Mentor.

I’ve been approached by a friend who has asked if I would mentor her teenage son in tech, development, hardware, etc. I really like the idea but I’m not sure yet where to start.

I put it to a group of friends to see where they’d recommend beginning. At first I struggled with tasks as if he was an intern, but that’s not what a “mentor” means to me. I had a mentor when I was in my 20’s, and he’s been a life long friend, but that relationship began when I became his employee.

When I began in tech, I had already grown up around computers throughout elementary school. That was unusual in the early 80’s and definitely gave me an advantage over time. Starting with Apple Basic in 4th grade helped me to understand coded logic, the difference between files and folders, the internals of computers. That all worked to my advantage shortly after I graduated high school and started building desktops and servers for myself. Then my second bench tech job introduced me to the industry in greater detail, in sales, customer service, margins, more complex systems and the consequences and vulnerabilities of our data over time.

For this fine young man, whom I met for the first time last weekend, I’m recommending that he start off in two areas: installing Linux on his desktop, and Arduino projects for remote data collection (sensors, mostly). Since desktop and server hardware are a thing of the past, the ability to collect and aggregate data in the cloud is where I see the next series of trends continuing. He’ll never have to swap out a video card or exchange a SCSI drive (yeah, I’m that old) unless he choses to tear apart his laptop… even their days as user-configurable systems are numbered.

Looking forward, I’m excited. This could be a new direction for myself, my kids and our future.

Apple and OS X Upgrades

Someone needs to remind Apple that when we buy their equipment, we’re not “borrowing” it, we own that shit!

I’ve had 3 laptops essentially die on me in the last couple of months, not because the hardware is broken or the software is corrupted… but because Apple says the laptops (all 15″ Intel-based Macbook Pros, top of the line when they were made) are simply too old. Can’t update java, can’t update Flash, no security patches, and – the greatest offense – being forbidden to update/upgrade or replace the operating system on perfectly good hardware.

Aw, hell no.

So, in an afternoon, I was able to circumvent those imposed limitations and now we have 3 refreshed laptops and 2 very happy Minecraft-addicted kids. Granted, that’s a Pandoras Box of its own now that every mod and patch they’ve seen on YouTube is a MUST to install and their OCD just doesn’t let up.

Sigh. Win some, lose some.

Mobile Live Internet Video Broadcasting

Back in early 2005, there were very few mobile phones that came with cameras. The quality was awful. Video capture was even worse. But it was new here in the States at the same time the “vloggers” were desperately trying to make a name for themselves.

At that time, I was creating an automated system that allowed the unimaginable: capture video from your cell phone, send it to my system and it would not only post to your blog, but would notify your friends and family.

“Great idea,” potential investors said, “But, the phones with cameras are expensive…and who really wants to do that? What’s so interesting that they’d need to instantly share a video?”

Sadly, I listened not only to their lack of financial investment, but their lack of vision, too. YouTube eventually came along and I killed the fully operational project. I won’t compete with “free.”

Last night I realized I’m still housing all of the old video content captured and posted in 2005. Its all been sitting quietly on Amazon S3. Time to blow off the eDust and kick Throw-Back-Thursday up a notch