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.

Blocking Auto Play on news sites…

We’ve all been there. We go to our favorite news aggregation tool and we scan through the headlines, control clicking links and letting them open up behind the main page to read later. When out of nowhere a few seconds later a cacophony of noise begins erupting from your speakers and you quickly try to determine which tab it is has kicked up a video only to realize that three tabs have started playing videos over one another.

In one of the more recent builds of Chrome, a small little speaker icon is shown in the tab if it’s playing audio, but still this is somewhat of an annoyance. I knew that there had to be a way to stop this, I just hadn’t stumbled across the proper setting.

And then it hit me… well okay, so then the photons carrying information to my eyes were absorbed and I was enlightened. Enter Addictive Tips recent article on just how to block auto-play videos across all browsers.

Check it out…

http://www.addictivetips.com/web/stop-auto-play-in-chrome-firefox-opera-safari-and-ie/

Jelly Bean 4.3

So I came across this article yonder on Addictive Tips referencing the newly released Google Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean.” Yes, it shares the same name that it did from 4.1.

Interestingly enough, they seem to have added a minor piece that I’ve missed for quite sometime. They’ve added in good ole T9 dialing where I can start to dial in a name through T9 buttons that begins quickly looking up names and lets me dial their name without their number and then select their name.

Check it out… http://www.addictivetips.com/android/android-4-3-jelly-bean-new-features/

Bye Bye Copper… hello Wireless.

Interesting read over on The Verge regarding Verizon looking to move away from Copper based networks. While Copper networks started back in 1878 thanks to Bell Telephone Company the Copper network that exists in the US is expansive and reliable for the most part. While it may not provide the cleanest phone network, it at least provides for connectivity requiring low amounts of power to operate. What most people don’t realize though is that really the only part of the phone network remaining is more the last mile from the phone network to the house – because that’s the wire that’s already there.

So am I a fan of the fact that Verizon is thinking about going from Copper that might have static but is redundant in nature in that it’s a lower power technology to Wireless communications from the house to the cell network, not especially since there’s a greater chance that the Wireless system would be impacted by adverse weather. Nevertheless, if the service is better and the service level agreement does not negatively impact the subscriber to the system, it may not be as bad as some are making it out to be.

For more, check out this article here from the Verge – http://www.theverge.com/2013/5/8/4308462/verizon-drops-traditional-telephone-service-after-hurricane-sandy-damage

SimCity – Whoa, what the?

ImageSeems that there are quite a few issues that are popping up with good ole SimCity, re-released in all of its online gaming 3D glory recently.  Most notably though, at least to me is the number of bad reviews that have been posted to Amazon in the short period that the game has been made available. I totally get that people are upset but wow. I guess it’s true like what one of the individuals posted – it’s the equivalent of buying a $60 frisbee that doesn’t fly.

Update – 10 March 2013, 11:44 AM EDT: This just in, the game apparently has started to rise in its popularity and rankings on Amazon. Apparently the game has purportedly been found to be a cure for chronic apathy and procrastination. More on this from plantos500 in his review of the new Sim City.

You’d think I’d be mega unhappy like everyone else at the constant waiting and lack of actually being able to play a game I purchased.

Well, you’d be wrong.

The hours upon hours since launch that I haven’t been able to log in, whether it be sitting in queues, or server busy messages, or just plain old not working screens, I’ve managed to do a heap of things that I never do when I’m locked in my man cave playing video games.

I’ve washed the dishes, the laundry, changed the oil in the car, mopped the floors, dusted, did a spot of gardening, greeted my children who I hadn’t really seen since Christmas, walked the dog, asked how my wife’s day has been and listened to the entire response, restocked the groceries and many more things! My family has never been happier that they’ve got a father and husband again.

In fact, I feel like Simcity has given me a new lease on life. This wouldn’t have been possible without the seemingly crazy decision to have constant online connections and server side save points even for single player.

So I can only thank EA and Maxis. Your failures have been my rewards. 5 stars!

Fun with images…

I have to say that it makes me chuckle when I see something on a news media outlet, or I suppose a technology blog that keeps up on different things going on in society and how products are being released and such.

In this case it’s The Verge released an article titled “White House cybersecurity order will call for agencies to share threat intel with businesses“. Interesting article to say the least, but what makes me giggle is the stock photo that’s used. In this case it’s this:

Crashed Terminal

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, we should be concerned with the BIOS POST of what looks to be a really old computer that’s coming up that happens to have a PATA CD re-writeable drive a with a lot of slots that are filled. Not quite certain what the tie-in to cybersecurity is since I would think that perhaps a Cisco IOS terminal shell opened with the running configuration and routing table would be a little more appropriate.

Alas, I suppose this is just more “technical” jargon being tossed around by media that doesn’t quite understand what they’re reporting on…

Utilizing GPS, SMS and Wireless Connectivity

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.

Source: Engadget
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? 😉