Electrostatic speakers move out of the domain of esoteric hi-fi

Article

BenQ treVolo portable electrostatic speaker courtesy of BenQHands on review: BenQ treVolo electrostatic speaker | The Age (Australia)

From the horse’s mouth

BenQ

treVolo Portable Electrostatic Speaker

Press Release

Product Page

My Comments

Speakers mostly turn electrical currents to sound using an electrical coil and a magnet or a piezoelectric ceramic transducer for higher frequencies and these vibrate a cone or dome to make the sound. But another method where a thin panel vibrated using an electrostatic field is used but this remains in the realm of esoteric audiophile hi-fi due to its high cost. Here, it has been valued for reproducing midrange and treble content clearly and distinctly and would play in to the hands of those of us who like jazz, acoustic pop, the classics or a lot of “new-age” and “chill-out” music.

The typical implementation has been a large floor-standing speaker that is connected to a special power supply connected to AC power. Some of these situations were of a design similar to an active speaker and required the use of a control amplifier connected between the source components whereas others required full amplification, usually with an integrated amplifier or a power amplifier connected to a control amplifier. These were setups you couldn’t take with you or have as a single-piece sound system.

But BenQ, along with in2uit, have offered portable single-piece electrostatic speakers that can work from a battery supply. These work with Bluetooth technology for playing audio from your phone or you could directly connect them to another sound system’s or playback device’s line-level audio output. The BenQ treVolo can also serve as USB computer speakers, offering a nicer way to dodge the crummy speakers that are part and parcel of portable computers. They are also optimised to handle different usage environments such as what the weather throws at us, something that a lot of the esoteric speakers wouldn’t handle.

The review pitched them as being suitable for those of us who value Mozart or Miles Davis over popular music and you have had your ears spoilt by you owning an esoteric audio setup with electrostatic speakers or hearing one of these setups in full flight at a boutique hi-fi shop or a hi-fi show like the Australian Audio And AV Shows.

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Netflix makes your smartwatch a control surface

Article

Netflix official logo - courtesy of Netflix

Netflix – the sign of on-demand video’s progress

Android Wear Can Now Control Netflix | Tom’s Guide

My Comments

Just lately, Netflix issued an update to their Android client software. This has functionality that was provided as part of the iOS variant like the ability to have your smartphone work as a remote control for the TV or set-top-box client software, along with the ability to share a recommendation on Facebook. But this implements a feature that may be seen as giving that platform the “edge”.

Samsung Gear Live Black Android Wear smartwatch press image courtesy of Samsung

This smartwatch to be part of your TV viewing courtesy of Netflix

Samsung Gear Live Black Android Wear smartwatch press image courtesy of Samsung

This smartwatch to be part of your TV viewing courtesy of Netflix

Here, they have baked Android Wear functionality in to this software to make your Android Wear smartwatch work as a control surface for the program. You may think that the smartwatch may be irrelevant when you are wanting to watch “House Of Cards” or “Lilyhammer” but it isn’t as far as they are concerned.

When you watch “Lilyhammer” for example, you can use the smartwatch as a remote control to stop the movie when you need to visit the kitchen or bathroom and start from where you left off when you are comfortable. This avoids the need to “dig out” your smartphone at these occasions. There is the ability also to share what you are watching on Facebook at that moment if you wish to do so, along with the fact that your smartwatch would show the artwork associated with what you are watching.like Frank Tagliano’s face.

This concept could allow platform-based smartwatches to serve as part of the “second screen”. For example, it could mean that during a TV reality show, you could cast votes for the talent on that show or find out a bit more about the talent. It would also be about having the smartwatch serve as part of a sports scoreboard app by showing the current scores for the match you are following.

A bit more effort and the smartwatch could play a role in the concept of multi-screen TV viewing.

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T-Mobile to provide data rollover for its mobile services

Article T-Mobile logo

T-Mobile Data Stash: You Can Finally Get Rollover for Your Data Plan | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

T-Mobile USA

Press Release – Data Stash – Don’t Use Don’t Lose (English / Espagnol PDF)

My Comments

DataStashMost mobile and fixed broadband services that implement data allowances in their business models have it that you forfeit any of the bandwidth that you don’t use in these plans. This works against an increasingly-common practice of people buying data plans for these services with more data allowance than they really use. This same practice applies to just about all of the mobile providers who provide included talk-time and messaging allowance whether as a combination of talk-time minutes and text / MMS messages or a known value of service use.

