Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

infected connected
I’ve mentioned how enamored I am by Dirty Laundry‘s dance track “Disco Infected”, along with its cover art.

So much so that, when it came time this week to refresh my wireless router’s SSID, I picked that track title for the name: “DiscoInfected”. As good as any other tag, I figured.

Until I noticed how closely that mashed-together name resembles “Disconnected”.

Not really a problem, but as I glanced that label on my iPhone’s list of available wi-fi networks, it did make me do a double-take. Maybe it’s close enough to a failed-connection notification that it’ll dissuade unwelcomed leeches from trying to hack in. They’d need the password anyway, but every little bit of deterrence helps.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/08/2021 10:51pm
Category: Pop Culture, Wi-Fi, Wordsmithing
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Sunday, December 05, 2021

The attempt to give a name to the freelancer phenomenon of hours-long wi-fi workspacing in coffeeshops — “Laptopistan” — is exceedingly lame. But at least the article imparted the business strategy behind hosting such seemingly freeloading behavior:

While the people behind the screens spent a paltry $6 to $10 per day, their true value is as a draw for more profitable takeout customers, [Brooklyn-based Atlas Cafe co-owner Enrico] Lorenzetti said. From the moment the door opens at 7 a.m. until it closes at 9 p.m., the place is buzzing, a productive society, visible from the street through wraparound windows. “People come in to buy food and coffee to go, because they see a full crowd,” he said. “They think ‘Hey, this place must be good if I can’t even get a table.’”

I’ve logged my fair share of time on Starbucks‘ wireless network, notebook computer propped open the whole time. And I definitely didn’t break the bank during these work sessions: A cup of tea plus a bagel would last me for my requisite couple of hours (with a refill for which they might or might not charge a few cents). When you’re shuttling between clients all day, there’s no better mobile office setting.

However, I’ve never frequented a coffeeshop that was utterly dominated by this co-working presence. That is, it’s still unmistakenly a public place of business, and you have to “put up” with regular coffee-drinking patrons coming in, making noise, and otherwise not engaging in any sort of work-like quietude. I’m able to achieve some task-centric focus in this non-home-office, but I can’t rely on it as a fully-functioning workspace.

But again, it does the job for what it is. And if my occupying a space helps the store draw in crowd-seeking customers, it’s a win-win.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/05/2021 01:44pm
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Society, Wi-Fi
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Saturday, February 13, 2021

I can’t believe it’s taken this long for this idea to come about: Wireless Internet on schoolbuses, for keeping otherwise restless students productively occupied.

“It’s made a big difference,” said J. J. Johnson, [driver of an Internet-enabled schoolbus in Vail, Arizona]. “Boys aren’t hitting each other, girls are busy, and there’s not so much jumping around.”

On this morning, John O’Connell, a junior at Empire High School here, is pecking feverishly at his MacBook, touching up an essay on World War I for his American history class. Across the aisle, 16-year-old Jennifer Renner e-mails her friend Patrick to meet her at the bus park in half an hour. Kyle Letarte, a sophomore, peers at his screen, awaiting acknowledgment from a teacher that he has just turned in his biology homework, electronically….

Internet buses may soon be hauling children to school in many other districts, particularly those with long bus routes. The company marketing the router, Autonet Mobile, says it has sold them to schools or districts in Florida, Missouri and Washington, D.C.

Basically a students’ version of the increasingly-popular BoltBus. I guess this makes the bus ride actually fun, which wasn’t the case when I was a school-lad (although I’m going by second-hand accounts, since I never needed the yellow transport while growing up — school was always within walking distance). And alas the now-quaint custom of passing notes across seat rows and aisles; now the kids just IM back and forth.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/13/2010 06:24pm
Category: Internet, Wi-Fi
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Wednesday, January 06, 2021

As was the case on my flight from New York to LA, I’m once again, on the return trip, blogging from 36,000 feet thanks to GoGo Inflight Internet.

And, like last time, I’m paying nada for it. The other promo code I found worked for this session. So I got about 26 bucks’ worth of free wi-fi-in-the-sky on this cross-country sojourn. I’ll take it!

