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Be on the wave or under it™

The News – 10/29/03

In this Issue:

Recommended Reading

I realize this is the only newsletter you’ll ever need, but if you want more in-depth detail, check out:

Stan Hustad’s
The Coaching Connection

Management Signature's
The Express Read

RFID Gathers Momentum

There has been a lot of press recently about RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), a technology that allows items to be identified wirelessly via a special radio transceiver tag attached to them. It’s a trend that built slowly since the ‘60s but which has recently been goosed by 800 lb. Gorilla Wal-Mart and various other Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG, AKA FMCG – Fast Moving Consumer Goods) retailers and manufacturers. Additionally, a related effort, Electronic Product Codes (EPC), which assigns a unique number to every doggone item sold, has benefited from press surrounding the September Electronic Product Code Symposium in Chicago.

RFID is such a significant technology, I’ve had it on the TrendSpot list since the list's inception back in May of 2000, and it now ranks as the second hottest trend on the list. In addition, I’ve nattered on about RFID in several previous SNSes (here, here, here, here).

Because of all the recent news and the complexity of the subject, I’m taking the extraordinary step of including a compendium of links below that you can use to get up to speed. Don’t worry; I’ve got plenty to say about RFID below and next issue. People like to steal Gillette Mach3 razors....... a lot. Theft prevention is one of the most important uses of RFID. Three of the top ten highest shrink (a euphemism for stolen) products in CPG are razor blades, batteries, toothbrushes. OK, who’s stealing the toothbrushes? Mossy-toothed crackheads? Other positives for retailers include increased revenue due to reduced stock outs, cost reductions in supply chain labor, and reduction in unauthorized customer discounts (including the ever-popular five-finger discount). Big RFID booster Gillette renounces RFID-based smart-shelf technology, possibly in response to privacy concerns. Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in Britain ended a controversial RFID field trial that shoppers claimed violated their privacy. If Wal-Mart put an RFID tag on every item in every store and tracked every change in presence information, it would generate 7.5 million terabytes of data daily. UnWired Tires: Siemens and Goodyear have developed a tire monitoring system that goes beyond government mandates and makes tires an integral part of a vehicle's electronic network. Rftracker assembles tracking database IBM jumps in with RFID service Venture Development Corporation predicts the RFID IC market will grow by slightly more than 27% (compounded annually) in terms of revenues and by more than 36% annually in terms of units. EPC Network debuted at the Electronic Product Code Symposium,7204,7173453%5E15306%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says RFIDs embedded in everything from currencies to human bodies and will boost the global anti-terror war (yes, that’s the same Jew-hater in the news recently; would you trust this man with any powerful technology?).,1848,59624,00.html RFID Will Stop Terrorists Facing increasing resistance and concerns about privacy, the United States' largest food companies and retailers will try to win consumer approval for radio identification devices by portraying the technology as an essential tool for keeping the nation's food supply safe from terrorists. I wonder how the food companies feel about being in bed with Mahathir Mohamad? RFID to Track Building Occupants, Aid in Evacuations (remember what Ben Franklin said: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”) RFID Microchip Implants for Humans. I love the subhead of this article: “First it was cattle. Then it was pets. Now it's Mexicans. Will Americans be next?” So let’s just not worry about the Mexicans, then, as long as we’re not next . . . Nonetheless, it brings a new dimension to the RFID “Kill” command, which deactivates a chip. FDA Says It Won't Regulate Implanted ID Chip Instruments Announces 13.56 MHz RFID Tag for Textile Rental And Dry Cleaning Applications  California Lawmakers to probe RFID technology The British Home Office announced a £5.5million 'Chipping of Goods’ Initiative to show how property crime can be reduced throughout the retail supply chain using RFID. According to a memo from General Tommie Franks, CINC, CENTCOM to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US Central Command requires all air pallets, containers, and commercial sustainment moving to/from the theater [that would be Iraq] to be tagged with RFID

So that ought to get you started on the subject of RFID, which will change your lives in some way in the next five years. (Hey, another prediction! Track my hits and misses at the Prediction Tracker.)

