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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chocolate company's 1912 predictions for 2012

Jan. 2, 2012
by Mark Ollig

How does a French factory operating in 1912, improve sales of their chocolate products?

By creating imaginative promotional advertisement cards showing how technology would look 100 years into the future.

The folks from the Lombart chocolate company came up with the idea to use the “technology in the year 2012” theme, to increase sales of their various chocolates.

These 1912 advertisement cards (about the size of a postcard) were quality-made, fully illustrated, and in color.

The cards were produced and printed by the highly regarded French Norgeu family.

These future-themed cards were titled “En I’an 2012” meaning “In the year 2012.”

Six cards were made for En I’an 2012.

Each skillfully hand-drawn card, depicts how a specific future technology from the year 2012, would assist in the delivery of yummy-tasting Lombart chocolate.

Included with the chocolates Lombart sold to customers in 1912, was one of the 2012 cards.

The good folks at Lombart, no doubt, hoped these thought-provoking, futuristic 2012 cards would entice customers to want more cards, which would mean purchasing more of their chocolate.

One of the six 1912 cards which immediately caught this telecommunication veteran’s attention, was titled “Picturephone of the year 2012.”

The card shows a father standing next to the mother, who is sitting down at a table and speaking into the transmitter of a circa 1912 telephone handset.

Both are also looking straight ahead at the living room wall.

The parents are watching and participating in a real-time video phone call with their son, who they can see is talking to them from his telephone in a distant location.

This real-time, video phone call is being displayed, or projected onto the parent’s living room wall, roughly 5 feet in front of them.

The live broadcast transmission of their son seen on the wall is coming from a movie projector-like device sitting on the table, which is wired into a small, enclosed electrical device, along with the telephone handset the mother is using.

Since this card was intended to help sell more Lombart chocolate, the mother is reportedly saying “Hello, my child. We sent your chocolate Lombart by the aircraft.”

The Picturephone of the year 2012 as hand-drawn in 1912 can be seen at

The oldest picture I found showing a phone call where both parties could see and talk with each other in real-time, was hand-drawn in 1879 by George Du Maurier.

In this picture, Du Maurier shows parents conversing live with their daughter over a large screen on a wall in their home using the Edison Telephonoscope.

Thomas Edison had envisioned a communication device that would “transmit light as well as sound” and be capable of showing real-time events, such as allowing two groups of people, who were separated by a great distance, to see and talk with each other in real-time.

George Du Maurier’s futuristic picture from 1879 can be seen at

Little did they realize in 1879 (or 1912) that in 2012, we would be using software applications such as Skype, and Apple’s iChat and FaceTime. We also have Facebook and Google’s voice and video chat, (and others) to use for video conferencing.

The 1912 depiction of the 2012 Picturephone projection apparatus is not so far-fetched.

Today’s portable, integrated pico-projector devices use a wall for beaming images and video onto – so, why not our video phone calls?

Logic Wireless Technologies has a built-in video projector on some of their cellphones; one is the Logic Axis Projector Phone. However, I do not believe it can project real-time video of a live phone conversation.

Aircraft from 2012 is shown in another colorfully hand-drawn Lombart card.

This card shows futuristic dirigibles or “lighter-than-air” aircraft, commonly known as blimps, floating in the night sky over London.

One dirigible is seen sitting atop a building delivering Lombart chocolates.

Moored balloons with attached, brightly shining globes about 2,000 feet over London, are spaced roughly 100 yards apart from each other.

The globes light up the night sky.

Bathed with light, the dirigibles appear to be in an airport-like holding pattern, waiting to deliver Lombart chocolate onto rooftop landing pads below them.

All the dirigibles have “Chocolat Lombart” written in bold, red lettering across their large, skeletal-framed, gas-filled balloon envelopes.

The interior-lit gondola crew cabin, suspended under each dirigible, looks like the caboose from a train, and has two propellers attached on the front.

The automobiles of 2012 fly. They are shown with side-wings and a propeller fastened to the engine.

One flying car is seen landing to pick up some Lombart chocolate.

Hey, it’s 2012 . . . I am still waiting for my Jetsons flying car.

Another 1912 card shows a trip to the moon from Paris via a futuristic looking 2012 “spaceplane.”

This spaceplane has an attached passenger cabin and a roof spotlight with its light beam focused directly at a large, full moon.

A card of a 2012 underwater submarine shows people peering out a large cabin window, while fish slowly swim by.

A male passenger talks on the intercom. He is probably asking the submarine driver to stop at the nearest underwater Lombart chocolate store.

