Paradigm Shift: Smartphones Change the Way We Work

old days

A few years ago, I wrote about a technological paradigm shift in the home from a wired network with desktop personal computers, to a wireless, distributed, network connecting multiple laptop computers.

It is now 2015, and another dramatic paradigm shift is underway.  Here is how our household technology has changed in the past few years….

The “Old” Way (before 2010)

In the “old” days, we connected our one large desktop computer (a Dell) in the study to the Internet via an 8 port switch to the router supplied to us, at the time, by AT&T.

old days

The desktop was shared by all three of us.

The Near Past (2010 thru 2014)

I wrote my original paradigm shift blog in 2010.  At that time, we moved the router (now Comcast) and Internet connection to the Family Room (and yes the HDTV is in the picture, I am just leaving it out here to simplify the diagrams).

near past

Lori and I both plopped our laptops on tables in the Study and Kristen wandered around with hers (Family Room, Living Room, Bedroom, etc).  We use the laptops exclusively and the Dell is now in the garage.

Now (2015 thru 2017 ??)

The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, etc. changed our landscape a bit.

In the past year or so, I have had increasingly capable smartphones and started to use them more heavily for reading email, hitting Facebook and LinkedIN, reading the news, and playing games (Robo Defense!!!!). Lori has an iPad which she uses most of the time looking up stuff on the Internet.  Kristen is Snap Chatting her face all the time from her iPhone.

The importance of the laptops is fading, Lori’s the fastest, mine next, and, because Kristen has now graduated from the University of the Pacific and has a JOB, the least.


I see this architecture lasting a few more years….there are still many things I just can’t do on my Galaxy Note 4 that I can do on the laptop. But, technology moves on…..

Future (after 2017?)

Some of the stuff keeping me on the laptop (writing these blogs, making business cards, making these drawings, using a spreadsheet, etc) may be easier on the smartphone after 2017, but, maybe not.  It is possible the laptop (or Chromebook, or similar larger screened mouse controlled device) will still be necessary…I can’t foretell the future (as much as I would take advantage of that…if I could).


It is possible that: The laptop as we know it in 2015 will almost not be needed, the printer is always needed (maybe replaced with a 3D printer that can also make dinner), and our smartphones (or whatever mobile thingy) will be our main computing device.

Who knows..

I won’t look any further into the future since I probably won’t be around to see the brain implant that allows you to print an image in your memory then send it to selected friends, also in memory, and do all that a laptop and smartphone can do now, just by thinking.


Technology marches forward.  If you can’t adapt, you lose.

Remote Work=Telecommuting=Coworking

RIP Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock….I, for one, will miss you dearly.

Using the Bose Soundlink Color Bluetooth Speaker

bose top

We have several generations of Bose speakers. Unfortunately, they are not portable and Lori wanted to bring her music with her throughout the house or yard. The Bose Soundlink Color Bluetooth Speaker seems to fit the bill.

Bose speakers, in general, boast great audio in small packages. For us, all of our speakers / radios / HDTV sound systems (even those 20 years + old) are still working and still sound great. They: Are reliable, sound great, and are good looking….but, they are not portable. Time to get a new version.

We saw the Bose Soundlink Color bluetooth speaker on display at the Tracy, CA Best Buy just before Christmas 2014 and decided to give it a try.

Before I get into the details of using our Bose, some technical background is needed (this is a technical blog after all….haha).

What is Bluetooth?

You have all heard of bluetooth and many of you use it regularly to connect to any number of devices with your computer or smartphone.  But what is bluetooth?  Here is a quick lesson.

25 pin rs232 cableBack in the old days, electronic equipment that needed to connect together used standardized cabling, or more specifically, a RS-232 cable or if higher bit rates were needed (or longer distances), an RS-449 /RS-422 or, later, RS-485 cable (or wiring) which used balanced electronic transmission methods to minimize noise. How do I know all this you ask?  Well…It just so happens that much of my early life as an engineer was spent at Grumman Aerospace (Bethpage, NY), AT&T Bell Labs (Holmdel NJ), and Lawrence Livermore National Lab (Livermore, CA) designing interface solutions using these cable connect technologies.

As electronic devices proliferated, it became a bit unwieldy to connect them via large RS-232 cables.  According to WikiPedia, engineers at telecom giant, Ericsson, in 1994, probably got tired of dragging their RS-232 cables around so they developed “bluetooth” as a short-range wireless RS-232 cable. This wireless capability quickly became a standard that is now under the auspices of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group which boasts over 20,000 members worldwide.  Sweet.

Technical Stuff

(Rather than re-typing some technical details, I copied the blurb below from this WikiPedia article (I hope they do not mind))

“Bluetooth operates in the range of 2400–2483.5 MHz (including guard bands). This is in the globally unlicensed (but not unregulated) Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) 2.4 GHz short-range radio frequency band. Bluetooth uses a radio technology called frequency-hopping spread spectrum. Bluetooth divides transmitted data into packets, and transmits each packet on one of 79 designated Bluetooth channels. Each channel has a bandwidth of 1 MHz. Bluetooth 4.0 uses 2 MHz spacing, which accommodates 40 channels. The first channel starts at 2402 MHz and continues up to 2480 MHz in 1 MHz steps. It usually performs 1600 hops per second, with Adaptive Frequency-Hopping (AFH) enabled.”

/Technical Stuff

Got that?  :-)

Anyway….Bluetooth has evolved to be easy-to-use by virtually anyone, and the frequency hopping data transfer happens fast enough that you don’t even notice it while listening to your favorite music.

Gotta love it how very difficult engineering can be made so easy to use that most people have no idea of the amount of time and effort put into the design.

Connecting My Galaxy Note 4 to the Bose

Confession:  I have never used Bluetooth until now. Yup, it’s true, I was a bluetooth virgin.  So much technology, so little time.

bose front

But, that aside, here is how I connected my smartphone to the Bose speaker.

