• #Cybersecurity #Culture - #NCSAM

    Towards the end of his life, Benjamin Franklin penned a letter to a friend. Inside of it he coined one of his most popular phrases, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. If he were living in our times Franklin would almost definitely add cybersecurity threats to the list. The news media has become a constant stream of reports regarding new breaches. This has in turn lead to a heightened awareness beyond the realms of IT security departments regarding the topic.

    This article is meant to serve as an introduction to the cultural mechanisms at work in the information security community. A number of elements assist in the development and spread of knowledge amongst the people that comprise it.


    There are a variety of compliance standards that are dedicated to many sectors of business. Whether your company is engaged in the exchange of money or financial services and must adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) as well as Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) or deals with medical records and must respect patient confidentiality through the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or is tasked with keeping the lights on by ensuring the integrity of the power infrastructure in accordance with North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC-CIP), there is a compliance standard that aids in keeping information safe. Even the federal United States government has its own set of regulations, Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), for agencies to conform with to work with it.


    While compliance standards are different from one industry to another, many of the basic concerns are the same. Protecting sensitive information and keeping systems secured are the critical functions of those employed and responsible for cybersecurity within an organization.

    Those that hold these types of positions should be looking to establish a formal security policy that is tailored to the organization’s needs. This process can’t be outsourced because it is unique and based upon objectives relevant to the company and industry it operates within to do business.

    Due in part to the publicity campaign surrounding the Heartbleed bug identified earlier this year, “Executives are now drilling down into information security staffs to inquire what is being done to maintain security,” remarked Robert Johnson, president and CEO of Cimcor. His company develops the file integrity monitoring software solution, CimTrak, and therefor deals regularly with many of the issues related to the compliance standards previously mentioned above.

    Those outside of the IT department need to understand what is at stake as well. So, employee training at any organization should be based on expectations for its usages of enterprise technology. “[We] need to welcome people to report that something is not correct in a system” Johnson noted.


    Conferences provide a great opportunity for those in the industry to meet as well as to learn about the methods and technology that provide the backbone to an enterprise’s networks and systems. For those looking to establish themselves as an authority in the industry, conferences become channels to position themselves as Thought Leaders. These events book professionals to become speakers as well as lead seminars, roundtables or become a member of a panel made up of experts. Another great advantage of these types of events is that vendors can connect with teams that are actively deployed in the field.

    Data Connectors is an organization that hosts events throughout North America in the United States and Canada. Their series provides a platform for product and service oriented information security industry businesses to connect with regional IT professionals within the context of an educational environment. For those in attendance, time spent in the conference room listening to speaker presentations is worth Continuous Professional Education (CPE) credit.


    As noted previously, each industry is different operationally on the ground. However, there are some common themes that exist amongst many of them. It is vital the IT teams stay aware of the best practices to protect a company’s IT infrastructure.

    “One of the biggest problems right now in companies are their networks being bogged down by employees that are online doing other things besides work,” said Dawn Morrissey Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Data Connectors. Risky online behavior can lead IT departments “to worry about spamming and phishing,” she added. Many organizations are looking for good methods to monitor what employees are doing and lock down networks to conserve bandwidth.

    One thing to begin with is to secure networked workstations so that social media sites are locked down. Another issue is that employees are looking to utilize their own tablets or smartphones on the company network. So generating a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy would be valuable too. As users gravitate towards cloud services it will become important to put in place security measures to protect against threats that may emerge from their usage also.


    There certainly is a lot of development in this sector. It can seem daunting to know where to start in terms of learning the landscape of terminology and applications. Begin the process of becoming better informed about the industry by checking into Facebook and Twitter to search hashtagged terms such as #cybersecurity or #infosec. Through those platforms you will find a wealth of timely information from many companies and organizations that are committed to spreading the message of this quickly evolving and rapidly growing industry.



    Want to connect with other professionals? Look for a chapter in your region.

    ISACA: Founded in 1967, the organization is focused on IT governance. It serves more than 100,000 members in over 180 countries around the globe with certifications that are aimed at creating a community of well-informed professionals.

    ISSA: The Information Systems Security Association is a not-for-profit organization for IT professionals to network and learn about best practices in the field. There are regular meetings for members to increase their knowledge base. The organizations 10,000+ member come from more than 100 countries, internationally.


    To stay certified and well informed, many information security professionals must acquire continuing professional education (CPE) credits. 

    (ISC)2: The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium is a non-profit organization founded in 1988. It awards 7 different certifications that require continuous professional education (CPE) to maintain a certification in good standing. 

    CISSP: More than 90,000 people hold a Certified Information Systems Security Professional certificate which is accredited and launched in 1994. It is even approved by the Department of Defense (DoD). There are ten different domains which include access control, network security, telecommunications, information security governance and risk management, software development security, cryptography, security architecture and design, operations security, business continuity, disaster recovery, legal and regulations compliance as well as physical (environmental) security.

  • #engagEDnwi | Exploring EdTech June 17+18

    Integrating ever-evolving technology into curriculum is a task every 21st Century educator faces. On June 17 and 18, educators of the Region will have the opportunity to discuss and learn ways to bring new technology into the classroom.

    The engagEDnwi eLearning Conference will be held at Lowell High School. Over the two days, the conference will feature sessions on different educational technologies and methods for utilizing them.

