If this isn't an argument to ditch paper and read exclusively online, we don't know what is. The Korean-made "Dixau" is a gadget that scans text and then displays it on a computer screen, adding supplemental information provided by Google searches, Wikipedia references, and any dictionary of choice. But if the only reason for using it is to get the definition of unfamiliar words, this is a depressing example of both laziness and illiteracy. It's not clear if the device works in English or other languages, according to Dvice, but it would make more sense … Read more
It's interesting how aspects of our lives come into play. Prior to joining this Web revolution, or evolution, depending on your point of view, I worked in the world of consumer packaged goods. I developed and managed some of the office products that most of you probably use everyday. I became fairly familiar with even more products that I didn't manage, but was naturally exposed to. One of these was the Rolodex brand card file products after that parent company was acquired.
Even though I didn't manage the product line, there was always something intriguing about the … Read more
While few keyboards have reached the high level of customization or the exorbitant price of the Optimus Maximus, not to be confused with Optimus Prime or Fortress Maximus, KeyboardLink is a great little open-source tool for turning your standard Windows keyboard into not just a program launcher, but also a program controller.
Compatible with Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Server, and Vista, and using a scant 3MB when in use, KeyboardLink gives you the power to set nearly any hot key combination for launching programs and controlling your media player.
To get started, once you've installed it, you need to … Read more
Minneapolis is quickly becoming the new poster child for the municipal Wi-Fi movement.
The city is expected to have the majority of its 59-square-mile network finished by the end of this month, and already experts are pointing to the nearly completed network as a model other cities should follow.
Over the past year, citywide wireless networks have gotten a bum rap. Halfway through 2007, EarthLink, which had been leading the charge with big contract wins to build and run networks in San Francisco, Houston, and Philadelphia, started unraveling its Wi-Fi strategy.
By September, the company had pulled out of proposed networks in San Francisco and Houston. And in early February, EarthLink put its citywide Wi-Fi business up for sale.
The rise and fall of the movement has been well-documented by the press. Many critics have said citywide Wi-Fi is dead. I'm inclined to believe the movement is still alive. But the business models used in future deployments will be very different than those the industry has seen from EarthLink and others that have failed to deploy successful Wi-Fi networks.
Currently, Minneapolis' approach seems to have the most legs. In this model, the city government and public-safety agencies act as anchor tenants guaranteeing the service provider, USI Wireless, a contract. In 2006, the city agreed to pay USI Wireless $1.25 million a year for 10 years to build and operate its network.
But USI Wireless is not relying entirely on the city to fund the network. The company is also offering service to residents and small businesses.
Having an anchor tenant, like the city, helps guarantee a hefty stream of revenue, but the residential consumer market also provides USI Wireless with an opportunity to grow its business and increase profits.
"For large to midsize cities, Minneapolis will become the standard model," said Craig Settles, an independent wireless-technology consultant.
Minneapolis city officials recognized the value of having a citywide Wi-Fi network. But during the planning stage, they were unwilling to front the money to build the network. So they looked for a company in the private sector to build and operate the network for them.
"From the beginning, we were focused on the institutional benefits of having a citywide Wi-Fi network," said Lynn Willenbring, CIO for Minneapolis. "But we recognized quickly that we could not create a viable business case for the network operator with just our business. The vendor needs to make a profit. So it's important for them to sell to residential and business users too."
The network asset already proved its worth last year. A portion of the newly constructed network had already been completed on August 1, 2007, when the I-35W Bridge collapsed, allowing the city to use Wi-Fi as part of its emergency response effort.
The network is also getting good response from consumers. So far, more than 8,000 residents have signed up for USI Wireless' service, which is being offered at three different speeds: 1-megabit-per-second downloads for $20 per month, 3 Mbps downloads for $30 per month, and 6 Mbps downloads for $35 per month. The service will compete with DSL service offered from Qwest Communications and cable modem service from Comcast.
