Dynamics ePlates: Credit Card for Today’s World

Dynamics Dynamics Inc has developed cards for Visa that have chips embedded into them. The battery inside the card will last at least four years. There is a user interface including buttons and a magnetic stripe that changes so user can make different choices at the point of sale.  The user can easily change the awards available on the cards through the website. There are currently fifty different award partners that the card can be connected to. You also receive the rewards a lot faster than you do with a normal card because of the system they have establish. These cards are more secure than normal cards due to the fact that the information is stored in an embedded processor on the card

Dynamics Inc is also developing a card that has security code embedded in it. You have to punch in the code for the card to become active. When the right code is punched in the card number appears and the magnetic stripe becomes active After a period of time the number disappears and stripe erases. F’or further information and sign up for a card go to Dynamics Inc website or the UMB Bank website.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net, and Daniel J Lewis of the The Noodle.mx Network and the Audacity to Podcast

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E-Logs

As an over-the-road truck driver, in the past couple of months I had to make the mandatory switch away from a paper logbook that had to be filled out each day to an electronic logging system, or so-called E-Logs. For some time now I knew the changeover was in the works, nonetheless I approached this change with trepidation.

Certain trucking companies have been using electronic logging systems for a number of years. At this point, it is being pushed out into the mainstream.

The system my trucking company is using is manufactured by Qualcomm and powered by a proprietary embedded version of Microsoft Windows.

Training in preparation for a dual paper/electronic trial run consisted of watching an internal company-prepared video that didn’t come close to answering all of my questions or leaving me with the feeling of confidence that I could easily master the system.

Furthermore, even though this is a proprietary embedded version of Windows, it is still Windows and it is clunky as ever. The particular system in my truck, rather than using the traditional Qualcomm two-way satellite communications instead uses a full-time data connection. I have no way of knowing which data network the unit uses, but there’s only been one time I’ve been aware of so far where the unit didn’t have a connection back to the company computer system. The system uses a 6-inch color pressure-sensitive touch screen with audio out attached through the driver’s side door speaker of the truck’s stereo system. There’s also a large slide-out keyboard to type on, as well as an on-screen keyboard that can be used instead.

My initial experience with the system wasn’t good. It was as awkward as can be. I don’t know which company wrote the electronic logbook portion of the embedded software, but it comes across as very poorly designed. This is an embedded system for use in industry, and making the design interface user-friendly isn’t necessary for sales numbers.

That being said, once I learned all of the quirks of the software and how to quickly make it do what I want it to, I now find that I really like it. Filling out a paper logbook each day is akin to filling out a tax return every day. E-Logs do end up saving a lot of time and hassle. It eliminates not only the logbook paperwork but also the need to send it back to the company. Also, as long as one follows the overall logbook rules it becomes impossible to end up with a logbook violation.

One of the nicest features is that it automatically changes driving status. I can edit everything except driving time, even though the editing process itself is unbelievably quirky and literally screams poorly designed Windows application. The ability to edit varies from one trucking company to another. An additional feature I really like is that it breaks everything down into one-minute intervals, as opposed to the fifteen-minute intervals of the traditional paper logbook.

Now that I’ve gotten familiar with the E-Log system, I’m happy with it.

Why Microsoft Needs to Make a DVR…NOW

All of the recent buzz around Google TV has overshadowed a major Microsoft announcement regarding Windows 7 Embedded.  And that’s a shame for several reasons.  First, Google TV, while useful, is little more than a glorified search.  Yes, it’s useful to be able to search for a show, not only through TV channels and on-demand, but also throughout the web.  Second, Windows 7 Media Center is much more powerful and flexible than any DVR on the market, including TiVo.

Yes, Microsoft went down this road before, but they were a different company back then.  They were under investigation by the Justice Department for monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior.  And, by all accounts, when Bill Gates approached the cable companies about putting Media Center on their DVR’s he scared them off by trying to strong-arm them.  This was in the days of XP also, and that took a lot of processor power and would have made the DVR’s cost-prohibitive.

But, now we have Windows 7, which is light enough to run on today’s low end netbooks.  The new embedded is also completely componetized, meaning manufacturers can use only the parts of it they want.  It has Netflix built in, as well as internet TV, pictures, music and a wealth of plug-ins available, including Hulu.  It supports multiple tuners – not just the 2 that cable and satellite providers seem to think is acceptable.  And those tuners work every bit as well at recoding your TV shows as any DVR on the market.

Yes, you can plug a computer into your home theater, as I do, but let’s face it – this is not something the average user is going to be able to handle.  It may not be especially difficult, but it’s not easy enough for my mom and dad either.  There’s tuners to install and setups to do.

So now; with Roku coming on strong (although it’s not a DVR), TiVo’s latest release receiving rather bad reviews, Google TV not yet out, rumors of a new Apple TV, and cable DVR’s being severely underpowered; is the time for Microsoft to build, or hire a third party to build, a DVR.  They need to approach those cable and satellite companies again and have less of an attitude this time around.  Most of all they need to advertise the heck out of it.  They need to show their interface everywhere and let people see just how much their current DVR doesn’t do.

They waited too long to release the Zune and they lost out.  If they want to win the battle for our living rooms, and they’ve made overtures about this for years, they need to act quickly and decisively.