Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Informal Survey...

...Please leave a comment and let me know if you have a credit card with a RFID chip in it.

UTA made some changes in their TRAX routes over the summer. They said that the majority of people riding TRAX were going up to the "U" -- so they cut out some of the stops between Sandy and the "U".

Apparently their studies were wrong, because they have received enough complaints that they have decided to reverse their decision.

One of the ways UTA has been tracking ridership is through a tag on-tag off system. If you have a UTA pass, you can wave it over an RFID reader when you board and deboard the train. This will collect your fare and track ridership.

What I am wondering though, is if there was a sampling bias -- such that the people who were most likely to contribute to the ridership survey through this RFID system, where I'm sure they get quite a lot of data, also happen to be the people most likely to ride up to the U.

I've noticed that a lot of people my age have newer credit cards with the RFID chips...whereas people who have had their cards for a few years do not have the chip.

So do you have a credit card with an RFID chip in it? My American Express BLUE does.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Feature Request for OS X 10.7

I am in the new iTunes, downloading the iPhone 3.1 software update. That's going to take about 5 minutes to download. Before that I had to wait for iTunes 9 to download.

It's while I was waiting for this download that I realized that there really should be a better way.

Apple has done a really really good job of fully leveraging a piece of open source technology called ZeroConf. Apple calls it Bonjour. It's how you add shared printers, listen to music in your friend's iTunes library, use AirTunes with an Airport Express, even browse a friend's iPhoto library from your machine. It's also how the new "iTunes Home Sharing" feature works. If you have a network service, you advertise it on Bonjour, and other computers in your LAN pick it up.

The iTunes 9 download was pretty hefty. Guess what...there are 3 Macs in this house. Within the next week or so we'll all use that internet bandwidth to suck down iTunes 9.

This will be fine for us, but for corporate environments this simply isn't acceptable. For this reason, in the corporate world, computers don't download their updates from the internet -- they download them from a designated server within the LAN. This way, instead of BYU downloading the latest OS X update from Apple hundreds of times, using a lot of BYU *and* Apple's bandwidth in the process, they just download it once...and then distribute it across the LAN. Furthermore...while internet connections continue to get faster and faster, it's still hard to beat the network transfer speed of a LAN.

So putting 1 and 1 together, I think a great feature for OS X 10.7 would be a sort of totally automatic, ad-hoc software update service. In the scenario of my apartment, I'd download iTunes 9 from the internet. Then my machine would hold the iTunes 9 update file in a temp storage spot for, say, 30 days. Tomorrow when Sam goes to download iTunes 9, his computer sees (Via Bonjour) that I already downloaded iTunes 9. Instead of downloading it from the internet, it would just transfer over to his machine from mine. Then let's say on Tuesday I am up at campus and Austin decides it's time for iTunes 9. Well my machine isn't there to offer up the update, but Sam's is. Again...he gets a lightning fast transfer of iTunes 9, and everybody saves some internet bandwidth in the process.

There would be security challenges to consider -- like a rogue network machine hosting tampered update files -- but I'm sure those could be worked around. Maybe if your machine finds the update on the LAN, it tells you the name of the computer it's on. Then I could chose to download an update from "Papanui" (Sam's MacBook Pro) -- but decline to download an update from "Super Hax0r"