Category Archives: Misc.

Read your Facebook EULA lately?

There’s been a huge amount of discussion in the media over the last 48 hours about Facebook’s experiment on emotional contagion and whether it was appropriate for the social media company to carry it out. Here’s one such article from the Wall Street Journal.

What a lot of people are finding frightening, as Gismodo explains, is that they didn’t realize that they had actually agreed to take part when they signed up to the company’s EULA.

No idea what a EULA is? You’re not alone.  A EULA is an end-user licensing agreement. It’s essentially the big blurb of terms and conditions that you have to tick the “I agree” box next to in order to be able to use the service.

Do you remember agreeing to taking part in Facebook experiments? No? Well, if you’re a Facebook user, the chances are that you have agreed to it. Statistically, there’s a strong possibility that you never read the EULA before you agreed to it. In a recent Mozy investigation,[1] less than 10 percent of people told us that they made a point of reading a EULA before signing up to an online service and more than 30 percent never read any of them.

If there’s one lesson to take away from this incident, it’s to carefully check the EULAs on the cloud services you’re using, both personally and at work. Can your provider view your data? Can they change the location of your data center? Who owns your data if you want to leave the service?

And it’s not just the core cloud services that your company uses that you should check over. Many companies have a huge “shadow IT” infrastructure set up by people who might not have access to legal support and are often unfamiliar with best practice in selecting IT partners. If your business lets individuals choose their own services to move large files, sync data to the cloud, outsource role-specific IT support—or anything else—make sure you have a policy for checking those EULAs. Because, if it’s not being done centrally, there’s a good chance that it’s not being done at all!

And, if you don’t know what sort of issues to be looking for in your EULAs, check out this white paper from IDC.

[1] Online poll carried out in December 2013 of Facebook users in the USA, Ireland, UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Homemade makeup, shoes, guns, hearts, hands, and casts? It’s all possible with a 3D printer!

You’ve probably heard of 3D printing, but you’ve probably never heard of Chuck Hall. Hall is the inventor of 3D printing. He’s even known as the father of 3D printing. Hall patented the process of stereolithography—otherwise known as 3D printing—in 1986. The technology allows you to produce prototypes and parts one layer at a time using resin that hardens when exposed to UV light. My first real exposure to this from a practical sense occurred last year when a friend designed and then created a part using his 3D printer to replace a broken door latch on the family’s clothes dryer. Although the reproduced part wouldn’t hold up for long, it would serve its purpose until the manufacturer’s replacement part arrived later that week. When you have four children, a properly functioning dryer comes in handy.

Years ago a 3D printer would have cost you tens of thousands of dollars. A couple of years ago, the 3D printer Tom used to create the part for his dryer set him back a relatively small amount of money: $2,500. Today, a quick search on reveals 3D printers for considerably less than that. These printers use resin, rubber, plastic, plant-based plastic, powdered metal, etc. to print in 3D. It won’t be long when most households will include a 3D printer that will be used to make replacement parts for everyday items or create items that today are purchased from department stores, sporting goods stores, hardware stores, or even hospitals.

What are people using 3D printers for today? Women are going to love this one: printing your own makeup at home. Inventor Grace Choi, founder of New York-based Mink, has created a desktop 3D printer that prints makeup she calls the Mink. This Mink can take any image and transform it into a cosmetic, and you choose the color—any color in the world! So, what kind of makeup can you create? Eye shadow, blush, and lip gloss. The possibilities are endless. (I will not be sharing this info with my wife and two daughters.) The Mink can take any image and instantly turn it into a wearable color cosmetic. Although still in development, Choi, a Harvard School Business graduate, says that when her 3D makeup printers become available they will retail for about $300 and then decrease in price once popularity increases. Choi says that her makeup printer will be about the size of a Mac mini. With what little I know about makeup but with what I know about how much the women in my life spend on makeup, the price should decrease very quickly.

