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My Ender 3 V2 And The Modifications I’ve Made

3D Printing with My Ender 3 v2 – 3D Printer and The Modifications I’ve Made

3D Printing with My Ender 3 v2 – 3D Printer and The Modifications I’ve Made 1024 1365 Jason Stadtlander

If there is one thing that became evident being stuck at home 24/7 during the pandemic, it was that I needed to find ways to keep my brain busy and keep life interesting. There are only so many TV shows one can watch and yes – I will admit I need to do more reading, but I also needed to do something with my hands. So, I began toying around with robotics, an interest I’ve had most of my life.

I pretty quickly discovered that the most effective way to build my robots would not be with carved wood and cardboard (though that could be interesting), but by using a 3D printer.

I spent weeks researching every aspect of 3D printing, trying to understand how they worked, what the different resolutions were, filament vs. resin, different plastic types. I almost bought a resin printer that seemed like a good fit, but it didn’t have a very large print area and I knew I wanted the ability to print larger prints. I also wanted something that was economical and wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg but still could put out good quality prints.

I finally settled on purchasing the Ender 3 v2 by Creality. The v2 had the same great design as the original Ender 3, but it had the built-in newer Mean Well power supply (PSU) that a lot of the Ender 3  users were upgrading to. It also had a 32-bit board rather than the original 8-bit board. To top all of this, it has the capability for great resolution (~0.1 mm).
Side note, this is a fantastic video that shows how to set up the Ender 3 v2 from start to finish.

Now, the great thing about the Creality 3D printers is that they are open source which means you can buy or create a ton of addons for them. To clarify, this is not why I bought the Ender 3 v2, I honestly had no idea that you could add on to it so much when I bought it. However, I quickly found out that there were some things that were driving me crazy, such as my printouts not sticking to the bed or constantly having to level the bed. So, over the last few months, I have found that there were a lot of needed (and some not – so needed) upgrades that I have chosen to do to my Ender. (be sure to also check out the software changes I have made – at the bottom of the article)

Important Tips I Learned Quickly

  • Preheat the bed before bed leveling. Metal, glass, etc. – they all expand when heated. So the distance between your bed and your hotend are going to be slightly different when it’s hot vs. when it’s cool.
  • Level the bed by using a post-it note. Slip the post-it note between the hotend and the glass bed at each corner. Adjust the leveling knob so that there is just a little friction on the paper. Do this for all four corners at least twice. (yes, you can use the same post-it note the whole time 😉 )
  • A better spool roller is a must. Creality ships this tube (yes, it’s literally a tube) that the spool sits on. So as the filament is pulled off it, the spool does this herky-jerky movement which can cause stress on the filament feeder. I have details on how to deal with this further down the article.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness. Keep that bed clean! My personal advise, wait for the glass to cool, then take it off and wash it at the sink with dishsoap and water, then dry it well. Never try and clean it hot, glass shatters under rapid expansion or contraction – even tempered glass like this.
  • Use Magigoo. You’ll see more on this below, but I’ve tried everything to get my printouts to stick well to the surface. Cleaning, painters tape, you name it. Magigoo is by far the miracle worker. It’s not cheap ($16 USD a bottle), but it lasts a LONG time and it’s worth it.

Some of the things that quickly irritated me:

  • Too Noisy – The printer sits in my office where I work every day. The original fans were ridiculously loud when you’re on a zoom call.
  • Constantly leveling the bed – This drove me crazy pretty quick. I realized that the prints were either not adhering or I was getting spaghetti’s (where the print slides out of place or the bed is too far away from the head and filament spews out with nothing to stick to).
  • Having to constantly keep an eye on the printer – At first, I took an old webcam that had an onboard interface I could connect to with a browser. Worked, but wasn’t really very effective in knowing what is going on with the printer.

Physical Modifications of My Ender 3 v2

So here are the modifications I made to my printer and hopefully (if you’re a 3D printer enthusiast or soon to be) these mods can help you!
NOTE: I am not responsible for any modifications you make to your printer and I highly recommend you do your research first and carefully make sure you are always insulating your wires and boards and that you solder your connections well. Improperly connecting electronics can result in a fire or damage to people or property. All of these modifications you make at your own risk.

  • New quieter fans – This made an enormous difference to the peace in my office. However, you can’t just buy new fans that fit into the existing print head because all the fans on the market that are that small are far too loud. I wanted to also make sure I wasn’t going to sacrifice airflow, quality, or worse, risk my printer overheating and causing a fire hazard. So I decided on the Noctua fans. They were highly recommended on multiple sites and there were some mods on Thingiverse that allowed for the upgraded fans (which basically involved me rebuilding the hot head cooling. It sounds laborious, but it really was not difficult.
    Here is what I used:

    • Print out the parts from Thingiverse for the PET Fang Cooler (for the record, I used standard PLA and not PET and have had no problems with the fang melting or anything).
    • 3 Noctua fans – (2 – 40X10mm and 1 – 40X20mm) The 10mm fans are used for the CPU mainboard and the print cooler. The 20mm fan is for the hotend.
    • Pack of 5 Buck Converters – These convert the voltage from the 24v of the power supply down to the 5 or 12 v needed. It’s very important to use good quality buck converters that you know can handle the amps (current). I used these because they were so small I didn’t have to add them inside the motherboard area, I could literally tie them in inside the flex tubing that goes to the fan.
  • PET Fang Cooling