The basic thing to understand about RFID technology is that it doesn’t really need to compromise our privacy, but it could. If you trust big corporations and big governments implicitly to protect your privacy, then you’ll have little trouble with the possibility that your whereabouts and your purchasing habits can be made available to a wider group of people than currently. I say currently because Master Card already knows a whole heck of a lot about what you buy, and Sprint knows where you are and where you’ve been.

And if you happen to live in one of those benighted states that have toll roads and “EasyPass” or some other automated toll paying scheme, your state knows when you’ve been bad and good, so be good for goodness sake.

There’ll be more on RFID in the next SNS.

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: It’s here: A new company from StratVantage – The WiMAX Guys. Our service has two parts. The first is targeted at consumers and small businesses who buy the wireless networking gear, but can’t get it to work. We visit and get it up and running fast. The second part of the business is new installs for people who want to set up wireless hotspots. Check out the Website at

    My second article for Fawcette Technical Publications’ Enterprise Architect magazine, Companies Collaborate on IT Practices, reports on a best practices sharing effort called Project Avalanche. It’s available online now, and the magazine will be published later this month. My feature article, Grid Computing Takes Off in the Enterprise, was published in the magazine’s inaugural issue last May. (Registration required to view.)

    My article, “Innovative Marketers Target Unwired Customers” was published in the NetSuds newsletter.

    Coming Soon: A new eBook, Be On the Wave Or Under It™ will collect the best of SNS’ insights over the last couple of years, along with additional material from CTOMentor white papers and new material. It will make a great gift (Halloween?) for associates and friends in need of a guide to the latest and greatest technology. Watch for more information in upcoming SNS issues.

    Several issues ago I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation by tipping your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far: $86.48. Thanks twice, Dave!

    I repurposed and adapted an article about the wireless service known as Short Messaging Service (SMS) for the Reside newsletter. It’s entitled, Wherever they go, there you are and it points out how marketers can use – carefully – this new way to contact their customers.

    StratVantage has been accepted as a member of the World Wide Web Chamber of Commerce and now displays their logo on our Websites. In addition, I’m featured in Manyworlds’ Thought Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white papers I’ve done.

  • Windows OS Joke Redux: Last issue, Alert SNS Reader Andy Stevko sent along an hilarious parody of a Microsoft security advisory. Unfortunately, I mangled the URL you need to use to read it. I’ve rectified the situation below. Sorry.
    Fake Advisory

  • VoWLAN on PDAs: My candidate for the most awkward recent acronym is VoWLAN – Voice over Wireless LAN. Despite being one of the few SLAs (that’s Six Letter Acronyms) around, just try saying it a few times. Of course, VoWLAN’s wired cousin, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) just sounds silly when pronounced.

    Anyway, Toshiba's $599 e800/805 Pocket PC will be bundled with VLI's Gphone software, which allows users to make and receive phone calls over a Wi-Fi LAN. Of course, a subscription to VLI's service is needed to make VoIP calls.

  • Spam Filtering Makes Online Newslettering Hell: I’ve written before on the perils of running a subscription email newsletter in this age of rampant spam and ubiquitous spam filters. Well, I’m obviously not along. Here’s venerable online newsletter TidBits’ take on the problem.

  • It Still Makes Me Laugh: Despite my concern with all the privacy invasions inherent in modern society, this cartoon is hilarious.

  • Illinois Luddites Single Out Educational Wi-Fi: A group of Oak Park, IL elementary school parents filed a lawsuit in an attempt to halt the use of Wi-Fi networks in the schools of their sons and daughters. The parents are worried about the health consequences of the Radio Frequency (RF) radiation generated by Wi-Fi, despite the fact that I’ll bet every one of these parents has a cordless phone and/or a cell phone. Nonetheless, this is not likely to be the last we hear of this issue.

  • Believe It Or Not: Kabul Cyber Cafés Flourish Since the Taleban banned Internet use for all except the government 2 years ago, it’s amazing to think that there’s a growing cyber café culture in Kabul. And like many third world companies, they’re skipping the wired infrastructure and going wireless right away.
    BBC News

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About The Author

Announcing CTOMentor, a New Service from StratVantage

Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at Let me know what you think.

Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003