3D printers are also being used to create the perfect cast to speed up the healing of broken bones. According to Deniz Karahasin, founder of Osteoid, the company that’s created a concept design for the custom cast, these casts could reduce the time required for a broken bone to heal by up to 38 percent and increase the healing rate by up to 80 percent in fractures. If you think this is more than a cast, you’re right. The cast uses low intensity pulsed ultrasound to stimulate bone healing. By using a 3D body scanner, the area with the broken bone is scanned and then the data is transferred to the software that creates the cast. The web-like design can make anyone look like a superhero. And no more itchy, stinky, and heavy casts made from plaster. (I still remember when my daughter broke her arm and two months later the doctor cut away the cast. What a smell! And what was that pen and part of a coat hanger doing in there?) Kids are going to love this. No more whining about broken bones. Hopefully, no one will be breaking bones on purpose for the bragging rights of wearing one of these cool-looking casts.

Other items that have been made with a 3D printer include a kayak, which an engineer made using 58 pounds of resin; shoes and shoe inserts for a custom-fitted feel; and even parts for semiautomatic weapons. Yes, you read that right: the 3D printer has been used to print lower receivers for the AR-15. (If you’re not familiar with the AR-15, it is a highly modular, semiautomatic rifle that’s similar to the M16 used by the U.S. military. The lower receiver is the part into which the barrel, stock, and other parts are added to complete the weapon.) As controversial as making gun parts might be for some people, there is no controversy surrounding the surgeons who used a 3D-printed model of a heart to study the problems with a 14-month old baby’s defective heart. The surgeons used the printer to create a larger-than-life model prior to surgery, which made it much easier for them to “see” the actual defects and then figure out how to solve the problem before opening up the tiny patient. Some items printed with the 3D printer are not just models. For example, a father used a 3D printer to print a prosthetic hand for his son using $10 in material.

If you aren’t quite ready to purchase a 3D printer, you can still enjoy the benefits of one. Shapeways will print models you send them, or you can choose from thousands of 3D print shapes designed by professional designers.

What does the 3D printer mean to the masses? That someday in the not-too-distant future, the printer is going to be churning out a lot more than just words and images on paper. Things like saving life, perhaps protecting and taking life, making life prettier, and making it more enjoyable and comfortable. The possibilities are as endless as words on a page.

G-O-A-L: Good Old American Leisure

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not watching soccer now. Maybe you just took a break from watching the World Cup to get some work done, and reading the Mozy blog is as good as it’s gonnaget for the moment. Besides, the games have monopolized so much bandwidth that work seems to have slowed to a crawl.

But since we’re on the topic of the World Cup, the following soccer facts might be of interest to you. For example, did you know that the last World Cup (2010) drew upwards of 112 million viewers? That’s just viewers in the United States. As if that isn’t amazing, how about this: worldwide, the audience for the final match between Spain and the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup was 1 billion. You read that right: 1 billion television viewers watched at least part of the final game. Who knows what the viewership will be for 2014, but viewership is already up 26 percent from the 2010 World Cup. Sometimes it’s hard for Super Bowl-watching, World Series-watching, and NBA Finals-watching (heck, might as well throw in March Madness-watching for good measure) Americans to believe, let alone understand, that the World Cup is the world’s most widely viewed sporting event. When you consider that 111 million viewers tuned in to the last Super Bowl, 19 million fans tuned in to watch the last game of the 2013

World Series, and 18 million viewers tuned in to watch the last game of the 2014 NBA Finals, World Cup soccer is clearly the winner in viewership. That’s right; when you consider worldwide viewership, soccer is bigger than U.S. football, baseball, and basketball—combined.

If you live outside the U.S., none of this will surprise you. And for good reason. Football (that is, soccer) has been around much longer than any American sport. Although the modern game has its origins in England in about the mid-1800s, the game can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Yes, those Middle Ages. If you’ve ever seen a modern-day football game in England, you know how passionate fans can get. Think about that in the 10th century with few if any rules. No wonder it was sometimes called “mob football.” Eventually, football caught on around most of the world. The need to organize play gave birth to FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, which governs the sport worldwide and is now comprised of 209 national associations.