    My modified print head

    BLTouch & New Springs – Two things tremendously helped with keeping my board level and not requiring me to constantly level it before each print. I still need to level it every few weeks (at least I do it, just to be safe), but I no longer have to with every single print. I added a BLTouch. This little device has a pin that automatically checks multiple points on the bed before it prints every time. It then automatically does the math of the z-index at each of those points, so that it creates a “virtually level” bed that it’s working on. By the way, this video by Dr. Vox was extremely helpful in installing the BLTouch.
    Here is what I used:

    • For the BLTouch:
      • Print out this bracket from Thingiverse – which goes with the above PET Fang Cooler.
      • Purchase a BLtouch – there are quite a few knockoffs, so use this one – the original. It comes with everything you need except the Fang bracket
    • Springs – now, part of the problem with constant leveling is that Creality uses a cheap spring on the beds. It doesn’t provide enough compression, so you need stronger springs to strengthen the holding position. (see this video).
  • OctoPrint – As nice as my webcam was, it didn’t actually let me monitor everything that was going on in my printer (temp, etc.). So I found this great little idea called Octoprint. You basically build out a small RaspberryPi computer that connects to your printer, monitors it, lets you see it, you can even stage print jobs. Here’s what I followed to build and install it all. One little downside is that you need your print job illuminated. See below and you’ll see the LED panel I used for that.
    Here is what I used:

    • For OctoPrint:
      • Print out this RaspberryPi case (it mounts to your printer)
      • Print out this boom and camera mount (also mounts to your printer)
      • Parts needed to purchase:
      • Setup OctoPrint
      • Print up LED Panel from Thingiverse
        NOTE: I already had some LED strip hanging around, but you can buy them pretty cheap here.
      • Now, if you’re like me – you don’t like a lot of extra power cords running around. So you can also build out a direct tie-in for power using this guide and this case on Thingiverse and this buck converter.
  • Print Spool with bearings – I wasn’t particularly happy with the simple “pipe” that Creality ships with their printer to hang a print spool on. It’s sort of jittery in the output on the filament and I felt it kept tensioning up the feeder too much. So I wanted something that would allow better flow. I printed this little guy out from Thingiverse and it made a world of difference.
    Here is what I used:

  • MagiGoo

    Magigoo – Magigoo was something that Dr. Vax mentioned in his video above. The stuff is AWESOME, especially with the Ender 3 v2 glass bed. A little forewarning, things can stick a little TOO well, so sometimes you need to just let your bed cool down a little first and then things pop off it. It washes off very easily and is safe for the bed. You can buy it here.

Once all this is done, I still have not yet gotten to the PSU (Powersupply) fan upgrade. This is a whole other ball of wax (or plastic). Because the PSU will not fit the fans I listed above and frankly, they don’t really move enough air anyway for PSU. So, to do this you’ll need to print out a new bezel and get a larger fan. I’m currently in the process of this and will post my outcome on this afterward.

Software Changes

How you set your settings can have a profound impact on the quality of your prints, I have found. Here are some changes I made to my Cura Utilimaker (the software Creality recommends using. It’s free.) Note that all of these you can “search” for in the Print Settings window.

  • Make sure the “Layer Height” is set to 0.18mm
  • Set the “Wall Thickness” for the Shell to 1.2mm
  • Set the “Wall Line Count” to 2
  • Set the “Infill Density” to 35%
  • Set the “Infill Layer Thickness” to 0.36mm -this should be double the layer height. It prints larger lines for the infill, but only prints infill every other line but retains high quality for the outer shell
  • If printing PLA, print it at 210°C and 60°C for the bed temp (this helps with layer adhesion) – The higher temp is on purpose, for the infill you are printing thicker lines and running at a higher speed, so you want the PLA to come out smoothly.
  • For prints that you aren’t overly concerned with aesthetics (such as mods to your printer) – Set the “Print Speed” to 110 mm/s
  • For prints that you want the best look possible – Set the “Print Speed” to 50-60mm/s (75mm/s is a nice middle ground)
  • Set the “Retraction Distance” in Travel to 5mm (this helps to prevent artifacts and webs from showing on the print jobs)
  • Set the “Z Hop When Retracted” in Travel to Checked (this helps to prevent artifacts and webs from showing on the print jobs)
  • Set “Combing Mode” to “All” – This keeps the nozzle only within printing areas when traveling, thus preventing (or reducing) the web threading that can occur between models.
  • IF you’re using supports (for overhead pieces) then use “Tree”, “Touching Buildplate”, Support pattern “Zig Zag”, and set the overhang to 53°



The Future Evolution of Humanity and Our Singular Existence

The Future Evolution of Humanity and Our Singular Existence 1080 608 Jason Stadtlander

For tens of thousands of years, we have struggled as a species, to exist, to progress and to evolve. Yet, we seem to be tied to one single limitation, the shortness of our existence.

We may not like to think about it, but a human life is so short. It may last, at most eighty, maybe a hundred years if you’re lucky. There are so many factors against us in terms of survival; disease, condition of our body and mind, genetics, environment, etc. The list is endless.

