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Friday, December 23, 2016

Time does go by faster as we age

By Mark Ollig


Yours truly awoke this morning (last Tuesday) and began thinking about what to write in the final Bits & Bytes column for 2016.

By “this morning” I mean around 1:30 a.m.

As most of my readers know, I am guilty of reaching for my smartphone during the times I do wake up this early in the morning.

Out of habit, I checked my social media for anything I may have missed while asleep; because, after all, I need to be on top of this social media thing – which appears to have become a venue we will be living with for long time.

The National Geographic Facebook channel notified me of a newly-uploaded video.

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of National Geographic’s “Star Talk,” was sitting down and chatting with William Shatner – yes, the original Captain James T. Kirk from “Star Trek.”

“Ok, I need to watch this,” I thought to myself.

Shatner began by inquisitively asking, “What is space-time?”

Tyson slowly answered; “You already know. You have never met someone at a place, unless it was also at a time. You have never met someone at a time unless it was . . . ”

“Well, wait a minute!” interrupted Shatner.

“What happens to a photon from 13.8 hundred million years [ago] that comes this way and enters my eye so I can see it. Where is space involved in that?” Shatner asked.

“Umm, it entered your eye at a time and at a place; right here, that’s all that matters,” said Tyson.

After a brief exchange of each other’s thoughts on universal theory, and how space-time exists and is conjoined, and using the analogy of walking and meeting trains on time, Shatner finally exclaimed, “That’s confusing!”

Tyson humorously replied, “So? The universe is under no obligation to make sense to William Shatner!”

Shatner laughed and countered with, “No, but William Shatner is under the obligation to make sense to the universe! And why do I slow down as I approach the speed of light? It doesn’t apply to a photon?”

No question about it, William Shatner, even at age 85, still has full control of his mental faculties.

It’s dark outside my bedroom window and I see a few stars in the night sky. It’s also very quiet; no cars are traveling up and down the usually busy streets.

The conversation between Tyson and Shatner, along with being awake in the early morning hours, began to nostalgically remind me of listening to Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast AM” radio broadcasts during the 1990s, which lasted well past midnight.

“You want to freak out?” asked Tyson to Shatner whose attention was totally absorbed with this space-time conversation.

“I’m ready, I’m ready,” Shatner excitedly replied.

“The faster you go, the slower time takes . . . as seen by others. As you approach the speed of light, time continues to slow down. At the speed of light, time stops. Which means; for a photon moving at the speed of light, when it is absorbed in your retina, it is the same instant it was emitted at the Big Bang, 14 billion years ago,” Tyson explained to the very attentive Shatner.

“That’s what I thought!” excitedly exclaimed Shatner. “Can we measure that photon, and observe the Big Bang?” he asked.

“Yes! I know that that came from the Big Bang, and I’m watching it and it’s taken 13.8 billion years to reach you, but if you are that photon, it does not experience that time delay,” Tyson explained.

Shatner paused, and mused; “What a great science fiction story that is.”

“Instantaneous,” Tyson knowingly added as the video ended.

After pondering space-time for a brief time, I wondered if Shatner has now figured out a way to bring back the original Captain Kirk in the next “Star Trek” movie.

“When I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us,” I heard Tyson say in another video.

I looked at the clock and could not believe it was already 2:30 a.m. I thought about how fast the time went; I then realized my mom was right when she once told me about the passage of time; especially how the years go by faster as we age.

After having grasped some understanding of what Tyson and Shatner discussed, I fell back to sleep.

National Geographic uploaded the complete video of Tyson and Shatner’s conversation here: http://bit.ly/2ib0S2a.

You can follow me as space-time instantaneously arrives into 2017, via the online continuum we call the internet at @bitsandbytes on the Twitter social network.

Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bots using loT as backdoor for hack attacks

Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig

by Mark Ollig


A bot can be defined as a software application automatically executing a scripted file containing coded instructions.

Or, just think of it as a “web robot” traversing throughout the Internet.

Assistance in creating customized bots is available on many websites.

One such website boasts “Anything you do online [over the Internet] can be automated using a bot, such as account registering, online bidding and purchasing, and content gleaning. Your bot will help you to collect and analyze information, synchronize online accounts, and upload and download data.”

Bots can execute their scripted set of software instructions quickly. A shopping bot script (a bot which automatically makes purchases over the Internet) can complete a transaction in less than a second.

Sounds harmless so far, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, there have been some very naughty bots out on the Internet causing a lot of mayhem.

Malicious botnet (bot network) attacks will target and disrupt computing servers on the Internet.

Bots are able to obtain information or cause harm by accessing IoT (Internet of Things) devices.

The IoT are those physical smartdevices with sensors and electronics running a computer program with wireless connectivity to the Internet.

There are a couple overlooked IoT devices now being used as part of the arsenal for these bot attacks.

Yes, dear readers, it’s electronic toys and games.

Many of them wirelessly connect to the Internet, which means they are susceptible to being hacked into and used as an entry point by bots.

Once the bot gains access into the IoT toy device, it can attempt to hack into computers on the network the IoT device is on.

Internet-connected toys being infiltrated had one Hong Kong toymaker telling the BBC, “No company that operates online can provide a 100 percent guarantee that it won’t be hacked.”

The toymaker also said it was limiting its liability “for the acts of third parties.”

Bots programmed with evil intentions would probably fall under the “third parties” category.

I researched this overseas toymaker, and found the following statement on their website regarding toys they sell which connect to the Internet: “No method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage, is 100 percent secure. Therefore, while we strive to use commercially- acceptable means to protect your personally identifiable information, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.”

Although firewalls and cyber defense measures are being used to prevent unauthorized access and protect sensitive information located on public and private computer data servers, websites, and routers, we also need to be watchful of the electronic toys kids are connecting to the Internet.

Approximately 6.4 billion “embedded devices” or IoT devices, will have been connected to the Internet this year, according to Gartner Research.

During the next four years, Gartner predicts we could see this number increasing to 21 billion.

I’d like to think, in a perfect world, IoT devices would improve the quality and productivity of our daily lives.

We know things are not always perfect, and the best-laid plans and intentions sometimes go awry.

Some bots seek vulnerable IoT devices in order to access its connected computer data, glean its information, and sell it to third parties.

There are human influences which seek to undermine the IoT devices by using bots to attack and steal personal information, or access the IoT’s Wi-Fi router and get onto the Internet.

Once a bot attack program takes control of an IoT device, it can cause chaos with other connected devices or computers sharing the same network connection.

It’s like a science fiction movie, but instead of aliens from another planet taking over the Earth, it’s malicious software (malware) programs being spread by a computer virus or bots across devices on the Internet.

