temperature@lert blog

  • How to Safely Prepare Your Thanksgiving Meal

    On Thanksgiving, 88% of Americans consume turkey — 46 million of them, according to a Clear Food reportWith so much poultry being consumed, it's imperative to exercise caution to ensure you avoid any food safety issues. Check out the graphic below for tips from the CDC on how to prevent food borne illnesses as your head into the holiday season.

    To download a copy of this infographic, click here.

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  • How Banks Can Protect Their Servers From High Temperature Threats

    Major financial institutions have deployed massive data centers in many, if not most, major cities across the world. In the United States, life is relatively easy compared to that in developing countries where electrical power instability can be a challenge when operating large data centers.

    High temperatures and poor air quality present the biggest problems for financial institutions operating in developing countries. Air conditioning in regions where outdoor temperatures regularly exceed 100°F (38°C) work harder and consume more power at these high temperatures. These air conditioners are more prone to failure and require regular maintenance to maintain their efficiency. Poor air quality can also be a challenge if corrosive gaseous pollutants like sulfur dioxide, a common byproduct of coal-fired power plants, come in contact with exposed electronics. Financial institutions with data centers in such environments often protect their servers from corrosive gases and increased particulate contamination with specialty filtration at a significant cost. Experience has shown to do otherwise can result in higher server failure rates. ASHRAE recognizes the challenge of corrosive gases and provides guidelines to address these conditions.

    Electrical power consumption vs. outdoor ambient temperature demonstrate increased demand on air conditioners in hot climates. This graph shows the effect of raising the thermostat setting to reduce electric power consumption.
    Source: NTT Review

    While datacenters in developing countries are more prone to failure due to environmental and infrastructure-related circumstances, small and mid-sized companies in the U.S. are not totally immune to power interruptions. In fact, analysis of U.S. Department of Energy data shows a more than fourfold increase in average annual electrical power outages in 2010 - 2013 (200) compared to 2000 - 2004 (44). While this is not good news, the likelihood of a local power outage to interrupt business operation is minimal. Of greater concern to small and mid-size business IT professionals is the loss of air conditioning due to AC failure, a tripped breaker, or an employee inadvertently shutting down AC power.

    AC failures and tripped breakers that won’t reset are common occurrences and keep HVAC and electrical contractors busy. Couple this with the fact that small and mid-sized business server racks are often in storage rooms or closets not originally designed to handle the increased demand from the heat generated and temperatures can getting warm quickly. The fact that these problems always seem to occur after hours or on weekends keeps IT professionals on edge. Overheating servers can lead to server thermal shutdown, real or potential equipment damage, data loss, business operation interruptions, and even revenue loss.

    Small and mid-sized banks and financial institutions have an increased sensitivity: they deal directly with people’s money. Think of the last time you went to an ATM and found it was offline. Were you happy? When customers can’t access their banks due to IT problems, it can lead customers to question whether or not their money is safe. Even more disconcerting, banks that have IT problems can lead to questions about the accuracy of the customer’s account information. For this reason, several small and mid-sized banks have taken the position that when things get too hot in their data centers, IT team members are notified. Additionally, if temperatures continue to rise before action can be taken, they opt to automatically shut the servers down, preserving data and protecting hardware.

    Small and mid-sized banks (Left Image) rely on small server rooms (Right Image) to run their business. Automatic temperature monitoring and server shutdown when temperatures exceed safe operating levels is possible with Temperature@lert’s USB Edition (Center Image).

    Small and mid-sized banks and financial institutions employ mission critical IT infrastructures. The ability to be alerted about potential problems and to automatically shut down servers because of increased temperatures is invaluable to all types of institutions, especially banks. Temperature conditions in data centers at these institutions require special treatment to insure server operation is optimized and that when things get too hot, customer and company financial data and equipment is protected.


    CIO Magazine offers these four tips for keeping your data center cool and in check:


    Mind the Gaps

    While it seems like an obvious fix, all too often data centers have gaps throughout that allow air to escape and penetrate the facility. In addition to leaky windows and doors, another common drain on cooling efficiency is ventilation or ceiling tiles that have been removed and not replaced. Brush strips, blanking panels and even curtains can be deployed to provide what is essentially weather-stripping. Pay particular attention to cable cutouts and the space under CRAC units. For data centers in locations where humidity is of particular concern, it's critical to ensure that the vapor barrier — the plastic or metal coating for the walls, ceiling and floors that keeps moisture at bay — remains intact. 

