Artificial Intelligence Is It Coming

Artificial Intelligence

Is Artificial Intelligence coming or is it already here? I have been doing a little research into the possibility of AI and allowing our computers to become a sort of thinking machine. Now I know I might get a lot of backlash on this subject but take a minute and read on.

I feel that some forms of AI are already around us. Not what you see in movies but what we are seeing in a lot of humans today. Just watch the people around you in a restaurant or at a ball game maybe even on public transportation. In movies they normally show a machine that is walking around or maybe worse then that a human with a chip in them giving them information. If this were to happen it would connect us humans to the Internet full time. With data using our nerves and maybe a blood as conductors passing information to our brain. Then connecting us to every other human and the super highway. But as I see it with these human I talked about above. We pull our phones out to learn just about everything. They can lead us to that restaurant and then show us the menu before we ever step foot inside of the door. Is this not a form of AI?

Now we have watches that connect us to our phones in our pockets for quicker access to the information we need. It was not to many years ago you had to go home to contact someone else. Now that we are connected with devices we can contact each other simply by pulling out our phone or using our wearable and texting someone. Are we getting closer?

My wife always tells me when I talk to her about my thoughts of AI that she does not want to be tracked and openly share her thoughts. But that phone in your pocket tracks you all day long. And it seems to me that people are sharing their thoughts over social media every second of every day. So I would think that if we had a chip and some sort of contact lens that we can view a screen we could text with thought instead of our fingers. My wife also feels that this would be the anti-christ? I would not go that far. People will tell you that once you are chipped you will be tagged for life? Did you ever hear of social security? Stop by the social security office sometime and ask them for your work history. They have everything from the day you started working. So with that and your phone you are tracked now.

So will computers and robots ever be able to think on their own? I can tell you about routers that learn and find the best and fastest path for your Internet traffic to find its destination. But I don’t want to give you facts I just want you to think what if?

Choosing A Cloud Based Storage

Cloud Storage

Drop Box, Google Drive, One Drive, Amazon Drive, Personal Cloud, Box, and now Sync. How can anyone choose one online cloud personal storage solution? I am using five of these now and need to get my digital life in order. So how am I going to decide which one to use?

First thought and this is the biggest one I think. Price. If it costs you more then buying a new external hard drive then it might just be to much money? I am seen many of these charging $99.00 for 1TB. You can buy a 1TB flash drive for less. But wait, it will not be backed up. It might now always be were you are when you need it? You could lose it? So back we go to square one.

Then we have to wonder what we are aloud to keep on the storage in the cloud? And what should you keep anyway? I know I want to keep my pictures safe. I want to keep all of my work files there so I can access them from any where. And wonder if I have files I want to keep secure? Can anyone at these companies look at my information?

Another thought is that i want to access my files from any device. If you are a Chrome Book user then Google would be the best choice. But if you use Microsoft office and Windows then it would be One Cloud. So if you are a Mac user should you be using iCloud? So you see why I am in such a bind? I use all of these plus my iPhone and sometimes a Android tablet. So how could any of us choose just one service?

I wrote a automator program to allow be to send all the files I want to store to all of the services I have installed on the computer. But is that the correct answer? And most of these services will not allow you to run or do they have a backup program. You need this because as humans we can forget. It would be nice to know that a program running on our computer will send the file we are working on the the cloud for us. As well as when I snap a photo with my phone the picture should go right to the cloud and be locked down from the public.

So yes I like many of you are loosing hope that any cloud service will do all of this for me? I can tell you if you have an Amazon prime account you already have unlimited FREE photo storage with them. And for $59.00 a year you can have unlimited everything storage. I am leaning towards Amazon but I am still playing with their features to see if it is a correct fit.

Good luck in sending your files somewhere. Each service has it’s good and bad. Please email me and let me know what your choice finally was.

Acer 15.2″ Chromebook

This is one of those little gems that I find from time to time. I had a chance to spend a little time with this larger then normal chromebook at a store. It is a little hard to get the full effect of the laptop with the some stores out there not providing Internet for a really good run.

I was able to test the keyboard and found it to be very easy to type on. The keys are very smooth touch and have a very short travel range. The track pad is good and has a lot of finger jesters from pinch to zoom and clicks very easily. The screen looked good even under the bright lights of the store. The battery life is suppose to be up to eight hours. I didn’t listen to the speakers but have heard they are very good.

The truth about the chrome operating system. Many people may say that you can’t use these laptops with out an Internet connection. This is not true. There are many programs that can be used offline. Programs such as the word program, the presentation program, email, calendar and many games can be used offline. The way it works is that you do your work and when you get back on the Internet the work will be synced onto your cloud drive.

