Blake Dowling, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 of 7

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com

Blake Dowling: New ransomware kicks it up a notch

Meeting this week with one of our national security partners, SonicWall, we had a fantastic luncheon with some local media partners, clients and Aegis staff.

A big topic of conversation — ransomware.

A SonicWall firewall can certainly help minimize risk, but there is no 100 percent protection from the constantly changing landscape of cyber threats.

Say you are a successful lobbyist, and legislation you want to pass is passing; you keep tweets clean, your email is in a secure cloud, your hardware is under warranty, with a solid backup, password-protected wireless network, two factor authentications for financial institutions, solid anti-virus, anti-spam protection firewall, and so on.

You rock through Session, rolling in a Maserati or other fly ride, feeling confident, successful — think Vince Vaughn in Swingers — confident. Then an intern clicks a link in a bogus ransomware email they thought was from the bank.

Now the game has changed; suddenly all your files are encrypted.

You are hosed.

Making things even worse is that this particular variation of ransomware not only encrypts files, but — if you do not pay the ransom — publishes your data on the web. That could include sensitive client info, financials, browsing history, everything.

This is happening, like a Cary Pigman late-night DUI. It’s not pretty, but it is a reality.

Let’s say; perhaps you spent the past three days logged on to Vegasinsider.com (or streaming episodes of Days of Our Lives), your clients and the whole wide world will know.

QuickBooks files? Yup. All of it.

Over the past few years, ransomware threats (like CryptoLocker) have hauled in over $325 million, with growth that more than doubles each year. How? Why?

Side note, why was Chris Kattan on Dancing with the Stars, what a spectacle. Even worse, why am I admitting to watching? Talk about shame.

Anyway; the “why” is indeed Intriguing.

The business model of ransomware cons is awesome (the crime is not awesome, but it is a classic pyramid scheme).

Go on the dark web and buy a ransomware tool kit for next to nothing; “they” show you how to launch ransomware campaigns via the web and they want half the cut (usually of any of the profits you make).

One variation is particularly devious.

After infection, they will send you the encryption keys to your files, but only if you get two other people you know to click on the same email. They also encourage you to send it to people you don’t like.

Wow. Talk about preying on fears and weak spots.

The threats are real, so keep your Maserati clean, and keep the intern off the internet.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com

Blake Dowling: Senate Bill 772 — Time to help

Blake Dowling and the team at Gretchan Everhart

One of the first columns I ever put together was on assistive technology for those who need it for communication. It was based on a 60 Minutes expose highlighting the power of a tablet to open doors to those who, for most of their lives, have been unable to communicate.

Since then, I have written on the topic several times.

But for that first one, it was about six years ago; I was just married and had been sitting on 30A eating stone crab claws. On the TV, Tebow and the Broncos were pulling a miracle win against the Dolphins.

Dave Hodges, my editor at the time, texted me suddenly; he needed my column that night.

So, I pulled out my iPad and hammered something out.

The color and functionality of the tablet crossed boundaries, offering something truly powerful to a part of our community in need.

I recently reviewed some testimony and information on Senate Bill 772, sponsored by Lorraine Ausley, sent over the weekend — I would love to put it out there so our elected officials can make this bill a reality.

If you have ever spent any time at a school like Gretchen Everhart in North Florida or get to know kids with special needs, you understand how valuable these tools are in their lives.

If you have seen how these tools change lives, you would easily make this effort a reality.

I was emailing James Harding, Instructional Specialist at Florida State University’s College of Business who also serves as the Chair of the Public Policy Committee for the Florida Alliance of Assistive Services Technology (FAAST).

Harding had this to say about the revisions to the legislation: “Technology has been a game changer not only for business but has been vital in tearing down barriers for work, fun, and independence for persons with disabilities.”

This bill is simply a natural extension of existing law; it will empower the next generation to secure their place in an ever-changing world and to ensure that they have tools they need to maintain their independence.

To gain a better understanding of why accessible technology is so important, he urges everyone to watch the recent testimony provided by members of the disabled community using text to speech technology.

The message was profoundly heard.

It is simply good public policy, and we are very grateful the leadership of Ausley and our other elected officials.

Below is some recent testimony from individuals that use assistive technology.

A link to Jennifer‘s testimony: https://youtu.be/ABwQNBrPMs0

A link to Michael Phillips‘ testimony: https://youtu.be/NYaaaLMPKvs

If you made it this far I would like to thank you for reading about this important issue and if you have the ability to do something about it, make it happen because helping others be able to help themselves should always be our top priority.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Legal artificial intelligence

I was meeting with the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s Communications Committee; there was some brainstorming about session ideas for the upcoming Chamber Conference.

