The 17th NY Hardware Meetup At the New Microsoft Space In Times Square

Hardware Meetup Organizer Haytham Elhawary

This month the meet up was at the new Microsoft corporate looking space. It was funny I walked in and thought about the times I worked at IBM. The space was huge. I would say that this space was at least three times the size when compared to the space at eBay. It was a welcomed relief not to be packed in like sardines.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

At this event we had two groups presenting. Tom Kennedy and Stephan von Muelhen first talked about their experiences at EnergyHub and what they learned a long the way about the manufacturing experience. They had some great pearls of wisdom that I totally agree with.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

The line from one of their slides said it best for me, “Process is product”. There are a lot of details that need taken care of when you are manufacturing a product. There a thousand things that can go wrong at any given time. Developing a great product means that you know the process from end to end. I can’t tell you how many times I talk with startups that refuse to embrace what needs doing from start to finish. “Embrace The Horror”. This does means that you have an understanding of what needs to get done and realize that there are things that will come up that you may not of thought of. Actually for startups it is not a matter of if, but when it will happen. Since most startups are new to manufacturing and process in general.

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy (EnergyHub & Refactory) and Stephan von Muelhen (EnergyHub)

Tom Kennedy introduced us to his next venture called ReFactory. So, in a nutshell, ReFactory wants to make the PCB/PCBA development and manufacturing process easy. They have many services ranging from design consulting to real PCBA. One main point is that the work is done in the USA in Brooklyn, New York.

Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly Presents

Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly Presents

The next presenter was the fab Christina Mercando, founder of Ringly. I have to say that the product is great looking. It looks high end and wearable. Men’s version? It was great to hear her prospective on bringing a fashionable product to market. I have talked to people who have studied this and they say we are at the infancy of this. I think that Ringly has done some great execution. There are many obstacles to get a product like this to market such as look, electronics and battery size. It just can’t be to big and the battery must last for most of the day. The radios have to penetrate the casing for charging and for Bluetooth. It seems they have solved these problems. The ring is big, but it goes with the styling. Congrats on the great execution.

That was the last presentation. Another one was schedule, but they called to cancel.

Check it out. I have more pictures of the event below. Sorry for the low light conditions, but you should make out the slides and the speakers ok. I did my best to caption the images and make adjustments to the images. Enjoy.

Are Wearables Over? | Fast Company | Business + Innovation



I understand this trend first hand. I am in those numbers. I leave my Pebble Watch at home now-a-days. The notifications drove me nuts. The deluge of notifications made me realize there is a need for an intelligent layer that sits in between the torrent of data coming at us and the notification. I don’t want a notification about everything. I want it at a particular time and within a particular context. Not to mention the same information coming from multiple sources. I need information form the best sources with the most accurate information. Someone make this please.

Until then this is my smart watch:


Braun Digital Watch - bn0076

Braun Digital Watch – bn0076

via Are Wearables Over? | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

Wireless charger can power 40 mobile phones at once from 15 feet away — Tech News and Analysis


A team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology recently demonstrated a new option for wireless charging: a nine-foot-long box packed with coils that can deliver power to up to 15 feet away with a magnetic field. The team debuted the system last week and in March used it to power equipment at a nuclear power plant.

Wait wait. Lets get this straight. They demonstrated awesome wireless charging using equipment at a nuclear power plant! Couldn’t they have just easily used an iPhone?  This would be a successful consumer feature.

via Wireless charger can power 40 mobile phones at once from 15 feet away — Tech News and Analysis.

New Material Coating Mimics Nature’s Lotus Effect via


Ever stop to consider why lotus plant leaves always look clean? The hydrophobic – water repelling – characteristic of the leaf, termed the “Lotus effect,” helps the plant survive in muddy swamps, repelling dirt, and producing beautiful flowers.

A natures way to a cleaning smartphone. 

Imagine having this on your cell phone. No more dirty cell phone.

via New Material Coating Mimics Nature’s Lotus Effect.

My Rediscovery of 3D Printing

My 3D Printer

I have been on a tear this week looking for information about 3D printers. I’m fascinated with the idea of printing things at home. So why not get a 3D printer?

Well for one thing they are not cheap the MakerBot 5th Generation sells for 2,899.00. That is not small change. My interest stated to justify this cost. I started reading more about this model.

3D printers need more finessing that you might expect. It is not as simple as sending a document to a regular printer then your text and graphics come on the page. With 3D printers you need to constantly tweak and fix.  This is not a bad thing if you have the time and love to do this. However if you are busy, like I am, it can get frustrating.