But things are changing in the U.S., and as the ethnicity of the U.S. population continues to change, so too does U.S. interest in soccer. Heck, more and more Americans are starting to call it football or fútbol. In fact, Major League Soccer, which represents the best of soccer in the U.S. and Canada, is currently comprised of 19 teams, including Real Salt Lake, winner of the 2009 MLS Cup, and contributor of two players (Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando) to the U.S. 2014 World Cup team. (Being from Utah, I felt I needed to say that.) MLS was founded in 1993. That’s relatively new when you consider that the National Football League, which is comprised of 32 teams, was founded in 1920; the beginnings of Major League Baseball, which is comprised of 30 teams, was founded in the late 1800s; and the National Basketball Association, which is also comprised of 30 teams, was founded in 1946.

If you didn’t have a chance to watch at least some of Monday’s game between the U.S. and Ghana, you missed a victory in a highly anticipated match (at least in the U.S.). Having lost to Ghana in the last World Cup, it was good to see Team USA win.

Waiting for a return flight to Salt Lake City, I watched the first part of the U.S.-Ghana game from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Watching a World Cup from an airport can be a bit unnerving. “Oh my gosh, what was that noise?!” Answer: thousands of U.S. fans in a relatively closed space watching or listening and cheering at the top of their lungs as the U.S. scored the first goal early in the game. The eruption was seismic in comparison to the usually quiet mood of an evening at the airport. Consider that 16 million ESPN and Univision viewers throughout the U.S. were watching the game and cheering for their team. That’s remarkable when you consider that interest in soccer in the U.S. is comparatively new, at least when compared to our history with football, baseball, and basketball. In fact, the U.S.-Ghana game was a TV ratings hit for ESPN, which had more than 11 million viewers (Univision, which broadcasts in Spanish, claimed nearly 5 million viewers). ESPN says that’s the most-watched soccer game in the U.S. ever.

What does all this mean? That U.S. soccer isn’t taking a back seat to any of the other great American pastimes and the U.S. is learning what the rest of the world has known for a very long time: football is the world’s most popular sport.

Enjoy watching  the World Cup, but make sure you get your work done. That should be your G-O-O-O-O-O-A-L!

Help! These Beetles Don’t Wanna Hold Your Hand

I woke up early this morning in a cold sweat after a bad dream. It’s those dang mosquitoes I read about last night. Actually, it’s not just any mosquito; it’s the new and improved mosquito.

I am not afraid of mosquitoes. I am not fond of them either, but I do respect the role they play in nature. Since I was young I’ve had an interest in entomology, so most of my life I’ve been around six-legged critters, including mosquitoes, of which there’s something like 3,500 described species. The larvae and adults provide a bounteous supply of food for a variety of animals, including birds, bats, and fish. However, it’s a fact that we humans don’t like any animal that sucks our blood. It doesn’t matter if it has six legs or two legs (I have daughters, so I know all about Edward and Bella from Twilight fame). But these mosquitoes from my dream are completely different from your everyday mosquitoes.

You’re probably wondering how a mosquito can be improved. Depends on who you ask. According to an article in Daily Tech, researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hope to grow insect nerves into silicon computer chip connections to allow real insects to be remote controlled like remote-controlled airplanes. But the more realistic approach is the fully robotic type. Of course, when it comes to the government, there are lots of “I can’t confirm or deny that we’re doing this,” which everyone knows always means, “Yes, we’re doing this.”

But the more important question you’re probably asking yourself is why anyone would want to improve one of those blood suckers. Apparently, the U.S. government is developing new types of flying machines for the purposes of national defense. These machines are basically mini-drones—six-legged, two-winged flying machines called micro aerial vehicles, or “MAVs” for short. One version looks like a mosquito. And believe it or not, just like the real mosquito, it sucks. But not to feed. Apparently, future models will be able to pierce the enemy’s skin and take a DNA sample. Or worse, these diminutive drones, these minute minions of the military may be able to—at least in theory—leave behind something more than a welt on an opponent’s skin: radio-frequency identification tracking nanotechnology that’s capable of keeping tabs on an unsuspecting victim’s movements. You can run, but you can’t hide! It’s not fool-proof, of course. Just like the real mosquito, the robotic version could be swatted, squished, and squelched (though “squelch” takes on new meaning for these radio-controlled suckers).

