Making Wine – Day 28

At this point, it doesn’t appear that there is any activity in your wine container, but activity still exits. Yes, the fermentation process is complete, but the wine is still in an early state. When you remove the air lock and take a whiff, you smell something with a distinct wine odor. It’s even possible to drink the wine now and you might possibly enjoy yourself, but you’d be cutting the process short.

The next step is a seemingly odd one because it requires a certain amount of wizardry on your part. You might have noticed that your wine is still a tiny bit cloudy and that it doesn’t quite have the taste you wanted. That’s what this post addresses. This is the fit and finish phase of your winethe phase that turns your homemade wine into something that could rival the best wine on the market.

Begin by racking the wine using the same procedure found on Day 10. Make sure you clean your container after you pour its contents into another container. Once you have the wine in a suitable container, put a small amount in a small glass. If you want to follow the fancy way of doing this, you’ll swirl the wine around a bit, inhale deeply, and then sip it gingerly. Personally, I find that taking a good deep smell and then tasting the wine using smallish sips is much better. If you used the Montrachet yeast, you’ll find that your wine has a nice odor, but that it’s probably too dry and that the flavor hasn’t quite come out. In short, the wine will be a little disappointing.

To overcome this problem, you add sugar to your wine. Now, remember that your wine is stabilized at this point, so you don’t want to make the wine horribly sweet (a problem I’ve noted in more than a few homemade wines) because there isn’t any yeast to clean up the excess. Add a little sugar at a time and then repeat the smelling and tasting process. Small sips are best. If you find that your nose is working less efficiently by the third or fourth try (I always do), give it a bit of a rest. Inhale some coffee grounds (if you have it around), then try again. The sugar you add at the end of the process is one the place where no one can offer you truly useful adviceeveryone has a different standard.

Now that your wine is properly sweetened, you need to perform one more step. This particular step caused me no end of consternation when I first tried it. It’s time to clarify your wine. Clarity problems come in three forms:

  • Pectin Haze: Pectin found in many fruits will cause a haze in your wine if not removed during the fermentation process. The haze is nearly impossible to remove at this point, but this step will help a little. However, most people won’t even notice it. The haze is slight in most cases. Amend your recipe to use more pectic enzyme (see the Day 1 post for details).
  • Free Floating Particles: Some wine ingredients, such as pumpkin (makes a wonderful warmed wine), will leave particles behind. The best way to avoid this problem is to filter your ingredients initially, before you add them to the wine. You can also use a two-step fermentation process that takes significantly longer than my wine making technique. This step will remove at least some of these free floating particles. Letting the wine rest for an extended period will also help.
  • Yeast Cells and Tanin Complex Materials: Your wine will almost certainly have yeast cells and other materials left over after the fermenting process. These particles are smaller than the larger particles left over from the main ingredient (such as pumpkin) This step always resolves this sort of clarity problems.


You need to obtain some Sparkolloid powder. Not every supply store stocks it, but the effort of getting this product is more than repaid by a superior wine. Add 1 tablespoon to 1¼ cup of vigorously boiling water and stir for five minutes (keep the pan on the stove while you stir). When I first started using this product, I tried all sorts of other time intervals, but you really do need to stir it for the full five minutes to obtain optimal results.

This action doesn’t apparently do muchat least, not much that you can see. What you’re actually doing is creating a static charge in the mixture (hence the need for vigorous stirring). This static charge will help clear your wine, much like an ion filter cleans the air in your house. The fine particles floating around in your wine are attracted to the charged particles in the Sparkolloid powder and drop to the bottom of the container. Interestingly enough, you’ll also find that this step improves both the taste and smell of your wine.

After you stir the Sparkolloid powder for five minutes, add 1/6 cup (8 teaspoons) of mixture to each gallon of wine. Mix it in thoroughly and pour the wine back into the container. Close the container using the airlock as usual. Put the wine containers in a cool location. That’s it! So, are there any questions about day 28? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

Memorial Day – A Time of Remembrance

Many Americans have lost sight of the significance of Memorial Day. For them it has become a time to partyto celebrate something, anything. I spent 10 years of my life in the Navy serving my country—I look on it as the hardest 10 years of my life. Fortunately, I was never called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice that so many people have. Although I’m sure that most of these dear departed liked a good party as much as anyone else, it’s also important to remember why we’re taking a day off.

