Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Obama CTO allows you to vote

Even though I didn’t vote for Obama, I think he is making the right move by appointing a CTO cabinet position.  A website has popped up (I can’t find anything on the site whether it is official or not) that is asking for your input.  You can submit your own ideas or just vote on other peoples ideas on what issues the CTO should try to tackle in the next four years.

 

obamacto.org

Programers, Learn your industry

Wow it’s been a long time since I have posted.  Been keeping busy at school and work.

So, being a CIS student while working outside of the computer industry, I came across something that I will take to hart later in my programing life: Programmers, learn the industry you are developing for!  I currently work as a Site Manager for a security company for a client that is in the shipping industry.  My site is a test site for this client for a security round system that my be rolled out to many of their sites nation wide.

Some back ground:  Most security officers have to make rounds or tours during their shift.  There have been many systems over the years to record this process to verify that the officer was where he said he was.  The system we are using is using new technology to bring this process into the 21st century.

The system we are testing uses RFID technology to record where the officer is, then transmits this data via cell phone network to the companies server, where it is then able to be viewed real time on the web by myself or my client.  With this system, you can use other RFID tags for different incidents that may happen while you are working (medical emergency, suspicious person, etc.).  This information can then be emailed by the host companies server to any number of recipients I choose.  This is where the problem comes in and the programmers didn’t know the security industry well.

1) The email is not sent out until the officer completes his round

2) If the officer isn’t currently on a round (sitting at a desk), these incidents are not recorded.

Now, the reason these are problems are that many of the incidents should be forwarded by email ASAP.  My client and myself both carry Blackberry’s and will receive the email within a minute, but because the system holds it until the officer completes the round, it could take a long time for the email to be sent.  If the officer takes 30 minutes to handle the email, and then 5 minuets to complete his round, the email won’t be sent out for 35 minutes.  If the situation is a true emergency, my officer could call me, then I could call every one that needs to know, like what happens now, but the technology is supposed to make my life easier.  Second, my officers spend 3/4 of their time at a desk, not on a round.  If they are not assigned to a round on this system, they can’t input incidents.  Because of this, I know have to program in a “dummy” round, so they can log into the dummy round, log the incident, and the log off the dummy round.  This is two extra steps that should not have to happen.  If the programmers who developed this system would have done some research on the security industry, they would have seen these needs ahead of time.  Now, I could only guess at how they have codded this program, but I think both solutions could have been avoided with less then 100 lines of code.  100 lines of code for two added features that MANY of your customers would use makes a lot of sense.  On the up side, I spoke to one of the VP’s of the company, and both features are being added to their feature want list for the next update.

The moral of the story, if you are working with another industry, do some research on the other industry so you can help them before they ask you to.

Props to Trent

I’m a little late in getting this out, but I want to give props to Nine Inch Nails and headman Trent Reznor on releasing their new CD, Ghosts I, under the Creative Commons – Non-Commercial licensing. This lets anyone copy, alter, and distribute their work as long as it’s not for commercial gain. Reznor himself uploaded the CD to the popular bit-torrent site Pirate Bay. I hope more artists realize that their music will reach more people if they share it under a CC license. NIN is still selling their album on CD and on BluRay disk for the collection of new work (Ghosts I-IV). This is a big step in the music industry and the opposite of what Metallica‘s drummer, Lars Ulrich, is trying to do with the music industry.

I will be downloading from The Pirate Bay tonight. Can’t wait.

Free our music!!

Yet another BlackBerry outage

A little history to my problem.  I just updated my phone plan to Sprint/Nextel’s Simply every thing plan that literally gives me unlimited everything on my phone for $5 more a month than what I’m paying now.  I did this yesterday and was told everything should be up and running by 6pm local time.  Well, 6 came and went and I still didn’t have data service.  I contacted Customer Service today and spent over an hour and 45 minutes on the phone with them.  They were great and wanted to get to the bottom of the problem.  We tried re-setting the radio, re-booting the phone, re-setting the phone, and re-configuring the ip settings.  Nothing worked.  They said everything looked set up correctly on their side as well.  Finaly an answer.  Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind Black Berry, had a nation wide server outage.  It was masked behind everything else.  The only funny thing is that NO ONE has reported this any where on the internet.  I hear about outages all the time, and none of them ever seem to affect me, but I have heard nothing about this one.  Oh well, I’ll probably end up spending more time on the phone with Sprint on Monday.

