Monday, August 18, 2014

Panasonic releases a zany superhero comic to promote Toughpad FZ-E1

A meek I.T guy (why are I.T. guys always presented as meek weirdos?) saves the day using his Toughphone Toughpad (which is definitely not a phone) when the superhero team he works gets themselves in a pickle. Supposedly this is only the first in a series of Panasonic comic books (Panacomics?)

Yeah, it's an advertisement, but at least it's a fun advertisement.


Read the first issue of "Unbreakable Valor" here.

Be careful with that caps lock key, boys and girls.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Building a better doorstop: The Jammer



Christine, a friend of the Johnson family, comes with us every year to the Police Security Expo in Atlantic City. It's a free trip for her and an extra hand for us. Provided her hands are operational.

Before the show opens, vendors file in and out of the convention center hauling giant display setups like ants carrying picnic scraps ten times their body weight back to the colony. Doors swing open and shut in constant flux at every threshold. The exhibitors are focused on the task at hand, tired and determined to collapse into their hotel rooms. In such an environment, it's easy to lose track of your surroundings, the people around you, someone's hand wrapped around the edge of one double door as you shove the other one open. Mistakes happen.

A few conventions ago, Christine was helping carry our gear into the center, fumbling with three large banners rolled up and stacked like logs. Holding the load between one arm and her chin, she snatched the side of the door with her free hand just before it swung closed behind the tactical flashlight sellers in front of her. If her fingers had been any less slender, she wouldn't have made it. At the same moment, a man from an EMS supply booth was heading out through the opposing door. When he pushed his door open, the gap between doors narrowed and snagged Christine's fingers, crushing them like coffee beans in a burr grinder. The guy felt so awful about it that he stopped by our booth regularly throughout the next two days to check up on her and tend to her injuries. It was sweet, really. Fast forward to today, and now they're married!

OK, that last part isn't true. That would be a good story, though. One for the grand kids.

If only there were some device that could stop a door from closing. Prop it open with a flowerpot full of dirt? That's a mess just waiting to happen. Remove it from its hinges? Too much work, plus we're not paying to heat/cool the outdoors! Wedge it open with a piece of wood on the floor? Oh. I've just described a doorstop.

Though I'm being a bit facetious, let's bear in mind that traditional doorstops suck. People kick them loose, they slide around on tile floors and always seem to disappear, integrating themselves into some child's building blocks. Not every new product has to be some fancy gizmo with a wireless internet connection and a flux capacitor. Sometimes we just need a better solution to a common problem, like that famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote about building a better mousetrap (to paraphrase): "Someone oughta build a better mousetrap. My house is infested with mice."

Sometimes a solution to a problem is so simple and elegant that it seems obvious in hindsight. "Problem solved," it seems to say. "Next problem, please." Case in point, one of my favorite items from this year's Police Security Expo: the Jammer. It's a candy cane-shaped piece of plastic, available in black or high visibility yellow. Hang it over a door hinge to prevent the door from closing behind you, potentially locking you in or crushing someone's fingers. The bright yellow color makes it easy to mark where you've been, an effective way to communicate that a room has been cleared. You can carry a bunch of them around with you in your pocket, hooked onto a belt loop, dangled from your ears (for fashion), or tucked into your vest. At his booth, Jammer creator Tom Surowiec showed me a chunk of wood with a bent nail sticking out of it, his inspiration. "Firefighters use these," he said. "They're a resourceful bunch."

"That," I said, "is brilliant."


Friday, June 27, 2014

Ed reflects on PSE 2014

If you get our monthly newsletter or follow us on Twitter, you probably already know that earlier this week we picked up camp and headed to Atlantic City for this year's Police Security Expo. We had a good time meeting some of our current and future customers and reacquainting with old friends from expos past. Since I'd never gambled in any formal sense, Bob took me to a blackjack table. The dealer did this neato card trick where he made 45 of my dollars disappear in under a minute. But now I'm getting sidetracked.

