Category archive

Technology

Wyoming Crypto Expert Says Trump is Dead-Wrong on Bitcoin

in News/Technology
11264

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State

The founder of a Wyoming financial company that focuses on digital assets such as Bitcoin had just two words after she heard former President Donald Trump’s claims that Bitcoin is a scam.

“Ok boomer,” Caitlin Long tweeted in response to Trump’s comments on Fox on Monday.

Trump appeared on Fox with Stuart Varney on Monday morning and discussed certain types of investment, but the former president was not on board with Bitcoin.

“Bitcoin, it just seems like a scam,” he said. “I don’t like it because it’s another currency competing against the dollar. I want the dollar to be the currency of the world, that’s what I’ve always said.”

Long, a Wyoming native who has worked to make digital currency more accessible in the state, was none too pleased to hear these comments.

“ugh, ok #boomer. #bitcoin is many things, but a scam is not one of them,” Long wrote on Twitter, retweeting the clip of Trump’s comments.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that eliminates the need for traditional intermediaries, such as a bank or the government, to make a financial transaction. According to financial website NerdWallet, fiat money (such as the U.S. dollars in a bank account) is backed and regulated by the government that issues it.

Bitcoin, however, is powered through technology and software. The currency is backed by code instead of something like gold or silver.

Each bitcoin is stored in a digital wallet on a computer or smartphone as a computer file. It is powered by an open-source called blockchain. Basically, every transaction is a “block” that is chained to the code, which creates a permanent record of each transaction.

Long was deeply involved in legislative efforts that led to Wyoming becoming the first state in the nation to develop rules to regulate the blockchain technology.

Her work led in 2019 to legislative approval of a bill allowing the creation of “Special Purpose Depository Institutions” for the handling of cryptocurrency transactions.

Wyoming’s work has made it the only state in the nation where banks working with both digital and traditional assets can operate.

Wyoming is also soon to be home to the first two digital currency banks in the world, one of which (Avanti) is operated by Long and the other (Kraken) she is a shareholder in.

Long has also teamed up with U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis to work on blockchain and Bitcoin-related issues. The senator was disappointed by Trump’s comments about Bitcoin, but looked forward to chatting with him sometime about its virtues.

“Former President Trump has always said he wants to make America great again, and I absolutely agree with that sentiment. Unfortunately, America is at serious risk of falling behind China and other nations in financial innovation. Bitcoin can help ensure the US dollar remains the world reserve currency,” Lummis told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “The Biden Administration is debasing the dollar. Financial innovation is how we ensure sound money and protect America’s place as the land of financial freedom and economic opportunity for all.”

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Elon Musk’s StarLink Broadband Giving Rural Wyoming Residents 100 Times Faster Internet

in News/Technology
10550

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming is rural, a fact greatly appreciated by those who come here to enjoy the state’s wide open spaces.

But that rural nature comes with a handicap — a problem finding reliable, high-speed internet connections, a necessity for most in our ultra-connected society.

But Wyoming isn’t being left off of the world wide web.

The nonprofit group Connected Nation recently released a report showing that Wyoming is actually one of the top states in the nation for school internet connectivity. 

The group’s data shows that Wyoming is sixth in the nation when it comes to helping each school district reach a download speed of 1 megabyte per second per student — the Federal Communications Commission’s recommended bandwidth to allow for digital learning in every classroom.

Hawaii actually tops the list, with 100% school district connectivity reported. Wyoming comes in at 72%.

There are many options available now to Wyoming internet users that help keep the connectivity rate so high. 

Services such as TCT’s fiber network in northwest Wyoming (which covers three counties and provides download speeds of up to 1 gigabyte per second), Dish Network and Direct TV satellite providers and cable services such as Spectrum or CenturyLink help keep residents of the state’s larger communities connected.

But for residents who live outside of city limits, reliable service is harder to come by. The Wyoming State Broadband Program reports that average download speeds for rural residents is about 30 megabytes per second – relatively slow compared to users inside communities who can stream video at around 200 mbps.

