Augusta Tek

(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit 8-30-12)


Augusta Tek – August 30, 2012 – In recent months, Augusta has started to fancy itself as a member of the high tech community. Mayor Deke continues to promote the idea of a technology incubator. The Technology Association of Georgia Augusta chapter brings new and exciting opportunities to the area such as the CapVenture class for aspiring entrepreneurs. Augusta State University’s Tony Robinson will talk to anyone and everyone that will listen about the benefits of joining the 21st century. Heck, even the Metro Spirit has a technology column. (Who’da thought?)

While the change in mindset is refreshing, one vital ingredient is needed before our city becomes a player into the technology economy. Augusta is not creating and retaining enough developer talent to establish critical mass. As a matter of fact, a list of the top-tier developers in the Augusta area may not extend beyond a dozen individuals. While this is an obstacle to our technology sector growth, our lack of homegrown talent provides an enormous opportunity to high school and college age individuals. (Hint, hint)

Fortunately, the greatest resource for how to become a developer is readily available. A quick Google will reveal a multitude of resources to help an aspiring developer get started. Everything from introductory “How To’s” to full language references to downloadable development environments. In addition, programmers love to brag about their work and show off their code. Many websites are devoted to posting code fragments for modification and reuse. If you are a true newbie, try, and go through the tutorials on HTML, JavaScript and PHP. If you already know what side of the keyboard to use, start getting connected with likeminded folk. You can catch up with the Hack Augusta crowd at They meet every couple of weeks at different places around town to share ideas and build-up our local talent. Next meeting should be on Sept 11. Check their calendar to see where.

Unfortunately, developing HTML and PHP skills are no longer sufficient to get our town where it needs to be. During the Internet boom of last decade, developers only needed to contend with the differences between three operating systems and a handful of browsers. Today, the growth in mobile requires programming teams to become proficient in developing for multiple operating systems and the variation of each optimized for hardware. The real players in technology must be masters of mobile.

Fortunately for us, innovation and the free market still prevail in the technology sector. Innovators recognize the need to help manage the mobile development complexity, and solutions are beginning to pop-up. Once such example is Appcelerator’s Titanium Studio. Titanium Studio is a cross-platform development environment that hides the differences between mobile platforms. Programmers focus on developing mobile applications, and Titanium Studio translates those applications to the specific native implementation for each device. The environment supports all the major languages, so there is no need to learn a new language.

This is just the kind of tool an aspiring entrepreneur could use to start a business building mobile applications. But, hey, what do I know? My claim to fame is writing the technology column for the Metro Spirit. 🙂

Until next time, I’m off the grid. @gregory_a_baker






Disaster Recovery

(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit 8-23-12)

Disaster Recovery – In my many years of IT, I’ve found that you typically need three copies of data in order to protect yourself from catastrophe. The “original plus two copies” principal is a good one to use. The original is in production. A local copy is nearby to facilitate fast restores. And an offsite copy is available for disaster recovery.

Interestingly, in talking with some of my younger compatriots around town, it seems that they have applied this IT principal to their social life. For example, one guy talked very highly of his current girlfriend, but then admitted that he stays in touch with his old girlfriend just in case he needs a “quick fix.” And several folk, both guys and gals, maintain a “backup” in another city just in case all heck breaks loose here in Augusta.

While one may question the stability of their future relationships, you have to give them kudos on the cross application of IT principles.

As for myself, I was fortunate to find a woman that prefers to live dangerously and be satisfied with a “single point-of-failure” such as myself.

Bad Phones – While we are all patiently waiting for the iPhone 5, this week CNET came out with its Top 5 Worst Phones of 2012. In descending order of suckiness,

  1. Sony Xperia Ion
  2. Samsung Brightside
  3. Pantech Swift
  4. Pantech Hotshot
  5. ZTE Score M

You can see CNET for the details. Suffice it to say that all these phones set new lows for signal reception, image quality, touch screen response and interface design. On the plus side, not a single Blackberry made the list.