In our singular existence, we have a single mind. One which interacts with everything around it through the use of the five senses; sound, smell, touch, sight, and taste. If you really think about it, it is an extremely limited method of input. We can vaguely perceive time, or rather the results of the passage of time (objects aging, hair greying, etc.) however, we really only have those five senses to interpret our world around us. We spend our time in this life from the time we are born, taking in everything around us and in turn teaching what we have learned to others. Our growth as a species and society is something that is incredibly slow because of this process. Only with the advent of technology that allows us to share information instantly, has it become easier to learn, absorb and reach a higher potential than ever before in our history.

That being said, there was something unique about the way that we learned for millennia. We were born, we grew up and taught others what we knew through talking and direct interaction as well as writing. Now, more and more we are allowing technology to overcome person to person interactions. Our ability to transmit information to each other still remains sight, sound, and touch (so far I don’t know of a technology that lets us transmit via smell or taste). So we are still limited to learning things through our eyeballs, ears and communicating back through our fingertips (keyboard).

I pose a few questions in this advancing time. What if we could take things a step further? What if we had the ability to communicate, teach and relay information with each other instantly with our minds, rather than the limited inputs of our eyes, ears, and nose? Would it advance society more rapidly? Would we gain the ability to interact with each other yet retain that instant need to relay information?

A show recently came out on Amazon Prime called The Feed, which I hope to watch soon. It sort of follows the premise – in the future all of our minds are connected in a sort of ‘mental internet’. How would something like this change humanity?

There are many questions that can be raised with this concept, perhaps the most important being; Would we have privacy? Would we be able to (or need to) lie?

My biggest question of all of this is: Would our singular existence no longer be, or would our consciousness continue to live on after we die through the minds of the connected world?

As a Home User – Should You Move to The Cloud?

As a Home User – Should You Move to The Cloud? 1200 800 Jason Stadtlander

“Technology professionals (and retail software and service providers) have done a phenomenal job of seriously screwing up the perspective of what the “cloud” really is and how it should properly be defined. “

Let me first state that I am an Information Technology Security Professional with over twenty years of experience dealing with everything from high-level multi-site network communications down to the home user who can’t get their iPhone to connect to their computer. I have helped the State Police with child pornography investigations and I have taught foster parents how to protect their foster children online. So, I have basically seen it all.

That being said, when I am approached by my home user clients (most of whom I have known for years) and they ask me “Should I move to the cloud?” I cringe. Not because I have any problem what so ever with my home users, what I cringe at is the fact that this is a much more complicated question than they know.

What is “The Cloud”?

Technology professionals (and retail software and service providers) have done a phenomenal job of seriously screwing up the perspective of what the “cloud” really is and how it should properly be defined.

In short, all “the cloud” really is – is your data existing on someone else’s computer data center. It’s not sitting out there in some mysterious nebula where it has the ultimate protection. It is controlled and managed by humans, albeit humans who know technology better than most people (generally speaking). But there is still the human element of controlling how safe that data is, ensuring that it is protected from viruses, hardware failures, and even natural disasters.

Where In The World Is It?

First, let’s be clear. Your data is out there somewhere, physically. It’s sitting on a computer just like your computer at home but with a TON more power than your computer.

  • Amazon Prime Drive: If you are in the U.S. and use Amazon Prime’s Drive, your data is sitting in a server (or set of servers) in Northern Virginia; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA or Northeastern Oregon. If you are in Europe, your photos and documents are sitting on a server in Dublin, Ireland.
  • Google Drive: If you are in the U.S. and use Google’s Drive feature, your data is sitting on a server (or set of servers) in Dalles, OR; Atlanta, GA; Reston, VA; Lenoir, NC or Moncks Corner, SC. 
  • Dropbox: If you are using Dropbox to move files around or share files, then your data is sitting in one of three data centers in the U.S. or in one data center in Europe. Although I do know the location of these, I am not allowed to disclose the true location. It’s the same situation though, your data sitting on someone’s server in a physical location.
  • Microsoft’s One Drive: If you are in the U.S. and use the free drive software that comes with Office 365, then your data is sitting in Quincy, WA; San Francisco, CA; Cheyenne, WY; San Antonio, TX; Des Moine, IA; Chicago, IL; or in one of two locations in VA. 

There really is no way to know (unless you work at one of these facilities) exactly which location your data is actually calling home. Companies look at your IP address (the unique address that you use to connect to the internet) and determine your approximate physical location based on that. Then they generally try to keep your data physically close to that location, just so that you don’t have very many hops (a distance term on the Internet) to deal with.

Is My Data Safe?

Well now, this is the million dollar question, isn’t it? As evasive as it sounds, your data is as safe as the people operating the facility and the service. These companies are bound by privacy laws just like most companies in the U.S. and Europe. However, being bound to the laws and actually adhering to them are two different things. It takes a lot of manpower and a lot of work to ensure that encryption algorithms are kept up to date and maintained. We all know about the TJX data breach of 2007, the Experian data breach of 2017 and the Marriott / Starwood data breach of 2018. These are just three of the more than 300 data breaches that have occurred within the last 15 years in fortune 500 companies.

