Category Archives: Media and Technology

Vol. 9, No. 17 – May 25 – June 7, 2016 – Tech Today with Ken May

Tesla Unveils new Model 3

On April 1st, when Global Equities Research projected more than 300,000 reservations for the Tesla Model 3 electric car by the start of this week, that number seemed outlandish. Well, by the end of that weekend, the global total had reached 276,000, according to a tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

And that clearly caught even Tesla off guard, with Musk tweeting that the company would have to rethink its production plans for the 215-mile range, $35,000 (before tax credits) electric car that won’t hit the roads for almost two years under a best-case scenario.

Not all of those reservations will convert to actual orders, of course. But even if only half of them do, 150,000 Model 3s would amount to more plug-in electric cars than General Motors, Toyota, Ford, BMW, or VW Group has sold in more than five years. Only Nissan has sold more (slightly over 200,000 as of last month).

The response over the weekend to the Model 3 totals was predictable but nevertheless fascinating to watch. Tesla fans and investors were ecstatic, proclaiming that the Model 3 was the breakthrough vehicle that electric cars had required to enter the mainstream market. Faster, quieter, and more modern, it appeals to everything the market wants.

Tesla still must complete the Model 3 design, test and validate the car, get it certified by dozens of different regulators around the world, and tool up its factories for production levels 10 times as high as its best to date. It must also bring its massive battery Gigafactory online not only to assemble battery packs from imported cells, as it does now, but to fabricate and produce the actual cells themselves in the highest-volume battery plant in the U.S. If the company is to meet its recently confirmed deadline of starting Model 3 production by the end of next year, it has to do all that in 18 months.

Finally, many financial analysts suggest that Tesla will have to raise additional capital, especially if it believes it needs to boost its Model 3 production volume beyond what it expected to build before the surge of post-debut orders. It customarily costs $200 million to $500 million to equip a high-volume production line, one capable of building 150,000 cars a year.

It is almost surely hyperbole to proclaim that the Tesla Model 3 poses an “existential crisis for the auto industry”, yet all of the current auto companies, which often speak about the ultimate decision-making power of the market and providing the cars that buyers are willing to pay for, are likely to do some hard thinking about the mix of qualities that make the Model 3 and Tesla Motors attractive enough for that many people to risk a four-figure sum on faith in a car they don’t know that much about.

Except, of course, for those carmakers, fewer and fewer in number, who continue to dismiss Tesla as an unsustainable and short-term phenomenon that will inevitably crash and burn. But it seems a little clearer today that a reasonably priced battery-electric car, with 200 miles of range or more, can find buyers if it’s good-looking and performs well. Perhaps the final piece of the puzzle is that the fast, good-looking, affordable 200-mile electric car is also accompanied by a free, fast-growing nationwide network of DC fast-charging sites.

It may be a week of pondering among the car companies of the world.

Vol. 9, No. 16 – May 11 – May 24, 2016 – Tech Today

Tech Today with Ken May

What is the Internet of Things, and what does it mean for me?

Have you heard anything about the Internet of Things, AKA IoT? It’s been in and out of the news quite a bit, for both good and bad reasons. Forbes says The Internet of Things is becoming an increasingly growing topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it. It’s a concept that not only has the potential to impact how we live but also how we work. But what exactly is the IoT, and what impact is it going to have on you, if any? There are a lot of complexities around the “Internet of Things” but I want to stick to the basics. Lots of technical and policy-related conversations are being had but many people are still just trying to grasp the foundation of what the heck these conversations are about.

Let’s start with understanding a few things.

High speed Internet has become more widely available, the cost is decreasing, more devices are being created with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors built into them, technology costs are going down, and smartphone ownership is sky-rocketing.  All of these things are creating a “perfect storm” for the IoT.

So What Is the Internet of Things?

Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of.  This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig. As I mentioned, if it electricity, then chances are it can be a part of the IoT.  The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices. That’s a lot of connections, and some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion.  The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people).  The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

How Does This Impact You?

The new rule for the future is going to be, “Anything that can be connected, will be connected.” But why on earth would you want so many connected devices talking to each other? There are many examples for what this might look like or what the potential value might be. Say for example you are on your way to a meeting; your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take. If the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late. What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 a.m. and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you? What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more?  What if the wearable device you used in the workplace could tell you when and where you were most active and productive and shared that information with other devices that you used while working?

