Some Useful Tips for Sleeping on the Road

General, Trucking No Comments »

Sleeping TipsMany new truckers can struggle with the harsh realities of life on the road. One of the major problems many drivers old and new face is the difficulty of having a good night’s sleep while on the road. The roar of the traffic and the isolation of a truck cab are just a couple of common reasons why so many find it hard to fall asleep. There are a few useful techniques that can help you overcome this hurdle however.

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Popularity: 38% [?]

Keep Track of Christmas Cargo

GPS, Trucking No Comments »

RAM LogoWith all types of businesses moving merchandise at high levels during the busy Christmas season, vehicle tracking is more valuable than ever. Enabling GPS vehicle tracking allows organizations to keep costs down and to better enable the on-time delivery of goods.

The tight deadlines during the busy holiday season become even tighter as Dec. 25 gets closer. Customers want to ensure that the scheduled arrival date and time are met and that all of the Christmas gifts will be placed underneath the tree by Christmas Eve.

Another concern for many businesses is the deliverance of larger loads during the active Christmas holiday season. With the noticeably higher values of increased freight volume, businesses will want to ensure their vehicles are on pace to reach their destinations on time.

Enabling vehicle tracking will also ensure customer satisfaction. The importance of customer service cannot be stressed enough during this time of year. When shipments consistently arrive on time, customers relax and are more apt to continue to bring in business. Ensuring that satisfaction during a busy time of the year will cement customer satisfaction.

Another benefit to having vehicle tracking is being able to quickly determine what issues have occurred if a delivery is late or if it has not arrived at the appropriate location and time. Without this feature, it may take a significant amount of time and money to determine the reason for the lateness. With the feature, the location and status of the vehicle may be quickly determined.

Also, if the driver is lost, assistance may quickly be given since the location can be quickly attained. This is especially important during Christmas season when snow or other undesirable weather may cause unexpected delays or cause a driver to become lost. Also, if a delivery is going to arrive late, having this feature will allow a new estimated arrival time to be quickly determined and passed on to the customer.

At any time of the year, those who take advantage of vehicle tracking will receive significant benefits of increased efficiency and productivity. However, these benefits are increased during Christmas season given the significant amount of shipping that goes on during this period.

Popularity: 42% [?]

A Word From One of Our Sponsors, American Trucks

General, Trucking No Comments »

You want to turn heads this summer when you’re out in your F-150, but when your truck looks like everyone else’s truck, people aren’t going to know who’s got the meanest machine. But with some high-quality, custom truck parts from AmericanTrucks, you’ll be sure that you’re getting all the Ford F-150 Performance and style you need to keep all eyes on your truck, no matter if you’re out on the highway, track or even off-road.

Probably the most popular modification F-150 enthusiasts make to their trucks is getting that tire and chassis clearance up nice and high with a Ford F-150 Lift Kit. Whether you’re an off-roading fanatic, or just want to ride higher than the rest of traffic on your way to and from work, AmericanTrucks has a lift kit that’s right for you. Plus, we’re also offering a huge selection of Ford Truck Bed Covers. Not only does it maximize your hauling space, not only does it protect whatever cargo it is you’ve got back there, but you can’t forget the fact that truck bed covers improve your fuel economy by up to 10%, and will give you significantly better gas mileage. And with the prices at the pump rising like they do every summer, this is a modification you’ll really appreciate.

Now, it’s one thing to make your truck look different from other trucks. But if you want to really get people to notice your truck from miles away, you need to get a new Ford F-150 Exhaust. Aftermarket exhausts from AmericanTrucks will let you announce yourself and let people know to clear a path for you and your behemoth of a truck. Easy-to-install and great looking, these exhausts will also give you a noticeable performance gain of some additional horsepower and torque, after you kick those restrictive factory pipes to the curb.

Popularity: 76% [?]

