February 22, 2015

Minnesota FTC Robotics State Tournament 2015

Minnesota FTC Robotics State Tournament 2015
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 22, 2015

Luke came home from the hospital on Sunday after getting his pacemaker installed and some of his good friends came over to wish him a warm welcome home.  Luke had a pretty tough week recovering from the procedure, but appears to be doing much better this weekend and is ready to start going back to school on Monday.  Thanks again for everyone's prayers!!

Luke was excited to go in to the doctor on Friday and see the first XRay of his new pacemaker.  It kind of looks like a computer mouse to me.  I really can't wait for his scar to start feeling better so I can go up and double click it whenever I want him to start paying better attention to me.

On Friday, I went to Buca with some of my co-workers.  This is starting to become a regular event for us to go to lunch together which is really nice for me.  I just hope I can keep figuring out where they are going to lunch on Fridays so I can "just happen to be eating there at the same time also."

On Friday night, we went out with one of my old- co-workers, Sean, and his lovely wife, Anne.  Lucky for us, we saw them walking into the restaurant while driving by so we could go in there and "just happen to be eating there at the same time also."

On Saturday, we spent much of the day visiting our friends working at the Minnesota FTC Robotics State Tournament.  Our high school had three teams that qualified for state and were also hosting the tournament for the 48 teams in attendance.

Unfortunately, none of our teams advanced to the next rounds of competition.  The FTC challenge is geared for smaller robots with smaller teams than the larger FRC robots.  The Prior Lake high school team, KING TeC, will be competing in the tournaments for the big robots which begin next week.  We look forward to going to root on those robots as well.

Avery volunteered for the tournament from 7am until 9pm.  That's a long day wandering the hallways!

Luke wasn't quite ready to come back for volunteer duty, but was excited to be able to come to the tournament for a couple of hours to cheer for his friends.  I was amazed to see how cheerful he looked in this picture.

Before the tournament began, some of the key figures for KING TeC gave an award to Eric Rodine.  He has been the Prior Lake athletic director since the team was founded and has been extremely supportive of helping the team have a place to practice, perform, and host tournaments like this.  Mr. Rodine is going to Senegal which certainly sounds a lot warmer than Minnesota.  I may see if there's anything I can do to go with him.

 I swear to you, I have a shirt just like this.  I just gotta remember to wear it one of these days.

February 15, 2015

Luke Swank's Pacemaker Surgery

Luke Swank's Pacemaker Surgery
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 15, 2015

On Wednesday night, Miss Sheri and I celebrated 21 years of marriage.  That's a darn long time this poor lady has had to put up with me.  For the next 21 years I'm going to make it up to her.

Early Friday morning, we drove to downtown Minneapolis to Children's Hospital.  It was time for Luke to get his pacemaker.  If you want to see what led to this decision, this post here explains it:

Luke was all smiles as he went into the bathroom to scrub down and then put on his fancy hospital gown.  It would have been cuter if I would have shot this picture from the other side, but he wouldn't let me.

Most of the hospital has been re-constructed since we last spent any significant time here.  We were excited to see that the Cardiovascular Conference Center had been renamed to honor Dr. Helseth.  Dr. Helseth performed Luke's very first heart surgery when he was only a couple of months old back in 1999.  Reading this story about him brought back memories of those days.

The surgery went well, but ended up going a couple hours longer than we were expecting.  Luke had pacemaker leads put on his heart when he was two years old, but unfortunately they no longer worked.  So the doctor had to install new leads on his heart.  Luckily, he was able to do it with only a minimal incision.  They didn't need to open up his breast bone which was good.  No bone saw is always good.  This photo was taken shortly after Luke was out of surgery and he was still pretty loopy.  I laughed out loud when the anesthesiologist walked in the room and asked how he was doing.  Luke held up his right arm with the large board on it and exclaimed "We're training police dogs in here!"  I thought that was pretty funny all things considered.