Keep in mind, those are JUST the fortune 500 companies. That’s not even looking at the thousands of companies that do not fall into that category. Here is a small list of known data breaches that have occurred just in the last 6 months: 2019 Data Breaches.

My Take on it All.

In my humble opinion, it is one thing for your private information to be stolen or destroyed out there in some corporate breach or disaster. It’s another for your priceless photos or documents to be irretrievable. It is my personal belief that no one can protect my data better than I can. I am responsible for maintaining these files. It is what I cherish and plan to pass down to my children. The photos of them being born, the articles and stories I have written. The interviews I’ve done of my family members on video. I frankly do not trust these irreplaceable files to be sitting in someone else’s hands.

I do have my data on “The Cloud”, but it’s my cloud. (I also happen to hold the data for most of my family as well) I am not oblivious to the fact that there could be a fire in my house or some kind of a disaster, so I work hard to make sure that it is all well protected. I back up all of my data to a special storage server in my home. That server replicates instantly with two other storage servers. One is located sixty miles from me at a friends house and the other is located seven hundred miles away at a family member’s house. I also connect (almost daily) just to make sure security patches are performed and that the data is replicating without any problems. The data is encrypted and cannot be viewed without a special encryption key that only I possess. Also, the people who do back up to my storage solution (such as my family members and friends) are the only ones who can see their own data. If I go look at it, it’s just a bunch of encrypted files that don’t make any sense without the encryption key (password) that is located on each of the devices that I back up.

It’s not a perfect solution, but I know that even if I have a fire or flood, I can still access my data and protect the data of my friends and family. I also have instructions in my will that state how to access the data and deal with it in the event of my own demise. This is the era we live in and it’s important that we understand the impact that a loss of data can have.

What Can You Do as a Home User?

First, check and see how much data you are talking about. Most home users don’t need more than 100GB to be protected. If this is the case, then my advice is – have two backup hard drives that will hold at least three times your data (300GB hard drive if you have 100GB of data). Then back up your data to both hard drives using software such as Acronis or EaseUS and keep one hard drive in a fireproof safe at home and take the other one somewhere that is at least ten miles from your home (take it to work and keep it in your desk or store it at a family member’s home). And here is the most important part: KEEP IT UP TO DATE!! Make absolutely sure you update your backups at least every thirty days.

Lastly, if all this seems too daunting, you can always reach out to me and I can do it all for you 😉

YouTube addition with children

What Your Child is Watching on YouTube Might Surprise You

What Your Child is Watching on YouTube Might Surprise You 2124 1416 Jason Stadtlander

Tech addiction is a serious problem and any parent in today’s age is aware of this. YouTube is the drug of choice for most children. Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction explains that children (and anyone spending a lot of time on the internet) are often just “Looking for a little bit of dopamine.

If you have a child that is old enough to hold a mobile device, you most likely have a child that watches YouTube. Children are not watching television like we did growing up, they are watching their favorite YouTuber. I’m not going to go off and be an old ‘fart’ and say “when we were kids we played outside all the time and we never would have been stuck to the screen.” for two reasons, 1. It would be a partial lie. One of my favorite past times as a kid coming home from school was putting on the TV and watching HeMan or Transformers. 2. No matter how much any parent wants to admit it, times change and so does the entertainment for children – almost on a generational basis.

Whether you have a little girl or a little boy, nearly all the kids like the YouTube stars that do silly skits, funny songs or real-time video game commentary. Often times (unbeknownst to parents) the YouTube stars (especially the more amateur ones) use inappropriate language or discuss things that are outside the realm of what a child should be listening to (topics, discussions, etc.).

Now there are plenty of YouTube stars out there that are respectable and work hard to make sure that they stick to their audience. It’s very important that parents look at what YouTube shows their kids are watching and that they watch some of them on their own time (at least a few minutes). I also highly advise installing a parent monitoring software such as MobiCip that will let you see what videos your children are watching when you’re not around or that you might have missed them watching. It does cost a little bit of money but it’s a small price to pay to help keep an eye on your children’s technology.

One important note on parent monitoring apps such as MobiCip: Tell your children that you are monitoring them. My son is well aware that I can see what he views on the internet, I don’t hide that from him but I also don’t hover over him either. I respect his privacy and only if I feel he’s being sneaky or might be viewing something he should not be viewing, do I actually go look through the history.

Words of Wisdom

  • MOST IMPORTANT: Talk to your child calmly. Ask them what they are watching and why they enjoy watching it. Diving straight in and stopping them from watching any YouTube is not the answer (no matter how much you might like to do that). That will just force them to go watch something on a friends device (when you’re not around) giving you no knowledge of what they are watching.
  • Google your child’s favorite YouTube stars. You are bound to find an overview of what the YouTuber talks about, what kind of language they use and what their target audience is.
  • There are several good video blocker extensions in Chrome and Internet Explorer that can be added to block specific YouTube channels. If you if you see something your child shouldn’t be watching, block it with one of these utilities.


Living in the Past & Resisting Change

Living in the Past & Resisting Change

Living in the Past & Resisting Change 1920 1080 Jason Stadtlander

I feel stressed and I retract my thoughts to a specific memory in my childhood;

I am seven years old, sitting in my father’s green 1970 Chevy pickup on the grey bench seat, more specifically it’s a grey seat cover that covers the original green seat. The aroma of the hot chocolate I’m holding in my gloved hands is strong. Dad had ordered it for me as I was finishing my breakfast at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Wooster we visited on the way to the job site. It was our regular ritual for us, having breakfast at Howard Johnson’s during our weekend drives from our home in Canal Fulton to the farm in Loudonville.

