Having a lost child is never good. The amber alerts that now go out can save precious time in the recovery of a child, be it a child who is just lost or a child who is abducted by strangers or people who know the child. Part of what makes this work is accurate information given to law enforcement agencies. One way for parents to make sure this information is with them is by carrying a My Child ID from.
The device is simple. It looks like a little keychain style digital picture frame that is shaped like a elephant. Since a elephant never forgets, Amberalert.com hopes you never forget your My Child ID. The fact that this also doubles as a mini picture frame with 128mb of storage helps as well.
To use the My Child ID, you plug it in as you would a thumb drive or a similar picture frame to your USB port. If you have Windows and autorun enabled, you should get prompted to install the software. With other operating systems, you will have to double click on the MyChildID.air file on the My Child ID and this will install the Adobe Air application.
Once the application is installed, you can establish your My Child ID account on AmberAlert.com. Once your account is created, you can enter all of the important information about your child including a picture, height, weight and even medical information about your child. You can enter a tremendous amount of information regarding your child including schools they go to and activities they attend. All of this can be backed up on the My Child ID device as well as the internet if everything is working. You can also submit information to law enforcement via the Law Enforcement Alerting Portal in the event your child does come up missing. This makes it easy to get law enforcement the information they need look for your child ASAP.
One other neat feature is you can also copy images to the device for sharing on the device itself.
In my case, for some reason, the My Child ID was not recognized by Linux when it was first plugged in. So, I plugged into a Windows machine and was able to get an account created. The documentation also has Ubuntu 7.04 in it. It’s nice they support Linux at all, but it is an older version, and most Ubuntu users have long moved on to newer versions that would probably support more hardware.
My first mistake was probably not backing up my file to the internet first on Windows. I actually unplugged the device after getting it created and then set about trying to make the device recognizable on Linux. I eventually was able to get the 128 MB of storage on the My Child ID to mount and make it readable under Linux. However I had to reformat it. This wiped out any information on the drive. I did back this up with my Windows machine, but I still had to create one file on the drive before the Windows or Linux software would recognize it. This brings up an important point. Even if you didn’t run Linux and had to reformat the drive or the drive got wiped for some reason, there is no way to restore it back to factory settings. I was unable to get my online account to link back up to the device and creating another account would not work either. If I had backed the device up to the internet before this, I may have had a chance at linking it backup.
The Adobe Air based application was very unstable for me and crashed many times. It also wasn’t very friendly to the smaller screen real estate that my netbook has. I had the best luck with it when disabling all of the desktop effects in Ubuntu. I think that they should have chosen a different technology for the application. Adobe Air is very new. In fact, the version most people use is version 2.0 which is Beta. Since it’s classified as a beta, there still can be many things that don’t work well. I were the developer, I would have chosen Java which seems to be a bit more proven. Incidentally, I even had the Air application crash on Windows Vista as well, so this is not a Linux only issue.
I also could not find much about security of your online data in the My Child ID system. What is their policy on sharing it with others? I couldn’t find it. What do they do with the data when your included year of service is up? I should have had something really easy to find telling me this info. This is, after all, very personal data regarding your children. You should not have to think about this. It should tell you up front about its security policy.
As for the security of the My Child ID itself, there’s nothing to worry about. If someone gets a hold of it and then enters the wrong password repeatedly, it will delete the data on the device. The data itself is encrypted on the My Child ID so even if you look at the files directly, the thief will not be able to read it.
My Child ID is a interesting concept. I like the idea of being able to submit data right away in the event your child is missing, but the unstable Adobe Air app and the oddities I experienced with Linux plus the likely event you may have lost the password to your local file or accidentally delete the data means I can’t really recommend using this device. Once these are resolved and the security of your child’s information online is made absolutely clear, then I would gladly recommend this product.
My Child ID plus one year of the service is available via theweb site for $39.95 and is available in Blue, Green, Grey or Pink. To go beyond the included subscription is $9.99 per year. I was sent a sample for the review, and I was allowed to keep it. I will continue to try to work with support and will provide updates if the issues ever clear.
What I liked: Device itself is attractive and could be carried everywhere. Your child’s data on the device is secure. You can also back it up to the internet.
What needs improvement: They need to figure out why there was an issue mounting the device on Linux out of the box. They say they support Linux so it should work. Linux has supported USB drives for a long time now so this shouldn’t have been an issue. Also, the Adobe Air app is unstable making it’s use difficult. There is also no way to restore to factory settings. I could not easily find the policy on what they do with your child’s data either. Plus support became unresponsive over time. I have mailed them at least twice in the last week and have heard nothing. I will gladly take a look at a version 2 device to see if they have fixed these issues, as I think it’s a great idea. As it stands now, I can’t recommend the product even if you use Windows or Mac.