Our awesome pens were very popular.
We spent Tuesday and Wednesday at our booth in the convention center, where we divided our time between talking with law enforcement officers, handing out Jolly Ranchers and awesome pens, and watching the guy in the booth across from us drift off to sleep as the day wore on.  Every now and then, though, I'd find occasion to wander around. What had once been a huge, empty room now held a temporary city populated by vendors of every stripe. Armored police cars sat on soft carpet while disembodied light bars flashed endlessly. Nearby, the Optical Academy gave on-site eye exams, no doubt a useful service in a world of pepper spray and super-bright tactical flashlights.

Walking through the corridors, I fought an uphill battle against sensory overload. With all the body armor, high-tech gadgets and tactical everything, the modern police officer is basically Batman without the cape and goofy S&M mask. Out of all the impressive displays, several stood out for me. My favorites weren't, by and large, the big-budget set-ups with jumbotrons, laser light shows and fog machines (OK, I might be exaggerating a little). In my mind, the stars of the show were, more often than not, modest booths with unique, exciting products. Some of my favorites include a facility where civilians can get Special Ops training, a ruggedized rubber keyboard that feels better than the standard one I'm using now, and a brilliantly simple solution to a common problem. I'll be writing articles about these and more over the coming days. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Will Jeff Gordon drive a Panasonic Toughbook-sponsored car in New Hampshire and Sonoma?

It looks like we might soon see Jeff Gordon tearing it up Toughbook style. According to Jayski, an ESPN-affiliated website for all things NASCAR, Panasonic could serve as the primary sponsor for Gordon's #24 car for two upcoming events this season:
Hearing that Panasonic, an associated sponsor / partner of Hendrick Motorsports will be the primary sponsor at Sonoma Raceway in June and/or New Hampshire in July. Supposedly the car will be blue and white and feature the Panasonic Toughbook mobile computers.
Cool beans.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Panasonic recalls Toughbook CF-H2 battery pack

We've never sold Toughbook CF-H2 tablets at bobjohnson.com, so this may not be relevant to many of our customers, but we thought it would be a good idea to give you a heads up anyway.

Panasonic is recalling battery packs included with their CF-H2 tablets manufactured between June, 2011 and May, 2012. These particular battery packs have been known to overheat and, in rare instances, they can ignite. The model number of the battery packs being recalled is CF-VZSU53AW. Even if your H2 was manufactured outside of the affected time frame, you should still check the battery number to make sure a faulty replacement didn't find its way in there. For more information, see the recall announcement from Panasonic.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Survivor Truck: How to make it through the apocalypse with Panasonic Toughbooks

Jim DeLozier is a security consultant by trade. We should all be so lucky to have a job that suits us so well. Jim DeLozier is really into safety, security and -- perhaps above all -- survival. His aptly named Survivor Truck, a ruggedized driving machine that combines the best aspects of military and emergency services vehicles with numerous added bells and whistles, pushes the boundaries for catastrophe preparedness. It can drive in virtually any terrain and sustain itself for days on end in the wilderness.

At the Survivor Truck's core is a Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 rugged laptop and a Toughpad FZ-G1 tablet. The CF-31 serves as the central element of the vehicle's command center. "One of the most important things about the Survivor Truck is the mobile technology," says DeLozier, moments before throwing his very expensive Toughpad FZ-G1 on the ground. He uses it for communication and camera operation, remotely keeping tabs on what's going on in and around his truck. "Before we had something like this," he says, "you basically had to be with the equipment. You couldn't operate it remotely, but now ... I can do everything that I can do in there, out there."

Cool. So this is a very practical piece of equipment that's presumably meant for military and disaster relief situations, right? Or maybe it's for one of those people who's getting ready for the apocalypse.



Did he, in passing, mention that it has a sniper platform? A tarp to hide from helicopter surveillance? If I ever find myself in a world where I, personally, need more ammunition on hand than a normal truck is capable of carrying, I'm not sure I want to make it. A long life of fending off mutants and cannibal hoards just ain't for me.

Still, it's a badass truck with badass Toughbooks.