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FCC intends to place over-the-top Internet TV on a par with cable TV

Article

FCC Moves to Give Internet Video Same Rights as Cable Co’s | Broadband News and DSL Reports

From the horse’s mouth

US Federal Communications Commission

Tech Transitions – Video And Future (Blog Post)

My Comments

The recent US Supreme Court decision against Aereo has shown up how facilities-based multichannel TV providers i.e. cable and satellite TV providers have the upper hand with negotiating access to content offered by the Hollywood studios and sports leagues.

But the FCC are considering allowing “over-the-top” Internet TV providers access to this same content on a par with the likes of Comcast and DirecTV. This is also in response to the fact that many American TV viewers are ending up with cable or satellite TV packages full of content they don’t want i.e. “57 channels and nothing on”.

The issue with the current situation is that Internet-based “over-the-top” TV providers aren’t placed on an equal footing to the big cable-TV providers. This is similar to how the US Congress passed laws requiring satellite TV providers like DirecTV and DISH to have access to the channels on an equal footing to cable-TV providers and this opened the doors to competition.

The opportunities provided by the Internet-based “over-the-top” services are many including the ability to provide TV content packages that are pitched at niche markets in a cost-effective manner. This includes providers that could focus on foreign-language content, wholesome family-friendly programming, and content pitched at expatriates. As well, it opens up the concept of increased carriage-service competition which can increase viewer choice and, hopefully, access to what the viewer really wants.

There is also the concept of taking a “technology-neutral” approach which also allows pay-TV companies and content providers to use a choice of technology to distribute the TV content to the end-user. This means that the likes of HBO, CBS, Comcast and co to implement Internet-based approaches thus increasing reach to a wider market. There is also the hope that this approach will heat up the demand for next-generation broadband through the US and increase the average bandwidth that Americans can enjoy.

For this to work, the FCC need to pass these rules without being sabotaged by Big Money. which is a problem that still dogs American politics.

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You may have to pay special attention to your online services when you move location

Article

House

Keeping your details up to date when you move location may not be difficult

Moving houses can leave you disconnected | The Australian

My Comments

You may be moving house or business location for one of many different reasons but one common mistake many people make especially with their online life is not to factor it in when you do your move. This can lead to problems and customer-support calls when you have established yourself in your new location.

Your communications services

As soon as your move is imminent, make sure that your utilities including your communications services are set up to be connected and enabled at the new address by the day you move. If you can, make sure that you can keep the existing service going at your old address for the weeks that are bracketing the date of your move.

You may have to identify which of the communications services you can carry with you when you are moving. If this is a short move that is happening across town, you may be able to use the same services but longer-distance moves may require you to change operators. This is more so when you are moving in to an area where your current operator doesn’t have a footprint or cannot provide the service with the same level of continuity as before.

Your mobile phone may be a strong ally here

Your mobile phone may be a strong ally here

During the first week of your arrival at your new premises, you may have to spend some time “tweaking” your Wi-Fi network so that it is not clashing with your neighbours’ Wi-Fi networks. Here, you would have to change the channels that the router and/or access points work on, but you don’t have to change your SSID or security parameters.

Online services

As part of your move, you would be updating your contact details with your employer, your bank, the electoral registry, the taxman and similar organisations. But you may also need to manage other details like cloud-based storage services, online subscriptions and similar services. This may, for some services like social networks, require you to update your current physical address, email address or telephone numbers.

Some of these services may have particular dependencies like your email address or telephone number, especially for verification or authentication purposes. Here, they may allow you to supply multiple email addresses as “alternate” addresses and you can make use of this through the weeks or months that are bracketing your move date. As well, services that use an email address rather than a username as the login parameter may allow you to maintain this address as the login parameter even though you have changed email addresses.

Skype with uncluttered Modern user interface

Skype can serve as a temporary telephone service

If your service is dependent on an email address, you may have to supply an email address that isn’t related to a fixed Internet service for the duration of the move. This can be an address related to a Website you create, your workplace’s email address if you work for the same employer or simply a Webmail address like Gmail.com or Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) . This is important if the fixed Internet service doesn’t operate in the territory you are moving into or you simply want to use your move as an excuse to change Internet-service operators.

If your service is dependent on a phone number, you may need to associate it with a currently-operating mobile phone number. Here, you may be able to add your mobile number to the phone numbers associated with the service or replace any defunct numbers with your working mobile or VoIP number.

For that matter, Skype offers an inbound VoIP service for an extra cost so you can allow people to contact you on your Skype account and software by dialling the equivalent of a landline number that is in a locality of your choosing. But some localities like Germany may make this difficult to preserve the integrity of their landline numbering plan.

Other issues you may look at include the feasibility of having your email and phone calls diverted to your new phone number or email address or, in the case of an email mailbox associated with a fixed broadband provider, keeping that mailbox open for as long as possible independent of you maintaining the broadband service. Depending on the service provider, this may be provided for a modest fee or for free especially if you are moving or your premises is undergoing renovations.

Special cases

Moving to temporary accommodation

Rydges Melbourne

What if you have to move to a hotel or similar location as part of a temporary move?