These attacks usually occur without the computer or device’s operator being aware of it.

How bad could it get?

A large DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack recently affected online users’ access to many popular social media sites. This DDoS was caused by a powerful malware virus known as the Mirai (Japanese for “future”) virus code.

Mirai can cause computer systems using the Linux operating system to become remotely controlled “cyberbots,” which carry out the bot attack’s coded instructions.

Mirai was designed to be used in large-scale botnet attacks.

In late October, the DDoS cyber-attack against the Dyn computing server left Twitter and Netflix inaccessible. This attack was caused by a Mirai botnet.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported nearly 1 million Deutsche Telekom home Internet routers crashed. The cause was said to be from a Mirai botnet.

DDoS attacks on five of the largest banks and financial institutions in Russia were blocked Dec. 5, according to CyberWire. An advanced version of a Mirai botnet is said to have committed the attack.

IoT devices have little online access protections, and are increasingly being used as an entry gateway or backdoor for bot access and hack attacks.

Manufacturers must realize IoT devices need to incorporate stronger software access authorizations, and/or network firewall protections.

I was once given this sage advice, “Always change an electronic device’s factory default passcode settings.”

Merry Christmas everyone, and be mindful of those Wi-Fi-connected smart toys.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @bitsandbytes.



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Forrester's 'Whirlwind' televised 65 years ago this week

by Mark Ollig
Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig


In 1951, CBS television in New York was broadcasting its new documentary series, “See It Now,” hosted by famed journalist and news reporter, Edward R. Murrow.
Approximately 13 million television sets were being used in this country at that time, with most having access to three or four channels.
“These are the days of mechanical and electronic marvels. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a new one for the Navy. It’s a Whirlwind electronic computer,” said Murrow at the start of the Sunday, Dec. 16, 1951 “See It Now” episode.
I recently watched this archived episode over the Internet.
Murrow, seated at his desk, picked up a telephone handset to speak with Jay Forrester, who was in charge of the Whirlwind computer project, located at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Digital Computer Lab in Cambridge, MA.
Forrester could be seen on the studio’s Line Monitor 2 television screen located on the wall, behind Murrow.
“Hello New York. Hello New York. This is Cambridge, and this is the oscilloscope [display screen] of the Whirlwind electronic computer,” said Forrester.
Television viewers saw the Whirlwind’s display screen create a continuously flashing white text message on a black background saying: HELLO MR. MURROW.
A remote television camera provided viewers with a look at the computer components presented by Forrester, who was seated next to tall, metal frames containing the electronic components which was the Whirlwind computer.
He described electronic “storage tubes” as being used for the Whirlwind’s memory.
Forrester stated the computer could access information inside a storage tube within 25 microseconds.
Whirlwind was also the first computer which could process data in real-time.
Programming information into the computer was by means of adjusting mechanical switches, and feeding strips of “punched” or perforated paper tape with precisely-placed holes representing binary data, into the computer.
Whirlwind was connected to a round, 16-inch graphic display screen, and an electric typewriter which acted as a paper printer for reading the computer’s output information.
Admiral Calvin Bolster, chief of Naval Research for the US Navy, who could be seen on the Line Monitor 1 television screen, asked a question of the Whirlwind computer regarding a Viking rocket launch.
Based on the rate of standard fuel consumption, Admiral Bolster wanted to see the Whirlwind computer trace the rocket’s flight path from liftoff.
He also wanted the Whirlwind to determine after 40 seconds had elapsed, the amount of fuel remaining, and the rocket’s velocity.
The Viking rocket at lift-off weighed 1,100 pounds, held 8,500 pounds of fuel, and would reach a maximum altitude of 135 miles.
This problem was setup in the Whirlwind computer, and the results were graphically presented on its display screen using white dots.
The far-left side of the Whirlwind’s screen showed television viewers a vertical line of white dots representing fuel.
At liftoff we see a single white dot (representing the Viking rocket) rising on the immediate right-side of the fuel representation dots.
A vertical scale of white dots on the far-right-hand side of the screen, represented the rocket’s velocity.
As the dots symbolizing the rocket rises, the vertical dots representing fuel consumption lowers.
The velocity line drops as the rocket reaches the height of its trajectory.
The velocity line then rises up again as the rocket speedily falls to the ground.
“How’s that?” asked a smiling Forrester.
“It looks very good to me,” replied Admiral Bolster.
For me, it was like watching the original Pong video game being played on a black and white television set.
A smiling Edward R. Murrow then challenged the Whirlwind to calculate what $24 deposited in the year 1626 would be worth “today” if it was earning a 6 percent interest rate.
Forrester entered the data to calculate into the Whirlwind’s memory via the “control tape” (perforated paper tape).
The computer then began to solve the problem, and within a few seconds the answer was automatically printed onto the paper of the electric typewriter.
Forrester told Murrow the Whirlwind computer calculated the $24 would be worth, at the end of 325 years (1626 – 1951), “Four-billion, twenty-seven million, seven-hundred and twenty-thousand dollars . . . and some odd cents.”
Yours truly, using a calculator accessible via the Internet, computed the base amount of $24 compounded yearly for 325 years, to be worth $4,023,626,581.92.
Of course, where today will I find a bank with a 6 percent annually compounded interest rate.
More importantly, where do I find a longevity potion to keep me around for 325 years.
Forrester ended the interview with Murrow by having the Whirlwind computer electronically play the song, “Jingle Bells.”
Not too long ago, Forrester addressed the modern era of digital computers, saying, “I might not have envisioned how much smaller and faster they’d be, but the fundamental logic hasn’t changed.”
In a 2011 New York Times interview, Forrester recalled speaking before an MIT engineering class, questioning whether they understood how a toilet’s water tank maintained the water level using the mechanical apparatus inside of it.
“How many of you have ever taken the lid off a toilet water tank to see how it works?” he recalls asking the class.
None of the engineering students could say they had.
“How do you get to MIT without having ever looked inside a toilet tank?” Forrester said in the interview.
Jay Wright Forrester was born July 14, 1918 near Anselmo, NE, and passed away Nov. 16, in Concord, MA, at the age of 98.
The Dec. 16, 1951 “See It Now” episode can be watched here: http://tinyurl.com/WhirlwindVideo.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @bitsandbytes.




Thursday, December 1, 2016

Reducing unsolicited telemarketing robocalls

by Mark Ollig
Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig

It’s happened to all of us at one time or another.

The telephone is ringing and we check the caller ID display.

We don’t recognize the number and think, “Maybe it’s an important call,” so we answer and hear the following automated (but cheerfully sounding) voice.

