The Professor's Notes

Where my thoughts and your eyes (and now ears!) collide

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Google Glass and Supply Chain Management

Posted by Steve Brady On April - 8 - 20144 COMMENTS

I am pleased to share my first article posted on my new column with Eye For Transport. I will be writing regularly on innovations and technology in the supply chain. I decided to lead off with an article about Google Glass and the implications of wearable technologies on Supply Chain Operations. Go read the article, and let me know your thoughts on the future of wearable–and what you think I should include in my next article.

Upgrade Time… and questions. I need advice!

Posted by Steve Brady On July - 15 - 20131 COMMENT

So wise friends:  Time to replace my Motorola Xoom (with LTE) tablet. The battery is now finally wearing out.  I got it so that I can tether when traveling and it has served me well.  I have decided on the Galaxy Note 10.1 (I like the SPen).

So here’s my decision:

1.  Get the tablet, with LTE, for $600 (and 16 GB of ram) or…
2.  Get the WIFI only tablet for $499 and 32 GB of ram, and get a mobile hotspot (the “Jetpack”) for $50.

Now–I like option 2. It’s cheaper, and perhaps more flexible.  But.. I almost always travel with my tablet, and it means there is one more thing to keep charged, AND that I can either forget at home, or forget on the road.


Internet Trumps Education? I think not…

Posted by Steve Brady On April - 22 - 2013ADD COMMENTS

Contrary to what some may say (including close family relatives) the internet isn’t “all that” for solving every problem. Many seem to think that the internet (twitter) really led the way in reporting news because of access to police scanners, much “dis- and mis- information” still was circulated.  In fact, the WSJ recently posted an article “Cops to Boston Bombing Crowdsourcers: Please Don’t Try This at Home” (where the ‘hidden’ title in the browser bar is “Internet worried Boston Bombing Investigators”)

Despite what even my nephew may have thought, just because you hear something on a police scanner doesn’t make it correct even if you heard it correctly, and there is always a high likelihood that it will be “mis-heard.” During any operation (especially military and military style operations) there exists the “fog of war.” People report what they see, and they often are incorrect. Remember, eye-witnesses to events are often the least objective reporters. Police, while we would like to think are ‘trained observers’ are not immune to these problems as well. In fact, in their rush to share information with their colleagues, WHO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF THE NEWS SHARED, they may share wrong, or later to be found wrong, information.

People listening over the internet to the scanners often (always?) don’t understand the nature of what is shared, and repeat it as fact. One quote from someone tweeting what they were hearing was “I can say the police scanner is pretty reliable.” But at age 16, he doesn’t understand the inherent problems associated with ‘immediate” situational reporting. He hasn’t been there–and yet he reported everything he heard as “fact” because it was the cops. He of course also shared it in “all caps” which (as my daughter pointed out, is shouting — see and re-read my use of caps above.)

BOTTOM LINE: Professionals, with extensive training in their fields, who have developed an intuition born through repetition and education, remain the best suited for dealing with their disciplines and ultimately making a difference. This is true regardless of whether it is a police officer, a neurosurgeon, or even a pancreatic cancer researcher.

I will leave you with one question: Who would you want to draft the plans for a new skyscraper–a structural engineer, or someone who has “read a lot” on the internet?

TERRORISM: Used by our own government to Terrorize Our Own Citizens?

Do you wonder how the government manipulates words to make us “feel” certain ways, with the intention of manipulating the population as well?

I have to admit, in a discussion with my Brother (Christian Brady) about terrorism I was sticking to the long standing definition of terrorism that defines it based on the intent to create fear in the populace. That is the definition that most people think but I have been quite surprised (!=) to learn that the FBI and the State Department have adopted a far broader definition.

Under the FBI definition, “Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

Note that there is not mention of the desire to incite or induce terror or fear. It’s simply doing something to coerce. The definition of “international terrorism” is equally broad:

“violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government…”

In reading this it is small wonder that people are unable to draw distinctions between Guerrilla warfare and terrorists. We hear “terrorists” and “Terrorism” and we immediately have a picture in our minds based on the portrayal in the media of rag-tag groups of ne’er do wells, hell bent on their agenda and assume they are attacking the general population. By the current definition the Viet Cong were not Guerrillas fighting in the jungles of Viet Nam, they were “terrorists.” In fact, Mao Tse Tung, the master of Guerrilla warfare was actually just another Osama Bin Laden.