But there’s a new game in town that is making a big difference for those rural residents.

Elon Musk’s StarLink satellite service has so far launched over 1,500 small satellites into space — a fraction of the 12,000 satellites that Musk’s SpaceX has permission to put into orbit around the planet. Using those satellites, Musk plans to provide global high-speed internet service.

For users like Pam and Werner Noesner, who live about 8 miles outside of Cody, StarLink is the best option that they’ve found.

“We had TCT wireless connection,” Werner explained, “and the best we were getting on a download was seven megabytes, or six. With the StarLink services we’re seeing speeds of 150 megabytes per second, sometimes well over 200 megabytes per second.”

StarLink is still in the beta testing phase, which means that current users have to contend with minor disruptions as the network is created and adjusted. But according to the Noesners, it’s worth it for the speed of the service.

“These satellites that they’re launching for StarLink are closer to the earth than HughesNet or ViaSat,” Pam explained. “So they’re closer to the earth, which means you get better speed, they don’t have to go as far.”

And StarLink is easy to install, Werner pointed out, with no technician required – just a few tools and a clear line of sight to the sky. 

One other reason the Noesners decided to try out the StarLink system, Werner said, is that they are impressed with Elon Musk’s vision. 

“He’s an engineer that has money, okay? So he knows how to do it from an engineering perspective,” he said. “Because he says, ‘Oh, you want better internet? Well, we have to put up some satellites.’ ‘Oh, to get the satellites there, we’ve got to build rockets.’ So you know, SpaceX.”

“His intention, though, was to deliver internet to many places who had none, like Indian reservations and places like that,” Pam said. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming to Be Home to One of the World’s Fastest Supercomputers

in News/Technology
8563

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

One of the fastest supercomputers in the world will be in operation in Cheyenne by next year, where it will help scientists research a wide range of weather phenomena that affect society.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research announced this week that its new supercomputer would be funded by Hewlett-Packard to the tune of $35-$40 million. Once operational, the HPE-powered system is expected to rank among the top 25 or so fastest supercomputers in the world.

The supercomputer will be installed in Cheyenne sometime this year and will be operational by early 2022. It will replace the current system, which is known as “Cheyenne.”

“This new system is a major step forward in supercomputing power, providing the scientific community with the most cutting-edge technology to better understand the Earth system,” said Anke Kamrath, director of NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory. “The resulting research will lead to new insights into potential threats ranging from severe weather and solar storms to climate change, helping to advance the knowledge needed for improved predictions that will strengthen society’s resilience to potential disasters.”

NCAR is holding a statewide contest for Wyoming students to propose a name for the new system.

The new machine will help scientists conduct research needed to better understand a range of phenomena that affect society, from the behavior of major wildfires to eruptions caused by solar storms that can threaten GPS and other sensitive technologies.

The new computer will have the ability to perform 19.87 quadrillion calculations per second, almost 3.5 times the speed of the Cheyenne supercomputer. That is the equivalent of every man, woman, and child on the planet solving one equation every second for a month.

“More powerful supercomputing is a vital component of the research infrastructure of our nation, enabling scientists to advance fundamental research and deepen our understanding of the complex and interconnected nature of the Earth system,” NCAR Director Everette Joseph said. “This new NWSC system will support basic research in ways that will lead to more detailed and useful predictions of the world around us, thereby helping to make our society more resilient to increasingly costly disasters and contributing to improved human health and well-being.”

In 2017, IBM contracted with the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne with a project to help improve weather forecasting around the globe. 

Since the NWSC opened its doors in 2012, more than 4,000 users from more than 575 universities and other institutions across the nation and overseas have used its resources. 

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Man Goes On Profanity-Laced Tirade After Crashing Wyo Ag Dept Zoom Call

in News/Technology
7949

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Mark Davis, Powell Tribune

Not even an obscure Zoom meeting of the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board could escape 2020 unscathed. 