The grey floorboard has some scattered dirt and dust on it and it’s lightly raining outside. The old windshield wipers are slowly swishing back and forth, “I love a rainy night” by Eddie Rabbitt is playing on the AM radio and I can feel the warm heat blowing on my feet. I’m wearing a red hooded high-school sweatshirt with a faded eagle on it that my father used to wear his senior year of high school, jeans and a pair of over-sized work gloves ready to help my dad do some landscaping. I’m waiting on him to come back to the truck as he’s talking to the customer. I get bored and lean over to change the dial on the radio, sweeping the little red needle back and forth. I move it down to the 500 kHz range and I hear the dot-dash beeping of Morse code. I have no idea what they are spelling out, but it intrigues me.

My dad then gets into the truck and stops, looks at the radio and then at me. “What is it, dad?” I ask, referring to the beeping on the radio.

“Aliens,” he replies back matter-of-factly. My eyes grew wide.

“I’m kidding. It’s just someone sending a message by Morse code. Probably a HAM radio operator nearby.”

It’s just a memory, one of many from my childhood that brings me peace. A memory of a simpler time (for me) when money, responsibilities, and life didn’t stress me out. There was no internet, no cell phones and no need for anyone to get anything instantly.

It’s not exactly a news flash that our world feels like it is moving and changing faster than ever in recorded history. The reality is of course that it is changing at pretty much the same speed it has for the last hundred and twenty to hundred and forty years.

A little over a hundred years ago, adults (fifty and over) at the time were grappling to understand why on earth anyone would want to get from place to place so fast using a mechanical vehicle when for thousands of years horses and carriages had served just fine. Seventy years ago adults in the same age bracket were resisting the change of getting a television when a radio worked just fine for the family.

Today it befuddles many adults why technology is changing so often and why they are constantly being forced to learn the new innovative technologies. Many of the changes are beneficial, making life easier. Although the constant need to adapt to newer hardware or applications roughly every five years may not be difficult for someone in their twenties and thirties, by the time a person reaches their fifties and beyond, the ability to learn these new innovations becomes profoundly difficult.

It’s only natural to want to return to the simplicity of your youth and fifty years from now, no doubt our children will want to return to the simplicity of a hand-held mobile phone and being able to text one another to keep in touch.

It is this stress of needing to constantly change that forces many of us to reminisce about those times that were perceptively easier in our own lives. But is it healthy to do so? Retreating to those memories is a stress reliever for most people, including myself. There is, however, a difference between thinking about the past and living in it. The past is familiar, we know what happened and we know what the outcomes are of how the past played out. However, pick a memory, at that exact moment in the past your life was changing. You didn’t know what to expect or where your world would go. It stands to reason that at that moment – you thought about your past beyond then to cope with stress.

We as a civilization move on. The world moves forward and we have no choice but to move along with the flow. We may be able to divert the waters of change here and there, but ultimately there is nothing we can do to stop the fact that it changes. We will never “make things great again” and most likely things were not as ‘great’ as we remember them. The truth is, fifty years from now you will look back and remember how great things were in this time. So, as I continue to tell myself every day – enjoy your memories and hold on to them, but embrace the change of the future and work to make a difference in controlling how that change plays out.

Kids watching cartoons

10 Things Generation Z Will Never Experience

10 Things Generation Z Will Never Experience 1500 1001 Jason Stadtlander

Generation Z or Gen Z (also known as iGeneration or iGen, Post-Millennials, or the Homeland Generation) is the generation after the Milliennials, typically are born in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s as starting birth years.

Most of Generation Z have used the Internet since a young age, and they are generally comfortable with technology and with interacting on social media and have grown up with an iPad, iPhone or Android in their hands.

That being said, almost all of them know and are starting to use Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook and just about any other technological social media platform out there. But let’s take a few minutes and look at some elements that we Generation Xer’s grew up with that our children will never know:

