Let Me Fix Your Computer, Without Accessing Your Stuff

Normally, I’m not what I would call an “idea guy.” I’m not someone who sees all sorts of innovative new things and shares his creations with the world – it’s just not the way my brain works. I’m a problem solver. I see a problem, I come up with a fix, workaround, or solution – that’s what I do. Every now and then, however, there’s an overlap between problem solving and innovation. This may be one of those.
I want a way for a custodian of a system (think “computer technician”) working on a system, to be able to do everything needed to set up, maintain, and troubleshoot said system, without requiring any credentials from the owner. This is tricky because if I want, for instance, to set up your email for you, without requiring any interaction from you, I need to have your password. Sure, I could set up everything except the password and then have you fill it in later, but this road sometimes leads to frustration on the part of the end user, as they don’t have a “completely” working system that they asked for.
Encrypting the owner’s data does not meet this goal, as it needs to be decrypted for the custodian to do their job. Two-factor authentication doesn’t solve this because the password would still need to be placed in the hands of the custodian, along with the second factor, at least temporarily. Combining these two, along with a forced password change, go a long way to securing your data from your custodian’s prying eyes, but don’t ultimately solve the problem.
Do you have a fix for this? Does anyone? Drop me a line and let me know.

Is Anyone Doing This yet? Pre-order My Favorite Drink On Arrival

Starbucks: Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to admit, they are doing something right.
Since moving to the Boston area, I’ve had the pleasure of actually using cool technologies a lot sooner than I used to in rural Vermont. For instance, Starbucks’ mobile app, allowing me to order and pay for my drinks with my iPhone, or Stop & Shop’s “Scan It!” app that lets you itemize what you’re buying as you go through the store, saving time at checkout because you’ve already accounted for everything and don’t need to itemize them all again. Granted, I’ve never gotten it to work completely for me, so I question how much time Scan It! has saved me, if any, but I digress.
I’ve mentioned an idea in the past on the Pocket Sized Podcast, with respect to Starbucks and their mobile app for iOS, but I don’t know if I went into details. The Starbucks app allows me to save my favorite drink, in Starbucks lingo, so instead of trying to order a “small latte with caramel syrup, the sugar free kind, two shots,” and getting confused as to whether I meant espresso shots or syrup shots, etc., I can whip out the app, refer to my favorites list, and say “Short 2-pump Sugar Free Caramel Nonfat Caffe Latte, please.” Theoretically this will save time.
But… why can’t I, upon entering the shop and connecting to Starbucks’ (arguably the slowest) free wifi (network on the planet), tap on my favorite drink, and go straight to the pickup line? You already know who I am. You already have my credit card on file. Now you know what drink I want. Granted, I might miss some thrilling conversation with the person at the counter, but that’s not usually so noteworthy as to be missed.
It doesn’t have to be Starbucks! Someone, please, make this happen. If it’s already being done, please drop me a line and let me know where.