Friday, May 24, 2013

New microbatteries can recharge electronics, including smartphones, in seconds

There is a new type of cell phone charger that can fully charge a smartphone in about a second.  The UK Mail has a typical story about research on the matter at the University of Illinois here.  The technology involves "microbatteries" that remind one of the nano-charging devices from the NBC series by J.J> Abrams, "Revolution".

The media (CNN) has also reported on an 18 year old girl (I believe in the Seattle area) who has invented such a battery for a science fair.  No doubt there will be some competing designs.

The innovation could have positive implication for the resilience of cellular networks and for the power grid itself against attacks or space weather.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On my day trip to the high country in West Virginia -- no Verizon service at all in most spots in the Mountain State, not even 1X

On my day trip to the high country in West Virginia (around Franklin) today, I was unable to get my Verizon Droid smart phone to work at all.  I was told in Franklin in a convenience store, "we get ATT only".

In other rural sections of the state, I've gotten "1X" coverage where the phone gets connected to Sprint.  Verizon seems very weak in the Mountain State.

It seems to me that the telecomm companies should work out their contracts among one another so that a phone works anywhere in North America.

When I lived in Minneapolis, until late 2003, I had a USWest phone, which did not work at all in northern Virginia when I moved back here, even though USWest had a building in Ballston in Arlington/

Cellular phone service ought to be portable (like health insurance and pensions).

Picture: Crest of US 250 on Allegheny Mountain on V Wa border, 4300 feet elevation. Verizon had worked in Monterrey VA, 14 miles away (as 3G).

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

FAA will soon allow tablet electronics during flight takeoff and landing, but not cellular use

The FAA is likely to loosen rules regarding passenger electronics and allow some devices, especially tablets and e-readers, to be used during flight takeoff and landing. But they are not likely to allow cell phone use during these periods, according to widespread media reports at the end of March 2013, such as in Digital Trends, here

My experience in flight on a smart phone is that telephone connectivity does not stay up for long, and generally recovers only upon landing. 
Airlines are continuing to increase paid subscriptions for inflight Internet service, and paid one-time connections (which are pricey, up to about $14), even for narrower jets and shorter flights, such as here on American, link. AA calls it "Stay Entertained".  

I used this service on Delta returning from California last May.

You might enjoy this missive, “What flying was like in the 1960s”, (website url) here.  I remember that, going from DC to Kansas for graduate school, and later in 1969 when starting my job interviews while still in the Army. 

Monday, May 06, 2013

Wireless carriers warn on capacity of radio bandwidth

AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are warning the FCC that they need more radio spectrum, or they will “run out” before too long, according to an April 17 New York Times story by Brian X. Chen, here.
But others say that technology will increase the data transmission capacity of any one antenna.
I’ve noticed weak signals in areas that should have strong service, even in residential Arlington VA.  
Sometimes a 4G signal comes back on if I place the Droid in airplane mode for a moment and then turn it back to normal. 
At Busch Gardens, near Williamsburg VA, Saturday, most of the coverage (Verizon) was only 3G and sometimes was too weak for Internet (particularly video), even outdoors.
The link for the Times story is here.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Cellular companies lagging on improving security to prevent smart phone thefts

Brian X. Chen and Mal;ia Wollan warn, in a New York Times article May 2, that the “industry looks the other way” on Cellphone thefts, in a front page article here
The report indicates that cellular carriers have a conflict of interest and have little incentive to fix the problem.
There is a national database for stolen phones, but many stolen films are shipped overseas.
However, Verizon says that a stolen phone, once inactivated on its database, cannot be reactivated.
Washington DC Police Chief Kathy Lanier has been vocal on calling for more industry attention to the problem to reduce the incentive to street crime, especially on the Metro.
Google doesn’t offer any theft-deterrence software inits android, but it is available from third parties.  Apple has been ambiguous on improving security beyond location on iCloud.