Samsung vs. Apple – I have purposely stayed away from any discussion of the Samsung-Apple patent infringement suit. The first reason is that nobody really cares. The second, and more important, reason is that this type of lawsuit is counter to entire culture of high tech. Technology true believers live entirely in the first 10% of the hype cycle. Innovation is the guiding principal, and success is determined by who can move the fastest. After all, while early adopters have money to spend, they will drop you in a second if a better solution comes along. In contrast, patent lawsuits live at the opposite end of the product life cycle, where there’s nothing left to innovate and no desire to create a better product. Bean counters and bureaucrats dominate decision making. Hence, the belief that investing in lawyers (aka, Samsung vs. Apple) will generate more profit than investing in marketing and R&D. It’s never going to happen.

So some words of advice to you aspiring entrepreneurs: If you are always running the fastest, you rarely have to protect your position. So keep moving!!!

Anonymous and WikiLeaks – In case you haven’t heard, Anonymous took down the U.K Justice

Department website in a show of solidarity for Julian Assange. I know…that’s a huge surprise to everyone, but I still thought you ought to know.

Bluetooth Shoes – The past spring, I was quite overjoyed that my new FJ came equipped with bluetooth. With all due regards to Harley and Austin, the internet is the source of my drive time entertainment. When streamed through car audio, the depth and texture of Dave Ramsey and podcasts is fully realized. Sometimes I believe I might actually be a Libertarian.

This experience is nothing compared to the latest incarnation of Bluetooth adaptation. Nike’s latest set of basketball shoes, the Lunar Hyperdunk+, contains embedded Bluetooth sensors. These sensors send performance data back to an iPhone or iPad in order to provide real-time feedback on your endurance, vertical jump and quickness. Everyone knows that footwork is the key to great defense, and now Nike provides real-time quantitive feedback on how good you can be. Coupled with the Nike Fuel Band and the introduction of the Nike Fuel metric to measure activity level, Nike brings high tech sports measurements to the rest of us. Will you see any elite athletes wearing the Hyperdunk+? Probably not. In reality, Nike Fuel is kind of a made-up metric. But don’t let that stop you. Just because you won’t be going to Rio in 2016 doesn’t mean you can’t feel like you should!

Until next time, I’m off the grid. @gregory_a_baker

Man Butt Dials 911 During Drug Deal

(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit 08-16-12)

Man Butt Dials 911 During Drug Deal” – Maybe some of you saw this headline last week. It seems that a 24-year old Pennsylvania man was involved in negotiations when his phone decided to call 911. And of course, it happened in an area with crystal clear reception. Can you hear me now? Yes, we can. After tracing the call back to his home, the police found all kinds of drug-related substantives and paraphernalia. And by the way, he was also high. Oops.

Closer to home, did you hear about the Oconee County jail guards that got busted for hitting on a 23-year old female inmate? Apparently they got pretty explicit with her, and then sent her texts and friend requests on Facebook. We’re not sure what they were thinking, but of course this all got back to the sheriff. After pulling her phone out of evidence and quick examination of Facebook, two Oconee County Deputies joined the great fraternity of men that have lost a job because of a woman. Congratulations!

Everyone, please take a note, especially the stupid people. Technology does not make anything or anybody better or worse. It only amplifies what is already there.

iPhone 5 Rumors – September 12th appears to be the date for the iPhone 5 announcement and the start of pre-orders. Everyone is hoping for a significant refresh of the device, and the rumors seem to indicate that changes are coming. One of the most exciting rumors is an increase of the screen size to a 4” screen from the current 3.5” screen. This will keep the iPhone on par with the leading Android phones on the market. Also rumored are a larger battery, smaller SIM chips and possibly true LTE wireless connectivity. The new feature that will probably have the greatest impact, however, will be a new 8- or 9-pin connector, replacing the ubiquitous 30-pin connector that has been around forever. For you that means every iPhone related accessory and connector will need to be replaced.