But T-Mobile, a spinoff of Deutsche Telekom who is selling mobile telephony and mobile broadband to the US market, is working against this norm. Here, they are marketing this option as “Data Stash” because of the way you can harbour the unused data and work with all of their plans that have an allowance of 3Gb or more. Even existing customers can use this feature which is unlike some carriers who will offer tasty features only to those who start a new account. This is part of their “Uncarrier” program where they offer extra service options and value that other mobile-phone carriers in the USA don’t normally offer.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone

You can use a smartphone like this on a data plan that rolls over courtesy of T-Mobile

Here, they offer a “rollover” option for their data plans where if you don’t use all of your data allowance, the unused allowance is carried over to the next month just like what would happen with a bank account. T-Mobile have understood this reality with people buying more than they need and may be needing to satisfy a usage peak, which can be brought on by a change in living conditions, a holiday or simply attending a “big-time” event.

Personally, I would see this as being important with people who use a “Mi-Fi” device like the Samsung LTE Mobile Hotspot Pro or T-Mobile 4G LTE Hotspot Z915 on an occasional basis or use these devices increasingly through certain peaks like summer. But I also see this as a way simply to smooth out the peaks in your mobile-broadband data use and other carriers around the world should have a look at T-Mobile’s offerings to know how to gain the competitive edge.

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4 years of the Freebox Révolution benchmark in France

Article

Bilan: la Freebox Révolution a quatre ans | Freenews (French language / Langue Française)

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution – 4 years old (à quatre ans)

My Comments

As a consequence of the highly-competitive triple-play communications service market in France, Free had developed one of the “n-boxes” that has a lot more that is expected for this class of carrier-supplied equipment. Now this device, known as the Freebox Révolution, which is available in just about all of France for EUR€29.95 a month as part of a very tasty triple-play pack, has reached its fourth anniversary.

I have given a fair bit of editorial space to the Freebox Révolution including citing it as an example device in an article about setting up for Internet in France. This is due, not just to its exciting Philippe Starck design but due to the increasing amount of functionality that this device has come with and received over the four years. Here, Free kept with a program of frequent firmware updates which weren’t just about fixing up technical problems but were also about adding functionality to these devices, some of which I have drawn attention to on HomeNetworking01.info.

The Freebox Server was more than just a VoIP gateway with DECT base-station and wireless broadband router. Here, it had DSL and fibre support on the WAN side of the equation and a 250Gb NAS. There was even the ability for the unit to be a media player for Apple AirPlay, DLNA or online media, including playing audio content out via integrated speakers or through external active speakers. The LAN side had a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch along with 2.4Ghz three-stream 802.11n Wi-Fi, but the Freebox Révolution comes with power-supply units that have integrated HomePlug AV-Ethernet bridges. The newer iterations had been upgraded to HomePlug AV500 and the Wi-Fi on newer releases was upgraded to a dual-band dual-radio variety. Let’s not forget that some of the newer variants even came with a Femtocell that provided local mobile-phone coverage for your home as part of Free getting their paws in to a mobile-telephony service.

Firmware upgrades even had the Freebox Server acquire full Apple compatibility along with being a VPN endpoint router and one of these upgrades was fashioned as the “Freebox OS” with an interface very similar to a newer Linux distribution, one of the mobile-platform operating systems or something you would get with one of the newer high-end NAS devices. The server functionalities included UPnP AV / DLNA, Apple Time Machine, iTunes Server and a BitTorrent server, known as a “seedbox”.