As about 16 state and federal officials discussed the compensation offered to producers who lose livestock to wolves in certain parts of the state, their progress was briefly slowed by an outburst from an unknown person in attendance at virtual meeting last week. 

The board was carefully considering how to respond to a portion of a four-part comment on the compensation program when a man only known as “Robert” voted nay. His vote went largely unnoticed, being in the vast minority. 

But as the board considered its reply to another portion of the public comment, Robert interrupted with a largely unintelligible string of profanities and racial slurs. 

While there have been many documented cases of people crashing Zoom meetings since the start of the pandemic, it was a bit shocking to most in attendance that someone found the group charged with replying to comments on wolf depredation compensation within Wyoming’s predator zone — let alone spent time attempting to sabotage the meeting. 

It was about 14 minutes into the board’s discussion that the profanities and slurs began. 

“Oh good, that’s handy,” Doug Miyamoto, co-chair of the board and director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, sarcastically remarked. 

Jerry Johnson of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who was administering the meeting, eventually was forced to remove Robert and the board continued after apologies and a couple chuckles. 

“That was a first for me,” Johnson said.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Wyoming Voters: How To Turn Off Facebook’s Annoying Voter Reminders

in News/Technology
6914

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

We noticed Cowboy State Daily columnist Dave Simpson was bothered by incessant voting reminders that plagued him whenever he opened up his Facebook page.

“I’ve voted in every election for the last 48 years. Thanks for all the reminders to vote, FB, but I don’t need your constant harping to get me to the polls,” he said to Facebook.

That got us to thinking: there’s gotta be a way to turn off that reminder.

We’re all for voting. We like voting. We prefer voting to anarchy, in fact.

But, if you don’t need the reminder, there should be a way to kill it.

With a little bit of sleuthing, we found the answer.

On your mobile phone, click the three lines at the bottom right of your screen. 

Scroll until you see an item called “See More.”  Click it.

Scroll until you see “Town Hall”.  Click it.

Look to your upper right and click on “Settings”.

At the very bottom, you’ll see a field called “Voting Reminders”.  Swipe the nob to the left.

On your desktop, look at the nav bar on the far left. Click “See More”.

Scroll down to “Town Hall”. Click on it.

On your far right, you’ll see “Voting Reminders”.  Click on it.

You will no longer get voting reminders.

Again, we prefer voting. We’re not encouraging coups or military overthrows or Chicago-style violence.

But if you are quite content in your voting plans and you’re tired of seeing the reminders, consider us your friendly helpers.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

FCC Chairman Visits Wind River Reservation for Gigabit-Speed Broadband Deployment

in News/Technology
Wyoming broadband
3029

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai visited the Wind River Reservation on Tuesday to tour areas that are receiving funding from the FCC to deploy gigabit-speed broadband.

Wind River Internet is receiving over $4 million from the Connect America Fund Phase II auction to deploy gigabit speed service to 849 rural homes and businesses on the reservation.

“Bringing high-speed connectivity to rural Tribal lands can be a game-changer,” said Chairman Pai.

“That’s why bridging the digital divide is my top priority,” Pai said. “I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit the Wind River Indian Reservation today to see firsthand the gigabit-speed broadband deployment. This will be critical to providing those living there with access to digital opportunity.”

The Connect America Fund Phase II auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in the United States.

In addition to the funding that is being made available through this auction, the FCC recently voted to launch the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which will further advance broadband deployment throughout rural America, including on Tribal lands. 

Wyoming Drone Pilots Have Concerns About Proposed FAA Rules

in News/Technology
2696

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Several Wyoming drone pilots are expressing some concerns about proposed FAA rules that would require drones to broadcast user ID information.

While the pilots said they were generally open to the idea proposed as a way to improve the safety of drone operations, they also expressed concern about invasion of privacy and whether all drones could handle the technical requirements of the new rules.

