Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FAA bemused further by web-enabled watches, eyeglasses

On Monday June 18, on p. B4 of Business Day, Nick Bilton reported in the New York Times on the complications for FAA rules on electronics use during takeoff on landing, from devices like Internet-mobile-enabled wristwatches and even eyeglasses.

I don’t wear a watch anymore at all, since a cell phone can give me the time.  So web-enabling of a grabby watch seems like overkill to me.

Nevertheless, it will heighten the debate further on the latent dangers of electronics for older aircraft (last discussed here May 24).

The Times link is here

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Verizon pricing changes raise controversy as dependence on cellular wireless grows

A major front page story in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday by Anton Troianovski and Thomas Gryta describes major pricing changes by Verizon aimed at data services and reversing a past trend toward lower costs. The link is here

New customers will have to pay for “data buckets” in 2GB or 6GB increments, and will find multi-device plans more economical.  Existing smart phone customers can keep unlimited data plans, but would have to pay full price for new smart phones when contracts expire in order to keep unlimited use.

The policy raises concerns, because as 4G cellular wireless becomes stronger, customers will want to use it (for example, by using Verizon's new iPad as a hot spot) because they don’t need storm-vulnerable land wire connections in many cases.  

Monday, June 04, 2012

Amtrak's WiFi service is spotty at best

Ron Nixon has an article Sunday in the New York Times Travel section on Amtrak’s WiFi service, called “Missed Connections”, here

I’ve never been able to keep a stable Internet connection with it.  I’ve used Verizon MiFi and now the new iPad as a hotspot on the train, with fair success.  But returning from NYC last Thursday mid-day, I had trouble even with the Verizon iPad connection in New Jersey and later between Wilmington and Baltimore.

Amtrak may be using Verizon’s service, accounting for similar results.

On Amtrak, with the service “free”, there may be much more competition for bandwidth than with modern airlines GoGo service, which requires paying a fee.  But the service, with a train moving at 90 mph, has trouble keeping connections.  In my experience, connectivity comes back when the train slows or stops.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

NC ponders total cell phone ban when driving; how far can this go?

The city of Chapel Hill, NC has banned all cell phone use when driving, even hands free use, according to a story May 3, 2012 at Hands-free info, link
I’ve heard the media report that the North Carolina legislature is considering the same thing for the entire state.

I wonder if some states or localities will carry this further, requiring cell phones to be turned off completely or at least be in “airplane mode” when a vehicle is running.

My own practice.  Don’t pick up the phone until I pull over and stop, and put the car in park.  That takes about four rings.  On an Interstate, that means getting to the next exit, rest area or service plaza. Yes, I remember Midway in Pennsylvania!