There were some thoughts thrown out, and quite a few comments were made. Then someone said, “how about automation and artificial intelligence.”

Suddenly, a surge of ideas and thoughts hit the room like a vicious uppercut from Mike Tyson circa 1999. All industries went into the mix: retail, auto, construction, medical and legal.

We are on the crest of a mighty wave of disruption, the likes of which the world has never seen.

That wave, my friends, is called “artificial intelligence.”

We must approach this wave head on like the wise one Jeff Spicoli (of 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High played by Sean Penn) once said, “Well Stu, I’ll tell you, surfing’s not a sport, it’s a way of life, it’s no hobby. It’s a way of looking at that wave and saying, ‘Hey bud, let’s party!’” Indeed.

I was the first (the opening act and least knowledgeable — HA!) of three speakers for a luncheon last month hosted by the Leon County Research and Development Authority; the topic was artificial intelligence.

The most interesting part of the discussion was about the legal world. The speaker dove into AI platforms that actually answer legal questions. The conversation quickly escalated to why not have AI judges, lawmakers and police?

Think about an AI cop pulling someone over. There would be no concern for their own safety, no bias. Same with a judge, no agenda, no individual interpretation of the law. Only the facts. That is unless it was an AI judge from Iran?

Hmmmm.

Lots to ponder here. Let us move into legal AI.

Each day, our world creates about 2,500,000,000,000,000 quintillion bytes of data. This data needs review and analysis. What better way to review data, than have a supercomputer like IBM’s Watson jump on it?

For example, Watson please review every piece of legal information on the web about police use of excessive force (only cases where the suspect was perceived to have a weapon) in the United States to assist with county of Los Angeles v. Mendez. This is happening.

AI research tools like ROSS are changing the game. Firms like Salazar Jackson and Latham & Watkins are on board with ROSS.

Check out their video online, it is very cool, (and see Todd’s tiny shoes)

LawGeex is another AI platform specializing in contract law. According to a CNBC piece earlier this year, CEO Noory Bechor called it “like the beginning of the beginning of the beginning,”

The LawGeex platform, Bechor said, ” it can take a new contract, one that it’s never seen before, read it and then compare it to a database of every similar contract that it’s seen in the past.”

Legal Robot is also a very cool company, promising to ensure fairness, improve transparency and allow signups with confidence. Sounds fantabulous to me.

If you are strolling down Market Street in San Francisco, stop in and say hello to their team.

There is really no way of knowing how far this will go, what massive legislative hurdles await – I am hopeful it will lead an enhancement of the legal community, but who knows.

As Hunter S. Thompson once muttered: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. This is the American Dream in action. We’d be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way to the end.”

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He is available at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: The road, fast food and Session — all aboard!

Session is here in the Capital City, beginning with a Monday bash at Associated Industries to welcome those from all over the state.

The Legislative Session kickoff has been on my calendar for a decade now; it is a great event and a nice chance to reflect on the past year and the one coming just ahead.

Mayor Andrew Gillum wants to run for governor, legal pot is everywhere, POTUS can give a good speech. What else? Charlie Christ switched back to the GOP, got a divorce or something like that. It’s hard to keep tabs on Chuckles.

For those traveling from out of town make sure to stay away from fast food. It is hard on the system, makes you fat and decreases your life span.

Wendy’s is making it hard to avoid fast food, as they are leading the pack with devious innovative ways to get a double cheeseburger in your hand (where are they square, by the way).

What are they doing? Self-service kiosks for one thing. I wrote in an earlier column that the model Amazon’s new cashier less smart self-serve store would be appealing to big business looking to save money from a higher minimum wage. The head burger honchos came to the same conclusion. How do they stay highly profitable? Get rid of employees.

So, those are elected officials that always want to raise taxes and the minimum wage.

Stop. I was talking to John Londot from Greenberg Traurig about a minute ago about AI (we are collaborating on something for Leon County next week), and it’s not just minimum wage workers that should be on alert.

We must all be mindful of what sort of impact AI could have on the world. We could have an autonomous utopia on our hands or a scorched wasteland.

I prefer to think positive on the subject and I know John does too. We must not fear innovation but that is not to say we should not walk carefully.

