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Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

Alaskan Farms

12 Jul 2016

As I was shopping for a new house, I saw some amazing photos of ‘open-air’ homes. Homes that have giant doors the size of walls that can be opened up and create an amazing open space feeling. I thought about cooling a space that size, and wondering if the right airflow design could keep an ‘open-air’ home cool, even on the hottest days.

Open-air Server Farms - DaveTavres.comAlaskan Farms - DaveTavres.com

Being the geek that I am, I suddenly flashed over to server farms, and thought – ‘What if you had an ‘open-air’ server farm in an always-cold climate like some parts of Alaska?’

Rose and flower farmers have giant tents with roll-up flaps that they hurriedly roll up and down depending on the wind, temperature, sun, and other environmental variables – so why not computer controlled doors that partially (or fully) open and close based on the inside and outside temperatures?

Yes, there are other issues, like wild animals, dust and debris, etc. but there must be simple solutions for those issues as well, like large screens and air-filtration systems – which should cost less to run than the tremendous cost of massive air-conditioning units that currently power server farms around world (and sometimes in places like Las Vegas, where power isn’t cheap, and the heat can be 100+ degrees in the summer!)

Plus, for places like Alaska and Canada where some parts have year-round snow and cold temps, these server farms could be a tremendous source of new business.

Oh, and I wasn’t actually looking for a new house – a nice picture of a huge mansion just scrolled through on Facebook :)

 
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Posted in Business, Hardware, Technology

 

Firearm barcodes

24 Dec 2014

I just noticed that Smith & Wesson is doing 2D Data Matrix barcodes on some of their pistols. As a geek, I find this interesting for a few reasons. First, basic inventory tracking at the factory and second, to help reduce the ability to fake modify gun serial numbers.

As with most gun issues, this will have zero impact on criminals. If they want to change a serial number, they’ll spend the time and money to do it – or, they just don’t care and they’ll use a gun regardless of whether it’s got a usable serial number or not. So again, it’s a moot point.

As for ease of tracking in inventory, I find this to be very interesting. Barcode tracking is old technology now. UPS and FedEx know this better than anyone, but I haven’t seen barcoding on unique items very much yet.

In January 2010 I wrote a post about barcodes, but mainly focused on QR codes as they would eventually come to be used for sharing information for products. I like this new direction, although I’m not a fan of the ‘data matrix’ format of coding, as it’s not easily read by many applications – but that’s okay, I’m just happy their apply more and more technology.

S&W M&P Shield 9mm 2D DataMatrix barcode - DaveTavres.com

 
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Posted in Business, Hardware, Technology

 

Mobile card readers… for the laptop

14 Dec 2014

Square Card Reader - DaveTavres.comSquare Card Reader with Android - DaveTavres.comMobile phone card readers have become more popular in recent years because they’re small and easy to use for swiping a payment cards while away from a retail location. There are at least half-a-dozen readers out there that you can get for free from the various payment processors. That’s because the readers are extremely inexpensive to produce – and that’s because they are very simple devices. They read the non-encrypted data on the magnetic stripe of your card.

The other day I was sitting with a friend who had a PayPal reader and a Jawbone activity tracker on their desk, along with the USB data/ charging cable. Without thinking about it, I plugged the card reader into the USB data cable. Hmmm. Another inexpensive item that, with the correct software on a laptop, could transfer the card swipe data to a desktop program – or website. Wow! That would be a nice add-on if PayPal and other payment processors would offer it! The ability to plug one of those reader into a computer that has something like the QuickBooks Cash Register software installed!

Well, until they do it (or IF they do it), I’ll have to be happy with the mobile apps.

Jawbone activity tracker USB data / charging cable and PayPal reader - DaveTavres.comJawbone activity tracker USB data / charging cable and PayPal reader - plugged in - DaveTavres.com

 
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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Hardware, Software, Technology

 

How to stop Smartphone theft…

23 Jun 2014

iPhoneBrick[1]A recent article on CNET titled “Android, Windows Phone to add kill switch to thwart theft” missed the point on how to actually stop Smartphone theft. The article talks about Google, Microsoft and Apple adding a ‘kill switch’ to phones to "…remove all data and information in the event their devices were stolen." That’s great, but it doesn’t actually stop theft.

