This follows on the heels of an announcement yesterday that said Electronic Arts plans to release this October The Sims Makin' Magic, a new expansion pack to The Sims, where "Sims are granted magical powers with the ability to cast spells that are playful or deviant". Oh my God. And if that's not enough: The Sims Makin' Magic will be the final edition to The Sims original series and prelude to the highly anticipated launch of The Sims 2. The expansion pack will be available for the Halloween season and has a suggested retail price of US$29.95.
Without a doubt, the ability to achieve 100 percent real-time asset visibility without the cost of human intervention to perform tracking activities. This visibility and the information it generates translates directly into supply chain efficiencies - such as lower stock-out rates and fewer rush orders - that go directly to both the top and bottom lines of traditional retailers.
Inventory tracking/retail behaviour/product theft/non-retail fields?
Inventory tracking at the pallet and carton level are almost certain to be the applications that "prime the pump" for RFID in retail. There are a lot fewer pallets than individual items, less cost sensitivity - and pallets have no privacy concerns.
Once the tags make it to the item level, their primary function will still be for inventory control - quickly detecting that a particular brand of shampoo is out of stock, for example.
However, the technology can also be used in the store for theft detection and identifying shopping patterns, but consumers will first need to be educated on the benefits TO THEM of the technology when used this way. For example, if RFID could be used to let you know when you pass your favorite brand of peanut butter in the supermarket aisle, and it is on sale, would that perceived as plus? For some consumers yes, and for others no. The key to success will be to put the control where its belongs - in the hands of the consumer.
What's your view on privacy concerns about RFID?
Privacy is a very real issue. To a certain extent the fears expressed to date are somewhat overblown - the technology simply does not support doomsday scenarios such as the government scanning the books you just purchased from a truck in the street - the tags just are not capable of it. What is very real, however, is every consumer's right to understand and be comfortable with technologies applied to products they may buy. Everyone involved in the RFID industry understands and respects this - which is why the most popular tags - EPC tags - have an in-built "Kill" command that can and will be used to render them inoperative before they leave the store.
Are there issues which have not been addressed?
There are many issues that are still in the process of being addressed. Standards need to be finalized, costs need to come down further, reading equipment and systems need to be made more reliable, more RFID software solutions need to be developed, and privacy concerns need to be addressed to name a few. However, with the emergence of a strong new standard for retail and supply chain applications - EPC (Electronic Product Code) - the general tone of converstion has switched from "if" to "when" the technology will make its mark in retail. There is a general sense that the remaining issues are all very solveable, and that it just a matter of time.
How do you see the future of this technology?
The future of RFID in retail and supply chain applications is a bright one, but one that will perhaps be slower and more incremental in approach than many suppose today. In particular, some have positioned RFID as an immediate "replacement" for bar code. The reality is that it is not designed as a one-for-one bar code replacement - it does more than a bar code, but also costs more than a bar code. The companies that benefit from RFID will be those that successfully integrate RFID and bar code technologies - using each where it is the most cost effective.
Almost certainly, the first broad applicatiions of RFID will be in the backroom of stores and distribution centers - on relatively unglamorous items such as pallets, crates, cartons, and plastic containers. Over time it will become more visible on individual items on the retail floor, but this will take time - years - and will require that concerns about privacy are effectively addressed.
reply infringe on my personal and professional rights. I also note that one of your "pay" product provides a stealth option, where the recipient has no idea that the email has been tagged by your service, this again, in my view, is beyond reproach, unethical and a deceptive practice for any business.
to MSGTAG I feel is in breach of this concept. However, we forego this right to the original email sender, as we provided him with the email address, but the fact that we provided him with an email address does not inherently afford him the right to provide such information to any third party without our permission.
Anyway, for those of you who are interested in hearing MSGTAG's side of the debate, here's their recent response to the letter I mentioned above. Original complaints in purple. I've cut it back a bit.
The sender has no real right to know when and if I read his email, where will this go next...tracking how often the email is open, tracking to whom I on forward the email...the possibilities are endless and tantamount to spying and invasion of privacy.
The MSGTAG read receipt process is not designed to be invasive. We feel that it is more than reasonable for a person to know if and when their mail has been read by the intended recipients. There are many situations where this benefits both the sender and the recipient. If an email hasn't been read before a critical time, a sender can know to contact the recipient to give them the information by another means.
