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So far Abbas has created 16 blog entries.

Does the Samsung Galaxy Watch3 Stack Up?

2020-08-06T10:46:42-07:00August 6th, 2020|

Samsung held Unpacked, the electronics giant’s semi-annual flagship product reveal, as a virtual event this week for the first time ever. But the products are very real: the latest Note phablet, the Tab S7, an intriguing earbud design and a premium smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch3.

The Watch3 is the first big-name smartwatch to kick off the fall selling season. How does it stack up? What should we expect from Fitbit and Apple? Should you upgrade?

Find out. Read my latest column in the Tech section of USA Today.

Business as Un-usual

2020-06-10T20:56:45-07:00June 10th, 2020|

The pandemic has presented data scientists and business intelligence managers with a thorny problem: how do you predict the future when all your models are built around assumptions from a pre-Covid world? Nothing is as it was. Which means most models are now essentially useless.

The information era is undergoing a reset that is as harrowing as it is fascinating. What relationships between datasets are now significant? And what sort of pitfalls does co-mingling them introduce?

Find out. Read my latest CIO Magazine column, Covid Times Call for Covid Measures, HERE.

Any Way You Slice It, Wi-Fi 6E Offers True Tri-Band Wi-Fi

2020-05-28T10:29:36-07:00May 28th, 2020|

Let’s say I had two pies and cut one of them in half. How many pies do I have now?

Of course, I’ve still got two pies. Though folks in the Wi-Fi business might try to convince you there are three.

The source of the confusion is what’s come to be known as tri-band Wi-Fi, a performance feature built into some whole-home wireless network platforms. Despite the name, the third “band” in the troika is actually a radio without its own spectrum. Just a slice of one of the others.

While the band it occupies may not be unique, the third radio’s role certainly is. Rather than serve network traffic like the other two, it’s dedicated to backhaul, which is the networking smarts that ensures the satellite works as a seamless extension to the Wi-Fi router.

But because the spectrum is already so congested, it can be difficult for the third radio to wring much additional performance out of this structure. That’s why tri-band – true tri-band, with three radios each communicating on different swaths of spectrum – could be so valuable for today’s Wi-Fi.

Moving the backhaul to a different frequency band would not only give the network more elbow room to manage Wi-Fi traffic. It would also open up precious spectrum for streaming, social media sharing, videoconferencing and other family networking activities.

Math Meets Marketing
In April, the FCC set aside the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi. Which means that Wi-Fi networks are about to get an actual third band. So by the end of the year, you’ll be able to buy tri-band Wi-Fi with, like, three bands!

That’s exciting. Because routers sporting a third band could offer the greatest boost in performance out of the box that your crowded home network has ever seen. And may ever see.

For the last 15 years, new Wi-Fi standards improved bandwidth and capacity on existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum. Even Wi-Fi 6, the groundbreaking new standard that just came to market last fall, was limited to the same congested bands. Until now.

The impact of 6GHz on the future of Wi-Fi cannot be overstated. With the new band, there is now more than three times the amount of Wi-Fi spectrum. Moreover, there’s nothing to bog down the network on 6GHz like we endure on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. That’s because electronics with slow, primitive Wi-Fi technology that can back up traffic like a horse and carriage on a two-lane highway aren’t allowed on the 6GHz band.  For more on that, be sure to check out my USA Today column, A New Wi-Fi for the New Normal.

Historically, many homeowners waited until the family amassed a few late-model smartphones and laptops before upgrading their router. But with 6GHz, the ability to manage existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz from the new band offers exciting potential for enhanced performance – even without any 6GHz devices on the network.

Future-Proof Your Wi-Fi 6E Network
With the addition of 6GHz, Wi-Fi companies finally have three bands to call their own. But don’t take that to mean the definition of tri-band is settled. If anything, the debate is rising to a whole new plane. So when you’re ready to shop for a Wi-Fi 6E router, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you find what you need.

In addition to the number of frequencies and the number of radios, there’s the number of spatial streams to consider. Spatial streams are a good proxy for how many connected devices the router can support on each band. But remember: the router needs at least three radios to simultaneously support multiple devices on all three bands.