    Monitor and Measure

    It is difficult to make efficiency improvements in data center operations without knowing how equipment is performing and where heat is generated. By installing monitoring equipment on racks and PDUs to measure the load and power consumption, a data center can then identify any equipment that is running inefficiently in terms of capacity or even unnecessarily in terms of the applications that are on it.

    Optimize the Supply Air Temperature

    For years, data centers have operated under the premise that the cooler, the better. Today that's not always the case. In addition to raising the temperature on your CRAC units, it may be possible – and certainly is simpler – to turn some of them off altogether. A data center that has 300 kW of cooling installed with a 400 kW UPS system running at 25% of capacity has three times the amount of cooling that is needed. Leveraging a temperature monitoring system, like the Temperature@lert USB Edition, is an easy and cost-effective way to ensure the data center is staying within a comfortable temperature range at all times. If there are variations that could compromise the equipment and data, an alert is sent immediately so quick action can be taken.

    General Housekeeping

    Maximizing cooling efficiency also requires regular maintenance and perhaps a few interior changes. If a data center has a raised floor, make sure the space under the floor is as clear as possible. To reduce the overall work an AC has to do, it makes sense to locate cooling as close to the workloads as possible. Air conditioning units themselves also won't function efficiently when dirty, so make sure to clean the outdoor heat exchanges and the filters on indoor units. And if a data center has windows, drawing blinds or installing a room darkening film can reduce solar load.

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  • It’s Creepy. It’s Crawly (Well, Sort of). And It’s Probably Growing in Your Home.

    Don’t Let Mold Get the Best of You this Winter

    Winter is coming, but that doesn’t mean the colder temperatures will make you immune from mold. In fact, the high levels of precipitation make the “wet months” of winter some of the best times of year for molds to grow.

    What is mold?

    Mold is the non-scientific name for many types of fungi. It can be found both inside and outside the home, and grows best in warm, damp, and humid conditions. Common indoor molds include: Cladosporium, Penicillium, Alternaria, and Aspergillus.

    While mold typically has a pretty negative association (musty odors, damp basements, and athlete's foot) there are some good molds. If it weren’t for mold, we wouldn’t have penicillin and blue cheese. We wouldn’t have bread, and beer, and wine. And without fungi to break them down, the world would be buried in leaves, trees, grass, and garbage!

    Source: IM Home Inspector

    How does it grow?

    Mold grows and reproduces by making spores, which are spread through the air but land, and ultimately live, on surfaces.

    Mold spores, unfortunately, survive in non mold-like conditions, such as dry spaces that wouldn’t normally support mold growth. In these situations, they’ll remain dormant for long periods of time and won’t develop into fungi until moisture is introduced to their living environment.

    For this article, we’ll refer specifically to indoor mold, but know that outdoor mold grows similarly but plays a very different (and important) role, especially in the breakdown and regeneration of nature.

    Warning signs that mold is growing in your home:


    While mold can grow everywhere, there are certainly places that are more susceptible to mold growth based on their environments. These include antique shops, greenhouses, ­­­saunas, farms, mills, construction areas, flower shops, and summer cottages.

    • You smell something strange

    Mold smells. And it has a pretty strong, pungent smell at that. When you’re in a section of your home that has a mold issue, you’ll probably notice an unpleasant odor in that area. It can live within the walls or behind wallpaper, so you might not immediately recognize that mold is the culprit.

    • You see it…with your own eyes!

     It’s easy to identify normal soap scum in your shower or bathtub. However, you might have to investigate a little more deeply to identify mold in your basement or cellar. Mold thrives in damp areas, so if there is a section that’s particularly damp, or known for flooding, it’s worth a look to see if mold has cultivated there.

    • You don’t feel 100%

    Because mold is sneaky and isn’t always visible, it can be difficult to realize you’ve been living with mold in your home. If you start experiencing symptoms like congestion, throat irritation, cough, wheezing, watery eyes, and in some cases, skin irritation, it may be mold that’s causing you to feel less than your best and not allergies. If your symptoms flare up as soon as you step through the front door, it might be time to start a mold witch-hunt.

    Solutions to get rid of it:

    If you’ve identified that mold is, in fact, an issue in your home, there are a few safety tips before you roll up your sleeves and begin the removal process.

    • Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. You can limit your exposure by wear a facemask or covering. The CDC recommends an N-95 respirator, which is available at many hardware stores or online and range from $12.00 - $25.00. 

    • Avoid touching mold or moldy items with your bare hands. Wear gloves that extend to the middle of the forearm. When working with water and a mild detergent, ordinary household rubber gloves are fine. If you are using a disinfectant, such as bleach, or a strong cleaning solution, you should use gloves made from natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC.

    • Avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes. Goggles that do not have ventilation holes are highly recommended.

    Source: Montgomery County MD

    Now that you’re ready to safely remove mold from your home, here are some solutions to get started:

    • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.

    • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.

    • If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings­­­­­­.

    • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.

    • Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.

    • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.

    • Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.

    • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel.

    • If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Specialists in furniture repair, restoration, painting, art restoration and conservation, carpet and rug cleaning, water damage, and fire or water restoration are commonly listed in phone books. Be sure to ask for and check references. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.

    Recommendations to prevent mold from coming back:

    Source: AirPac, Inc.

    The CDC offers these helpful hints to keep your home as mold-free as possible:

    • Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%--all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Since humidity levels change over the course of a day, using a system like Temperature@lert, allows you to remotely monitor the temperature in your home or business to ensure it’s staying cool enough to prevent mold from developing.
    • Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans, which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
    • Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
    • Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after flooding or leaks.
    • Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting.
    • Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
    • Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.
    • Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
    • Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation, so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
    • Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
    • Keep indoor humidity low. If possible, keep indoor humidity below 60 percent (ideally between 30 and 50 percent) relative humidity. Relative humidity can be measured with a moisture or humidity meter, a small, inexpensive ($10-$50) instrument available at many hardware stores. 
    • If you see condensation or moisture collecting on windows, walls or pipes ACT QUICKLY to dry the wet surface and reduce the moisture/water source. Condensation can be a sign of high humidity.

    To learn more about preventing mold in your home, see the Environmental Protection Agency's publication A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home.

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  • “Big Brother” Aided By Consumer Food Safety “Inspectors” App

    Thousands of customers may be armed as inspectors with new smartphone tool

    FSMA, the US Food Safety Modernization Act, has occupied food industry professional thinking for many months, if not years. With the FDA’s final release, regulators have been provided new, updated, and innovative tools to help ensure food safety and stem the seemingly regular negative headlines that result from salmonella, Listeria and E. coli outbreaks.  And just as FSMA reality sets in, food service providers may now feel the added presence of more “inspectors” in the form of future consumers armed with a new smartphone app.

    Penn State’s College of Agricultural Science researchersstudied whether phones could be used in place of the traditional clipboards to improve the quality of data collection related to food safety observations.” The study looks at the Hawthorne Effect in food safety inspections, specifically that the knowledge that when inspectors are present, it can cause individuals being observed to modify or improve an aspect of their behavior. For example, an employee that uses the restroom may be more likely to wash their hands and wash them more thoroughly if a customer is in the restroom to observe.

    Penn State’s evaluation of smartphones and tablets as potential tools to eliminate the “observer effect” to evaluate food service establishments provides the potential for improved food safety inspection data
    Source: Penn State University

    The Penn State smartphone and tablet app allows inspectors or observers to more effectively conceal their presence and purpose and inconspicuously collect their observational data via check lists, photos, video or open-ended notes. To determine the potential for the app, a survey was given wherein “participants viewed images of individuals using either a smartphone or a clipboard in a retail environment and provided open-ended responses.”

    The results were surprising. Robson Machado, a doctoral candidate in food science at Penn State shared, “ninety-five percent of participant responses indicated that images of clipboard use in a retail setting suggested evaluative activities -- research, inspection, and so forth -- whereas none of the participants indicated that images of smartphone use in the same environment suggested evaluative activities."

    In other words, we’ve become so used to seeing folks on their smartphones or tablets that someone using such a device is not likely to affect our behavior. We don’t take their smartphone as a potential tool to evaluate our behavior. The Hawthorne Effect is eliminated.

    We can all relate to this. When we were young we were told how to behave when in certain situations, and any aberrant behavior was corrected immediately. Regular correction led to a change in our behavior so we minimized the potential for additional correction. The same is true for food service workers. Those confronted for poor personal hygiene or improper use of sanitary items such as hairnets, gloves, etc. will either modify their behavior or be the subject of disciplinary and corrective action or even dismissed. Improve or be gone.

    For restaurants and other food service providers the inspection app can potentially provide data for consumers to evaluate their favorite establishments. Unlike apps based on subjective reviews such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or Foursquare, Penn State’s app could anonymously collect data from a small army of consumers, providing more than impressions about food quality, price or service, but whether or not eating in such an establishment could expose one to potentially harmful microorganisms. And yes, some consumers are already leveraging these review platforms to share food safety-related horror stories, but the instances are few and far between. The near future may bring a new era of continuous food health and safety inspections fueled by the customers who frequent these establishments.