Fox On Demand

I only have a few shows that I get to watch when they actually air. For that reason, I have found many other places to watch (check out LifeHacker for a great list). One way that I keep up with my shows is with Fox On Demand online. The quality of the content is excellent. There are adds within the programs, but I know Fox needs to make money on their shows. There are a few things that could be much better. For example, all of the commercials within a show are the same. I have no problem with embedded commercials, but don’t make me watch the same one 5 times in 45 minutes. Also, let me fill my whole screen with your show. If YouTube can do it, why can’t Fox. Finaly, why do I have to wait 8 days for the show to come up online? If I am a regular watcher of a show and miss one episode, it would be nice to be able to get caught up durring the week, so the next time the show is on, I can watch it on TV like normal. Is it really too much to ask for??

Ditching Windows: Why I think Linux May Become More Popular

So, here is the scenario:

You are in charge of an businesses IT decisions and budget. It is time to start upgrading computers. Here are your options: Stay on XP forever, move everything to Vista, switch to Mac, or go with Linux.

1. Stay on XP forever: Every thing in the world of Windows XP is stable. Your employees know how to run it, all of your hardware works, and all of your software works. But XP won’t be supported forever, so eventually, you won’t have drivers for new hardware and the software you buy won’t support XP. This isn’t a next year thing, but within the next 5-7.

2. Move to Vista: I say move, because in my experience, it is not an upgrade. If you move to Vista, you will now have to train all of your employees on how to do many basic functions, as most of them are different then they are in XP. You will also probably have to hire developers, as any software that was created for your company will more than likely not run well, if at all, in Vista with out changes. All employees will also have to be trained on any changes here, as well. Much of your computer equipment will also have to be upgraded/updated. Printers that work fine in XP may not work at all in Vista, and even if it’s “Vista Certified,” that doesn’t mean that it will work flawlessly. Many computers that are not ready to be replaced may not be VISTA ready, so they will need upgrades or need to be replaced even though they work fine with XP.

3. Switch to Mac: Lets face it, Macs are expensive and most companies can not justify spending that much money on computers. You will also have to, again, redevelop most of your programs and train all of your employees.

4. Go with Linux: Training will be a big cost here. Lets face it, it’s not Windows and many users are scared when they get out of their Windows comfort zone. Your IT department should be able to put together a group of apps and a desktop style that is fairly close to the look and feel of windows. You will also have to redevelop many programs for you company. But much, if not all, of the code could be found else where, thanks to open source software. And a lot of hardware is fully compatible with Linux (yes, not all, but, like I said, a lot). Here is the big point, though. COST. Your company will no longer have to pay licensing all all of those computers running Microsoft Software.

I have not been using Linux for all that long, but I keep hearing that companies are scared to make the switch because of the training required and the need to re-develop their software. Most companies will no have to face this with Vista, as well, but Vista and the Office Suite are a heck of a lot more expensive than Linux and an Open Source word processor like OpenOffice.org.

What are your thoughts. I haven’t researched the numbers, but in my logically based mind, it makes sense. I would really love to hear from some people in the field to see if my ideas are that far fetched.

Giving KDE another try

I have been using Linux for about a year now.  I started off using OpenSuse with the KDE desktop environment.  I wasn’t all that impressed with most of the user interfaces in SUSE, so I quickly switched over to Ubuntu, which uses the Gnome desktop environment by default.  I was much more pleased with Ubuntu than I was SUSE and never looked back.  Being relatively new to Linux, I was never relay sure if my preference was from changing desktop environments or from changing distributions.  After feeling conformable with the majority of task I have been doing lately, and hearing about all the great news with KDE 4, I decided to give it another try.  So far I like it, except for on problem, I can’t get KDE 4 to load right.  Worse case scenario, I’ll have to wait for April for Ubuntu/Kubuntu 8.04.