Showing posts from 2010

Droid Pro vs. Blackberry Torch

I'm in the market for a new cell phone and have narrowed it down to two choices. The Motorola Droid Pro and the Blackberry Torch. Here is a pretty good
comparison of the two. Stay tuned.

Apple Computer to Sell For $160,000

One of the first computers made by Apple way back in 1976 is scheduled to be auctioned November 23. It is expected to bring bids of at least $160,000. How powerful was it? By today's standards--not very. But it helped to start a revolution in technology. Here are the specs:

"Apple-1 motherboard, number 82, printed label to reverse, with a few slightly later additions including a 6502 microprocessor, labeled R6502P R6502-11 8145, printed circuit board with 4 rows A-D and columns 1-18, three capacitors, heatsink, cassette board connector, 8K bytes of RAM, keyboard interface, firmware in PROMS, low-profile sockets on all integrated circuits, video terminal, breadboard area with slightly later connector, with later soldering, wires and electrical tape to reverse, printed to obverse Apple Computer 1 Palo Alto. Ca. Copyright 1976."If you are interested in bidding on it you can read more here.

Updated 11/23/10: The computer reportedly sold for $210,700.

Uncovering Data Trends with Excel Charts

My MIS 320 Business Decisions class just took their mid-term exams. Much of it involved your typical advanced Excel calculations, conditional logic, and forecasts. Certainly hard enough, but really pretty standard stuff.

One question however involved "making sense" of a collection of data regarding travel to and from the state of Indiana. The requirement was to create a series of charts that would interpret the data for Indiana business leaders, politicians, state and local governments, and average citizens. On the surface, this appeared simple--after all how hard could graphs be? The challenge was that the data was a “mess” and students had to dig deep in order to uncover useful information. They also were encouraged to experiment with color, 3-D effects, and styles. Some of the more interesting graphs are shown here...

Eric Sheppard used a "Pie within a Pie Chart" to breakout the "Other" category regarding means of trasportation in Indiana. This i…

Now Your Dog Can Tweet

Mattel has developed a tag that goes on your dog's collar that allows them to send one of 200 predefined "tweets" to a Twitter page depending on the animal's activity level. So far Mattel has not develped one for cats. Yet.

Cyber Storm III

Across the U.S. and around the world this week, "Cyber Storm III" a global cybersecurity exercise, designed to test the security of the Internet as well as the people charged with protecting it, is underway through October 1st.

This is the third time that the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with other federal agencies, is conducting this exercise. Previous Cyber Storm exercises were conducted in 2006, and again in 2008. For the first time, DHS will manage its response to Cyber Storm III from its new National Cybersecurity and Communications and Integration Center.

Exoskeleton Suit 2.0

Raytheon has updated the exoskeleton suit that they designed for the military to a newer version that is lighter, more agile and uses less power. Wearers of the suit can easily lift over 200 pounds hundreds of times, punch through several inches of wood, and have the agility to fight, climb stairs, or kick a soccer ball. Read more about the "Iron Man" suit here.

Run Your Home on an iPad

Now you can monitor your home energy use with an app that connects your home's electric grid to an iPad. You can turn off lights, air or appliances when they're not in use, or even program them to turn on and off at certain times of day.

According to Jim Gist, a vice president at Control4, you can even monitor and ovveride changes that others make when you re not home. "If your teenage kids are home alone and they turn down the air to 62 degrees, your iPad or iPhone will alert you and you can change it," he said.

If you already have an iPad, you can download the app from iTunes for free, although you will have to pay a one-time licensing fee of $99.

However, you should be able to make that back in energy savings. According to Gist, the app can cut lighting costs 10% to 30% and air conditioning costs 20% to 40%.

See the other green ideas at CNN

Pac Man for President in 2012

Might Pac Man have a shot at the presidency? According to researchers Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan and Ariel Feldman of Princeton University it might be possible. The two reprogrammed one such system, the Sequoia AVC Edge, to play Pac-Man. The researchers were able to load the software into the machine without breaking the tamperproof seals. The project, presented at the recent 2010 Electronic Voting Technology Workshop, is another strike against electronic voting systems.

"We could have reprogrammed it to steal votes, but that's been done before, and Pac-Man is more fun,"

Read the complete article at InfoWorld.

The Dislike Button and Other Facebook Scams

In an earlier post I mentioned that I'd deactivated my Facebook account due to some innappropriate content showing up. There have been other issues as well and today I'd like to share this great article about the latest problem by Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post.

It is a sad but true fact that the Internet makes it very easy to spread disinformation as well as outright scams. Another reason to examine your own use of the Internet.