    Should food service professionals be worried? Not if they’ve put in place practices described by FSMA, including a robust, actively managed HACCP plan, regular hygiene reviews, and staff buy-in that health and safety are not only good business but good for themselves as well. In this regard, training, regular constructive or positive feedback, and even rewards by management can go a long way to not only achieving food safety goals but increasing business as consumers read positive reports about your establishment.

    Whether in NYC, Hawaii, or somewhere in between, restaurant inspections can be a key factor in consumer’s decisions to stop in or pass by
    Source: Barf Blog

    When was the last time you went to a restaurant that had a “C” or “D” or “F” rating in their window? When was the last time you used your smartphone to look for restaurant recommendations? Wouldn’t a database of continuous food safety information provide an additional level of assurance. Food safety is every food service professional’s business. If, and more likely when, a restaurant food safety app comes to the market it will be used. The question is: should you be afraid of it or welcome it? Those who prepare have nothing to fear from an army of inspectors.

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  • A Brief History of Vaccines

    With back to school vaccinations in full swing, it’s important to look back on the history of vaccination in America to know where we’ve come from and where we’re going. For over one hundred years, there has been discourse over the issue of vaccines; the arguments for and against will naturally continue on, but at least we can be a little more informed.

    The facts were provided by CNN.

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  • It’s More Trick Than Treat When Humidity and Temperature Levels Fluctuate for Candy Producers, Distributors, and Retailers


    Americans on the whole are actively moving towards a more health-conscious lifestyle. There is a much stronger focus on eating organic, all-natural foods but there is still a lot of room for deviation. And with Halloween right around the corner, there is no better time to see this in full effect.

    Source: TodayIFoundOut.com

    The candy industry is huge. Massive. A behemoth if you consider the price point. Total candy sales in 2014 were over $6.6 billion. In 2013, US Halloween candy sales alone topped $217 million. That was up 12% in year-to-year comparisons.

    Candy is big business, but it’s also fairly complex and vulnerable to outside elements. The production and storage of candy is a lot less like Willy Wonka has led many to believe (plus the FDA would have a field day with all the food safety violations, particularly the chocolate river).

    Source: NY Daily News

    Hard candies and chocolates are highly hygroscopic, meaning they easily absorb and retain water molecules. When humidity is high, candies will absorb moisture and become sticky, which can cause issues with the packaging machinery and wrapping material, slowing the overall process and creating sanitary problems. Microbiological safety is critical as well since many candies and chocolates often contain nuts and milk. Raw nuts may contain pathogens, so products must be processed and stored to prevent this. Milk may contain Listeria, making it critical to avoid moisture and condensation

    In 2014 there was a major Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to caramel coated apples from a California supplier; thirty-five people were hospitalized and at least three of seven deaths were attributed to the outbreak.

    Source: Consumer Media LLC

    It’s no wonder Food Safety Tech raises concerns about Halloween treats this year. Author Maria Fonatnazza’s piece Listeria Puts a Spook in Halloween reports that “concerns over Listeria in caramel apples are back in the media.” The piece reports that food chain Kroger is removing unrefrigerated caramel apples from its store shelves following publication of a study by the American Society of Microbiology. The study found that “insertion of a stick accelerates the transfer of juice from the interior of the apple to its surface, creating a microenvironment at the apple-caramel interface where L. monocytogenes can rapidly grow to levels sufficient to cause disease when stored at room temperature”. Even though the chance of contamination may be minimal, Kroger is erring on the side of caution.

    Importantly, the study cited a higher likelihood of Listeria growth on the apples when at room temperature versus under refrigeration. So what is a grocer to do?  Grocery stores have control over products in their facilities, so keeping caramel apples refrigerated can be managed. But what about the producer or distributor channel? Are the caramel apples exposed to room temperatures or higher during storage or transport, a condition likely to encourage microorganism growth? How can a grocer know?

    Humidity and high temperature can be a death sentence (literally) for candy manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Controlling storage and transportation temperatures can help minimize the impact of harmful pathogens. Monitoring temperatures in real-time throughout the cold chain can help prevent problems and even head off product damage or loss, a good thing for both the industry and consumer.