Our freedom cost many lives. In fact, our freedom is drenched in the blood of all of those who heeded their country’s call to duty. Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the extreme sacrifice of those who have fought and died to ensure that you can be safe in your bed each night, exercise control over your government, and choose to do things like protest an unpopular decision made by those in office. In fact, they died to ensure that you’d also have the choice to do absolutely nothing at allyes, it’s a privilege to decide what to do and when to do it, even if that means doing nothing. During my time in the service, I saw how many people in the world live and I truly wouldn’t want to live like them. I consider America the greatest country in the worldGod has truly blessed us.

I won’t deny that celebrating the lives of those who fought for our freedom is a good idea. However, take a few minutes to also think about the sacrifice these people have made on your behalf. If you see a service member, be sure to thank them for the time they spent serving your needsusually in less than happy conditions. Memorial Day is much more than another holidayit’s a time to reflect on just how good people have it in this country. Make your Memorial Day celebration special this year, take time to consider just how valuable your freedoms are and the price someone paid to get them. If you want some other ways to observe the holiday, check out How to Observe Memorial Day.

There won’t be a blog entry from me on Monday.  Please come back starting on Tuesday for my regular blog entries.

 

Configuring Telnet

Readers have written in to tell me that they’d really like to see more about Telnet after reading my Telnet Not Included post. Of course, there was the usual disagreement as to where I should begin the discussion, so I decided to start at the beginning. As previously mentioned, I do cover this command in my book Administering Windows Server 2008 Server Core,” but don’t cover it in “Windows Command-Line Administration Instant Reference.”

 

Adding the Telnet Server feature to a server will likely require a restart. Consequently, you should only take this task on when you know that you can reboot the server afterward.

Neither books tells you how to configure Telnet, which is a necessary first step because Microsoft doesn’t install this application automatically any longer due to some serious security considerations. The purpose of this post then is to help you configure a Telnet setup that consists of a server (WinServer for the purpose of these posts) and a client (Main). You’ll need to substitute the names of your systems when working through the commands on your system.

 

It’s important to note that you can perform this task on a single machine by configuring both client and server.

WinServer is a Windows 2008 R2 Server. If you have some other version of Windows, the instructions I’m providing here might not work precisely.

 

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel. You’ll see the Control Panel window shown here.
    TelnetConfig01
  2. Click Turn Windows Features On or Off. You’ll see the Server Manager window.
  3. Choose the Features folder in the left pane. You’ll see a list of installed features like the ones shown here.
    TelnetConfig02
  4. Click Add Features. You’ll see the Add Features Wizard.
  5. Check the Telnet Server entry as shown here.
    TelnetConfig03
  6. Click Next. You’ll see a message about the server needing to be restarted after you complete the installation.
  7. Click Install. Windows installs the Telnet Server feature.
  8. At some point, you’ll see an Installation Succeeded message. Click Close to close the Add Features Wizard.
  9. If necessary, reboot your system (Windows will tell you when it’s necessary to reboot). Unfortunately, your Telnet installation isn’t active yet.
  10. Open the Services console found in the Administrative Tools folder of the Control Panel (depending on how your configure your server, you might actually find this folder right on the Start menumy recommended placement for such an important feature).
  11. Locate the Telnet entry. You’ll notice that the service is not only stopped, but it’s also disabled as shown here.
    TelnetConfig04
  12. Double click the Telnet entry. You see a Telnet Properties dialog box like the one shown here.
    TelnetConfig05
  13. Choose Automatic (Delayed Start) in the Startup Type field and click Apply. Using a delayed start seems to ensure fewer problems when working with Telnet.
  14. Click Start. Telnet should now be accessible on the system.

You can also configure the Telnet server from the command line. To set the server startup configuration type, SC Config TlntSvr Start= Delayed-Auto and press Enter. To start the server, type SC Start TlntSvr and press Enter.

Once you have Telnet installed on the server, you also need to install it on your workstation. The following steps get you started.

 

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel. You’ll see the Control Panel window.
  2. Click Programs. You’ll see the list of Programs options.
  3. Click Turn Windows Features On or Off. You’ll see the Windows Features dialog box.
  4. Check the Telnet Client option and click OK. Windows will install the Telnet Client.

Of course, you don’t know whether your setup will even work. So, it’s time to check your setup.