Apparently, another insect on the list of MAVs is the beetle. Big deal, you may be saying to yourself. But it is. We have a framed beetle specimen from Africa in our home that has an impressive set of jaws and a wingspan of eight inches. If the military could do to the robotic beetle what it does to members of Seal Team 6, you not only have a formidable opponent that fights on sea, air and land, but one with the added bonus of some very large mandibles capable of making mincemeat of hostile forces. Kind of scary when you think about a battalion of beetles advancing from the air with absolutely no fear of death—because they’re not alive to begin with. I can almost hear Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries.”

If you ever encounter these MAVs, you will want to shout “Help!” Make no mistake, these beetles do not want to hold your hand, nor do they love you, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, they’re out to wreak havoc.

Think about the benefits of these tiny flying machines in fighting the war on terrorism. According to one source cited in a recent National Geographic article, these MAVs, or “entomopters” as they are also called, could look for Al-Qaeda operatives inside caves or other hideouts. But who really knows all of the applications for these MAVs? So the next time you see a mosquito, beetle, or any suspicious-looking six-legged creature buzzing around you, before you squish it or reach for a can of Raid, carefully consider what you’re up against. Sure, you may successfully squish it or spray it out of commission, but remember this: there’s more—many more—where it came from.

Apps Maps and Satellite Gaps

Apps Maps and Satelite Gaps

Smartphones, Lost Portfolios, and Toilets

Years ago, shortly before graduating from college, I was heading to an interview for a photo editor position with what I thought was the key to my future: a dynamite portfolio. In those days, putting together a photo portfolio was time-consuming and costly. It may be difficult for the digital generation to appreciate that. Back in those days, there was no digital. A portfolio consisted of a leather binder with a dozen or so meticulously printed 8×10 black and white shots (yeah, I’m really dating myself now) that would hopefully wow the interviewer and land me the job. Before getting into my car, I had placed the portfolio on the roof of my car while searching for my car keys. I found my keys, got into the car, and drove off, confident in my sport jacket and tie that I would soon land a great job. Only one problem: I had not retrieved the portfolio from the roof of the car.

To make a long story short, I arrived at the interview; unfortunately, my portfolio did not arrive with me. Try explaining that to the interviewer. “Well, it was here when I last checked. No, seriously. It’s actually a pretty good portfolio. Really, you’d like it…if I could only show it to you.”

On my way home from a very short interview, I found my portfolio a block away from where I started. To be sure, it had that distressed look, having been run over by a dozen or so vehicles (the tread marks clued me in on that). And I think it must have been garbage day because the top cover of the binder had been torn away by something much heavier than a car. C’est la vie. Back to the dark room…and the job classifieds.

Things are much different today, sort of. In that same situation today, sans “hardcopy” portfolio, I could still have shown my photos by using my smartphone to access my Mozy Sync folder and then I could have forwarded my portfolio to the person giving the interview, impressing him with not only my dynamite portfolio but the convenience of Mozy Sync and the power of the Mozy mobile app  as well. Of course, that assumes that I actually still had my smartphone.

 As much as things change, in some ways they still remain the same. Take for example leaving my portfolio on the roof of my car. Would you believe that leaving your smartphone on the roof of your car and then driving off is one of the more common ways of losing your phone? If you don’t believe it, then you haven’t lost your smartphone that way…yet.

 In a recent article published by Consumer Reports, “Setting your phone on the roof or hood of the car while you strap your kid into the car seat, load the groceries, or take off your jacket is a common mistake. You might not notice the phone is gone until you reached your next destination, and if you remember before then, you might find your phone sitting damaged on the road or in a parking lot.”

According to the Consumer Reports National Research Center, a projected 3.1 million smartphones were stolen last year. But those 3.1 million smartphones are just the ones that were stolen. According to a Mozy study, thieves aren’t to blame for most smartphones that end up missing; it’s the owners of the smartphones who are to blame. They’re losing their phones. That’s right: 70 percent of people who carry around portable devices have lost a data storage device. But losing the device really isn’t the worst of the problem.

