Understanding The Internet Of Things


The Internet Of Things is becoming one of the most commonly referenced technological concepts that many people still don’t understand. It’s casually referred to in ads for technological companies, and there’s limitless literature about it online that often communicates very little real detail. So how can you make sense of something that already seems to have become a vague and hollow term?

Fortunately, the Internet Of Things (or IoT) is actually a pretty simple concept once you get into understanding what it is and what sort of impact it has on your world. The information below should serve as an introductory guide to figuring it all out.

What It Is

The IoT is effectively a system that’s come about as a result of the fact that more and more devices are being built with WiFi capabilities and additional sensors for enhanced connectivity. And this doesn’t just refer to personal communication and data devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers. Rather, it refers to the fact that basic utility devices, from home thermostats to systems within our cars, now have the capability to connect wirelessly.

What this new state of connectivity enables is the automatic sharing of information between these devices and you, as the user. The IoT is a literal phrase describing what occurs when the “things” we use report back to us on the usage and adapt to our habits. Through it, we can improve energy efficiency, optimize our safety and living environments, and even gain a better picture of our own personal fitness. As a result, our day-to-day lives can become simpler and more satisfying.

Where It’s In Effect

The short answer to this question is that the IoT is already in effect in so many different industries and areas of our lives that it’s difficult to name just a few of them. The truth is that almost every industry can benefit from investing in the Internet Of Things, and this means that it has spread to a number of different companies performing a whole range of functions. On a large scale, manufacturing, shipping, and the information sectors are currently dominating IoT innovation. Companies in these areas are spending tens of billions of dollars on implementing sensors and WiFi connectivity in everything from fleet vehicles to warehouse shelves.

On a smaller scale that’s more relatable in most people’s everyday lives, the IoT is perhaps most recognizable in home management, home security, and exercise equipment. IoT products are already beginning to take over these areas: smart temperature control systems and lighting systems help our homes to adjust to whatever we prefer (and whatever saves the most energy). Advanced security systems give us a better grasp than ever before on our homes’ safety. And personal exercise tools and apps can help us to gauge every aspect of our personal health. These are some of the ways in which many are taking advantage of the IoT without even fully realizing it.

Where It Goes From Here

The question of where this concept goes from here is one without any exact answers, because there’s really no telling exactly where the concept will evolve in the coming years. However, it’s already far larger than many people realize (as indicated by the aforementioned large scale applications). While we can’t predict exactly where it’s headed, we might have an idea of how big it’s going to get.

Some estimate that by 2020 there will be as many as 25 billion smart devices around the world that are connected in one way or another to the IoT. To put that in perspective, it’s by comparison to an estimated 3.8 billion already connected by the end of 2014. For the most part, this massive expected increase will occur within industries already taking advantage of this concept. But if it’s true that 25 billion devices will be in play in another five years, there will almost certainly be new applications we can’t yet predict.

That should all help to provide a basic understanding of what everyone’s talking about with regard to this new phenomenon. The reality is that a better term would be Internets Of Things, because different industries use the concept in different ways. But any time you use devices that collect data and adjust automatically, you’re making use of this growing system.

Watch as I Paint a Picture on the Surface 3 Using the Pen

I decided to record myself paint this picture on my Microsoft Surface 3. The painting too hours, so, naturally, I sped up the time. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Video doesn’t play? Try clicking here.

Microsoft, Enough with “Something’s Wrong” Error Messages

Unhelpful app install error message on the Windows Store
Unhelpful app install error message on the Windows Store
This is an open call for Microsoft to begin being more descriptive with their error messages in Windows.
First, a quick history. Back in the old days of command line computing, errors had to be short and to the point. Most error messages were fragmented sentences but were short and concise. Example: “File not found”, “Internal Stack Failure”, “Invalid file name or file not found”, “Write protect error”, etc

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Create Your Own Adventures in Virtual Reality with Voxelus


The possibilities are endless with a blank canvas, one inside which you can walk around and create anything you can imagine. Even better, you can create with little or no knowledge of programming or graphics design skills. To top it off, you can allow yourself to immerse inside your creations using a virtual reality headset, like the Oculus Rift. This, my friends, is made possible by none other than a platform called Voxelus. Continue reading

For the Love of Mobile MS Apps on Windows 10

It is weekend, which means I have a few minutes to rant about my frustration on the direction MS is going concerning Mobile Apps (the so called Metro/Modern/Universal Apps) and Windows 10.

As you may recall, Microsoft put out the news this week they will nix their Lync Metro App in preference of the Desktop Skype App. Of course all the yuppies were clapping and shouting “giddy on” to Microsoft without considering the consequences and the trend this is setting.

The trend I see at the moment is the rejuvenation of the Desktop, a complete reversal of Microsoft from its mobile-first strategy of two or three years ago. Put bluntly, the Desktop people have won at Microsoft. Fine and good you say, but it didn’t address the reason why MS went full mobile a few years ago. Continue reading

‘Machineers’ Arrives in the Windows Store to Makers’ Delight

Once in while we come across Apps in the Store that we feel is worthy of mention and want to share with you all. Since most of us here at McAkins Online have our roots in engineering and Builders world, something like this is worthy of sharing with you.