    Jay Blackman, Director of Educational Technology of the Tri-Creek School Corporation (of which Lowell is a member), emphasizes the importance of integrating such new digital methods and materials into the modern classroom.

    Online and blended instruction has had incredible growth over the last few years as an alternative to onsite classroom learning,” Blackman said. “Technology has certainly replaced traditional materials and methods of instruction in some cases.  

    “The challenge to schools is to be able to meet the needs of students who have more requirements and less time than ever.”

    The conference is mostly aimed at school administrators and teachers, although Blackman added that student teachers and workers in higher education might also be interested. The sessions will entail using new programs and technologies, integrating them into instruction, and leadership in building a strong education culture.

    “Attendees will be able to choose from a variety of sessions,” Blackman said, “from specific classroom programs…to strategies that teachers can use to ensure that students are connecting to the material.”

    Topics discussed in the sessions include 3D printing, using tablets and apps, building classroom websites, using Google effectively, and evaluating teachers’ use of technology.

    “The key is selecting technologies that best match instruction,” Blackman said. “It should never be the other way around.”

    The session will also notably feature one of the first official announcements of the new Indiana State standards for math and language arts, which replace the Common Core standards the state recently rejected.

    To learn more visit their website


  • 2015 Tech in Review

    The end of the year is a great time to look back and see what made it so special. For this year I am going to look back at some of my favorite posts that deserve a second look.

    1) The first post on my list is one of my all-time favorites and it is a double feature on "smart homes". If I had the financial resources, I would totally deck my place out with everything in these articles. Click here for Part 1 or right here for Part 2

    2) The next post is on net neutrality and is a favorite because the battle that is still going on today. This battle is very important to anyone who uses the internet. Take a look and see why reclassifying internet service as a utility could have helped: Internet as a Utility

    3) Technology moves so absurdly fast. Less than a year ago Meerkat got a first-to-market advantage on the live video streaming app competition. Now I can barely even remember how to spell it. Periscope quickly jumped in and dominated the market because of its close association with Twitter. Posts like this one is a cool way to see a snapshot of where we were at that point in the year: Live Streaming apps

    4) I like this next post because it points out some of the advantages that northwest Indiana has over cities like Chicago when it comes to being a testing ground for potential services: Rural Automation 

    5) This year I made some requests of Siri and Google Now. They both saw minimal improvements since, but nothing ground-breaking: AI Personal Assistant

    6) The last article on my list is about the not so new craze of e-cigarettes and the need for new legislation: E-Cigarettes

    What was your favorite article? Leave your thoughts in the area below or on the relevant article.

  • 2016 Tech Predictions

    technology computers virtual reality smartphones

    Last week I took a look back at some of my favorite posts of 2015. This week I am going to take a look in to the future and writ about what I hope to see this year in the world of technology.

    With smartphones being apart of almost every aspect of our life, I believe that technology that limits the use of smartphones at certain events will begin to gain popularity. Technology like Yondr does exactly that, it restricts access to smartphones in certain areas of concert venues. I have already been to some smaller comedy shows that would kick out people that used their phone to record video, since comedians didn’t want their new material getting out. Also, there is nothing more I hate than when a band plays their most popular song and sea of phones attempting to film the show come out of everyones' pockets. It really can take away from the experience and no one wants to see your low quality recording of a concert.

    Everyone has almost certainly gotten a new credit card with chip-and-pin security feature in it by now, but the thing is that new security chip technology isn’t secure and it isn’t quick. Those issues can be addressed by NFC payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay, but we are going to have to start using them in order to hit a larger saturation level at all our favorite retailers. So if everyone could add “use Apple Pay or Android Pay” to their New Years resolutions, that would be best.

    Virtual reality and augmented reality were definitely on my radar last year, and think 2016 is the year that we will start to see some mainstream use of them in regards to video games. The Oculus Rift goes up for pre-order tomorrow and will ship sometime during the first quarter of the year. I believe that unlike motion controls, VR will enhance the gaming experience in simple and meaningful ways. However, it is likely to see success at the mobile level before a standalone device dominates the field.

    While none of the technology I mentioned is necessarily new and ground-breaking, I believe that this is technology that we will see integrate more fully into our daily lives in 2016.

  • 3D Printing: Down to business

    The hype around 3D printing we saw in the last few years has kind of died down recently. This seems like a perfect time to examine the current realistic uses and expectations for 3D printing.

    In other pieces I focused on the potential consumer uses for 3D printing. And while some early adopters have gotten their hands on this technology, for most consumers the idea of getting a 3D printer currently has not yet been realized. However, commercial companies that produce hard goods may want to look into investing in 3D printing.

    Having the ability to quickly test an idea allows companies to be much more agile when trying to create a product that meets a new or changing demands. Being able to hold and test different designs within hours of completing a design for a product gives companies much more advanced testing time for potential products. Rapid prototyping is helping companies get to a viable product to market quicker - and being first to market is a huge advantage.

    3D printing can also help businesses on the sales side. The ability to give potential clients a hands-on experience with a product can greatly help salespeople. It would do so much more than a sheet of dimensions of pictures and help eliminate uncertainty. And one thing that humans are averse to is uncertainty. 3D printing allows for a  dynamic range of possibilities, many new applications are still being explored. It can be used for modeling in architecture, parts for aerospace industries, modeling for health fields, and much more.