These futuristic images created in 1912, are from the book “History of the Future: Images of the 21st Century” by Christiphe Canto and Odile Faliu.

Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper.- Mark Ollig

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Looking back at this year's highlights

Dec. 26, 2011

by Mark Ollig

As this year ends, I want to express my appreciation to, my readers, for having spent a few moments of your time each week reading this column.

In looking back over this past year, January started with 140,000 people attending the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Highlights of the CES included “passive polarized” 3D television, and General Motors futuristic concept vehicle called the EN-V (Electric Networked Vehicle).

January ended with Apple’s Macworld Conference and Expo event in San Francisco.

In addition to more than 250 vendor exhibits, Apple presented dozens of new products to the nearly 20,000 visitors who attended.

In February, Watson, the smart supercomputer by IBM, made history when it played against (and defeated) two player-champions on the television show “Jeopardy.”

We also learned about The Computer History Museum, located in Mountain View, CA, which an in-house collection containing thousands of computer-related artifacts.

March 21 was the fifth anniversary of the first Twitter message: “twttr” sent by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Coffee-Cam was the subject of the April 4 column.

In 1991, many of the University of Cambridge academic researchers (working in various parts of a multi-story building) needed to walk several flights of stairs in order to pour themselves a cup of coffee from the coffee maker.

Understandably, these folks became somewhat agitated whenever discovering an empty coffee pot.

Two of these resourceful researchers rigged up an electronic video “frame-grabber” device and captured time-sequenced, still-frame images from the video camera they had pointed at the coffee pot inside the coffee maker.

Updated images of the coffee pot were sent over the universities local computer network, appearing in a corner of each researchers computer screen.

This delighted the researchers; they could now simply glance at their computer screen to know how much coffee remained in the coffee pot.

They no longer worried about holding their empty coffee cup in front of an empty coffee pot.

April also brought some computer nostalgia for the baby boomers.

The popular Commodore 64 computer form the early ‘80s was remanufactured.

The C64 was fully-modernized on the inside, while retaining its vintage look on the outside.

On May 16, this columnist wrote about Roger Fidler’s futuristic 1994 video demonstration entitled “Tablet Newspaper.”

This video showed people using what looked like an Apple iPad – 17 years before they were made.

In June, Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., took the stage at the opening of Apple Computer’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

During this conference, an enthusiastic Steve Jobs talked cloud-computing, and about Apple’s iCloud data center.

Jobs said the center of our digital lives will be migrated into the cloud.

Jobs clearly illustrated Apple’s “next big insight” of demoting the PC and Mac to being devices like the iPhone, iPad, or iPodtouch.

In July, Google’s field-testing version of their new social media site, Google+, was online.

After testing Google+, I thought it would make a legitimate challenge to Facebook’s dominance.

I am still waiting for Google+ to make a legitimate challenge.

In August, we discovered how to save our pictures, music files, and other digital data for 1,000 years, by using the new M-DISC, made by Millenniata, Inc.

It started in 1996, when Barry M. Lunt, Ph. D., experienced a revelation while examining petroglyph (rock engraving) images northeast of Price, UT.

He realized these ancient images were created by etching or chipping away at the outer layer of the dark rock, which exposed the lighter layer of rock beneath its surface.

Lunt helped develop a method of permanently “etching” digital data onto a new type of DVD surface material.

During September, our friends at Microsoft released their new Windows 8 Operating System.

On October 4, Apple Inc. did not present us with the much anticipated iPhone 5, but instead offered the iPhone 4S.

The “4S” was suggested to be an abbreviation meaning, “For Steve.”

On Oct. 5, the computing world mourned the loss of Apple Inc. co-founder, Steve Jobs.

During mid-October, the merging of film and fragrances inspired this columnist to write “Smell-O-Vision II.”

We journeyed back to 1906; inside a small-town movie theater where Samuel Lionel Rothafel took a wad of cotton wool soaked with rose oil, and placed it in front of an electric fan during a silent-film showing of the 1906 Rose Bowl parade.

The pleasurable aroma of fresh-cut roses drifted upon the people watching the film.

Today, a rectangular-shaped device equipped with 128 fragrance scent capsules called the Odoravison System, is available for use with home theater systems.

November’s columns reviewed the benefits of medical robots, and Microsoft’s motion-sensing “Kenect Effect” add-on device for the Xbox 360 console.

This month we learned about teen's use of online social media sites, and the dominance of Google Search and tablet computing.

December also saw the return of Jessica’s favorite elf informant, Finarfin Elendil.

Bring on 2012.

This columnist is ready to write more about the Internet, ground-breaking technologies, social media, innovative high-tech companies, and new computing devices.