“Congratulations! Your name has been specially selected by WXYZ Travel Adventures for an all-paid cruise to the Bahamas! Please press 1 to speak directly with our cruise director, who will provide you with all the exciting details; and again, congratulations!”

I wonder how many of us would have hung up the phone halfway through this automated telemarketing message or “robocall.”

Let me state from the onset; there are legitimate robocalls not trying to sell you anything.

For example, automated calling systems are used by schools to inform students, parents, and custodians about school closings, or other announcements.

In March, the FCC issued an “Enforcement Advisory” concerning telephone robocalls and texting messages sent to cell phones and other mobile devices.

It re-affirms many of the regulations from the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991.

The TCPA places limits on unsolicited, prerecorded telemarketing calls to landline home telephones, and any autodialed calls or prerecorded voice calls to wireless cell phone numbers.

Robocalls may not be dialed into emergency numbers, fire protection or law enforcement agencies, and patient rooms at health care facilities.

The last thing I want if I am in a hospital bed, is to answer the phone and hear a robocall – of course, if no one had visited me that day, and the robocall had a pleasant-sounding voice, I’d probably listen.

The National Do Not Call Registry website is a public service of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and allows us to register up to three telephone numbers, in order to prevent telemarketing companies from calling them.

You must provide a valid email address to have your telephone number(s) processed.

To complete the registration, an email will be sent to you from Register@donotcall.gov.

This email must be opened, and its message link clicked within 72 hours to activate the do-not-call service.

Yours truly had registered some years back, but I wasn’t sure if the telephone number was still registered, so I used the National Do Not Call Registry website’s verification link to find out.

The verification process involved entering my phone number and email address.

Within seconds after completing the verification, my smartphone alerted me of an email message from Verify@donotcall.gov.

The email informed me I had successfully registered my telephone number nearly nine years ago, Dec. 29, 2007.

I learned registrations on the National Do Not Call Registry never expire.

If you want to register or verify your landline or mobile phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry, visit https://www.donotcall.gov.

The National Do Not Call Registry will never call you to sign up. Note this special alert message on their website: “Scammers have been making phone calls claiming to represent the National Do Not Call Registry. The calls claim to provide an opportunity to sign up for the Registry. These calls are not coming from the Registry or the Federal Trade Commission, and you should not respond to these calls.”

If you do not have an email address, you can register, verify, or remove a telephone number by calling 1-888-382-1222, and via TTY (Text Telephone) using 1-866-290-4236, and follow the response prompts.

If your telephone number has been registered for at least 31 days, and you are still receiving telemarketer calls, you can file a complaint with the FTC at the https://www.donotcall.gov website, or by calling the Do Not Call Registry number listed in the previous paragraph.

You will need to provide the date of the call, and the telephone number or the name of the company who called you.

The FCC has an informative webpage with a Frequently Asked Questions link, along with additional resources for blocking unwanted calls, and more at https://www.fcc.gov/unwanted-calls.

If any telemarketers are reading this column, you can access the National Do Not Call Registry list of telephone numbers, by registering or logging into this web portal: https://telemarketing.donotcall.gov.

Types of organizations allowed to pay for access to the registered telephone numbers are listed here: https://telemarketing.donotcall.gov/faq/entity.aspx.

Be sure to follow and send me your text messages at @bitsandbytes on Twitter.



Monday, November 28, 2016

It started with Pong, Odyssey, OXO, and Spacewar!

by Mark Ollig
Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig


Many baby boomers will recall playing the video game Pong on a television set back in the mid-1970s.

Pong, a video table tennis game, was designed by 24-year-old engineer Allan Alcorn, while working for Atari Inc. in 1972.

The first coin-operated cabinet version of Pong was installed in September 1972, at Andy Capp’s Tavern, in Sunnyvale, CA.

Playing Pong became extremely popular with the local bar patrons.

However, two weeks after it was installed, the Pong arcade machine began having problems.

Eventually, a phone call from the tavern manager was made to Atari, saying the Pong machine was broken.

When Allan Alcorn came out to investigate, he found Pong was malfunctioning because too many quarters had been jammed in to the machine – which might seem like a nice problem to have.

I can empathize with Alcorn.

His story took me back to when yours truly was repairing a payphone, which happened to be located inside a tavern.

After removing the metal outer housing shell of the payphone, I discovered coins had become lodged inside the coin chute assembly, causing the payphone to be “out-of-order.”

An assortment of nickels, dimes, and quarters had jammed the mechanized parts; causing them to become inoperable.

Removing the coins fixed the problem.

The home version of Pong (using a game console connected to any manufactured television) was called Home Pong, and was distributed through Sears stores in 1975.

In 1967, Ralph Baer, an engineer with Sanders Associates, Inc., was also creating video games that could be played on a television.

One game, named Chase, was played by connecting a brown controller box to a television set.

In 1972 (same year the coin-operated cabinet version of Pong was installed), Sanders Associates licensed Baer’s controller box to Magnavox, a maker of television sets.

Baer’s brown controller box; a multiplayer, multivideo gaming system, became known as the Magnavox Odyssey video game console.

Magnavox began home distribution of the Odyssey three years before Atari’s Home Pong.

Since the Odyssey game console was licensed by the television maker Magnavox, many folks incorrectly assumed the Odyssey game console would only work on a Magnavox television.

It was learned the Magnavox Odyssey game console worked on any television set.

The folks at Atari quickly picked up on this and began printing the following on their Home Pong game boxes: “Works on any television set, black and white, or color.”

Pong and Odyssey ended up becoming very popular during the 1970s.

Back in 1961, a video game played on a minicomputer was developed by four Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students.

They named it: Spacewar!

This video game operated over MIT’s DEC (Digital Equipment Company) PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor) computer, built in 1959.

In February 1962, Steve Russell completed the code programming for Spacewar!, while Dan Edwards, Peter Samson, and Martin Graetz added additional features.

Today, anyone can still play Spacewar! using the original programming code operated over JAVA, which most STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) students know, is a cross-platform programming language designed to run on any computer system.

The emulator for playing Spacewar! is: http://spacewar.oversigma.com.

In 1958, the Tennis for Two video game was created by William Higinbotham, using an analog computer.

It was played using an electronic oscilloscope, which was a piece of test gear normally used for measuring voltages, frequencies, amplitudes, noise, and a few other things.

If you read my Nov. 14 column, I can confirm using an oscilloscope in the electronics lab at the technical college in Wadena.

In 1952, the first computerized digital graphical game was called OXO.

This video game involved a human playing the tic-tac-toe game against a computer.