But this is not the case. Remember the USS Cole? We claim it was a “terrorist” attack by a “terrorist organization” but in reality it was a targeted attack on a legitimate military target. We may have not liked the way they snuck up beside us on a boat, and that they have never “declared war” on us as a nation-state would. but that doesn’t in any way negate the decision to target a military unit.

So what happens when our government chooses to define “terrorism” so broadly? Why would they choose to do that?

First, given the “general” view that terrorism is against the population and designed to strike fear into our hearts, by constantly labeling acts and actors as “terrorists” the government leads us into that very fear. We willingly give ourselves over to the police state to protect us, because as we have seen with all the “security” measures introduced in the past week “we aren’t safe” even in our own homes. (Of course, it was the police entering all the homes in Watertown but that is a different discussion.)

Second, and most importantly, the government deflects the discussion. We immediately know that these are “irrational” actors bent on inflicting harm. We aren’t talking about the legitimacy of the claims of the combatants. We can go after them with impunity because, after all, they are “lawless” individuals and organizations. (And yet, we view them as “enemy combatants” as well. Irony? Expediency?)

We need, as a nation, to step back and evaluate how not only the media, but our own government has been controlling the message, and through that message controlling our responses. How they, in an effort to “fight terrorism” legitimize actions solely on the basis of the description of “terrorism” rather than looking at and assessing the broader policy and geo-political issues that surround these actions.

So what makes one a terrorist?

Real Tech for Real People has gone Video!

Posted by Steve Brady On November - 24 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

I haven’t done a sufficient job of sharing it from here, but our Real Tech for Real People podcast has gone video!  We use the Google+ Hangout “On Air” feature to not only share our show live, but also to record it and make it available on YouTube.  We have been broadcasting since episode 115, and you can find over in my channel on YouTube.

I don’t usually mention these things, but there are two ways you can support Real Tech for Real People, and this website.  The first is through a simple donation using the link to the right.  The second is by simply using our Amazon affiliate program when making your regular Amazon purchases.  Talk about an easy, and painless, way to help out! Just by using our links when you go make your regular purchases at Amazon you support this website and Real Tech for Real People.

And now, let’s catch up with  Real Tech for Real People Episode 130!


What “drives” you?

Posted by Steve Brady On August - 22 - 20111 COMMENT

I had a discussion recently that centered around academia, and incentives.  The point I was attempting to make centered around the notion that we get as a result not what we “want” but what we “reward.”  It’s a generally accepted concept that people behave based on their perception of the incentives.  Some are positive incentives (annual bonus, the Christmas ham) and some are negative (loss of job, prison, rejection.)  These are, of course, the extrinsic motivators.

There are intrinsic motivators–those things you do because you are just internally motivated to do them.  Perhaps you enjoy a task (graphic design, podcasting), or you feel a “calling” to be doing something (the preacher on the sidewalk, the environmentalist chained to a tree.)

I am wondering–what motivates you? And specifically, what motivates you at work?

Do you live to work, or do you work to live?

Researcher, Scholar? Tomato, Tomato?

Posted by Steve Brady On July - 16 - 20112 COMMENTS

I wanted to get some feedback from the readers of the blog (and other places) on what the distinction is between a researcher and a scholar.  My first thought is that a researcher conducts research, but a scholar is one who conducts scholarship.  Sadly, that may not be so simple a distinction.   The “quick and dirty” place for such answers is, of course,  There we find:



1. diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications,etc.: recent research in medicine.

2. a particular instance or piece of research.



1. learning; knowledge acquired by study; the academic attainments of a scholar.

Upon further clickage, a scholar is defined as

“a learned or erudite person, especially one who has profoundknowledge of a particular subject.”

Interestingly, there is no such distinction in definitions for Researcher vs Research.