    The chart below highlights the optimal temperature & humidity conditions for candy processing:

    Source: Bry Air

    Once produced, candy needs to be transported and stored at ideal conditions as well. The below chart highlights the idea temperature and humidity condition to maintain candies for maximum shelf life, and keep them foodborne illness-free:

    Source: Bry Air

    Beyond keeping products free from potential pathogens like listeria, the benefits of properly monitoring and maintaining these ideal temperatures and humidity levels include:

    • Candies remain firm ensuring its original shape and reducing its likelihood of sticking to the wrapping
    • Minimal loss of color, aroma and flavor
    • Insects are rendered inactive at temperatures of 9°C or lower
    • Reduced tendency to become stale or rancid
    • Allows candies to be manufactured year-round and accumulated for periods of heavy sales

    Cold food storage warehouse equipped with cellular gateway and wireless sensors. Refitting older warehouses or new builds is easy with cellular gateway
    Source: Temperature@lert

    There are many tools available to measure both temperature and humidity levels, including Temperature@lert’s WiFi and Cellular systems, which provide round-the-clock monitoring and real-time alerts if sensor readings rise or fall outside of an acceptable range. Forward-looking warehouse and distribution companies are relying on wireless temperature sensors to insure cold chain integrity from production to retailer. Placing battery powered wireless sensors in product pallets both in the warehouse and transport will allow the retailer to examine cold chain temperatures when the products arrive. Wireless sensors that communicate to readers at the retailer can speed up the data collection and reporting process and potentially head off receiving product that sat at elevated temperatures.

    Remember: no one cried over spilt milk, but they will cry over spoiled candy.

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  • FSMA May Not Be Known By Consumers By Name, Rather By Expectations

    With final rule release, the media has officially put food producers and providers on notice

    My daily Google News feed caught my eye with the recent CBS News headline, “New food safety rules issued in wake of deadly outbreaks.” And the piece begins, “Food manufacturers must be more vigilant about keeping their operations clean under new government safety rules released Thursday in the wake of deadly foodborne illness outbreaks linked to ice cream, caramel apples, cantaloupes and peanuts.” Sadly not even two weeks later this news was followed by the NBC News headline, “Three Dead, 558 Sick in Cucumber Salmonella Outbreak.” Consumers are likely shaking their heads thinking, “What’s Different?”

    What is different is another headline that quickly followed the cucumber announcement, one that heralded a potential new level of vigilance regarding food industry professionals. Not only did the conviction and imprisonment of Stewart Parnell, former owner of the Peanut Corporation of America make headlines nationwide, food industry publications such as Food Safety News touted the opinion piece headline, “Guilty Verdict Puts Food Safety Responsibility Where It Belongs.” And in his opinion, author Richard Williams notes that FSMA was not the answer, rather, “This case proves that innovation like traceback technology (being able to find where a particular food was produced that made people sick) makes it possible for our legal system to punish those who knowingly cause food safety outbreaks. But avoiding prosecution is an added incentive on top of those that already exist.”

    Damage to Peanut Corporation of America from peanut related salmonella outbreak included public shaming in US Congress

    Damage to Peanut Corporation of America from peanut related salmonella outbreak
    included public shaming in US Congress

    In other words, FSMA’s final rule release did not make this conviction happen, technology did. After all, the case dates back to a 2009 salmonella outbreak, predating the FSMA rule release. And as Williams notes, identifying infectious sources is just the start of a potentially costly process that includes recalls, lawsuits, legal expenses, fines, loss revenue, and damage to brand value, the potential for prison sentences ups the ante substantially. CEOs in handcuffs is never a pretty sight.

    While salmonella tainted cucumbers originated in Mexico (left), 
    US outlets will potentially share responsibility and liability (right)
    Sources: KRON4, Food Safety News

    What FSMA does is increase public expectations that food contamination issues will be dealt with swiftly and those responsible will be dealt with firmly. While that may be an idealistic goal, personal as well as corporate accountability and responsibility will come under greater scrutiny and political as well as legal pressure.

    Look for more on this ongoing topic including case studies regarding Temperature@lert’s fault-tolerant, cloud-based cellular temperature monitoring solutions for food producers, processors, distributors as well as retail outlets (grocers, convenience stores, restaurants, cafes and delis.) And above all, review your organization’s HACCP plan and performance, the first line of defense for both the consumer and the company.

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  • Happy National Techie Day!

    This past Saturday, October 3rd, was National Techies Day. Launched in 1999 by Techies.com and co-founded by CNET Networks, Techies Day is a day that was created to encourage students to learn more about a career in technology and recognize the contributions that tech professionals make to education.

    Since the majority of the Temperature@lert staff is part of this revered (and, we’ll be the first to admit, often joked about) group, we thought we’d highlight the emerging technologies and trends that get our hardware humming to celebrate.

    3D Printing

    Macintosh HD:Users:admin:Desktop:Formlabs-Form-2.jpg

    Source: Werd.com

    3D printing has advanced leaps and bounds since its inception in 1983. Going well beyond simple tchotchkes and gadgets, the advancements in this technology allow companies to print pretty much anything you can conceive; from organs to pharmaceuticals to food and candy.