  1. The floppy disk: We all had them and stored our programs, documents and sometimes entire operating systems on them (depending on how old you are). They stored data magnetically and of course we all knew to NEVER take them near a magnet or your precious data would disappear. Eight-inch floppy disks were the first variety that were commercially available, introduced by IBM in 1971. In the late 1970s, they were replaced by 5 1/4-inch disks, which were in turn superseded by the 3 1/2-inch format, which ruled until the advent of USB drives in the early 2000s.
  2. Saturday Morning CartoonsSaturday Morning Cartoons: In an age of Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime, today’s children will never know what it was like to have to “wait” until Saturday morning when you could finally watch what you wanted to watch (and adults had to endure the onslaught of children’s programming and commercials for toys galore). We all had our favorites such as Bugs BunnyThe Globe Trotters, Star Wars Ewoks, The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle, The Littles and my favorite Tom and Jerry. I will say that I AM very happy that my children do get to relive all of these wonderful characters through streaming media.
  3. The Pet Rock: You can call Gary Ross Dahl crazy for inventing The Pet Rock, but you gotta give it to the guy, anyone who can come up with an idea of grabbing a bunch of rocks our of his back yard and get people to buy it can’t be that crazy given that he made $1.4 million on his short lived venture. Anyone want to buy a Blade of Grass for $1.50? I’ve got a couple million I’ll sell you!
  4. The Pay Phone: “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.” You’re going to be late; you can’t find their house; you need to call home; you want some privacy from the house phone? No problem… use the payphone. A staple at almost every street corner up until the 1990s, the payphone was the best way to reach out and talk to someone. Once cell phones became mainstream, we no longer had a use for them.
  5. The Phone Book: While we’re on the topic of Pay Phones, how about the Phonebook? The good ol’ yellow pages (or white pages if you need to reach someone at home). These began to go the way of the dinosaur with the advent of 411 (Information) and of course with the internet and Google, they are now only good for standing on to reach that item on the top shelf. Sad.
  6. Atari 2600The Atari 2600: I wanted one starting around the age of 5 (I guess that dates me) and loved the idea of not having to go to an arcade to play a video game… but to actually be at home to play! Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell developed the Atari gaming system in the 1970s. Originally operating under the name “Syzygy”, Bushnell and Dabney changed the name of their company to “Atari” in 1972. Some of the more popular games for the system were Pitfall, Pac-Man and Yar’s Revenge.
  7. The Game Boy: Another product in the video game market. It was a handheld game console which was developed and manufactured by Nintendo and first released in the 100th anniversary of Nintendo in Japan on April 21, 1989. It shipped with Tetris as an included game, but you had to buy additional games if you wanted to play others. During its early lifetime, the Game Boy mainly competed with Sega’s Game Gear, Atari’s Lynx, and NEC’s TurboExpress. The Game Boy outsold its rivals and became a significant success.
  8. The Road Atlas: Atlases and road maps are rapidly disappearing with the GPS and the mapping technologies built into phones and tablets. Most of the time you don’t even need to enter an address in, you simply ask Google or Siri how to get somewhere and it automatically routes you. I challenge our youth to get us to the next state without an electronic device. Could they do it?
  9. America Online: Sort of a joke if you know anything about technology. To much of the world (yes they served not just USA), America Online (AOL) was one of the early pioneers offering home users the ability to connect to (what they believed was) the internet. I say it’s a joke, because the reality is, although you could browse the websites using america online – you were actually secluded most of the time to their private network which was based in Virginia. Their spin-off messaging application: AOL instant Messenger (AIM) was hugely popular from 1997 until around 2005.
  10. The Dial-up Modem: Continuing a little on the AOL item, many of us remember that familiar “pshhht, ding ding, pshhht” as your dial up modem negotiated with the server you dialed into. Dial-up was a form of internet access where your computer communicated through switched telephone networks to establish connections to internet service providers (ISP) such as Compuserve, AOL and Earthlink. The device technically used audio frequencies to transmit data compared to today’s digital signal. The devices were capable of transmitting at various baud rates (measure of speed communications can travel over a data channel).

Let me know in the comments what else you think today’s Gen Z will never know!



Losing Touch

We are Losing Our Humanity

We are Losing Our Humanity 976 549 Jason Stadtlander

It’s not a new theme, in fact it has probably been told from every generation since the beginning of the twentieth century. When you reach a particular age, change comes more difficult than when you were young.

The last one hundred and fifteen years have seen more change in society world-wide than ever in the history of man (except perhaps Ancient Roman and Greek). Just when we begin to feel like we have a grasp on the speed at which things are progressing (such as in the mid 1990’s), the world gets thrust forward again. In the late nineties we saw a new advent of technology – instant messaging and texting. This became much more prevalent between 2003-2006 with the creation of AOL instant messenger in 1997 and later following such technologies as Nextel’s ‘push to talk’ feature in 2003.

One man’s perspective

Please don’t forget, I am one person. I work in Information Technology and I am a father. So, my views, my outlook on society and where we are and where we are going… may be quite different from your’s. Then again, I could be dead on for most of us. You tell me.

Pros and Cons

I won’t deny that small parts of the increase of communication and technology are a good thing. I am able to speak every day with my father who lives 800 miles away and talk regularly (though not as regularly as I’d like) with my siblings and mother who live 3000 miles away – sometimes instantly because of the advent of today’s communication. However, I truly believe that what we have lost far outweighs what we have gained with technology. Yes. I am in I.T. and do it for a living, but I think that gives me even more of a solid perspective of how much everyone has come to depend on technology.

We as a society have gone from sending a handwritten letter, knowing that the party won’t read it for a few days or picking up a phone to call someone – to instant email transmissions, instant messaging, texting, KIKing and Facebooking every nuance of our lives and expecting instant communication. We have detached ourselves through our technology.

Communication Cycle

Companies thrive on providing instant communication, instant help, and need to be the first to respond to everything. Otherwise they lose business. So, they increase their communication, which causes their employees to provide that same level of communication in their personal lives, which causes their families to do the same and so on.

It’s one giant vicious circle and at some point someone needs to stand back and look – look at what we are missing because of our need for instant gratification.