Although the average cost of a lost item is $220.15, it’s not just the value of the item itself that has an impact. Of those who have lost a portable device, 57 percent said that they were more upset about losing the data on the device than losing the device itself. In fact, the Mozy study found that so strong is the desire to hang on to our smartphones—and the pictures, contacts, and messages on them—that 93 percent of people who have dropped one down a toilet have attempted to retrieve it. Eww.

So, where are the most likely places that you will lose your smartphone? Based on the findings of the Consumer Reports National Research Center, here is where you should make every effort to keep a firm grip on your phone:

  • Public transportation
  • Airports and airplanes
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Retail establishments
  • School property
  • Amusement parks
  • Hood or roof of a car
  • Public bathrooms

As I reflect on that interview of so many years ago and consider the fact that far too many smartphones are lost in public bathrooms, I can’t help but smile knowing that I would never have lost my portfolio in a toilet. It was way too big to fall in.

Women of the world: The computing world needs YOU!

Women in tech

Here at Mozy we appreciate diversity and believe that we need more women in technology and especially in computer science. High-school age young women take 56% of all Advanced Placement tests; however, only 19% of the AP Computer Science tests are completed by girls. In 2012, 26% of computer and math jobs were held by women. Women earn 57% of all undergraduate degrees, but only 18% of computer science and information systems degrees. And the differences are getting more pronounced every year; for example, in the 1980s women received 37% of the computer science degrees awarded in the United States.

At Mozy we are concerned about the growing technology gender gap and are proud to support organizations such as the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and the Award for Aspirations in Computing. This award honors young women active and interested in computing and encourages them to pursue their passion for technology. We want these young women to know that we are excited about their interest and aptitude in computing!

Mozy and EMC are enthusiastic sponsors of our local Award for Aspirations in Computing and were honored to be signature sponsors of the award ceremony last May. Through mentorship, sponsorship and gifts, we are proud to celebrate the achievements of these young women and their aspirations in pursuing careers in computing. We are excited about the future accomplishments of these young women and look forward to their contributions in shaping the world of technology and inspiring others to do the same.

Looking for a career?  Check out Mozy’s current openings!

Sources: – The Status of Women Leaders in Utah Business - Report lauds Utah’s computer science Education – Code secrets: The real reasons why girls need to become computer geeks

Glasses for the masses, but not for me…yet

You’re probably aware that Google Glass will be more widely available before the end of the year. For the most part, sales of Google Glass have been limited to a small group of people, including developers and others, who join Google’s Explorer program by invitation. The purpose of the Explorer program is to shape the future of Google Glass.

But just the other day, Google announced that it would sell Google Glass during a one-day sale on April 15. I guess tax day was the perfect time to decide what to do with your tax return. That had a lot of people excited.

“Every day we get requests from those of you who haven’t found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too,” said the folks at Google. “So in typical Explorer program fashion, we’re trying something new.”

According to Google, Google Glass is for everyone from moms to mountain climbers. That doesn’t sound like it includes me, but maybe it does. I am a dad and I like to hike. And I am from the United States and over 18 years old, two other requirements to purchase Google Glass.

I didn’t take advantage of Google’s April 15 offer. But I have to be honest: I don’t think I want a pair of Google Glass. Why? I’ve been thinking about the $1,500 price tag, not including tax.

I could probably afford a pair of Google’s spectacles. After all, I am getting a tax return this year. Although I owe the state $750, I’m getting a bit more than $1,500 from the feds. I’ve been thinking about all of the things I can do with that money. We need new shingles, but since $1,500 doesn’t even come close to replacing the roof over our heads, I think that can wait another year. And I will be needing new tires for my car. But that can wait until the next inspection. But, my anniversary is approaching in a few days. I could take my wife to a nice dinner, the theatre, and even buy her that beautiful lithograph I saw her admiring in a local gallery last month. And I’d still have some cash left over.