I’ll keep surfing until this netbook dies on me. And then probably connect with my iTouch.

One thing about GoGo: Their slogan reads, “The sky is no longer the limit”. That’s the same retro-futuristic tagline used in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, for the never-realized Pan-Am passenger space jet. Just throwing that out there…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/06/2021 05:04pm
Category: Bloggin', Movies, Wi-Fi
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Sunday, January 03, 2021

Since I can’t fathom going more than a couple of hours without being online, I’m tapping the InterWebz while in-flight to Los Angeles. I’m blogging this post from 36,000 feet, thanks to GoGo Inflight Internet, the wi-fi provider for Delta.

It ain’t free (exactly). The cheapo in me resents having to pay for Web access, especially on a 6+ hour flight. Only a few years ago, Delta and other domestic airlines were providing free onboard wireless. But I guess I knew that wouldn’t last. And it’s hard to blame them for taking advantage of the situation — this is the ultimate in a captive audience. We’re lucky we’re not paying for our oxygen…

Anyway, I am getting this hookup for free. While I did have to register for an account (which I did last night, anticipating that this particular jet would be wi-fi enabled), I came across some free promo codes. Luckily, the one I chose worked! I only get to use one for this account, so unless I can create a new one (actually pretty likely), I’ll probably have to pony up the $12 for wi-fi on the return flight to NYC. But for now, I’m set.

The connection seems pretty good. If anything, I’m more concerned about having to access it via my HP netbook. The battery’s draining all too quickly; I doubt it’ll last more than another hour. And I’ve yet to get used to the cramped keyboard and generally slow processor. Still, it’s better than nothing. Besides, if the netbook conks out too early, I can always switch to my iTouch

In the meantime, I’ll have to flag down the flight attendant for a bag of peanuts, and perhaps a mojito or two. Ah, the vagaries of air travel…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/03/2021 06:26pm
Category: Bloggin', Wi-Fi
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Tuesday, July 07, 2021

At least one good thing is coming out of this gobbledygook rebranding of Sci Fi Channel to Syfy: We’re getting free wireless Internet access!

Syfy will also be providing public Wi-Fi for a year in Rockefeller Plaza and, starting later this summer, in Union Square and other pedestrian hubs in Manhattan. While the service stresses Syfy’s civic-mindedness, says [network president Dave] Howe, it offers the additional upside of directing the million projected users to a Syfy-branded login page.

Solid. Good to know of some reliable hotspots around town, ideal for quick iTouch checks. I’ll endure the Syfy imagery; doubtful that it’ll spur me to actually tune into the channel, which is effectively non-existent to me now, regardless of the i/y substitution.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/07/2021 05:20pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., New Yorkin', TV, Wi-Fi
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Saturday, May 02, 2021

a third
It’s a ridiculously thin excuse for a news piece (is it supposed to be a quick-hit item, or an unfinished article spec?), but this Fortune Tech Daily piece on positioning the iPhone and its apps as more small-business appropriate than BlackBerry contains an interesting measure of how people stretch the capabilities of mobile devices:

[Jason Miller, owner of San Diego construction and design company Wise Man, says] his managers travel among construction sites, and they use an iPhone app called Air Sharing to trade blueprints and time-tracking software TSheets to monitor workers’ hours. The GasBag app helps the team find the lowest fuel prices in San Diego County. Miller, who says he has spent about $100 on iPhone software, personally does about 30% of his “computing” on the iPhone, the rest on an office desktop.

I can relate, because I estimate that I also do about a third of my daily online work via the iPhone platform — but, crucially, I use my iPod Touch. The chief limitation I have is dependence upon a wi-fi connection to accomplish my tasks, unlike iPhone users who have their data/phone connection. If I had an iPhone, I’d be able to get even more done; if Verizon Wireless and Apple really do link up, I’m probably there. As it is, since I’m in New York, finding a wireless connection while on the go isn’t too much of a hassle (although again, not as automatic as having a built-in signal).