And, you know I like to look back at technology’s history every once and awhile, too.

I also want to wish my brother Tom, a very happy birthday.

About Mark Ollig

Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yes Jessica, Santa Claus uses computers

Dec. 19, 2011
by Mark Ollig

One of my readers, Jessica, asked me a question I promised to investigate and write about before Christmas Day 2008.

Jessica wanted to know if I could find out whether Santa Claus used computers to help him deliver Christmas presents.

I emailed my entire list of elf contacts at the North Pole, hoping one would get back to me before the newspaper’s holiday deadline.

To my surprise, one game elf did reply.

And who was this accommodating gnome?

As some of you may remember, his name was Finarfin Elendil.

The following is what I wrote for Jessica (with revisions).

Dear Jessica, Santa does indeed use computers when delivering those Christmas presents.

That smiling, well-nourished, red-cheeked, jolly old man with the white beard, is in fact, extremely computer-savvy.

You see, during the Christmas off-season, the geekier elves, along with Santa, attend advanced computer technical training classes, at an undisclosed location in Redmond, WA.

One cooperative elf, Finarfin Elendil, gave me the inside scoop about the “Santa Claus Super Computer Center” (SCSCC), which is located near the North Pole’s largest toy-making factory.

The SCSCC is highly-computerized and totally cloaked, rendering it undetectable from all earth-orbiting satellites, high-altitude surveillance aircraft, and those Google street-view mapping cars.

Santa doesn’t mention the SCSCC when he’s out in public – he mainly concentrates on asking children if they were good this year, along with what they want for Christmas.

Finarfin Elendil reported Santa uses the SCSCC as the North Pole’s Christmas command and control center – and to store and maintain Santa’s new high-tech Christmas sleigh.

The SCSCC’s hangar bay is home to Santa’s newest mode of travel for delivering presents during Christmas: Sleigh-One.

Let it be known that Sleigh-One is not your average wooden toboggan.

Sleigh-One is a state-of-the-art, fully computerized, jumbo-sized, high-flying bobsled.

Its on-board computer receives in-flight location coordinates via an enhanced global positioning system.

Reindeer pulling efficiency, or mpr (miles per reindeer), is conveniently displayed on the cluster instrument panel.

Sleigh-One also receives “toy-inventory-remaining” Facebook telemetry and updated “who’s-naughty-or-nice” Twitter reports from the elves broadcasting back at the SCSCC.

Sleigh-One communicates using 3G technology, but Elf rumor has it Santa will be upgrading to 4G LTE wireless broadband transceivers soon.

Santa was said to have chuckled when he learned the helper elves traveling on Sleigh-One installed eggnog cup holders next to their seat armrests like the ones on Santa’s driver side armrest.

The SCSCC is home to the world’s most advanced supercomputer.

This supercomputer is exceptionally sophisticated; your humble columnist thinks Santa and the elves magically performed reverse-engineering on some highly-advanced extraterrestrial technology obtained from inside Area 51.

Finarfin Elendil described how the supercomputer’s data-stream is algorithmically encrypted, using session initiation protocol signaling transferred through nanotubed optical-fiber bus architectures within the North Pole’s local area network.

And to think this is all maintained by those geeky elves who take off-season computer classes . . . amazing.

These same elves also designed and manufactured the supercomputer’s E1 (Elf-1) Multi-Quad-Core-Super-Duper processor chip.

The E1 can process up to four hundred quindecillion FLOPS (floating operations per second).

Finarfin Elendil brags how the engineers from computer chip-maker, Intel Corp., are always asking the elves for advice.

Santa uses the E1’s processing speed to instantly map the exact coordinates of every rooftop and fireplace chimney throughout the world, where he, needs to deliver the good girls and boys Christmas presents.

If the home has no chimney, the supercomputer will automatically execute a “backdoor” software program Santa wrote, which provides an alternate access solution.

Finarfin Elendil confirmed this year’s Christmas Eve reindeer sleigh team will once again be comprised of: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blixen.

However, in the event of an emergency (sick reindeer), Sleigh-One has a built-in navigational program which activates the experienced Automatic Assistance Reindeer Pilot (AARP).

And, because of his extremely shiny red nose, Rudolph, the “Red-Nosed Reindeer” has been designated by Santa Claus himself, to be Reindeer One, and guide Santa’s mighty reindeer sleigh team around the world on Christmas Eve.

In order for Sleigh-One to deliver every single Christmas present over a 24-hour period, the sleigh needs to “push the pedal to the metal,” Finarfin Elendil quoted Santa as saying.