“Technology can play a great role in creating a better customer experience, unlocking productivity, driving throughput and ultimately saving some labor to help us to continue to have a strong economic model,” said Todd Penegor, Wendy’s CEO.

Wendy’s has created a lab — called 90 Degrees — with a team of developers and engineers to work on self-serving kiosks, its website and mobile app.

They want you using smart pay, and who do you think they are targeting? Youth. Millennials. They want to make the Clown and the King as irrelevant as the compact disc.

They are well on their way, plus they are rolling out a standardized POS (point of sale, not the other acronym you were thinking of) to all stores. They are making a massive investment in innovation and expect them to crush the competition, except Chick-fil-A. Can’t touch the master.

Wendy’s want you ordering from the app, from kiosks and have an agile and nimble digital experience with their brand. And they are half way there.

Da da da da da … I’m McLoving it.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached here: dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Websites and politics

The new resident at the White House and technology are an interesting pair, with the Russians, Twitter, etc.

Speaking of the new guy on Pennsylvania Avenue, make sure to check out the Showtime documentary Trumped.

Regardless of your status — love him, hate him, internet troller, hater Facebook over-poster, fan, rioter, protester, etc. — if you are a fan of the political process, the behind-the-scenes coverage is spectabulous.

The scene where Bernie asks the journalist what network is this anyway because the reporter is dropping the F-bomb, is a riot.

To that end, I have always thought Showtime needed to cover a couple of college football games each year.

The colorful language could be epic: “what kind of sh*t-ass hula hoop offensive scheme is Richt running at Miami this year,” etc.

Back to tech, so WhiteHouse.gov got the standard new President overhaul, and they went very simplistic with their web presence, the picture going from each side of the screen to the next is compelling, and the use of white space is in line with the latest designs.

From a technology perspective, cyber warfare and cyberbullying are two items that get a lot of attention on the page; that is a good thing. The White House fired their cyber expert, so that is a bad thing, as we all know there are those seeking to damage our nation, infrastructure and our processes through digital means.

Back to Florida; the lobbying team at the Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners has a cool site. Crisp and to the point. You get introduced to the team on the first look and can easily contact them if needed as email addresses are clearly spelled out.

Obviously, contact info is critical; there is nothing more frustrating than not finding a phone number or email address with ease. If you don’t have a contact button, add one ASAP.

Or even better have a generic email contact address right on the home page, for example, questions@CharlieSheen.com and the phone number too.

You must decide at what level you want to engage your audience with your web brand.

Look at Sen. Bill Nelson’s site for example. It would be the opposite of the White House and The Advocacy Group, it is loaded with info and color and extremely busy — billnelson.senate.gov.

That said, he gives you access to social media, video clips, newsletter sign up, track record, request a flag, tours, internships and anything else you could possibly want. It is a very informative site, it is odd however that the header does not say, “Senator Bill Nelson.”

Maybe he is keeping his options open. These three sites give you an excellent view into the vast world of political websites and perhaps you might see something you want to add.

My web development partner, Michael Winn of Digital Opps said this:

“In today’s fake or not fake news era, having a dedicated website to strengthen your organization’s initiative or campaign is paramount. An often-overlooked digital strategy is to integrate your original content into a blog or individual news brief format in order to provide the public, journalist and/or elected officials an information hub to check the facts. When done correctly, these bite-sized articles will garner the search engines’ attention and ultimately lead the readers to your website.”

Well said sir.

At Aegis, our site has a link to follow us on Twitter, like Sen. Nelson’s, but takes it a step further with an auto-feed of every piece of extremely helpful info I might be tweeting — like these three smoking hot tweets from Peter, Tim and John.

If you want to see a site that provides visitors an education, info, certifications, news, updates, and anything else you might want, check out the Florida School Boards Association site: fsba.org it is slick, from legislative updates for their members to a link to download their mobile app. It can keep a visitor engaged for days (if you are into that sort of thing). There a massive amount of info, like Nelson’s page, but arranged in manner that is easier on the eyes.

Other ideas to keep your site interactive and engaging: 360 tours, cams, links to blogs and columns, aegisbiztech.com or even a password protected area for clients, members, etc.

Your web presence is a part of your brand, and you will be judged by your clients and constituents, so make sure you are giving it a serious look.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for various organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Smart delivery – a new disruption

The Leon County Research and Development Authority called the other day and asked me to give a chat about artificial intelligence.

I gave them the standard JJ-from-Good-Times response … Dyn-o-mite! … love to, thanks for thinking about me!