It also depends on how well you’ve prepared your network for what’s to come. Toward that end, be sure to look for whole-home 6GHz routers built on platforms like Qualcomm’s second-generation Networkuntiling Pro series, which pushes the limits of the Wi-Fi 6 specification, like advanced 4K QAM, universal uplink/downlink traffic support across multi-user traffic tools like OFDMA spec’ed to support 37 simultaneous users, 8 simultaneous MU-MIMO users, and of course, tri-band Wi-Fi 6. . (For more on how to shop for 6GHz Wi-Fi, don’t miss this FeibusTech blog post.)

That’s making the most of tri-band – the kind on three bands, naturally.

Squeezing 3 years of work into just 2 months

2020-05-18T22:06:26-07:00May 18th, 2020|

The enterprise has been on a path to IT modernization for several years now, converting to cloud-based frameworks to make their networks more capable, flexible and agile. That way, any knowledge worker could set up shop anywhere, just as empowered, productive and secure as if they were right there at the office.

And then, suddenly, one fateful day in March, that ideal was no longer just a someday goal to shoot for in their long-term planning. Seemingly overnight, the hypothetical was now very real. Immediate. And the scope was far greater than anyone had provisioned for in their disaster plans.

Now, no one could go to the office. Any office anywhere. So everyone needed to be able to be productive from home. And it had to be ready by Friday.

Find out what happened, and what it means for the future of work in my latest CIO Magazine column HERE.

Tomorrow: A New Wi-Fi for the New Normal

2020-04-22T08:46:47-07:00April 22nd, 2020|

The internet is listing.

It started about a month ago, when social isolation orders sent everyone home who could work or learn remotely. Which means all the activity that happened on the business side of the boat has come on over to the side where we eat and sleep and watch Netflix.

It’s added a new strain to our already overtaxed home networks. Older Wi-Fi wasn’t built to handle all the real-time videoconferencing traffic it must now manage. Even newer Wi-Fi can sometimes buckle under the weight of multiple videoconferencing applications, depending on how many older smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart home devices are clogging the system.

As if on cue, the FCC is expected this week to allocate a wide new swath of frequency in the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi. It’s the first time this century that the government is adding spectrum for Wi-Fi, and it will give equipped devices lots of elbow room for everything the whole family now needs to accomplish from home.

Find out more. Don’t miss my column in the Tech section of USA Today HERE.

Can Wearables Help Detect Coronavirus?

2020-04-07T12:48:42-07:00April 7th, 2020|

Wearables have always been about trying to keep us healthy. Increasingly, they’re also being used to help detect when we’re sick.

And now, with the latest pandemic shuttering economies to help slow the virus spread, Apple Watches, Fitbits, Samsung Watches and other wearables are helping healthcare identify infected populations. Even more exciting, work is underway to help with early covid-19 detection.

Find out how, in my latest USA Today Tech column. And be healthy!

Working from Home? Here’s How to How to Slash Your Power Bill

2020-03-24T11:25:24-07:00March 24th, 2020|

There are lots of ways to save money while working from home to help stem the spread of coronavirus, like losing the commute or making your lunch instead of going out. Working from home is also a great time to investigate which power-hungry appliances are running up your electric bill, and how to work around that.

We’ve cut our bill by two-thirds. This month, in fact, we just got the lowest power bill we’ve had since moving into the house 11 years ago! Yes, we added solar. But believe it or not solar is responsible for less than half our savings.

I can show you how. Read my latest column in the Tech section of USA Today.

You Don’t Need Python – Just Forward Networks

2020-03-05T11:44:54-07:00March 5th, 2020|

If you wait long enough, as any good procrastinator knows, tasks sometimes drop off your to-do list on their own. Maybe a deadline has passed. Maybe your employer has changed direction or shifted priorities. Or maybe new technology has rendered the undertaking obsolete.

If you’re an IT administrator who’s been putting off learning Python to help automate tedious network checks, then that last reason just might apply to you. So hold off plunking down the deposit for that online class. Again.