It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who makes use of his pocket-sized device so effectively. Among other things it tells me that netbooks probably have a short lifespan.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/02/2021 12:40pm
Category: Business, Wi-Fi, iPhone, iPod
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Wednesday, January 28, 2021

Low-end prices for netbooks have conspired with the continuing spread of wireless data networks to result in AT&T offering cellphone-like two-year contracts that bundle built-in Internet access with a subsidized mini-laptop.

Why is AT&T helping to fund netbook discounts? Well, such deals have already proven popular in Europe and Asia, and U.S. carriers are looking for effective ways to lock customers into data contracts. Even in this tough economy, carriers are spending billions to boost their network speeds and out-duel the competition. But the carriers know bragging rights to the fastest data connection aren’t worth much unless customers actually sign up. They have a hunch that cheap netbooks will get customers to commit to two-year data plans, just like free phones did for voice.

Frankly, I’m surprised no one thought of doing this before. Once wireless capability became a standard built-in feature in notebooks about five years ago, providing a native transmission signal for an always-on Web connection seemed the next natural step. I don’t know why AT&T, or one of the other telcos, didn’t approach Dell or another computer manufacturer to produce a cellular-connected notebook computer, with monthly data plan included.

Maybe it’s because consumers don’t quite know what to make of such a combination? I know that wireless data plan dongles are becoming ever more common, but generally, I think most people still consider notebooks to be wholly reliant on external Internet access, versus a phone handset that’s expected to contain its own two-way signal. I know that my iPod Touch still manages to befuddle most people because they can’t process how, despite its resemblance to a phone, it accesses the Web only within a wifi cloud, i.e. like a computer would. There’s some kind of disconnect in the average person’s mind when it comes to how certain portable devices “should” function. Netbooks might fall victim to these preconceptions.

Beyond that, I’m skeptical, just because even a deep-discounted $99 netbook represents an investment in one more piece of hardware to lug around, when you’ve probably already got your smartphone, full-sized notebook, etc. I have no problem treating a stripped-down computer as almost exclusively a media (Web, media player, etc.) device, as that’s how most of us spend 90 percent of our computer time anyway. But when so many other devices can do the same things, and more, I don’t see the point.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/28/2009 08:15pm
Category: Tech, Wi-Fi
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Tuesday, November 25, 2021

surfin' safari
With the recent release of version 2.2 firmware for the iPhone/iTouch and the attendant stability improvements provided to Apple’s native Web browser, some ask: Is the mobile version of Safari finally a finished, polished product?

I’d say no. True, it’s noticeably less crash-prone just from my couple of days of activity on my iPod Touch, so no complaints there. I could have done without the now ever-present search toolbar, but I can live with it. But those things are nothing more than taking the browser up to zero-basic.

What I’m still waiting for, in this order:

1. Option to kill page auto-refresh
2. Cut-and-paste
3. Flash support

I cannot figure out why Apple sets Safari to automatically refresh content every time it’s called up, since it should be assumed that a mobile browser’s not always going to be connected to the Web. That goes doubly for my iTouch, versus an iPhone (and even iPhones aren’t always going to have a signal). When you restart the browser out of wi-fi range, you’re likely to lose whatever you had been looking at previously, leaving you with a blank white screen. Either kill this behavior or at least make it optional.

Cut-and-paste would make the iTouch that much more useful as a notebook substitute, especially for true mobile blogging. Flash support is, truthfully, a distant third-place request — it only comes up if a site I need to access ends up being completely unusable (and really, that’s more the fault of the website than Safari; if the popularity of the iPhone somehow leads to a decrease in Flash proliferation, I’ll be thrilled).

This is not much in the way of griping. The iTouch remains one of the most satisfying tech-toys I’ve ever bought. I’ve gotten lots of mileage out of it, for both work and play. If Apple addresses those three issues sooner rather than later, the satisfaction level will amp up that much more.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/25/2008 09:38pm
Category: Internet, Wi-Fi, iPod
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Friday, August 22, 2021

school's in
At the risk of enabling in-classroom distraction, colleges and universities are supplying incoming students with iPod Touches and/or iPhones for use as wi-fi learning tools.

This isn’t too surprising, as the higher-ed institutions have been enamored with Apple’s shiny pods for years: The pre-wireless iteration of the iPod was doled out at Duke University and elsewhere to provide audio instruction.