I went into my Note 4’s Settings


I clicked on Bluetooth

bluetooth off

I turned on Bluetooth and saw the Bose and my daughter’s Honda

available devices

I selected the Bose to pair with it

pair with bose

Easy as 3.14.  I could now listen to music.  :-)

Here is a video from Bose showing how to you can link multiple devices (up to eight pairings are stored in memory) to the speaker.

Using Our Bose Soundlink Color

After pairing, I could play music from any number of sources on the Bluetooth:  iHeartRadio, Pandora, iTunes, Google Play Music, or (very old-fashioned) music that has actually been loaded from CD’s that we own onto our devices or computer.

Lori uses this more than I do and connects using her very old (in technology age) iPod, her newer iPad, and her even newer iPhone 6.  She carries the Bose and, mostly, iPod around with her (the Bose is battery operated and lasts a long time) and plays music where ever she happens to be.

Very cool!


Bose continues to evolve with new technology while maintaining that great sound they are famous for.  We fully expect to be using this speaker for many years to come.



Google Drive Upload & Download Speed Limits

drive limits

AltamontCowork member (and now owner) Brian needed to backup the contents of his computer to Google Drive.  

AltamontCowork’s network slowed to turtle speed.

drive limitsInvestigating the cause, we found the culprit: Google Drive upload was sucking all the bandwidth available on our Comcast router and Internet connection. As soon as we unplugged Brian’s computer from the network, everything was cool. Plug it back in, turtle speed.

I did some investigation and learned that, indeed, Google just let ‘er rip when connecting to Google Drive.

A VERY bad design….arrrgghh.

I wrote a SCATHING feedback to Google, and as expected, got no response.

Fast forward about 1 year, and I was looking at the new user interface for Google Drive on my computer…and guess what:

The latest version of Google Drive now has upload and download LIMITS!  

Took a long time.

Good engineering practice dictates that the design team perform detailed testing of hardware or software BEFORE it is shipped out. As is common in this new world, products are rushed out before they are ready. Maybe a bit more testing time and this problem (and yes it is a major problem) would have been found before shipping out?




Using Chromecast

cromecast professional logo

A year or two ago, I started seeing information on Google’s new streaming video device: Chromecast.  The information I initially gathered was sketchy, but, as I studied it, I began to understand some of it’s capabilities. Sufficiently intrigued, I asked Santa for a Chromecast for Christmas 2014, and guess what?  I got it!  

What is Chromecast?

chromecast appOstensibly, the $35.00 Chromecast allows you to watch streaming video content (ie Netflix, VUDU, Hulu, Google Play, YouTube, etc.) on your big screen TV.  All this is controlled via your smartphone and an app called, ingeniously, “Chromecast” (see the red circle in the picture).

Hmmmm, I already have two devices that allow us to watch streamed content from many sources: Our old Sony Blu-Ray player and our fairly new Samsung SMART HDTV . Each connects to the Internet (one wired, one WiFi) and each allows us to watch all sorts of online content (i.e. movies or binge on TV) on the big screen. 

Why do I need a Chromecast when I already have these two devices and am perfectly happy with them?

Well….in addition to streaming the video content from the web, I can also stream much of the content on my Android smartphone, or iPhone, or laptop computer onto the big screen:  Photos, applications, games, or just share the screen.

Question:  Do I really need this capability?

Answer: Probably not (me personally), but, maybe. “Build it and they will come”

Connecting Chromecast to Your TV

The picture shows the main components of the Chromecast system.  Just plug the pieces together as shown, then plug the Chromecast dongle into an open HDMI port on your TV and the power plug into the wall or power strip.  You are ready to go.  Easy as 3.14.

chromecast components labeled

Setting Up Chromecast

Now that you have it plugged in and powered up, you are ready to set it up.  When I installed it (in the crush of Christmas) I did not take screenshots or pictures, sooooooo, here is a Google video that shows the setup:

How Does Chromecast Work?

Now that Chromecast dongle is setup and working, here is what I suspect is happening.

  1. Chromecast is connected to the Internet via WiFi.  (If you don’t have WiFi you are screwed, but, it is 2015…get with the program.  haha).
  2. Your Android or IOS smartphone, tablet, or computer connects, via the Chromecast app or program, to the Chromecast dongle.
  3. Your phone then tells Chromecast where to look to get content:  Netflix, VUDU, Hulu, Google Play, or any number of apps that support Chromecast, see this list.
  4. Chromecast then grabs the content you want and displays it on your TV via the HDMI port.
  5. You can control the dongle via your smartphone or computer: Play, pause, stop, fast forward, etc.

Very cool and you now have a new remote to add to all the others….your smartphone.  haha

Watching Our First Movie

Now that we have it all connected and setup (and sort of understand how it works) we are ready to watch our first movie.

the interviewWith all the buzz around “The Interview” around the holidays, we decided to watch it via Google Play.  After finding and paying to rent it on Google Play we simply hit the play icon and the Chromcast icon (in the yellow circle) and watched the movie come to life on our big screen HDTV.


Although “The Interview” was kind of a crappy movie (see my review), the video and audio quality were comparable to the Sony Blu-Ray player that is wired to the Internet. It did freeze at one point and we needed to fiddle with it to get it running again. But then it was fine.

Very nice.

Possible Issues with Buffering?

the best exotic marigold hotel

We have watched one more movie and noticed that the video streaming, again, stopped at one point.  I fiddled around but finally just rebooted and went back to the scene where it stopped.

vuduAs a test, I have since watched a few trailers on VUDU and noticed that the playback of the video stalled with a spinning wheel until it started up again a few seconds later. Buffering. For a quick comparison, I immediately viewed the same trailers using the Samsung SMART TV and they were smooth as silk.  (Note: The Chromecast was plugged into the Samsung and both are connected to the Internet via WiFi).

In case there is any doubt…here is a measurement of our Wifi connection speeds at home.

home internet via wifi

Not bad and certainly sufficient for smooth video operation even at HD bit rates.