    What it really comes down to is if companies are willing to sink money into a process that can be time-intensive and in some cases costly. For particular uses, 3D printing is a great fit, but for others the time and price of this technology might not be right yet.

  • A Battery of Problems

    Smartphone technology has been advancing at a rapid pace since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, which set the course for what we know as smartphones today. Apple created a whole division of phone which brought in competitors from every end of the world. Samsung, Motorola, and LG have all taken to manufacturing smartphones and wearables that run on Google’s operating system. However, since the beginning of this competition, all smartphone manufacturers are still competing against the same foe, battery life.

    Battery life seems to be the common enemy of the smartphone user as well. Especially those who commute to work or school and don’t have extended access to a charger. For some users, extended use of airplane mode or disabling data usage is the only way to get through a full day on one charge.

    Some companies have started to take notice to these user habits and introduced a low power mode. In this mode, your smartphone will limit its usability and features in order to use less power. This is obviously a poor fix for a serious problem. Limiting the use of features that are supposed to separate your device from the competition seems counterintuitive to the value of having or purchasing a newer smartphone model.

    But why is it that every other component of our smartphones seem to be making huge strides forward? From quad core processors and 4K cameras to NFC and low power bluetooth, everything inside of our smartphones seems to be making big leaps except for the batteries we use. Name one component of the smartphone that has seen as little improvement as the battery!

    The lag of battery breakthroughs surely isn’t for a lack of trying. Many companies are out there trying to improve the efficiency of our batteries, but producing more energy with existing materials is a tall task. Even the founder of Tesla, a company that is essentially based off of battery power has voiced his disappointment on the issue.

    Now with smaller devices like wearables entering the market in the past two years, this battery problem is becoming more and more obvious. I for one would like to see more creative solutions than the reliance on low power mode. Maybe some alternate powering solutions like solar charging or electromagnetic induction. Really anything but a “trading a limitation of features for acceptable battery life” would be great.

  • A Beacon of Hope for Retail

    Beacons are being hailed as the next game changer for how our smartphones interact with everyday objects. But what are beacons?

    Beacons are small devices that use low power bluetooth to connect smartphones in close proximity. Now why is this a game changer?

    Extremely accurate location information

    Currently our phones have a general idea of where we are located. Beacons allow our phones to know exactly where we are located. Retailers see nothing but opportunities in beacons. Knowing how long you spend in a particular section of the store would be invaluable to retailers. It gives retailers feedback that they never thought was possible. With specially designed apps, a retailer would have the possibility to compare interactions with products and the resulting sales. Beacons will be able to help retailers more effectively lay out floor plans that best suit their customers.

    Another aim of retailers will be sending out location specific product information, flash sales or coupons on particular products in the area around a consumer. Doing so will give retailers the ability to give a consumer a little extra nudge towards a potential sale. This will also help combat showrooming, which is when a consumer uses retail locations to test products before buying them online with another company. Beacons and the retailer apps that use beacons effectively will have consumers looking at their phone for reasons other than comparing prices to online sellers. It gives retailers a chance to add an incredible amount of value for every consumer with a smartphone.

    However, there is a big concern when it comes to consumer privacy. The device permissions for the apps that will track your smartphones in stores will no doubt seem a tad creepy, but consumer’s online habits are commonly tracked and sold with very little push back already. It seems that if the value offered is high enough, people are willing to give up a significant amount of privacy.

    Retailers have too much at stake for beacons not to take off and they have the support of Google and Apple. Both tech giants began developing indoor maps a few years ago and it wasn’t for directions to the food court. Beacons have been in the pipeline for a while now.

  • Agriculture Technology

    Northwest Indiana is no stranger to farming, but some of us might not recognize how it will be performed in the near future. With the global food crisis becoming increasingly imminent, farmers are looking for new ways to farm.

    Air and soil sensors are some of the newest technology that will soon be financially viable for farmers to use. In fact, John Deere has already introduced Field Connect. Field Connect monitors moisture levels, soil temperature, leaf wetness, and other factors that contribute to crop yield. This information is all transmitted to a smartphone app where it can viewed. This level of vision can greatly help a farmer ensure that they attain the maximum crop yield.

    Another agriculture technology on the horizon is bot controlled harvesting, planting, and picking machines. These “agbots” would use a combination of GPS, color sensors and harvesting mechanisms to determine if plants are ripe and ready to be harvested. Agbots are at work already in place of farm hands. Due to a number of employment and wage issues, the need for automated picking could become a trend sooner than some expected.

    And finally, anytime that future tech is discussed, drones seem to always find a way into the conversation. Drones would be able to pair with the air and soil sensors mentioned above by using infra-red sensors to help identify crop health. These drones could also disperse fertilizer to parts of the field that are in need, instead of dropping it over the entire field.

    The future of agriculture technology brings control and vision that farmers could only dream of before. This control will help in cutting costs over time by increasing yield and lowering overhead. Future farming may have a lot less actual farming and be more management focused, similar to how some speculate the future of trucking might be more management and less actual driving.

  • AI Personal Assistant: In need of assistance?