Or maybe someone in TAG Augusta will seize upon the start-up opportunity to build an adaptor. Who knows…

Cybersecurity Act Fails in Senate – A few weeks ago, I wrote about proposed Cyber Security legislation that was making its way through Congress. This proposal would greatly increase the ability of companies to monitor private communications and pass that data to the government. In short, the bill used the pretense of internet security to allow sharing of “cybersecurity threat indicators” without fear of retribution or litigation. While there were few if any privacy provisions within the orginal bill, several very strong privacy provisions were added over the course of the debate. Senators Al Franken and Rand Paul were leaders in the fight to protect online privacy. Ultimately, liberty and privacy rights won as the bill did not receive the votes necessary to end debate. We should all thank Georgia Senators Chambliss and Isakson and South Carolina Senators DeMint and Graham as they voted for liberty and privacy!

Unfortunately, there is a group of folks in Congress that are hell bent on passing an online security bill that attacks the privacy rights provided in the Constitution. Keep checking back each week as I will keep you informed of the latest attempts to take your liberty.

Until next time, I’m off the grid. @gregory_a_baker


Cat Immersion Project

(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit 8-9-12)

Cat Immersion Project – One of the most heart wrenching situations that anyone may see is to watch a child endure the treatment of cancer. In addition to the direct side effects, cancer treatments often create a weakened immune system. These kids usually spend extended periods away from the things they love. Take for instance the recent story of 16-year-old Maga Barzalla Sockemtickem. Maga spent more than 7 months at Seattle Children’s Hospital waiting for a bone marrow donor, eventually receiving the transplant. During the post-transplant treatment, she was isolated to her room and cut off from one of her most beloved companions, her cat Merry.

Her caregivers hit the internet in an effort to help Maga. Via Facebook, they asked the world to send in their favorite cat pictures. The world responded with 3,000 pictures which the hospital compiled into what they called the “Cat Immersion Project.” After some creative engineering, Maga viewed the compilation on bedsheets formed into a tent above her bed.

“You guys remind me that there is so much good in the world, and its just makes me feel so much better, and connected,” Maga said in response to the outpouring of support. “I can’t tell you how it feels sometimes, feeling disconnected and cut off from the world, and then with something like cat pictures bringing me back. Thank you all for your kind words, and well wishing. Its means more then you can ever know. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you…”

Check out the video on You Tube, search “Cat Immersion Project” or go to

Die, Printer, Die! – From my observations of computer users, tech support and business managers, I have arrived at the conclusion that the single most despised piece of IT equipment is the printer. Simply put, no matter what you seem to do, printers remain a pain in the butt. Nothing ever prints correctly the first time, ink is incredibly expensive, and everything that is successfully printed is tossed within five minutes after use. Unfortunately, the innumerable attempts at a paperless office or online photo albums have not been able to provide the utility of a simple piece of hardcopy.

Good news may be on the way, however. A recent research note by Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore titled “Dead-tree format is dying” illustrates that a slow and steady demise of the printer has been transpiring for a while. According to his statistics, combined printer supplies and hardware demand declined by 6% per year over the last 10 quarters. In addition, paper demand peaked in 2006 and has declined each year since. Paper demand is currently about 20% below the 2006 peak.

Most of the decline is attributed to tablets and smartphone use (duh). I just call it progress.

Back to Mars – While all the kids in town are getting ready to head back to school, the rocket scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are headed back to Mars. Last Sunday night, the NASA Curiosity rover landed, starting one of the most ambitious Mars missions to date. The one ton rover is about the size of a compact care and is the heaviest payload ever landed on Mars. Expect a steady release of high resolution pictures over the next couple of weeks as the rover goes through its checkout sequence. After the sequence is complete, off to Mt. Sharp where scientist hope to find evidence of microbial life.

For more information on the Curiousity rover, go the the NASA-JPL site, The site is really outstanding and kid friendly. The landing sequence for this rover is insane (even by rocket scientist standards), and the JPL site has a great web animation of the sequence. (Note to aspiring web designers…you need to figure out how to do this!)

Until next week, I’m off the grid. @gregory_a_baker