I do question why iPhones are even in the picture, though:

At each college, the students who choose to get an iPhone must pay for mobile phone service. Those service contracts include unlimited data use. Both the iPhones and the iPod Touch devices can connect to the Internet through campus wireless networks. With the iPhone, those networks may provide faster connections and longer battery life than AT&T’s data network. Many cellphones allow users to surf the Web, but only some newer ones have Wi-Fi capability.

Why saddle students who assuredly already have a cellphone with another phone plan, just to get a mobile device that can access the campus’ already-present wi-fi cloud? This is a situation where the iTouch is an ideal device: It’ll always have a strong connection to the Web — particularly in a classroom — and therefore no need for a built-in 3G or Edge signal. The only other thing missing would be a camera, which would be unnecessary in this setting. It makes no sense at all for the school to invest in iPhones when the iPod Touch will do the job.

On Apple’s part, while there’s probably more money to be make in snagging college iPhone customers, they can really position the iTouch as a learning tool. It is indeed a more preferable alternative, for both students and professors, to lugging a full-sized notebook computer around.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/22/2008 03:11pm
Category: College Years, Wi-Fi, iPod
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Monday, February 11, 2021

After six years of rolling with T-Mobile’s HotSpot to power in-store wi-fi Web access, Starbucks has gone another way with an agreement to go with AT&T to provide a mix of free (with purchase) and paid wireless hook-ups, starting this Spring.

My initial reaction to this was “Sonofabitch!” — not because I’m a big T-Mobile fan, but because I landed a free yearlong subscription to HotSpot as part of the One Laptop Per Child donation program. So seemingly, I get screwed by this switcheroo.

But then I read the fine print:

Current T-Mobile HotSpot customers, who pay from $6 per hour-long session to $9.99 for a day pass to $39.99 a month for unlimited access, will get Wi-Fi access at no extra charge through an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile.

So hoo-ray, I don’t get cut off, at least not until early next year. Which is good, because I’ve actually come to rely upon pitstops at random Starbucks outlets for quick checks of email and other info via my iPod Touch. Yes, T-Mobile has other HotSpot partners, but they’re nowhere near as widespread in Manhattan as Starbucks (which is why this development is a real problem for T-Mobile).

Theoretically, I shouldn’t be so dependent on the HotSpot link, given that there’s a big free wi-fi cloud over midtown called CBS Mobile Zone, which I was jazzed about upon announcement. But to date, I’ve never been able to connect to it. It’s definitely there — it comes up as an available wireless client when my iTouch is scanning an area, and I’ve seen ads promoting it. But until I’m able to actually use it, it might as well not be there.

So for the time being, I continue to be on the lookout for Starbucks shops. They’ll get my money, by design — the incidental purchase of a tea and cookie is part of the trap. But I like to stick it to the man half the time by just camping out outside the store and surreptitiously calling up the HotSpot login page.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/11/2021 06:20pm
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Wi-Fi
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Monday, December 24, 2020

As what used to be a no-fly zone for Web access gets un-wired-up, what airline passengers will be doing with that high-altitude bandwith while in close proximity to others is raising concerns.

Panasonic Avionics Corp., a Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. unit testing airborne services on Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd., is designing its high-speed Internet services to block sites on “an objectionable list,” including porn and violence, said David Bruner, executive director for corporate sales and marketing.

He said airlines based in more restrictive countries could choose to expand the list.

The company also is recommending that airlines permit Internet-based phone calls only on handsets with wireless Wi-Fi capabilities — the technology delivering access within the passenger cabin. Bruner said the company believes Wi-Fi handsets use less bandwidth than telephone software that runs on laptops.

Airlines, he said, also could block incoming calls — and the annoying ring tones they produce — or designate periods of quiet time.

Those policing efforts are mainly the province of overseas flights. U.S. carriers are going decidedly more laissez-fair:

“We think decency and good sense and normal behavior” will prevail, said Jack Blumenstein, chief executive of Aircell LLC, which is launching service on some American and Virgin flights in 2008.

