RFID

Vol. 2 No. 7 – October 2004

RFID

Interviews

A Conversation with Mike Deliman

Mike Deliman was pretty busy last January when the Mars rover Spirit developed memory and communications problems shortly after landing on the Red Planet. He is a member of the team at Wind River Systems who created the operating system at the heart of the Mars rovers, and he was among those working nearly around the clock to discover and solve the problem that had mysteriously halted the mission on Mars.

A Conversation with Mike Deliman

And you think your operating system needs to be reliable.

Opinion

Electronic Voting Systems: the Good, the Bad, and the Stupid

Is it true that politics and technology don't mix?

Electronic Voting Systems: the Good, the Bad, and the Stupid

Is it true that politics and technology don’t mix?

Barbara Simons

As a result of the Florida 2000 election fiasco, some people concluded that paper ballots simply couldn’t be counted. Instead, paperless computerized voting systems (known as direct recording electronic systems, or DREs) were touted as the solution to “the Florida problem.” Replacing hanging chads with 21st century technology, proponents claimed, would result in accurate election counts and machines that were virtually impossible to rig. Furthermore, with nothing to hand-count and no drawn-out recounts to worry about, computerized voting systems were expected to enable the reporting of results shortly after the polls had closed.

Many election officials loved the idea, believing the new machines would also prove cheaper and more reliable than the old systems. That enthusiasm was reinforced by the promise of nearly $4 billion in federal funds for the purchase of DREs, courtesy of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), passed in 2002.

by Barbara Simons

Articles

Integrating RFID

RFID (radio frequency identification) has received a great deal of attention in the commercial world over the past couple of years. The excitement stems from a confluence of events. First, through the efforts of the former Auto-ID Center and its sponsor companies, the prospects of low-cost RFID tags and a networked supply chain have come within reach of a number of companies. Second, several commercial companies and government bodies, such as Wal-Mart and Target in the United States, Tesco in Europe, and the U.S. Department of Defense, have announced RFID initiatives in response to technology improvements.

Integrating RFID

Data management and inventory control are about to get a whole lot more interesting.

SANJA SARMA, OATSystems and MIT

RFID (radio frequency identification) has received a great deal of attention in the commercial world over the past couple of years. The excitement stems from a confluence of events. First, through the efforts of the former Auto-ID Center and its sponsor companies, the prospects of low-cost RFID tags and a networked supply chain have come within reach of a number of companies. Second, several commercial companies and government bodies, such as Wal-Mart and Target in the United States, Tesco in Europe, and the U.S. Department of Defense, have announced RFID initiatives in response to technology improvements.

Early struggles with RFID have all involved hardware. Readers, tags, and even wiring and infrastructure are likely to be the first challenges early adopters will face. In fact, these constraints have already caused some of the early adopters to relax their timelines. Compared with these struggles, software seems secondary. In the haste of adopting RFID, the question that will often be asked is whether RFID readers are simply new-fangled replacements for bar-code scanners. In this article I present the view that RFID systems are fundamentally different from bar-code systems and that careful software and architecture design is necessary to achieve not only near-term performance, but also long-term return on investment.

by Sanjay Sarma

Kode Vicious

Kode Vicious to the Rescue

Dear Kode Vicious, Where I work we use a mixture of C++ code, Python, and shell scripts in our product. I always have a hard time trying to figure out when it's appropriate to use which for a certain job. Do you code in only assembler and C, or is this a problem for you as well?

Kode Vicious to the Rescue

A koder with attitude, KV answers your questions. Miss Manners he ain’t.

Koding problems driving you nuts, ko-workers making you krazy? Never fear, Kode Vicious is here—to answer your questions, solve your problems, and just basically make the world a better place.Dear Kode Vicious,

Where I work we use a mixture of C++ code, Python, and shell scripts in our product. I always have a hard time trying to figure out when it’s appropriate to use which for a certain job. Do you code in only assembler and C, or is this a problem for you as well?

by George Neville-Neil

Opinion

The Burning Bag of Dung and Other Environmental Antipatterns

And you think you have problems?

The Burning Bag of Dung—and Other Environmental Antipatterns

And you think you have problems?

Phillip Laplante, Penn State University

In my youth a favorite prank of the local delinquents (being a geek, I was not one of them) was to place a paper bag full of doggy doo on a neighbor’s porch, light it on fire, ring the doorbell, and then flee. The home-owner, upon answering the door, had no choice but to stomp out the incendiary feces, getting their shoes dirty in the process. Why this scatological anecdote? Because it is a metaphor for work situations in which things have gotten so bad that the only way to “put the fire out” is to step into it. I call this the “burning bag of dung” antipattern.

