Neal Notes
Neal's been contributing stories to Computer since 1998. Topics have been far flung—mobile security, storage challenges, hybrid clouds, recommendation technology, exascale computing, and more.

Recent Articles

By Neal Leavitt
At 8:30 PM on Dec. 7, the power suddenly went out in our house. We looked out our master bedroom window in the dark and saw a wall of 20-40-foot-high flames on an adjacent hillside sweeping towards us. The Lilac Fire, which started as a small brushfire on Interstate 15…
By Neal Leavitt
Arghhh! To use some parlance from any of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies, in the next few years, that’s how some naysayers may react once they see crewless ships on the high seas. While they won’t be ghost ships like the Black Pearl that was captained by both Jack…
By Neal Leavitt
Artificial intelligence (AI), to use a hackneyed term, is already causing a paradigm shift for marketers. AI, in brief, is helping brands to rapidly collaborate with and learn from online followers.
By Neal Leavitt
Marketers can learn a thing or two from our furry (and scaly for those who may own reptiles, snakes, other creepy-crawlers) friends. While the fast-growing $61 billion a year pet product industry is wooing new consumers with disruptive marketing campaigns, e-Commerce and digital marketing to pet owners is still the…
By Neal Leavitt
This year at CES marked a personal milestone—the good folks at CES affixed a ‘10+ Years’ ribbon to the bottom of my badge (it’s actually 12 but who’s counting). To paraphrase from those ubiquitous Allstate commercials, after a dozen consecutive Las Vegas sojourns, “I know a thing or two because…
By Neal Leavitt
It should come as no surprise – Millennials grab most of their info online – and via smartphones. And that extends to how they discover works of art. To further corroborate this, Invaluable, an online marketplace for fine art, antiques and collectibles, conducted a survey earlier this year entitled ‘American…
By Neal Leavitt
They never take a vacation day. In fact, they work 24/7 in the warehouse with nary a complaint. They don’t kvetch about the rising cost of healthcare insurance. And other than initially programming them, they don’t need any extensive training. Warehouse robots are growing in popularity and are already causing…
By Neal Leavitt
I never threw out my extensive baseball card collection. While I don’t have a T206 Honus Wagner American Tobacco Company card (sold for $2.8 million in August 2007) or a Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie year card (sold by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions in December 2015 to an anonymous collector for…
By Neal Leavitt
Washers of the world, unite! While that’s taking a bit of poetic license from the famous rallying cry in the 1848Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, advances in smart appliances may someday have washers from Halifax to Harare talking to each other. Smart appliances (these rely on various communications…
By Neal Leavitt
An MIT study predicted last year that shared, self-driving cars may take so many vehicles off the road—perhaps 80% of them—that a new class of ‘exurbs’ in the U.S. may spring up within a decade. “With fewer cars, much of this space could be freed for other uses. Such reduction…
By Neal Leavitt
If you constantly shank your drives into the rough, have a propensity for landing your ball in every other sand trap and have a knack for choking on those three-foot putts, well, golf analytics may offer some incremental improvements to your game, but playing on the PGA Tour will still be…
By Neal Leavitt
A generation from now (or probably much less), your blue jeans might tell you that they really need to be washed. Or your blue blazer might complain that that hideous Christmas gift tie you got from Aunt Mabel just doesn’t cut it with your dress shirt and slacks. Seemingly far-fetched?…
By Neal Leavitt
While numerous financial institutions worldwide have embraced biometric technology, widespread acceptance and adoption by customers is still in its early stages. In short, the technology aims to make authentication easier by using various biological data and behavioral characteristics. Some of these include voice authentication, and facial or eye-scanning authentication. With…
By Neal Leavitt
Telematics is nothing new—the technology’s been around for decades—but the ubiquitous smartphone is now expected to drive telematics penetration in private hire vehicles and taxis to 21% globally by 2019 according to market research firm ABI Research. The predictive value of telematics data is gathered via wireless technology and depicts…
By Neal Leavitt
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” —Arthur C. Clarke Affective computing is nothing new – it has been around for awhile – over a decade, in fact.  As defined by MIT’s Media Lab, affective computing is computing “that relates to, arises from, or deliberately influences emotion or other affective…
By Neal Leavitt
While it’s not likely that R2-D2 is going to sit down with you at home and help construct your portfolio, reinvest your dividends and even harvest your tax losses, the use of robo-advisors is nonetheless growing in popularity. To clear up any confusion, robo-advisors don’t remotely resemble the iconic Star Wars character;…
By Neal Leavitt
Cause we got a little convoy Rockin’ through the night. Yeah, we got a little convoy, Ain’t she a beautiful sight? Come on and join our convoy Ain’t nothin’ gonna get in our way. We gonna roll this truckin’ convoy ‘Cross the U-S-A. Convoy! —C.W. McCall, ‘Convoy,’ 1978   If…
By Neal Leavitt
