RFID Ready or Not
Despite concerns about privacy and accuracy, RFID may become the de facto standard for identification documents such as driver's licenses and passports. Some U.S. states and many countries now include RFID chips in such documents. Although some attempts have been made to improve security, researchers regularly expose RFID vulnerabilities, including unauthorized access to data and forged documents. That doesn't mean, however, that RFID is all bad or even that it shouldn't be used to track individuals under certain conditions. For example, if you're in the hospital for any reason (we hope not!), you might get an RFID wristband in addition to or instead of a barcode ID. RFID wristbands are also being used to help track evacuees and to ensure that families can be reunited. Of course, even under these special circumstances, RFID presents some potential privacy pitfalls, but those issues are minimal compared with those that occur with permanent identification documents.
- Ars Technica describes some of the flaws researchers have found with RFID identification documents. (Click Here)
- RFID Journal reports on how RFID technology is being used to help keep track of people during emergencies. (Click Here) The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) keeps track of the ongoing battle over the U.S. REAL ID act, which would effectively create a national ID card. ()
Exploring Employment Options
Every year — good times or bad — Computerworld publishes an IT salary survey. Of course, publishing a salary survey in times of uncertainty, is, well, uncertain. So rather than focus on the numbers, you might want to focus on the broader picture. For example, the salary survey includes a list of hot skills and other suggestions that might help you keep your current job or land a new one. If you're a manager, the articles accompanying the survey provide some ideas you can use to improve working conditions when pay raises aren't an option. For example, would your best employees be more likely to stick with the company if you could offer them flexible work schedules or telecommuting options? Such options often have a dual benefit — more satisfied employees and cost reductions for basic services like heat and electricity.
- Computerworld's 22nd annual salary survey includes lots of suggestions to help you navigate a tight economy. (Click Here)
The New Face of Web Services
A few years ago, web services drew a lot of interest but weren't widely used in i5/OS shops. But as 2008 turns to 2009, web services have become part of the fabric of business and technology. Web services are a great way for businesses to share information: By using XML, web services eliminate many of the issues that naturally occur when applications running on different platforms and written in different languages try to communicate. However, as web services are more widely used, people have begun grumbling about their complexity, and especially about the complexity of Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). An alternative that's getting a lot of interest is Representational State Transfer (REST) web services. When you embark on a web services project, you may not have a choice about whether to use SOAP or REST services, but it's helpful to understand the available options.
- Developerworks offers an introduction to REST web services. (Click Here)
More Than Just Cool Gadgets
The Tech Museum in San Jose, California, has an award program for gadgets — gadgets that use technology to improve people's lives. (The people who run the museum may not refer to these solutions as gadgets, but it seems like a good description). For example, how about a gadget that gives people access to portable lights by incorporating simple solar panels into clothing and other textiles? Sometimes the solution isn't the gadget itself, but a way to distribute the technology. For example, another award went to a company that deployed technology for small-scale hydroelectric generation in remote areas. A key component of this particular project was that the technology could be installed and maintained by local workers.
- News.com talks to some of the winners of the 2008 Tech Innovation Awards. (Click Here)
Sharon L. Hoffman is a System iNEWS senior technical editor. She began working with IBM midrange systems in 1981, and her background includes extensive application development as well as creation and delivery of technical education.