Luke had a beautiful view of the city outside of his window for the first couple of days in the hospital.  Not that he really got to see it.  His bed was facing the opposite direction.  Nice view, though.

Miss Sheri stayed with Luke in the hospital both nights and I came home to be with Avery.  On Friday night, we went to Teresa's Mexican restaurant.  MMMMMM, Philly Cheese Steak Burrito!

When I came back to the hospital on Saturday, Luke was still in a lot of pain, but we were starting to see some happier moments out of him.  We then began the countdown of tubes and wires being removed from his body.  Every time something gets unplugged from him, it's another step closer to going home.

By Saturday night, he was ready to start walking around the floor.  Either that or he was trying to pick up the pretty nurse.  I'm not sure which but I'm real proud of him either way.

On Sunday afternoon, after 54 hours in the hospital, Luke was ready to come home.  He wasn't thrilled with the prospects of Avery pushing him in his wheelchair, but eventually he relaxed and just rolled with it.   Thanks so much to everyone who has been praying for Luke!  We really appreciate it!!

February 9, 2015

Internet Of Things Security Play: ARM Acquires Offspark

"Security software is an important play for ARM," said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based custom-system builder. "Security is obviously such a key element to technology, and it will definitely be essential to the Internet of Things. As companies connect more devices and make them smart, they'd better make sure that those devices can't be hacked."

Equus Computer System's Swank pointed to this push toward Internet of Things-related products as widespread in the chip industry, which traditionally has been focused on the desktop, smartphone and server space. 

"These industry business models have been the same for decades, but now they're being revolutionized by upstarts that are pushing for the Internet of Things," he said. "It is going to be everywhere and anywhere, and companies like ARM and Intel are doing their best to prepare."

Read Full Article Here:

February 8, 2015

MinneDemo 19

MinneDemo 19
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 8, 2015

On Tuesday, I left the house at 4:30 am to fly to Chicago.  I was glad to be able to go because only a couple days earlier Chicago had been hit by a massive blizzard, so our trip was left somewhat in question.  

Some parts of the city were still buried in snow.

We did our business and then stopped at The Blind Pig to have a couple before we drove back to Chicago.  Our plan was to fly home again the same night.  I would have preferred to spend the night at The Blind Pig because that place had character.

On Thursday night, Miss Sheri and I went to the Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis to watch MinneDemo 19.

These events just keep getting bigger and bigger and the theater soon became standing room only before the presentations started.

The concept of MinneDemo is relatively simple.  Local technology companies and start-ups demonstrate their latest software, web sites, and applications to an audience of fascinated people.  The rules are that each presenter has seven minutes to showcase their work and must use working software.  No PowerPoints allowed.

The first guy up showed us an app called HashUp.  His system wasn't working at first, so they had to do some singing and dancing to cover the silence.  When he finally was able to show his stuff, it was an interesting presentation of an app where you can follow different hashtags on Twitter and connect with other users who are also following the same hashtags.  HashTag: #ProbablyWon'tDownloadIt

The guy who pitched EstateMap was pretty funny, even when he reminded the audience that we were all going to die some day.  His service is one I've actually thought about as something I would use.  Basically, it tracks all of your social media sites and online life, and gives access to your profiles to your loved ones after you die.  If you think this isn't something that could scale very large, the speaker reminded us that over 10,000 Facebook users die every day.  Some people might want to be able to able to manage their accounts after they die and Estate Map will make that transition process easier.  In any case, of the seven pitches we saw, this was the one that I thought had the best chance to succeed.  

On Friday night, we went to Mystic Lake Casino with our good friends, Jen and Jason.  We like to gamble on one another.

We like going to the casino.  There's always something fun happening.

On Saturday night, the boys were going to a Sweet 16 birthday party, so they had to get dressed up a bit.  I told them I also had a tie and would go with them if they wanted, but apparently I needed more than a tie to go to the party.  Not sure how I feel about that.