 

  1. Choose Start > All Programs > Accessories to display the Command Prompt link.
  2. Right click Command Prompt and choose Run As Administrator from the context menu. You’ll see a User Account Control dialog box where you click Yes. At this point, you’ll have an administrator level command prompt to use.
  3. Type Telnet WinServer (or whatever the name of your server is) and press Enter. You’ll see a message warning you about sending your password to the server. The password is sent in the clear and this is extremely dangerous from a security perspective.
  4. Type Y and press Enter. Telnet will create a command prompt session on the server for you.
  5. Type Echo %ComputerName% and press Enter. You’ll see that the name of the system matches your server, so you really do have a connection to it.
  6. Type Exit and press Enter. Telnet ends the session with the server.
  7. Type Echo %ComputerName% and press Enter. The output now corresponds to your local workstation.


At this point, you have a Telnet configuration to use for future posts. Of course, you can start experimenting with it now. Any command you can normally type at the command prompt, you can likely type at the Telnet prompt as well (as long as there are no graphics involved with executing the command). Now I need to know what sorts of topics you’d like me to cover. Send me e-mail at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com with your requests.

 

Making Wine – Day 23

If you’ve been following this series of posts, you’ll know that Monday was actually day 23, but I’m posting today about it due to some scheduling conflicts. The last post was on Day 10. At that time, the wine fermentation was slowing down, but still active. By the time you get to Day 23, the wine has basically stopped fermenting. You might see a line of tiny bubbles at the top of the container, but that’s about it.

You still don’t have drinkable wine. If you tasted it at this point, nothing terrible would happen, but it wouldn’t have a good wine taste just yet. In fact, your wine may still have a yeasty odor to it. The step you perform today is important because it helps stabilize your wine so you start getting the right odor and flavor.

First, look at the bottom of the container. If there is little or no sediment, you don’t have to rack your wine again. However, if you see more than 1/8-inch of sediment, consider racking your wine using the same instructions as Day 10.

At this point, pour about 1/4 cup of your wine into a cup. Add 1/2 teaspoon of potassium sorbate per gallon to the wine. Potassium sorbate is a yeast inhibitor and will help stabilize your wine. It doesn’t stop active yeast from working, but it does stop the fermentation process from restarting. The potassium sorbate mixes with extreme ease. Pour the wine back into the container and stir it using the handle of your spoon. Because the potassium sorbate mixes easily, you don’t have to stir the wine a lot.

Replace the airlock on your container. Move your containers to a cooler location (between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit) to aid in stabilization. That’s it! So, are there any questions about day 23? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Review of Breath & Other Ventures

I wasn’t quite sure how to categorize Breath & Other Ventures (written by William Bridges, Green Market Press), but for me it was a self-help sort of a book, so I classified it that way. You may very well classify it some other way, which is certainly your right. In reality, this book is both more and less than a self-help book. It won’t help you control your weight or manage your anger, but it does ask an intriguing and thought provoking question, “How do you want to live your life?” It’s a deceptively simple question of the same sort as, “Who are you?” Most people have no idea of who they are, much less how they want to live their life, so this is a helpful book indeed. (Don’t make the mistake of confusing this question with, “What do you want to do with your life?”, which is actually quite easy to answer in comparison.)

The majority of the book is a series of non-fiction short storiesthe author uses the term essays. It’s in three parts. The first part is literally about breathing. Although William includes a number of medical terms and diversions in the book, the focus is on the actual act of breathingsomething I’ll never look at the same again. You’ll find breathing in all its forms, including the breathing that takes place during various sorts of meditation. I’m not a Zen practitioner, but I do meditate daily to manage stress and make some sense of the chaos that’s my life. Such meditation is Biblicalit’s mentioned more than a few times even though I know most Christians sadly leave meditation out of their lives. By the time you’ve finished this first section, I assure you that you’ll no longer take breathing for granted either.

The second part is my favorite. It’s a series of short historical stories. I found them compelling. In fact, I started reading this section and didn’t put the book down again until I had finished it. The historical section isn’t about major events or places that most people would consider all that exciting. You’ll discover something about average people in Indiana. The stories are all about the author’s relatives in some way, but not necessarily exclusively about his family. He digresses into other areas, which makes for an interesting read. (There is even a ghost story included in the set of stories.) You go down the road and aren’t quite sure what to expect nextthe twists and turns keep the eventual goal hidden and elusive.

The essays in the third part of the book are more focused on how the author has lived his life. I probably could have done without the first essay on Obama, but then again, I’m not a political person in the sense that I would go out and protest something, knock on doors, or even make a contribution. On the other hand, I feel quite good about exploring every detail of a politician’s career before voting and will write a letter or two to express my dissatisfaction. For whatever reason, this particular essay didn’t speak to meperhaps it’ll speak to you. I did enjoy the essay entitled, “Ten Weeks with the Circus” quite a lot (it isn’t actually about the circusI’ll leave the details of it for you to discover).