Of course, this opens huge security and privacy issues. IT departments are already dealing with the fallout from finding previously undiscovered holes in their networks because of IoT devices. There are great concerns with Smart TVs with webcams spying on people and recording conversations. As consumers, we must support watchdog organizations to ensure that civil liberties are not being violated, and legislate harsh penalties for those caught doing so.

What’s new in Virtual Reality?

Tech Today with Ken May

2016 just might be the year that Virtual Reality finally makes it into the mainstream gaming audience. Right now, there are several strong contenders in the VR arena. Oculus, with its flagship Rift, is owned by Facebook. Samsung has its Gear VR, Sony, its PlayStation VR, and HTC recently launched its highly anticipated Vive VR system. The last time we heard a lot of noise about VR was back in the 1990s. They were doomed form the start, though, with huge hardware, poor graphics, and a cost that prohibited any consumer purchases.

What exactly is Virtual Reality you ask? In its current incarnation, a VR headset rests on the user’s head, covering the eyes, and has built in headphones to produce an immersive experience. The player usually has a controller in one or more hands, although there may also be a Kinect-type hands-free camera tracking systems as well. The headset is able to track your head movements in any direction, so wherever you look, your game character looks. Virtual Reality is going to be a game-changer for many industries, for example, the porn industry is trying to make waves with virtual real shows of adult actors and actresses.

Right now, each device has its own unique specs or features that might make it more attractive than another, but they are all roughly the same. A key differentiator for the public may wind up being cross-platform compatibility. It’s expected that the Sony unit will only work with games on its platform, however the Oculus and HTC units support PC gaming. Both the Samsung Gear and the Oculus have some Android support for mobile gaming. Currently, it looks like iPhone users have to deal with cheap units that actually strap the phone to your head.

Virtual Reality device sales will hit 14 million units worldwide in 2016, providing a strong launch point for the category, according to data released from the Topology Research Institute, a division of research firm TrendForce. The firm expects sales to rise to 18 million units in 2017 and 22 million by the end of 2018. In 2020, sales could reach 38 million units worldwide.

The HTC Vive which went up for pre-order on February 29, and is due to start shipping on April 5, apparently racked up more than 15,000 pre-orders in less than 10 minutes, according to a tweet by HTC VR dev Shen Ye. That’s impressive considering this is a $799 system, and it requires a strong PC to run anything. The Oculus Rift, is also up for pre-order, costing $599, and also due to ship in April.

Virtual Reality games require less resources to produce than Virtual Reality movies, according to TrendForce. “First-person games in particular can be ported to VR devices with some modifications,” the firm said in a release Tuesday. “The relatively low costs and minimal time requirement thus will be strong incentives for game developers as they will become major content providers for VR hardware.”

Ultimately, VR entertainment, such as movies, and streaming live events could be the killer features it needs to gain traction.

Tech Today with Ken May

What is Linux?

Sheldon sent in this request to me, and I think it might be useful for some of you out there that may have heard of Linux, and were wondering what it was all about. There are essentially two things needed to have a functioning computer: hardware and software. Hardware comprises all the physical components that you put together, and software is all the programs that you run to get work done. It used to be that you could only run certain kinds of programs on certain hardware, but that is mostly a concern of the past. These days, you can install whatever operating system you wish on most hardware, and have pretty good luck at getting it all working. The operating system is the underlying software the provides an environment and interface to make those programs run. Some common operating systems include Microsoft Windows, Apple’s OSX, and various different types of Linux.

The history of Linux began in 1991 with the commencement of a personal project by Finnish student Linus Torvalds to create a new, free operating system. This means anybody can download the code and install it on any hardware they want, without needing to pay for a software license. Because Linus shared the code under an open source license, anyone is free to make their own version, or to contribute fixes and enhancements.

There are thousands of different distributions of Linux, but only a few that have achieved mainstream popularity.

Ubuntu, which is built on the Debian platform, has easily been the most popular version, and is one of the easier to use variants. Before that, Red Hat, and OpenS– USE were quite popular. Right now, the most popular specific distribution, according to, has been Linux Mint, itself a variation of Ubuntu.

Why is it better? Linux Mint tries to ‘just work’ out of the box, and succeeds far better for the average user, than many distributions that came before it. Also, you really do not have to worry about viruses anywhere near the level you would on Windows, or even OSX.

