Will Robots Replace Humans

Service Robots

I have been watching some of the new releases from CES. I have been amazed by how many robots are being displayed this year. It reminds me of when computers or TV’s were the hot topics. I am not talking about a robot the sweeps your carpets or even ones that mow your lawn. I am talking about full-fledged service robots. These are robots that interact with people as well as provides a service to the food and hotel industries.

There is a hotel in Japan that is entirely run by robots. As soon as you check into the lobby you are greeted by a robot. There is a robot who will help take your baggage to the room. Then there are robots cleaning the rooms and bringing room service. I guess the only bright spot in all of this is that we will not have to tip the robot for the added services?

Next, I found a restaurant in Japan who are using robots to bring your food to the table, take your orders and even bus the table when you leave. It won’t be long before they are also cooking your food.

These robots from what I have seen stand four feet high, cost $5000.00 each and will last 5 years before needing to be replaced. If they were paying someone $10.00 an hour each year it would cost $20,800.00 for a human worker. Then we have to have human sick days built into that as well as vacations, taxes, and insurance. We can see just on a cost savings why these companies would be doing this. But where does it leave the human race?

We have seen for years where robotic arms do a lot of the manufacturing jobs in the USA. These machines have been putting the working man out of many companies. So with this write up you might think I am somehow excited? Not the case at all. I am really worried about our future generations growing up just to become people who service the robots that will be servicing all of us. Then what happens when the robots can service themselves?

Technology is a great thing. It helps us in our daily lives. And I see it is even good for doing tasks that we don’t want to give time to. But when I see this as a movement to replace us and take all of our jobs I get really worried. I just hope the government is making plans to have some sort of cash flow to give all Americans to allow us to live a normal happy life.

Importance of a VPN

VPN

First let’s start by answering the question, what is a VPN? A VPN is known as a Virtual Private Network. A VPN allows us to connect to our work and have a secure tunnel connection to the office. It can also provide us with a secure way to pass traffic from our smartphone or computer while we are using public WIFI.

Why are either one of these important to us? When you are sitting at home and you are working on your office computer and you use a VPN your computer will act just as it does when you are sitting at your desk. This happens because when you connect the VPN you are basically running a network cable from your office network back to your home. But with the power of the Internet and a VPN connection we don’t need the wire, hence the Virtual Private Network. Once you connect to your office all of your traffic is going through a secure tunnel. This will keep hackers from intercepting your traffic and using it against you or your company. But even more so it allows you if you are a technology person to work on your network and bring up servers just as you would sitting at your desk.

So what can a VPN offer if you are just on your smartphone in a coffee shop? Again the VPN will provide your traffic to be secured from anyone in the coffee shop who might be scanning for Internet traffic. All of you traffic will be going out of your office or home Internet connection. Remember it will act just as if you are sitting at your desk.

Wonder if you don’t have a VPN at home to connect to? Can you still use a VPN and be safer when you are accessing your banking from a public Internet connection? There are many FREE VPN services on the Internet that you can set up an account on and connect to them for that same piece of mind. I found this site for you that has a listing of FREE VPN sites you can use. FREE VPN SITES.

Think of it this way. It will take you one extra step before you access any secure sites on the Internet such as your banking site. You will have to first connect to the VPN then open the sites you want to use. But then again wouldn’t it be easier to just open your car door and run to the mall? None of us would do this, we would first turn off the car and lock the doors. Think of the VPN and locking the door on your Internet traffic.

Cloud Storage

Cloud Storage

When it comes to cloud storage I often ask myself which one is the best for your day to day working environment? The truth is they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

As many of you know I work in a public school setting and we are always looking for ways to better serve the students and staff while still maintaining a balance of reliable technology for everyone.

I look at my own cloud storage and find that I am using four main ones. Google Drive for all my school-based work, Onedrive for all of my company work, iCloud for most of my personal work and then DropBox just because I have had it the longest and I still have a lot of my work on their servers. So how do you pick just one?

I have been struggling with this for some time and I think I have found the true direction to guide people in. Use whatever ego system you are working with the most. If you are a 100% Microsoft shop and work in the Office products all of the time then you would use Onedrive. This will allow you to work on files on your computer and then on the road jump into Office 365 and pick up where you left off. If you use Google Apps all the time then use Google Drive. If you are using a Mac most of the time I would suggest iCloud and also suggest buying more storage from Apple. If you use many different apps and don’t relay of web-based apps then I would suggest DropBox or Box. The real trick is to work within the ego system you choose.

At the end of the day, all of the companies out there providing cloud-based storage are very good at what they do. Your work will be safe and sound no matter where you keep it. I would however always suggest using some form of backup. I dump my files onto an external drive for safe keeping. In today’s world, nothing is beyond hacking.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Drop me a comment and let me know what if any cloud-based storage you may be using?

