Friday, February 28, 2014

Panasonic Toughphone? - Friday Link Roundup

A former patrol officer shares his list of technologies found on cop TV shows that he wishes real-life cops had. Minority Report-style computers instead of Toughbooks? Come on!

Blogger Jonathan Kozlowski talks about bees, Robocop, and why he hates the word "drone."

The Panasonic for Business blog looks at mobile computing trends for field workers. Will 2014 be the year of the rugged tablet? (Yes. The answer is obviously going to be "yes" coming from Panasonic's official blog. Let's not pretend we can build suspense here. That said, the article does elaborate on why.)

If you want a rugged Panasonic smartphone, you're out of luck! Panasonic doesn't make smartphones! Looks like you'll have to settle for this rugged tablet that just happens to be the size of a phone and just happens to make phone calls.

They're expected to go for around $1,300 and will drop* later this year. For more info on the new Toughpad FZ-E1 and FZ-X1 phones "tablets," check out Engadget's article and CNET's hands-on review.

*[Insert clunky joke here about how the phone won't break when it "drops"]

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Testing a Toughbook's Mettle: the story behind the certifications

Toughbook CF-31 certifications
Somehow I found myself in the middle of an 800-something page government document, reading up on something called "Method 511.5, Procedure I — Explosive Atmosphere." I was investigating the parameters for evaluating the ability of a test item to be operated in a fuel vapor environment without causing ignition, and it was just as exciting as it sounds. I checked out a bunch of other methods and procedures as well, things like "Method 507.5, Procedure II — Humidity" and Method 514.6, Procedure I — Vibration: General Vibration," But I chose to lead with Explosive Atmosphere because it seemed like the sexiest of the testing procedures. That's the one where a test item sits in a room full of gas and, if all goes well, nothing happens. These tests are part of the MIL-STD-810G, a U.S. Military standard developed by the Department of Defense. It's used to make sure equipment is up to snuff for military applications. It's one of the many standards for which Panasonic Toughbooks are tested.

You were probably already aware — or at least you've assumed — that Toughbooks undergo a bunch of testing to make sure that they're, you know, tough. You might have seen a list of certifications they've earned, things like the aforementioned MIL-STD-810G, MIL-STD-461F, IP65, RoHS Compliance, and so on. You might have even seen some vague explanations attached to them: this little emblem means it's rugged, this one means it won't cause deadly explosions, whatever. I was curious. What specifically, did the Toughbook have to go through to get each of those little badges on its spec sheet? I went pretty deep in my research, most of which consisted of reading appropriately dry research reports and documents, but I'll spare you the minutiae and give you the Cliff's Notes version. (If you really need to know the exact conditions under which water droplets should be observed landing on a a test item, or if you just can't move forward without finding out where the guy who signed off on a test went to college, I'll provide the necessary tools you to look it up.)

To learn what all the Toughbook certifications really mean, check out my article at

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Link Roundup

My favorite cop forum on Reddit, /r/ProtectAndServe, likes to do these "reaction GIF" threads. If none of that previous sentence made sense to you, just check out the link. You won't regret it. (Warning: adult language and content.)
Tesla Motors has a section on their website for first responders with various guides about rescues involving their electric vehicles.
Polish firefighter Zbigniew Brodka won the gold medal in men's 1,500 meter speed skating at the Sochi Olympics. He was blazing fast. Get it? Blazing. Ha ha.

Tampa, Florida Police have released audio from some of their more unusual 911 calls. They say that at least half of the calls they get have nothing to do with emergency situations. Come on, citizens of Tampa, get it together.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Link Roundup

Have you seen this webcomic about police work?

Oconee County, Georgia Sheriff cancels Valentine's Day due to snow.

Video captures a man smashing the windows of an LAPD cruiser out in public in broad daylight. Darth Vader and Superman watch on. The man takes a laptop out of the cruiser. It's hard to tell, but the laptop doesn't appear to be a Toughbook. So much insanity in this video.

North Carolina firefighter to use Google Glass on the job.

Why Windows XP Losing Support is a Big Deal

Windows XP shutdown screen
It's time to shut down Windows XP for good.

In the 1976 made-for-TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, John Travolta plays Tod Lubitch, a teenager who was born without an immune system. His body unable to defend itself against airborne pathogens, Tod has to wear some kind of hermetically sealed hazmat suit in order to, you know, not die. I haven't seen the movie, but Wikipedia says that in the end he takes off the suit and rides away on a horse. Presumably his character dies shortly after the credits roll.

Now let's take a hard left turn and talk about computers.

We've already talked about upgrading Toughbooks from Windows XP to Windows 7, but we've found that a lot of folks don't really understand why it's important to do it before XP loses support on April 8, 2014.

Computers are like the boy in the plastic bubble. They don't have immune systems, so they need a barrier to protect them from the outside world. Travolta's character used a sterile bubble. Computers use antivirus software, firewalls, security updates. Even though Windows XP has been around for 12 years, they're still discovering new vulnerabilities all the time. When this happens, Microsoft rolls out a security update to fix the problem before a new computer virus takes advantage of it. Think of it as repairing a leak in the plastic bubble. Last year alone, they found 88 new vulnerabilities in XP. After April 8, people will continue to find weak points, but they won't be people working for Microsoft, they'll be hackers trying to infect your system.

Microsoft won't be the only ones abandoning Windows XP. Antivirus developers and third-party security firms will almost certainly follow suit. As you read this, IT guys all over the world are preparing to block computers running XP from accessing their databases and networks. For good reason, too, because XP computers will be malware-riddled equivalents of Typhoid Mary, spreading virtual disease to others.

Considering that an estimated one quarter to a third of computers today run Windows XP, the consequences of Microsoft cutting off support could be massive. This is a story that deserves the same kind of coverage that Y2K had, yet it has received relatively little media exposure. Spread the word: Windows XP will lose its protective bubble on April 8, 2014. Your Toughbook can handle a lot of physical abuse. Don't let some line of malicious code destroy it from the inside. Upgrade to 7.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Link Roundup

The NYPD is testing out Google Glass to see how the device could enhance police work. (VentureBeat)

Panasonic has unveiled a new Toughbook CF-D1 tablet in the UK, and the Toughbook CF-LX3 in Singapore. (WinBeta and CNET Asia, respectively)

"Technology Helps Witnesses Assist Police in Robberies" may be a poorly worded headline. This is a story about how police in Lincoln, Nebraska are hoping that technological advancements in cameras and smartphones will make it easier for witnesses to help them nab criminals. (