Other Chromecast Features

Viewing Photos

To view the photos, they must be online.

sunny at 7

If they are just on your phone, this is the message you get.

photos need to be on the internet

Sharing Your Smartphone Screen

In Beta is the ability to share your screen on the TV.  Probably will be useful for presentations and such.  You can see my Galaxy note 4 in the bottom right.

screen sharing 1

Backgound on Your TV

You can put your own pictures as the background on your TV, or you can select various options.  Since I do not sit and watch the TV while the background is running, I just picked from one of the options.  However, for family photo viewing, this is great.

background 1

background 2


Chromecast is a fun device to play with.

If you do not already have a more expensive device to play content from the Internet then Chromecast is a good, very affordable, product for you to have.

If you want to show photos, or display your screen, and applications on a large screen, then Chromecast is again for you.

There are other features I did not touch on here, so please go to this web site for all you need to know about Google Chromecast.

For some nitty gritty technical details, visit this site.

“The Next Communication Revolution” circa 1996

the next revolution feature

Way back in the Dark Ages (1996) I wrote about the path I thought video conferencing needed to go to become ubiquitous: Videoconferencing technology needed to be “easy-to-use”….by anyone. This is 2015, has my vision come true?  

You can download the whole, very short, article here (the next revolution) but, I will re-type it below so Google sees it (hey, it’s all about the views, the views….haha).

It is helpful to understand that Skype, Facetime, and like video communication apps evolved from “desktop videoconferencing”.  

I reserve the right to edit it a bit (not to change the content) since I am a so much better writer now. ;-)


The Next Communication Revolution?

by Mike Pihlman, August 1996

Throughout history there have been fundamental developments that have changed the way we communicate:  Language, writing, the printing press, and the telephone are four examples.

As the need to communicate over distances increased the richness of face-to-face communication decreased while the complexity required to communicate increased.

When we are face-to-face, we communicate interactively with ALL our senses (see, hear & touch) and we can exchange information easily (Here, look at this…).

Today’s technology provides us with the means to communicate very effectively over great distances, but, several key features of face-to-face communication are lacking:

  • A telephone call is highly interactive buts lacks visual cues and the ability to easily exchange information.
  •  The Internet is not real-time and does not provide adequate visual and audio information…..yet.  (Editor: I bundled email and other Internet-like applications under this one heading.  Also, make note of the word…..yet)
  • The fax provides information exchange, but, only on paper or in a file.

Desktop videoconferencing combines many of these capabilities into one package but it is still–for the average person–difficult to install and use.

The next revolution in communication will come when anyone, regardless of technical capability, can install and use a device that provides natural face-to-face communication capabilities at a distance.  The technology becomes invisible to the user.  

But building this kind of system may require a whole new way of thinking.

Almost all of the products on the market today use the computer as their platform.  But the computer, as we know it, can be a very difficult tool to use and maintain.  If we continue adding complexity to the user’s devices we will only limit the number of people who want to use it, or are capable of using it.

If we want to provide face-to-face communication capability at a distance, how do we do it?  Do we continue to develop it around current computer technology?  Do we build new devices?  Do we integrate our communication into the TV?  Do we relocate the complexity to a central location?  Does the $500 network computer fill the bill?

However we do it…..we need to keep one thing in mind above all others:

Can this new communication device be easily used by ANYONE?  If not…..then we are missing the point.  



I will dig up more article on the history of desktop videoconferencing and post them periodically here.

To those of you who use this technology (video chat, video conferencing, etc) on your cell phones, at work, at Starbucks, or at home, remember that it took years and years of development and technical innovation (not to mention cultural change), by thousands of people in this industry to make it easy for you, in 2015, to communicate easily visually.  To them I say: Thank You!  


Cool Pet Technology


Is your pet a GEEK?  If so (or if not), check out these cool technology items for your pets….and you.


PetChatz (

True to TechyMike’s technical expertise, I just had to lead off with this pet technology gadget.  Video conference with your pet…and give them a treat!  And you can do that all from your Android or iPhone smartphone.  Very cool.

Hmmmm, I wonder if they are planning to implement HD videoconferencing?  Pet telepresence….you heard it here first!  :-)


PetCube (

petcubes android

Another video conferencing application….sorry, can’t help it.

With PetCube you can see and talk to your pet (via your smartphone) and you can shoot a laser for them to chase.  Hmmmm, do they need goggles?

History / Trivia: Many years ago, I went to Old River Vet in Tracy, CA (our first yellow lab was his dog’s puppy) and proposed the installation of an 8×8 videoconferencing system so pet owners could visit their pets in the kennel.  The 8×8 worked over phone lines (the Internet did not yet exist for us normal folk) and the owner needed a like unit.  We never installed them (too cumbersome, too expensive), but, it might very well have been the first time that kind of application was put forward. 


Pet Tracker (

gps pet tracker

If your pet wanders off, Pet Tracker knows that they have strayed (using GPS) and will send you a text message or email so you know they are missing. Find them using their GPS location. Cool.

Hmmmm, no more late night secret liaisons for fido. I bet it works on spouses and kids too!  Just attach it to their collar and keep them honest! :-)


PetNet (

petnet feeder

Commuting long hours to and from work?  Can’t be home in time to feed your pet? Or do you just need help feeding your pet?  PetNet is a fully featured pet feeding thinking machine to keep your pet healthy and happy while you veg on the couch.

Hmmmm, if you are a commuter, check out telecommuting / remote working and spend more time with your pet! :-)


Go i Fetch (

ifetch screenshot

If your house is big enough to support this, this is super cool!  Keep your pet engaged during the day (and tired at night?) by letting them play fetch all by themselves. This is pet-enabled fun.

Hmmmm, where are my socks?  :-) 



Technology is evolving and now your pets (and you) can be happier, healthier, more engaged, and secure…..with technology!

May the GEEK be with you.

The Pope Uses Google Hangouts

the vatican

Back in the day, I knew videoconferencing would reach the highest level of attention. Little did I know how high this technology would reach. Apparently, almost all the way to the top.

VERY cool !!!   Gotta love video conferencing.  

On Feb 5, 2015 Pope Francis held his second (see below for the video of his first hangout) Google Hangout meeting. This one was with special needs children from around the world.  Here is the video:

Here is a video of the Pontiff’s first Google Hangout (which, for you techies out there, now uses WebRTC for the video and audio interactive communication).