Here’s why: Forward Networks has built its Network Query Engine, or NQE, right into its Forward Enterprise platform. Which means you can now write and execute queries in minutes. Without Python – or any other programming language, for that matter.

To write a query in the app, all you need to do is follow this basic, three-step process:

  • Find the relevant fields in your network’s model
  • Create your check, using three basic constructs: foreach, where and select
  • Run the query

If your query executes successfully, it means that everything is as it should be. So you’re done. If it fails, you’ll get a list of the violations so you can go fix things. And once you’re finished, save the query so you can use it again.

You don’t need to keep track of firmware updates or operating system patches – or what any of that means for how the data is expressed. Because Forward Enterprise’s underlying model takes care of that for you.

“From a conceptual perspective, it sounds really simple,” Nikhil Handigol, Forward Networks co-founder, told me.  “And it is – for our customers. But what we’ve accomplished, to get it all to work so seamlessly, that’s very difficult.”

Even before Forward Networks integrated NQE into Forward Enterprise, NQE APIs made it a lot easier to write checks in Python by normalizing results from thousands of switches, routers, firewalls and other network equipment from dozens of vendors. It also transformed the presentation of results, so they were actionable. Of course, there was still the matter of programming to consider.

In-app NQE did more than just obviate the need for programming skills. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Take late last year, for example.

In mid-December, less than a month after Forward Networks released in-app NQE, Cisco issued a field notice that obliterated many network operators’ holiday plans. The notice alerted administrators that a certificate bug associated with a dizzying array of Cisco network device configurations had to be fixed by New Year’s Day in order to avoid permanent hardware damage.

Procrastinators who waited until after Christmas to tackle the problem were rewarded. Because a couple of days before the year ended, Forward Networks posted an in-app NQE query on the company’s Github repository that network operators could use to identify which Cisco equipment on their networks needed attention.

“When we posted that query, customers were thrilled,” Fabrizio Maccioni, Forward Networks’ Director of Technical Marketing, explained. “They didn’t have much time to figure out which of their thousands of Cisco devices needed updating. And then suddenly, with our query, they didn’t need a lot of time.”

Building AI’s Foundation, One Penguin at a Time

2020-02-28T08:42:59-07:00February 28th, 2020|

Unlikely as it may seem, the same artificial intelligence model that can dramatically reduce the time it takes researchers and environmentalists to monitor penguin populations may one day help pharmaceutical suppliers develop new drugs far faster and cheaper.

It’s true. In this wide-open-spaces era of artificial intelligence, pioneering AI developers like Gramener, which developed the computer vision model to count penguins, are laying foundational algorithms so that others can hit the ground running. And program’s like Intel’s AI Builders, which brings together ecosystem partners like data analytics firm Gramener to help accelerate AI adoption.

Gramener actually built the camera-trap model for Microsoft’s AI for Earth initiative. Counting penguins – or any species for that matter – in pictures can be a tricky proposition and a time-consuming ordeal. Just finding pictures with penguins in them can take an inordinate amount of time. And once you do, rain and snow, rocks and other objects – even penguins clustered together – can obscure the view and make counting challenging.

Ganes Kesari, Head of Analytics and a Gramener co-founder, told me that the firm’s computer vision models are also being used to identify and monitor other species, like salmon in Washington state and elephants in Africa. But it’s applicable for many other time-consuming counting tasks as well. Like during the drug discovery process, for example, the algorithm could be used to help pathologists count human cells of different shapes at different points in time to gauge effectiveness.

The same cross-application flexibility is true for other Gramener models, Kesari said. Like the firm’s “quality-of-life” application, which it developed to glean population conditions like health, wealth and even the prevalence of indoor plumbing by examining satellite imagery. Others could leverage this predictive AI to assess conditions, which could be very effective for eradicating disease-carrying insects, fighting forest fires and possibly even containing contagious new viruses like the COVID-19 coronavirus now traversing the globe.

For its part, Intel was able to speed training for the computer vision models by two-and-a-half times on second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors. That performance boost, achieved with Xeon-tuned open-source PyTorch machine-learning libraries, means it’s now practical to train the counting model without specialized graphics hardware. That could turn out to be a critical option for developers with limited resources to devote to AI – particularly those who already have datacenters full of Xeon Scalable hardware.