Machineers App pride itself is challenging the engineer in you. It is not just another game, but something to tickle you brain cells. Repair gadgets and solve puzzles. You are an Apprentice Zola, learning to bow every machine to your will. You’re provided tools to work with to resolve issues. You get to grow in knowledge and become advanced to build your own vehicles etc. Spoiler: You can even build you own Tank! Continue reading

The New Windows 10 Store App now supports Desktop Apps Updates

Up till now we’ve seen Microsoft Windows Store provide and update the so-called Modern Apps. Although the Windows 8.1 Store provide ability to download and install Win32 or as Microsoft will have you call them these days, Desktop Apps, neither of the two Operation Systems provided means to update Desktop Apps until now. Continue reading

Microsoft Edge Introduces New Features

Microsoft has been silently hammering away on Microsoft Edge, the new default browser in Windows 10. It is not only to bring it to par with modern browsers like Google Chrome but to surpass them. With each iteration of Microsoft Edge released with new builds of Window 10, we can see clearly the direction Microsoft is going. First they were touting MS-Edge speed, it is actually beating Chrome now at its own game as far as speed is concerned. To be decided yet is the resource usage. Google Chrome has become the hog on everyone’s PC, the world is looking for a champion to come to the rescue. Microsoft is hoping to fill that void with MS-Edge. Continue reading

XBOX Game DVR Arrives on Windows 10

A few minutes ago, we received a ping in our Notification bar, with that ping Microsoft announces the arrival of Game DVR on Windows 10. They’ve announced that this feature was coming, but everyone was thinking maybe around the E3 timeframe, but the feature just went live as you can see. Let op that you may need an upgrade to your Graphics Cards as indicated. Continue reading

Using Windows 10 for Phones with Just Mouse and Keyboard

I played with a build of Windows 10 for Phones using only a keyboard and mouse interface. I had no touch screen available to me at my disposal. During the process, I noticed some interesting things. Here’s a video demonstration of Windows 10 Mobile with just a mouse and keyboard. Continue reading

My Windows 10 for Phone Tech Preview Upgrade Horror Story

Windows Phone Upgrade Gear

The purpose of this post needs to be made very clear. I am not ranting or complaining about buggy software or Microsoft. I am writing this article for two main reasons. One, I want to provide Microsoft with feedback so that they can track down the issues I and others are having. Two, I want to remind all of our readers that Windows 10 for phones is not finished and is very buggy. I do not recommend installing it unless you are ready to troubleshoot your phone and are aware that your phone may stop working for any reason. Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get on to the subject at hand.

Microsoft released a preview build of Windows 10 for Phones (Build 10051) on Friday, April 10, 2015. I installed it on three phones. The Nokia Lumia 830, Nokia Lumia 928, and Nokia Lumia 520. All these phones were previously running Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1. The Nokia Lumia 830 upgraded to Windows 10 preview without a hitch. However, the upgrade for the Lumia 928 and Lumia 520 was a disaster.

It is as if one went to surgery and came out with a missing lung, kidney, and open wounds. This is how I would describe the upgrade of the Lumia 520 and the Lumia 928. Let’s start with the Lumia 520. after the upgrade was complete, things appeared to be normal at a first glance. All the tiles were where they were supposed to be. I could see some new apps and upgraded ones. However, as soon as I tapped on the “All Settings” tile on the Action Center, I noticed that nothing happened. So, I decided to open settings from the All apps view. But I was in for an epic surprise. Continue reading

Windows 10 Mobile brings App Corner

[Update: Ok we dropped the ball on this one. With multiple feedbacks, we’ve confirmed that this feature has indeed been part of Windows Phone 8.1. Sorry for bringing it to you this late in WP development.]

Today, I was rummaging through the new Settings of Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones and see what I found! Windows 10 Mobile now allows you to share your Phone with somebody else. Mind you, this is different from the Kid’s Corner feature. I think it is somewhere between Kid’s Corner and the Desktop’s Profile Switching features. So you can’t fully switch profiles on Phone in Win10, but you can create a curated profile place for Apps. This is cool!

I’ve always hated giving my phone to someone, so they can ogle at the new features on my Lumia 1520 GDR1. A phone is the most personal device. My complete life is in there. I don’t like folks messing around on my device. Now I’ve got the tool to feature the phone and at the same time keep my privacy.

Have you used this? What is your experience with it? Let us know.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 Walkthrough on Lumia 830

Windows 10 for Phone Start Screen

I have just received an update to my Nokia Lumia 830, and it is Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2. This happened on the same day that Microsoft released Windows 10 for phones. As such, I made a video walkthrough of Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 before upgrading my phone to Windows 10, and I am eager to share with you the video. So let’s dive in!

The video demonstrates visually what’s new in Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2. The one thing I was unable to demonstrate, unfortunately, is the ability to use external Bluetooth keyboard with the Windows Phone because I do not have one. But Windows Central has a great video demoing this, so I’ll have a link for that below.  Continue reading