    Fellow Boston-based startup Formlabs is taking 3D printing one step further and making it personal…personal desktop, that is. Late last month, Formlabs’ unveiled their desktop stereolithography printer: a 3D-printing machine that uses lasers to make objects out of resin; it’s as easy to purchase as a new laptop and not much larger than a printer you might find next to your computer today. Revolutionary? Not necessarily. Evolutionary? Absolutely.

    Driverless Cars

    Macintosh HD:Users:admin:Desktop:2_gigvq5.jpg

    Source: Domain.com.au

    I think we can all appreciate the scene in HBO’s Silicon Valley where Jared accepts a ride in one of Peter Gregory’s driverless cars and ends up stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere. Unsure of the pop culture reference? Feel free to re-familiarize yourself here.

    And while it’s a totally laughable situation, the technology is real and moving forward quickly. Google, Apple, and all major car manufacturers are actively working towards making self-driving cars a large-scale reality. Whether or not consumers buy into the concept is yet to be seen, although a recent study from the Boston Consulting Group showed 44 percent of surveyed U.S. consumer would consider buying a fully autonomous vehicle, while 55 percent would consider buying a partially self-driving car.

    Connected Technology

    Macintosh HD:Users:admin:Desktop:technology-connections-ss-1920-800x459.gif

    Source: MarketingLand.com

    It seems like you can’t open a webpage without seeing an article, targeted ad, or even a personal post from a friend that promotes connected technology in some way, shape or form. Made most popular with consumers by wearables like FitBit and home appliances like Sonos and Nest, connected technology is any product that connects to the Internet and is able to identify itself to other devices. The term is most often identified with RFID technology as the method of communication, but also includes sensor-based technologies, wireless technologies, or QR codes.

    We at Temperature@lert love connected technology because, at our core, that’s who we are. Our system lets users react in real time to changes in ambient temperature that could negatively impact them; everything from life-saving vaccines and food products, to hardware inside data centers and vacation homes. Connected technology provides a level of accountability that previously was unavailable.

    Augmented Reality

    Macintosh HD:Users:admin:Desktop:Inition-augmented-reality-architecture-installation_dezeen_01_6441.jpg

    Source: Dezeen.com

    For those unfamiliar, augmented reality is “a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” (Mashable) Unlike virtual reality, which replaces the real world with a simulated environment, augmented reality modifies one’s perception of reality.

    Most commonly used by marketers, augmented reality is a new technique that helps advertisers make products come alive and “talk” to consumers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many applications where AR can come to life in a more meaningful way.

    Imagine a classroom where a teacher is able to show students a 3D rendering of the human body for a hands-on anatomy lesson. Or an architect meeting with a family to show them a visual of their new home that literally jumps off the page. How much easier would shopping be if you had a 3D rendering of your body to see how an article of clothing would fit without needing to try it on? Or a kitchen appliance that shows you exactly how to blend ingredients to make the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies?

    Artificial Intelligence

    Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:b2:wf4kpzr12y592cbmkm1zv_f40000gn:T:TemporaryItems:_79458868_79449281.jpg

    Source: BBC

    Artificial Intelligence first became a mainstream concept among corporations and Fortune 500 companies in the 1990’s with the help of Michael Hammer’s infamous 1990 Harvard Business Review article, “Don’t Automate, Obliterate.” Corporations large and small placed a huge focus on the automation of mundane tasks, like invoicing, kicking off the initial trend towards an AI-inspired workplace.

    While there have been some advancements since the initial onslaught of AI-based technologies and programs, we’re about to experience a new boom; one that takes AI truly mainstream. It was announced just yesterday that IBM is creating the new Cognitive Business Solutions Group, which will focus on taking advantage of IBM’s Watson AI software. And on Monday, Apple confirmed it has acquired Perceptio, a photo software application that uses AI to classify photos on smartphones.

    Invisible Analytics

    Macintosh HD:Users:admin:Desktop:data-anlytics.jpg

    Source: Tibco.com

    Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) there’s more data than ever at our fingertips. The volume of data from gadgets, wearables, smartphones, and other devices is growing every day and it’s becoming increasingly more important to treat that data carefully and for the right purposes.

    Big Data remains an important enabler for this trend but the focus needs to shift to thinking about big questions and big answers first and Big Data second — the value is in the answers, not the data itself. Customizing a consumer’s experience based on relevant analytics will become a necessity to remain relevant.  

