45th Anniversary of the First Cell Phone call

Motorola dynaTACThe first mobile phone call was made 45 years ago on April 3, 1973. Motorola employee Martin Cooper stood in midtown Manhattan and placed a call to the headquarters of Bell Labs in New Jersey, using a prototype of what would become the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, the world’s first commercial cell phone. He stood near a 900 MHz base station on Sixth Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets in New York City and placed a call to the headquarters of Bell Labs in New Jersey.

If we only knew then what impact this device would have on our personal lives as well as the world economy, what other decisions would we have made??

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My Moto Phone Upgraded to Nougat over the Weekend

Some of the Nougat enhancements (like the battery management, bundled app notifications and the display element sizing enhancements) are going to be a useful addition. I only got this G4+ phone a short time ago, so what’s a little more change. Since Nougat was released back in August of 2016, I am hoping all the bugs have been worked out and I won’t have to write about any surprises here.

Moto G4+

Well my old LG G2 phone (about 3 years old) finally bit the dust — it was dropping the connection to my provider (ATT) at random times. Not a good characteristic for a phone.

I quickly looked around for an unlocked, Android phone that I could buy outright, without loosing an arm or a leg in the process. I hate paying monthly rent on a phone. I settled on the Moto G4+ with 64 GB of on-board memory. Not sure I needed the 64GB upgrade since the G4 does have a SIM expansion slot that can emulate on-board memory, but I learned a long time ago that you should max out your memory when you buy technology since you may not have the option later.

Moto4G

Naturally, once I bought it the G5+ was announced.

From the time I had it custom configured until the time it was dropped off at my doorstep, it took a week. Not bad, since the device had to be assembled in China. I dropped in my SIM card and was ready.

The first phone I received had an intermittent touch screen issue. It took me 2 phone calls with tech support to convince them I needed a new phone. The first call told me how to do various hardware and memory resets. By the time I reordered, they ran out of some of the parts to configure the phone exactly the way my old one was, but that wasn’t a bit issue for me. My new phone was on its way and I received it in exactly one week.

The Motorola/Lenovo help desk was pretty good (as far as help desks go). I was able to talk with a human within 2 minutes on every call I made — I think there were 5 in total.

  • 2 related to the first phone problem
  • 1 related to an issue with the re-order – there was a spelling error in my email address
  • 2 related to shipping back the old phone – also related to the previous spelling error

Granted, that is not the best track record but each time I was talking with a person who knew what had happened before. They were curious and very helpful (having personally  helped folks on the phone many times in my career, I realize the strain that they can be under, so I may be more tolerant than most).

Overall, this is the best Android phone I’ve ever had, so far. All the important software I had loaded on my old phone runs on this one. The conversion from my old phone to this one was painless, taking probably 2 hours with 1.5 of that being Android loading up the 140 applications I had on my old phone (which it remembered). This process is MUCH better than it used to be.

Finally, portable and digital

This weekend, I tackled the last functionality I normally would use in the field: logging and the use of digital modes.

Out of the box, the 7100 support ASFK keying for RTTY and PSK, but I hadn’t gotten that functionality working yet. So early in the AM in the JARTS RTTY contest I decided that now is the time.

I dusted off an HP Stream 7 tablet running windows that I bought back when I worked for HP and dug out a USB mini cable and plugged it in. The Stream 7 will run 32 bit Windows 10 and has enough horsepower to do the decoding of the digital signals. It is also very small and cheap. I downloaded the drivers from the ICOM site and quickly was able to get the receive and rig controls working (bringing up the radio’s filters and centering signals…) I was using an old copy of MixW, I bought about a decade ago. I fall back on this program since it handles contests great and you can manipulate any of the rig control codes directly in that program, if they are not directly supported.

But when I went to transmit, the rig keyed up but no power output?! It took a bit of digging but I soon realized there was a setting that had to be changed to make the single sideband digital mode (USB-D) pull the transmit sound off the USB cable. They setting can be found at: Set-> Connectors ->Data MOD -> USB. The default is to have the data signal come from the ACC connector in the back of the rig. Once that was done: voila – a portable digital contest station.

Here is a picture of the PC, the radio head and a folding Bluetooth keyboard, operating outside my house. If you look close, you’ll see a RTTY signal on the MixW display.

