Tag Archives: wifi

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #025: To tether or not to tether

James talks about his opinion of Apple’s new iPhone 3GS. He talks about the new features, the 3MP camera, video, digital compass, faster hardware, internet tethering.

iphone3gs

He mentions JoikuSpot, the Nokia N95, MiFi, wifi hotspots and the WiFi Zone and Wifi Trak iPhone applications. He then reviews his new Polaroid Pogo printer and finishes off on Evernote.

Audio MP3

This is the twenty-fifth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, To tether or not to tether.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: To tether or not to tether

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

James is on his own this week.

Shownotes

  • Apple launch the new iPhone 3GS which has some nice new capabilities.
  • JoikuSpot allows you to use your wifi phone, such as the Nokia N95, as a wireless access point.
  • The MiFi is a 3G wireless access point, which runs on battery.
  • WiFi Zone and WiFi Trak are iPhone applications which allow you to find WiFi hostspots (both links are iTunes Store links)
  • The Polaroid Pogo is a Bluetooth portable battery powered printer which prints 3″ x 2″ sticker prints using a zero ink technology called Zink.
  • Evernote is a web based note application.

Engineerlingly Small

One of the nice things about my job and working on the MoLeNET programme is the fact that I can try out new pieces of equipment and wonder about their impact on our learners and learning.

I have written (and spoken) about the new breed of micro-laptops that surfaced last year starting wirth the Asus EeePC. Since then the number and type of micro-laptops have blossomed. So much so that the original 7″ Asus EeePC is now no longer available. Asus have improved upon their original concept and others have copied them. The Asus 901 for example has the same form factor as the first model, but now has a 8.9″ screen which does make a difference in how usable it is.

One micro-laptop which I did like was the HP 2133 which came with the bigger 8.9″ screen and importantly a 90% size keyboard. Though I liked the Asus EeePC the keybvoard was rather too small for me and I know others found it difficult to type large amounts of text on it. The HP 2133 was well suited to those who found the smaller micro-laptops too much of a microscopic size. However no point in recommending the HP 2133 as HP have decided to withdraw that model. Their replacement, the HP 2140 has a similar form factor to the 2133, included the nice keyboard, but now has a10.1″ screen. You have to ask is it a micro-laptop or is really no longer that form factor and more a subnotebook now?

One factor common to both of these was the linux operating system used instead of Windows. The Xandros on the Asus is very easy and simple to use, whilst the Suse Desktop OS used on the HP 2133 allowed more flexibiloity in installing software, not impossible on the Asus, just easier.

More recently I have been using a totallt different type of micro-laptop, the Sony VAIO P Series. In many ways this couldn’t be more different. It runs WIndows Vista. It has an 8″ (20.3cm) widescreen screen with a 1600×768 screen resolution. One aspect I do like about it is that it has a Apple’esque nearly full size keyboard which works for typiing for me. This blog entry for example was written on it.

Engineerlingly Small

As well as wireless and Bluetooth it also supports HDSPA. remove the battery insert your 3G SIM card and using a simple application, adjust the setrtings use the VAIO with a 3G connection without having to worry about plugging in a dongle or tethering to a phone as a modem.

It also looks like Sony have been listening to their customers and as well as a Memory Stick slot the VAIO also has a SD card slot. Considering how much use I now make of SD cards with cameras, mp3 recorders and sharing files, the SD card slot is very welcome.

The one thing which everyone comments on is the size and weight, it weighs very little and is only 24.5 by 12 cm.

Such a small device has to make compromises and the screen resolution and size means that some people may have difficulty with the Vista interface.

Battery life is pretty good and you can purchase an extended battery which will last twice as long. I am currently getting about 2 hours out of the standard battery.

So why wouldn’t everyone get one?

Well the price of course!

The VAIO UX1XN UMPC which came out in 2007 cost nerly £2000. The TX series of micro-laptops from Sony cost about £1400.

The P series is about £850 though you can spend more and get the model with the SSD drive. So for the price of one P series you could get three Auss EeePCs.

Fishing Boats and Seagulls

Fishing Boats and Seagulls

I have spent the last few days away on holiday in a place called Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast.

Lovely place, however connectivity was seriously lacking. The place we were staying at had no internet which generally isn’t an issue for me as I have a 3G USB stick (or I use my phone as a tethered modem or using JoikuSpot as a wireless hotspot).

However despite the area being very trendy and popular could I get a mobile phone signal? No I could not! No signal from T-Mobile or Vodafone…

As a result I had no connectivity apart from when we travelled to an area with a mobile phone signal or at a place with wifi.

Now generally when I am on holiday lack of the internet is not a problem – hey I am on holiday – but even on holiday it can be useful to have net access for holiday stuff: finding out opening times for attractions, locations and pricing. Also useful for finding out the times of In The Night Garden. It was also weird just having four TV channels, my Freeview Tuner for my Mac couldn’t pick up any channels in the area.

However this time (though I try and avoid working on my holidays) I had a meeting to organise in London and was also blogging at the JISC online conference, so as well as slightly inconvenient on my holiday, was annoying from a work perspective.

It did make me think about those learners who don’t have easy access to the internet, and despite falling costs of both broadband and 3G it can still be sometimes impossible to get online as the area itself does not have broadband or 3G coverage. Rural and coastal areas are often places with minimal 3G coverage and broadband access. Using 3G at 7.2Mbps in the centre of London streaming video and browsing really fast makes you sometimes forget that in some areas this is an impossibility.

Dell enters the fray

From BBC News

Dell is joining the burgeoning ranks of companies offering cut-down laptops, called netbooks, aimed at the developing world and general consumers.

The laptop was shown by Michael Dell to the editor of website Gizmodo at the All Things Digital Conference.

Read more.

Dell enters the fray...

Dell is the biggest PC maker in the world and the fact that they have entered the market shows how big and how serious this market is to PC makers.

For a lot of consumers this is their second computer, their main computer is a desktop machine which sits at home. The micro-laptop (umpc) format allows them to have a second computer which is very portable. Though similar or slightly more expensive “proper” sized laptops are available, it is the extreme portability of these laptops that are one of the main attractions. The fact it has a proper keyboard is another feature which other UMPCs and portable devices lack and it would seem people like a proper keyboard – even if it is on the small side.

From an e-learning perspective this is a device (format) which I know learners like (from our MoLeNET experiences) and I would suspect that a lot of learners in FE will start buying (or will be bought) these computers. At a price point not much more than a gaming console (or even less) it might be seriously considered as a present for someone attending an FE College.

Also with the growth of student wireless networks in FE, this will allow internet connectivity which turns it from a “dumb” computer to a connected internet device. Even in those institutions without the bandwidth for a student wireless network, those learners may consider getting a 3G USB dongle.

Already I have “caught” a learner in our Library, using an Asus EeePC with a Three 3G USB dongle for learning!

Thanks Gary.

Wireless security

When it comes to wireless security there are lots of myths out there.

Wireless security

Ars Technica has published a nice article on wireless security which covers many of the key issues and importantly debunks some of the myths out there as well.

The SSID (Service Set Identifier) is an identification code (typically a simple name) broadcast by a wireless router. If a wireless device detects multiple SSIDs from multiple access points (APs), it will typically ask the end-user which one it should connect to. Telling a router not to broadcast its SSID may prevent basic wireless access software from displaying the network in question as a connection option, but it does nothing to actually secure the network. Any time a user connects to a router, the SSID is broadcast in plaintext, regardless of whether or not encryption is enabled. SSID information can also be picked up by anyone listening to the network in passive mode.

Read more.

Photo source.