This article was written by Helen Carmichael of gasworld and originally appeared in the December 2014 issue. It is reprinted with permission.
Cylinder tracking is an essential tool for managing a company’s prized assets. Now by deploying cloud data storage and mobile devices, Lockhouse has created another level of asset management for end-users. Helen Carmichael reports.
Recent years have seen an inexorable move towards electronic and bar code tagging and tracking of cylinders among many distribution companies. Although these strategies have saved a lot of time and paperwork, they have also revealed a few problems along the way. Companies have reported trying a number of bar coding strategies before finding the right one, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging is expensive, may have reliability issues, and also may not be totally future-proof as technology moves forward.
According to Tim Fusco, CEO of asset tracking software company TrackAbout, “for customers who are using RFID, it is expensive, and they are locked into a single track. Barcodes or QR codes are more flexible.”
QR codes (Quick Response Codes) are a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) originating in the Japanese automotive industry, and now cropping up increasingly on our products – which we can scan for more information using our mobile phones. By its choice of QR codes attached on a coated label, Lockhouse intends to use the devices already in everyone’s pockets to find and recover lost assets, says Lockhouse Head of Marketing and Strategy, Cassie Glessner. “Lockhouse is an internet web application,” she told gasworld. “The user scans the code on an asset with their mobile device, and brings up a specific page on that asset. Simultaneously, the location from the GPS on the user’s phone or other handheld device is paired with that asset.”
Lockhouse, then, provides a registry for gas cylinders and other assets that connects different data systems to create a more efficient information exchange between the industry and its users.
You may have heard that Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP in April 2014. XP is dead (or walking dead, depending on your penchant for zombie analogies). Also important is that Windows XP was the last Microsoft operating system to support Internet Explorer 8 (IE8).
At TrackAbout, we know that businesses only upgrade when they absolutely have to. It can be costly.
We calculate that 28% of our web site users are still running Windows XP and now-unsupported versions of Internet Explorer. TrackAbout has been making a best effort to fix defects reported by our customers who were using IE7 and IE8.
Trying to maintain compatibility with unsupported and old versions of Internet Explorer is expensive and restrictive. Old browsers do not support modern standards and programming techniques. This leaves us having to design for the lowest common denominator, or create hacky workarounds so functionality doesn’t break.
We’d like our customers to know that allowing users to use out-dated browsers carries a security risk. There will be no new security patches for Windows XP, and therefore no new security patches for IE7 or IE8. It should be considered an unsafe platform (or at least a less-safe platform).
We have therefore made the decision to drop official support for IE7 and IE8.
This past Tuesday, the Internet groaned under the weight of a serious new security vulnerability called HeartBleed. If you’re in IT, you’ve likely already heard about this. Like me, you probably spent the better part of the day learning about and dealing with it. You may be dealing with it for days to come either as an IT professional or just as an average user of the Internet.
TrackAbout was fortunate – our service offerings were NOT affected by the vulnerability.