The Freebox Player which served as the “décodeur” for the IP-based TV component of the triple-play service was infact a “full-blown” 3D Blu-Ray player, games console and digital-TV tuner. The gaming functionality was part of an app-store that Free operated, which was to the same standard as most smart-TV platforms, if not better. This device was also controlled by a “gyroscopic” remote control which communicated to it via Zigbee RF technology and supported “gesture-driven” operation. Lets not forget that this was a DLNA-capable media player which gained MediaRenderer functionality from a subsequent firmware upgrade. This device also served as an Internet terminal for the TV screen and even had the ability to interact with most online services courtesy of either the Web view or a native-interface “front-end” that came with one of the firmware upgrades or downloaded from the app store. There was a firmware update that give the Freebox Player “Shazam-like” song-identification abilities.

The Freebox Révolution raised the bar when it came to the concept of a premium triple-play “n-box” offer with the competitors offering systems that had very similar functionality and aesthetics. Examples of these include Numéricable’s La Box and the Neufbox Évolution. As well, I had a casual conversation with someone who came out from France and they even mentioned about someone they knew having one of these devices and being impressed with what it could do.

For me, I have viewed the Freebox Révolution as the flag-carrier for the competitive French Internet market because of the way the carriers can add more value to the equipment they supply their customers. In this way, I would place this device alongside the TGV or the Channel Tunnel as a symbol of French technological progress.

Happy Birthday, Bonne Anniversaire, Freebox Révolution!

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Technologies being used to slow-down regrettable communications activity

Article

How Machine Learning Could Stop Drunk Posts On Facebook | Lifehacker

My Comments

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone

The smartphone can end up as something that can cause trouble later on after a party

The party season is on us and some of us can use various electronic communications technologies to do something we would otherwise regret after we have hand a few too many through the party. This could be to use social media to share an embarrassing picture of someone while they were drunk; send a stupid email to someone we know or knew or make that call to “the wrong person”.

Some software developers have worked on various technologies to “put the brakes” on this kind of rash activity such as Google’s effort to implement a problem-solving CAPTCHA when we send an email late at night, the development of iOS apps that mask contacts that we are at risk of contacting when drunk. But Facebook have taken this further by implementing deep-machine-learning in their “slow-down” algorithms.

Here, they use the facial-recognition algorithms that they built for their pioneering image-tagging feature and used this with a mobile device’s camera to identify if the user looks drunk. This is also used with other machine-learning to assess the context of posts and links you intend to post where you are tagging a person in the post so you aren’t at risk of sharing something you wouldn’t otherwise share. Here, it would work with Facebook client software which has access to the Webcam on your computer or the integrated front camera on your mobile device but may not work with web-based Facebook sessions where the browser doesn’t have programmatic access to the Webcam.

This deep-learning could also be used as part of “client-side” software to work as a way of avoiding drunk emailing or other risk-taking activities that you could engage at the computer. As I have seen before, a lot of the advanced machine-learning research doesn’t just belong to a particular company to exploit in its products but could be licensed out to other software developers to refine in to their programs.

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Product Review-Western Digital MyPassport Wireless mobile network-attached storage

Introduction

I am reviewing the Western Digital MyPassport Wireless mobile network-attached storage which I have found to be “above the ordinary” when it comes to this class of device.

Typically, most of these devices are to work as their own network to allow users to pick up or drop off files normally held on their mobile devices and, in most cases, that is all when it comes to functionality. If you intended to transfer files to or from a regular computer that runs Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, you have to tether these devices to the computer via USB. Read on about how this can do more for you compared to most of these devices.

Capacity Price
1 Terabytes AUD$249
2 Terabytes AUD$299

WD MyPassport Wireless mobile NAS

Class Portable Network Attached Storage
Storage
Capacity 1 Terabyte
2 Terabytes
Disks 1 x 2.5” hard disk
Removable Storage SDHC card reader
Connection
Network Connection 802.11g/n Wi-Fi (access point / network client)
Host Connection USB 3.0
Device Discovery
UPnP Yes
Bonjour No
UPnP Internet Gateway Control No
Features and Protocols
SMB / CIFS
DLNA Media Server Yes
General Web Server
Remote Access WD MyCloud
Remote NAS Sync
Cloud-Storage Client
Download Manager
Other functions

 

The Network-Attached Storage System itself

WD MyPassport Wireless mobile NAS front - ower and WPS / SD Card transfer buttons, Charge / Sync connector

Power and WPS / SD Card transfer buttons, Charge / Sync connector

The WD MyPassport Wireless’s battery is charged through a USB “sync-and-charge” cable that works with a proprietary connection on one end and USB plug on other end. This also is used to copy data to and from the hard disk as if it is a portable USB hard disk.