What does teaching our children to contain their thoughts in 140 characters teach them? It teaches them to abbreviate everything. I think, there should be a service like Twitter that requires you to write at least one thousand characters. But that would never be successful. Because humans are lazy… and want everything now as quickly as possible.

What have we really gained?

Here are some points of what we have gained in the last forty years since the thrust forward in computers and technology:

  • The ability to store massive amounts of data for medical, statistical and research purposes
  • The ability to reach someone instantly
  • The ability to communicate via video / audio with someone on the other side of the world in real time
  • The advent of new innovative medical technologies that save lives every day
  • Safer cars, safer planes, safer methods of travel and safer worlds for our children, elderly and handicapped. (this I could write a whole series on)

What have we really lost?

In the need to communicate instantly, constantly, we have lost the core foundation of what makes us human. Here is a small list of items I can think of:

  • With instant communication, comes consumption of time on a level we don’t realize. Which leads to inability to personally communicate and think the way we need to.
  • The fact that every dollar you spend, every item you buy, every event you participate in is constantly recorded somewhere, somehow.
  • The fact that you can’t walk down a street in town without being visible on at least a dozen different cameras (including mobile phone cameras).
  • Expecting everything immediately, communication, information – we lose the ability to be patient. To appreciate how good things can truly be in waiting.
  • Children, consumed by the electronic world around them – unable to effectively communicate interpersonally with those around them.
  • Studies have shown a decrease in our children’s vocabulary, resorting instead to abbreviating their thoughts and desires.
  • We have lost the ability to stop and really look at the world around us.
  • We have lost the ability to look someone in the eye when we are talking to them. To have that human element of face to face communication, of simply talking – not about anything specific, but just being friendly without pretense to a particular subject.
  • With the advent of so much safety equipment we take away: 1. The ability to use your own common sense for safety. 2. Survival of the fittest (which I really believe is more important than we realize).

How can we change?

I strive everyday to stop and just watch people, talk to people, find a few moments to look in a friends eyes and see what is truly going on behind them. We cannot change the entire world around us, but we can change our own tiny fragment of the world.

SoulWe can pay more attention to our God given soul to communicate with our fellow man and woman. If we were intended to communicate with those around us instantly, we would have been given antenna and telepathy.

We can alter the lives of those around us by choosing to add the human element and even forcing people to wait for something worth waiting for. It’s not ‘rude’ to take your time… it’s ‘quality’ which is far more important than speed or quantity.

Your Call is So Important to Us, We’d Rather a Computer Answer

Your Call is So Important to Us, We’d Rather a Computer Answer 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Please Enjoy Our Human Touch… After the beep

I called Amazon.com yesterday, got a nice enough woman in the Philippines who did her best to help but she ended up transferring me to an automated system where I had to leave a message into the black hole of technology.

Furthermore, I had to send an email to Amazon to ask them a question about my seller account, I had forgotten which email address was associated with it. The trick is, you need to send it from the email that the account is under. The email automaton transmits an email back that says “For security reasons you must send your inquiry from the registered email address. If you need help changing your address, please login to your account using your registered email address and change it.”

I stared in disbelief – that someone somewhere actually typed up that automated response and thought it made sense. Seriously?

Welcome to the world of IVR which stands for Interactive Voice Response system. Anytime you are listening to a computer talk to you and have to press buttons or speak back to it, you are talking to an IVR system.

Later That Afternoon

I’m having problems with my Verizon FIOS service, so I call Verizon. To which I get an automated system that asks me what my problem is in ‘simple words’. I respond by barking with frustration “This stupid piece of shit won’t work!”

I hate IVRThe automated woman on the other end states “I think you said your having problems with your service, is that correct?”

With a surprised smile on my face I say, “Yes”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that response. I think you said your having problems with your service, is that correct?”

Getting more frustrated at having to talk to a computer I bleat out “Yes! Yes! You stupid moron!”

“Thank you, let me get someone that can help you with that.” She replies pleasantly.

I pull the phone away from my ear and stare at it.

Outweighing the Pros with tAutomaton IVRhe Cons

It’s something we are all facing more and more, the migration to the mechanical. It has to raise the question, does it really help?

1. Service is consistent from call to call (even if it stinks, it is consistent)
2. Call data and demographics can be analyzed a lot more effectively.
3. Customers can access information 24 hours a day through database IVR system.

1. People get frustrated talking to machines. Especially when they don’t understand you.
2. It loses the personal touch.
3. People lose jobs due to the implementation of these systems.
4. Sometimes all it does is raise your blood pressure before you do talk to someone, so that by the time you reach a live person, you are already so angry you want to reach through the phone and strangle them.
5. Most importantly, it loses the personal touch.

All joking aside, I really do think we need to look at the migration to technology for personal interaction. I absolutely think there are places for computers to take the place of humans. However, I am not really convinced that customer service or anything where the image of your business is on the line – is the place for that introduction.

Twisted Thursday – Technological Overcompensation for the Inadequacies of Lazy People

Twisted Thursday – Technological Overcompensation for the Inadequacies of Lazy People 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Lazy people are all around us, heck, it’s what Twisted Thursday was founded on. However, today I am focusing on the technology that is supposed to overcompensate for those that don’t think before they do things and therefore drive the rest of us insane.

I know, you are reading this, saying “Huh? What are you talking about Jason?”

