Apple and Wifi Assist

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re logged into a Wi-Fi network where the network bandwidth of that Wi-Fi network is deplorable? Maybe like a hotel or a technology conference? Perhaps you need to be able to get to a website to check the weather or run an app to determine what the traffic is but your device just sits there and spins the “working on it” icon?

Enter Apple’s Wi-Fi Assist. A new function in iOS 9 that basically allows the device to failover to a Mobile data network if the device can determine that it’s of better quality than the Wi-Fi network that you’re connected to. Sounds like a neat feature and guess what – it’s enabled by default.

There seemed to be quite a bit of uproar about Wi-Fi Assist eating through bandwidth unbeknownst to users that were sitting on deplorable Wi-Fi networks but in range of some nice 4G LTE signal on their newly upgraded to iOS 9 devices. In some regards there’s probably some truth to that, users not realizing that their Wi-Fi network was deplorable and their phone using the local Mobile network. Caveat of course being that individuals that didn’t realize that the Wi-Fi network was deplorable probably haven’t noticed that they’re using a Mobile network or that their kids are buying in-app purchase upgrades for whatever the app of the week is.

Nevertheless, Apple seems to have released an updated article on this topic to help give users of iOS 9 devices a better idea of how this works entitled “About Wi-Fi Assist.”

The core three points that are in this article are as follows:

  • Wi-Fi Assist will not automatically switch to cellular if you’re data roaming.
  • Wi-Fi Assist only works when you have apps running in the foreground and doesn’t activate with background downloading of content.
  • Wi-Fi Assist doesn’t activate with some third-party apps that stream audio or video, or download attachments, like an email app, as they might use large amounts of data.

So what’s that mean? Well, perhaps that Wi-Fi Assist isn’t as bad as it was made out to be. That’s not to say that I won’t be keeping an eye on my data services bill, but at the same time, I’m not quite as worried that it’s going to overrun my data cap either.

Thanks Apple for at least clarifying how it works a little bit.


Unlocking phones from carriers…

I find it funny that Americans are so interested in being able to unlock their phone to move it onto another carrier’s network. What most Americans continue to forget are three things:

1 – They signed a contract that is a legal agreement with the carrier that they are supposed to stick around with.

2 – Unlocking a phone from one network and attempting to put it onto another network while functionally feasible to unlock, may not always work if the underlying technologies are different (e.g. trying to put a Verizon CMDA/LTE device onto an AT&T GSM/LTE network).

3 – If you want phones to be easily unlocked and moved across networks then carriers will no longer subsidize phones.

So effectively at that point we see those that are in favour of intervention on behalf of the populous to encourage mobile telecommunications networks to all use the same bands, technologies and not be competitive with one another in what technologies they use, as well as for them to suddenly increase costs on all consumers – I mean that is what we all want right?

Perhaps I’m missing the point here of flexibility, but the way I see it, individuals perhaps need to understand the basics of the technology they’re using and such before they start making demands on the telecommunications operators.

Kindle Paperwhite

So if you’re like me, you don’t like to just sit idle – though I can’t argue that it’s good to get out at times and just let my brain defragment so to speak. Nevertheless, several years ago I bought the second generation Kindle, thinking to myself that Amazon was crazy and that these devices would never catch on. Like several other things in life – I was wrong 😉

So anyway, 2012 rolls around and Amazon releases the Kindle Paperwhite, a nicely build small form factor eReader that provides for a few gigabytes worth of books (thinking that books are typically a meg or less of text without pictures) it’s got plenty of space for an entire library of reading.

I keep this tucked away in my bag during the day but typically in the evenings when I just need to free myself of distractions, I pull out the Kindle Paperwhite – not having to worry about an iDevice popping up a message in front of the Kindle App stating that I’ve got new mail or using the plugins for Firefox or Chrome and getting distracted by other tasks at hand.

Bottom line, if you’re looking for escapism in search of knowledge, consider the Paperwhite. It’s small, low cost, decent battery, it’s got a backlit screen so you can actually read it at night and best of all it’s lightweight and fits in the hands similar to how a novel would.


Old School Tech

Kinda smiling when I was going through a box earlier today and came across some old Jump Drive Pro’s from Lexar. Funnier than anything was the size of the drives, 256 MB and 512 MB respectively.