What’s the catch? Linux does not run windows software. Not by itself. You can install a special program that can run some windows software under Linux, called “WINE,” but this can get complicated very quickly, and no software vendor will support this. Additionally, it will be like learning how to use a computer all over again, since nothing will be where you expect it, from years of using Windows or OSX. Also, please do not attempt to use Linux on your main computer, un less you know what you are doing. It can very easily wind up wiping out your data, if you aren’t careful. I would recommend trying it out on an old computer that can safely be erased.

That being said, there are often local groups that will help you get to know Linux, and how to use it.

If you would like to give Linux Mint a try, it can be downloaded from the default version is called the “Cinnamon” desktop.

Vol. 9, No. 8 – January 20 – February 2, 2016 – Tech Today

Tech Today with Ken May
How to sell your electronic devices

Happy new year! With a new year comes new electronics, be tablets, phones, laptops or what have you. There is a much better solution than to just let those device sit around and gather dust! The more adventurous and technically inclined may wish to hack the devices into “do it yourself” projects, but for most of us, it is better to simply sell them. Well, here it is in 2016, and there’s more options than ever, and it’s very, very easy to do! Here are some of the most popular options right now.

  1. Auction style

EBay is the gold standard here. It is a pretty safe bet to say that if you look through the most recent completed listings, you will have a very good idea of what your device is worth on the open market. Be sure to set your buyer filters to not allow people with negative feedback to bid. You may also want to disallow new members from bidding. There is nothing more frustrating than selling your item, and having a non-paying bidder.

  1. Bulletin board style

Craigslist is the go to for local, community listings. Creeps and scammers abound, so you want to take every precaution. Only meet in a public place for the transaction, and only do cash. If you have larger item, craigslist may be the way to go, if you want to avoid dealing with shipping.

  1. Consignment style

These sites are starting to pop up now. They will pick a price, you ship it to them, the list and sell it for you. You won’t get as much as eBay, but it is less hassle. Glyde is a front runner here. You have to wait for it to sell, but don’t have to deal with the seller. I would recommend avoiding this route, and just go for eBay or a direct sale site.

  1. Direct sale style

This has exploded recently. Sites like Amazon Trade-In, Gazelle and Nextworth are some front runners. They will pay you up front for your device. You probably get the least amount of cash using this method, but you get paid right away, and it is done. It’s very easy to sell this way, since you can just click through a few screens to find out the value of your item. There are even mall kiosks doing this now, but their payouts are terrible.

In the end, there is a variety of options out there, so you can choose the method that your feel is right for you. It is definitely worth spending a little time checking out what you would get for you item from the various sites. I have seen pricing range by as much as $50-$100! Keep in mind that you’ll get the most value for a working device in good condition. If your device is broken, eBay may be your best bet.

How to pick the right printer

Tech Today with Ken May

Hopefully November is treating you all well! One item that folks often purchase during Black Friday is a new printer. Printers are often deeply discounted as a loss leader to get people in the store, but it may not be worth it, even at a heavy discount. Finding the right printer for your needs is critical, or you’ll just be wasting money, and not getting the service you need from it.

The first step is to understand what you will primarily be using it for. Are you a photographer? A teacher? A mechanical engineer? Different technologies come into play for each of these use cases. If you want something inexpensive, prints ok color, but only handles small amounts of printing, then an Inkjet printer is probably a good choice. If you want something portable, yes portable!! Then we have recently discovered portable printers (see here: and we cannot wait to get our hands on one! For better photo picture quality, choose one with pigment based inks, such as those by Epson. If you need high volume, fast printing, definitely go with a laser printer. It might also be a good idea to consider copier lease professionals if you don’t want to own a professional printer but want to be able to use one regularly.

Costs for the printers themselves have come down quite a bit, but ink and toner is still very expensive. If color isn’t necessary, you may be best suited by an inexpensive black and white printer that uses toner. Toner doesn’t dry out so if you are printing infrequently, you aren’t wasting ink.