So we went over to our good friends Dr. David and Cynthia Bollig's house instead for a night of good food and good conversation.  They didn't even make me wear a tie to get in the door, so that feels like a better party anyways.

Dr. Bollig did not disappoint in the food department.  A little bit of steak and lobster was on the menu and it tasted like I climbed a ladder up into heaven and took a bite out of something up there.  It was just that good.

They even had a bunch of deer stop by in their backyard to greet us.  Such nice animals.  Unless you move when they're looking at you.  Then they get scared and run back in the woods.  But besides that, they were really nice animals.  

February 7, 2015

New ARM A72 Mobile Processor Tightens Pressure On Intel

Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based system builder, stressed that the unveiled processor is a jab to Intel.

"Because ARM is a licenser, Intel is facing pressure not just from that one company but also from its various licensees, like Qualcomm," he said. "This puts Intel up against all these different players in an already competitive space. And it's no longer just about who has the highest-performing CPU, but now energy efficiency and price point are coming into play as well." 

Despite the hypercompetitive space, Swank stressed that Intel still holds a strong place in the market. 

"I'm not counting Intel out. It has a tremendous amount of resources and capacity, and I'm a long-term believer of Intel's place in the market," he stressed. "Its semiconductors are huge, and just by scale they have a lot of advantage there. I think Intel's best features are that they build high-quality CPUs and have the best manufacturing, so they have a lot of flexibility to be competitive. And the competition between these companies drives better options for consumers and users of this technology."

Read Full Article Here:

Golden Retriever Catching Treat In Slow Motion

Published on Feb 7, 2015
Luke Swank​ made this video with our golden retriever, Sunny.

I love how the treat floats slowly in slow motion and the dog's eyes intently focus on grasping that milk bone out of the air!

February 2, 2015

Intel Intensifies Internet Of Things Drive With Lantiq Acquisition

"It makes sense for Intel to make this decision," said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based system builder. "Companies are focusing on streaming connected services in the home -- just look at Google's investment with Nest. It's certainly a valuable investment. Consumers don't know what they want yet with Internet of Things and it's hard to imagine what this will turn into, but they do want something that makes everything automated and makes their lives easier."

"Intel is traditionally strong in desktops and servers, but as the Internet of Things becomes more popular, it makes sense for Intel to make moves to become ingrained in this space. It's smart to invest in devices promoting inter-connectivity," Swank said.

Read Full Article Here:

February 1, 2015

A Canceled Ski Trip

A Canceled Ski Trip
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for February 1, 2015

Monday night brought us to Prior Lake High School for a spectacular band concert.

We miss having Avery in the band, but Luke still delights us with his piercing percussion play.  I know he must be intently focused on what he's doing because no matter how hard I stand up and wave at him from the audience, I can't get him to smile for the camera during any of the songs.

On Friday night, some of my high school buddies came up for a weekend of fun and going downhill skiing.  I look forward to this weekend every year!

The guys are great.  They always come loaded with goodies to share with us.  Joel works at Quaker Oats and personally made this box of cereal.  I think he even drew Captain Crunch on the box which must take a lot of talent!

Ron grows spicy peppers in his garden and chops them into some excellent tasting salsa!  He brought a couple of jars for us to enjoy.  The boys were pretty upset when they woke up on Saturday morning and one of the jars had already been eaten.   Our bad.

We ended up going to Mystic Lake Casino to visit with some old friends.  It ended up being a pretty late night.

We woke up late on Saturday morning and took our time to get ready for skiing.  Suddenly Krazy Kory noticed a massive blizzard was bearing down on most of the state of Iowa, so they decided to change plans and head back home instead of going skiing.   That sucked for me, but it was great seeing these guys for 16 hours or so.

On Saturday night, Luke and Avery had some friends over for a hot tub party.  They normally don't let me hang around with them during these events, but I had to snap a photo of their crew.  Even if they did belly-ache that it was only 15 degrees outside and how long are you going to make us pose!?!?!?