“(A)s far as airspace usage, drones are safe, there have only been three confirmed incidents of drone and aircraft collisions,” said Nathan Rogers, a commercial drone pilot for Noetic Creative, a company that operates drones in Wyoming. “I find my pilot information being publicly available to be an invasion of my privacy, plus, none of the drones I currently fly would work with this system.”

Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS, are most commonly used for aerial photography by hobbyists, but a growing number are used commercially. The most commonly used drones are defined by the FAA as “…an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds on takeoff…” 

However, drones can be large or small and used for many purposes. In Wyoming, commercial uses range from oil rig and pipeline inspection to ranching and livestock inspection. Realtors sometimes use drones commercially to take aerial pictures of their listings. 

With the growing number of drones in the skies, it is the FAA’s aim to adopt rules that would make the operation of any drone safer for all. 

Currently, all drones weighing more than 249 grams — about one-half pound — need to be registered with the FAA via its website, faadronezone.faa.gov Additionally, UAS used by commercial pilots fall under a section of FAA rules referred to as “Part 107” that require an operator to obtain a special license and undergo testing.

The newly proposed regulations, which would affect both commercial and recreational drone operators, state that all UAS flown in U.S. airspace would be required to be equipped with remote ID systems. These systems would broadcast information about the drone’s owner, as well as the aircraft’s and controller’s location, to anyone equipped to receive the remote ID broadcast. 

The proposal has generated heated debate nationally. One of the points of debate is whether the public should have access to the same remote ID broadcasts that would be available to law enforcement.

Also proposed are regulations that would require all drones operate with a WiFi or cellular connection to broadcast the ID. Wyoming’s cellular service can be spotty at times and some pilots fear this would ground any drone trying to operate in remote locations. 

Andrew Ruben, a commercial drone operator and owner of Wild Sky in Cheyenne, has perspective on the regulations as both a commercial operator and a first responder. As a volunteer with Laramie County Fire District No. 2, Ruben uses his drone experience for search and rescue work as well as firefighting operations. 

Ruben said he supports the idea of a remote ID for drones because it would promote safe drone operation.

However, he added technical limitations could cause problems with putting the rule into effect.

“I just have questions about its implementation, and the issues of rural places that have lower connectivity, especially when I think about first responders working in those areas,” he said. “The biggest question I have is how this would affect firefighters and law enforcement that are using drones to support their operational objective.” 

Drone sales are on the rise nationwide. According to an FAA report, drone sales could triple by 2023. (https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/FY2019- 39_FAA_Aerospace_Forecast.pdf) Whether it’s a hobbyist taking vacation photos, Amazon delivering Internet purchase or a first responder keeping people safe, it is likely an increasing number of drones will share the skies of Wyoming in the future. 

These FAA regulations are in the proposal stage and are currently open for public comment until March 2, 2020. If you would like to read the proposed regulations, and leave your comment, visit https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/12/31/2019-28100/remote-identification-of-unmanned- aircraft-systems 

Nanobots, Fossil Fuel Issues, and the End of Work as We Know It

in Technology/Column/Bill Sniffin
Crowd of robots. 3D illustration
2681

By Bill Sniffin

With your arms around the future; And your back against the past  — the Moody Blues

One of the high points of our annual New Year’s trip to see Dallas relatives is my yearly visit with the smartest person I know.

Of the 301,000 employees at Hewlett Packard a few years ago, one special employee stood out, their lone futurist, Jeff Wacker.

He is retired now and working on a book.

He also used to live in the same neighborhood as our daughter in Allen, TX.

A Nebraska native, Jeff would fit comfortably in Wyoming. His values and those of the Cowboy State pretty much line up. If his wife Nancy did not have some health issues, he might be living right now on the family homestead in western Nebraska, which he calls “eastern Wyoming.”

He has the same typical bad news for fossil fuels we Wyomingites all are hearing.  But he blames it on an amazing future of batteries and even exotic fuel sources like anti-matter.