Google Glass has helped me to see more clearly that I don’t need to see and enjoy everything through technology. I still have my smartphone, my laptop, and my desktop. For now, that’s enough.

OK, maybe there are days when Google Glass sometimes sounds a bit appealing to me. Maybe I’m half way there. But as I look at the people who are modeling Google Glass, I just don’t look that sophisticated let alone that beautiful/handsome/sexy. Maybe a monocle would be more my style. Google Monocle? Maybe I’m on to something. I’ll wait to see if the Explorers contact me.

Thoughts about Backup and Recovery from the Coop

Recently, I was cleaning out the chicken coop. Yeah, you heard right: the chicken coop. When I finished, everything looked good—clean straw, better smell, happy hens, and probably happy neighbors. As I was putting away the tools of the trade (rake, trash can, and gloves), I noticed a small hole in the fence. Not too large, but big enough to allow the neighbor’s cat to enter and do some serious damage to our source of fresh eggs. I quickly repaired the fence. That got me thinking about backup and recovery (hey, inspiration comes from many sources, and that apparently includes cleaning the chicken coop).

If a business isn’t backing up its data and has never had reason to recover an important lost, stolen, or missing file, how likely is it that the business is going to heed the call to start securely backing up its data? After all, if the business hasn’t had to recover data yet, why worry? What are the odds that something is going to happen that will require data recovery? Actually, the odds are not in anyone’s favor, whether it’s an individual, an SMB, or a large organization. The odds, which include hardware failure, software issue, accident, an honest mistake, disaster, etc., are stacked against you. At some point, you will need to restore your files. But if you haven’t backed it up, you’ll wish that you heeded the call to safeguard your data.

Consider the following: 20,000 hard drives fail in the United States every day; 60 percent of companies recognize that their business would be in serious jeopardy after 48 hours without their data; and more than 12,000 laptops are lost or stolen every week. That 12,000 figure accounts for lost or stolen laptops at just U.S. airports, and it doesn’t begin to account for laptops left in taxis or rentals or coffee shops or….

Disasters such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Superstorm Sandy underscore the need for data protection in the event of both unanticipated and anticipated disasters. Even anticipated disasters can be devastating, depending on the severity of the event and unforeseen consequences. Proper backup protection ensures that an organization’s data is adequately protected in the event of a disaster and that lost or damaged data can be recovered in a timely manner with the least amount of disruption to the business.

So even if you’re backing up, that may not be enough in the event that something unexpected occurs. For example, let’s say that you’re backing up to a network attached storage device. All is good, right? The short and simple answer: No. If the drive fails, what are your options? How will you get your files back if you can’t access the drive? And what if you forgot to back up or schedule a backup altogether?

As you evaluate your backup protection options, consider the following:

• Do you have a consistent strategy for backing up desktops, laptops, and servers?
• Is backing up remote and branch offices a major headache? (Are you even consistently backing up remote and branch offices?)
• Are you taking advantage of the convenience and speed of local backup and restore with the offsite protection of cloud backup?
• Are you compromising security for convenience?
• Are you able to access your data anywhere, anytime?
• Do you have control over company data?
• Do you have a set-and-forget backup solution that you don’t have to constantly monitor?
• How easy is it to recover data? And just as important, how quickly can it be done?
• Do you have a backup solution that’s flexible, scalable, and meets your needs?
• Do you have a limited capital expenditure budget to spend on backup?
• If you have a backup or restore issue, do you have 24x7x365 support that understands your technical configurations and can help you solve the issue quickly?

Remember the tools of the trade: simple, secure, and affordable backup that’s scalable and that includes quick methods to restore your data, and a professional support team that you can depend on whenever you have questions or are pressed to solve a problem quickly. The right tools make the job easier and help prevent unnecessary worry. Who doesn’t want peace of mind? After all, no one wants to find a torn fence or, even worse, discover that a cat has entered the coop.

When High Tech Touches Your Food

It’s not a stretch to say that high tech touches everything these days. You almost certainly own a smartphone or tablet (probably both), which you no doubt use for any number of ways to make your life easier, faster, and more convenient. Now you can add one more thing to that list: How to buy the perfect steak.