High Gain USB Antenna, Wi-Fire Review

Business, General, Infrastructure No Comments »
Wi-Fire

Wi-Fire

I was approached a few weeks ago by hField Technologies to review their Wi-Fire product since it is a perfect fit for people who are on the go, such as folks who need to entertain business calls 24/7 on their latest mobile phone and particularly truckers who have laptops and would like to increase their range for wifi hotspot connectivity. 

The Wi-Fire is a product that acts as a wireless adapter with a high gain antenna.  Best of all, the design of it is meant to be used on the go with a retractable USB cable and slick fold up design, it is compact and easy to stick in a laptop bag. 

I was particularly interested in reviewing the product because I had built a cantenna a few years ago using a coffee can experimenting with increasing the range of my wifi signal.

After firing up the laptop and experimenting with the Wi-Fire, I am pleasantly surprised at the results.

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Popularity: 100% [?]

Score One for the Temperature Scan

Business, Disaster Recovery, Infrastructure No Comments »

Thumbs UpAs some of you recall I had an issue in the server room a few months ago when the AC went out and we nearly had a meltdown.¬† I went scouring for a cheap solution to be alerted of the ambient temperture in the server room and quickly found out a good cheap solution didn’t really exist and thus was born the Temperature Scan product.

I was excited the other day to get a testimonial from Arizona from a customer who wrote in to let me know that my hard work developing the temperature scan saved him a lot of potential grief.  In his words:

“I installed the Temperature Scan a few weeks ago.¬†¬†
 
Late yesterday afternoon, I got an e-mail alert that the temperature was climbing.  I checked it out and our air conditioning unit had failed. (We also happen to be in the midst of a record breaking heat wave. It is over 100 degrees here today.)
 
Since everyone was gone for the day, I would have had a disaster on my hands if I had not received the alert. I am guessing my computers would have been fried in the morning.
 
Just in case, I also set up another alert so it e-mails my cell phone with a text message.
 
Thanks for a product that works!
 
God bless you.”

Pretty cool seeing such a simple and stupid idea yielding fruit for others!

Popularity: 89% [?]

Linked In

Business, General No Comments »

Linked inI am finding more and more value in establishing and maintaining my professional network of colleagues on linkedin.¬† It is a site I have been a member of for a long time and haven’t really tried to use it much until recently.¬† Dan Goodwill, a fellow consultant and journalist, has a great article that talks about the linked in and the value it adds.

For those who are not linked in, here’s a few reasons why you may want to consider it over some of the other popular social networking tools:

1) It’s for Professionals and is built for business.¬† Facebook and My Space are neat, but they are more casual and best suited for personal applications.

2) Popularity.  Linked in is quickly growing in number of users as well as functionality.

3) Features.  They provide easy ways to network and search employment opportunities as well as abilities to search for talent you may be looking to hire!

4) Network Updates.  They provide statistics and quick facts about your contacts updates which help you keep up to date with what is going on in your network of colleagues.

5) Online Resume.¬† I have stopped producing a paper resume and keep my linked in profile up to date.¬† I include it on my email tagline and offer it to people who want to know more about my experience and skill set.¬† It’s always up to date and I don’t have to worry about someone looking at a stale copy I had emailed months ago.

Feel free to checkout my profile for an idea of the value it adds.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/beckerben

Popularity: 86% [?]

Articles on the Horizon

Business, General, GPS, Open Source 1 Comment »

BusyI’ve been swamped working on several different fronts and projects with a mix of clients and am running across some pretty exciting thoughts that I intend to post some articles on.¬† I thought I’d drop a quick line for those of you who are still tuned in¬†wondering what the T-Nerd has been up to.¬†

Some of the topics I’ve queued up include open source business intelligence, outsourcing collaboration overseas I’ve been involved with and a sweet mobile GPS application I’m in progress of building which will be spun off as yet another side venture!

On a side note, if anyone wants a Trucking Nerd Mug, let me know.¬† The first batch I ordered were a misprint with the ink which faded so they sent me another batch for free, however they also were a misprint, so now I’ve got mugs coming out the wazoo.¬† Just drop me a line, you pick up shipping and I’ll gift you a mug!