He feels strongly that the hysteria about global warming is over-stated. He is an expert on just about everything. He challenges folks who believe Al Gore to dig into where that “90 percent of scientists believe  . . .” story came from. He says we are in a 1,000-year cycle and the heating of the earth occurs 600 years after CO2 increases.   

As a futurist, he thinks on a global scale and in big pictures.  He worries about eternal life.  “We are very close to providing a path where people don’t have to die, that one of the biggest future problems will be should we die and how should we die. Suicide?”

He also says the future of work could be the biggest issue of the 21st century. Automation, unique robots including microscopic nanobots, and Artificial Intelligence will continue to erode the job market.  “I have a friend who says we will always need people to keep the robots running – really? We already have robots that repair other robots.”

He divides all the various technologies into five areas:

• Nanotech is the creation of super tiny robots that can float around inside your bloodstream and keep you healthy. He sees billions of nanobots taking care of the trillions of cells in the body.

• Biotech will see cures and inventions occurring at fantastic rates in the near future and far future. Again, he really believes a huge problem for the youngest people living on the planet today is how do they want to die? He believes young people in the near future have the potential to live as long as they want to.  

• Robotech is already changing the world. “What will people do when there are no jobs?”  Typical work week might be 26 hours or less. He says three-fourths of all manufacturing jobs are already  “gone and not coming back.”

• Infotech leaves him discouraged especially when it comes to social media. He quotes a favorite author who said, “When everybody is an author, there are no editors.”

He thinks amazing sensors will be developed on a the micro level while, on a macro level, the world will be covered with satellites similar to the doomsday prediction of the Terminator movies, which saw all those troubles caused by a structure called SkyNet.

• Energytech may see more change than any other sector. “Look back 200 years to 1820.  We have advanced 2,000 years in the past 200 years. This will just accelerate,” he concludes. He also credits it to the gradual warming of the climate over those two centuries. “We went from horse and buggy to planning a Mars launch today.”

In 1820, the most valuable material on earth was aluminum; because it was only created when lightning would strike bauxite.  A nine-inch pyramid-shaped piece of aluminum is used as the cap of the top of the Washington Monument, for example.

Having this chat with Jeff Wacker left my head spinning. We are heading into a strange new world that sounded both hopeful and daunting to me.

He really is worried about the robots with artificial intelligence taking over.  “When it happens, it will happen exponentially, so we probably will not know what hit us until it has already happened!” 

On that dreary note, Happy New Year and Happy New Decade.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

Wyo Tech School Founder Eric Trowbridge to Speak at National Tech Summit

in News/Technology
2678

Eric Trowbridge, the founder of a Cheyenne technology school aimed at introducing students to computer programming, plans to tell attendees at a national technology conference that technology can work in rural America.

Trowbridge, founder and CEO of the Array Technology and Design School, will be one of the speakers at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit in Salt Lake City at the end of January.

The Cheyenne high school graduate said he plans to tell the more than 20,000 people expected to attend that the technology industry can find a home in rural states like Wyoming.

“The message is that technology can work in rural America,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “It’s a very different animal from doing technology in big cities. The challenge we have in running technology in rural American is … for technology to thrive, you have to have really smart people, you have to have people who understand computer science and programming and graphic design and that’s kind of hard to come by in states like Wyoming.”

But with schools like Array, residents can be trained in the skills needed to sustain a successful technology sector, Trowbridge said.

The state can help with such efforts by making sure it creates a welcoming atmosphere for people who may want to pursue a technology-based career, he said.

“The number one mission should be to try to create the most fertile soil possible so when these seeds get planted, they grow into companies, entrepreneurship,” he said. 

“The things we’re working on now (are) the cultural piece. Having young adults who are in this space, people who want to transition into technology, being able to go see shows and go to restaurants and have that experience,” he said.

The state has made major advances toward welcoming the technology field in recent years, Trowbridge said, through steps such as mandating computer science education for all public school students.

Trowbridge said Wyoming has a history of being the first state in the nation to take bold steps, such as giving women the right to vote, electing a woman as governor and having the first national park and monument.