 Here is our Google Hangout of a few years ago…..lots of fun.

Click these links to the preparation blog and meeting blog.  But you can watch the video’s below.

Pre-Meeting Preparation

Google Hangout Meeting

Home & Office Surveillance: Uniden Guardian

outside camera

Home & Office security cameras have taken a huge leap forward in the past few years.  The ability to store video on SD or Micro-SD cards, wireless cameras, and smartphone apps that allow viewing of video via the Internet have forever changed the technology of home & office surveillance.  

A couple of years ago, we saw the Uniden Guardian on sale at Costco, and, always being curious about technology (and having an aging yellow lab (Sunny) that we wanted to keep track of when we were not home), we purchased a 2 camera set to install at home.

Feature Chart for Uniden Guardians G755 and G955

This chart shows the features I deem most important for a home & office security camera.  I will use this chart in this series as a quick comparison.

uniden guardian features

Figure 1 shows the architecture of the G755 at home.  At work we installed 4 cameras, two pointing down the hall in each direction and one camera in each of the two stairways.

Guardian home architecture

The Uniden Guardian version we purchased (G755) came with two wireless cameras, a base unit, and a 4 gig SD card.

home base niceThe base unit needs to be set-up in the house where you have a wired connection to the Internet, and is also within a 100 feet or so of all the cameras.  This is were the video storage happens, so if your house is broken into it should be hidden somewhere where the burglars can’t find it.  Needing to be connected to both power and a wired network connection makes hiding it rather difficult (it does have a battery, but, you lose Internet access when you take it out of the base). The base unit has a touch screen which takes a bit of getting used to (you really have to touch an option to get it to work). But, it does a fair job of recording the video (although on the G955 when all 4 cameras are active there are occasional lapses). The cameras work well in low light except that the resolution takes a major hit. Grabbing the video from the SD card is as easy as taking the SD card out and putting it in your computer. We have had to do this several times, including once for the Tracy Police Department who were called to our neighbors for a break-in (yes, we saw the guy who did it).

Tough neighborhood….arrrghhh.

guardian camera niceExcept for needing power, the camera installation was easy.  The cameras connected easily to the base unit and they work very well in full light and work at a much lower resolution in low light. In fact, watching Sunny at night in a dark house we could hardly tell that the lights were completely off.  Very impressive.  When there is fast action though (like cars driving by the house), the nighttime video kinda sucks.

We have had the outside camera (see the featured picture) in the elements for a couple of years and it has worked perfectly.  Rain, sunshine, 100+ degrees to 30 problem.  The only issue I have with the cameras is that it clicks on with spiderwebs (and raindrops), and here, for some reason we have spiderwebs galore (not so much rain), so I am outside a lot with our handy dandy extendable Webster.

Using the Uniden Guardian

The base station has many features that can be set-up for your particular installation.

list of features

Here is a peek at the System Setup menu option.

inside system setup

In the G755 at home, I have to go into the “Format Storage” area quite often since this version does not allow recording over memory space.  That means that when the spiderwebs fill up the 4 gig of memory, I have to reformat the SD card.  A stupid design decision, and I let them know it!  FYI, The newer G955 at the office just keeps recording.

Selecting a video to watch is very easy.  The picture below shows the calendar of recordings.  You just select the day, then the time and watch the video.  You can fast forward and go back or go to the next or previous video slice.  Another complaint: The video runs for 2 minutes after the camera detects motion (or spiderwebs).  I want to make that 30 seconds or 45 seconds.  BUT, there is no adjustment even in the newer G955.  That is needed.  Hint, Hint.

list of recordings


The above picture shows the detailed recording list.  You read it like this: The recording A055209-1 means that the recording took place at 5:52 AM with Camera 1 and it is recorded in MP4 format.

Here is a shot of our friend, Pat, coming up the driveway as seen from the base unit.


Smartphone Apps

uniden guardian app iconThe handiest feature of the Uniden Guardian is the ability to watch the video via a smartphone app wherever you are. You can also get an email when the camera detects motion, but, because of the outside camera spiderwebs and cars, I did not use that option.

Below are some screen shots of the app loaded on my Galaxy Note 4 (note that I could also see, and select, the office cameras when I still had the office). There is an app that works on the iPhone too.

home screen note 4 screen shot 1 selecting a camera

When Sunny was alive (we lost our 14.5 year old baby the day after Thanksgiving) we used Camera 2 as Sunny-cam.

Here is a video of some idiot thieves stealing a car battery I had ready to go back to Sears.


Technology has progressed enough to make home & office surveillance robust, inexpensive, and fully featured.

The Uniden Guardian is fully featured, easy to install and operate, and reliable.  Although it has some irksome issues, it has been a good choice for our first home & office security camera solution.

I will continue this blog series looking at several more home and office security cameras in the coming weeks, so click the “Follow TechyMike” button to get notifications when new blogs are posted.

Gotta love technology!

Sunny (May 3, 2000 – Nov 28, 2014)

sunny on beach

Blogging Increases Views to Your Web Site

blogging stats by month

I fired up TechyMike in April 2014 thinking ahead to the time when AltamontCowork might go away.  At that time, I just grabbed the domain name, set up a quick, free, web site / blog and pretty much ignored it.

As the demise of AltamontCowork came closer to reality, I posted a few random blogs on TechyMike, but, still did not pay much attention to TechyMike until the final decision on AltamontCowork was made in November 2014.

The Value of Blogging

Once I started to get serious posting blogs, you can see the upshift in views (light blue) and visits (dark blue) starting in November 2014.  And that upshift in readership continues to this day (Jan 30, 2015) as I am now posting 6 or 7 blogs per month (I am NOT advertising the site or TechyMike so this increased readership is primarily from blogging).

blog stats monthly since august

I still have one more day in January and have already gone past 1,000 views for the month.


If you set up a web site and just leave it alone, pretty much nothing will happen.  If you don’t advertise or market………the very least you should do is blog!

PS: This is my 7th blog this month….