They had read something on AI I had put together for INFLUENCE Magazine last year and thought I would be a great “expert” on the subject.

I am no expert, ladies and gents, but I am a true believer in the cause that one should embrace all things.

So, I set out on a perilous journey to find something interesting to discuss with these fabulous folks. What you will read here is my dramatic exploration into a world of machines and the discovery that the Terminator series is a prophecy and we are all doomed! Just being dramatic to get your attention.

We may be doomed, we may be blessed, we will see where the future takes us, in the meantime …

I was talking to the team at Greenberg Traurig (Leslie Dughi, Gus Corbella and Michael Moody); they asked me if I had heard of Starship Technologies.

My first thought was “terrible name, folks,” with an image in my head of Starship Troopers (Denise Richards rocks, she should have won an award for her gutsy performance). But diving in, I was intrigued by what these cats were up to.

Starship was founded by the team that brought you Skype, and what they bring to the market is called a Personal Delivery Device (PDD) which they say will “transform” local delivery.

These wicked little bots are on wheels, cruising the sidewalks to bring whatever you seek. They can carry the about three bags of groceries and head straight to your door.

Partners in this venture range from Mercedes to Just Eat, both of whom (for obvious reasons) would like to get in on the ground floor.

If you are going to have a robot on wheels, it might as well be a Mertz: The best robot or nothing.

So, what are the uses? Grocery stores, FedEx, and restaurants, for starters. Other things to consider; the robot is locked, so robbing it would be difficult.

How far along are these folks? They have commercial trials going on in the U.S., Germany and Switzerland right now. So far, their robots have traveled 9,500 miles in 56 cities, all without any recorded incidents, while encountering an estimated 1,700,000 people.

Electrically powered, these robots have zero emissions, so that the lefty green crowd can applaud. They operate as true robots, learning routes and sharing routes with the other robots (Skynet-like world take over), and they have a range of about 3 miles before needing to return home for a charge (and secretly plan to take over the world, presumably).

Keep an eye on the Virginia legislature, which is on the verge of approving the use of PDDs on sidewalks statewide.

All kidding aside, “disruption” is a word used in tech all the time. Well, here we go again. This is awesome, cool and is happening now.

Look to see these disruptors potentially hit the streets in force next year; and get ready for a Starship heading your way soon – pending some massive lobbying.

To close today’s piece, let’s stick to the Starship theme and roll out some 80s lyrics …

And we can build this dream together

Standing strong forever

Nothing’s gonna stop us now

And if this world runs out of lovers

We’ll still have each other

Nothing’s gonna stop us now

STARSHIP – Nothing’s going to stop us now – 1986 (from the “Mannequin” soundtrack, for which it is well suited. Arrrgh.)

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Drones, drones everywhere — Super Bowl to Prison

Yay sports!

Or “yay ball,” as one of my techie staff members used to say (she had zero interest in football, etc.)

Yay sports, indeed. This weekend was awesome for sports, with the most thrilling Super Bowl ever. And I also attended the Kentucky-Florida basketball game; what a battle in the brand-new Gville arena.

If you love hoops, watching 6 of the top 10 teams get knocked out Saturday was exciting; for Gator fans, a 20-point whipping of Kentucky (doesn’t happen often) so we get to enjoy that one for a while.

Fast forward to Sunday; seeing Lady Gaga bring the thunder in her Super Bowl halftime performance, then wondering how she got on the roof.

And HOW IN THE WORLD IS THAT AMERICAN FLAG FLOATING IN THE SKY?

Also, on another subject, a huge shoutout to LG for her message of unity and being pro-America. So many haters out there nowadays. Best country ever, 42 years as a resident. No plans to leave — regardless of Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump or whoever is in the White House.

I would stay even if Lady Gaga was president. Cool outfit she was rocking; very presidential.

Anyway…

There is no need to comment on a flying drone pug, is there?

So, how are there lights in the sky above the game?

My dad lives in Houston and the only flights he says are allowed around the Dome game weekend are Military Black Hawk choppers. So, what are those lights again?

Drones, my friend.

Each dot is actually a flying drone, part of Intel’s Shooting Star Drone squad. Each one is about a foot long and covered in LED lights. The drones are all programmed from a central location that runs a dance routine.

Talk about a big stage, taking account the fact that security was as tight as any game in history, the stadium is in Houston Hobby Airport’s flight path, as well as the aforementioned aircraft ban around the stadium.

How about this, it really didn’t happen during the Super Bowl. The drone show was taped the week earlier and overlaid into the live broadcast for the TV audience.