    Personal assistants used to be reserved for top level executive, but the advancement of computing abilities have allowed anyone with a modern smartphone to get some of the perks of their own artificially intelligent personal assistant. The features of Google Now, Apple's Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Echo all try to imitate the convenience of a personal assistant, but how does the AI stack up to the intelligence of a human.

    One thing that artificially intelligent personal assistants like Siri are pretty good at is taking orders. Siri and Google Now can easily handle that task of making a phone call for you or navigating to a location. This is because voice recognition has made some huge strides over the past decade. Current voice recognition technology utilizes deep learningAI methods that help the system learn over time in order to more accurately recognize words and phrases.

    The other aspect to these AI personal assistants is the presentation of relevant information when you need it. It will display traffic conditions for your work commute, weather for the area, and scores for your favorite teams. Google Now will also occasionally ask if you want travel times to a recently searched place, but I rarely find that feature important. My biggest gripe with the presentation of relevant features is the lack of customizations. All too often I find myself scrolling through a bunch of sports scores in the morning to get to the weather for the day. And even when I get to the weather, it shows me the whole week. I would rather see an hourly forecast for the day, but that isn’t an option. Better yet, it should recognize that I am consistently checking the weather in the morning and move that up the “card list” in Google Now.

    While the advancements in AI has increased the usefulness of these artificially intelligent personal assistants, the technology isn’t to the point where they are showing optimized relevant info yet. I think some “forced learning” through the use of customization would greatly help in weeding out inefficiencies.

  • Applying Rapid Prototyping

    Michael Loubier Anyduino Valparaiso Meetup

    Technology is a constantly evolving and creative medium, which gives life to concepts and ideas both simple and profound. In the past, the craft of invention was typically regulated to those with a lot of funding or a lot of man power, and often required both. As we accelerate towards future innovations, the science of rapid prototyping is poised to create a paradigm shift in the way we think about and implement complex technologies in our everyday lives. 

    A common theme among most (if not all) inventions, is that they are designed to make some task or aspect of our lives simpler. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the emerging smart home industry, where billions of dollars are being spent developing technologies which will allow the average consumer to automate many of the domestic tasks of their daily lives. These technologies will be developed (typically) to cover as broad a consumer-base as possible, to ensure mass-marketability. However, for a custom solutions, such as an automated irrigation system for a garden or an automated candy monster for a home on Halloween, it will be necessary to generate technologies that can accommodate those unique needs. This is where devices like Arduino and Raspberry Pi microprocessors become valuable. 

    Using an open-source interface, standardized programming languages and powerful microprocessors allow consumers to build, from fairly easy-to-find parts, a completely custom solution to any desire or problem. From custom lighting configurations on a costume, to creating a prototype for a marketable product, open-source technologies are the future. 

    Existing rapid prototyping technologies, such as 3D printing and CNC machining, have been around for a while now. But until recently they have not been available to the general public in consumer-grade, affordable variants. The open-source revolution is changing all of that, and companies are producing new, more efficient, and price-accessible units. Combined with the power of a technological base, such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi, consumers will have the power to create, from scratch, fully-functioning electronic solutions. What this means for us as a community is that the children of today will be, and already are in some cases, working with these technologies, even at the elementary level. Inventors with the proper skills will be able to bring their ideas to life for a fraction of the cost of previous generations. I would go so far as to call open-source engineering the next paradigm shift in technology, as it will take the power of innovation away from the hands of groups with large funding initiatives, and put it into the hands of the masses, allowing for further progression of the technologies. 

    I had a great time presenting this and more information at the Duneland Innovators Meetup, and I’d like to thank the organizers for inviting me out to share something that I am so passionate about. Figure 8 was a great venue for the event, and they make a mean turkey-avocado melt, which I will certainly come back for. The people who attended the event had some great questions, and I was glad to hear that there are others out there doing precisely what it is I am trying to do. It was a validating experience, to say the least, and I can’t wait to see what a group of interested, collaborating innovators can bring to NWI and the world. 


    #Video of "Applying Rapid #Prototyping" from #Meetup in May with Michael Loubier#3dPrinting #microprocessors #nwIndiana #tech

    Posted by Duneland Innovators on Thursday, July 2, 2015
  • Are you subscribed to the future?

    The advancement of technology has allowed us to gain expanded foresight in our everyday lives. This foresight has allowed us to plan our personal and professional lives much more than in the past. Planning our consumption has always been something on our daily agenda, and once subscriptions were introduced we had to plan on what to consume. What newspaper we were going to subscribe to. How were we going to make the most of the Sam’s Club membership. Companies have taken notice of our willingness to do some extra planning to save money and started offering subscription based services for other things like music, where the subscription based model didn’t really work in the past (Looking at you Zune). Why is it working now? Why are consumers more open to the idea to not owning something that they are paying for? I will examine those questions and a few others for Technology Tuesday.

    First, why have subscription based models become so popular recently? The answer is pretty simple. For companies, the idea of essentially renting content is really ideal. Because managing content is a lot easier than maintaining a fleet of cars. Right now, the cost of using a musician's album is dirt cheap. The payout checks to artists from services like Spotify are laughable (as low as $0.006 per play) and some are starting to fight back. TV and movie rates are much more controlled, much like the history of those industries. You don't see movie studios complaining too much about their returns from Netflix.

