April 27, 2014

2014 Intel Solutions Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada

2014 Intel Solutions Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 27, 2014

It was time for another airplane ride this week as I flew into sunny Las Vegas, Nevada for a couple of nights of learning the future of technology and just a little bit of debauchery.  

Miss Sheri and I went to see a a show at Aria last year, but this was my first time staying there.  I was very excited to see my room after I saw what a nice sign they had.

I've learned when checking in hotels to politely ask for a nice view and they usually take care of you.  This time they did as I went to my room on the 28th floor and found a huge Britney Spears billboard on Planet Hollywood in clear view.  I couldn't ask for a much better room than that! 

The reason for my trip was to attend the 2014 Intel Solutions Summit.  This is the show where Intel shows it's partners it's plans for the year and what technologies we need to adopt to ride the wave with them.  This year some of the coolest things I saw were 4k gaming machines, a new 3d camera that may revolutionize 3d scanning, and a whole host of small form factor PCs which will come in handy for many different embedded applications.  I also had my first experience with the Oculus Rift and I am very excited for our virtual reality future!  It's every bit as cool as advertised!

We attended three days of speakers and break-out sessions learning about all sorts of new programs, products, and opportunities.  Popular buzz words this year were Big Data, Internet of Things,  Enthusiast PCs, and Tablets, Tablets, Tablets!  The world of technology is changing, but it seems like there's more opportunities to pursue than there's been in years!  Good times are coming!

I had the opportunity to spend some time with Intel Vice President, Lisa Graff.  She's in charge of desktop computing products and is fascinating to listen to when it comes to the subject of where are the opportunities in client computers, small form factor PCs, and other areas that I spend a lot of time focusing on in my work.  The message we continue to hear is that the desktop PC isn't dead and we're excited to continue to innovate and bring new products to market based on Intel technologies.  Life is just better that way.

At night, I had the opportunity to do some of my favorite things.  Like hang out with Dr. David Bollig and Gamble.  Not necessarily in that order.

We also got to spend time with other old friends and industry peers to share computer war stories.  Those sound a lot more exciting than they actually are.

We got to spend time with our old pal, Ratika, which is always a good time.  When we walked into the party with the groovy beads on the door, we were expecting something psychedelic in store.

We weren't disappointed.  The surprise musical guest was a Beatles cover band called The Fab.  They were great and sang many old Beatles favorites.  Unfortunately, this crowd didn't seem like a good fit for this music and there wasn't a lot of excitement in the air.  We kind of felt bad for the band because I'm sure they're a huge draw at a club open to the public, but I think the computer crowd was looking more for music they could dance to.  I thought these guys were great as can be seen in this video:

Since we really wanted to dance, we decided to leave the party and go to one of Aria's hot night clubs called HAZE.  We'd heard a rumor that some of the Intel crew headed over there and so we thought we should check it out.

When we arrived at the Club, there was a huge line so we went up to the bouncer and said we were there with Intel and he let us in right away.  His name was Gabriel and he was a very nice guy.  I gotta remember that line "We're here with Intel" and see if that works anyplace else.  Probably not, but it was fun to be treated like a VIP on this particular night!

When some people see a crowd like this, I don't think they like to engage.  Not me.  All I can think about is "How do I get in the middle of that?"

I handed Dr. Bollig my camera and ran down into the middle of the crowd and started showing them my moves.  Based on the admiring glances I was receiving from those around me, I could tell I was really dazzling them.

A moment later, Ratika and Dr. Bollig joined me on the dance floor and we danced hard!  At least until the heat and sweat of a 1000 bodies made us have no more desire to dance down there.

Before we left, I had to stop and pay respects to Steve Dallman who is the long time Intel Channel Chief and has been at every ISS I've been to for the past 10 years.  He's retiring after a 35 year career at Intel.   He's a great guy, a good friend to the computer reseller channel, and he will be missed.  Thanks for all the help over the years, Steve!  

System Builders Ask Intel: Where Is Our Future?

"The 'A' No. 1 thing partners want to hear is, how can the channel make money with Intel?” said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder. "I'm fascinated by all the directions Intel is going from wearables, tablets and The Internet of Things. But those don't add up to bigger margins and better profits."

Read Whole Article Here:

April 20, 2014

Minnesota Timberwolves Vs The Utah Jazz. Last Game of the 2014 Season.

Minnesota Timberwolves Vs The Utah Jazz.  
Last Game of the 2014 Season.
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 20, 2014

I knew Easter was in the air when I kept seeing this guy hanging outside my window at work.  He seemed much more interested in chasing a girl rabbit then he did in preparing Easter Baskets though.  He must have already had them all done over the winter.