Make sure that your printer has all the necessary features you need. Many of the cheaper printers now have great business class features built in for no extra cost. Decide if you need to fax, copy, print double sided, have an automatic document feeder, and all the other features you need. If there is a printer that you are after, but is not compatiable with your computer when you firs connect it, you can always look into solutions like hp scan software so you can search for any updates for your printer, alongside looking at all the important details. Connectivity options are also critical these days. Networked printers make life a lot easier, however, we continue to see issues with Wi-Fi printers. Some brands are better than others, but even after all this time, they can be flaky. So, we recommend using a wired Ethernet connection for the best results. This may require additional cabling to be run, depending on where you will be placing it, so keep that in mind.

Make sure that the printer is small enough to get the job done without being so large that you can’t move it easily around, if needed. Many times, the printers need to be moved or repositioned due to your office needs. This is why you may want to consider small desktop printers for each office versus one huge copy machine. Large copy machines make sense in a larger business environment, but not in a home. They also typically come with expensive service plans from the vendors, which greatly adds to their cost.

Lastly, if you’re just getting to know printer technology, start simple. Better to purchase a fancier, more advanced model later, rather than buying a top of the line model that doesn’t fit what your needs are.

Tech Today with Ken May

Ken May

What to look for when buying a computer – Part 1

Buying a computer is no easy task, and with the cost of many of the machines out on the market today, you want to make sure you’re making the right purchase so you don’t blow your money on something that stops meeting your demands within a year. Not all machines are created equal, and unless you’re pretty familiar with computer hardware, you might have a hard time determining just how unequal they are.

This guide should help you get a better understanding of what all the components of the computer will mean for you and make it easier to decide what you want, need, and which elements to prioritize so you get the right computer for you and don’t spend any more money than you must.

  1. Desktop or Laptop?

This is probably one of the simplest choices to make and can have a big impact on the overall cost of your computer, including expenses that might not come right at the time of the purchase. In general, if a laptop and desktop are boasting all of the same performance specs, the desktop will be cheaper. It might not make sense, since it’s a bigger piece of hardware, but the ability to cram a lot of components into a small space and the need for a battery is what ups the price of the laptop — notice the premium paid for Apple’s thinner devices.

If you often need your computer on the go, the choice is simple: laptop. If it’s only occasional and you don’t need much more than a browser or word processor, you may be able to find a cheap tablet or netbook to do the job, and could potentially afford it with the money you save by getting a desktop as your primary computer. Many people mistake their need for a word processor and internet accessibility with a need for the fanciest computer on the market, which is frankly misguided. Instead of unnecessarily spending the big bucks on a fancy computer, it may be wise to invest in something like a word processor scanner from somewhere like FilecenterDMS, which can help you scan your files and recognize your text in the simplest way possible.

  1. Know the processor and what it means

The simplest way to explain the processor is that it’s the brain of the machine. If you want a fast computer that boots up programs in a flash, completes tasks as soon as you start them, and doesn’t keep you waiting, then you want the strongest processor available — and who doesn’t? You just have to know what you’re looking at when you see a processor’s details.

The short and simple of processors is in the number of cores and the speed (labeled in GHz or Gigahertz) of the processor. The speed of the chip will tell you how much data it can process in how much time, so the bigger the number, the better. The number of cores functions as a multiplier, as the processor is actually a stack of cores that each run at the listed speed (e.g. a single-core 2GHz processor is a lot slower than a four-core 2GHz processor). Multiple cores can also help with multi-tasking, as each can be working on different tasks.

Make sure to ask how many cores are on the chip and what the clock speed is. Two computers might both say they have an Intel i5 chip, but the number of models that go into the group are many and their speeds and core counts can be leagues apart.

Tune in next issue for Part 2!

Should you upgrade to Windows 10?

Tech Today with Ken May

Considering windows 7 end of life is soon approaching and Windows 10 was officially released back in July, many of you are probably wondering if you should do the upgrade. Particularly compelling this time around is that fact Microsoft is offering the upgrade free for the first year that it’s available. Coming hot off the heels of a fairly lackluster showing for its last release, Windows 8, Microsoft is betting the farm on this one.

I can say anecdotally that so far, after upgrading five computers, some Windows 7 and some Windows 8, it was one of the smoothest experiences I’ve ever had upgrading an operating system. One computer, which was the first one I did, on launch day, lost its video card driver, but it detected that it was missing, and automatically installed it after a reboot.

Every single application we’ve tested so far has worked just fine in Windows 10. Drivers and other software that worked in Windows 7and 8 all seem to be working well.

