No Open Ports

It started out with me not being able to remote in properly to multiple devices on my home network while I was traveling for work. I got home a week and a half later, thinking I’d probably just need to reboot my DSL router and perhaps a few other network devices and everything would quickly be back to normal.

Well, not so fast. It seems that my trusty and heretofore reliable telephone-company-provided Siemens Speedstream 4200 DSL router had somehow lost it’s configuration data – things like the phone number, the username and the password. I put all of that back in, and everything seemed to return to normal. That is, until I decided to see what would happen if I pulled the power plug. To my chagrin, it suffered yet another total identity crisis. Something must be wrong with it.

Hummm. The DSL installer had given me a second modem just in case the first one didn’t work when he initially got the DSL installed a couple of years ago, a unit designated as Sagem Fast 1704. I pulled it off the shelf and plugged it in to my system. This one is not nearly as user-friendly as the Siemens Speedstream 4200. After an extended amount of wrangling with it I got it working, but I still couldn’t get my remote IP camera, a Loftek CXS 2200 (an excellent inexpensive IP camera by the way) to work. I was doing everything exactly right, and it was still no go. The Loftek IP camera could not connect to the outgoing email server, and no matter what I did I couldn’t remote in to the camera itself from outside of my home network.

After wasting hours trying to determine what I might be doing wrong, I finally got the idea of going to a website where I could scan my home network IP address for open ports, and I immediately discovered what the problem was. Even though I was enabling port forwarding in the Sagem Fast 1704 DSL router, virtually ALL ports were closed. No matter what I did, unless I’m missing something, the ports cannot be opened on this router.

The moral of the story is if you are having problems with your router and port forwarding, potentially save yourself a bunch of time and go to a site such as http://www.yougetsignal.com/tools/open-ports/ and find out if the ports you are working with are actually open or not.

Additionally, I took advantage of Geek News Central’s DynDNS discount offer and quickly set up an inexpensive account that enables me to easily view my Loftek IP camera without messing around with finding what my dynamic IP home IP address has switched to.  With a camera app on my phone and other mobile devices, I can simply open up the app and always get a live view without having to go through any additional steps.

Extreme Social Networking

Want to Facebook on Mount Everest? Maybe Foursquare at the Antarctic? Twitter from 50,000 leagues under the sea?

Wherever we go, we will be able to connect and communicate.

The most recent news – Mount Everest gets an Ncell  tower so you have signal on your climb up. It makes sense – if you get in trouble, you can contact someone to get you. I am guessing Ncell will have a special rental plan for your journey up and down.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard of a connection in an extreme place. Remember Parker Liautaud? The 15 year old who was the first to foursquare the North Pole? He used social media to record his journey. YouTube, Twitter and of course, Foursquare.

It’s a long cry from the days of Gilligan’s Island. No longer will the crew be able to worry about contacting the authorities. Just pull out a cell phone and dial 911.

How many have connected to the Airplane’s WiFi? Tweeting from 35,000 feet is not the mile high club, but it is pretty cool. At least you can watch some Netflix during the flight if you have to suffer through “Confessions of a Shopaholic” again.

Back in CES 2009, we interviewed Spot GPS – a device for extreme travelers to be located if something happens. Not exactly something you will be able to tweet with, but if you are suffering in an extreme situation, you won’t have to be like Aron Ralston and cut off your arm with a Swiss Army Knife to survive.

Even on extreme road trips, you can stay connected. Ford’s SYNC system allows you to jump in a Ford Fiesta and you can have the car tweet your whole trip.

So with all these new places to connect, it begs the question – when will we be able to connect on the Moon? Mars? Maybe just at Grandma’s house?

Tablets, E-book Readers and Paper

Imagine a school that passes out Amazon Kindles instead of printed textbooks. No books at all, zilch, zero, nada – everything electronic. Printing costs could be completely eliminated, along with a myriad of associated problems – replacement books, textbook obsolescence, and book disposal to mention but a few. A single high-battery-life device such as a Kindle would suffice for replacing all books.