Indeed, the optimization could prove to be the difference between training the AI and counting by hand. For whatever it is they want to count.

Turns Out, AI and Privacy Can Coexist

2020-03-04T19:35:48-07:00February 24th, 2020|

Is there any hope left for retaining any privacy online? Could be, actually.

“Don’t panic yet,” says Casimir Wierzynski, Senior Director of AI Products at Intel. His team at Intel is among those at the forefront of something called privacy-preserving machine learning, a set of techniques that allow artificial intelligence to do what it does – without putting our privacy at risk in the process.

Sounds promising. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Privacy-preserving ML today takes a lot of computing horsepower, though Intel and others are working to lessen the impact. Learn more as Cas and I dig into this rising new discipline. Watch our interview in my latest Privacy Now episode HERE.

The S20 Does More Than Turn It Up To 11

2020-02-18T06:23:56-07:00February 17th, 2020|

It’s not just the model number of the new Galaxy S20 family that’s soared. A quick scan of the specs reveal that they’ve skyrocketed as well.

Four cameras? 108 megapixels? 100x zoom? Why are the numbers so much higher than anything else on store shelves? Does it mean the S20’s camera system is really that much better?

Check out my latest column in the Tech section of USA Today. In it, I’ll help you untangle the numbers, and detail how this new generation of smartphone camera compares with competitive devices. And what to expect for the rest of this year and beyond.

 

 

 

Intent-Based Networking: Top Enterprise Tech

2020-02-18T06:24:19-07:00February 13th, 2020|

The coronavirus may have snuffed the flagship Mobile World Congress this year. Show or no show, however, the technology that’s top of mind for enterprise IT decision-makers is intent-based networking. Cisco, which has been a leading advocate of intent-based networking, identified it as a top technology for 2020 and beyond in its latest Global Networking Trends Report.

Independent providers like Forward Networks, which supports hardware from Cisco as well as other vendors, are improving tools to help operators keep tabs on their networks.

Find out more. Check out my post on GSMA’s Mobile World Congress website.

 

PCs to vibrators, CES did not disappoint

2020-02-18T06:24:43-07:00January 14th, 2020|

The official new year begins at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Day, of course. But for the tech industry, the year invariably kicks off a few days later, with the start of CES in Las Vegas.

It was a busy event for FeibusTech, starting with my USA Today column, which called attention to the new generation of ultra-responsive laptops inspired by Intel’s Project Athena.

At the show, I moderated two panels. During the first, at the Digital Health Summit, I discussed the digital front door with Nancy Agee, President and CEO of the Carilion Clinic, and Anjali Kataria, CEO and Co-founder of Mytonomy. 

In my second panel, at the Wearable Technology Summit, Elizabeth Bohlmann, VP Marketing at December Labs, Kathryn Fantauzzi, CEO and Co-Founder of Apollo Neuroscience, and I discussed the evolving wearable ecology, and what it takes to succeed in the 2020’s.

And last but surely not least, I introduced two Finalists at Last Gadget Standing. The first, the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 mesh networking platform, was a product I both tested and advocated for. (Had a chance to see my USA Today column on Wi-Fi 6? No? That’s okay. It’s not too late. See it HERE.)

I neither tested nor advocated for the second product. Nor am I in the market for one: the second-generation Lioness Smart Vibrator. At this point, you may be asking yourself why. Go ahead and click. You won’t be disappointed.

It’s Not the Cable Company. It’s Bad Wi-Fi

2020-04-07T13:38:02-07:00December 18th, 2019|

Your home broadband connection is faster than your cellular connection.

Don’t believe it? You’re not alone. Many people think the opposite is true. But it’s not because you’re not getting the bandwidth the cable company has promised. It’s because your Wi-Fi sucks.

Wi-Fi 6, which brings the traffic management features of cellular to your home network, is billed as the cure for bad Wi-Fi. Does it deliver as promised? In my latest USA Today Tech column, I evaluate Netgear’s Orbi Wi-Fi 6 to find out. Read that HERE.