Using Google Maps While Driving

maps 1

Normally I am one of the first to try a technology.  There have been a few exceptions over the years, but, overall, I am more than happy to jump in and experience something new.

Not this time….

Paper Maps

In the old days (before 2012), I used to go to the gas station, or AAA, and buy maps of the areas I expected to go to, or visit. Unfortunately, I invariably needed another map (for example: Modesto when I already had Tracy and Stockton), so off I go to the gas station, or AAA, to buy a Modesto map.

triptik screen shot

If we went on a long trip, Lori and I would visit the local AAA and get a TripTik (after spending an hour or so with a AAA Trip Advisor).  That beautiful booklet of maps was just so cool!  I loved it.

Our cars were full of maps and TripTiks.

Note:  After embarking on our first road trip (30 some odd years ago), I realized that Lori is not a map reader!!!!  So I had to either drive dangerously, or stop to look at the map.  Arrrghh….

Internet-based paper maps

printed maps 2

With the advent of Internet-based maps, I stopped going to AAA, or the gas station, for my maps, simply choosing to print the maps out when we decided to go somewhere (enlarge the picture to see how Lori nicely labeled them).  And to make sure I knew the surroundings of the area we were visiting, I printed out the surrounding area and streets, just to be safe.

Now, the car was full of printed maps and regular maps….the TripTiks kinda disappeared.

But, Lori is still not a map reader.  Arrrghh.

Talking Internet / Smartphone Maps (I use Google Maps, but, there are others)

I had used Google maps previously to get me out of a tight spot, meaning I did not have a printed map for the area I needed to get out of, and I refused to ask.  But, this smartphone / Google map experience just was not a great enough for me to completely leave the paper behind.

But, I was getting ready….

Slow forwarding into the new world, this month, Jan 2015, I decided to try the marriage of my new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Google Maps to guide me to my destination: a house in Mountain House for my friend’s cleaning business (JBB Cleaning Services).

I put the address in Google Maps, hit the buttons as instructed and drove to my destination with the help of my cell phone telling me when to turn. I love it that it also gave me fair warning that a turn is coming up so I could move into the correct lane.  I got to the house perfectly.  When I was done, I put in my home address and followed the directions back.  A different path, but, still perfect.

I did not take screen shots of that trip (not expecting to write about it), so here are some screenshots of me going to get my haircut.

screen shot first screen shot middle screen shot last

By the way, I use AT&T DriveMode (which stops calls and automatically answers texts when I am driving). I was curious to see if Google maps would keep on working when DriveMode kicked in.  It did!  (To understand why I use DriveMode go to )

This stuff is VERY COOL.  No more printed maps, no more regular maps (the ones shown were in Lori’s Sequoia, like she can read them anyway…how funny), and, sadly, no more TripTiks.

Now it is Just me and my Note 4 and the Internet and the open road with Google Maps leading the way.

Lori no longer needs to read a map.  Now she tells me to shut the phone up so she can listen to George Strait.  Arrrggghh.


TechyMike…always the first…..errrr, almost always the first to try new technology.

Ask Lori how long it took me to buy a phone with an answering machine, then, for comparison, ask her what she told me when I said (many many years ago) “I want to design an electronic Rolodex”  or  “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could record a TV show?” or “Doctors can use video conferencing to check in on their patients”.

Home Security & Surveillance Cameras

dlink camera

I am starting a new series looking at home security & surveillance monitoring cameras.

My fist blog in this series will be on the Uniden Guardian which we have been using at home (the G755) for a few years now, and I installed a newer version in the office building where I used to have AltamontCowork (the G955). That post will be coming soon, so check back.

In the meantime, I have been visiting local stores (Best Buy, Costco, Staples, etc) to see what home security cameras are available. There are a few, and some look like they meet most, if not all, of my requirements.

What are my requirements you ask?

Requirements for a Home Security Camera (according to TechyMike):

1. Wireless (ideally power would be wireless too, but, that is a few years in the future)

2. Works on your home’s WiFi.

3. Local video / audio recording storage using an SD card or micro-SD card.

4. Ability to see at night or in low light conditions (we used to monitor our late Yellow Lab, Sunny, to make sure he was ok in the house)

5. Apps for Android and IOS (Apple)

6. Continuous recording (meaning the thing records over the memory when it runs out)

There are some other features that are nice, but, I will get to them when I look at the individual products.  UNFORTUNATELY, the only way to REALLY get to know how a device works is to live with it.  I cannot afford to buy these products, so my research will be limited (unless I can find a benefactor or get demo units) to what I find online, and much of the time, that information is lacking. For example, Uniden does not say that spider webs or flying bugs at night really f**k up their camera….nor do they say that when you run out of memory in the G755 you have to re-format the SD card for it to record more…how stupid!

But, that aside, I still think this is an interesting exercise and could be useful to many who just don’t have the time to look around at the various products.

Here is the feature chart I will fill in for each product so when all the products are done, you have an apples-to-apples comparison for at least some features.


blank feature chart

NEXT UP:  Uniden Guardian G755 and G955

Some products I took pictures of, and, will cover in the weeks ahead:

D-Link Outdoor Wireless Camera

D-Link HD Pan / Tilt Day Night Network Camera

Swann Professional Security system

Swann High-Res Security Camera

Samsung SmartCam Home Monitoring Camera

Belkin HD WiFi camera

Belkin Netcam HD

Lorex Wireless Video Surveillance System

Nest Dropcam pro

I will look for more. If you know of any, please comment below.

Here is a video our G755 Guardian took of some rats stealing a battery I had ready to go back to Sears:



2015 International CES

CES 2015 logo

GEEK heaven.  TechyMike will plan on going next year!  

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) runs this year, in Las Vegas, from Jan 5 (for Keynotes and such) while the exhibit floor will be open Jan 6 thru 9.

The CES traditionally is THE place for consumer facing vendors (see, I still know how to use buzz words, haha) to announce their latest products for the consumer market.