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][box style=”quote”]We believe that when you create a machine to do the work of a man you take something away from the man. ~ Ba’ku Star Trek Insurrection[/box]

Okay, case in point:

Cars Designed To Drive Us Nuts

Let me turn off my lights if I want them off

Cars that drive us nuts

I normally drive a Volvo S80, which at the moment is in the shop. Now, my Volvo is a wonderful car, it really is. However, one of my pet peeves has to do with the lights. Although the light switch has three positions: Off,  Parking Lights, and Headlights – In reality I have the following options: Daytime running lights, Parking Lights and Headlights. I cannot turn them completely off in any way shape or form.

For those of you who do not know, I am a pilot (recreational). As a pilot, sometimes I need to take my car out on the the tarmac up to the plane to unload bags, etc. Well, one of the rules for the airport is ‘no headlights on cars’ because it blinds pilots. Believe me, there is nothing worse than trying to acclimate your eyes to ‘night vision’ when some idiot with their landing lights or car lights blinds you. It can take you a good five minutes or so before your eyes readjust. Having a car that I can’t turn off the lights poses a serious problem. Yes, I know I can put the car “parking lights” on and the headlights will be off. But, parking lights stay on regardless of whether the car is on or off. I was told by Volvo that I can take it in and have them reprogram it for $300.00 which I think is total B.S. I shouldn’t have to pay for my car to act the way a car should act. I am the driver, I should get to decide whether I want my lights on or not.

Holding my radio hostage

So, while my car is in the shop, I have a 2013 Ford Escape. Love it. Really cool car actually. However, one of the first annoyances I noticed with it; I had pick up my mail before I went down the driveway to my house. I unbuckle my seat-belt  reach out and grab the mail. Then I get back in, listening to my favorite song and start driving the rest 1/10 of a mile to my house when I get 300 feet and the audio goes mute. I try turning it up and the computer says “Buckle up to unmute audio”. Seriously? My car is holding the radio hostage until I buckle up when I’m only going down a tiny driveway? For the record I always buckle up, except in my driveway. I wanted to shoot the thing.

Keep your mouth, er, speaker shut!

GPS - Shut up!I have an iPhone and frequently use an App called TeleNav. Pretty cool little program that allows you to use your phone as a normal GPS that you would have on your dash. I started using it a months ago and enjoy the ease of use and the convenience of always having it with me. That was until I noticed that there is no way to turn off the audio. On a phone call, listening to music, anytime, the stupid thing is always trying to give me play by play directions to the next turn. I finally uninstalled the thing because it was worthless to me if there was no way to shut off the audio. Another perfect example of technology trying to be too smart.

I want my seat hot before I sit down

Okay, I know, sounds snobby, but hey – My Volvo has heated seats, so why not have it warm before I get in. Nothing like a toasty butt to get the morning going right? However, you can’t do that. To prevent fires, the thing has a freaking pressure switch in it. You have to be seated for the seat heater to actually work. So, although I can preheat the car – I can’t preheat the seat. Ugh! The misery.

Locked in!

Locked in my car!One of my personal pet peeves of a lot of newer cars is the auto lock feature. As soon as you engage Drive and start moving, the doors lock. I don’t want the doors locked unless I want them locked. I have this (perhaps irrational fear) of getting into a car accident, being unconscious and my doors being locked, thus making it impossible for someone to pull myself or my children out of the car. Very dangerous thing, I feel – also extremely irritating if you pull forward, realize you forgot something and need to jump out for a second.

Picking up the planter when it’s time

AutodrivetractorI cannot attest to this annoyance myself, but my father – who is a farmer, brought this to my attention. A lot of the newer tractors have GPS guidance systems in them where you can setup a field in the computer, then press auto-drive and the tractor will plant a field (or harvest it) with extreme precision. However, one of the well known irritations is that the tractor tends to pull up on the planter (lift it out of the ground) before it reaches the end of the row. Those of us who are not farmers may say “so? what’s the big deal?”. Well, it can mean having thousands of dollars of crops not planted because you end up missing the end of the row by 5-15 feet on hundreds or thousands of rows.

Four wheel drive should be four wheel drive

Most of you know about the blizzard that hit us about a week ago. Well, one of the nice things that I was looking forward to with this rental (Ford Escape) was the fact that it has four wheel drive (4WD). That was until I tried pulling out of my driveway and the tires were spinning without me going anywhere. After five minutes of not moving, I finally figured out (going through all the computer options) that the car has something called “intelligent four wheel drive” which to me is basically like all wheel drive. It tries to apply power where ever it feels slippage. It should have felt slippage on all four tires, however – “intelligent” proved to be stupid. So, I disengaged the “intelligent four wheel drive” and voila! I could finally move. Seriously car manufactures need to reduce the amount of ‘intelligence in their vehicles. It makes them stupid.

What It All Boils Down To

Yes, we know there are people out there that are lazy, but why do the rest of us have to suffer because of the small percentage of society that is too lazy to turn on their lights, to dumb not to put on their seat belts or too dense to engage or not engage their four wheel drive? How can we possibly have ‘survival of the fittest’ if we let all the lazy people out there not learn their lessons?

Let me know below what technology has been implemented to overcompensate for lazy people that drives you crazy.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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