The human player used a rotary telephone dial as the controller.

This player would dial a digit from 1 to 9, which represented the location of where to place an X or O on the tic-tac-toe board displayed on the computer’s screen, or cathode ray tube (CRT).

The programming code for OXO was written by Alexander S. Douglas at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

The OXO game was played on a British-made Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) computer, originally constructed in 1948.

To view a detailed screenshot of an EDSAC simulator running the OXO game, visit: http://tinyurl.com/4aufahu.

Going back to 1947, we discover what may be the inspiration for the first CRT based game using World War II radar display images.

Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device, US Patent 2,455,992 was filed Jan. 25, 1947, and issued its US Patent Dec. 14, 1948. Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann are named as the inventors.

This patent describes how a player controlled the trace of the ray or electron beam on a CRT, analogous to how an Etch A Sketch is used in making solid lines on its gray screen.

Follow me on Twitter at @bitsandbytes.

Parts of this column, originally published Feb. 14, 2011, were modified by the writer.




Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Consumer online chat/text surpasses voice interaction

by Mark Ollig
Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig


“Good morning, thanks for calling WXYZ Company, how may we help you today?”

A traditional voice telephone call with a company’s human employee verbally answering our questions about their product or service has taken second place to Internet chatbots, cellphone texting, and online messaging.

Real-time, online chat messaging over the Internet on a retailer’s website, or social media network, such as Twitter and Facebook, and Short Message Service (SMS) texting using a cellphone, are being used by more millennials for conducting their commerce.

This was the conclusion in a recent report by a west coast consumer relations company called [24]7.

Headquartered in Campbell, CA, [24]7 provides automated live chat, and virtual smart-speech digital agent chatbot technologies to retail websites.

Their virtual chat services operate over many store websites and online messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, and mobile messaging apps (applications).

The technology used by [24]7 assists online customers with the purchase of a service or product from a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store, or their online shop.

Virtual chatbots, or bots, are software programs written to simulate human conversation, and are designed to answer questions, offer suggestions, and provide assistance from the specific company they are programmed for.

The [24]7 report, titled “A Retailer’s Guide to Chat,” shows an increased use in online automated chatbots and text messaging when visiting online retail company stores.

This report states 37 percent of the US millennials ages 18 to 34 said they use online chat channels, such as Facebook Messenger, when making purchases.

Messaging apps are a favorite with millennials; 66 percent find benefits using them for interacting with retailers.

Examples of popular messaging apps include WhatsApp, QQ Mobile, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger.

I imagine one reason this survey focused on millennials, is because their global spending power was $2.45 trillion in 2015, according to one Minnesota digital marketing research firm.

Our friends at Pew Research reported in August 2015, using messaging apps to communicate was a common practice by the 18-to 29-year-olds; indicating they’re very comfortable with the technology.

Many millennials, per the [24]7 report, trust using automated bots and retail text/chat messaging services.

Ah, but what about having a conversation relating to a store purchase with an AI (artificial intelligent) chatbot?

Of the millennials questioned, 43 percent said they would engage in such a conversation.

Millennials surveyed also said they felt better about their online shopping experience when using messaging apps for tracking their orders from a retailer.

Another benefit for having live text messaging; you can save the text conversation (or session) and go back to it later for any clarifications.

Convenience of using a chat app for directly communicating with the retailers website to resolve problems, was also mentioned as a benefit.

Of course, there are concerns when using an online chat/messaging app.

Security and privacy was the highest concern, stated 28 percent of surveyed consumers.

Distrust of using third-party apps was cited by 12 percent.

In April, Pew Research reported the current millennial population has surpassed the existing baby boomers; thus becoming this country’s largest, “living generation.”

It seems those of us left in the baby boomer generation are a bit more apprehensive; I’ll say, reasonably cautious, when doing business using chatbots and text messaging.

No doubt using online chat/texting for making the sale is popular; however, the report noted being able to talk directly with a human after the sale is made; whether to follow up on, or to resolve a problem with the sale, remains important to customers.

Although online chat and text messaging are gaining status as a preferred method for interacting with retailers with millennials, direct human involvement is still valued by consumers.

Businesses and retailers should be educating all consumer age groups on the benefits of interacting with them using secure messaging, and online chat apps.

In order to attract sales for online shops, and brick-and-mortar stores, companies need to provide consumer resources, such as virtual chat guides, video how-to demonstrations, and customer testimonials through their websites and social media networks.

Consumer education for all age groups is essential in order to earn our trust, confidence, and satisfaction when using chat/text technology in the marketplace.

“With chat technology rapidly evolving, it’s becoming a much more efficient and engaging customer service channel,” said Scott Horn, chief marketing officer for [24]7.

Their website is http://www.247-inc.com.

You can follow me on Twitter at @bitsandbytes.




Friday, November 11, 2016

Bristol’s ‘Big Hex Machine’


by Mark Ollig
Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig

Yours truly is writing this column the day after the US presidential election.

I noted the sun still rose, the birds still sang, and my coffee still tastes pretty good.

Not too long ago; ok, many years ago, when I attended telephony school in Wadena, we learned about and built several types of electronic circuits; ranging from power supplies to ohm meters.

During the morning class, we learned theory, and traced the currents, resistances, voltages, and power flowing through circuit schematics.

We also worked those lengthy capacitance formulas.

During the afternoons, we paired off in twos in the electronics lab and built the electronic circuits we were taught about in the morning.

Each lab desk had a large wooden “breadboard” and shelves of plastic bins filled with a variety of electronic components, spools of wire, and tools.

The breadboard’s surface was designed as a base for connecting electronic components and wiring of the circuits we built using circuit schematics.

It was a solderless breadboard, which saved us from having to solder the wires to the components.

I later learned about soldering when I worked fulltime at the telephone company during the late 1970s.

Back then, the telephone company used an electro-mechanical, all-relay, analog voice-processing switch.

Installation and maintenance of individual subscriber lines and trunking wiring circuits required the use of rosin core soldering techniques for their connections in the telephone central office.

One subscriber could have 14 separate wiring solder points made to specific terminal blocks located on the wiring mainframe.

My central office soldering days ended in December 1986, when the telephone company installed a new digital central office for processing voice calls.

Instead of wiring and soldering each connection, one could sit in front of a computer display screen and program the subscriber lines and trunks using a keyboard.

But I digress-back to my school days.

Once in a while, a student would sneak over to another lab table’s breadboard and switch the polarity of a DC capacitor.

This action created a large firecracker “pop!” sound when the unbeknownst student turned on their power supply and learned too late their DC capacitor’s polarity had been reversed.

This practical joke caused the other students to erupt in laughter.