Setup Experience

You can set the WD MyPassport Wireless mobile NAS without the need for client software by linking your regular or mobile computer to the device’s “MyPassport” ESSID and logging in to the “MyPassport” Webpage to configure it.  iOS and Android users can configure it using the WD MyCloud mobile-platform app and this also serves as a way of transferring data between the mobile device and the NAS.

When you plug this device in to your computer, it shows up on Windows as a single hard disk like most of the small external hard disks. It can even be plugged in to a computer’s USB 3.0 port and take advantage of the high bandwidth that it offers. It most likely won’t work well with devices like printers, routers or smart TVs that have a USB port for connecting an external hard disk due to the power requirement that it has.

Here, you have the ability to create a user-defined ESSID or device name or have it work as a bridge between an existing Wi-Fi network and the mobile device. This latter functionality can be set up in a “private manner” if the other network is a public-access Wi-Fi hotspot like what your hotel provides.

Capabilities

WD MyPassport Wireless mobile NAS with SD card

Quickly transfer your camera card contents to this mobile NAS

I see the WD MyPassport Wireless as a highly-capable mobile NAS in its own right.

It can be a network bridge between another Wi-Fi network like home network or Wi-Fi hotspot. This even includes the ability to clone a device’s MAC address so you can share hotel-based Wi-Fi Internet which is regulated or accounted by device amongst multiple devices.

As well, when it works as a bridge, you can set it to serve files to both the local and remote Wi-Fi segments which would earn its keep with your home or small-business network.

WD MyPassport Wireless mobile NAS beside Samsung Galaxy Note 2 smartphone

Same size as one of the latest smartphones

There is an SD card slot so you can transfer data from SD cards to the NAS at the touch of a button. The classic scenario would be to copy pictures from your camera or camcorder to this mobile NAS to “clear space” for more photography and back up the images and footage you have taken. This is a bonus with the ability to view the images or video “rushes” on a DLNA-capable TV that exists on the network or “work on” what you have taken using your laptop computer.

Another feature that I so love is the fact that the WD MyPassport Wireless is a capable DLNA Media Server which is something that one of Sony’s mobile NAS units can do. The server software indexes all folders on the hard disk for media and can serve this media to its own access point or the network it is a client of in the case of a home network. I have tried this for myself by “fronting” it to the home network and pulling up WD’s demo videos that were on the hard disk on the household’s Samsung DLNA-capable Smart TV. These clips played through in a very stable manner. This makes the WD MyPassport Wireless as a device to “BYO” video content to show on a smart TV or play the latest tunes on your friend’s DLNA-capable music system for that party.

System performance

WD MyPassport Wireless mobile NAS in my shirt pocket

Call this pocketable

I performed a file-by-file transfer of the music I have on my smartphone in order to set it up for a DLNA network media test. There was very little noise through file transfer and the unit wasn’t demanding much of its battery power through this transfer when both devices were close together and working with its own access point.

As for DLNA, it streamed the demo video clips smoothly without dropping out when I had it connected to the above-mentioned Smart TV via the home network. Here, the NAS was part of the home network’s Wi-Fi segment and the TV was connected to the router via a HomePlug AV segment and this yielded the smooth performance. I tried it with music when using an Internet radio that had UPnP AV functionality and having the system with both devices on the same Wi-Fi segment with the radio located at the fringe of the segment. Here, there were some jitter issues coming about when playing the content. It works as best as the network would allow as long as you have the NAS able to pick up a strong signal.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

WD could use a standard microUSB connection with full On-The-Go abilities similar to what newer Android phones are equipped with for the device’s power and data transfer. This could let WD provide an accessory Ethernet adaptor for “walk-up” Ethernet connectivity or to provide an expansion module with a built-in power supply and Gigabit Ethernet socket for connection to existing home and business networks.

Another feature that could augment this device would be to have a micro-HDMI socket with HDMI-CEC functionality. This could allow you to show images and footage on a large-screen TV using its remote control or a smartphone running a control app to select the content.