The book also has a very short fourth part (19 scant pages) that contains a fictional detective story about GeeGee Dapple. I found the story quite entertaining and a fitting end to the book.  There is little doubt in my mind that GeeGee is the author’s alter-ego. It appears that there is a number of these stories and I hope the author eventually puts them together into a compilation. For now, this is the first GeeGee story I’ve read. The addition reminds me of the “final page” entries often found in magazines. It was a nice ending to the book that doesn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of the book but is merely meant to entertaina kind of finishing touch not found in many books today.

If you’ve ever read and enjoyed Garrison Keillor, you’ll enjoy William’s style too. It has that same free flowing musing that Keillor employs in his books. This book isn’t meant to be funny though, so there are some distinct differences in the way the two authors approach things. This author also includes more than few pieces of poetry, most of which I found a good read and thought provoking. The poetry isn’t just stuck in place either (like many books out there), it always has a purpose for being placed precisely where the author has placed it in the book. I found the author’s word choices interesting as well. For example, you’ll find “blissninny” on page 44 (I’ll also leave it to you to discover the meaning of this word). If you want to see some examples of the author’s writing, check out his blog.

So, does this book answer the question, “How do you want to live your life?” Of course it doesn’t! That’s for you to decide. The author is relating a story of how he has decided to live his life and I think the hope is that you’ll spend a few moments pondering your life as well. I certainly found myself pondering mine. If nothing else, this is the sort of book you want to read as part of your own personal voyage of discovery.

 

Creating Sensible Error Trapping

Errors in software happen. A file is missing on the hard drive or the user presses an unexpected key combination. There are errors of all shapes and sizes; expected and unexpected. The sources of errors are almost limitless. Some developers look at this vastness, become overwhelmed, and handle all errors the same wayby generating an ambiguous exception for absolutely every error that doesn’t help anyone solve anything. This is the worst case scenario that’s all too common in software today. I’ve talked with any number of people who have had to employ extreme effort just to figure the source of the exception out; many people simply give up and hope that someone has already discovered the source of the error.

At one time, error handling functionality in application development languages was so poor that it was possible to give the developer the benefit of a doubt. However, with the development tools that developers have at their disposal today, there is never a reason to provide an ambiguous “one size fits all” exception. For one thing, developers should make a distinction between the expected and the unexpected. Any expected errora missing file for example—should be handled directly and specifically. If the application absolutely must have the file and can’t recreate it, then it should display a message saying which file is missing, where it is missing from, and possibly how to obtain another copy.

Even more than simply shoving the burden onto the user, however, modern applications have significantly more resources available for handling the error automatically. For example, it’s quite possible to use an Internet connection to access the vendor’s Web site and automatically download a missing application file. Except to tell the user what’s happening when the repair will take a few minutes, the application shouldn’t even bother the user with this particular kind of errorthe repair should be automatic.

My book, C# Design and Development,” discusses a number of expected error scenarios that the developer can easily handle. For example, a user could press the wrong key combination. Instead of simply beeping it’s discontent, the application should tell the user that the key combination won’t do anything and provide a list of acceptable key combinations. The use of friendly controls can also help. Don’t use a textbox when a drop down listbox will work better. In fact, the textbox is the worst possible control to use in many circumstancesit should be the option of last choice. Chapters 4 through 7 of my book discusses a wealth of design issues, including the selection of a proper interface type (such as a dialog box versus an SDI or MDI form). It divides these decisions into those that affect application speed, reliability, and security, which is the smart approach to use in developing any application.

Exceptional conditions do occur. However, even in these situations the developer must avoid the generic exception at all costs. If an application experiences an unexpected error and there isn’t any way to recover from it automatically, the user requires as much information as possible about the error in order to fix it. This means that the application should diagnose the problem as much as possible. Don’t tell the user that the application simply has to endthere is never a good reason to include this sort of message. Instead, tell the user that the application can’t locate a required resource and specify the resource in as much detail as possible. If possible, let the user fix the resource access problem and then retry access before you simply let the application die an ignoble death. Remember this! Any exception that your application displays means that you’ve failed as a developer to locate and repair the errors, so exceptions should be reserved for truly exceptional conditions.

