[Company] Weekly Operations Update 3 and 4/2010

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at sharism.cc
Wed Jan 27 10:58:06 EST 2010


Ron,

> 1. Serial numbers and hardware revision
> information is vital when providing support.
> There are cases where a routine change
> from one batch of a component to another
> batch results in subtle problems.

Sure I think we all agree.

> TRACEABILITY of hardware is not an option,
> it is required in order to provide a good
> customer experience.

Yes but it gets interesting when:
1. it becomes impossible for the buyer of the device to remove the
traceability.
2. the traceability is undocumented

> 2. I am puzzled about the concern (some might
> use the word ("paranoia") about having serial
> numbers.

Do you know the story about color laser printers printing the serial number
(or actually whatever information) on every page they print?
http://www.eff.org/pages/list-printers-which-do-or-do-not-display-tracking-dots
I would be particularly pissed if this was introduced without my knowledge,
which of course in this case (color laser printers), it was for years until
someone figured it out.

Serial numbers can be used to trace & connect all sorts of things. You order
the product with your credit card, it can and will be connected.
There can be many debates about whether anonymity is good or bad, but we
as 'copyleft hardware' probably feel strongly towards the OPT-IN model someone
in this thread proposed. At least I agree.

> As a former support guy, yes, I'd rather have a SEEP
> (they are dirt cheap) so there is an electronically
> readable board version and serial number.

Interesting, never heard of 'SEEP'. What is it?

> What slightly amuses me is the software for Nanonote
> will be totally open. What are we afraid of? That the
> RIAA loads virus code on the Nanonote that tells
> them the serial number?

I brought up this question because I was in our factory last week and noticed
the "ID:" field on our labels was empty. In fact it was my mistake, the first
batch of Ben NanoNotes will not have serial numbers (but at least we know all
NanoNotes without IDs are from the first batch). When they offered to engrave
the plastic with a laser printer I felt even more like this should better be
thought through.
So thanks for the many different reactions we got here!

I do think this is a very fundamental question, we should have clear
principles, look at the pros and cons and communicate our decision clearly.
Which is exactly what we are doing, so it's great.

What we have now is this:

*) Serial numbers in hardware have many good uses to find root cause of
   problems, to determine warranty status. (more?)
*) In our hardware, we will fully document the location and encoding of all
   serial numbers, or other identifiers that allow to uniquely identify this
   particular piece of hardware. In the mechanical parts, chips, firmware,
   PCB, everywhere (this will take time, I'm sure even today we have more
   numbers we don't know about, for example in the LCM).
*) Serial numbers should be removable, so for example we would prefer a glued
   label over an engraving.
*) In general we prefer OPT-IN over OPT-OUT (I can already tell you this one
   will be hard to maintain if we ever become mainstream, but it's a good
   principle to have :-))

(if anybody has more, please speak up)

Ron - please also remember the NanoNote will hopefully not be our last
product. We are thinking about phones, routers, etc.
Phones are full of unique numbers that allow tracing/tracking. Mostly
undocumented, unremovable, etc. Are these phones 'phoning home'? Of course
they do. Do you care? I don't know.
But if we get back to doing a phone, yes, I think these things matter to us
and our customers. Of course if nobody cares then it won't get made and people
can happily use what they have today :-)

Wolfgang

On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 10:58:32PM -0800, Ron K. Jeffries wrote:
> I have remained quite on this issue, but
> will add a comment from real world experience
> in customer support at a mid-size telecom
> equipment company.
> 
> 1. Serial numbers and hardware revision
> information is vital when providing support.
> Identifying product flaws sometimes traces
> back to when a piece of hardware was made.
> 
> There are cases where a routine change
> from one batch of a component to another
> batch results in subtle problems.
> 
> TRACEABILITY of hardware is not an option,
> it is required in order to provide a good
> customer experience.
> 
> 2. I am puzzled about the concern (some might
> use the word ("paranoia") about having serial
> numbers.
> 
> Serial numbers normally encode
> 
> -- identity of the outfit that manufactured the unit
> -- year and month of production
> -- unique number for the unit
> 
> Yes that can be on a label, but it should not be
> easy to remove unless one is determined to do so.
> 
> As a former support guy, yes, I'd rather have a SEEP
> (they are dirt cheap) so there is an electronically
> readable board version and serial number.
> 
> What slightly amuses me is the software for Nanonote
> will be totally open. What are we afraid of? That the
> RIAA loads virus code on the Nanonote that tells
> them the serial number?
> 
> Thanks for listening. This is something that
> reasonable people can reasonably disagree over.
> ---
> Ron K. Jeffries
> 
> 
> On Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 22:23, David Reyes Samblas Martinez
> <david at tuxbrain.com> wrote:
> > 2010/1/26 Bas Wijnen <wijnen at debian.org>:
> >> On Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 08:29:58PM -0500, Wolfgang Spraul wrote:
> >>> ---2 unique IDs and serial numbers
> >>> I have a question: How do we, as the Qi Hardware project, feel about unique
> >>> numbers and IDs in and on our devices, in general?
> >>
> >> I think it may be useful to have a globally unique number printed on
> >> each unit, so it is possible to hold them apart.  I am opposed to having
> >> it in hardware, in a way that is readable by software (like the CPU ID
> >> feature of Intel CPUs).  I don't see any reasonable use for this (that
> >> can't be easily achieved without it).  It does make it hard to be
> >> anonymous, possibly needing kernel hacks to avoid it to be read out.
> >>
> >>> As a proposal, I would say we try to keep our products as anonymous as
> >>> possible.  Use unique IDs only when they provide real value, and
> >>> _ALWAYS_ disclose what kind of numbers we have in which place.
> >>
> >> Good idea.  IMO it's fine to not have it printed on the side as well,
> >> but having it there shouldn't be a problem: people know when it's read,
> >> and can remove the sticker, should they want to.
> >
> >  I believe  a UID  printed in sticker under the battery and with a
> > code bar in one side of the box, can be useful for logistical
> > porpoises, as you also know in Eu we must offer two years warranty on
> > any device, having track the units you have sended that way simplify
> > things.
> >>
> >> Thanks,
> >> Bas
> >>
> >> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
> >> Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)
> >>
> >> iEYEARECAAYFAktegjQACgkQFShl+2J8z5VDXQCcCynhxWsgfRoTg8JqzjsHoWYC
> >> I98An2jC3EDUiqrBA7kLjpSgwlNxqqKR
> >> =o5W1
> >> -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Qi Developer Mailing List
> >> Mail to list (members only): developer at lists.qi-hardware.com
> >> Subscribe or Unsubscribe: http://lists.qi-hardware.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/developer
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > David Reyes Samblas Martinez
> > http://www.tuxbrain.com
> > Open ultraportable & embedded solutions
> > Ben NanoNote, Arduino, Openmoko
> > Hey, watch out!!! There's a linux in your pocket!!!
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Qi Developer Mailing List
> > Mail to list (members only): developer at lists.qi-hardware.com
> > Subscribe or Unsubscribe: http://lists.qi-hardware.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/developer
> >
> 
> _______________________________________________
> Qi Developer Mailing List
> Mail to list (members only): developer at lists.qi-hardware.com
> Subscribe or Unsubscribe: http://lists.qi-hardware.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/developer




More information about the discussion mailing list


interactive