    Now what does planning have to do with all of this? I believe that this has to do with Americans becoming increasingly involved with activities resulting in busy schedules. This leaves less free time to devote to activities like listening to new music or renting a movie. Heck, people barely listen to albums all the way through now. People seem to just want playlists with all their favorites and that is what services like Netflix and Spotify have noticed.

    What industry will be next to offer a subscription based model? Jewel Osco? You may laugh now, but the grocery stores are starting to be pushed towards something like that by companies like Amazon and Uber who are starting to offer food delivery in select cities. I believe that food delivery could be Uber's ticket into more rural areas like northwest Indiana.

    What industries would you like to see embrace a subscription model?

  • Augmenting Brick & Mortar Retail Space with Digital Distribution in Northwest Indiana


    In this day and age, having a beautiful store front is only a small part of the battle for retail supremacy. You have to have a presence not just in the local community, but also in the digital one as well. We live in an age where I don’t have to wake up and drive to my local comic book shop to pick up the latest issue of ‘Batman’, I can roll over and grab my iPad off of my coffee table, load up an app and download it instantly *and legally* from the comfort of my own couch.


    So why haven’t brick and mortar retail stores vanished from our collective zeitgeist yet? Because they don’t have to now! If they learn to adapt, that is.


    Digital distributor Comixology, who are the largest digital comic book distributor has allowed retailers (such as Portage’s Lightspeed Hobbies) to create their own digital store fronts for a cut of the proceeds. This allows them to attract customers to their digital store front for the convenience, and leverage it towards  attracting customers in the physical store. Other local companies are using their digital presence for promotional use and to help grow their existing customers while enticing new customers into their stores via contests, giveaways and web exclusive deals. As I wrote about previously, all of this can be aggregated through social media to help give Northwest Indiana small businesses a much larger stage than traditional print advertisements could ever dream of. 


    How will this synergy between the physical retail world and the digital retail world continue to evolve and grow over the years? Only time will tell on that.

  • Automate Your Life

    Teaching, it is something that we all do on a daily basis even if it is not professionally. If you have a smartphone, it is something that you are doing almost every second of the day. Our phones are always trying to learn how to improve upon the processes that can make our lives easier.

    One of the most basic things that we teach our phone is spelling. We have been teaching our phones to change ducking to…something else since the days of T9. However, our phones are a lot sharper with predictive typing nowadays. With keyboard applications like Swiftkey, your phone can begin to predict entire sentences with minimal input and can even form words when there are a plethora of keystroke errors. Drunk texts riddled with typos are a thing of the past and perfectly spelled sentences that make no sense are the future.

    Another basic task that has evolved into automation is setting our morning alarm. Originally there was just one alarm that could be either turned on or off. The alarms quickly became more advanced by allowing you to set specific times for specific days. Currently, you can easily teach your phone where you work. Doing so will allow your phone to make adjustments to your alarms. Let’s say I-94 is backed up due to another wreck, an ongoing construction or both. Well, your phone will take note that your commute time has increased and will make your alarms occur earlier so that you can still make it to work on time.

    Automation like this is simple to set up and allows your phone to present you with information at relevant times. Creating location specific notifications such as foot notes from a client meeting that will be presented to you the next time you arrive at their location. Automation like this will change the way we keep notes, focusing on location, while taking time of day into consideration, will greatly improve the efficiency of our notes and reminders.

    The little amount of work that is required to automate processes and reminders on your phone will pay major dividends every day after. So do yourself a favor and get automating!

  • Cameron Banga | Cyberpunk Hacking & Security

    Cameron Banga Magnets Cyberpunk Security

    Keeping up with information technology can often be a tough and daunting task. In today's world of consistent and increasingly sophisticated online attacks it's essential for not only I.T. professionals, but essentially all users of technology to have some basic level of understanding with respect to internet data security.

    This harsh reality becomes difficult, as our dependence upon mobile phones, tablets and cloud services grows. In the past, due to limited internet access and rare access to mobile devices, individual users had very few ways in which attackers could gain priviledged access to a person's private information. But today, in an ever connected world of smartphones and wearable technology, the risk and available data has multiplied. Nearly every person today with a smart device of any sort lives in a world where personal banking information, private communications and detailed medical history are all available either on a physical device, or stored on a remote cloud server. And regardless as to where this data sits, it's often open for attack from many criminals across the planet.

    With these cold facts in mind, it's as important as ever for users to learn about how to best protect oneself on the internet. We live in a world that is becoming more connected every day, in so far that many people are now connecting their lightbulbs, garage doors, baby monitors, and even refrigerators on the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Not only will a potential robber know when you post pictures of your beach vacation on Facebook, but it will become inevitable that they'll be able to potentially know when the food in your house expires all through elaborate internet attacks, making it increasingly easy to avoid food poisoning when grabbing a quick snack while stopping to take valuables.

    As much as this sort of full out personal cyber warfare seems like science fiction and implausible, it's important to understand as an individual user, the gravity that accompanies a future where every private detail of our seemingly mundane lives is logged and tracked through smart devices. There is a lot of potential risk involved, which makes it increasingly important to become educated and remain current on internet privacy and security issues.