In their groundbreaking book, AntiPatterns: Refactoring Software, Architectures, and Projects in Crisis (John J. Wiley and Sons, 1998), William Brown, Raphael Malveaux, Hays “Skip” McCormick, and Thomas Mowbray describe a litany of problems that repeatedly occur in software architecture, design, and project management. They also describe solutions or refactorings for these situations. Providing such a taxonomy helps to quickly identify problem situations, provides a playbook for addressing the problems, and yes, offers some comic relief to the people in these situations.

by Phillip Laplante

Articles

The Magic of RFID

Many modern technologies give the impression they work by magic, particularly when they operate automatically and their mechanisms are invisible. A technology called RFID (radio frequency identification), which is relatively new to the mass market, has exactly this characteristic and for many people seems a lot like magic. RFID is an electronic tagging technology that allows an object, place, or person to be automatically identified at a distance without a direct line-of-sight, using an electromagnetic challenge/response exchange. Typical applications include labeling products for rapid checkout at a point-of-sale terminal, inventory tracking, animal tagging, timing marathon runners, secure automobile keys, and access control for secure facilities.

The Magic of RFID

Just how do those little things work anyway?

Roy Want, Intel Research

 

Many modern technologies give the impression they work by magic, particularly when they operate automatically and their mechanisms are invisible. A technology called RFID (radio frequency identification), which is relatively new to the mass market, has exactly this characteristic and for many people seems a lot like magic. RFID is an electronic tagging technology (see figure 1) that allows an object, place, or person to be automatically identified at a distance without a direct line-of-sight, using an electromagnetic challenge/response exchange. Typical applications include labeling products for rapid checkout at a point-of-sale terminal, inventory tracking, animal tagging, timing marathon runners, secure automobile keys, and access control for secure facilities.

by Roy Want

Opinion

There's Still Some Life Left in Ada

Ada remains the Rodney Dangerfield of computer programming languages, getting little respect despite a solid technical rationale for its existence. Originally pressed into service by the U.S. Department of Defense in the late 1970s, these days Ada is just considered a remnant of bloated military engineering practices.

There’s Still Some Life Left in Ada

When it comes to survival of the fittest, Ada ain’t no dinosaur

Alexander Wolfe, Science Writer

Ada remains the Rodney Dangerfield of computer programming languages, getting little respect despite a solid technical rationale for its existence. Originally pressed into service by the U.S. Department of Defense in the late 1970s, these days Ada is just considered a remnant of bloated military engineering practices.

by Alexander Wolfe

Articles

Thread Scheduling in FreeBSD 5.2

A busy system makes thousands of scheduling decisions per second, so the speed with which scheduling decisions are made is critical to the performance of the system as a whole. This article - excerpted from the forthcoming book, "The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System" - uses the example of the open source FreeBSD system to help us understand thread scheduling. The original FreeBSD scheduler was designed in the 1980s for large uniprocessor systems. Although it continues to work well in that environment today, the new ULE scheduler was designed specifically to optimize multiprocessor and multithread environments. This article first studies the original FreeBSD scheduler, then describes the new ULE scheduler. The article does not describe the realtime scheduler that is also available in FreeBSD.

Thread Scheduling in FreeBSD 5.2

To help get a better handle on thread scheduling, we take a look at how FreeBSD 5.2 handles it.

MARSHALL KIRK McKUSICK, CONSULTANT

GEORGE V. NEVILLE-NEIL, CONSULTANT

by Marshall Kirk McKusick, George V. Neville-Neil

Trials and Tribulations of Debugging Concurrency

We now sit firmly in the 21st century where the grand challenge to the modern-day programmer is neither memory leaks nor type issues (both of those problems are now effectively solved), but rather issues of concurrency. How does one write increasingly complex programs where concurrency is a first-class concern. Or even more treacherous, how does one debug such a beast? These questions bring fear into the hearts of even the best programmers.

Trials and Tribulations of Debugging Concurrency

You can run, but you can't hide.

KANG SU GATLIN, MICROSOFT

We now sit firmly in the 21st century where the grand challenge to the modern-day programmer is neither memory leaks nor type issues (both of those problems are now effectively solved), but rather issues of concurrency. How does one write increasingly complex programs where concurrency is a first-class concern. Or even more treacherous, how does one debug such a beast? These questions bring fear into the hearts of even the best programmers.

by Kang Su Gatlin