My Brother and his Porsche

I never used to be the biggest fan of technology.

I know that seems a strange thing to say on a blog centred around electronics, but it’s true.

When I grew up in the 80s, it wasn’t exactly ‘cool’ to be into computers.

Star Trek, the sci-fi sensation that had got the world wondering about our bright collective futures, had ended 15 years ago and people had decided to relegate it to the past, along with an interest in space, technology and gadgets as a fad. The optimism and idealism that had fuelled the Moon Landings some 12 years or so back had been forgotten; replaced by a sense of dread and hopelessness.

It was this joyful world that I was born into. My father worked in an office, filing papers for an Insurance Broker, his role was a junior one that was shackled by the technological limitations that still gripped the rest of the world. I don’t suppose there’s a job title for what he really did – computers do all the filing now. I remember him being dimly aware of his waning usefulness, as if he knew that the job that he had dedicated a large portion of his waking life to, would soon be made obsolete.

My brother was under no illusion about this. When he’d grown old enough to start ‘piping up’, as my Father would call it, he would berate my Dad for being stuck in a dead end job with no skills, whilst the rest of the world learned about the wonders of the future that would see us gainfully employed in the 21st Century, driving floating Porsches. That’s the part that would rankle my Father the most and send him flying out the door on his way to three swiftly drained pints at The Lamb & Flag.

I couldn’t say that my brother’s portents were completely misplaced. He studied hard at school, focusing on the Sciences that would later usher him into the world of Information Technology, whereas I looked to follow my Father’s footsteps and enter into the world of Financial Administration.

Little did we know, that by the turn of the new century, we would all be typing and clicking on high-powered computers as if we were putting pen to paper. The floating Porsches haven’t quite arrived yet, I always tease him about this, when I see him. His answer to this running joke was buying a vintage Porsche for my Father on his 65th Birthday – a gift so extravagant and kindhearted that it could not be refused.

A few years after my Father passed away, my brother picked me up, on the way to Liverpool to take the car in. Tech-9 Porsche Servicing would be giving the car its annual look-over.

We drove down the M6, him opening up the engine a little too aggressive, me slightly gripping the sides of the car. I’d never quite got used to how low to the ground the vehicle sat and it unnerved me to know that the hard tarmac was whizzing just a few inches beneath me at over 80mph. He’d earned the money for it, a decade before, through working overseas for an American Electronics firm. On that trip, he persuaded me to make a lateral job move, away from the Civil Service and into the Private Technology sector.

My Father was a man that I admired very much – but in the end it was my brother’s example I had to follow to reach my goals.

HoloLens Steps Up and Green Electronics Progress…

It’s the year 2017 and each week we’re presented by more and more possibilities for the application of our considerable advances.

 This week is no different and our friend from Hawaii, Joan, has done her best to cherry pick the most interesting developments in the world of electronics. 

Infrared link Could Replace Wires In Data Centres

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the sight of loose wires. My husband is constantly trolling me for my ‘tidiness complex’ as he calls it, but the truth is that our home would be a cluttered mess if wasn’t for my ‘little social disorder’.

The TV is so often the source of the untidiness. Years of collecting videos on varying formats, video game consoles and speaker sets has led to a lethal ‘no man’s land’ of knotted cables developing behind the TV, something that I choose to ignore rather than sort out. These worries could well be a thing of the past though, if the technology that’s being developed at Penn State University makes to the wide world.

Using infrared free-space optics, engineers working for a group of Universities have figured out a way of replacing cables in data centres with simple lasers and receivers. These connections can carry data at a speed of 10Gb/s and could be the start of a semi-wireless future. Prof. Kavehrad, spokesperson for the study, has said that he’d like to simplify the process even more by removing the fire optics altogether.

Microsoft’s HoloLens Gets First Medical Simulation Tool

Since the dawn of Virtual Reality last year, with the market release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, there has been an increasing interest from the Medical community in the technology.

It’s not hard to see why Medical Practitioners and Surgeons are so interested in this burgeoning technology.