Let’s take this electronic book thought experiment a bit farther. The next logical step would be for the teachers to pass out tests and other traditional paper handouts electronically, eliminating paper altogether. At that point, the Kindle or other reader or tablet would have to be able to allow student interaction, say on a multiple-choice test.

The stickiest problem with this scenario would revolve around having an easy-to-use input system on these devices that allowed students to write phrases, paragraphs, papers, and draw images or diagrams to send back to the teacher.

All of this technology already exists in various forms. Perhaps the iPad comes close to meeting many of these requirements, but some form of the dreaded pressure stylus input would still be needed. Also, two separate devices would be needed – a reading screen, and an input screen on which to write, type and/or draw.

Are we there yet? Not quite, but we are getting close. With the success of the Kindle, iPad, smartphones and maturing touch screen technology in general, the day of eliminating the need for tons of paper is finally becoming a practical, desirable reality.

The Tech of Social Networking

The Tech of Social NetworkingModern Internet-based social networking seems like a relatively recent phenomena. Yet, its roots can be traced back to basic human behavior.

Early humans organized themselves into social tribes. As technical knowledge and know-how got better, and written communication emerged, human social interaction also became more sophisticated. The printing press and postal systems supplemented the local tavern and other forms of in-person socialization.  This was the beginning of a more sophisticated type of companionship. These early technologies marked the beginning stages of releasing the bonds of people only being able to interact, conduct business, and socialize with those they could be physically present with.

The telegraph machine could be looked upon as an early form of text messaging. People could conduct business at a distance, as well as send short personal notes to friends or family across great distances.

Then Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Early telephones were not that easy to use compared to what they evolved into, but they did mark a turning point that would profoundly change human interaction and ultimately cause the acquisition of knowledge to accelerate. The wired telephone enabled new, more efficient forms of social networking and interaction. It was a business device, yet it was also a pleasure device, that enabled people to socialize in much more sophisticated ways.

In the later decades of the 20th century, phone lines began to be used for more than simply voice communications. “POTS” or “plain old telephone lines” initially enabled the early stages of Internet growth. Looking back, those early websites had a social networking component built in all along. Business and pleasure were the driving forces.

The Internet quickly became much more sophisticated. High-speed Internet access and ever-cheaper data storage converged, leading to yet another turning point, enabling technologies such as podcasting, the reliable delivery of audio and video, etc. Social interaction among people was profoundly affected yet again.

The proliferation of the modern cell phone was another turning point that developed in parallel with the proliferation of the Internet. Being able to carry around a phone in one’s pocket was a terrific convenience, and has enabled profound efficiencies in the ways people interact. Since most of us alive today lived through that profound change, we cannot fully see what a significant turning point it is, or fully know how the efficiency will impact future generations.

Today we are living through yet another profound change – a type of convergence. The cell phone is morphing into the super smart phone that puts the Internet right in our pockets. Business and pleasure are still right there, driving the need for interaction.

In a way it’s fitting that these nifty, Internet-enabled, touch screen pocket computers many of us now carry around with us everywhere we go also happen to function as telephones.

Social Networking Starts Locally – Social Experiment

One thing I am surprised with some so-called social networkers – They don’t do it in their own community. I don’t know if they are ashamed of what they are doing, or think that no one else is doing it. Some might think that what they do would not apply to the local community. How wrong they can be. So I ask you: Do you network your community?

As a podcaster, I have a very scattered audience. At first, I thought that eventually it would all start coming together. But the more I pushed out to the world, the more my voice seemed to get lost in the cloud.

That is when I turned to my local community. I started to promote my shows to those who would listen. Those numbers started to change.

The reality is: If someone can put a face to a name, then they feel a little more connected. Talk with someone for a while and you might not only have made a new friend, but also an avid listener or reader. Even if you don’t think they would listen to your show or read your blog, you may be in for a surprise.

Last month, MadisonSMC (Social Media Club) had their kickoff meeting. 140-150 attended the first one. The second meeting was a little more modest. Still, I met a variety of people. Some of them tech-savvy. Others – Well… not so much.