    As such, it was an honor and extremely enjoyable opportunity to talk about computer security, hacking, and our connected future during a Duneland Innovators Meetup. The most crucial key to personal information security is education. Technology moves extremely fast, and it's essential to remain current with potential risks and concerns. Thus, giving a talk to like-minded individuals locally was a great way to hopefully encourage others to take such considerations seriously. It's my hope that with continued discussions in the future, and increased interest and communication amongst technology enthusiasts locally, we can use such dialog to create a strong body of technology literate, security concerned computer users here in Northwest Indiana. And that over time such a group helps to keep fellow region citizens educated and safe.

    Cameron Banga | Cyberpunk Hacking & Security

    Cameron Banga speaks on Cyberpunk #Hacking & #Security in this #video#tech #nwIndiana #infosec

    Posted by Duneland Innovators on Thursday, January 7, 2016
  • Cameron Banga talks 9Magnets & Mobility

    In the vast kingdom of gadgets, there is no doubt who holds the crown: Smartphones. To which particular brand the crown goes to is debatable, but smartphones have become an essential gadget. What we will focus on this week is essentially the brains of the smartphone, the software. More specifically the applications. 

    We have seen applications greatly evolve since the launch of the Apple App Store in 2008. We have seen the interface improve greatly as well as the general functionality of the apps. The adaptability of these apps helped smartphones become appealing to the general public in comparison to the offerings from Blackberry, which at the time were mostly for business-class users. If there is a function, there is probably an app for it on the major platforms.  

    This week Cameron Banga spoke with us about the continuing development of mobile technology. He and Mike Phelps co-founded the software company 9Magnets back in 2010. Since then they have gone on to create over 100 applications that have included battery management, games, and many other apps to fill clients needs. 

    What type of app do you see the most potential in?

    Cameron Banga: Thats’ a really good question. We do so many apps in such quick cycles, so its hard to say. The Batterygo application app we did was the most commercially successful. 

    I would say the most successful recent app was the Mac-only application we did called Nectar. That one is my absolute most successful personal one. I designed it for myself, which is really rare for what we do since 90% of our work is contract based.

    The most rewarding part of doing contract software is that you are often tackling problems or tasks in fields that you have no experience in at all. You have to put yourself in not only the mind of your client, but also the end user.

    What do you see in the future of applications?

    CB: The next step in the future will have to do with connectivity with respect to your whole digital personal persona. I think wearable technology is the next step. Comparable things today would be Google Glass and Galaxy Gear. Although I think that both products are very far away from what will ultimately be popular in the mainstream. I do think wearables are going to be the thing that excites me for the next 3-5 years.

    It’s not so much your smartphone or tablet, but your smart other things that interact with your phone. The phone will be the ideal connectivity device because it is always on you during 90% of your day. It serves as a good technical HUB. I’m seeing it now with a lot of things that I really enjoy. I have, for my car, a new product called Automatic. It’s a dongle that connects into the data port in you car. It is bluetooth powered and maps out all of my drives and gives me a driving score. It tells me if I am driving in a way that negatively affects my gas mileage. It mostly just charts my day. Tells me where I have been and how much it cost me to go from one place to another. Really neat metrics that are passive.

    What are Passive Metrics vs. Active Metrics?

    CB: Active Metrics are possible with mobile phones because we have these personal computers with us. We can do things like track what we eat by inputting what we eat into an app. Those apps that actively require you to enter in your own data are neat tech demos but they often become not very promising in practice because of the amount of manual labor needed to input data. 

    With the 4.0 version of Bluetooth Low Energy it allows these things to become cheap and easy to create hardware. The Automatic app utilizes this. Another piece of Bluetooth Low Energy hardware that has recently come out is the August Smart Lock

    (Writers Note: The August Smart Lock is a bluetooth lock for your house that is opened when your phone comes within a close proximity to the lock.)

    Will tablets and smartphones eventually replace laptops and desktops? 

    CB: They are definitely coexisting today. They are projecting 2015 for tablet sales to surpass laptop sales. I think that they will continue to coexist for a long time. The question will be what the average person uses. I think for the average person any other computing done outside of work can be done on a tablet. I think for the future even computing at work could be done on a tablet. I think there is still a niche for desktops though. I think what you will see is that desktops and laptops will move towards something like a server space. There will be a [collection] of people that pay a lot of money for [laptops] and use them everyday.

    Do you think that we will start to see a tablet/laptop hybrid sort of what Microsoft tried to accomplish with the Surface?

    CB: I definitely think there is a place for the hybrid model. Most people have no idea of how they use something like a computer. People like to overestimate their own knowledge or understanding of a subject. When buying a car they want more space or power than they need. When buying a house people always overestimate the space that they will need. Technology is one of those fields where it is easy to be gluttonous because they are not relatively big investments. 

    There was an attempt to create something that there was no real demand for. People buying tablets were buying them for consumption and home use. They are not buying them to type on. 

    The problem with the Surface was it was a half-hearted tablet and a half-hearted laptop. It wasn’t great at either. For the people who needed both, they would just buy both because it wasn’t much more expensive to just buy both a tablet and a laptop.

    Is it a challenge figuring out how to interact with applications on a new platform?