The human body is a wonderfully unique and complex creation, students may get a certain amount of experience studying cadavers but the opportunities they get to learn about surgery, outside of theoretical classes, are slim. Although last year’s VR releases have provided developers with ample opportunity to develop supporting programs, it’s Microsoft’s AR competitor, HoloLens, that is currently showing the most promise.

CAE Healthcare, one of the leading Healthcare Simulation companies in the States, has officially announced the first Medical Solution application for Microsoft’s, yet to be released, Augmented Reality headset. The application allows students and teachers to practice surgical procedures on real-dummies, whilst the interior of the ‘patient’ is visible through the use of 3-Dimensional Anatomical Map. This innovation could help students get the practice (and confidence) they need in developing their skills before moving on to the real thing.

Future of Green Technologies Looking Bright

Lastly, the idea of your phone or laptop being solely created with the use of biological materials may well seem a little strange, but it’s a reality that we are now one step closer to, thanks to positive progress made by microbiologists at the University of Massachusetts.

The similarity between the way biological cells communicate to each other and traditional electronics work have been noted for a while, but scientists have yet to find a naturally occurring example of this phenomena, until now that is.

According to their report, which you can read in full in this week’s mBio, they have discovered ‘a type of natural wire’ that has ‘substantial advantages over human-made materials’. Derek Lovley, taking the lead on this project, has stated that the natural microbial nanowires are cheaper and easier to create compared to their chemically synthesised counterparts.

The research is in it’s early stages still, so we might have a while to wait before our phones are grown from test tubes.

 

How Electronics Helped Me Travel The World

The first time I used a computer I was 16 years old – now I travel the world working for start-ups.

My journey from tech-novice to gainfully employed graduate in the Electronics Industry is an unlikely one: unbelievable and bizarre.

It’s the story of a widowed Nigerian man seeing the opportunity and promise in further lands. It’s about his son (that’s me) grasping onto his Father’s dream – that they can overcome any obstacle presented to them. The road to success is never a straight and narrow one. To get to where I’ve got to today, I’ve had to toil long and hard, overcoming barriers both mental and social. I wouldn’t have been able to even attempt any of these challenges if it wasn’t for the gamble that my father  took almost 10 years ago.

Although there may well have been a promising future within the lands of Nigeria for my Father and I, the chances of us truly succeeding within a country so choked with poverty and religious conflict were slim. As he saw it, we had two options. We either stayed in Nigeria and moved to the more liberal South in order for me to get a semblance of a decent education, or we leave the country and find another life in the United Kingdom.

After my Mother passed away when I was very young, my Father had spent a decade striving to earn enough money to send me to a good school.

Unfortunately, times had been tough and we had both struggled. By the time we had scraped the money together to make our move I was 16 years old and I’d only been to school for a hundred days in total.

Thanks to my Father’s motivation and passion for my future, he ensured that I would always have pen and paper to hand. Those hundred days of school were repeated and repeated so many times that, before I left the country, my Mathematics skills were on par with any other teenager. My English, however, left a lot to be desired. Although Nigeria’s national language is English, there are still many pockets of communities that do not speak it. My Father grew up in rural Ningi and spoke the language of his local community, Ningawa. As a child brought up in both the countryside and the city, I formed a language of convenience.

The words and expressions that I would use would vary depending on the person that I was talking to.

If I was speaking to a kid my own age, I would use the opportunity to practice my pidgin English, breaking into patches of Hausa as and when I needed to. When I was at home, I spoke Ningawa with my Father. Living in an alien city, speaking our native tongue gave us comfort and cured our home sickness. Together we grafted enough money from the streets of Lagos to get our passports and tickets to England. We arrived in London, lost but overjoyed and desperately looking for a new start.

Flash forward a couple of years – after living with relatives around the city, my Father had found stable employment working on the Underground and I had successfully got myself through my A-Levels. How did I do it? Thanks to a 6 year old laptop my Father bought me on our first day in London. Money was tight but he insisted that my education should come first. Although I worked tirelessly in those years to catch up with my English and completely learn other compulsory subjects, I was never allowed to stay cooped up in my room. My Father literally had to force me out into the street on several occasions to meet friends and play football. I’m glad he did now.

I’ve still got that laptop now. It’s hopelessly outdated and just about serves the function of a word processor, but I would never throw it away.