Overall for $180.00 you will be hard pressed to find such a great little machine. Besides that most stores will give you up to 30 days to return it if you are not pleased with it. But I don’t think there will be many of these laptops going back to the store.

Home Wireless Routers

  
I often get asked what kind of router do I need for my home. Or another one is, do I need a wifi router if there is cell service close to my house?

First when I get asked if someone needs a wireless router I ask them what they wish to do with their Internet? Most times I am told they just got an iPad or laptop and want to sit anywhere and be able to shop and browse the Internet.

Let me start by saying one thing. If you buy cheap then you get cheap. Most people call me and tell me that they can’t get signal all over their house from their new wifi router. When I go out to help them I find a four story house or a house that is layed out over a quarter mile. Remember how I started this. If you buy cheap you get cheap. You need to look for a router not because of price but more so at how it will cover your house with wireless. And yes even if there is cell service near your house you need to have some kind of wireless connected to your home Internet to provide service to your local devices.

So what should you pay for a router? If you live in an apartment then pick up one of the cheaper guys. They will give you great coverage and save on the bank account. If you own your own home, don’t go cheap. I normally look for a router in the range of a hundred to a hundred and a half. Doing this I know the router has good output power and it will cover my entire house.

If you have any questions about buying a wireless router please drop me an email. I would love to get your questions out to on the blog. 

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Christmas Laptops

  
One questions I get asked more then ever during this time of year is what kind of laptop should I buy for my child for Christmas? This would be the same as asking a car dealer what kind of car should I but my child who is graduating from high school. They will tell you to buy the most expensive one you could afford. But I on the other hand will tell you to buy what you think the child we need.

On the other hand. Be careful of all of those so called deals during the Holiday season. The laptops that are coming in under $200.00 are doing so for a reason. They normally have cheap electronic parts and often will not last the user for more then a year. And stay away from spending over a thousand dollars because that is just crazy! Maybe for someone going to college, but never for a school student.

Now let’s talk about the laptop’s operating system. When we buy any cheaper computer it will normally have Windows installed on it. Windows since the early ages when it came out has been more acceptable to viruses and spyware. It is just the nature of the beast. I have a lot of people telling me that they had to get a new computer because theirs is running slow. The truth is the computer with Windows most likely needs to be cleaned. Read my last post for help with cleaning Windows. You should clean the computer at least once every six months or anytime it begins to run slow.

Okay so where does that leave us? Either buy an Apple computer which will cost thousands. Or simply buy your student a Chrome Book or a tablet running Android. These operating systems don’t get spyware or viruses. Why you might ask. It’s simple not many are written to attack them. I also like the idea of the iPad. It is not really a lot of money and when you add a keyboard you have a system that will last for years. We have iPads in our fleet of computers that are the first ever made and they are still running today.

I am writing this for you and myself. My daughter who is in college wants a laptop this year for Christmas. And with limited funds I am just like you looking for the best deal out there. Really for some reason there are not many. And she does not want a tablet. So I am leaning towards getting her a gift card for Star Bucks! Just kidding I am left still looking for the deal of a lifetime. We have three weeks before the big day and I am sure there will be deals coming. 

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Clean Your Computer So It Runs Faster

CClenaerMalwarebytes

Your computer needs to be treated just as you treat your car. You need to preform regular maintenance on your computer. I heard that there was a tool that has been being sold for about $20.00. You don’t need to buy anything. There are so many FREE tools on the Internet that will clean your computer and get raid of all the junk from your machine.

I am asked over and over by everyone. “How does this stuff get onto my computer?” Remember these words of wisdom. When you or your kids play these so called FREE games on the Internet these web sites put stuff onto your computer. These small programs are known as ADWARE. We often hear and see computers with pop ups all over the screen selling you this or that. Also when you visit shopping sites they put what is known as SPYWARE. These little programs watch what you buy and will start popping up ads or at the very least when you return to these sites they will push whatever items you bought in the past. So even people I meet who say they never go to questionable web sites can still get junk on their computers.

The FREE tools that I show at the top of this post will keep your computer running fast and smooth. Use the links here to make sure you get the correct ones. There are knock off sites out there trying to sell you these FREE programs.

CCLEANER: Install this cleaner and run it at least once every three months. Or anytime you think your computers is running slow. It finds and removes all types of adware and spyware. If you want continued cleaning you can buy the paid version but in all my years of using it I have never used anything more then the FREE version.

MALWAREBYTES: I also run this FREE tool after running CCleaner. I have found that there might be something that one of the programs don’t catch that the other will. And being they are both FREE why not use them both.

At the end of the day we all want our computers to run as they did when we first brought them home. And don’t ever think that you have to many pictures, or to many programs. Those things do not slow down the computer. It is all of the junk we run into on the Internet super highway.