I have read online here and here about many issues with the new 5th generation MakerBot printers. Ugh I’m disappointed. Seems like they are not ready yet. The geek in me wants to get one now and the practical me says to wait. Luckily there is somewhat of a solution to my dilemma.

Last June I attended a build your own 3D printer class at Hack Manhattan. I was able to build myself a workable 3D printer called the PrintrBot Simple. The time is right for me to find it and get back into the flow of configuration and tuning.

Here is my baby 3D Printer:

WordPress is taking a long time processing the video so I uploaded it to youTube:

HeartBleed SSL flaw: Passwords Passwords and More Passwords; The Never Ending Amount of Passwords You Accumulate From Surfing The Web

Locks In a Box

Everyone has probably, by now, heard of the HeartBleed SSL flaw. This flaw has been driving IT people and consumers crazy all week. IT people had to patch it and consumers had to try to wrap their heads around the idea what it is. In a nut shell from what I have read; wait till the website updates and then change your passwords. IT people had to patch and then get a new certificate. All of these things are not easy.

It has brought more attention to security, the use of passwords and password managers. I have over 200 passwords to keep track of. What tools are good to help organize them?

I have used SplashID for many years. It is ultra simple. It is a separate app that runs on your and your computer and you enter the information in there. If you like you can download the mobile app and synchronize them. So you can take your passwords on the go. The app is basic and I just coincidentally was looking for an app that had more integration with the web browser.

The first one I looked at was OnePassword. Since I was using another tool I wanted to import my large database of passwords in OnePassword. The import cause me headaches because it made most of the passwords unusable as notes. The other problem was that  you can’t more passwords from notes to another category. Scanning the forums I found that many people were not happy with this limitation and this was a downgrade from the earlier version. Earlier versions allowed you to change categories. This limitation left me with no choice, but redo all the records. Ugh no way. I am not doing that.

The next password manager I looked at is (I am now still testing it) LastPass. I like the idea of this tool. It goes several steps further than the rest and lives within the web browser. Just about any web browser. It has great security such as two factor authentication and I can change the categories. There is even a security checker that will go though your passwords and recommend you on the password strength and if that site was hacked and you should change your password. It has form fill in integration where it will enter my password for me. This is great as it should know the passwords better than I do. If you are and you should be using complex passwords it is a life saver when it autofills for you. There is not all joy here. I have had one or two glitches. One, it does not  always do the right thing when it autofills a form. I noticed that it sometimes will use my username twice instead of once and then the password. It has a feature where it realizes that you are changing your password and will update, but this has some flaws. Sometimes it creates duplicate records.

All in all none of these are perfect. So far LastPass balances out top be good for me for now. I suggest giving them a try to find one that works well with your work flow.

Photo credit: shannonpatrick17 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The Age of The Digital Assistant Has Come. Too Soon? Is It Ready?

Cortana Lego Person

Microsoft announced their digital assistant, Cortana, on Wednesday. It looks like and sounds like Apple’s Siri.   While Microsoft has changed “What I can help you with?” to “Need Something?”. Google also has a digital assistant called Google Now.

I have used Siri off and on. More off than on. It seems like a toy than a workable product. Sometimes she understands me other times I am thinking she just gave up and is now ignoring me.

Google now seems more workable as it notifies you when you need information before you need it. Google Now is a responsible assistant. Siri needs activation to do something for you. Click and hold the iPhone home button and ask it for something. The voice recognition is not great. It needs more time to cook.

I want a digital assistant that would have two actions. One, I can ask it things I need to have done and it will do it. Two, it will know about me since it will have access to all my information on all my accounts and computers (including all mobile devices). The access I give to it given via an encrypted method. If the assistant runs into a problem I don’t want it leaking my information.  I would like the Cortona like assistant to create the information it gets while getting to know me kept in an encrypted area. What happens if the digital assistant becomes too intelligent and wants to become me. I would need a way to cut it off. That begs a question; How would you fire a digital assistant?

Are we ready for this? These Apple, Google and Microsoft are easing us into this very slowly. If we go too fast we would recoil about having a program having access to all our information. Taking privacy into account is a must.

In the future, where would these assistants live? I have given this some thought. Right now these entities live on your mobile device and on the provider’s servers. Eventually when network speed is not an issue I could see them swimming in the wakes of the global internet.  They could go from one network to another. That reminds of the movie Her. Unlike the movie I would not want it sentient. I would not want my assistant running off.

Photo credit: uubergeek / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)