Decency? Good sense? “Normal” behavior? Obviously this guy has never stood in line at a Starbucks for 5 minutes while surrounded by non-stop cellphone jabberers. Imagine enduring that for a 3-hour trip from New York to San Fran.

Besides that, it’d be a royal pain to scrunch over a notebook computer in a space where even legroom is non-existent. The best alternative would be an ultra-small wi-fi device — like my iPod Touch, for instance! So I guess this would work out well for me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/24/2007 02:47pm
Category: Internet, Society, Wi-Fi
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Monday, November 19, 2021

Even as municipal wi-fi efforts in Philadelphia and elsewhere founder, New York is getting, by the end of this month, a big fat zone of free wireless Internet access in the heart of midtown Manhattan:

Called the CBS Mobile Zone, this area of coverage will stretch through a bustling, tourism- and business-heavy swath of midtown from 42nd Street north to Central Park south, from Sixth Avenue west to Eighth Avenue. (Landmarks-wise, that’s roughly Times Square to Columbus Circle.)

The new effort will be supported largely by advertising. Upon logging on, Web surfers will come to a home page with “hyperlocal content such as breaking local and national news, sports highlights, weather reports, music discovery, wallpapers, ringtones, maps, a social network, and the ability to search for nearby restaurants, shops and entertainment complete with geographically-targeted community reviews,” according to a release from CBS. Citi and Salesgenie.com have signed on as sponsors. Some businesses within the midtown zone will also be equipped with routers to take advantage of the Internet access.

And what do you know, that’s just the part of town where I spend the majority of my waking working hours. Yippee! Looks like I’ll never want for a Web hookup for my iPod Touch again.

It’s confirmed for only the next six months, pending the success of (I presume) usage levels and ad sales. As similar efforts around the country managed to dry up quickly, I’m not counting on this offering lasting forever. However, it is New York — more people are out and about and in need of wireless access than in more car-centric cities. I’m cautiously optimistic.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/19/2007 10:15pm
Category: New Yorkin', Wi-Fi
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Friday, November 02, 2021

what's uploading, doc
With a 100-buck pricetag, Nabaztag is slightly too pricey to be a frivolous purchase.

But I wouldn’t mind test-driving one for a while. This wi-fi enabled toy rabbit audio-delivers RSS feeds and music, among other things, and generally gives the Web media experiences a plastically-goofy context.

This brings to mind the old-style television bunny-ear antenna, now updated for the 21st Century.

Those ears, by the way, are both movable and removable. It occurs to me that a Nabaztag sans bunny-ears would look suspiciously like a Halloween ghost. So perhaps a recent holiday sales-positioning opportunity has been missed? (Assuming this thing will even work without those ears.)

I’ll also give parent company Violet props for maintaining an appropriately irreverent Nabaztag blog, just perfect for soft-selling such a tech-cutesy product. I especially liked the proposed throw-down between Nabaztag and Honda’s Asimo robot:

Hey, Asimo, do you know what a Flying Dragon Ear Strike looks like? How about a Five Point Rabbit Throat Punch? Nabaztag knows. You see, he’s been practicing Tai Chi for years… while you where still playing with LEGOs in your Daddy’s server farm. So just turn around and go home kid… just go home.

Hmm. Pretty large talk from a rabbit with no visible appendages — unless you count removable ears…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/02/2021 08:17am
Category: Wi-Fi
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Wednesday, September 05, 2021

touch me
I think I can abandon my plan to hack the iPhone just for the wi-fi action.

Yes, I’ll be queued up later this month, waiting to get my hands on the iPod Touch, most likely the 16-gig model (my current 30-gig is less than a quarter full, and I’m not planning on loading up on fat-file videos in the future, so the drop in disc size doesn’t faze me). And the key motivator for me — as it was for my brief flirtation with the iPhone — is the wireless Web capability. Finally, I’ll have a pocket-sized way to access the Internet while out and about!

It’s just as well. I wasn’t wild about switching phone service from Verizon Wireless to AT&T. And really, I was even less wild about combining my phone, music player, mobile Web and whatever else into a single device. I don’t care how high-performance the iPhone battery is, I’m not counting on it having enough juice to last the amount of use I’ll put into it. Besides, I’m well used to carrying both a phone and an iPod around; it’s not a hassle.