How Minneapolis model differs Minneapolis' model differs from that of other cities, which have been less successful in deploying citywide Wi-Fi. EarthLink, the biggest company in the municipal Wi-Fi market, won several high-profile contracts by focusing exclusively on offering residential service. The company also promised free access or reduced access in certain cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco to help bridge the digital divide.
EarthLink did not require city governments or agencies to become customers of its networks. Instead, EarthLink negotiated deals in which it would actually give away service to city agencies in exchange for using city-owned infrastructure like utility poles.
Tempe, Ariz., is another example of a city that did not buy network services, but instead expected to use the network free of charge in exchange for providing access to utility poles. Less than two years after its Wi-Fi network went live, the project is basically dead. Tempe contracted with a network operator called Kite Networks, a division of Richardson, Texas-based Gobility. At the end of 2007, the company cut off service, because it couldn't make any money.
A ComputerWorld article published last month quoted Dave Heck, CIO for the city of Tempe, blaming the failure of the network on Kite Networks for not marketing the service aggressively enough. At its peak, the company was only able to sign up 800 subscribers to the service in a city with 160,000 residents.
"Their rates have been half the cost of wired Internet services, and they could have gotten subscribers if they marketed it right, but they didn't market it well," he was quoted as saying in the article.
But if Tempe had agreed to become a customer of the network, maybe the service would have survived.
Philadelphia's network is nearly 80 percent built. But with EarthLink now out of the citywide Wi-Fi business, the project's future is uncertain. The city is unlikely to finish building the network with taxpayer dollars and it also won't likely run the network. Terry Phillis, CIO for Philadelphia, told the Associated Press earlier this month that selling the network would be the best thing for everyone. But Phillis acknowledged that finding a buyer wouldn't be easy.
But if Philadelphia revised its Wi-Fi contract and promised to buy a certain amount of services from the network provider, it could make the deal more palatable to potential buyers.
"If they aren't willing to support the network as a customer, then the whole thing falls apart," Settles said. "And they've missed a great opportunity." … Read more
Recently, in the techie Q&A column in the New York Times, someone asked about changing the password in their router. Due to space limitations, the answer by J. D. Biersdorfer was short, too short. This is what you need to know.
Every router, wired or wireless, has an internal website used to make configuration changes. Accessing this internal website requires a userid/password, something totally independent of any wireless network passwords.
LinkBunch is a redirection and shortening service for multiple Web links. The service takes as many links as you can throw at it and puts them together in a "bunch," so when users clicks your link they simply come to a link dump with Snap previews of each page. There's also a simple option to open all of them in their browser window.
If you're used to TinyURL, UrlTea, et al, you know these services can be exceptionally useful for taking large links (like the ones you get from browsing on Amazon.com), and shrinking them … Read more
Business social-networking site LinkedIn unveiled a redesigned homepage with a number of updates on Wednesday night. It's the latest step in an ongoing initiative to prove that LinkedIn is more than a glorified address book by encouraging more professional interaction among users.
The newly revamped home page, with its focus on a left sidebar and tabs along the top of the window, certainly echoes of the wildly popular but far less business-centric Facebook.
New updates to the site include "status" messages to indicate current activity, similar to Facebook's, and a number of new personalized "modules&… Read more
On Thursday, the Microsoft Chairman will post a question related to "how technology can be better utilized for charitable causes" to LinkedIn's entire 19 million members. I'm interested to see whether Gates finds LinkedIn scales to someone of his stature any better than Facebook.
The move comes as part of a set of announcements that LinkedIn plans to make on Thursday. A pitch from LinkedIn noted the company will have a revamped home … Read more
What do you do if you're billed as a business professional's Facebook, and a substantial portion of your more than 19 million members are jet-setting business types with fancy mobile phones and jobs that lend themselves to schmoozing? You build a mobile Web site so they can invite contacts as they meet them or identify in real life those they already have.
That was the impetus behind LinkedIn's mobile beta. (That and the fact that all the other social networks have mobile Web sites, too.) It's a good move for the social network, whose CEO, Dan … Read more