I find it interesting while working my way through different RSS feeds to find information about a new standard that a lot of different WiFi companies are working on to assist and provide alternative mediums for mobile providers to tap into rather than just building out better cellular networks. This technology is titled, “PassPoint” as being pushed by the WiFi Alliance. In plain English, basically it’s a way for cellphones to automatically make use of standard 802.11 wireless network technology that’s out there to offload from cellular towers for mobile data. Think about all the Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook transactions going on in the background of your mobile device, all of these suddenly stop tapping the cellular network and begin leveraging the local WiFi connection that’s available without requiring you to login like you normally would have to at Starbucks or any other WiFi access point that you happen to be tapping into.
While I see this as an interesting idea in reality, I don’t see it as the best idea in practice. If you’re a Public WiFi user, you’ve probably come to find that there are a lot of leaches out there using said public WiFi for illegal purposes so that the traceability to a MAC address is a little more difficult than when connected to a home circuit or when limited to the bandwidth of what a wireless hotspot can provide for. What purposes am I referring to? Things like downloading torrents and otherwise less than savory data types that are found on the Internet.
Regardless, I find it interesting that mobile providers are looking to push individuals from a cellular data connection that’s consuming cycles within a set of frequencies to a wireless access point that then consumes multiple data channels for the call to go through. Considering that most data services that wireless access points in public places are already overrun, it would seem paradoxical that mobile providers would go along with this realizing that they are going to overrun public WiFi APs.
Hopefully this also means that we’ll be able to get better notifications without having to have our mobile devices searching for tower connectivity. I wonder if there are any privacy concerns though…
Nevertheless, perhaps we’ll see something good come of this, perhaps seeing the bandwidth available within Starbucks and other public WiFi APs increase.
Want to read more about PassPoint, check out the official page on the WiFi Alliance:
FEMA and National Weather Service launch Wireless Emergency Alert System:
I know that ten years ago the idea of individuals tracking where we were was something that most folks didn’t quite like the idea of. With the advent of the movie, “Minority Report” even more individuals became aware of the idea of advertisers tracking location, purchase information and other characteristics to provide you with customized recommendations and targeted advertising.
FEMA seems to be taking this to a new level, but in a way that’s actually smart. For a number of years there always seem to be stories of someone that would hear hail on their rooftop and not realize that outside a storm was brewing with dangerous line winds or tornadic nature approaching.
Image from: Engadget
This “Weather Emergency Alert (WEA)” system delivers messages to cell towers in affected areas – so if you happen to be driving through a county that has a tornado warning, your mobile phone quickly alerts you to it through the WEA.
Now the caveat to all of this of course is that this all flows through a multiple step process – so I guess the question at hand is whether or not the National Weather Service will be able to act quickly to actually push forward information.
Curious whether or not you’re covered? Well if you’re on Verizon or Sprint, it would seem that yes you are, but for a full listing and explanation from FEMA, check out the “Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS)” web page for more information as to participation of different mobile providers.
So while some folks might see it as an invasion of privacy in being able to track or locate an individual based on the fact of where they happen to be in relation to a particular cell tower – I personally don’t mind getting alerts that let me know that a storm is brewing or perhaps a zombie horde is about to descend on my location. Course the CDC tells us that Zombies don’t really exist… or do they? 😉
Recently I’ve become somewhat addicted to listening to Podcasts while working and commuting around the DC area or on those fun little road trips to the midwest or along the Midatlantic.
One of the more interesting podcasts is hosted by Alec Baldwin called, “Here’s the Thing” on WNYC radio. In one of the more recent postings from 2 July, Alec talks with Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist at UC San Francisco.
The talk is interesting to me as it discusses some of the issues that our society has with the intake of sugar and the way that we tend to snack on sugar filled calories which in turn only fuel the fire seeking out more sugar filled items which in turn leads to obesity.
Nevertheless, an interesting podcast to listen to, eye opening in some regards as to how to limit your intake of sugar and why you should steer clear of indulging in your diet.
Check it out here – http://www.wnyc.org/shows/heresthething/2012/jul/02/