20161015_101000

#amateurradio #hamradio

Anxious for the real release of Windows 10

Windows 10As everyone knows by now, the new version of Windows will ship the end of July. I signed up and placed some earlier beta build (through the insider program) on a machines back in January but then had to move on to other efforts, so I never really got back to look at it closely. Over the weekend, I downloaded the latest prerelease and loaded it on an eight year old tablet I had sitting in a closet (an HP 2710P with 3 GB of RAM). Since this machine only had 3 GB of RAM, I loaded the 32 bit version.

I was shocked at how well it ran on this old hardware. All the features seem to function well: Cortana, OneDrive (in its new and slightly lobotomized form), Spartan … and even an enclosed version of OneNote. In fact, the machine seemed to work better than I ever remember it running under Windows 7! The pen interface worked well and the calibration capabilities were better than under Windows 7.

Overall, I am anxious to get my hands on the real thing. If it will only run on my Steam 7 (since I don’t have the ‘Get Windows 10’ icon on that tablet).

illustration courtesy of Microsoft

Voice recognition project completed at UTD

Every semester I try and work with some students at UTD by facilitating a ‘capstone’ project. It’s another dimension of my support for STEM education.education2 Yesterday, they gave their presentation to their professor and class.

This semester the project was creating an Android based speech recognition solution to facilitate a Voice-based Inspection and Evaluation Framework. We shied away from using Google’s speech recognition, since we wanted off-line capabilities, as well as enhanced security/privacy. Addressing this expectation was one of the first issues the team had to conquer.

They were able to identify and implement an open source library providing the speech recognition (PocketSphinx). They also used Android.Speech.tts for text-to-speech interaction with the user.

The team created a visual programming environment to graphically define a flowchart and export that to an XML file that the mobile device was able to use to facilitate the inspection process. The mobile application could have a number of these stored for later use.

The end product was able to handle a range of speech recognition needs:

  • Yes/no
  • Answer from a list of valid responses (e.g., States)
  • Answer with a number (range checked)
  • Free form sound capture

Overall, I was very impressed with what these students were able to accomplish during the semester and the quality of the Software Life Cycle work products they were able to produce. Naturally, since we didn’t know exactly what they were going to be able to accomplish they used a modified agile approach – since they still had to produce the work products require for the class based on a predefined time table.  We incorporated the concept of designing specific sprints around producing those work products as well as the typical need to define, document and validate requirements.

I started the project while working at HP and Dave Gibson and Cliff Wilke helped facilitate it to the end (they are still with HP).

And not Or

and not or (logic)I was in an exchange the other day with some folks talking about their perspective that all companies need to be using cloud computing. I agree, but my view is slightly different. My perspective is that depending on the company’s size, needs and applications they will likely continue to have in house systems. It’s not a choice between things, but a choice among things and an acceptance of the way things are and one answer doesn’t meet everyone’s needs. You can’t look at it as: clouds the answer, now what’s the question?

Mobile computing is similar. It is the future interface of the enterprise, not really something special anymore. Embracing mobile devices and cloud computing will have a game changing effect, but it is not about the infrastructure but what we do with them and people want to do those things everywhere.

There are a number of other trends taking place like the IoT that are also shifting how organizations think about computing. It is interesting how this term is changing and how various organizations are trying to name it. It used to be ubiquitous computing, some call it ambient computing, but most still use the Internet of Things.

In any case the aggregation of sensors, devices, intelligence, and agents will shift how organizations generate value and shift IT to focus on systems of action.

Internet of Things Units Installed Base by Category (in Millions)

 Category 2013 2014 2015 2020
Automotive 96.0 189.6 372.3 3,511.1
Consumer 1,842.1 2,244.5 2.874.9 13,172.5
Generic Business 395.2 479.4 623.9 5,158.6
Vertical Business 698.7 836.5 1,009.4 3,164.4
Grand Total 3,032.0 3,750.0 4,880.6 25,006.6

Source: Gartner (November 2014)

Many still look at these opportunities primarily from an infrastructure perspective, but I definitely do not. It is about the business and the hardware side is a small (but necessary) part. Organizations that will compete effectively in the coming years are going to shift their thinking to “and” and not “or” foundation. It is not all about IT, but IT has a role in enabling this flexibility.

By the way the output of the And not Or logic circuit illustration is always a one –> true.