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If It’s Tuesday This Must Be the Czech Republic

If It’s Tuesday This Must Be the Czech Republic

| 7/1/2012 10:32:57 AM

If It’s Tuesday This Must Be the Czech Republic
A B&B Electronics Product Manager Travel Log
 
Being indefinitely delayed in the Prague airport isn’t as annoying as you might think, provided that Norwegian Air Shuttle has apologized with a large stack of refreshment coupons and the cold Pilsner Urquell is free.  I’ll get to Oslo eventually.  In the meantime there’s a fresh bottle of barley pop in my hand and a lot to think about.
 
I came to the Czech Republic for a series of meetings with our new colleagues at Conel SRO, the experts in cellular data communications.  I’m pretty excited.  They’ve turned out to be great folks, and merging their product line with our own maintains B&B’s high standards while greatly expanding our capabilities in cellular networking.  We’ve made a very good choice.
 
I stopped in Paris for the Transport Publics trade show before I flew here.  They’re serious about public transportation on this side of the ocean, and their long distance rail, metro rail, trolleys and buses function as a unified system.  Making schedule information and travel data available to customers wherever they may be -- and whichever form of transportation they may be using -- calls for a lot Wi-Fi, GSM / GPRS, and RFID data connectivity.  So, as a data communications professional, I wanted to see what they were up to. 
 
I’ll be in Oslo tonight, or so I hope.  (They’ve given me an awful lot of drink tickets.  Perhaps they know something that I don’t. ) In the meantime, I’m glancing around the airport and seeing data communications everywhere I look. 
 
For example, my drink tickets have a “bar code.”  (Because I’m in a bar, right?  Nyuck, nyuck.)  It’s safe to assume that the bar codes allow funds from the Norwegian Airlines “If We Stick Their Snouts in Free Beer They’ll Forget They’re Delayed” account to be transferred directly to the bar’s inventory management/accounting  PC.   To my delight, I noticed that there’s a B&B Electronics UH401 USB Isolator interposed between the bar code scanner and the bar management computer.  It’s fun to see one of my own products in action, and they’ve picked a smart place to put one.  These airport bartenders move fast, and they’re building up a lot of ESD as they do.  It’s a textbook application for a USB port isolator.
 
There’s a service technician “talking” to the vending machine across the corridor. He has a tablet PC tethered to the machine via a USB port. I don’t see an inline USB isolator, so I hope he knows that he’s taking his chances every time he connects that tablet.
 
There’s digital signage everywhere, of course.   I can’t see the USB connections, but I know they’re present.  There are probably 30 monitors in the bank of screens announcing arrivals and departures, and each one will have a USB connection to the Wi-Fi router.  They’ll need USB hubs to do it, and I hope they’re using better equipment than the stuff you find at an office store.
 
USB isn’t just for the office anymore.  It’s being used all over this airport, and in heavy commercial and industrial settings all over the planet.  But when you take it off the desktop it’s susceptible to EMI, ESD, and ground loops and you’re asking for trouble if you deploy it without the right precautions. 
 
And that’s where I come in.  If you have any questions about using USB out at the network edge, blog me or email me at …..
 
Happy Trails – Brian Foster, PM for Serial and USB Products.

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