Rest assured, yours truly never took part in this electronic delinquency.

After witnessing this prank, I made sure to check my lab’s electronic components before applying power to them.

Today, students at the University of Bristol in the UK are learning in a unique way how computers work.

They and their teacher built a large-sized 16-bit computer with all its cabling and electronic components installed on a plywood sheet using 86-square-feet of surface space.

The plywood is used as a breadboard, and is wall-mounted in their lab for easy viewing and hands-on access.

They called their computer the Big Hex Machine.

This computer processes and programs information via a distinct 16-bit hexadecimal numbering system.

Each single 16-bit hexadecimal number is actually two bytes – as there are 8 bits in 1 byte.

Imagine counting in decimal from zero to 15; which is 16 distinct values.

In hexadecimal, the value also starts with a zero; however the hex 10 equals an A, 11 equals B, 12 equals C, 13 equals D, 14 equals E, and 15 equals F.

I haven’t thought of hex and decimal conversions for a long time, and feel a slight headache coming on.

The Big Hex Machine is being used as “an ultimate teaching tool,” which gives a full and easily seen visual of how the wiring paths are used for connecting the inputs and outputs of the computer’s electronic components.

Its wiring and component modules can easily be traced.

Numerous “hex modules” used with this 16-bit computer include logic gates NOT, AND, OR, and XOR, as well as an arithmetic unit module for making operational logic decisions.

Its non-volatile memory, storing up to 32,768 bytes of information, can retain its data during a power loss.

A web-based application controls how the computer operates.

Students are writing and programming code into this computer, executing it, and observing the results on a custom-built, box-shaped LED matrix screen.

“It’s a result of a great collaboration between students and staff and a real testament to persistence, commitment and teamwork. Most importantly, it’s an achievement of thinking a bit differently,” said Richard Grafton, senior creative teaching technologist in the Department of Computer Science.

The Big Hex Machine is impressive to look at, and provides a great beginner’s hands-on learning tool for students.

I uploaded a couple photos of the Big Hex Machine itself on the wall, and one with two students and a teacher standing in front of it at: http://tinyurl.com/bits-hexmachine.

The University of Bristol can be followed on Twitter via their @BristolUni name.

My non-hexadecimal postings are found using @bitsandbytes.















The Bigs Hex Machine. [from L-R] Richard Grafton, Professor David May and Sam Russell, in front of the Big Hex Machine
Source: University of Bristol

Friday, November 4, 2016

'Fabulous electronic machine' surprisingly picks presidential winner


by Mark Ollig 
Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig

The evening of Nov. 4, 1952, people all across the country closely watched their televisions.
CBS newscaster Walter Cronkite was reporting on the voter returns from the 1952 US presidential election.
On that evening, CBS showcased a pioneering computer called UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer).
Univac, an electronic digital computer, was manufactured by the Remington Rand company and was used by the US Census Bureau in 1950.
Univac’s large equipment cabinets required the room equal to a spacious two-car garage.
As Walter Cronkite reported from his anchor desk in the CBS New York City studio, a nearby teletype machine directly connected to the Univac computer, located 100 miles away in Philadelphia, sent and received information.
Across this studio, CBS newscaster Charles Collingwood was seated near a Univac operator’s console the size of a large desk.
The console was not directly connected to the Univac; it was an exact replica, with working lights blinking on and off.
“This is the face of a Univac. A Univac is a fabulous electronic machine which we have borrowed to help us predict this election from the basis of the early returns as they come in,” described Collingwood.
“This is not a joke or a trick. It’s an experiment. We think it’s going to work, we don’t know . . . we hope it’ll work,” he optimistically added.
Around 7:30 p.m. CST, Univac concluded the winner of the 1952 US presidential election would be Dwight Eisenhower – even though only a small number of the votes had been counted.
Upon learning this, the CBS folks did not immediately share Univac’s prediction with its national audience. Public opinion polls showed Adlai Stevenson to be leading Eisenhower.
Some people with CBS thought the Univac television experiment was going to turn out to be a colossal failure.
Univac’s final national electoral vote numbers predicted Eisenhower getting 438, and Stevenson having 93.
The actual electoral tally ended up with Eisenhower receiving 442, and Stevenson taking 89.
On the popular vote totals, Univac projected 32,915,000 votes for Eisenhower; the official total was 34,075,529.
As the late voter election return totals came in, Cronkite quoted former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen (who was in the CBS studio) saying; “It looks as if General Eisenhower will be elected with the greatest popular vote in history.”
In the end, the Univac passed the television experiment and was a remarkable success.
The future of televised computer election predictions was born.
“We saw it as an added feature to our coverage that could be very interesting in the future, and there was a great deal of pride that we had this exclusively. But I don’t think that we felt the computer would become predominant in our coverage in any way,” Cronkite later said.
In a somewhat related story; as a youngster growing up during the 1960s, I regularly watched Saturday morning cartoons (usually with a bowl of Captain Crunch cereal).
One cartoon featured Wile E. Coyote building a “do-it-yourself UNIVAC Electronic Brain” with the hope it would be able to think of a way to capture the always-elusive Road Runner.
I decided to build my own Univac computer which would answer questions (for a modest fee, of course).
Using a small cardboard box, I cut out a rectangular opening on the front large enough to insert a sheet of paper, and a smaller opening for depositing a dime.
Several colorful “thinking computing lights” were drawn around the box using crayons from my Crayola box with the handy built-in sharpener.
A small stack of neatly placed sheets of paper, and a few sharpened pencils were put next to the box – I mean computer.
Along the top of the box, with a black crayon I printed in large letters: “UNIVAC COMPUTER.”
I wrote the following on a piece of paper and taped it to the side of the box: “Write your question on a piece of paper. Insert paper in opening along with a dime for your answer. Thank you, UNIVAC COMPUTER.”
I placed my cardboard Univac computer on the kitchen counter next to the radio, and waited for someone’s question.
The cardboard computer’s processing power was the brain of an 8-year-old boy; yours truly, who would collect the questions (and dimes) and then go to the family den, where the World Book Encyclopedias were located.
I researched the questions, and wrote the answers on paper.
The answered questions were placed next to the cardboard Univac, where they would be retrieved by the questioners.
My family, especially my dad, got a kick out of this enterprising operation.
I recall dad wrote the following question and placed it, along with a dime, into my UNIVAC computer: “How do I get my 8-year-old son to take out the kitchen wastebasket?”
Moments later, the kitchen wastebasket was being taken out by his 8-year-old son.
So, who is going to win this year’s presidential election?
I’d like to think the original Univac (now in the Smithsonian Institution) would accurately predict the outcome.
You can watch the Nov. 4, 1952 CBS video at: http://tinyurl.com/CBS1952.
Follow me on Twitter via the @bitsandbytes username.
Parts of this column originally published Nov. 4, 2013 were modified by the writer.