As an Android user, the ability to remotely find, lock and wipe my phone gives me great confidence that my data is safe(r) than if there were no ‘kill switch’. But cancelling my mobile provider account and wiping my device doesn’t stop thieves, muggers and miscreants from getting a five-finger-discount on an new Nexus 5, Apple iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy S5 – it just assures the crooks that they’ll be able to activate ‘their’ new phone without any old data on it.Android Device Manager - DaveTavres.com

Having worked in the mobile phone activation world (many years ago), I know that the devices are controlled by one simple thing – the ESN/MEID (Electronic Serial Number.) Whenever a phone sends or receives a call (or data), the towers use the ESN to identify THAT device on the network so it can route calls and data to you.

When credit cards get stolen, it’s often not the actual card, but the number itself. So most of the time, the consumer has no idea their account has been compromised. And, the thieves know that they have a very short amount of time to use stolen credit cards before they are turned off. The physical device being stolen is the issue.

If I can steal a phone and just wipe it and have a ‘new’ phone, there’s no deterrent.

Solution

Features like Google’s Android Device Manager are FANTASTIC features, but do little to stop the theft. The real solution is at the carrier level. A simple ‘black list’ of stolen devices that the carriers are required by law to check anytime someone wants to activate a device, would stop the vast majority of device theft. If it’s on the list, the carrier isn’t allowed to activate it.

For SIM-based phones, when carriers do regular auditing of the devices on their network, if a device from the black list is being used, they must notify the mobile account user immediately that the device their using was stolen and will be disabled. Sure, some consumers will be affected, but only at first. If a law was passed requiring carriers to be responsible for only activating ‘legal’ phones. Crooks would know that a phone is useless to steal if it just gets ‘bricked’ within a day or two. And would-be-buyers would learn pretty quickly that they need to verify if a phone was stolen before buying it on eBay and Craigslist.

If you steal a car, then try to register it in your name, DMV won’t give you a sticker or license plate.

Sure, there will still be the phreakers who clone ESNs and steal service, but those aren’t usually the same guys who snatch the phone from your hand on a busy street and run.

I’ve been talking about this for many years – I’m glad it’s finally getting some kind of attention.

 
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Posted in Business, Databases, Hardware, Phones, Technology

 

Amazon Locker… fail

04 Dec 2013

Amazon Lockers - bad customer serviceA few years ago Amazon came up with a fantastic idea of putting banks of locker (like those you use to see at airports, train and bus stations) at convenient locations in bigger cities. My preferred Amazon Locker is located inside of an Albertson’s grocery store. This is good for me and Albertson’s, as I always buy a few more items from the store when I’m picking up an Amazon order.

The magic of the Amazon Locker comes in your email in the form of an access code – and it could NOT be any simpler. When Amazon Amazon Locker FAILdelivers your order, they email you a 6 character code of letters and numbers. You walk up to the screen and touch it, enter the 6 characters and – DING – the locker door opens.

Now, as smart as Amazon is, they apparently aren’t smart enough to keep track of which lockers are empty or full. A recent order that should have been delivered to the Amazon Locker was ‘delayed’ – after a ‘delivery attempt’. How is that possible? Doesn’t Amazon keep track of when a package has been delivered – and when the code to pick it up has been used? Apparently not the case.

Amazon Locker - can't be deliveredI called the Amazon Locker customer service number and was told that the locker they were supposed to deliver to still had a package in it. Then I asked why they didn’t just deliver the order to a different locker. I was told that the package could only be delivered to the assigned locker. So, I had to ask, why did they assign delivery of a order to a locker that wasn’t empty? Or, why didn’t they assign it to a different locker?

Amazon Locker - DaveTavres.comAs is typical of most ‘customer service’ these days, the phone representative could only ‘apologize for the inconvenience’.

Amazon.com - DaveTavres.com

 
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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Hardware, Software, Technology