I’ll admit, I’m just as intrigued by the other new capability for this refreshed iPod line, including the Starbucks interface and mobile iTunes service. I’m not sure I’ll utilize either to a great degree. But it’s fun to tinker.

Back to the iPhone, on a side note: I’m curious about the new service allowing conversion of select iTunes tracks into customized ringtones. I’m surprised AT&T went along with this. Ringtone sales are a hot revenue-generator for the phone companies; this would seem to undercut that. Maybe it’s a test market thing, given the iPhone’s relatively small base.

Just counting down the days now…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/05/2021 11:21pm
Category: Wi-Fi, iPod
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Friday, August 31, 2021

A browse through this blog’s Wi-Fi category reveals a preoccupation by yours truly of municipal efforts to erect wireless Internet networks.

I may not be thus preoccupied much longer: Earthlink, AT&T and other providers are balking at further build-outs even in underway projects, citing low usage and lack of city funding.

When EarthLink and MetroFi first bid for Wi-Fi contracts several years ago, they often agreed to foot the bill for network build-out, operations, maintenance, and upgrades. They also frequently agreed to pay cities to lease public facilities, such as light poles, to hold Wi-Fi transmitters. If that wasn’t enough, the companies also promised some cities a chunk of their subscription and advertising revenues, as well as free usage of the Wi-Fi networks by city workers. EarthLink’s troubled San Francisco contract, for example, contains many of these terms.

One major flaw in these arrangements has been that initial forecasts for Wi-Fi subscriptions used to justify the investment in these networks have proven to be overly optimistic by a wide margin. In many cases, 15% to 30% of an area’s population was expected to sign up for muni Wi-Fi. But only 1% to 2% have signed up so far figures Glenn Fleishman, editor of an industry blog called Wifinetnews.com.

While rising demand for advertising on municipal Wi-Fi networks is helping offset the shortfall in subscription revenue, there’s a catch-22 at play here: Higher user numbers might generate more ad revenue, but network operators might need to cut fees to attract more users.

Is it realistic to push through enough ad inventory during the average few minutes someone is accessing the network? To me, free public wi-fi hotspots are good for spot-checking the Web: Check your email, check your blog, look up movie times, get local maps/directions, etc. That’s it. It’s not for lounging for a couple of hours of Web surfing. Battery life alone is an obstacle to that. A typical online media model for advertising doesn’t make much sense.

I’d still love to see a more widespread use of free wi-fi, for always-on access (independent of cellphone networks and the like). Maybe there’s a workaround no one’s dreamed up yet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/31/2007 02:29pm
Category: Wi-Fi
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Saturday, August 18, 2021

He uses it as a stepping stone toward reviews of a bunch of overprice Bluetoothed trinkets, but David Pogue brings up a good observation about how external wires are being phased out of our tech toyland:

Yes, wires. If you hadn’t noticed, they’re disappearing at an alarming clip. The cord between your home phone handset and the phone body? Gone. The wire between your cellphone and clip-on earpiece? Gone. The cable from your laptop to the network router? Gone.

Wi-fi Web/network connectivity is probably the most common example of this, at home and work. But if anything, the possibilities for ditching wires are underutilized. For example, I used to have to buy a new data cable every time I bought a new cellphone. But last time, since I got a phone with Bluetooth functions (which practically every phone has now), I smartened up and got a USB-plugin Bluetooth reception dongle. Now, syncing phone and computer is smoother, and I won’t have to buy a new connection interface with my next phone.

More to come, too. Wireless electrical power transmission will take the unplugged setup to bold new levels. Someday, the very concept of external connection wiring for any purpose might be a quaint outmoded technological memory.

The downside? Security holes galore, probably. And I’m sure a couple of decades from now, we’ll all be diagnosed with irradiated tumors, as a result of living in daily wireless crossfire zones. Convenience now, chemo later…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/18/2007 02:24pm
Category: Wi-Fi
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Tuesday, August 14, 2021

I’m sure we’ve all seen T-Mobile’s “Jimmy’s HotSpot” TV spot:

And I’m sure all of us are glad that “The Jimmy” has prospered since his long-ago “Seinfeld” appearance.