That is the world we live in. Princess Leia is in Rouge One looking 19 and drones are on the television, but not live. POW!

In years to come, drones change the way we do a lot of things: weaponized drones, real-estate drones and cargo drones.

What’s next? How about reconnaissance drones for missing persons lost in the woods? Drones for agriculture, police, elections (dropping pamphlets) and firefighting.

Cartels down south are early adapters of this kind of tech for drug smuggling at borders and in prisons.

Think about it, a drone operator a mile away from a prison packs up a drone with Oxycodone, weed and the like, flies it over the walls of the prison, dropping the package into the common area. Pickups are smooth and no one gets shanked.

Same with drugs at the border: fly it, drop it, head back to base for another. Drones fly low and are small, making radar useless.

Prisons are beginning to use low-tech countermeasures, with nets over a facility’s yard. Meanwhile, high-tech options like DroneShield are rolling out, and others — like the DroneGun — can disable a drone by jamming it.

Although as done tech moves forward, I am sure some Polk County residents will take them out with a high-powered rifle.

With any new tech, it is very interesting and cool to see where the journey goes, but also scary to see how bad guys will take advantage.

Enjoy the day when a drone brings you a pizza. And if you ever see something like that heading your way, duck and cover, brother.

(By then, though, it’s most likely too late.)

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: The Russian (hackers) are coming

We hear about the Russian mob and Russian hackers all the time, especially in politics and technology.

The Russian mob is all over the dark web selling ransomware toolkits and fake credit cards. The Russians created ransomware, a threat that continues to wreak havoc all over the world in various forms.

We can’t all be comedian Bert Kreischer and be friends with the Russian mob. Nice work, Machine.

See the Showtime special about Bert in Russia if you dare. I knew Bert when he was a young Florida State frat boy (ATO) and was always up for a rowdy evening.

You can see the clip here; be warned, it contains adult language.

Moving on …

In recent years, talk has moved from the Russian mob and hackers to the Russian government.

We all know the stories about the Democratic National Committee emails and stories of our new POTUS (An acronym I hate, by the way. So annoying. I used it just to bother myself).

So, what is really going on? Is the Russian state backing hackers to cause chaos around the globe, interfering with our elections, communications and media? It would certainly appear so.

Let’s be real, their president does not mess around; their Olympic Athletes are more juiced up than an Orange Grove, and their attempts at hacking appear to be legit, but the Kremlin has always denied involvement.

Bulgaria, Germany, France, Britain and the U.S. – all targets of various types of cyber-attacks.

Last month, a joint report by the National Security Agency, CIA, and FBI concluded that the Russian intelligence services did, in fact, target U.S. organizations involved with our most recent presidential election.

Their goal? To create chaos, steer public opinion and disrupt our democratic processes.

This type of warfare has been going on for years, but in the past year, it has really taken a more public spin. A few years ago, China, for example, might be trying to hack into Boeing to steal plans for the latest Boeing-Saab TX jet. Or they may hack the energy grid, which I think they did.

The public usually doesn’t hear about it.

Now with resources like WikiLeaks, Twitter and so many others and the people are in the know, and it is nerve-wracking to hear regularly that foreign entities are knocking on our door, looking to do us harm.

Steven Adair, of the security company Volexity, said in an interview with ZDNet: “We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election to future influence efforts in the United States and worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes. We assess the Russian intelligence services would have seen their election influence campaign as at least a qualified success because of their perceived ability to impact public discussion.”

We are just now seeing the beginning of this type of war, so set your firewall to block all IP addresses outside of the U.S., support whatever funds are needed for state, local and federal cyber task forces, and keep that password complicated.

Don’t be like Bert; he took Russian 1,2 and 3 at FSU, and never learned a word.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. You can reach him here: dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Blake Dowling: Tech, politics & the Simpsons

The marriage of technology and politics is like the pairing of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise – a big mess (minus the Scientology shenanigans of course).

Hillary emails, Trump tweets, Ashley Madison’s hack … there’s always something to keep your eye on. Always will be.

With breaches and exposure around every corner, certain key figures inside our government use apps for communication that disappear after a certain amount of time. If any of you readers in Florida Politics-land have teenagers, I’m sure you’ve seen Snapchat on their phone.

Unlike texts, where you can read what they are up to, Snapchat messages vanish.

Well, now there is a Snapchat for adults, and one of those messaging apps is called Signal.

Signal uses end-to-end encrypted messaging; providers keep no record of private communications.