    CB: Now is one of the first times in computing history where having businesses rethink their workflows and software methods is within reach. If you were a business and needed a piece of software for your business, you bought something off of a shelf, like Excel, Word, or Powerpoint. You then adapted it to your needs. Sometimes overly adapting. You see all these situations where all these businesses just adapted because they had to survive with a $300 license to Office. Now is really the first time where the clients can rethink the processes and have the software custom built for them. There are a lot of businesses who have never been into software development and now that it is a realistic opportunity for them. Creating software that only meets the needs of their team members and those team members become happier and more productive than they have ever been.

    Thoughts on Mobility to Conclude

    In my conversation with Cameron, I found myself agreeing with a lot of the points that he brought up. Mainly the smartphone becoming our digital hub. I believe that more objects in the future will passively interact with your phone like the August Smart Lock and apps like Automatic that Cameron mentioned. You can see this happening already with all of the cars equipped with bluetooth. I believe that you will start seeing more companion apps for things like cars. These apps will present you with data just like the one that Automatic or a smart dashboard presents you with.

    I also strongly agree with Cameron that the proliferation of wearable technology is on the way, and that none of the first generation products are close to the end results. I think that the first generation Galaxy Gear and Google Glass do one thing, they lay a foundation for what will be a great product in the future. But I would not suggest anyone buy them in their current form.

    Finally, the future of the laptop is an interesting prospect. I expect to see some high powered tablets in the coming years that will really have people considering the choice between tablet and laptop. I know I am already considering it for when I need a new laptop.

    Cameron Banga | Cyberpunk Hacking & Security

    Cameron Banga speaks on Cyberpunk #Hacking & #Security in this #video#tech #nwIndiana #infosec

    Posted by Duneland Innovators on Thursday, January 7, 2016
  • CES 2013 | Convention Culture


    Just after the new year, most people would assume Vegas business slows down down, but quite the opposite is true.  Consumer Electronics Show, which ended Friday, once again broke the 150,000 attendees mark, signaling the kick off of winter convention season switching into high gear.  January through March hold the highest volume of conventions/meetings and attendees for Las Vegas , which sees over 500,000 visitors a month, at a total of over 5700 events over the three month period. 

    “With more than four decades of success, the International Consumer Electronics Show reaches across global markets, connects the industry and enables CE innovations to grow and thrive." - CES

    5 conventions in January alone draw over 350,000 attendees.  Those numbers may seem staggering, but with an average monthly volume of over 3 million total visitors and the availability of over 150,000 hotel rooms a night, Las Vegas more than accommodates the largest events.  

    The city has become a well oiled machine, by uniquely creating a community and culture largely based around hospitality in one of the most geographically inhospitable environments in the US. Not only does the revenue from conventions boost economic activity in lodging, entertainment, dining, retail, and transportation, but they are stable, mostly annual events, that can be counted on, especially during winter when general visitor volume is down the most.  The convention market and especially CES have become integral in helping push the evolution of hospitality forward in multiple ways. 


    "More than 2,000 companies enjoy the benefits of CEA membership, including legislative advocacy, market research, technical training and education, industry promotion, standards development and the fostering of business and strategic relationships." - CES 

    Also, Las Vegas is a perfect case study for the aforementioned sectors of business. A type of sky island, as much in a business sense as geographically.  Attendees to CES can see the latest and greatest gadgets from all over the world, while at the same time, be steps from witnessing a wide array applied technologies from retail/consumer to commercial. Watching a technologically advanced show, then stepping out into a casino with the latest slot machines, or crossing the street to a mall with high end shops, then dining at one of thousands of restaurants, all after a day networking with tech companies begins to paint a picture of just how readily available the opportunities for analyzing market trends and brainstorming for the future are.


    Mark Dudzik is the owner of Series Solutions based in Las Vegas. He moved west after graduating from Columbia college and freelancing around the Chicagoland region.
  • Civic apps: Focus needed

    Gary mobile app 311 cityWant to catch a ride? There is an app for that. Want to order some food? There is an app for that. Want to improve your city? Surprisingly there is now an app for that if you live in northwest Indiana. Both the City of Gary and Crown Point now have mobile apps. The City of Crown Point app allows users to view city directories, sign up for newsletters, view event calendars, and most importantly create service requests.

    However, some of the features on the app seem to be broken and the service request feature is by far the most useful feature of this app. The City of Crown Point app allows users to upload photos of potholes, debris, or other things that need fixed around the city. The city will then process the request and make the appropriate fix for the situation. But even this feature could use some tweaking to make it more user-friendly.

    You don't have to look far to find a great example of a city service request app. The “Improve Detroit” app is a simple app that is very user friendly. Improve Detroit gives users the ability to user their current location for a service request and has a list of possible service requests. The app has a much more focused goal and executes it nicely. It also let’s users view issues that have been reported near to their location.

    I believe that making an app that is more focused on city service requests would help the usability of the Crown Point app. A focus on reporting problems could help the city more efficiently tackle civic problems. The generation coming up is one that doesn’t even want to call to get a pizza, so the chances of them calling 311 to report a problem seems pretty slim. I think that having a more user friendly 311 app could make a great difference for millennial’s view of cities in the region. It is encouraging to see that cities like Crown Point and the City of Gary at the forefront of the development of these kinds of civic apps.