No Cell Phone?

A few weeks ago I asked if anyone has ever tried to live without the Internet or Cell phones. Apparently some have. Here is an article from Bloomberg Business Week on executives who refuse to carry a cell phone. Interesting.

Super Train Will Go 620 MPH

Chinese researchers are currently developing a train that will run at speeds up to 620 miles per hour--about twice as fast as the current record set by a Japanese train in 2003. The train will run on magnetic levitation tracks built into vacuum tubes underground and will average almost 400 miles per hour. Researchers say the trains could be ready to go in ten years.

Could the United States develop something similar even though the cost of the technology is seemingly overwhelming? Estimates are approximately $2.95 million for each kilometer of track. What I would like to know is how much energy these trains would save. "Maglev" is being promoted as a "green" technology--what would the long-term cost savings be? Read more about it at

You Used Your Smartphone Where?

Many workers today feel that they must take their smart phones and mobile devices everywhere according to a recent survey from Careerbuilder. These professionals answer calls or check in with the office while attending church and even while at their children's afterschool activities. Some will even talk and text away while lying in bed, and while in the bathroom. On a date? Too bad. Romantic moments spent staring deeply into the eyes of a potential significant other are now interrupted by the inevitable, "I need to take this call." In some cases, cell phone use can be dangerous. Using mobile devices while driving is common for many workers these days--and the cause of many accidents. This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of Careerbuilder. More than 5,200 employees took part.

Read the complete article and slideshow here.

Stalker in a Box?

RFID and GPS technologies can provide many benefits to business, especially in the areas of inventory management, logistics, and marketing. Many consumers, however feel threatened by the potential intrusion and loss of privacy. Typically it is quite easy to discard the "tag" if one can find it and if it does not have GPS capability it cannot "follow you home." However a promotion for laundry detergent by a Brazilian company may go to far. Here are some outtakes from the Advertising Age article:

Starting next week, consumers who buy one of the GPS-implanted detergent boxes will be surprised at home, given a pocket video camera as a prize and invited to bring their families to enjoy a day of Unilever-sponsored outdoor fun. Of course, Brazil has a high crime rate, and not everyone is going to open the door to strangers who claim to have been sent by her detergent brand to offer a free video camera. Bullet has thought of that. If the team tracks a consumer to her ho…

10 Best Beach Cameras

PC Magazine has a feature on the 10 Best Beach Cameras. If you are going on vacation, any of these would make a good travel companion. All of the models here can capture still images and video in up to 10 feet of water and are very rugged. Some of them can go as deep as 33 feet below so you can even go scuba diving with them.

One model even records full 1080p HD video in up to 10 feet of water. You can then upload your footage to YouTube or Facebook without having to convert it. I want it.

Living Without the Internet?

One of the ways the Internet has changed everything is by providing a means where anyone can publish anything about anyone. Instantly. It doesn't even have to be true. It can be rumor or speculation. It can be hate filled. It may involve photos taken out of context or private in nature. And there seems to be no "accountability" for incorrect information either. Before the Web, we typically only saw this type of irresponsible publishing in the supermarket "tabloids" as it concerned celebrity gossip. However with the growth of social networking sites, blogs, and personal web pages out there, the Internet has become a potential trap for everyone regardless of what they do. What's worse, once something is published, it's virtually there "forever" and may affect everything from high-school graduation, future employment, and potential relationships.

The New York Times has this published this excellent piece on Internet privacy."The We…

Windows XP Lives!

According to Gregg Keizer, ComputerWorld, Microsoft will extend Windows XP downgrade rights until 2020. With 74% of business PCs running XP, the move is proof that XP is the OS that won't die. Microsoft announced on Monday that people running some versions of Windows 7 can "downgrade" to XP for up to 10 years. The move is highly unusual for Microsoft. In the past, Microsoft has terminated downgrade rights within months of introducing a new OS.

Read the article here.

The LeBron Font Controversy

Even this blog finally succumbed to the LeBron James trade madness. The owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, issued a statement publically condemning LeBron's actions and criticizing his play in the NBA playoffs. Was it deserved or just sour grapes on the part of the owner? I'll leave that for the sportswriters and fans to decide. However, if you are going to "call someone out" you should do it in a font other than Comic Sans!

Read more about it on CNN.

I'll just say that it's too bad that the Indiana Pacers were never in the running!

High Tech Gaming

Spent the last few days at Belterra Resort and Casino near Madison, Indiana. Lots of fun things to do down here and the weather has been beautiful. It has been quite a while since I have been to a casino, either in Vegas or locally. The quality of the machines has really improved during that time. Much of the improvement is due to the development of high definition screens--the same as we use to watch TV. Using these HD displays, developers can create almost an infinite range of possibilities for each game--far surpassing the old “one armed bandit” reel type slots of yesterday.