Friday, October 28, 2016

Is there 'control' over the Internet?


by Mark Ollig

Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig


“Does the USA ‘control’ the Internet?” was the title of a column I wrote in 2007.

Internet domain names are assigned and maintained by an organization called Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

ICANN, begun in 1998, is a not-for-profit organization consisting of people living in countries around the world.

Recently, the ICANN governing authority was given complete control over what many call the internet’s address book, or domain name system (DNS).

Efforts in the US were made in an attempt to block this; however, the contested transfer arguments were overruled by a US federal judge.

ICANN now has total governing authority; removing the last vestiges of any US authoritative influence.

The DNS translates a web address; such as “bitscolumn.blogspot.com,” into the numerical language internet-connected computers use to communicate with each other.

Some believe the ICANN authority controversy to be a recently contested issue – it was not.

In November 2007, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held a meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

IGF criticized the US regarding its “influences” used to control the part of the internet where Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and domains are assigned within ICANN.

They discussed the imposing role Americans played over domain name policies, including how to assign internet suffixes in languages besides English.

Not so long ago (well, maybe for us baby boomers), before the Internet became popular, we got our news and information mostly from newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.

We also learned the latest news by talking to each other face-to-face – something we don’t do enough of anymore.

Today, when witnessing a news event, we can take out our smartphone to record and comment on the event, and then upload the video live, or save and send it to an Internet news website, blog, online social network, individual, or organization.

This technology is available to all of us. We have the ability to use the internet as the world’s bulletin board for instantly sharing information with thousands or millions of people.

We now live in what’s called a 24-hour news cycle.

The Internet is used as the venue for the constant deposit of 24-hours-a-day breaking news and events.

In nearly real-time, we are witnessing and commentating on news and events being reported from all over the world via online social media and independent journalists broadcasting live from the scene.

Years ago, I read how the airplane had made the world a much smaller place.

Today, the Internet has made the world a part of the local neighborhood.

Instant release of active events or newly discovered information – good or bad – to the masses may be, and sometimes is, seen as a threat to political or corporate entities, special interest groups, or even a government.

As we have learned, there are powerful influences; including various governments and organized saboteurs, who will intentionally disrupt Internet service to certain geographic locations – or limit websites a local population has access to.

Here in the US, we have the freedom to start our own website, blog, podcast, on more or less any topic we choose without having restrictions placed on its content.

We can join an Internet social media network and respond to and make known our views on politics, life-changing events, breaking news, societal concerns, government actions, world conflicts; the list is endless.

The power to communicate our voice and video messages to the world from anywhere is literally in our own hands when using our smartphone.

People are using their smartphones to broadcast live video content instantly seen by people around the world – an example is those using Facebook Live.

Indeed, we have an “always ready” TV camera in our pocket.

More of us are expressing our opinions and thoughts online – we see this daily over social and mainstream media networks, and in online chatrooms.

What makes these messages so powerful, is that our video and voices can be heard and seen by anyone on the planet having unrestricted internet access.

It would be naive to think there are not world governments, organizations, and regimes who currently control, or want to suppress, local public opinion and individual citizen reporting currently being broadcast over the Internet.

Let’s not take our freedom of using the Internet for granted.

What will the internet be like 10 or 20 years from now? Will we still have the same equal opportunity to use it as a venue to publicly voice our opinions, thoughts, ideas, and concerns?

The recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks reminds us the internet is also a battlefield, where intrusive attacks are being actively waged by those wanting to disrupt its availability.

These cyber-attacks are aimed against online public social networks, private, corporate, and governmental websites in order to interrupt their access, cause mayhem, and/or obtain sensitive information.

We need to remain vigilant, and knowledgeable, and voice our opinions and concerns regarding any governing authorities involved with the internet’s operation, availability, and security.

ICANN offices are currently located in Los Angeles, CA; Istanbul, Turkey: Singapore, Brussels, Belgium, and Beijing, China.

Their website is https://www.icann.org.

Follow me on Twitter at @bitsandbytes.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Your story: Broadcast it to a worldwide audience

by Mark Ollig

Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig


It’s happening right at this very moment.

In more than 60 countries, people are broadcasting and participating in thousands of livestreaming videos.

“Live lets people, public figures and Pages share live video with their followers and friends on Facebook,” described Facebook in a press release regarding its Facebook Live video service.

Facebook’s Live video streaming is seamless; it’s built inside Facebook, thus no third-party application such as Periscope, is needed.

Most Facebook Live video streams are broadcast from a smartphone.

Social media and mainstream news organizations have taken advantage of this new method of networking with their growing online audiences.

When on my Facebook page, I receive notices of live broadcasts I signed up with in my news feed.

Using the Facebook Live Map, I can quickly see the exact geographic locations on an interactive map of the world, where live broadcasts are originating.

The “plus and minus” icons located on the lower-left of the map, allows you to zoom in or out within a specific location – making it easier to differentiate individual dots within a cluster.

By moving your mouse curser over a small blue dot which represents a single Facebook Live broadcast on the world map, you can see, hear, and communicate (a language translator is in the comment box) with the person originating the live video, and others watching it.

“The Facebook Live Map gives you a window into what’s happening in the world right now,” said Director Fidji Simo, of Facebook’s Product Management.

In addition to people networking with other Facebook users, Facebook Live is being heavily used as a reporting tool by mainstream news outlets, regional newspapers, citizen journalists, nonprofit organizations, cities, states, businesses, and governments.

A growing number of the news media are using Facebook Live when reporting from the scene of a breaking news story.

“Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket. Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world,” said Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg from his Facebook profile page.

I agree with Zuckerberg, and am reminded of George Orwell’s book, published in 1949, about life in 1984.

Today, in addition to “big brother” keeping its eye on us, we, the citizens, are also empowered with a portable “telescreen,” which is, of course, our smartphone.

We have the ability to immediately broadcast what we see or witness to the world.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve monitored the status of the Facebook Live’s World Map.

There has been a definite increase in live broadcasts, as the number of blue dots continues to grow within most countries.

One of the blue dots was in western Russia, in the city of Moscow.

I moved my mouse curser over this blue dot.

On my computer, a video screen box immediately came up; I saw and heard four people sitting at a table speaking Russian. The video’s description was in Russian.