The Wi-Fi functionality could be improved with the ability to set up multiple network profiles so you can choose how this device behaves when connected with particular networks you have used. These could be saved by a user-defined name with the network’s ESSID as the default identifier. Here, each network could have settings like “request to clone MAC”, “share files to network” amongst other options.

Like a lot of wireless NAS units on the market, the WD MyPassport Wireless could benefit from SMB/CIFS-based file sharing so as to allow the same kind of file navigation that you could do with most desktop NAS units when you use most regular-computer operating systems.

Conclusion

From my experience with the WD MyPassport Wireless mobile NAS, I do see it as a very capable portable NAS unit. This is more so for those of us who do a lot of digital photography and video work, or want to use this to take our favourite media with us, including play it at a friend’s house. It is due to use of an SD card slot for quick transfer of digital images, the ability to be set up to serve files to a home network or its own access point as well as being a DLNA-compliant media server.

These features would play in to the hands of someone like a wedding or news photographer who may want to take a lot of pictures during their shoot and “dump” them to this device. Then they would be able to show the pictures to the lucky couple for them to choose for the wedding album or to show to the participants of a news story to, for example, elicit more commentary.

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5 Year Special–Entertainment In The Connected World

5 Years Special iconAnother major trend that has come about over the past five years is increasing interest in “connected entertainment”. This has been augmented with the role of smartphones, tablets and computers having access to online content services, typically through natively-coded client-side apps.

But it is also about a surge in the availability of traditional devices that are associated with entertainment being connected to the home network and drawing down online content from various sources.

Network-capable entertainment devices

Increasingly we are purchasing network-capable entertainment devices that are fit for use in the main living or family areas of our homes.

Panasonic VIERA AX900 Series 4K UHDTV press picture courtesy of Panasonic

Panasonic VIERA AX900 Series 4K UHDTV

Firstly, most TV manufacturers are supplying “smart TVs” that have network connectivity and access to online content services. Typically the manufacturers, primarily the “big-name” companies are offering this towards mid-range and premium models in their product lineups. This feature is also being extended to Blu-Ray players, “home-theatre-in-box” systems and the like so you can add this feature to existing TV sets which is important as TV sets last a long time and are capable of being “pushed down” to secondary viewing areas. It is also a key feature for any of the newer 4K “ultra-high-definition” TVs that show images that are sharper than the regular Full HD TVs on the market.

Cyrus Lyric 09 CD receiver

Cyrus Lyric CD receiver – a network-capable stereo system

Similarly, network-capable music-playback devices are reaching standards that befit high-quality music reproduction. Here, these devices are either as “wireless speakers”, integrated music systems or hi-fi components that can be connected to existing hi-fi systems.

Denon HEOS wireless speakers

Denon HEOS wireless speakers

The “wireless speakers” are single-piece tabletop speaker systems that connect to the home network in a manner similar to what Sonos envisaged with their products. Here, you can have a group of these speakers that are connected to the same network play the same audio content without them being out of sync. Most of the setups may work in a “party-mode” setup where they play the same content whereas an increasing number of these speakers can allow you to set two like units up as a wirelessly-linked stereo pair for increased stereo separation or wirelessly link a subwoofer to the speaker to provide some extra bass. A trend that could easily come about is to have a wirelessly-linked multiple-speaker setup for surround sound, which could make this concept more appealing because of the absence of wires.

At the moment, Wi-Fi-based multiroom wireless speakers will work with other speakers that implement the same technology, typically by having the same or compatible chipsets. This is because no standard has been defined for these kind of speaker setups.

WD MyCloud EX4, WD MyCloud EX2, WD Red 6Tb hard disk

WD MyCloud EX Series NAS units able to benefit from the 6Tb WD Red

Another device that is being considered highly important for the “connected entertainment” world and is something that every home network will have to have is the network-attached storage appliance. These devices work as “always-on” media servers that can provide audio, image and video content and most, if not all of them implement UPnP AV / DLNA and iTunes / DAAP media-server functionality to do this on a level playing field. This means that you don’t need to run a desktop computer all the time to make the latest photos or the music you ripped from your CDs or downloaded from iTunes or similar services available to your smart TV or your network-connected stereo equipment.