Mac’s In Business

Mac Computers

When I first started my career in the computer field it was all about the PC and the Windows operating system. We would go into a business and set up a Windows Server and Windows Workstations and install Microsoft Office. Mostly everyone in the office was familiar with Windows because that is what they had at home.

Today’s business world is changing. If you are in the IT field now you may walk into an office thinking you will be troubleshooting a PC issue and find an entire office full of Mac’s?  Will you be ready to take on the challenge or will you be running for the door?

I relate this back to our children going to school. I have found more and more school districts using Mac’s in their classroom rooms for one purpose or another. I also see more young people going to college and taking a Mac Book with them. They might also be carrying an iPad and an iPhone. Students become comfortable with using the Apple products and when they leave school they want to stick with the platform.

If you are reading this and you are a technical person I would suggest to start learning the Apple ecosystem.  If you really want to support the Apple clients pick up a Mac Book or to start maybe a second hand newer Mac Mini and begin to learn what makes an Apple computer tick. Chances are you have an iPhone in your pocket right now and maybe even an iPad?

So you may be asking am I a Mac guy? Well, I use Mac’s at home as well as work. But I also use a lot more Windows machines at work then there are Mac’s. But I enjoy both for different reasons. I would like to hear your take on this subject.

 

The Power of Google Suite

We all know that Google Suite is the tool for educational institutions everywhere. I think this is because Google started off on the right foot when the allowed all educational institutions to use Google Suite for free. When Microsoft first got into the game they were trying to charge per student. Microsoft then wondered why everyone was not running to 365? I know working for schools for over 20 years that they are strapped for funds. If you can teach typing, spread sheets and presentations for free how can you go wrong? I am with a new school district now and find myself deep into Google Suite once again. I am also proud to say I am a certified Google Admin. Today I will dig into renaming accounts using the balk tool GAM or Google Administration Management. 

Our school still teaches Office and will continue to do so since students need to learn more then one tool. Think of it this way, in shop class we don’t only teach the student to use a hammer. Schools have also embraced Google Chrome books but that thought will be a post for another day. 

Google Chromebook or Windows Cloudbook

ChromebookorCloudbook

I have been reading across the web that Microsoft is releasing a Chromebook killer their words not mine on May 2, 2017. Will this be a knife in the side of Google or a knife in the side of IT Administrator in schools trying to rush to buy this new product? I wanted to give you my thoughts from the IT Administrator side. I have been working in the IT field in education for the past 20 years. Again these are my views on the subject.

I have been using Microsoft products since I started in computers some 30 years ago. I have watched the company struggle to innovate on every level. I am not saying their software is not great, I am saying they normally are not the first ones to the table or playing field. Does anyone remember Bill Gates saying “The Internet is just a Fad”? Well that statement didn’t work out to well. To catch up to other big players in the Internet field Microsoft began to give Internet Explorer away with Windows. If you can’t build something better then NetScape, just giving yours away and try to crush the computation.

Now let’s move forward some 20+ years. Google releases a Chromebook, at first not a promising product. I remember watching their product release and the Chromebook didn’t boot well and sometimes hung when trying to use it. After some years of work and getting the Chromebook to shine they started getting the attention of people like me, IT Administrators in schools. Why not give this device a try? Google has been supplying our education market for years with Google Apps and FREE email services, which I jumped on that wagon 15 years ago. This is a company that is building on a foundation and building slow and steady. Now let’s jump to today.

Now on May 2, 2017 it is said that Microsoft will launch a Chromebook killer? Microsoft has always tried to do this build off of everyone’s success. Remember they don’t innovate! I really don’t think the schools that have adopted the Chromebook will drop them to run back to Microsoft. I also don’t think that a brand new product to hit the market will be accepted with open arms by very many IT Administrators in schools. Will they get a few nibbles? Maybe? But I know the field well and I know the people doing this very stressful job and none of them need or want a new player in the field of Internet based devices.

A final thought on market share for education. The Chromebook has played a major role on cutting Apple and Microsoft into lower shares of the education market. Is it only price that sets these devices apart? I as a person who has had the pleasure of managing Chromebooks have to say it is also the ease of administration. I can go into one web based console and manage every aspect of the Chromebook. Recently we looked at changing from iPad’s to Chromebooks as a budget move. In our final minutes of crunching numbers Apple made a smart move, they lowered the price of the iPad. This will help them maintain some market share. Microsoft made a move such as this a few years ago by giving Office 365 to education for FREE. This will keep office products in the reach of shrinking budgets across education. But bringing a Cloudbook to the education market might just prove to be a little late to the game? Anyone remember the Windows Phone?