Tractor cabs that look like airplane cockpits. Cow heat detection devices. Crop-monitoring drones. Robot milking machines. Sensors that continuously measure everything from nitrogen content to livestock biometrics. Farmers worldwide are rapidly adapting 21st Century to technology to increase crop yields and improve efficiencies. “Farming is becoming increasingly technical and high-tech machines…
By Neal Leavitt
Advertisers have been salivating for years at the promise of mobile advertising. Gartner, for instance, predicts that by 2017, annual mobile advertising revenues will be almost $42 billion. Display formats making up most of that chunk, but video (driven by tablets and growth in tablet ownership) will show the highest…
By Neal Leavitt
Pundits for the past year or so have been lauding about the wonderful things that drones will do for us – now we’re trying to figure out how to shoot ‘em all down. Earlier this year in another Computing Now post, I wrote that the Consumer Electronics Association estimates about 425,000 drones will be…
By Neal Leavitt
The tragic Charleston shooting last week has again brought the national conversation about gun control front and center.  Concurrent with that has been a lot of Internet chatter about smart gun technology. The technology is ready. Some smart guns utilize RFID, others employ biometric sensors; another recent approach is grip…
By Neal Leavitt
The Internet of Things is causing a sea change in manufacturing. That’s putting it mildly. In a report issued last year by PWC, “The Internet of Things” What It Means for US Manufacturing,” the company said “over the next decade, manufacturers could stand to capture about $4 trillion of value…
By Neal Leavitt
Unless you’re completely cut off from civilization (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this), drones are rapidly buzzzzzzzing their way into our lives. And the global market and impact is enormous. The Consumer Electronics Association, for instance, estimates about 425,000 drones will be sold this year, amounting to about…
By Neal Leavitt
Got those highway blues, can’t you hear my motor runnin’  Flyin’ down the road with my foot on the floor  All the way in town they can hear me comin’  Ford’s about to drop, she won’t do no more Those were the first four lines from that classic Doobie Brothers…
By Neal Leavitt
This marked my 10th consecutive year at International CES, and as regular as the day’s sunset, there will always be on display various gadgets that make you scratch your head and wonder what the inventors were thinking. And with others, you still scratch your head as well and think –…
By Neal Leavitt
It’s probably not too farfetched now to predict that in the near future – at least within the next decade or so according to some studies and experts – you might be served by R2D2, or a similar robotic food service entity. Yes, numerous restaurants, especially those of the fast-food…
By Neal Leavitt
With the world’s population now exceeding seven billion, many municipalities in both emerging markets and developed nations are paying closer attention on how they manage their infrastructure and resources. A number of larger cities are well on their way to becoming smart cities. Market research firm Frost & Sullivan succinctly sums up…
By Neal Leavitt
Last year architects in Amsterdam started constructing a 3D printed home.  Aircraft manufacturers are honing ways to build 3D printed planes. And 3D printing is now wending its way through the fashion industry.  A 3D printed dress designed by Michael Schmidt (designed on an iPad), was printed for a private…
By Neal Leavitt
Culturing 3D human tissue on a microchip isn’t new. Like system-on-a-chip (SoC), which shoehorns most of a digital computer into a single chip, an organ-on-a-chip is designed to replicate human organ functions (including activities and mechanics like blood and oxygen flow) on a transparent, flexible microchip. These microfluidic devices which,…
By Neal Leavitt
The technology is sublimely simple – with a smartphone or webcam, take a self-portrait, upload it to a social media website. Have a drink, read a book, watch some TV, in short, let the ‘selfie’ percolate and if it’s interesting/compelling, or just flat out weird, it’ll probably go viral. The…
By Neal Leavitt
Back in 1974, Dov Frohman, one of Intel’s first employees and the inventor of EPROM, erasable programmable read only memory, decided to leave Silicon Valley and return to Israel, his adopted home since 1949.  Frohman was charged with helping Intel establish a small chip design center in Haifa, which at…
By Neal Leavitt
Last month’s digital roundtable on IoT got a lot of traction/responses; decided to use a similar format for this piece. It’s challenging enough trying to generate some noise and buzz about your product/service/app if you’re a U.S.-based startup.  Cracking the U.S. market can be daunting.  But if you’re a foreign startup, the…
By Neal Leavitt
Unless you’re completely off the technology grid (and in which case, you wouldn’t be reading this post anyhow), you’ve probably been bombarded by countless stories/mentions about the Internet of Things (IoT). Whether you’re aware of it – like it or not – the IoT is already transforming our lives. Procter…
By Neal Leavitt
Welcome to NealNotes; this is my inaugural blog post.  Not exactly Proustian prose, but there you have it – short/succinct.  Going forward, I’ll comment on various technology trends/issues/ideas, in short, whatever techles my fancy (sorry, inveterate punster too, even when borderline like that one). Unless you have successfully disengaged yourself from every…
   About the Author
Neal Leavitt runs San Diego County-based Leavitt Communications, which he established back in 1991. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from UC-Berkeley and a Master of Arts degree in journalism & public affairs from American University in Washington, DC. Neal has also lived abroad and has traveled extensively to more than 80 countries worldwide.