Visit these sites to see very detailed and cool overviews of what technology will be at the CES, and go to CNET for live show updates next week:

Follow the show as it happens at CNET

The Verge (what to expect)

BBC Technology News (what to expect)

One of the major focuses this year is the “Internet of Things”.  WTF is that you ask?  Well……one of the quotes in the Press Release below explains very nicely what is meant by “The Internet of Things”, I will copy it here:

“The ‘Internet of Things’ is the hottest topic in tech right now,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and corporate business strategy, CEA. “It’s all about the opportunity to connect everyday items  like cars, home security systems and kitchen appliances to networked devices like PCs and smartphones for greater control and management of our everyday lives. We’re excited that the 2015 CES will bring together all of the companies and products that are making this a reality.”

It appears as though the exhibit floor will be split into East and West areas.  I took the liberty of copying the technology that will be highlighted in each of these areas.  Free advertising for CES, I am sure they don’t mind….

Tech East

Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center (LVCC), the Westgate Las Vegas (Westgate) and the Renaissance Las Vegas (Renaissance)

Tech East is where innovations in audio, automotive electronics, gaming, video, wireless devices, wireless services, digital imaging/photography or anything “i” comes to market. A convenient transportation system will connect Tech East and Tech West and run continually throughout the show.


  • Exhibits showcasing product categories such as:
    • Audio
    • Automotive electronics
    • Computer hardware/software/services
    • Content creation & distribution
    • Digital imaging/photography
    • Electronic gaming
    • Internet services
    • Video
    • Wireless devices & services



  • Hospitality suites
  • Meeting rooms

Tech West

Sands Expo (Sands), The Venetian, The Palazzo, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore at Wynn (Wynn/Encore)

Tech West will be a must see for buyers, distributors, press, industry analysts and key decision makers. Featuring the innovative power behind tomorrow’s industry, Tech West encompasses revolutions in fitness and health, the Internet of things, sensors and other high-growth technologies changing the way we live, work and play. Tech West will serve the titans of tech, promising startups and everything in between.


  • Marketplaces such as:
  • Exhibits showcasing product categories such as:
    • 3D printing
    • Fitness and sports
    • Health and biotech
    • Robotics
    • Sensors
    • Smart Home
    • Startups
    • Wearables



  • Hospitality Suites

CES “Internet of Things” Press Release

2015 International CES to Host Largest Ever “Internet of Things” Showcase

More than 900 CES Exhibitors Will Share Products, Services and Technologies That Connect Everyday Devices to the Network

Arlington, VA – 12/29/2014 – The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® today announced that the 2015 International CES® will feature the largest ever showcase of products, services and technologies that make up the “Internet of Things” (IoT), with more than 900 exhibitors planning to share innovations that harness the power of the network to connect everyday devices. Owned and produced by CEA, the 2015 CES is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, and will run January 6-9, in Las Vegas, Nevada.“The ‘Internet of Things’ is the hottest topic in tech right now,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, International CES and corporate business strategy, CEA. “It’s all about the opportunity to connect everyday items  like cars, home security systems and kitchen appliances to networked devices like PCs and smartphones for greater control and management of our everyday lives. We’re excited that the 2015 CES will bring together all of the companies and products that are making this a reality.”The Sensors Marketplace will highlight one of the key technologies that is enabling the IoT. Exhibitors participating in the marketplace include eyeSight Mobile Technologies, Logbar and QuickLogic Corp. In addition, the Smart Home Marketplace will showcase a smarter, more efficient home accelerated by smartphones and tablets interacting with a myriad of connected objects and devices, from basic security systems to connected lighting systems. Some of the 2015 CES exhibitors expected to showcase IoT technologies include Bosch, Lowe’s, Konnect Labs, iDevices, Muzzley and Blinksight among many others.2015 CES keynoters Boo-Keun Yoon, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., and Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel Corp., are expected to share their insights on IoT innovations. Other CES conference programming will also explore the future of this trend with the following sessions:Privacy and the IoT: Navigating Policy IssuesManufacturers and policymakers discuss steps that each can take to build consumer trust in devices and applications while preserving creativity and the flexibility to innovate. This panel will feature opening remarks from The Honorable Edith Ramirez, chairwoman of the FTC.1-2 PM Tuesday, January 6LVCC, North Hall, Room N254The Impact of the Internet of ThingsExperts will discuss the impact of IoT products, including what application areas are going to have the biggest adoption or change.2:15-3:15 PM Wednesday, January 7LVCC, North Hall, Room N261The State of the Internet of ThingsPart of the Research Summit conference track, this session will explore where the Internet of Things stands today and what its defining trends suggest about the road ahead.3:30-4:30 PM Wednesday, January 7LVCC, North Hall, Room N253The 2015 CES will feature more than 3,500 exhibitors unveiling the latest consumer technology products and services across the entire ecosystem of consumer technologies.Note to Editors:  The official name of the global technology event is “International CES®.”  Subsequent references to the event can be shortened to “CES.”

About CESThe International CES is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for more than 40 years—the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. As the largest hands-on event of its kind, CES features all aspects of the industry. And because it is owned and produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the technology trade association representing the $211 billion U.S. consumer electronics industry, it attracts the world’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers to a forum where the industry’s most relevant issues are addressed. Follow CES online at and through social media: 

Press Contacts:Tara Dunion

Allison Fried


TechyMike will keep closer track of the “Internet of Things” as 2015 progresses, so be sure to “Follow” this blog so you get the latest in technology information…..made easy, well, kinda.  TRIVIA NOTE: TechyMike was the CTO of what was, in it’s time, the largest conference in the world on video and audio conferencing and distance learning.  TeleCon is long gone….

Download the 2015 CES App:

The 2015 CES App is Now Available

Rebuilt from the ground up, the Official CES app for the 2015 International CES literally puts the show in the palm of your hands. Be notified when events or conference sessions are getting ready to begin, browse through the enhanced exhibitor directory, follow the show on social media, get the latest news and happenings surrounding the show and compete in a CES-wide game. To log in to the CES App, you will need the email and password you used to register for #CES2015.

Download the app for iOS and for Android devices.

Here are a bunch of 30 second product pitches…..


 CES 2015 logo

Playing with Smilies

techymike emoticon

I just found this in the DRAFT posts from 7 years ago!!!!!!