On Wednesday night we headed down to Target Center to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves play their last game of the season.  Although the year started off with a lot of promise, too many losses made us miss the playoffs again.  They haven't made it to the playoffs in a decade now which really sucks because there's a good chance Kevin Love will leave us as soon as he can opt out of contract.  Then we'll be all alone.

In any event, I do whatever I can to speak to Kevin at half time so I can try to convince him to stay.  I think I was making the guard nervous, but he never said anything to me so I must have intimidated him.

The family was excited to come to the game.  Since it was a school night and the Wolves were losing, I said that was fine so we left early in the fourth quarter.  Which means that of course the Wolves had an incredible comeback and took the game to a double overtime.  But they eventually lost.  

Dang Jazz!

The day after the game, Sid Hartman broke the story in the Star Tribune that he had a credible source that said this was going to be Rick Adelman's last game as our coach.  He said there was no chance - zero - of him returning next year.  I'll miss the old guy.  He never had a winning season for us, but I always thought he'd make it happen.  I guess not.

When I was walking by the court at halftime, I snapped this photo of old man Sid Hartman pestering Timberwolves Owner Glen Taylor.  Maybe this was the source of his story?  To me it looked like Glen was doing the best he could to blow him off, but who knows.

If Ricky Rubio was playing charades, my guess is he was trying to say 9 o'clock.

For Easter Sunday, we went to see Miss Sheri's family.  We were really excited to see them and I think they were pretty excited to see us also!

Avery loves riding the tractor with Uncle Jerry!

When we arrived back in Prior Lake, it appeared Spring was in the air as we were greeted by a Flock of Pelicans.  Wasn't that a band in the eighties?

April 13, 2014

Prior Lake is Finally Melting!

Prior Lake is Finally Melting!
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 13. 2014

On Friday night, our good friends Jason and Jen came over to our house.  They're always a lot of fun to be around.

Jason is one of those old style romantics.  No matter where we go or what we're doing, he's always so focused on Jen making sure her every needs are being satisfied.  It's pretty sweet.

The polar vortex seems to have finally left town as we saw our first signs of open water on Prior Lake.  It's been a long, hard winter and I hope to never have to deal with one like that again.  But I'm probably going to have to move South to make that wish happen.

Sunny don't give a dang about the cold.  If he sees water, he's going swimming!

On Saturday night, the boys had some friends over to play games and watch movies.  We stick close to home when that happens to make sure there's no shenanigans happening.  I remember the stuff I was up to when I was that age and need to do whatever I can to prevent history from repeating itself. 

April 6, 2014

King TeC FRC Robotics Team Advances To World Championships!

King TeC FRC Robotics Team Advances To World Championships!
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for April 6. 2014

Last Saturday, we went to the Minneapolis Regional FRC competition with the Prior Lake High School Team, King TeC at Mariucci Arena.  We were all geared up for some hot bot action.

Sixty teams showed up to compete and the day was filled with 3 on 3 matches where the robots had to allign together to pass balls to one another and score them through different goals.  Here's a video showcasing this year's rules:

In the first regional tournament we attended in Duluth, our team's robot had mechanical issues and didn't qualify for the finals.  We were hopeful that those issues were now resolved so we could do much better this time around.

Luke has been practicing his pom pom skills for weeks.  He was all pumped up to cheer on his team during the matches.

I keep asking Avery if he's fitting in with the other kids and this is the response he gives me.  Maybe I need to start asking him questions like these in private.

Robotics tournaments are very exciting because so many people get into the spirit by dressing up to support their team.  Occasionally fights break out between the different team mascots, but we're pretty sure those are meant to be all in fun.  We rarely see any blood drawn.

During the lunch intermission, we get to escape the kids for awhile and go spend some fun time with other adults!  We then go back and tell them we didn't enjoy being away from them, but smile, laugh, and high five when they're not looking.

Our robot still dealt with mechanical issues throughout the day, but the team was very excited when another team selected them to go to the final rounds.  Unfortunately, they didn't fare very well in those rounds either.  We kind of thought the day was over, but then the team discovered they won the biggest award of the day, the Regional Chairman's Award.  This goes to the team that does the most in a year to mentor other robotics teams and support robotics in the community.  This team does all sorts of events year round and was well deserved to win which allows them to advance to the World Championships of FRC robotics in St. Louis, Missouri.  Here's the video that helped them win this award:

This is a good group of kids.  We are very blessed to live in a community that has a program like this and so proud of our boys for being a part of it.

Best of all, being part of this team gives us an opportunity to make the boys pose with one another while wearing crowns and capes!  It doesn't get much better than that!

Even though we suffered through another blizzard in the middle of this week, we've started seeing signs of Spring the past couple of days and even have a stream near our neighborhood that has unfrozen and started flowing again.  That makes Sunny smile.