If you have an older PC, running Vista or Windows XP, you may run into issues with device drivers, but at this point, you’re probably lucky the computer is still running! Some privacy concerns have been raised about Windows 10, namely, that it sends diagnostic data back towards Microsoft. The concerns have been deeply examined, and it doesn’t look like Microsoft is doing anything differently than most other providers. In order to use features like Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri-like personal assistant feature, it needs to be constantly updating and learning.

Other concerns raised are regarding the new way Windows handles security and system updates. For the most part, by default, updates now automatically come in and are applied to your computer without requiring your approval. The updates go through 3-4 rounds of ever increasingly sized pools of people testing them first before they get to you. As a field technician for many years, and now as a CEO running a company that manages hundreds of computers for our clients, I’m extremely pleased by this. The vast majority of security issues we’ve seen, especially including virus infections, have been due to out of date computers missing critical patches. Many people seem to ignore these updates, so this new method should cut down the amount of infections we see.

The bottom line is, should you upgrade? At this point, we’re saying yes. If you had Windows 7, things are a little different, but it won’t take too much time to get used to. If you had Windows 8, definitely upgrade, as Windows 10 is much more user friendly, especially with the return of the Start Menu. Lastly, battery life has been improved a bit as well as the optional touch interface that runs on devices with touch screens, so if you have a mobile device, there’s even more reason to upgrade.

3-D printing limitless possibilities and available for free

stuff 3D printingArticle and photo by Richard Lieberman

The spotlight is on 3-D printing, a technology that has been emerging since engineers in the 1980’s produced working models, and since then the printers have undergone refinements and technological improvements that have brought the devices to the general public. Schools are getting 3-D printers, Small businesses are putting the devices to work, Libraries have discovered 3-D printers, there are even 3-D printer models designed for home use at affordable prices.

Ron Solorzano, Library Technician I at the E.P Foster Library, 651 E. Main Street, Ventura, has embraced the technology with a fervor that began nearly 2 years ago when the Library acquired its first 3-D printers. One of Mr. Solórzano’s goals is to introduce 3-D printing to schools, and school age children “it’s moving so fast, and the technology is getting better” said Solorzano. Solórzano added “We are giving the tools the community needs to effectively use, and embrace this technology.”

The library is offering workshops, every Wednesday to acquaint the public with 3-D printing techniques, use of the software needed, and the tools to accomplish 3-D modeling. The public is also welcome to find and share the modeling work of others. There are several websites for 3-D modelers that share work already done. Many of the models can be downloaded and brought to the library and printed.

3-D printing has enormous potential, and has been used to create things as small as a human cell and as large as a bridge.

The first steps in creating a 3-D image is to create an image of the item the user is attempting to create using various software suites. After designing and creating the image it is then sent to the printer. Production begins with a platform where the model will be built. The printer then lays down a very thin layer of material. The library lab is using PLA Filament as the basic material, and offers it to the public at 10 cents per gram.  Then the printer lays down layer after layer, until the designed item is built, building from the ground up.

The printers and the process is popular among manufacturers, and production facilities giving the facilities a solid 3-D prototype to examine. This process gives an advantage to many manufacturers by allowing the manufacturer to skip the costly, and intensive process of casting aluminum or other metals to create tooling. The 3-D printing process gives a manufacturer the opportunity to efficiently and inexpensively create castings and skip the long-term casting process.

Fully functional items are rarely produced. Items are made with many pieces that need to be assembled after coming off the printers. Some people believe that 3-D printers will ultimately change the way the world does business. Some believe that manufacturing will no longer be the province of large corporations with elaborate factories. Instead they will be replaced by rows of functioning 3-D printers printing anything from buttons to chocolate concoctions already being used by the Hershey Corporation.

Currently Solórzano has been promoted and will be leaving the E.P. Foster library to join the main library in Ojai. “We are currently cross training 4 staff members to take over the 3-D printer operations .” Added Solórzano.

An opportunity to try your hand at designing and using 3-D printing is available at the library. Call the library for the training schedule and to enroll in one of the offered classes (805) 648-3696.

Quiet Zone – No Cell Phones Allowed in 13,000 square miles in West Virginia

The Quiet Zone – No Cell Phones Allowed in 13,000 square miles in West Virginia
National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) – Wikipedia