That’s all good to keep national security concerns (and illicit affairs) on the down low? Not so fast.

There’s a little thing called the “Presidential Records Act.” It requires elected officials to keep track of all communications.

For those who care about this sort of thing, it’s driving them crazy – Kitty-Dukakis-guzzling-rubbing-alcohol sort of crazy.

Experts say these officials are breaking retention laws and hiding from public scrutiny. The whole deal is a recipe for corruption, they warn.

Here’s some advice for all involved. If you don’t want anyone to see it, don’t put it in writing, don’t say it on the phone. Ane when you talk in person and cover your mouth like an NFL coach on the sidelines. Capish?

Get on Predict It, and take your best guess on how long before an official charge is made. A month? A week? Place your bets.

If you aren’t familiar with Predict It, you’re really missing the boat. Think Vegas + politics.

Forget sports betting, try making a bet on how many tweets Trump will spit out in a week.

The app is advertised as a “real-money political prediction market.” If you think you know politics, log on — before Predict It becomes illegal too, that is.

There is a lot to take in here. Let’s close with America’s favorite animated family — The Simpsons.

Did you know that in an episode aired 2000 (“Bart to the Future”), guess who was president? That’s right, Donald Trump.

It’s all real folks, and it’s coming at you like a warm can of Budweiser shaken for about five minutes. You just can’t make this stuff up, it’s called 2017.

Who knows? Maybe I will run for office. Let’s do this!

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com

Star Wars: Rogue One brings hope, inspiration with CGI movie magic

I saw the new Star Wars flick last week. Loved it. Like really loved it, as much as Luke loved shooting Womp Rats on Tatooine.

I figured I would wait until the crowds thinned a little bit and not see the film in the first few weeks after release. I remember, as a kid, standing in line on the opening night of “Return of the Jedi” at Porter Square Mall in Dothan, Alabama; with what seemed like tens of thousands of people.

In Dothan, you didn’t get crowds like that, unless it was the Peanut Festival. Yes, that is a real thing and, yes, it was a rager. Think concert-rodeo-fair super-sized combo kind of event, ‘Bama style.

You know, Dothan is the peanut capital of the world, but … moving on.

If you haven’t seen “Star Wars: Rogue One,” go ahead and stop reading HERE.

I had read the prequel to Rouge One, called “Catalyst,” so I was very familiar with the scientific work of Dr. Erso, the fall of the Republic and turning into the Empire. Also, Rogue One is a prequel to a New Hope. So, it would appear they dig prequels. Bouncing around from planet to planet was cool.

Rogue One was a very in-depth look at a behind-the-scenes look at the Empire and the power structure. The same with the Rebellion, you got to see several layers deep in what was really going on a long time ago in that famed galaxy far, far away.

As the film progressed, in walks Grand Moff Tarkin — looking straight outta 1979.

All the Botox in the world can’t pull that off, not to mention that actor Peter Cushing is dead. So how did Lucas Film/Disney bring back the only bad guy that could tell Vader to pipe down?

The technology is known as computer generated imagery (CGI). The type of tech compiles computer graphics to build 3-D images that are both static and dynamic. In this case, a compilation of images leads to the resurrection of the No. 3 Imperial baddie.

But before Rogue One, we must go back to 1968 to a group of Russians. The same Russians that laughed at Nasa’s multimillion-dollar space pen that could write in zero gravity. The Ruskies had a 10-cent alternative: “we take pencil to space.”

So, in ‘68 a team of scientists, led by N. Konstantinov, developed high-level math in which they could move a digital cat across a computer screen. Winning.

By 1976, the tech had made its way to the big screen in the film future world, and by this point, the ball was really rolling.

“Superman,” “Aliens,” “Black Hole” really pushed the boundaries of its use and set the bar for what is possible, which, essentially, is anything. The slow-mo bullet effect in the “Matrix” films. That’s CGI tech, too.

This type of special effect changed movies then — and is 100 percent changing the game now. The ability to bring back imagery from our childhoods even cooler than it was then is awe-inspiring.

When I saw the end of Rogue One, I was 100 percent choked up to see the return of our beloved Princess. The world was certainly a better place with her in it.

As we played Star Wars on the playground in Dothan in 1980 — or as my wife and I enjoyed last weekend — the franchise always brought entertainment, hope and inspiration, as good versus evil waged war.

In loving memory of Carrie Fisher: may The Force be with us all.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He writes for several organizations. You may reach him here: dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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