“It’s not about changing Wyoming, it’s about tapping into our roots,” he said. “It’s in our nature to be pioneers and drivers and cowboys and cowgirls.”

Trowbridge credited much of the state’s progress go former Gov. Matt Mead, who he said recognized the need to make technology the “fourth leg” of the state’s economic base, joining energy, agriculture and tourism.

The resulting boost helped move the state from its reliance on historic industries, he said.

“I think we got too comfortable, we didn’t innovate,” he said. “We just thought things were going to be the way that they were.”

The opportunities for economic diversification offered by the technology industry will help the state overcome the problems it has faced because of its reliance on the energy industry, Trowbridge said.

“At the end of the day, as scary as it is, we have to get off of it because a lot of people get hurt when we go into that bust cycle,” he said. “People lose their jobs and they leave Wyoming.”

Future Proofing our Kids for Tomorrow

in Technology/Column
Microsoft
2578

By Dennis Ellis, special to Cowboy State Daily

It’s been amazing to watch Wyoming become a national policy leader on growing computer science opportunities for our kids, enriching their education and giving them skills to compete in the future.

It’s no surprise that computing jobs are the number one source of new wages in the U.S. and that nine out of 10 parents want their children to learn computer science. Many even suggest that 70 percent of students will work in jobs that don’t even exist today. Technological change, economic turbulence and societal transformation are disrupting old career certainties and it is increasingly difficult to judge which degrees and qualifications will be a passport to a well-paid and fulfilling job in the decades ahead.

You can bet your paycheck I want my kids to have at least a basic fluency in computer science so they can be more impactful in whatever career they choose, as nearly every job becomes a technology-driven job, and future proof their careers. Our kids need to move beyond just consuming technology, and begin to learn how to create technology.

For Wyoming to continue to make leaps in giving our children a bright future in the face of such uncertainty, it takes a strong commitment from our policymakers, education system, business community and parents. Here are some great examples of this commitment I see around the state:

Governor Gordon signs a 2019 Computer Science Week Proclamation with Array School students on hand
  • Governor Mark Gordon recently signed a proclamation declaring Computer Science Week, recognizing the importance of providing our students new opportunities.
  • In 2018 Governor Matt Mead signed seminal legislation requiring each school to include computer science and computational thinking opportunities for all Wyoming students.
  • The State of Wyoming is developing K–12 computer science standards, blazing trails on how to provide professional development and micro-credentialing for in-service teachers to bridge the gap in teaching capacity.
  • Last year 60 percent of Wyoming high schools taught at least one computer science course. That’s the third highest rated state west of the Mississippi River and eighth best in the country!
State by State offerings for Computer Science in High School

Addressing the STEM Gap

Because I have two daughters, I’m highly concerned about the gap in STEM and computer science participation for females. We all should be.

Alarmingly, in 1995 just 37 percent of computer scientists were women. Today, only 24 percent of women. If we do nothing, in ten years the number of women in computing will decrease to just 22 percent. We can and must do better. 

No alt text provided for this image

Fortunately, for the sixth year in a row, the percentage of female AP Computer Science exam takers rose, steadily chipping away at the gender gap in high school computer science. Closing the participation gaps in computer science will take years, but there are clear signs that states are on the right path. Wyoming has already launched five Girls Who Code chapters to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.

Microsoft recently partnered with the Array Foundation, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and Girls Who Code to launch Cheyenne’s first chapter. The chapter will enable girls to learn computer science from a female role model in the tech industry. Research shows that 31 percent of middle school girls and 40 percent of high school girls believe that jobs requiring coding are not for them. Increasing the amount of female role models can play an important role to shift these perceptions.

Girls Who Code Chapter launch with Array Foundation

Anyone interested in bringing Girls Who Code to their town, or get engaged in other areas of building a strong ecosystem of computer science in your community, contact me or the Array School of Technology and Design and we can help show you a simple playbook to help shape a bright future for Wyoming!

Go to Top