Popularity: 96% [?]

State of Transition

Business, General No Comments »

Transition Well, as some¬†people are still finding out, I am in the process of transitioning out of the role as the CIO at Tradewinds and am venturing down some other paths.¬† I had started a company called Becker Solutions a couple of years ago and pursued in my off hours custom projects and software development initiatives.¬† This kind of kept me tied to my roots of project based work from my consulting days in addition to exposing me to additional technologies and educational opportunities the day job didn’t afford me.¬† After much thought, I have decided to make a go of focusing more energy and day hours to this initiative.

It leaves me with the undecided question, what to do with this blog? I’m still a nerd, but not just a “trucking” nerd anymore.¬† I will probably make updates as it makes sense and as time permits.¬† Out of the gate, I’m finding my plate is already pretty full, so we’ll have to see how it goes.¬†

I’ve got a lot of trucking and related systems knowledge, so it’d be crazy to abandon it all, so if you have a project or need, don’t hesitate to give me a shout!

Popularity: 79% [?]

Virtualization Migration

Business, Disaster Recovery, Infrastructure, Virtualization No Comments »

VirtualizationOver a year ago I started planning a vision for the next step in the evolution of the network and systems architecture at Tradewinds.  The vision was to migrate from a physical to a virtualized infrastructure.  One where servers are no longer tethered to physical machines.  One where flexibility and disaster recovery options are abundant.

We worked crazy hours the past month preparing for the final stages of the migration and worked through this past weekend rolling out the new landscape and making the necessary systems changes.¬† I had expected a massive issue list when everyone returned Monday, but to my surprise, the issues were relatively lightweight, I guess that means we did a thorough job executing the plan…or maybe we just got lucky!¬† At any rate, I did walk away with a few key lessons that may yield value to others proceeding down the path of virtualizing their servers.

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Popularity: 84% [?]

Temperature Monitoring System

Business, Disaster Recovery, Infrastructure, Uncategorized 4 Comments »

Well, I haven’t written¬†a post in sometime because I was feverishly spending my spare time working on developing a solution to a problem I ran into.¬† One Monday morning I walked into work, stepped in front of my server room door and noticed a strange noise coming from the room.¬† It sounded like a high pitch jet engine sound.¬† I proceeded to open the door and a blast of hot air came barreling out at me.¬† The A/C had gone out overnight and the server room was approaching 100 degrees.¬† Not a good way to start the week off.

After I put a fan in the room and started shutting down non essential equipment, I decided it was time to install a temperature monitoring system into the server room.¬† This wasn’t the first time we had issues with the A/C unit, but it was the highest the temperature had ever gotten, and I know if it gets to hot, things start going south real quick.¬† I did some googling, and came up with all kinds of results, but most of these systems were very expensive and did a lot more than what I really needed.¬†

What I wanted was simple (or so I thought it was):

  • USB – Had to be a¬†Plug and Play Sensor that works with any computer.
  • Un-tethered¬†- I didn’t want something that was connected to any one machine, I wanted to be able to get readings away from machine exhaust so I could get the ambient temperature of the room.
  • Paging / Emailing - I wanted a solution that would alert my blackberry and treo of issues in addition to a number of my hundred email accounts.
  • Customizable¬†- I wanted to be able to specify my threshold to monitor and how often to monitor it.
  • Temperature Only -¬†I know there are technically a lot of other factors that sophisticated data centers monitor such as humidity, but I also know that it is temperature that I have the most control over and can do the most damage if it gets out of control.
  • Cheap – Most importantly, it had to be cheap.¬† I’m at a small trucking company and the economic times right now don’t warrant me the luxury to throw a rack mounted sensor in that does all kinds of fancy stuff.¬† I was looking for the <$100 solution!

After digging, I decided the solution I was looking for didn’t exist, so I decided to create one.

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Popularity: 74% [?]