Not everyone agrees with my approach to error trapping, but I have yet to hear a convincing argument to provide unreliable, non-specific error trapping in an application. Poor error trapping always translates into increased user dissatisfaction, increased support costs, and a reduction in profitability. Let me know your thoughts on the issue of creating a sensible error trapping strategy at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Becoming a Programmer

I’ve had more than a few readers write and ask how someone becomes a programmer. Of course, that’s a loaded question. The first thing that you must decide is what a programmer does, who they are as a member of society, and what they contribute to society. There are many fields that could be construed as programming. Anyone who writes a set of instructions that somehow directs that actions of a computer is a programmer. This definition encompasses everyone from the administrator or power user who writes macros to the designer who creates engineers huge projects to the low level developer who creates operating system code. Theoretically, the ingenious person who actually succeeds at programming their video recorder to start and stop at certain times to capture a favorite television show is a kind of programmer. Today I’ll focus on the computer scientist, because that’s what I am.

Aptitude is part of becoming a good computer scientist and you need to decide whether you have the required talents, skills, and desires. A love of the abstract is a requirement. Despite the best efforts of companies such as Oracle and Microsoft (and a huge number of others) to create an environment that mirrors the concrete world, creating good code is the domain of those who embrace the abstract. It isn’t simply a matter of knowing how to work with numbers. A computer scientist is an expert in many arenas of abstract thought and can actually feel the numbers in a way that few others can. Developing great computer applications is an art and many of the best computer scientists have an artistic bentthey play music, craft words into books, paint, or otherwise put into physical existence the abstract concepts of the mind.

Most computer scientists are naturally curious. It isn’t sufficient to know that the device workshow the device works is far more interesting. Taking things apart to see how they work and putting them back together again to ensure a true understanding of the underlying principles exists is a joy for the computer scientist. Nothing is too complex and in everything there is wonder. Where others see the mundane, the computer scientist sees the amazing.

Of course, there is the practical to consider as well. My first exposure to computers and programming was punch cards (yes, I’m dating myself here). I was in a typing class and part of that class was to work on a keypunch machine. The fact that holes in a card could control a huge machine was amazing to me. In those early years I also studied computer hardware in depth (right down to the chemical reactions that occur within a transistor) and discovered things like paper tape machines and light panels. This sort of education isn’t available to aspiring computer scientists today, but it’s where I began. Those early days were critical to my development as a computer scientist. Your early days are equally important.

So, where would someone begin today? There is a fear that everyone seems to exhibit about destroying their computer. Get an older machine that you don’t have to care too deeply about, but still works. Take it apart, learn how it works, and put it back together. A computer scientist understands that every line of code does something to the hardware. We’ve lost touch with that connection todaya real loss. Obviously, you don’t need to know absolutely everything about the functioning of the hardware, but you should at least know the basic parts of your computer.

Start small. If nothing else, install an old version of Office on your machine and use it to write macros. For that matter, try working at the command line for a while and write some batch files for it. You could also try working with JavaScriptit’s free and there are some excellent tutorials for it online. Experience the small things and you’ll gain understanding that you can’t get any other way. Most importantly, keep in mind that you’re trying to affect the world around you by writing commands.

Eventually, you’ll want to start working with a programming language. My first true programming language was BASIC. I learned it at a time when DOS was kingbefore Windows was even a twinkle in Microsoft’s eye. Visual Basic or C# are great languages to start with. You can write some extremely useful applications without a very large investment in either time or money. If you prefer, learning Java can be a good experience, but I’ve found it requires a little more time to learn than some other languages.

Discover a low level language. For me it was assembler. Actually, I learned to work with assembler on a number of systems. Today you’ll want to learn C++ because few people use assembler anymore. Even embedded system programming (the last frontier of truly custom systems) relies on C or C++ for the most part now.

Don’t confine yourself to a single platform or language though. Before I even entered college, I had been exposed to three different computer languages. During college I learned three more. Today I learn whatever seems to be the best language to accomplish a particular task. It wasn’t long ago that I learned IronPython. I’ve worked with PERL, LISP, F#, Java, PHP, and many other languagesthey’re all ways to express something that I need to do with the computerthey’re all beautiful languages for a particular task.