I did meet this one girl who worked as a Social media for her company. We got to talking and found that we both do totally different things in the same field. Yet somehow, I learned from her and hopefull,y she from me.

What was the coolest was when I talked to her at the next meeting, she mentioned that she had listened to my podcasts and learned a little about tech. I had to smile there. Not only because I picked up a new listener, but it was someone I didn’t expect. Someone I just had idle chatter with and turned into a new listener. And of course, I go over to her writings so we can talk about that, too.

A strong community can mean a strong nation. This is very true in Social Networking. You never know what is going on only a few doors down from you. Have you ever wondered if your neighbors were also in Social media?

I used to live in an apartment complex on the far west side. The last two days I lived there, I found out only 4 doors down from me lived another guitar player who practiced all the time. If I would have went to the apartment picnics or volleyball games, I might have met this person earlier and we could have gotten together to jam a little. Instead, I finished moving and never saw them again.

It is important to spread your wings. Have a group of people across the world listening and reading. But let that local community work for you. Sometimes, you would be surprised. Someone that comes out of the woodwork and listens to what you have to say – reads what you write. And you wouldn’t have met them if it wasn’t for local networking…

Electicity, the Unsung Backbone of the Internet SuperHighway

I was looking at maps of the U.S. Grid system on the NPR Web site.   This got me thinking about how our whole Internet structure and all our gadgets are dependent on a utility that has been around for over 100 years and some of its structures are more then 50 years old.  Many people are worried about the Internet being interrupted by cyber attacks, but the weakest point in my eyes is the electrical base that it depends on. I worked at a Midwest electric company for more then five years so I am aware of how easy it is to disrupt the electrical service to an area. Without electricity, the only connection you have to the Internet is through cell phones. Even those need to be charged at some point in time.   Like the Internet itself the electric grid is so interconnected that trouble in one area of the country can effect service hundreds of miles away.

As our applications and connections are increasing in the cloud we are becoming even more dependent on our electric grid to communicate and to remain connected.  The load on the electric system is expected to increase by 40% in the next few decades. At the same time the the electric grid is getting older and is more apt to breakdown. However electric companies have very little incentive to upgrade, first it cast money, second it requires in most cases permission from various public service commissions, and third the results may not show up for five to ten years.  This leaves the electric company often with angry stockholders, who see their stock values  go down and angry customers who see their electric rates go up.  It is difficult to convince people that it is worth spending money on something that will not show results until many years in the down the road.  Especially in a world where people expect instant gratification. I do not know the answers to these questions, but I do know that the problems has to be dealt with, because its only going to get worse, ignoring it will not make it go away.

Podcast Awards Ceremony at Podcast Expo!

I have been really busy getting ready for the Podcast Awards ceremony at Podcast Expo. Trophies are due to be finished next week, the grand prize awards have been ordered. The ceremony program is in final design phase, and will be going to the printer next week. We have banners due to be ordered at Kinkos this Saturday a couple of the guys from techpodcasts.com will be photographing the event.

We need someone to video tape the event, looking for a podcaster of video caster volunteer.

I am pretty excited about November as I have several major initiatives that are underway. The Podcaster News Network is set to launch, the gang is working hard at TechPodcasts.com to move to phase two of that site, and I have some things up my sleeve that I have been working on over at Podcast Connect.

The list does not stop there we are looking for a marketing manager and content manager to join the team at RawVoice.com. I plan on having a bag of swag when I show up at the Podcast Expo so if you come talk to me I will be sure to have something for ya to take home.

We are working very hard to make sure we have a live stream of the Podcast Awards Ceremony, should be a lot of fun for all! Their is nothing like boot strapping a business though lots of fun but exhausting to say the least.

Note to the Countrywide Financial Staff!

For all of you that are coming to this website today visiting for the first time after attending the podcasting training webinar that Rob and I put on for you. I encourage you to check out our shows and check back often. Feel free to drop me an e-mail it has been a pleasure doing the training Podcast and live training events for you today. Good luck podcasting and remember to have fun!