And while you definitely don’t want anyone touching your food, when high tech does it, there are benefits. Read on.

Codes, calories, and consumer confidence

Steak and other cuts of meat have gone high tech in Thailand and other countries. And not just beef, but pork, chicken, eggs, fruits, vegetables, frozen food, baked goods, and ready-to-eat meals.

Consumers simply use their smartphones or tablets to scan the QR code—those blocks of black and white squares typically used for storing URLs and other information—on the food package to trace the history of the contents. For example, you want to know about the producer, the farm, the slaughterhouse of your steak? Just scan the QR code. It’s a great way for consumers to get information about the freshness and quality of the food they are buying.

But there’s even more information to be had from that QR code. You want all of the nutritional information—vitamins, minerals, calories, and fat content? Scan the QR code. What about favorite recipes—what’s the best way to cook your steak? You got it: scan the QR code.

Information is power, and when it comes to food, not only does information help to establish safety measures and help to ensure quality, it’s a great way to instill consumer confidence.

The new fast food?

Is fast food not fast enough for you? Maybe delivery to your front door step (or your neighbor’s roof, depending on the strength of the wind) via parachute is the next step in food convenience. Some folks Down Under have come up with a clever way to deliver your calories. While the QR code gives you information about your food, the parachute delivers your food. Although it’s certainly a new twist on food delivery, it’s probably not too practical. However, maybe a floating piece of toast with melted cheese will satisfy your craving for something “light.” I’d say Swiss cheese just got lighter.

Maybe food by parachute is not the next trend. But how would you know if it is? Food Genius might. The big data startup claims it is able to detect future food trends. Lately, Food Genius has been aggregating data from restaurant menus and has determined that burgers are one of the most popular foods in the country. Maybe you already thought that, but what you might not know is that peppers are a more popular topping than pickles. And if you like cheese on that burger, cheddar is the most popular cheese for primping the patty.

I’m no genius, but they might be on to something. Dang, I’m getting hungry all of a sudden. Maybe something topped with peppers. And cheese! Hmm, I wonder if that can be delivered by parachute? Who would refuse a peppered patty provided by parachute?

Improving efficiencies

Not only is high tech figuring out food trends, high tech is also helping restaurants increase efficiencies.

Avero’s  software lets restaurants track purchases and voided items at the time of transaction. Restaurants can use that information to improve service, increase sales, and identify employees who might be stealing food, like burgers topped with peppers and cheddar cheese. This type of information is vitally important to staying in business when you consider that pre-tax margins for restaurants is a scant three to five percent. If profits were food, those would be low in calories.

But let’s say you didn’t like your burger (because you never really liked peppers), you could use Punchh’s mobile app to share your disappointment by writing a review. But if you loved that burger because it was dominated by those peppers, you could proclaim the virtues of the pepper-topped patty. Pucch’s app does more than just provide a way to share your gastronomical experience. Restaurants can use the app to let you sign up for their loyalty programs, take surveys, or even order your next burger. That’s one small touch to get your hands on the next great burger.

Using the cloud to help prevent waste

And because we’ve been talking about food and high tech and how the two get along (unlike those nasty gray peas that rolled into your applesauce when you were a kid), what about the food that goes uneaten? According to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, a whopping 40 percent of food in the U.S. ends up in landfills. Americans throw out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, according to the NRDC report. Can high tech change that?

LeanPath is one company that’s passionate about food waste. Making the most of their cloud-based analytics platform, they’ve helped their customers reduce food waste by as much as 80 percent. Before throwing away any pre-consumer food waste, including overproduction, expired items, and food trimmings, restaurants are able to “catalog” it, analyze it, and then use that data to gain insights into making future food purchases and running the business more efficiently.

High tech and food go together like two peas in a pod. And that involves a lot of data in one form or another. So, be sure that whatever you’re doing with your data that you’re also backing it up and protecting it—and that it’s fully and quickly recoverable. And that’s more than just food for thought.

Tell us how high tech has influenced what you eat. And let us know if you are one of those people who likes peppers on your burger.