If we look at what defines the two is the distinction one more of the approach used?  Is it that a “researcher” follows a “systematic approach”  to gathering new information–a methodology, if you will, while a scholar may not follow such a rigorously defined structure?  It that is the case, I would as that you answer a few questions:  researcher of scholar?

Security — It’s about YOU not just your PC

Posted by Steve Brady On June - 13 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Lots of stories have made the news lately about hackers getting in to Sony, and Nintendo, and NPR and…. the list goes on.   In addition, we have continuing stories about personal computers getting hacked, including the (impenetrable) Mac! 1

I just want to quickly point out a few things, as I prepare for tomorrow night’s Real Tech for Real People podcast (listen live at 9PM ET).

1.  It’s not just computer security–it’s your personal security.  Sony unfortunately stored way too much information about you on their site and in the clear meaning that the hackers got people’s passwords, and credit card numbers, as well as other personal identifying information.  Talk about “bad juju.” Read the rest of this entry »

  1.  John Gruber has declared that all the protestations about the Mac being vulnerable is simply PC folks “crying wolf.”   I  believe this to be a VERY appropriate analogy.  Remember, in the story the wolf finally does come, and no one believes Peter.  Imagine if people refuse to believe that the Mac is vulnerable.

How to sort Kindle Clippings file?

Posted by Steve Brady On January - 29 - 20111 COMMENT

The Kindle is a great device, allowing users to not only read with the comfortable eInk display, but also to highlight and take notes.  The drawback (as I had previously noted) is that the plain text file is saved in the order in which you enter the information.  It is truly “miscellaneous” without any clear means to sort.  I have written a macro that runs in Word that will sort the clippings by book and then sort by placement in the book.

So far, many have found it to be quite useful, but it was initially limited to Windows versions of Word because Microsoft removed VBA from the Mac versions  Microsoft has since added VBA back in, making the macro accessible for users of both Mac and Windows.

If you have a Kindle, feel free to try the macro.  If you like it, please consider making a donation–every $1 dollar helps.

iOS 4.1 Giveth, but mostly Taketh Away (from 3G)

Posted by Steve Brady On September - 10 - 20103 COMMENTS

By now everyone has heard that Apple has released the latest version of their iPhone operating system, the iOS 4.1. Jobs showed many exciting new features, and promised bug fixes, which he said including the poor performance issues experienced by 3G owners. Well, they certainly fixed the performance issue–but at what price?

I bought the iPhone 3G when it came out in 2008. Yes, I even waited in line for an Apple device.1 I liked the phone, and unlike many others really felt no need to upgrade to the 3GS the next year, or even the iPhone 4.2 I did jailbreak my phone, but I only did that after Apple unceremoniously removed the Google Voice application from the App Store.

I did generally update my phone whenever a new update came out, only waiting first to ensure the jailbreak was also available at the time. This was true with the 4.0 update as well. I wanted folders, and multitasking. Who wouldn’t? It’s what we have all been clamoring for since the first iPhone arrived. And, as promised iOS 4.0 (and later, 4.01) delivered. Sadly, for iPhone 3G owners that meant that we paid a great price–our phones no longer responded to our desires with swift efficiency. Instead our phones responded sluggishly, if at all. Answering phone calls became a race between the phone responding to my command to answer, and the caller’s patience on the other end. More often than not the caller, unaware of the skirmish between me and my phone, would hang up.

So I, like every other 3G owner who had upgraded to 4.0, upgraded when the 4.1 iOS rolled out. And yes, the snap, the responsiveness, is back. Mostly.

But “Surprise!” that is the only significant new feature announced in 4.1 to actually make it into the 3G version of 4.1.3 In fact, they removed multitasking!

I will say, I was never happier with my decision to switch to the Android OS and the Samsung Captivate Phone I made the switch days before the iOS 4.1 update. I thought it was a good chance to try to Android OS, and I have 30 days with AT&T to decide if I want to keep the phone. I will provide a review of the Captivate later, but after 1 week, I am definitely thinking this is a keeper.

  1. Truth be told, it was a short line. Nothing like the lines for the original iPhone the year before.
  2. Probably because I already had the “wifis”.
  3. Actually, the nearly useless “Ping” did make it into the 3G phone. Yeah-useless. In my opinion.

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