Our view on the subject of mail notification is that at the moment email is an unbalanced exchange. The recipient gets to read the email, but the sender doesn't get to know if they have. If you send something via a courier service, for example, if you refuse to sign for it, you can't open it. If you do sign for it, the sender knows straight away.
With MSGTAG we are trying to make it as fair as possible. There are some services that offer to give out all sorts of information about the recipient, such as how long the email was viewed for, how many times, who it was forwarded to, etc. Though we know how to implement this type of functionality, we have chosen a different path of fixing what we see as a broken process, without making the cure worse than the disease by adding privacy-invading features. The negative "possibilities are endless" for all sorts of technologies: we ask that we are judged by what we do, not by what can be done.
MSGTAG tells the sender only the time a message was first opened. It does not provide the sender with the IP address or geographical location of their recipients, nor does it embed tags into attachments to track forwarding or printing behaviour.
However, I do appreciate that not all Internet users wish to receive MSGTAG tagged emails. We respect the business decisions of companies such as yours that wish to implement firewall or proxy technology to prevent MSGTAG tags from being triggered. Furthermore, we have implemented a system within MSGTAG Status that allows users to disable tagging for certain recipients who have asked not to be tagged.
MSGTAG also collects the recipient's email address, email ID, IP address and email headers without the recipient's authorisation or knowledge.
It is true that we collect the recipient's email address and the email ID - this is provided to us by the sender of the email. As I pointed out in the previous paragraph, we don't collect the recipient's IP address and we don't have access to the header information except for:
The subject line - this is used in the notification email so that users know which e-mail has been read, without it they would only know that one of their emails has been read, but they wouldn't know which one.
The message ID generated by the sender's e-mail client - this is a unique code attached to all emails by most email clients so that the clients can reliably tell e-mails apart. We use it for the same purpose.
The address the e-mail was sent to - we use this for the same reason as the subject line - so the user knows which e-mail the notification is about.
We also record when the tag was added, and when it was triggered so that we can tell the users when it was triggered, and what the elapsed time was. That is all that we collect from the email.
The Software uses the MSGTAG service to determine whether an e-mail that has been tagged by the Software has been received by the intended recipient. In order to achieve this, MSGTAG must store the subject, message ID, message recipient, date sent, and MSGTAG account name of the sender for each e-mail tagged by the Software. If tagging is disabled in the application, MSGTAG does not store this information. MSGTAG will not sell, share or rent this information to any other parties."
At present, there is only one person in our organisation who has access to the email addresses used in MSGTAG - a System Administrator. As General Manager of MSGTAG, I do not have access. Tech support staff must ask the system administrator for this information on a case by case basis, in order to address specific problems raised by our customers.
"This is in direct contravention to the privacy act and the rules governing the collection of personally identifiable information."
We also feel that MSGTAG's email tracking service is not only an invasion of our privacy but is also an infringement of the "Information Access" and "Computer Equipment Access" laws as their service provides "back-flow" traffic, without the recipient's knowledge or consent, directly from their computer software and hardware."
We are unaware of any infringement as per your suggestions. Fisher Young Group takes its obligations and allegations of this nature extremely seriously. If you can provide us with more information about the specific areas of law that are at dispute, we will investigate your concerns thoroughly.
Interesting stuff. Let us know how you feel.
Challenge/Response 2.0 ($10 a year and up), they've come up with a major innovation: cutting out the challenge bit.
http://about.mailblocks.com/trustme.html. I can't see folk queuing up to do that, to be honest.
keys, says Security Wire Digest.
I won't bore you with how they did it. But the bottom line is that this attack doesn't pose any practical threat, since only an administrator would be able to encryped password to conduct the attack, and users can resist by using passwords that contain more than just letters and numbers.
It includes a "complete, Microsoft-compatible Office Suite making it possible to open, edit, save, and email Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint files without additional software!" Needless to say, the gadget works on Lindows, a Linux version of Windows (and nothing to do with Microsoft despite the name). So don't expect too much. it doesn't have a hard drive, so boots from a CD. Oh, and bring your own monitor.
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