The important thing is not to make writing applications a chore or workkeep it fun. If you’re thinking about a career as a computer scientist, I think you have some amazing things to look forward to because computers are become ever more capable of interacting with the outside world. Let me know your thoughts about computer science at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

An Update About Mono

I’m not one to get stuck on a particular form of a technologyit’s best to use the solution that works, rather than make a favored solution try to fit. Many .NET developers miss opportunities to move their solutions to other platforms or use them in places that normally don’t work well with the .NET Framework by leaving out Mono, the .NET Framework alternative. Most people associate Mono with the Macintosh or Linux, but there is also a Windows form of Mono. When Windows Server 2008 Server Core came out without the .NET Framework, I immediately wrote an article about it entitled, “Mixing Server Core with .NET Applications.” In fact, I’ve promoted Mono to frustrated administrators in my book, “Administering Windows Server 2008 Server Core.” Before Microsoft finally came out with a .NET Framework solution, you could use Mono to do things like run ASP.NET applications on Windows Server 2008 Server Core and my book told you how to do it in Chapter 24.

So, I was more than a little disturbed when I heard that the Mono crew had been laid off by Novell. Fortunately, I discovered later that the layoffs are just a prelude to having Mono supported by a new company named Xamarin. To read more about this company, check out Miguel de Icaza’s blog entry, “Announcing Xamarin.” Not only will the new company continue supporting the open source versions of both Mono and Moonlight (the Silverlight alternative), but it’ll create new commercial products for both Android and iOS. In short, this development is actually good because the new company will focus on this incredibly useful technology.

My main concern for the new company is that they won’t have the funding to do everything they envision doing, but that remains to be seen. Reading Mary Jo Foley’s article gives me hope that they’ll succeed. What are your thoughts about Mono? Is it a technology that you’ve used or at least are willing to try? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Getting the Right Visual Studio Add-In

Give me the right tool and I can use it to create just about anything in code! It’s a bold statement and I’m sure that I’d have little trouble finding a lot of other developers who believe precisely the same thing. Unfortunately, finding the right tool is akin to finding a needle in a haystack (feel free to substitute any other worn cliche you can think about). How does someone quantify the usability of a tool or decide whether to even download it in the first place. I recently wrote an article for Software Quality Connection entitled, “Techniques for Finding Useful IDE Add-ins” that answers that question. The article proposes some techniques you can use to make the process of finding just the right add-in easier.

Of course, my great add-on is a piece of junk for you. Our needs, goals, programming skills, and programming tasks differ. So, what I’d like to know is how you look for add-ins and how you use them to create better applications. It’s nice to get another perspective on a given topic. Over the years I’ve talked with hundreds (perhaps thousands) of readers about the tools they use because the right tool in the right hands can do amazing things. Most of my books contain a healthy number of links to various tools and I often employ add-ins in my books to make tasks easier. Let me know about your favorite add-in and tell me why you think it’s so great at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com. (Please, no vendor e-mails. I already know your tool is great; I really want to hear from people in the trenches on this topic.)

Part of my reason for asking this sort of information is to improve the quality of my books and articles. Quality is extremely important to me. In fact, it’s the reason I created the beta reader program. A beta reader reviews my manuscript as I write it. You can find out more about the beta reader program in my Errors in Writing post. If you want to become a beta reader, just write me at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com for additional details. In the meantime, try out some new add-ins and have a bit of fun .

Robotics in Your Future

I’ve mentioned more than once that I’m intensely interested in accessibility in all its forms. In fact, in my view, one of the most important uses of computer systems is to make life easier for people with special needs. Eventually, we all experience a special need. If nothing else, age tends to rob us of mobility and the use of our senses, making some form of aid imperative.

Of course, most people are aware of robots. I read Asimov books such as, “I, Robot” with great interest as I grew up because like Asimov, I saw the huge potential of robots in a number of ventures. The first venture I became aware of was in industrial automationpainting cars I believe. Painting cars was only the beginning. Today, we couldn’t explore space successfully without robots.

All of these uses for robots are nice. However, the use that really piques my imagination is the use of robotic technology to help people in ways that we couldn’t even imagine just a few years ago. I’ve read with great interest about the use of exoskeletons for military personnel. Then, when the press started talking about the use of exoskeleton technology for the space program, I got really excited. However, a news story I read yesterday fulfills a promise for exoskeleton technology that I’ve always wanted to read about. In this case, a paralyzed student has been able to walk again. Amazing!

The technology still requires a lot of work, but I foresee a time when exoskeletons will make it possible for someone with just about any severe injury to lead a completely normal life. You won’t see someone who is struggling just to get by anymore; you’ll see someone who looks like absolutely everyone else. I can’t imagine a better use of technology to meet the needs of people who require it.

As with any technology, there are going to be abuses of this one. It’s unfortunate, but someone will find ways to use this technology in ways that actually hurt other humans or the person employing the technology. What good uses for this technology can you think about? What are the potential bad uses that come to mind? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.