Chrome Box

Chrome Box

This little guy will do so much for you and do it fast! The ASUS Chromebox $159.00 is a powerful little desktop computer. I have been running one of these and doing all of my computing with it. Why is it so different? It does not run Windows or OSX. It runs only the Chrome Operating System. And it is only getting better and more powerful. There are now stand alone application. I have found FREE photo editors, remote desktop programs, money programs. And yes you have all of the powerful Office application, Docs, Spread Sheets and Presentation software. You also get FREE 100 GIG of storage of Google Drive. This means all of you files are stored online on Google servers.

I have been putting this little box through the paces. I now have two monitors connected to the box so that I can do twice the work. I have plugged USB microphones into the box to record audio for podcasts. I have also found a FREE screen casting program to allow me to do a lesson about the Chrome desktop. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=147DqJm8MaY&list=UUVu39bEcGeY0F7k24IA5zxw.

If you would like to buy one use this link and pick up yours today.

Flash Photography

Yongnuo Flash

I seem to get a lot of emails each week asking me about flash photography. Some of the questions concern what types of flash to buy? What kind of triggers should I get? Are all flashes created equal?

Let me first start by telling you that not all flashes are created equal. Some are brighter, some are hotter, some use batteries faster then others. But at the end of the day they all do one thing pretty well, they put light onto the subject that you are shooting.

Sometime ago I bought a Nikon flash for about $200.00. I knew I wanted a really good dependable flash for my wedding business. When I started taking senior pictures I knew I needed another flash. I didn’t have another $200.00 so I started looking for a flash that would be dependable. I turned to Yongnuo and picked up a YN560-II. This little guy cost me about $65.00 and is very dependable. I can use it as a slave from my Nikon flash or as a stand alone unit on a stand.

I also picked up a second light stand from E-Bay for about $20.00 and now have a great portable lighting kit. My kit now contains (1 Nikon SB600, 1 Yongnuo YN560-II, 2 Light Weight light stands with brackets and two large white umbrellas). I carry this kit to all of my photo shoots.

One last thing I would tell you to look at when buying any type of flash. Look into flash triggers. I picked up a set of Yongnuo YN-622N. These little guys will do TTL and manual triggering. Also very low cost.

One thing I can say about any lighting. Buy something. I think a photographer without some kind of lighting is like a painter without any brushes.

Online Office Applications

365 and Google Apps

If there is one thing that I have found out over my years of computers is that the file you want never seems to be reachable. While that is all changing with the help of a little catch phase “The Cloud”.

Many schools are turning to either Google Apps or Office 365. These online services allow you to work on documents, spreadsheets and presentations where ever and from what ever computer or device you might be working on.

Look back to not that long ago we all carried flash drive or thumb drives. Did you ever get the sick feeling when you are suppose to present and your trusty flash drive is laying at home on your end table? Well no more. Now that we can log onto a site and have access to our working documents from where ever you have an Internet connection. Life just got a little easier and have 24/7 access to your work.

Deciding which one to use is really a personal choice. If you have been using Microsoft Office for years you might want to choose Office 365. If you are someone like me that can adapt and learn new things then choose Google Apps. Or some people might choose to use both.

And remember both of these work on IOS and Android devices. This means when you are in a taxi or on a bus you can make those last minute touches on your work before getting to work.

The bottom line is for you to cut your ties with your computer and move over to the world of “THE CLOUD!”

 

Larger Phones Less Tablets?

Large Phones

I have the opportunity to get a shinny new iPhone 6 under the Verizon Edge plan. My first thought is that I know I want to get the 64 Gig. I have a 5C now with 16 Gig and it always seems full. As I have been looking at others who have the new iPhone I have been asking if I should get the Plus 5.5″?

The first person I talked to told me “YES!” She says that she never uses her iPad any longer. She tells me she can watch movies on it and read books. The next person I talked to said, “NO!” He said that he can’t use one hand to text while driving. Okay well not an issue. I don’t text when I drive and if I have to respond I use Siri. My daughter got a larger LG phone and she loves it.

My over all thoughts is that these larger phones and replacing the tablets. Normally if I take a class or sit in a meeting I bring my phone in my pocket and I bring either my iPad or Windows 8 tablet or laptop. It might be nice to just have my phone. I have started looking for some kind of keyboard for the iPhone 6 but then it would be just another item to carry. We will get more into touch typing another time.

So what do you think? Do you have one of these larger phones? If so maybe you can comment and give the readers your thoughts. And I do get one of these little monsters I will do a blog post using it. Then we can maybe find out if it will be my tablet replacement?