After doing a quick copy and paste into the Google translator, I learned this was a Soviet Sport’s Facebook channel, and the live video feed was a press conference with Russian Boxing Federation presidential candidate Edward Khusainov, who was taking questions.

There are a variety of Facebook Live video broadcasts taking place; from reporting live on the scene during a natural disaster, to people driving into work talking about the traffic.

I viewed various Facebook Live broadcasters discussing politics, the latest news, and their plans for attending a weekend sporting event or wedding.

Others are using Facebook Live for video phone conferencing with friends; much like using Skype or Facetime.

Some Facebook users were even broadcasting live video of themselves doing their makeup from home, while chatting with Facebook users.

One person was broadcasting live video while getting their hair done in a salon.

This person talked with the hairstylist, and also responded to viewer’s comments and questions.

I’ll admit to sometimes feeling like the nosy neighbor looking over the fence while scanning through these live video broadcasts.

If one encounters an offending video, it can be reported to Facebook using a “report” icon.

One Facebook Live video displayed in real-time, is the Abbey Road Crossing sidewalk, which runs through West Minister in London.

This is the crossing where the famous Beatles photograph of John, Ringo, Paul, and George was taken.

The upper-left screen counter showed 4,700 viewers were watching this live video stream.

One person (whom I assume was a tourist), while walking, suddenly stopped in the middle of the crossing and struck a “Beatles walking across the Abbey Road Crossing pose” while a friend took their picture.

I texted my greetings from Minnesota, as did many others from countries around the world who were watching.

Facebook currently has a 90-minute time limit per live video session; I imagine it’s so their network doesn’t become congested with constantly running video streams.

To see the current worldwide status of Facebook Live broadcasts, log into your Facebook account from: www.facebook.com/livemap.

I discovered Live Map is not useable over a mobile smartphone (yet), so you need to run it from your laptop or desktop.

Look for an increase in the reporting of breaking news and other events being broadcast live over social media by traditional news outlets, independent journalists, and others.

Will we ever see a Bits & Bytes live video broadcast?

Possibly. For now, follow yours truly on Twitter at @bitsandbytes.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Astronauts leave special silicon disc on the moon

by Mark Ollig

Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig

When Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin performed their extravehicular activity (EVA) on the surface of the moon July 20, 1969, they left more than footprints in the Sea of Tranquility.
Of course, we know about the US flag, and the metal plaque attached to the landing gear strut of the descent stage of the lunar module saying: “Here, men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”
However, there’s something else special they left behind.
Just before closing out their surface EVA and returning to the lunar module, the following conversation took place between mission control in Houston, and the astronauts on the moon:
Mission control: “Can you – will you verify that the disk with messages was placed on the surface as planned, and also that the items listed in the flight plan – all of those listed there were jettisoned. Over.”
Lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin: “That’s – All that’s verified.”
And with that reminder, Aldrin unzipped his sleeve pocket, and removed a small, round silicon disc slightly larger than a 50-cent piece.
He then carefully placed the disc on the moon’s surface before climbing back up the ladder into the lunar module.
This special disc contains statements by four US Presidents, and messages of goodwill from 73 countries.
Each original message was reduced in size 200 times, before being etched onto the surface of the disc.
The reduced-sized image was then transferred to glass, which according to NASA, was used as a “mask through which ultra-violet light was beamed onto a photo-sensitive film on the silicon disc.”
Hydroflouric acid was used to wash the disc during its final etching.
Silicon was first regularly used during World War II for the production of electronic diode components.
NASA chose to use silicon for this special moon disc because of its ability to withstand the extreme temperatures of the moon; which range from 250 to minus-280 degrees Fahrenheit.
To the naked eye, each message appears on the disc “as a barely visible dot,” according to NASA.
One can read each message by using a microscope, so whoever comes across this disc in a future millennia will either need to use one, or have a pair of highly-evolved eyes.
The non-metallic, gray-colored silicon disc was crafted with the same technology used for electronic components; such as integrated circuits.
This disc was considered very high-tech in 1969.
It was made by the Sprague Electric Company’s Semi-Conductor Division, located in Worcestor, MA, with the assistance of NASA’s Electronic Research Center.
Being curious, I gleaned the NASA website for information about the disc, and found their copy of a July 11, 1969, 38-page document titled: “RELEASE NO: 69-83F APOLLO 11 GOODWILL MESSAGES.”
This copy was publically released Sunday, July 13, 1969 – just one week before Apollo 11’s landing on the moon.
I smiled and thought to myself; “Jackpot!”
The first page read: “A small disc carrying statements by presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon and messages of goodwill from leaders of 73 countries around the world will be left on the Moon by the Apollo 11 astronauts.”
An inscription at the top of the disc reads: “Goodwill messages from around the world brought to the Moon by the astronauts of Apollo 11.”
The following are some of the goodwill messages etched onto the silicon disc still resting on the surface of the moon, near the Apollo 11 Lunar Module descent stage:
“Man has reached out and touched the tranquil moon. May that high accomplishment allow man to rediscover the Earth and find peace,” Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
“It is our sincere desire that the astronauts, upon the date of their landing on the moon, will have made a significant contribution to a world utopia and peace though the universe,” Chaing Kai-Shek, President, Republic of China.
“The people of Estonia join those who hope and work for freedom and a better world,” Ernst Jaakson, Consul General of Estonia.
“From the President of Israel in Jerusalem with hope of ‘abundance of peace so long as the Moon endureth’ (Psalms 72,7),” Zalman Shazar, President of Israel.
“On this unique occasion when man traverses outer space to set foot on Earth’s nearest neighbor, Moon, I send my greetings and good wishes to the brave astronauts who have launched on this great venture. I fervently hope that this event will usher in an era of peaceful endeavor for all mankind,” Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India.
“... To the glory of the name of God who gives such power to men, we ardently pray for this wonderful beginning,” Pope Paul VI of the Vatican.
For those who are curious; there was no message from Russia on the disc.
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth,” John F. Kennedy said on May 25, 1961.
The complete NASA public release papers containing all 73 country goodwill messages can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/disc1969.
You can read my messages (without a microscope) on Twitter at @bitsandbytes.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Connecting society, creating the future

by Mark Ollig

Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig


Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) of Japan, boldly promotes its vision to “change almost everything.”

Creating value through the application of digital information collected from IoT (Internet of Things) electronic sensors and devices, is part of this vision.

CEATEC hopes to bring positive changes to existing industrial standards, business models, and societies through “new value” creation.

Last week, CEATEC held a four-day technology symposium in the Makuhari Messe convention center, located just outside of Tokyo, Japan.

This year’s theme was “Connecting Society, Creating the Future.”