I wonder why I never posted it?  

Anyway, here it is… with smilies (now known as emoticons or emoji).

Animated Hug

Go Girl





Animated Confused Question Mark

Animated Love with Heart

Animated Blush

Animated Tongue

Animated Kiss

Animated Broken Heart

Small Business How-To: Free Websites Using

wordpress front page

As a small business owner every penny counts!  Don’t spend gobs of money building a super duper fancy schmancy web site until you can afford it.  

Luckily, offers FREE web sites (with embedded blogging capability).  They are EASY to set up and administer and save you lots of money while providing you the exposure your fledgling business needs.  “You are not a real business, in 2015, unless you have a web site”  TechyMike

More about after I show you the steps. I have been using them since 2006, on multiple web sites, soooo, I speak from experience.  

ARE U READY to Get Your Business on the Web??

Homework Assignment:  Before you sign up, think of THREE names for your web site (you never know, your top two choices might already be taken) and make sure you have a business email set up (I use Gmail).

When you are ready:  Follow these THREE easy steps to a web site for your small business:

Step 1:  Go to and click on the “Create Website” button

wordpress front page

Step 2:  Fill out the information requested on the top of the next page.

wordpress web site info

Step 3: Select the “ Beginner” option as shown in red below. When the “Create Blog” button is available… on it!

wordpress beginner

About (from my perspective)

Web designers scrunch their eyes, smirk, and make funny noises when you tell them you are using for your web sites.  Ignore them!  All they want is to charge you gobs of money for something you can do yourself, at least in the beginning. is:

  • Safe (you cannot break it),
  • Super reliable (I have seen it go down only once in 8, almost 9, years)
  • Free
  • Flexible (with hundreds of “themes” to choose from for the look and feel you want for your web site).
  • And the people running it are super helpful and respond quickly to problems.

As a bonus….you are not stuck in “beginner” mode.  If you are like me, you can add features as your skills grow, or you can move what you have built over the years to that fancy schmancy web site when you can afford it. is a great place to start, to grow, and, then to leave if you have to.

And it is free. (did I say that already?)

My websites (note that I pay WordPress for .com domain names..see what I mean about growing your capabilities within WordPress?):  I purchased a premium theme (Lifestyle) for this web site so I had more flexibility with respect to columns and such.  This is a hybrid web site and blog.  Hmmm, this web site.  I keep playing with different free themes so it may change occasionally, just for fun.  TechyMike is becoming a hybrid web site and blog, but, right now is primarily a blog. My book review site for Thrillers and Mysteries.  This is my most viewed blog.  TracyReaderDad is a pure blog. I sold (will sell) AltamontCowork to someone on Dec 31, 2014.  AltamontCowork was primarily a web site where I did a little blogging on telecommuting, coworking, etc.  But you can see that, by transferring ownership of this website, has allowed me to move on while helping the new owner take over. This WAS my primary blog for many years.  If you click on it you will be brought back to  I added a “redirect” when I decided to move into “retired” TechyMike mode. But, I loaded all the content from TelBitConsulting onto TechyMike, going back to 2006, including my very first blog ever, so my hard work would not get lost. :-)


TechyMike offers an INTENSIVE, but FUN, FAST PACED hour on the above subject with the guarantee that you will have a web site up and running in that one hour, and know the basics of administrating it!

The rest is up to you, I will teach you how to “fish”.


Reviewing Remote Work Locations (in Tracy, CA)

remote workers at the new mcdonalds

In August 2007 (several lifetimes ago in the technology world), I went around to three locations in Tracy, CA to see how the new fangled WiFi hot spots worked, and, if they also worked with videoconferencing.  The experiment went rather well.  Fast forward 7.5 years to 2015 and videoconferencing is ubiquitous, there are remote workers EVERYWHERE, and WiFi is commonplace in public areas (still not everywhere, but, getting there).  Over the next few months, TechyMike will re-visit my old blog and visit several locations (including two of the originals since my beloved Barnes & Noble skipped town) around Tracy, CA to review their environment with respect to remote work.

There will be only one essential requirement:  Free access to the Internet. Everything else is wide open, for example, can I work remotely in the Transit Station as effectively as Baristas or Starbucks or McDonalds or the Mall or Coworking or the ACE train, or ?????.

Among the items I will rate include, but are not limited to:

  • Ease of connecting to the Wifi
  • Staying connected to the WiFi
  • Speed of the WiFi as per the SpeakEasy Speed Test (
  • Noise level (I downloaded a noise level measurement app for my Samsung Galaxy Note 4)
  • Ambiance of the location (I will disregard home this time around)
  • Desk, or table space, availability
  • Availability of power
  • Availability of accessories (printer, conf room, etc)
  • Managements tolerance of remote workers staying for the day
  • Hours of operation or use that remote workers can gain access


Starting in January 2015, I will randomly pop-in at remote work locations around Tracy, CA and attempt to get some work done. While I am there I will gather information for this blog, and leave a card.

If you have a favorite location in Tracy, CA to remote work, let me know by commenting below!  I will check it out!!  :-)  


Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office

As a small business owner, purchasing office productivity software from Microsoft can be painful.

Luckily, there are free options available that work REALLY well.  I will look at two here:  Open Office and Google Docs.  But first, here is a list of what I think the free options need to fulfill to be a viable option for the small business owner:

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word.
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format.
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products)

Open Office (

open office logo

I started using Open Office many years ago and still use it today (even though I am drifting more and more to the cloud).

The latest versions of Open Office are very robust and easily interface with the world of Microsoft.   I use Open Office daily for invoices and spreadsheets for income vs expenses for JBB Cleaning Services.

Here is a screenshot of the features offered by Open Office taken from their web site:

open office description

So let’s see how Open Office stacks up to my feature criteria for a free office suite:

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word. (Writer)
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel (Calc)
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio (Draw)
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint (Impress)
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format. (Yes)
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products) (Yes)

Open Office meets all of my feature requirements.  And the price is right….FREE.  :-)

Google Docs (Use your Google log in)

google logo sort of

In my old business (which I will hand over to the new owner on Dec 31, 2014), and as TechyMike, I have used, and will continue to use, Google Docs almost exclusively (having switched from Open Office slowly over the past few years).