Rudolph wanted the sleigh to go faster than the speed of light so he could show off in front of the does, but Santa nixed the idea, saying he did not want to travel that fast.

Santa explained going faster than the speed of light would cause the bright, fog-piercing, red beam of light from Rudolph’s nose to bend around and shine behind the sleigh instead of in front of it.

Santa worried this might create a reverse time-line anomaly, triggering a space-time continuum vortex, causing the children’s Christmas presents to be delivered years before they were born.

Rest assured, Jessica, the Christmas presents are safely delivered by Santa, the helper elves, Rudolph, and the rest of the reindeer, in a sleigh never traveling faster than the speed of light.

But I digress.

I hope Jessica (and all of you) enjoyed reading this story as much as I did writing it.

And remember, the word “Christmas” comes from the very old phrase, “Cristes maesse” which means “Christ’s mass.”

Dec. 25, Christmas Day, is when Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas.

About Mark Ollig: Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Teen's interactions using online social networking sites

Dec. 12, 2011
by Mark Ollig

As teenagers, most of us baby boomers did not go on the Internet in order to participate in our social networks.

Of course, back then, there were no Internet social networking sites for us to use.

Instead of the Internet, we would do our socializing at school and sporting events, dance halls, roller skating rinks, bowling alleys, restaurants, local street corners, theaters, or at friend’s houses.

Boomers, feel free to add your favorite locations for socializing to the list.

Some of us, who grew up as teens during the ‘70s, also thought of computers as complicated devices used by the military, NASA, scientists, large corporations, and “nerdy computer hobbyists.”

A new report, “Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites,” was released last month by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, in collaboration with the Family Online Safety Institute and Cable in the Classroom.

The report states that today, 95 percent of all teens ages 12 to17 are doing their socializing online, via the Internet.

The Internet is being used by many teens as their main venue for social networking with friends, family, and others.

Which online social networking sites are teens using?

The report says 80 percent of teens actively participating within online social networking sites are mainly using Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace.

Of all online social networking sites, Facebook dominates with teens, as 93 percent reported having an account there.

MySpace was being used by 24 percent of teens surveyed.

Twitter came in at 12 percent, while 7 percent said they had an account with Yahoo.

Teens with an account on YouTube were reported by 6 percent, whereas 2 percent had an account on Skype, myYearbook, or Tumblr.

Having only one online social networking account was reported by 59 percent of teens, while 41 percent said they have accounts on multiple social networking sites.

Out of the above mentioned 41 percent, Facebook was named as one of those accounts by 99 percent of the teens surveyed.

Of the teens who said they have only one social networking account, 89 percent disclosed that account was Facebook.

The reason no numbers were given for the new Google Plus social networking site, is because this survey was already being conducted when Google Plus was just being released.

While participating within online social networking sites and chat rooms, teens can sometimes be exposed to difficult and unpleasant experiences.

One of the report’s surveys asked teens where they get advice on how to use the Internet “responsibly and safely.”

Most teens (86 percent) report getting this advice from their parents.

A teacher, or another adult at school providing advice and information about online safety, was reported by 70 percent of teens surveyed.

The media; including, television, radio, newspapers, and magazines, accounted for the information obtained by 54 percent of teens.

Attending a specific school event about Internet online safety was also reported by teens as being a source for information.

The report noted most teens received advice from various sources regarding Internet online safety.

These sources include:

• Parents: 86 percent.

• Teachers: 70 percent.

• Media: 54 percent.

• Sibling or cousin: 46 percent.

• Friend: 45 percent.

• Older relative: 45 percent.

• Youth/church group leader/coach: 40 percent

• Websites: 34 percent

• Librarian: 18 percent

•Someone/something else: 10 percent

The study reports that teens having positive experiences within an online social networking site (strengthened friendships, positive feelings about themselves), are more likely to seek out advice about any negative issues encountered.

Teens who witnessed meanness or negativeness being perpetrated onto someone online (while it was occurring) were asked if they had sought somebody out for advice on what to do. Of the teens responding, 36 percent said they did seek out advice, while 64 percent said they did not.

However, after witnessing or having been personally involved in a bad online experience (harassment, cyber-bullying, or other cruelty), 56 percent of the teens said they did seek out advice, or talked about the negative experience with a friend.

Parents were asked for advice by one-third of the teens responding to the survey, while a smaller number of teens said they would ask a teacher, sibling, or cousin for advice after going through a bad online experience.

Some teens said they would seek counsel from a youth pastor, religious leader, uncle or aunt – or even a website – on how to cope with a negative online experience.