Beginning in 2009, CEATEC has now become a popular Asian venue for drawing attention to futuristic technology concepts, and business prototypes.

There were an estimated 150,000 people attending this year’s event. The CEATEC convention is considered the largest high-tech conference in Asia.

Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) looks at and analyses the data provided from IoT devices, and organizes it into meaningful information to be used by industry, business, and individuals. This year’s showcase feature was called Cyber Physical Systems, and the Internet of Things (CPS/IoT).

Approximately 650 technology companies participated during this year’s CEATEC.Of these, 195 represented 24 countries and regions outside of Japan; including 27 from the US.

There were a total of 1,710 product and technology-related display booths during the event. Some of the better-known companies at CEATEC included: Fujitsu, Honda, NEC, and Panasonic.

The symposium was divided into four exhibit areas.

The Community Area showcased technology for ensuring safe communities through the managing of public infrastructure and transportation systems. It also addressed technology to be used for dealing with disasters, local energy consumption, and monitoring of the environment.

The Town Area highlighted technology for assisting cities with providing comfortable and healthy living and work areas. It also displayed technology for improving various town services provided for the population.

The Home Area centered on relaxed and fulfilling lifestyles by way of digital entertainment immersion. This area also demonstrated AI (artificially intelligent) robotic technology for supporting one’s lifestyle, healthcare, and health-assistance needs.

Yours truly has written columns over the years about Japan’s progress in the field of AI robotics. In the near future, we will see several categories of robotic technology being used in our homes, professional healthcare and assisted living facilities, and of course; in the workplace.

The CPS/IoT Technology & Software Area highlighted electronic components, materials, and software needed for creating future technology to be used with CPS/IoT.

The Fujitsu folks demonstrated a friendly-looking, talkative, artificially intelligent robot called RoboPin.

RoboPin, according to Fujitsu, provides a “humanized experience” to whoever it is conversing with. This likable, approximately 12-inch-tall robot, happily greeted visitors during CEATEC.

RoboPin is linked to and can access information from the Internet. With its six moveable joints, RoboPin expressed a variety of emotions including: happiness, liveliness, sleepiness, and even sadness to the folks attending the event.

RoboPin’s audible assistance used a pleasant voice, friendly hand gestures, and head movements. It also changed facial color; determined upon the emotion it was expressing.

RoboPin recommended specific exhibits for a visitor to see based on their registration profile; such as job title, and listed interests.

A small, wireless electronic “beacon tag” device worn by each attendee recorded which exhibits and vender displays they stopped at. Accessing the beacon tag information, RoboPin would offer its “personalized recommendations” of other related exhibits or conferences to see.

You can watch RoboPin in action at: http://tinyurl.com/bits-RoboPin.

StradVision, Inc., with offices in San Jose, CA, demonstrated its Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) using its object detection and recognition software.

ADAS also provides recognition software for wearable devices, smart homes, and of course, those supposedly-smart, autonomously-driven cars.

A demonstration of their instant language translation program using a smartphone was impressive. The ADAS language demo showed a sign written in Japanese, being instantly translated to English using a smartphone.

Their website is located at: http://www.stradvision.com.

CEATEC desires to be a facilitator for bringing business and technology industries together across country boundaries, and encouraging their long-lasting relationships.

The English language website for CEATEC Japan is: http://www.ceatec.com/en.

Their YouTube channel is: http://tinyurl.com/bits-ceatec.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter at @bitsandbytes.




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

'Trustable' real-time internet statistics


by Mark Ollig

Copyright © 2016 Mark Ollig


Statistics, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, is defined as “a collection of quantitative data.”

As my faithful readers know, when placing trust in the information found on a website, I always consider the source.

I believe the statistical data provided in real-time by Internet Live Stats (ILS) is trustworthy.

If the inventor of the World Wide Web; Tim Berners-Lee, feels he can trust quoting information from ILS, that’s good enough for me.

An Internet user is defined by ILS as an individual using any type of computing device and connection to access the Internet from their home.

As of July 1, the total number of Internet users on Earth was 3,424,971,237.

The world’s population at this time was estimated to be 7,432,663,275.

Which means just over 46 percent of the human inhabitants of this planet are using the Internet.

To discover not even half the planet’s population uses the Internet, may be of a surprise to some of us.

We also need to take into account the six “off-Earth” Internet users, who are currently living 260 miles above us in the International Space Station.

When it comes to countries with the highest number of Internet users, China is number one with 721,434,547.

India ranks second with 462,124,989, and the US is third with 286,942,362.

However, the US has the highest percentage of its population using the Internet among these three with 88.5 percent. China’s is 52.2 percent, and India has 34.8 percent.

ILS obtains some of its data from: International Telecommunication Union, World Bank, United Nations Population Division, and Internet & Mobile Association of India.

Would you be surprised if I told you there is one country on Earth with all of its population using the Internet?

In 2015, 2,975 Icelanders were not Internet users.

Today, all of Iceland’s 331,778 inhabitants are using the Internet, thus 100 percent of the country’s population are Internet users.

Being curious, I did some research and learned Iceland first electronically communicated outside of their country in 1906.

Iceland State Telephone Service started the same year; making physical connections to the undersea telegraph/telephone cables brought ashore to Iceland’s capital city; Reykjavik, from Scotland via the Faeroe Islands.

September 16, 2014, a message posted on Twitter by Tim Berners-Lee quoted ILS announcing the one billionth website had been added to the Internet.

As of Sept. 29, there were 1,086,150,000 websites – and this number continues to grow by the second.

To watch each new website (represented as a round, greenish, Internet World Wide Web icon) as it’s individually numbered and added to the total, go to http://www.internetlivestats.com/watch/websites.

While performing a query, ILS calculated the following events took place within one second over the Internet:

• YouTube videos viewed: 131,989.

• Google searches completed: 56,440.

• Skype video/voice calls: 2,287.

• Instagram photos uploaded: 743.

• Tumblr posts: 1,162.

• Emails sent: 2,526,586.

• Twitter tweets/messages: 7,356.

• Internet traffic passed: 38,304GB.

“Historical Estimates of World Population” can be found on the US Census Bureau website.

Its data shows in 1960, the world’s population was 3 billion.

By 2000, the planets inhabitants had doubled to 6 billion.

If this trend continues, the Earth will be supporting nine billion people by 2042.

I imagine the folks living in 2042 will have had Internet accessibility from anywhere on the planet for many years.

US Census Bureau’s historical world population numbers and related data can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/bits-world.

The website for Internet Live Stats is http://www.internetlivestats.com.

Quantitate this humble columnist’s numerous tweets over the Twitter social media website via my @bitsandbytes handle.