At the time, those were pretty large drives. Alas, nothing on them ‘cept for drivers for an old Lenovo T60. Now the question is what to do with them. I’m not quite certain of anyone in the market for “slow” USB 2.0 drives that have a small amount of space. Especially considering when most media files are easily over a GB these days. Any thoughts?

Sorting through old tech…

Photo Jan 09, 17 30 35So this past weekend in my free time I’ve been going through a few containers of items that I haven’t touched probably in a few years. So far I’ve filtered through about four boxes. While going through an old wooden crate (yes wooden, that’s the classy style Mom got me) I came across a cardboard box. Inside were a Sony Walkman and a Panasonic Portal CD Player.

Needless to say I find it amazing that I still have this little Walkman and notice that it has that awesome feature of Auto Reverse. It’s times like this however that I start wondering to myself, do I have any cassette tapes that I can actually play with this fella? Last time I checked I don’t.  However, the last time that I played with this I took the batteries out so if needed in an emergency I can still use this guy to get Digital tuning on both AM and FM bands. Score!

Photo Jan 09, 17 30 47But wait, there’s more, the Panasonic Discman with XBS or Extra Bass System also seems to be in working order and get this, it was manufactured in November 1993.  I was a mere Freshman in high school when I picked this up and used it. Talk about history that’s hard to get rid of. Granted, at the time this was cutting edge as I remember it – there was even a car kit for this device so that you could plug into an auxiliary cable and use it while in the car. How times have changed where we have Sync systems that tie into hard drives that store hours and hours of music.  I’m curious as to what’s next… Of course now the question is what to do with this stuff.

PanTech UML 290 LTE–First Thoughts

So I bit the bullet and bought the PanTech UML 290 from Verizon Wireless, flat out. Works like a champ… when it works. The above speed test was taken from my house.  I noticed that after about ten minutes, the card would stop transmitting traffic.  At first I thought, “alright, maybe there’s a hardware issue.”

Oddly enough though I would run an NSLookup and get a valid response. I would try to ping and it would ping. So I was left scratching my head wondering why I wasn’t able to transmit and receive anything other than just a DNS record or an ICMP. So what did I do? I called Verizon’s tech support.

uml290So I disconnected and then reconnected and all was back to normal with super fast network connectivity that scared me (yes, scared me thinking to myself that just a few years ago these speeds in a wired environment were usually only in corporate data networks or academic environments).  Then about ten to fifteen minutes later, boom, disconnect.  Third times a charm I figured, and gave it another reconnect request, this time the session was flawless and had no issues, lasted 45 minutes long and then I disconnected manually and left for dinner with a few friends.  When I got back, I opened a ticket with Verizon support – they called back pretty quickly and left a message since I wasn’t available.  Rather than shy away from the issue I went ahead and gave them a call to further discuss.

After talking with a gent about what was going on, it was confirmed from my network traffic that there were “at cause” issues where the modem would attempt to talk to a specific node of the LTE cell and be disconnected from transmitting at that level and cease data traffic altogether. Because it’s the network side an official ticket was opened and network engineering team will investigate the network hardware and routing to correct the issue.

So first thoughts, LTE is blazing fast.  LTE is expensive in that Verizon wireless is capping at 5 GB for $50, 10 GB for $80.  I’d like to see VZW man up and do what MetroPCS is doing with unlimited usage for $60

Nevertheless, according to VZW, they should have the issue resolved in 5 to 7 business days, I’m interested to see it get fixed and will report back then.

Are we getting cooked by Wifi?

So over the past few weeks I’ve been taking more time for me. Not a bad thing right? Getting a balance back in place of sorts. One of my guilty pleasures is to read. Whether news feeds or books, it’s a guilty pleasure. Go ahead and book’em Dan-o (pun intended).
One of these news feeds is that of Gizmodo which showcases, you guessed it, gadgets and gizmos 🙂 Recently an article caught my eye dealing with a device to charge USB devices using Wifi signals. The charging device is made by RCA, more can be read here.

The question of course that this poses to me is whether or not this is a warning sign for those of us that live in neighborhoods that have several wireless running, colliding and interfering with one another. Are we getting cooked or is the power contained within the 802.11 spectrum harmless to humans because the wavelengths do not interact with the genetic and cellular makeup of the human body. Just sayin…