    NWI Civic Apps

    @Slippy_Jake talks #nwIndiana #civic #apps in this #video segmenthttp://bit.ly/1ZByhVa#tech #mobile #society

    Posted by Duneland Innovators on Sunday, December 27, 2015
  • Contiguous Digital Life

    Last week Apple's staged their September event to announce the new iPhones and iPads that are available. The company also announced a refresh of the Apple TV set top box. While the updates to the software and hardware are notable one thing that seems to have been neglected during the event was HomeKit, the underlying software solution that will tie together our domestic lives.

    Why is this interesting to those of us living in northwest Indiana?

    Because, as we've written about on the site in the past, home automation is becoming a bigger topic in our lives. Security, HVAC, kitchens and other functionality-specific devices are becoming integrated into the Internet of things. Like the unseeable force, this ubiquitous layer of technology has nearly engulfed nearly every facet of our post-modern existence.

    Can you name a service or sector of our day that hasn't been newly informed by tech development in the last 10 years?

    However, having a comprehensive solution that is user friendly is something that people are looking for but cannot yet expect. Unfortunately, the software is not yet cognizant enough to operate without a heavy human hand capable of tweaking the algorithm from time to time to optimize the output. We don't yet live in a world that knows when you're home watching Netflix alone or when you have company (and can make recommendations based on who is present in the group). Imagine setting-relevant curation of content.

    This opportunity for refined shared experiences means means better results out of dashboards at home with family in Schererville or at the office with coworkers up in Chicago. The contiguous mesh of wireless networks buzzing through the air is poised to allow for a consistent and constant mobile experience no matter where we go.

    Many companies are working on artificial intelligence assistant-like technologies to help bridge meatspace with the digital worlds that are increasingly permeating our daily regimens. Right now it seems likely that AI will first stand for "augmented intelligence" (with much of the augmenting coming from the human side of the relationship) to help our technology hone in on the customized experiences we are growing to assume are in place.

    It looks like it might still be a while before all the heavy-lifting necessary for the semantic experience researchers like Tim Berners-Lee and others have philosophized about. There is so much contextual data that needs to be input and related before this is a reality. The value is immense but the appreciation will be reliant on an experience that doesn't turn people off to the onboarding process. In the meantime, we'll just have to appreciate a lifestyle that is more akin to what we watch on network sitcoms than what we see in near-future sci-fi.

  • Copyrights Win Out Over Aereo

    Like the case I discussed last week, the Supreme Court case American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc. somewhat went under the radar. However, this one is notable in its implications for new technologies and copyright law.

    A little background on the case: Aereo, founded in 2012, is a subscription service that provided a device to pick up broadcast television signals. Subscribers could watch these broadcasts on any digital device and record them in a personal DVR. Aereo contended this was simply the equivalent to picking up broadcast signals like a TV antenna, but broadcasters argued it was rebroadcasting their content, and therefore copyright infringement.

    Aereo survived a few lower court battles, but the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the company’s business model was, in fact, infringing on broadcasters’ copyrights. Several tech and political writers decried the ruling. One article even described it as equivalent to if the Supreme Court had ruled against the constitutionality of the VCR in 1984.

    I don’t think the Court made a bad decision.

    Let’s examine the comparison to that landmark VCR case (Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.). In That decision, the Court ruled that recording programs for private home use was fair use. To record any program to sell or screen publicly is still very much illegal (remember those FBI warnings on DVDs and VHS tapes before them?).

    Aereo wasn’t simply picking up the broadcasts, but in effect rebroadcasting them for a price, which, without permission, is clearly copyright infringement. While it might sound lame to side with big corporate broadcasters, I understand that their livelihood depends on creating programming for monetary gain.

    The effect of this decision on the tech world, I think, is that it might make it more difficult for small startup services to get off the ground, as the fees to rebroadcast programming are inhibitively expensive. As for consumers, they’re in no danger of missing out on their favorite shows. There are plenty of other streaming service providers like Netflix or Hulu. Some networks even broadcast their shows for free on their websites. And those are just the legal options available on the web.


  • CRT TVs: Trash or Tourney?

    Old CRT TVs new usesAn all too familiar sight, an old CRT television being left to the elements until the garbage truck comes to take it to the big retailer in the sky. With advancements in technology, it seems everyone has a flat screen in their living room. In fact, it would be very odd to see an old CRT TV in someone’s living room in 2015. However, the CRT TV is still getting some extended use in one circle. Competitive gaming. 

    Why would competitive gamers choose to play tournaments on a television that does have the best screen quality, or even a television that is considered modern? The answer is something called input lag. Input lag is the time that it takes for a controller input to register on-screen. This time is measured in milliseconds, and in highly competitive video games like “Super Smash Bros. Melee” every millisecond counts. What sets CRT TVs apart from modern flat screens is that CRT TVs have less input lag and the input lag is fairly consistent across almost all CRT TVs. Flat screens have more input lag and varying input lags across brands and types (plasma, LED, 4K and now 5K or quantum dot).

    Controllers also play a big factor in the input lag equation. Wired controllers have a big advantage over their wireless counterparts. So much so that you will almost never see a competitive gamer using a wireless controller. It is that much of a disadvantage.

    competitive gaming controllers input lagTelevision technology has come a long way in the past 15 years in regards to picture quality, but at the cost of input lag. Will we see a flat screen tv with as little input lag as a CRT tv in the future, or is the niche too small to create a demand? My guess is that someone will fill the void in some form since competitive gaming is only getting bigger and more reputable.