Online Content Services

Pure Sensia 200D Connect Internet radio

Internet Radio

Previously, online content services were typically Internet radio services which offered global access to Internet-hosted simulcasts from various broadcast radio stations and networks. I saw this as the “new shortwave” because you could hear a radio station that is local to a particular city or town through this setup and these have been facilitatied by a few Internet-radio directories like TuneIn Radio and vTuner.

Now we have seen the arrival of the “global jukebox” in the form of music-streaming services like Spotify, Deezer and Pandora. These services allow you to legally stream an album, song or playlist via the Internet and work either for free with advertising or for a modest monthly charge. They are becoming a way to, for example, sample music you are interested in or even just listen to music for a modest cost or for free.

Spotify screenshot with album tracklist

Spotify, one of the most popular online music-streaming services

For music, the buy-to-download business model still exists courtesy of the likes of iTunes, Google Play, Amazon or most other online stores. There are some label-direct music stores that offer music on a “buy-to-download” basis. Most of these services offer the music as CD-quality 320kbps MP3 or 256kbps AAC files for each album track but some are offering them as master-quality FLAC or similar files. As well, most of these tracks are being made available as single tracks for pennies’ worth for those of us who want to construct the perfect playlist.

Netflix official logo - courtesy of Netflix

Netflix – the sign of on-demand video’s progress

This is also including music distributors and online retailers like Amazon who sell us vinyl records or CDs that come with “pre-ripped” MP3 files that are available to download. For most of us, this avoids the need to rip the CD or to copy the record to the computer’s hard disk so it can be heard over the network or on our portable devices.

Online video is mainly driven by the likes of streaming services like Netflix who are even producing their own content as well as licensing other parties’ content. They are also being augmented by “catch-up TV” services where one can view one or more previous episodes of a TV series “on demand” after it was shown. Because these services are yielding high-quality content, they have led to people in the US abandoning their cable-TV services and watching content on these services.

Naim UnitiQute 2 on dressing table

The Naim Uniti!Qute 2 – a high-quality network-connected music system for that small room

Most such services are nowadays being delivered via set-top boxes that connect to your home network and implement a native front end to these services. But, as smart TVs come on the scene, anyone who offers a video-on-demand service has to provide a native front-end for the main smart-TV platforms.

In some parts of Europe, ADSL and fibre-based next-generation broadband is being used to deliver pay-TV. This is more so as part of telecommunications companies offering a “single-pipe triple-play” service to their customers where one connection to the customer’s home carries broadband Internet, landline telephony and multi-channel pay TV.

They have also implemented a “hybrid broadcast broadband” platform for television where it is becoming feasible to provide TV content services, including interactive TV, by interlinking traditional broadcast TV with content available via the Internet. Broadcasters primarily use this to deliver a supplementary video-on-demand service such as a catch-up TV service to the main TV set.

At the moment- there isn’t a level playing field for providing video content on an “electronic sell-through” or “download-to-own” basis in a similar way to what is being used for audio content. There are still issues with digital-locker services or digital-rights mechanisms binding users to particular content platforms or the risk of people losing access to the content they bought if an electronic-sell-through platform ceases to exist. They are not at a point where you could buy a movie or television series online and download it to a NAS for viewing at home knowing that you still have access to the movie even if the vendor goes off-line.

Conclusion

It will take some time to bring some video content-delivery services to the home network in order to have it accessible on the main TV set, but the home network has become an entrenched part of our entertainment lives/

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Google Fibre breaks the digital divide in one of Austin’s public-housing communities

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Google Fiber

Blog Post

Housing Authority for the City of Austin

Digital Inclusion document (PDF)

My Comments

Lenovo Thinkpad G50-70 Laptop

Google Fiber to enable digital literacy in poorer communities

Google Fiber is participating in a community-based initiative to break the digital divide in the public-housing communities in Austin, Texas as part of their rollout in to that city.