Network Cables Are Not All Equal

Network Cables

If you are new to networking or even if you are an old hand at running networks you might be missing out on a very important piece of information? All network cables are not created equal. As we build our networks and expend the amount of data speed we want to achieve with new switches and faster wireless you may find your network at the end points not getting the total speed you thought you should be getting. When most networks were installed using Cat 5 cable we were hitting speeds of 100 MBS. And the gear at the time was only hitting a maximum of 100 MBS. Now we fast forward to today’s gear and we are pushing 1000 MBS or 1 GIG connections. I have seen this at many sites over the years. New switches are purchased and new wireless access points are but into place and we find at the end points we are getting much lower speeds then expected. I have seen young techs go back and look over their config files and tune everything they can and they still only pull the slower speeds. In reality the bottle neck is in their cabling. Cat 5 cable was only rated to carry 100 MBS so no matter what you do to your gear the cables can’t handle the traffic. If you have Cat 5e you can handle 1000 MBS.  If it is only Cat 5 then step up to Cat 6 which can handle speeds up to 1000 MBS or 1 GIG.  And if you are rewiring and thinking about the long term then have Cat 6a installed it will handle up to 10 GIG connections. Use this chart I found on the net as your guide if you are planning to rewire your network it will save you time and money knowing the exact cable you are having installed. Also always remember to be careful of your total length of the runs.

Cable Chart

Network Switching

Networking Gear

Network Switching gear has been around for ages now. It is the backbone that runs every network large and small. I have been a Cisco guy for years. I understand the way that Cisco wants you to setup your VLAN’s as well as setting up ports for security. I recently started programming a new line of switches from another company. When I first began to program I tried my normal Cisco commands and quickly found out that the commands would not work. Then I started researching on Google for programming using this companies IOS. I quickly learned one thing important. The commands were different but the basic idea of laying out VLAN’s and configuring ports held to the same understanding from my Cisco training. It is sort of like programming, once you learn one language it is easy to allow your mind to see the code and write using any coding language out there. I always tell everyone that has ever worked with me. Don’t ever think that you can’t do it because it is different. Always set out to do your best and give it your all. So now after programming ten of these new switches I have the commands down and I am on my way to building a new high speed 10 GB network. I live by the Can Do Attitude! If it computes then I can and will fix it.

Network Firewalls

Firewall

Network firewalls are built to keep the bad guys out of your network while allowing your users to maintain high availability to the Internet resources they wish to use. Setting up a corporate firewall takes time and some planning. Your first objective should be to know what to allow to come into your network from the outside world. I begin with a drawing like the one above. When you allow traffic from the outside world you should only allow a direct connection from the company or service you wish to use. Next we begin to write up any static routes we might need. These items might be a mail server or maybe your web server. Also remember after you setup the static routes you then open the correct ports to that internal IP address. Remember to allow any internal traffic to go out of your network. One tip to keep in your back pocket is if you ever get a rouge machine on your network spamming emails. If you use off site email services simply deny port 25 SMTP traffic from going out of your network. Planning is everything so that you don’t run into issues using the Internet. The last word of advice is to revisit your firewall configuration at least once ever six months. Also buy a firewall large enough to pass the bandwidth that you have, you don’t want it to become a bottle neck for your Internet traffic.

Google Suite Or MS Office 365

Google and MS Office

I remember not long ago we were talking about Mac or PC, before that we talked about Netscape Browser or Internet Explorer and longer before that we were talking about Beta or VHS tapes. Now we get a new debate that is on the minds of every technology person and director in the world. Should we be using Google Suite or Microsoft Office 365? We are now talking about more then cloud storage we are talking about the applications people use everyday. As a long time manager of Google Suite which use to be Google Apps I understand how to manage the platform. And with a Chromebook I find it the perfect match for schools either K-12 or Higher Ed. But then you need to listen to the students. Still today most high school students grew up using Microsoft Office. If you introduce Google Suite into your Elementary schools you have a chance to allow those students to grow up in the Google Suite fashion. But what would you want to use for your business? Both of these services act and work almost the same. We can use any computer platform we want and be able to access all of our documents and spreadsheets anywhere and at anytime we have an Internet connection. I have seen a lot of colleges moving over to Google Suite, I would like to ask colleges that have made this move one simple question. Why? I think as a person who has been working in education for almost 20 years I enjoy change. I really believe that if you are in the technology field and can’t change you might need another line of work. But we as people working in education have to make the correct decision for the students future. If you are reading this and you have made the choice let me know why you made the choice you did? My last question is would you just supply both and allow your students and staff choose which one they would like to use?