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  • Best Practices For BBQ Smoking [Safe Temperatures & Cooking Times]

    Barbecue smoking is an everyday warm-weather activity and is increasing in popularity not only at home, but also in restaurants, in restaurants, it can be an all year-round activity. No matter what the occasion is, or how exactly you are preparing to smoke, temperature monitoring is essential. The USDA has implemented safety guides for temperature in order for people to have the ability to cook safely and enjoy the meat being smoked. The complexity in which cooking different meats is vast, and following temperature regulations for cooking meat in regards to USDA and FDA standards is vital. 

    The process of maintaining safe consumable meat starts with the point of purchase. If the meat is frozen, proper thawing practices must be implemented. With proper thawing, the meat is cooked evenly and at the correct temperatures. Putting frozen meat in the refrigerators for slow defrosting ensures the meat will continually be kept at a safe temperature, and also provides the opportunity to keep it refrigerated if not being cooked immediately. Once the meat is fully defrosted is the point when marinating would take place. Marinating must take place in the refrigerator and marinated meat must not be left out. If the meat is left out, there’s the possibility it will reach unsafe temperatures, making it unfit for consumption. 

     BBQ smoker

    Once the meat is defrosted and marinated, barbequing is the next (and most important) step. Keeping a close eye on the temperature of the meat while it’s cooking is important, but the temperature of the barbeque and smoke is also vital to ensure you are cooking flavorful and safe-to-consume meats. The general guideline for cooking temperatures is as follows: 

    • Pork and beef ribs, pork shoulders, and beef brisket: must reach 140 degrees, but taste best when they are slow-cooked up to 203 degrees
    • Poultry: must reach 165 degrees for USDA standards to protect against salmonella; darker meat can go up to 170 degrees for taste
    • Ground meat, burgers, and sausage: the recommendation from the USDA is 160 degrees, which is considered “well done” and protects from the pathogenic strain of E-Coli. Since these are considered higher-risk meats than muscle meat (based on the slaughter practices of ground beef) this standard is vital to follow
    • Fish: Recommendations for fish temperatures is 145 degrees to protect from any possible parasites
    • Vegetables and other foods: heating these foods can protect from any possible contaminates that could reach the foods, so a quick flash of heat can protect from any danger

    Resting meats such as pork, beef, and ground beef are an important aspect of barbeque smoking, as they continue to cook for a small period of time after coming away from heat. The timing of the resting period depends on the temperature of the meat, but any kind of meat will not cook more than 3-5 degrees in the resting period. Having a meat thermometer can help this process go much smoother, as it’s easy to check the internal temperature of the meats during both cooking and resting time.

    To have the most flavorful outcome, the smoking temperature must also be taken into consideration. Some temperatures have to be significantly higher than the final internal temperatures of the meat that is being cooked. For briskets, roasts, and any other cuts of beef, the smoking temperature is best between 225-250 degrees, with a 1.5-hour per pound cooking time. For poultry, the smoke should be between 275-350 degrees, and cooked from 1-2 hours. It’s highly recommended that internal temperature are checked between the first and second hour. For a more in depth detail of smoking temperatures, refer to the chart below:

     BBQ smoker temperature, BBQ smoking times, times and temperature, cooking time

    Watching over smoking temperatures is important but can easily go wrong. For instance, in Gulfport, MS the smoker in Murky Waters BBQ, a restaurant on 27th Avenue, exploded. This was caused by grease in the smokestack, which could have been avoided if regulations for cleaning and temperature were kept in place. 

     BBQ smoker temperature, meat thermometer, meat temperature, cooking temperature

    Keeping track of temperature throughout the smoking process is key; from the initial point of purchase to its refrigeration storage prior to cooking to the actual cooking itself. To ensure that temperatures are where they need to be in the BBQ smoker, Temperature@lert’s cellular device, with its expanded range temperature sensor, will provide a little peace of mind. With its high heat tolerance, the Temperature@lert cellular device will not melt under pressure and confirm the meat is being cooked safely at the proper temperatures. 

    Check out this infographic to learn more about BBQ smoking:
    BBQ Smoking
    click to enlarge

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  • Data Centers And Climate Change

    Increased electrical power consumption vs. national global warming targets.

    It’s mid-year and 2015 is “still on pace to be the hottest year on record according to weather.com.  