My invoices, drawings, signs, documents, presentations, and collaborations are all done via one or more of the Google Docs programs and stored on Google Drive.  And the BEST thing (other than not worrying about backing up my work) is that I can continue to work, and collaborate, from my SmartPhone using the Google apps for Docs, Sheets, Slides, and, Drive.


Enough with unbridled enthusiasm……How does Google stack up to my more objective feature requirements?

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word. (Docs)
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel (Sheets)
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio (Drawings)
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint (Slides)
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format (Yes)
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products) (Yes)

Per #6…Google Docs translates Microsoft documents to Google Docs format, but, does not translate Open Office documents.

google works with word


Small businesses need to save money.  Using free office suite software makes a lot of sense so you, as a small business owner, can use the money saved for marketing and advertising.

TechyMike bc snip

Build Your Own App for Android or IOS


Originally published on one year ago.  I will be publishing new stuff soon, life has just gotten in the way.

I bought a book on programming a few months back.  But….I decided I was just too damn old to learn all this stuff again.

I wished they had an app maker that was easy to use that worked well and did not require detailed programming knowledge.

Maybe one exists…or more than one.  As I was surfing the Internet today, I ran across this list on MASHABLE.  I will copy the first three (I hope they don’t mind…), then you have to visit the web site to see the rest.

I may give one or more a try….below is the article.  

Go HERE for the rest…of the list.

If you’ve ever wanted to build an app for your business, blog, product or service, but the heavy investment of both time and money put you off, you’re not alone.The good news is that entering the mobile market no longer necessarily requires thousands of dollars and months of work. There are many mobile platforms available to help you build an app on a budget — quickly, and with no coding knowledge required.With a small investment, you can create and manage your mobile site or application using one of the platforms listed below, and start reaping the advantages of offering your customers a dedicated mobile experience, including increased awareness, engagement and revenue.

  • 1. Appery


    Appery is a cloud-based mobile app builder that you can use to create apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and includes Apache Cordova (Phone Gap) with access to its built-in components.

    Since the builder runs in the cloud, there’s nothing to install or download, and it’s easy to get started quickly. It includes a visual editor using drag and drop components to build the UI. You can connect to any REST API and use it in your app, and instantly add a cloud database and backend to your app if you need to store data.

    You can add powerful functionality with the Appery plugin catalog, or create your own custom private plugins to use in your apps. Collaboration is simple, allowing you to share your mobile project with development teams, business users and customers in real time.

    Price: Plans start at Free and go up to $180 per month for Premium

  • 2. Mobile Roadie


    Mobile Roadie is an app creator that allows anyone to create and manage their own iOS or Android app. The platform supports all media types, with automatic importing of RSS, Twitter or Google News keywords, and an auto-refreshing fan wall through which users can chat with each other in real time.

    You can use the free Mobile Roadie Connect app to preview your app accurately, just as your users would on their devices. The app also guides you through the submission process, with Mobile Roadie checking the quality and appropriateness of your content.

    You can push content straight to your app and pull content from it to your own site or blog. The API is language agnostic, so you can pull data in a variety of formats, including XML, JSON, PHP, CSV and HTML. You can easily craft a custom look and feel for your app and apply that to all platforms, and use the suite of marketing tools once your app is launched.

    Price: Plans start at $125 per month (Core) and go up to $667 per month (Pro).

3. TheAppBuilder


TheAppBuilder provides a suite of apps to suit employees, clients, events and brochures, with two different approaches available. You can build the app using the online toolkit, and either the training provided or TheAppBuilder itself will work with you to define and build the structure of the app and populate it with initial content.

Using the dedicated AppLibrary, you can provide your users with a window into multiple apps and even customize it with your own branding. You can protect both public and private apps with usernames and passwords, and distribute them via the app store, making use of TheAppBuilder’s Active Directory integration to enable login with existing credentials and user groups.

Updating the structure and content of your apps is easy, even after you go live, because you can make unlimited updates and publish on multiple mobile platforms in one click. The platform supports native iPhone, iPad and Android, with updates going live within 60 seconds of submitting a change.

Price: Pricing available upon request

Taking A ScreenShot with Android

screen shot android

screen shot android

Got a Samsung (I have an S4) Android phone and need to take a screenshot?

Here is how you do it.

Hold the power button down and  the main / home button on the bottom of the phone…SIMULTANEOUSLY

Look in your pictures…..

Easy as 3.14. Here is a GREAT video from Android Authority that covers more devices.

Happy Screenshotting…..

Geek Christmas list coming soon….I have been distracted with all kinds of shit……


TechyMike Resurfaces in Tracy, CA



Back from the ashes of TelBitConsulting, YeOldeTechy, and AltamontCowork, the technical wizard we all know, and sort of love, Mike Pihlman has once again resurfaced in Tracy, CA.

Mike was spotted yesterday at Orchard Supply wandering the aisles. While he looked confused and disoriented, don’t be fooled.  Mike’s brain was actively thinking of the next step in technology….one that no one will understand for at least 20 years, or maybe, he was just confused and disoriented.  We may never know.

BUT….from that visit, the phoenix has arisen in the form of this new venture:  TechyMike

Armed with new knowledge (social media, web sites, apps, smartphones, yada)………TechyMike is ready, once again,  to help those less technical.

So stay tuned here for all the latest in technology.  First up…..the famous TelBitConsulting, now TechyMike, Geek Christmas List 2014.

Venture where no man has gone, may the geek be with you….

If you see this man aimlessly wandering around Tracy, CA….shake his hand and tell him you understand.  $1.00 donation would help.

techymike pic


WordPress Free Themes

virtual work

I am going to be playing with some WordPress FREE themes on this web site.

Comment below if you like or don’t like.

The first one installed July 25, 2014 is “Academica”.

I will keep it up for a couple of weeks and play with the options until I get tired of it.

So far, I am NOT liking this theme…so many issues and I have barely started using it.