Modern slot machines are more like high-end personal computers than anything else. Programmers can control virtually all aspects of the game: cost, payout, even the images on the payline. Casino operators can also make changes in real time through back-end servers that communicate with the slot machines. In essence, the casino becomes a big network of PC’s. But thinking of it that way takes all the fun …

Technology Minor in Business

Recently, I was asked to write a short "Q&A" summary on Marian's Business Technology Minor for our Adult Program. The link between technology and business is undeniable. I advise anyone majoring in a field such as Business Administration, Accounting, Finance, or Marketing to take as many computer courses as they can. I often tell my students that you never know when something that you learned somewhere may come in handy. Also, working with computers teaches a way of thinking that can be a great asset in business problem solving. You don't have to have an "IT" degree but you should understand the basics and be able to apply them to your discipline. The more experience the better!

Why pursue a concentration in Business Technology?

Employers increasingly are demanding graduates that understand and can effectively apply technology to business problems. No matter what your profession, you should consider using computers and information technology part o…

Social Networking Sites Facebook and Twitter

Just a few years ago none of us would have imagined that we all would become Internet Celebrities! Almost all of us have used e-mail for years and there were many of us who maintained a personal or professional web page or even kept a “blog.” Most of these technologies were “one dimensional” in that they offered only one way communication--the sender sent, the receiver received. Then came “MySpace” which began the “social networking” trend. I was one of the early users of MySpace but since many of my colleagues and friends at the time did not use it, I was left with “Tom” as my only “virtual” friend.

There is no doubt that these sites are popular and growing in use (click on the chart above). In general however, I find that my students use social networking sites much more than I do. They have well developed networks of typically hundreds or thousands of “friends.” I set up my Facebook page primarily as a means to communicate with my students. Although I often publish things su…

Human Computer Virus?

University of Reading researcher Mark Gasson has become the "first human known to be infected by a computer virus" (but it's not quite like what it sounds).

The virus, infecting a chip implanted in Gasson's hand, passed into a laboratory computer. From there, the infection could have spread into other computer chips found in building access cards.

All this was an intentional experiment to see how radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips like those used for tracking packages or those implanted in animals can become infected.

Happy 30th Pac-Man!

I’m sure by now everyone knows that today is the 30th Anniversary of “Pac-Man.” Here's a link to the Official Namco Site.

How many of you remember playing it for the first time? To my students: What do you think about a thirty-year old videogame? Ever played it--in any form?

The picture on the right is actually a Bally “Pac-Man Plus” which was the first upgrade issued in 1982. By the way, I thought Google’s Pac-Man tribute was great!

I did some research on what else happened in 1980 and found:

January 6 – Global Positioning System time began at 00:00 UTC.
February 22 – The United States Olympic Hockey Team defeats the Soviet Union in the semifinals of the Winter Olympics, in the "Miracle on Ice."
March 8 – The first rock music festival kicks off in the Soviet Union.
May 18 – Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington, killing 57 and causing US$3 billion in damage.
May 21 – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is released.
July 25 – The album Back in Black is rel…

Wall Street's 1000 Point Drop

If you would like to better understand the role technology plays in market trading, read this excellent piece from the New York Times.

1.2 Zettabytes!

World total digital output is expected to pass 1.2 zettabytes this year. Almost two years ago, I published a short article called What is an Exabyte? The rapid growth in stored content has been caused by the explosion of social networking, online video, digital photography, and mobile phones. Approximately 70 per cent of the world’s digital content is generated by individuals and is stored on websites such as Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.


Facebook Cautions

Everyone, especially my students, should read this article:

One year ago, Cambridge University researchers found that major social networking sites including Facebook, don’t erase server-side copies of your uploaded data when you delete them. Since then, Facebook has nearly doubled in size. It now has over 400 Million users, with tens of thousands of servers holding your data, which as soon as it is uploaded, belongs to them to do whatever they wish with it.

Be careful what you upload!

New $100 Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 21, 2010) – Officials from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the United States Secret Service today unveiled the new design for the $100 note. Complete with advanced technology to combat counterfeiting, the new design for the $100 note retains the traditional look of U.S. currency.

“As with previous U.S. currency redesigns, this note incorporates the best technology available to ensure we’re staying ahead of counterfeiters,” said Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner.