It was the key to my education, allowing me to learn the Chemistry, Physics and Biology that is the backbone of my current work. Having graduated from University 8 years ago, I’ve spent the time since travelling and working in junior roles at Electrical Engineering startups, big corporations and factories. My story, as crazy as it sounds, has got me the interviews that I needed. My stunted start in life has ended up serving as the foot, firmly wedged into the door of every company that I’ve approached.

My next adventure? America. Some of the largest tech companies might well function out of Silicon Valley and Texas, but I’m hoping to find somewhere on the East Coast. Wall Industries specialise in the design and production of DC DC Power Converters and AC DC power supplies – they’re on the right side of the border to my adoptive town of England…

…and I’ve always been handy with a soldering iron.

3 American Tech Expos In You Should See In 2017

Have you booked your pass yet for one of these epic conventions?

With technology and the Internet of Things becoming an ever growing global market, there’s never been a better time to be a technology enthusiast.

For the last few years there have been new Expos and Conventions cropping up all over the States – giving circuit board-crazy tech lovers a good excuse to visit another land and bone up on the latest advancements at the same time. It doesn’t matter what niche you’re into, whether it’s gaming, consumer electronics, virtual reality or networking – there’ll be a convention that’s tailor made to your preferences.

We’ve taken a broad look at the year’s convention calendar and cherry picked what we think are the best ones to visit this year. Some of them are free and some will cost you an arm and a leg. Either way you’ll be presented with a huge eyeful of glittering, shiny modern advancements that are bound to get you psyched for the fast approaching future.

They may well take a sizeable chunk out of your finances, but you can guarantee that at these 3 International Expos, you’ll be seeing the absolute cutting edge in high-end tech:

Nabshow – Las Vegas Convention Center, NV – April 24th-27th

The last thing Las Vegas needs is more bright, shining lights, however this April Nabshow will be bringing them in abundance once more. Hundreds of exhibitors from the smallest of startups to the biggest of developers will be showcasing their new products and ideas, looking for investment or simply to drum up some consumer interest. The show floor is absolutely huge and each year they somehow manage to fit more in than the year before.

All interests are marketed for here, everything from content creation to consumer trends such as Virtual Reality.There’s always a massive variety of things to do, from interactive exhibits of truly next-generation technology to world class speakers from the upper echelons of the business and entertainment worlds. At only $185 for a 3-session and exhibits pass, this is a very reasonably priced convention with plenty of cross cultural appeal, even for those not in the business. At such a low cost, the only money you’ll end up losing is in the casinos at the end of the night!


Space Tech Expo USA – Pasadena, CA – May 23rd-25th

When NASA announced a semi-permanent hiatus on any major launches in 2011, the hopes that us humans would be leaving the planet and exploring the rest of the solar system seemed rather slim. However, if you haven’t been paying attention recently, there’s been a resurgence in Space travel. Thanks to the successes of Elon Musk’s recent SpaceX launches it looks like man will be heading out of orbit once again so there’s never been a better time to get to grips with the nitty gritty of space travel.

One of the best things about this expo is that it’s 100% free. All you’ll need to do is go to the website and register your interest. It’ll greatly help you if you’ve already got some kind of footing in the community, however they always leave a certain percentage of passes open to students and interested individuals. The exhibitor list for this year’s expo is massive and covers a whole range of Technology companies both small and large.


RTX – Austin, TX – July 7th-9th

If all this high-end B2B tech seems a bit too much to you, then you can rely on the guys from massive video-game production company Rooster Teeth to provide you with a fun weekend in the deep South that’s bound to keep you interested. Ever since the rip-roaring success of their Red vs Blue animation series, using the engine for Halo: Combat Evolved as a base, the men and women at Rooster Teeth have been pumping out consistently hilarious, informative and passionate video-game based content.

A day pass for this festival can come as heap as $35, giving you access to the entire showroom floor as well as an attendee bag. However, if you’re a big fan of the Rooster Teeth crew then you’ll have no choice but to invest in the 3 Day Pass (a reasonable $95) that grants you a code that is redeemable for one of the many autograph sessions with stars of Rooster Teeth’s many podcast and YouTube shows.