I Was Just Thinking…

The Mouse is Watching You

I always feel like somebody’s watching me


Keeping up with all of the new technology coming at us is a difficult if not impossible  task.  If you watch this blog you know that I have been privileged to attend some amazing events and participate in some amazing activities which has helped me keep up with some of what is happening in the technology field.  Once again, after attending the Hewlett Packard Higher Academic Summit, I can tell a similar story.  I had a tremendously eye opening week and all I can say is that some of the things I have seen as hypothetical, fiction and futuristic are here. I cannot tell you about most of the event because of a non-disclosure agreement but will share some observations about some products I had the chance to touch which are already on the marketplace.  I will also add a few thoughts about the technology Disney now uses in their Florida resort and my opportunity to present with Berj Akin, CEO of Classlink, on our rollout of the LaunchPad personal cloud desktop at Casper College.
Immersive Technology
Immersive reality is getting very real even at the desktop.  I have told some before my idea of good technology will be when I can watch on demand without an expensive monthly TV plan a holograph of football game of my choice without a screen cluttering my living room and it only costs me 99 cents.  I finally think we are almost there.
During this trip I took an amazing virtual field trip through a human heart this week using HP’s Zvr Virtual Reality Display The display is sold with or without hardware and lets you view stereoscopic 3D content using included glasses.  Using a laser pointing stylus I was able to reach into the screen and pull the heart toward me.   It was like I could hold it on the end of a stick and observe the parts.   With a click here and a click there I was able to touch a part of the heart and have a display window to the right show me the part I was pointing to on a 23.6 in display which puts out a 1080p image into each eye from the 1920×1080 screen.
A few more clicks and I was able to take a trip inside and through the heart.  Unbelievable.
The other product I was able to experience was the Hewlett Packard sprout which now brings us a machine that uses a touch mat and in-built 3D camera as its main controls.  The keyboard and mouse are optional extras.  The HP’s Sprout looks like an all-in-one PC with a couple of exceptions. Sitting on your workspace at the base of Sprout is a giant touch pad called a Touch Mat. It is a dual-purpose digital canvas on which images can be scanned and also manipulated. On top of the monitor is A 3D depth-sensing camera/scanner which records objects placed on the Touch Mat. The top cameras are able to scan physical objects placed below it, creating 3D models of them which can then be moved, rotated, resized, edited with the computer.
I placed my hand on the mat snapped a picture and immediately I was able to drag a digital bracelet which had already been scanned on top of the newly scanned hand and wrist. I was also able to change the color and texture of the bracelet.  I can see a lot of uses for design in visual arts programs for example. I can also see some great applications for interactive video conferencing situations.  According to the sprout website the unites are currently $1899.
The Personal Cloud Desktop
The final part of my trip was assisting Classlink CEO Berj Akin with a presentation/ discussion of the Casper College’s rollout of their personal cloud desktop product, LaunchPad.  
We didn’t have a portal when I arrived at Casper College in 2011.  We also had some serious budget constraints and other priorities when I arrived so the the portal and single sign on (SSO) options we explored…were not an option. We rolled out an instance of Moodle, our campus LMS, as a temporary portal which we called our Gateway. However, we knew our search was just beginning.  
A one stop self serve environment has also been a desire.  Our temporary Gateway (aka portal) mentioned above quickly headed where every portal seems to go.  A cluttered collection of junk worse than that mess of a storage shed in your back yard. (My apologies to those highly organized people without this cluttered shed problem). Our search continued in 2013 and after doing a proof of concept with LaunchPad we moved  students faculty and staff in August 2014 to  “a personal cloud desktop” from ClassLink .
LaunchPad has provided a single place to access core resources without having to use multiple logins.  Currently those core resources are defined as:

  1.    WebAdvisor
  2.    Moodle
  3.    Gmail & related tools
  4.    Digium Switchvox (Phone)

Other resources for which Classlink has connectors already built numbers in the hundreds of applications and can be added at the users discretion to the default core services discussed above.
launchpad screenshot
We recently worked with Classlink to add functionality which we are calling the Casper College Resource Library.  This is an area that would provided access to resources tools etc specific to Casper College.  I tell users to think of this as your Casper College “App Store” for the Casper College resources that you use everyday.   The best part is:

    • If you want to add a link to the Library but your co worker doesn’t, you can add it and they don’t have to.  
  • If you want quick and easy access to the campus forms but someone else doesn’t,  it is easy to add it as a resource to your LaunchPad Desktop and they don’t have to.

You can create a virtual work space that allows you to work the way you want to work.
We  started with 21 resources in the Casper College resource library and we can work with our Classlink to create more when you find a resource you would like added.  If there is a login required to access a resource we  can also work with our vendor to create a connector for single sign on (SSO) so that you do not have to remember  “one more login” for that resource.   Below is a link to a short video we created which introduces our users to steps they can take to begin customizing their work space.
In general we have found LaunchPad provides the following benefits:

    • Same “portal” for students and employees
    • Single Sign On (SSO) capabilities
    • New modern interface
    • Users are now able to manage their individual Google Apps password
  • Google mobile apps started working for users

Cool Tech On the Edge of Creepy
Now for a piece of my visit which is on the border of magically creepy. Upon checking at the Grand Floridian I was given something Disney calls a MagicBand. Forbes stated in a 2013 article that the MagicBand,

will make tickets, hotel keys, cash and credit cards as unnecessary for its visitors as pants are for Donald Duck

Indeed I discovered that the MagicBand was my passport to my room, purchasing food, and all else that is in the Disney proclaimed happiest place on earth. For purchases I did have the option to attach a credit card number to the account and band.  I thought the wristband shown below interesting and so I began a quick search about the Disney rollout of the Magicbands.  As I learned more I keep thinking- creepy is now becoming normal.  The one piece they don’t really tell you about at check-in is that the band also is used to track everything people do in the parks and personalize the experience for visitors.  The two most common phrases in articles I read about the billion dollar MagicBands which were:

    • Orwellian
  • Mark of the Beast

The Orwellian adjective was popularized when the book “1984” was published in 1949 and discusses the official deception, secret surveillance and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state.  Other common terms coming from “1984” include Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5 and memory hole.    
The Mark of the Beast is in reference the Bible’s Chapter of Revelation where the mark acts as a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries. The primary passage in the Bible that mentions the “mark of the beast” is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This
The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in both Orwells 1984 and the Mark of the Beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13.    After my most recent experience in “the happiest place on earth” my thoughts really were going back to training earlier in my life on both 1984 and the Bible.   
Many good teachers of Revelation disagree as to the exact form of the mark of the beast. However, it certainly seems that implanted chips, an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being part of an Orwellian society or faithful to the Antichrist’s kingdom is certainly possible with technologies we are seeing today.  
Everyday is a learning experience.   I am thankful for the opportunity to get to see new and innovative products and how it will impact what I doing as we continue to look for new and improved solutions for higher education.  






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