RFID Tags and their implications

I was just talking to my wife about RFID tags (yes, I know scintillating conversation for a Sunday morning) and we were discussing some of the both cool and scary uses to which the technology can be put.

On the one hand checkout at the supermarket can be as simple as just rolling your cart out the door (assuming you can bag your items in the cart while you shop). It’s just a matter of time until your credit and debit cards will also have little RFID tags as well. So, in addition to scanning your purchases the store also knows the means you have available to pay for them. All you’d need to do is to select from a list of cards that the scanner had detected on your person and the slowest part of the transaction would be having the receipt printed.

Now picture shopping with a friend. It might be fun if they walked through the shopping scanner with you. You could just select one of their credit accounts! 🙂 I know there will be some validation but the idea tickled me.

But one of the best (ab)uses of RFID technology will be when this generation of tech savvy kids come into the living room on a blustery late-December morning and find grandma proudly placing carefully wrapped Christmas packages around the base of the tree. She’ll look up at them and see the eagerness in their eyes and admonish cheerily, “Now these gifts are to stay right where they are until Christmas morning.”. The children nod happily and pull out their gameboy (or whatever the current handheld gaming/PDA/Cellular Phone toy is called by then) and wave it over the base of the tree.

While turning to leave to go play with their friends outside they call back over their shoulder, “Thanks for the sweater Grandma, the size is a little small for me but I can exchange it for a larger one if you leave the gift receipt with mom and dad. And I can’t wait to play with that new Fast’n’Furious XXII!”

Comic Book Archive

The following are comic books that I have read before September 2005.

Comic books have always been an important “mind relaxer” for me. I love reading, but there are times when I just want to have a something quick and fun to breeze through.

I keep my current comic book up to date on the sidebar of my blog, but here are books that I’ve read in the past in case you are interested.

Some of these are no longer available in print, but for those that are I’ve provided links to Amazon in case you are interested.

Classroom Chuckles

The Best Laughs of the Better Half  What Do You Call A Sociopath In A Cubicle?  Answer:  A Coworker  (A Dilbert Treasury)  Foxtrot:  Assembled With Care

Camp Foxtrot  Reality Check : A For Better or For Worse Collection  With This Ring: A For Better or For Worse Collection

Pushing 40: A for Better or for Worse Collection  There Goes My Baby! (A for Better Or Worse Collection)  A Look Inside... For Better or for Worse (10th Anniversary)

Remembering Farley  It\'s All Downhill From Here (For Better Or for Worse Collection)  If This Is A Lecture, How Long Will It Be ? : A For Better or For Worse Collection

Is This One Of Those Days Daddy?  It Must Be Nice To Be Little  The Last Straw: A For Better or For Worse Collection

I\'ve Got the One-More-Washload Blues : A For Better or for Worse Book  Keep the Home Fries Burning : A For Better or for Worse Collection  Sherman's Lagoon : Ate That, What's Next?

Poodle: The Other White Meat: The Second Sherman\'s Lagoon Collection  FoxTrot the Works  Wildly FoxTrot : A FoxTrot Treasury

Enormously FoxTrot  FoxTrot Beyond a Doubt  Assorted Foxtrot

Getting Things Done

I read this blog entry on Douglas Welch’s web site and it intrigued me enough to check out the webinar.

Everybody has their own time-management systems and I don’t believe that you can really completely adopt another system exclusively as your own. However there are some very good points to be taken away from the GTD philosophy (from the David Allen Company). I’m currently trying out their Outlook add-in and am quite impressed so far. Now to decide if it’s practical enough to keep (it’s well conceived and pretty robust so far) or if I just take away some of the ideas that it promotes.

Book Archive

The following are books that I read before September 2005. I’ve just decided to start listing them in a different manner rather than on a separate page they will just be part of the blog itself.

My preference in entertainment books tends toward Science-Fiction (as opposed to Fantasy). I have some interest in mystery fiction (a la Sherlock Holmes), but my heart is in new and interesting worlds where you can experiment with current societal issues in new and different contexts.

The books listed below are those that I’ve read recently or (where indicated) favorites that I want to share with you. The dates at the bottom indicate when I started reading a particular book. My scale is Don’t Bother, OK, Good, Very Good and Excellent. If I’m really impressed I’ll even review the book.

Broca\'s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science
August 2005
The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy
August 2005
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
August 2005
Flash Black
August 2005
Very Good
Ender\'s Game (Ender Wiggin Saga)
July 2005
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don\'t Work and What to Do About It
July 2005
Don’t Bother
The Way Things Ought to Be
June 2005
Reach for Tomorrow
June 2005
Very Good
The Virtue of Selfishness
June 2005
Who\'s Looking Out for You?
May 2005
Very Good
Tom Smith and his Incredible Bread Machine
December 2004

IBM X41 Tablet PC

I’m thinking of picking up a laptop to replace the tired one that has been faithfully serving me for the past while. I got it used and it was a good addition to my computer menagerie but that venerable 600E IBM Thinkpad is now too slow and non-portable to be of much use anymore. The battery has been dead since I got it so it was good for using around the house but I am increasingly seeing the value in being able to take my computer on the road.

From what I’ve been hearing in IBM’s new X41 Tablet PC seems pretty ideal, if a little pricey. I first heard about it on The Tablet PC Show podcast and I’ve been doing a bunch of research at places like CNET.com and on IBM’s own website. They have a great online demo by the way that lets you get a pretty good sense of the machine and its attributes.

I have a T42 that I use at my day job and prior to that was using a T30. I have a high opinion of the durability of these machines, even with the new “Lenovo” moniker it looks like the quality of the machines is going to be maintained.

Two things are holding me back, first is the complete lack of stock. Something like this I’d be a little happier picking up in a bricks-and-mortar business. There have been supply issues and even ordering from the web site I can expect at least a month or more of delay. Also I’m having some difficulties figuring out how to configure the machine. On IBM’s website there seem to be two species and you can take it or leave it. I want to get a larger hard drive and more powerful battery but I also want the built-in biometric fingerprint reader. But this last option is in no way offered with the “better” model.

Also, is it me or do a lot of the choices on the “Customize and Buy” page not really make a lot of sense. It looks like it was programmed by somebody who believes that the consumer needs to already know everything about the machine and has very little guidance. You could easily end up purchasing two copies of office for the machine if you weren’t careful.

I think I’ll end up calling one of the online retailers and walking through the configuration with them and see if I can’t get exactly what I’m looking for.