“When the new design $100 note is issued on February 10, 2011, the approximately 6.5 billion older design $100s already in circulation will remain legal tender,” said Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Ben S. Bernanke. “U.S. currency users should know they will not have to trade in their older design $100 notes when the new ones begin circulating.”

There are a number of security features in the redesigned $100 note, including two new …

Managing IT with the Godfather

The Godfather is one of my favorite movies and there have been many times when working on a project that I wish I could've wielded as much influence as Don Corleone. Baseline Magazine presents a fun yet informative set of guidelines for managing your IT projects. It's an offer you can't refuse.

BUS 350 Billionaire's Challenge

Today in Operations Management we had our "Billionaire's Challenge." Each semester we do a production case study involving Excel's Solver "add in." Students must first solve the case, earn at least one-million dollars profit, and then may compete to make at least $1,000,000,000.

This semester's Billionaires are:

Kevin Kolb
BreAnna Nuñez
Zach Pusti
Jordan Tucker


For more information on this exercise, refer to my earlier post.

Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Download

The Microsoft Office 2010 Beta can be downloaded for free. I have been using it for a few days now and while it doesn't look dramatically different--it will be worth getting when it is released later (June) this year. And the "File" menu is back! My only advice when you install it is that you don't "upgrade" but instead keep your existing Office 2007 software installed. Get it here.

A Normalization Example for Access

I see it all too often. Many companies keep track of information in Excel spreadsheets when Access would be more effective, simply because “it is easier to use Excel” or they “don’t know Access.” Unfortunately, keeping a list of things in Excel can over time, result in redundant information, errors, and endless headaches. If only end users would invest a little time in learning something about databases they could develop a much better solution.

Basically the problem comes from “data redundancy.” In the Excel spreadsheet below, we can see that the entries under PROJ_NAME repeat as do the employee names (EMP_NUMBER, EMP_NAME). Secondly, the fields JOB_CLASS and CHG_HOUR repeat as employees are assigned to different projects (click to enlarge):

What are some potential problems with this spreadsheet? In addition to a great deal of unnecessary data entry, anything that is entered more than once opens the possibility for a mistake. For example, the JOB_CLASS “Programmer” has an hourly…

EOQ Calculations in Excel

Last week in Operations Management we used Excel to calculate the Economic Order Quantity and graph Carrying Costs, Ordering Costs, and Total Costs.

The Economic Order Quantity or "EOQ" is the order size that
"minimizes" Total Costs. Any more or less and you are spending too much on ordering or too much on keeping inventory.

For example, in the Excel spreadsheet below, if you had an Annual Demand of 12000 units, Ordering Costs of $10 per order, and Holding costs of $4 per unit per year, the EOQ would be 245 units and Total Costs would be $980.00:

We used the following formula in Excel to calculate EOQ: =SQRT((2*B2*B3)/B4)

And the following formula to calculate Total Costs at this point: =$B$6/2*$B$4+$B$2/B6*$B$3

To create the graph, we used the following formulas and simply copied them over a range of 100 to 500 units.

Ordering Costs: =$B$2/D2*$B$3

Holding Costs: =D2/2*$B$4

Total Costs: =F2+G2

Looking at this chart, we can clearly see that our order size of 245 is indeed &q…

How Possible is "Avatar"?

We have dreamed of being able to control other objects with our minds for centuries. Current technology allows for some degree of control in certain applications such as prosthetics. How close are we actually to "full body control" like was shown in Avatar? Check out this excelent article on CNN: Is the 'Avatar' concept really possible?

Still Phishing

Haven't seen one of these in quite a while. Normally I wouldn't pay any attention to it but I just bought a new car and financed it through Wachovia. Of course I was suspicious of this email and know better than to fall for something like this but you can never be too careful. I thought it might be interesting to point out some things that tipped me off. Here is the original email:

Of course it sounds very "official" and even cites "Federal Law." Although it is better written than many phishing emails that I've seen, the link itself (obviously "fake") as well as a typo "you account profile" make this email very suspicious. Notice that they ask for your PIN as well as one or more card numbers! To my knowledge, no bank or business will ever ask for this information. When in doubt, you can always contact your bank directly. Just for fun, I decided to click on the link anyway to see where it went... Of course! To a page where yo…

Live at CES 2010

CES 2010 runs through this weekend in Las Vegas. If you couldn't go, the next best thing to being there is Cnet's "Live @ CES" web site!

Also visit the official "CESWeb" site for more information on vendors, products, events, celebrities, and awards.

Top "IT" Management Trends for 2010

January 5, 2010 (Baseline) - 10 business and technology trends that will help define the IT landscape in 2010. No surprise that "Green Technology," "Cloud Computing," and major investments in infrastructure lead the list.