When asked who has been the biggest influence on what a teen thinks is appropriate or inappropriate behavior when online, parents were said to be the number-one influence by 58 percent of teens surveyed, followed by friends at 18 percent, and a brother or sister at 11 percent.

When teens were asked if their parents had talked with them about their online activities, 82 percent said they had.

Of the parents surveyed by Pew, 41 percent reported “friending” their child on an online social networking site (like Facebook).

More attention toward the monitoring of their children’s online website activities was reported by 77 percent of parents surveyed.

The full report, “Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites” can be read at

A list of 204 online social networking sites can be seen at

About Mark Ollig:

Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Google's dominance of online search continues

Dec. 5, 2011
by Mark Ollig

Google began as a research project in 1996 by two doctor of philosophy degree students at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.

“The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine” was the name of the scientific paper written in 1998 by Google founders, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page.

This paper described the original Google prototype, and the important computational algorithm called PageRank.

Using more than 100 computational algorithmic factors, the top search results presented to the user are based on a page with a higher page ranking.

Google is certainly unique in how it performs text searches.

Its basic word search engine has three separate parts.

The first is called a Googlebot.

This web-crawler (computer software program) speedily “crawls” and browses through the hyper-linked pages of the Web. It quickly makes copies of web pages in a very logical and automated manner.

Next, the Google Indexer will sort out every word on every page and will store this index of words in a very large computer server database.

Currently, I believe Google has six of these monster-sized databases.

The content found inside the Google index servers is comparable to the index in the back of a book; it tells which pages contain the words that match any particular query-search term.

The third part is the Query-Processor, which compares your search query against the Indexer and presents the documents in the results page that it considers the most applicable using its special software algorithmic computations.

Google, according to the June 2011 comScore Core Search Report, owned a commanding 65.5 percent of the online search engine market.

This percentage alone leaves little doubt about its dominance in the online search engine world.

However, a couple of serious competitors will just not go away.

They are Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

These two competitors, according to the same June 2011 report, control a combined 30.3 percent of the total online search engine pie.

Yahoo’s search engine (online in 1994) maintained a 15.9 percent market share.

Bing (online since 2009) controlled a 14.4 percent share of the online search market.

I also want to mention (formerly known as Ask Jeeves in 1996), which came in with a 2.9 percent share.

During the month of June, 2.4 billion searches were performed on Bing, 2.7 billion using Yahoo, and 10.9 billion with Google.

It is apparent from these numbers that Google will continue to dominate the online search world for the foreseeable future.

Yours truly regularly uses Google because it performs a thorough search of the Web, it is well supported, and they keep adding new and interesting search tools to it.

The newest search tool is Google’s “Search by Image.” This uses a photo from the Web or your own uploaded picture as the search input. Google will use your photo to search for related text information or similar images on the Web.

This feature is somewhat comparable to the Google Goggles visual search app, which is available for your Android 2.1 or iPhone running iOS 4.0.

Search by Image allows for a picture search on a variety of subjects such as art, venues, and, according to Google, “mysterious creatures.”

You can try Google’s Search by Image at and just click the camera icon.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) partnered with Google for assistance in providing small businesses with tools to help them achieve online success. To see their video about a hair salon business that went online, check out

Some folks have questioned whether Google, because it is so large, should be regulated like a public utility.

Google responds by saying the online user has a choice whether or not to use its services.

Google’s page ranking seems to be another point of concern, as some people feel their businesses are not fairly ranked.

Google responds to this by saying they “never take actions that would hurt a specific website for competitive reasons.”

The search quality and results, according to Google, are provided only on the basis of what is useful for consumers.

As far as the dollars go, research shows Google had $64 billion in US economic activity in 2010.

In Minnesota, this amount was $1.07 billion.

Google said these numbers are obtained by examining the number of businesses, website publishers, and non-profits using their search and advertising tools.

As all of us know, we do have the power to click onto any search engine (or other online source) we choose to use.

Lately, I have noticed people searching for information by querying social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

People are posting messages asking for information on various topics . . . and sometimes they end up participating in productive online conversations within these social networks.

“My dream has always been to build a “Star Trek” computer, and in my ideal world, I would be able to walk up to a computer and say, ‘what is the best time for me to sow seeds in India, given that [the] monsoon was early this year,’” said Amit Singhal, who is a software engineer with Google.

Singhal received his M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth in 1991.

About Mark Ollig:

Telecommunications and all things tech has been a well-traveled road for me. I enjoy learning what is new in technology and sharing it with others who enjoy reading my particular slant on it via this blog. I am also a freelance columnist for my hometown's print and digital newspaper.