This is a public-private affair in co-operation with the Housing Authority for the City of Austin which is a local-government-run public-housing authority in that city. The main premise of this exercise is that every child to have a chance to succeed in the 21st century global economy, but I also see as being important adults including mature adults and senior citizens who haven’t had much exposure to computing and technology in their school and work life also benefiting.

It is also encompassing training and study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As well, the program is also providing access to devices and affordable Internet connectivity in the public-housing districts. For example, Google Fiber is intending to provide for HACA development in their fibre footprint, free basic Internet service for each household for 10 years, with the option to upgrade to the “full-on” Gigabit connection for extra cost.

There is the all-important support for the household’s devices including the necessary digital-literacy training, something that typically is provided on an ad-hoc basis to these households by family and friends and it is being provided by Austin Free-Net.

What I see of this is an attempt by public and private efforts to help poorer communities with access to today’s technology for productive activities and expose people, young and old, to today’s technology. What needs to be underscored in the remit for these programs is that it is not just the children who are intended to benefit but adults, especially mature adults and senior citizens who spent most of their school and work life before the desktop-computer-driven 1980s, who need to become technologically literate. As well, the remit to help with computer literacy for older generations cuts across all social classes.

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Bluetooth 4.2 to provide direct Internet links for the Internet of Everything

Article

Bluetooth 4.2 introduces internet connectivity, ideal for the Internet of Things | Android Authority

New Bluetooth devices will connect directly to the internet | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Bluetooth

Standard product page

My Comments

Bluetooth has just “cemented” the latest version of their wireless-personal-network standard at 4.2 .

This will be a major improvement for the “Internet Of Things” or “Internet Of Everything” because each device can have an IPv6 and 6LoWPAN stack to provide a direct link to an IPv6 network. It avoids the need to create a protocol-level bridge between a pure Bluetooth network standard and an IP standard, rather allowing access to the IP network and an Internet “edge” router in the same vein as a Wi-Fi wireless device.

As well, there will be some privacy-based improvements like a requirement for users to interact with their mobile device such as deploying an app in order for the device to work with Bluetooth beacons. There is also the ability to support dynamically-assigned MAC addresses to facilitate this goal. Another improvement is to provide faster data throughput which could speed up things like data synchronisation or provide a “fatter pipe” for more data.

As I have said before, this standard is “baked in stone”, and needs hardware, operating-system and software support for it to take off. Some functions can be integrated in to earlier Bluetooth iterations in order to provide some of the new features to existing devices.

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Berlin creates a smartphone app to tackle neo-Nazism

Article Flag of Germany

La ville de Berlin lance une application «contre les nazis» | La Figaro (French language | Langue Française)

From the horse’s mouth

Berlin Against Nazis (Berlin Gegen Nazis)

Press Release (German Language / Deutsche Sprache)

My Comments

Another smartphone app has been developed for the community good, this time in Germany. Here, it is a notification app to distribute information about the issue of neo-Nazism to people who live in Berlin.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 press picture courtesy of Samsung

Smartphones are being seen as activist tools even with custom apps

“Against Nazis” (“Gegen Nazis”), which this fully-free app is called, serves more as a bulletin-board app which shows what is going on around town concerning neo-Nazi activity through the use of push notifications and an interactive map. Through these technologies, this information is distributed effectively real-time. This app allows users to act on the information in order to show solidarity against the neo-Nazi activity that is going on near them or to effectively strengthen the network’s activity. This app has been delivered in German, English and Turkish because of Germany having a distinct presence of Turkish people.

It has been developed by the “Berlin Gegen Nazis” (Berlin Against Nazis) network which is supported by the Berlin local government. This was brought on by a member of this network who was engaged in an anti-Nazi march in Rudolf Hess’s home town when a far-right group effectively took over that march.

The neo-Nazi groups still maintain a presence in Germany although they have a low impact on the national polls and on Berlin’s polls. In relation to Berlin, they have presence in poorer areas of the city like Schöneweide in the former East Berlin. It is also known that people who lived in the former East-Germany areas were soft towards the extreme-right ideology.

This is another way where the mobile phone platforms are being used for the public good especially due to the ease of access that these platforms provide. It also involves creating an information-delivery backbone which is cost-effective for these community organisations.

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