    Figure 1. NASA/NOAA global data shows record warmth of the first six months of any year in red. Blue shows record coldest months, gray indicates no data. (Link to Source)

    While this is not surprising to some, even many, what is surprising is a recent Data Center Dynamics piece titled Enterprise Data Centers are devouring power (Link to Source). The article begins, “Enterprise data centers, run in-house by large businesses, are throwing away money on uncontrolled cooling and power costs, according to research from IDC”. Data was gathered from over 400 users with at least 100 servers and at least a 1000 sq.ft. (~100 m2) data center floor space. Cloud, Colo and Service Providers were excluded from the Enterprise level survey. Findings were surprising:

    • Two-thirds of those surveyed had a PUE (power utilization effectiveness >2.0

      • Less than half the power is consumed by the IT racks

      • Ten-percent have a PUE of 3.0 or higher or don’t know their PUE

    • Participants are spending 24% of their budget on power

      • $300,000 per year on average

      • Approximately equal to the average spent on IT equipment

    • Lowering the PUE to 1.5 (U.S. Government guideline) would save 25% of power used

      • $75,000 per year in savings

    • While all IT equipment is drawing power, IT equipment utilization is around 20%

    While every Enterprise IT manager would love to have an extra $75,000 per year for IT equipment, upgrades, etc., in many cases it may not be possible to achieve a lower PUE without additional investment. That being said, it is difficult to believe that the majority of those surveyed couldn't lower their PUE somewhat by either running a few degrees warmer or making modest modifications to the data center’s HVAC system to achieve the reduction.

    But what if IT managers, beleaguered by constant requests for support, hammered with security concerns, analyzing options for improved or lower cost services and equipment, and maintaining what just what exists don’t have the time or resources to undertake such a project. The “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” mantra likely rings loudly in some understaffed and under-budgeted IT operations.

    What about a new approach: IT Manager White Knights fighting the spectre of the Corporate Carbon Footprint Dragon. Imagine a triple win-win-win. First, reduce spending on IT power freeing up money for IT equipment, software, upgrades, etc. Second, provide corporate managers with ongoing positive public relations opportunities to promote the company’s green initiatives and results. Third, provide corporate management with tangible contributions to global warming gas reduction targets thereby helping meet national climate change goals and avoid future regulatory scrutiny.

    Figure 2. Corporate IT Managers can lead the charge against the Corporate Carbon Footprint Dragon thereby saving money and providing a significant contribution to green corporate initiatives and national climate change goals. Link to source

    The Economist published a 2014 piece noting, “On climate change, if little else, Europe still aspires to global leadership.”  Link to Source So it is no wonder that in that same year Data Center Dynamics published a piece titled Meeting climate change targets in the UK. Link to Source Author Dr. Beth Whitehead, PhD and expert in data center life cycles and energy among other topics, notes that in the past four years the UK has begun the process of establishing a climate change agreement (CCA) for data centers in the UK. She continues, “The agreement, which enables continued sector growth, provides a reduction in CCL (climate change levy) taxes and exemption from the CRC (climate reduction commitment) in return for efficient energy consumption. Achievement of this milestone is recognition that the government understands the importance of the data center sector to the UK economy.”

    Clearly the topic of energy will only become more important not only in the UK and Europe but eventually globally. The UK financial incentives are substantial. Dr. Whitehead’s piece should be read not only by UK data center professionals but IT professionals worldwide.

    Given the negative publicity and governmental attention that data centers receive regarding their energy consumption as well as the spectre of governmental controls not only in the UK and EU, it would be fair to say that such initiatives and potential controls are in the future of data centers worldwide. The task of defining the current status of each data center as well as mapping energy consumption by major data center sector is one task that data center professionals have likely undertaken. Dr. Whitehead enumerates the likely target areas for potential savings. Each data center is different, but as the industry continues to consolidate, this differentiation will be reduced and options fewer and easier to identify and measure.

    While in the U.S. data centers may not be under such scrutiny today there is an advantage to being among those early adopters of green initiatives. Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google make national headlines every time a data center powered by photovoltaics, wind or other renewable sources is announced or commissioned. Colo and cloud service providers may be able to project a competitive advantage in attracting new customers and even retaining existing customers with green initiatives. The food industry understands such market awareness.

    Figure 3. Food Channel green footprint shows one such example of logos that can be incorporated into corporate marketing and advertising materials.  Link to Source

    With calorie counts being required on menus of major restaurants, some customers are looking at the next target, the restaurant’s carbon footprint. One can see the positive effects that initiatives such as Chipotle’s GMO-free ingredients claims have had on business and PR. Subway has taken advantage of advertising its reduction in water, raw material, energy and transportation usage. Like forward looking industries, a green CO2 footprint prominently displayed on data center promotional material would bring attention to companies taking such initiatives. Will your data center be one such company?

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