moving data from seven fully packed Blu-ray disks in one second. Like I said, it is crazy fast.
The tech behind how this is done is interesting, and you can read more about it over at the BBC. But even if you aren’t interested in the technology that makes this work you have to admit that it is simply amazing. They say that this technology will most likely start to be used within the next few years.
If you have signed up for any online storage service like Dropbox or Box, you know that you typically get about two to five GB of free storage and after that you have to start paying for it. It seems that more and more services are appearing and each is trying to grab your attention by offering just a little more than the next guy. In this day and age it takes something special to stand out from everyone else and I think the folks over at Symform may have found a way to to just that.
How does 200 GB of free cloud storage sound? No, that was not a typo, and I did not mean 2 or 20, but rather 200 GB. That seems crazy. Even with the price of storage at an all time low, how can they afford the space if they are giving it away for free? That’s simple. They use someone else’s drive. Whose you ask? Yours! The way the service works is that when you signup, you get 10 GB of storage. If you want more than you have to let them use free space on your drive. You get back up to two thirds of what you let them use.
If you have been following me so far you should have caught onto the fact that the data you store “in the cloud” will actually be sitting on someone else’s drive. Sounds a little scary doesn’t it? They claim you have nothing to fear because the data is encrypted before it leaves your PC and is chopped up into multiple pieces and spread across multiple PCs.
If this sounds interesting to you, head over to symform.com and check it out. As for me, I think I will just keep my data on my own drives.