I was skeptical about the prospects of “The Only Phone You Need” campaign resonating with customers. Maybe ripping off old sitcom motifs is a way to ensure success.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 08/14/2007 10:34pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV, Wi-Fi
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Thursday, July 19, 2021

I’m not in the market for a new wireless access point for my home. But if I were, I’d probably have to go for Belkin’s N1 Vision wireless router.

Why? Because it does something that shouldn’t be remarkable, but — thanks to inexplicable design short-sightedness in the computer hardware industry — is: It actually tells you who’s tapping into your wireless network.

With an interactive L.C.D. panel on the front, the router shows the number of connected users and devices, the speed of your uploads and downloads and even how much network bandwidth is being used.

I’m sure there’s other wireless equipment that gives you this valuable metric. But most of the stuff out there doesn’t. In this day of mobile Web devices that sniff out any and all hotspots, I don’t know why manufacturers don’t put this functionality front and center. Why not make it easy for the user to know if someone’s tapping into the house wi-fi?

Easy-to-set-up encryption should, of course, prevent Web leeching. But what if someone cracks it? Again, it’s nice to have a quick way to check.

Come to think of it, my current wireless access point is probably about seven years old, at least. It works fairly flawlessly, but it’s bound to fail sooner rather than later. So I’ll definitely have to keep this in mind for an upgraded replacement.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/19/2007 10:30pm
Category: Wi-Fi
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Wednesday, July 04, 2021

With all the hacking tips posted online, I’m mighty tempted to pick up an iPhone and use it solely as a mobile wi-fi Web access device.

Because I feel I could use such a gadget. I’m on the go so often, and there are so many purposely-open wireless hotspots around town, that I can easily take advantage of having the Web constantly at my fingertips. I already pay for Internet access as part of my current Verizon Wireless phone plan, but it’s only crappy WAP — barely tolerable for checking email and the occasional online map directions. I could lug my notebook computer around, but that’s overkill and a hassle — something that fits in my pocket would be ideal.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s worth going through the dummy activation-then-cancellation process, especially since it’s likely to be shut down in a future software update. I don’t want to wind up with an elegant $600 brick.

Although I guess I could convince myself, via this justification: Buy the iPhone now, enable it without the telephone service, use the wi-fi (and iPod and camera capabilities) to my heart’s content — for about six months. At that point, in early 2008, my current VZW contract expires. Given that I’m already ready to chuck my present phone, I’ll be ready to replace it with the iPhone. So basically, I’d pre-pay for a new phone now, albeit at a heavy premium.

The only thing is that I’d have to dump VZW for AT&T, since there are no plans to make the iPhone available to other carriers. That’s likely my dealbreaker. So much for that scenario.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/04/2021 04:42pm
Category: Tech, Wi-Fi, iPod
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Saturday, June 30, 2021

They were teased nearly a year ago, and now they’re here: T-Mobile’s HotSpot @Home wireless plan offers customers new Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) phones that can alternate between T-Mobile’s cellular network or a home wi-fi Internet connection.

This isn’t like having a cell phone that also happens to work as a cordless phone. You have the same number, whether you’re on Wi-Fi or cellular. And in an engineering feat, the new phones will hand over calls that are already in progress from Wi-Fi to the cellular network if you leave the hotspot, so you can start a call at home and then keep talking as you walk out.

My original concerns about wi-fi leeching being the basis for these for these types of phones seems unwarranted. It’ll be confined to a single wi-fi access point, presumably the customer’s home; anywhere else, T-Mobile’s standard connection takes over.

I’m thinking this will be a tough sell, simply because the concept will be difficult to accurately communicate to the average consumer. Positioning it as a supplement to spotty coverage is a good starting point. Maybe their “The Only Phone You Need” campaign will get it across, but I’m not sure it’ll completely resonate.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/30/2007 12:41pm
Category: Tech, Wi-Fi
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