Some of you may be moving to temporary accommodation like a friend’s home, a short-term rental or a hotel for a significant time. This may be due to various reasons like major repairs or renovations taking place on your home, a project that is part of your work or until you find permanent accommodation when you move in to a new area.

Here, you may have to see if you can gain access to your fixed broadband service’s mailbox or simply shift your mailbox over to a geographically-independent email service like a Webmail or workplace/business account. You could then implement your mobile or VoIP service as the phone number for your online services and use this to receive all your calls.

Some hotels and similar locations may support inbound direct dial to the room’s phone, typically with a standard phone number that has the room number as the last digits. Here, it is worth asking the Front Desk in these places about whether these places offer this service and the number you need to give out. This will play its part as a specific landline number for the duration of your temporary stay there and can work with those services that can work with landline voice services.

Moving overseas

Another special case would be to move to another country. This ma be typically due to work or similar placements or the desire to simply emigrate somewhere else.

This is more about uprooting all your online services. Here, you may have to establish a mobile service in your destination country with a number local to that place and use this as your primary phone service. This can be facilitated with various “SIM-only” plans that most of the local providers have.

As well, you would have to use the geographically-independent email mailbox as your email address. Here, you can keep most of the cloud-based services going using the email address, and you can implement app-based two-factor authentication for those online services that rely on your mobile phone number as the second factor if they support app-based authentication.

Conclusion

When you move between locations, you need to make sure you can move your digital life. This includes having an email address or phone number that you can gain access to through the move associated with your online services and updating your details with these services so you can gain access to them at all times.

As well,it is also about making sure you have continual access to your communications and Internet services whether through the previous provider or a newer provider.

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Internet Of Things connectivity issues

Article

Don’t get sidetracked: Connecting the residential IoE | The Beacon (Wi-Fi.org)

My Comments

Saeco GranBaristo Avanti espresso machine press picture courtesy of Philips

Appliances like this coffee machine are now working with dedicated mobile platform apps.

As the “Internet Of Things” or “Internet Of Everything” becomes ubiquitous in one’s lifestyle, there will always be some key issues with implementing this concept. It doesn’t matter whether it is for our health, wellbeing, convenient living or security that these issues will come in to play.

The core issue around the initial complexities will be due to use of network transports that don’t work on Internet-Protocol methodologies that have been established well before the Internet came to fruition in the mid-1990s. Rather, some of these implement an industry-specific data transport that requires the use of a so-called “bridge” between the non-IP transport and the IP transport.

Current implementation issues

Filling your computing devices with apps for each device and cloud service

Kwikset Kevo cylindrical deadbolt in use - Kwikset press image

The Internet Of Things should be about allowing these smart locks to work with other home-automation devices

At the moment, a lot of devices that offer control by smartphone require the use of vendor-developed apps and as you add more devices with this capability to your network, you end up filling your mobile device with many different apps. This leads to user confusion because you end up with having to work out which app you use to work with which device.

The same issue also affects cloud-based services where each vendor impresses on users to use the vendor’s supplied apps to benefit from these services. Again this leads to operator confusion which typically we would have noticed when we use social-media, over-the-top messaging or cloud-storage front-ends on our computing devices for each social-media, messaging or cloud-storage service.

This kind of situation makes it harder for one to develop software that makes best use of a device’s functions because they have to engineer a device to work specifically with a particular vendor’s devices. It brings us back to the days of DOS-based software where games vendors had to write the driver software to allow their software to interface with the computer system’s peripherals. This made it harder for customers to determine if that program they are after was to be compatible with their computer hardware.

Home-control systems and the home network

One issue that was highlighted was linking devices that use non-IP networks like Zigbee, Z-Wave or Bluetooth to the IP-based home network which works on Cat5 Ethernet, Wi-Fi and/or HomePlug. Typically this requires the use of a network-bridge device or module that connects to one of the Ethernet ports on the home-network router to link these devices to your home network, the Internet and your mobile devices.

Multiple bridge devices being needed

Nest Learning Thermostat courtesy of Nest Labs

… such as this room thermostat

The main question that was raised was whether we would end up with multiple bridge devices because each non-IP sensor or controller system was working in a proprietary manner, typically bound to a particular vendor’s devices or, in some cases, a subset of the devices offered by that vendor.

The worst-case scenario is a vendor who implements a Zigbee-based distributed heating control system for a UK-style hydronic central heating system that has thermostatic radiator valves for each radiator. In this scenario this system’s components will only link to the Internet and home network using the network bridge supplied by that vendor even though it works on the Zigbee network. But if you introduce a lighting system provided by another vendor that uses Zigbee technology, this system may require the use of another bridge that is supplied by that vendor for network-based lighting control.

Support for gradual system evolution

Also there is the issue of installation woes creeping up when you install or evolve your home-automation system. Some of us like the idea of “starting small” with local control of a few devices, then as funds and needs change, will change towards a larger more-capable system with Internet and mobile-device connectivity. The issue that is raised here is that a vendor could impress upon us to buy and install the network bridge before we start out installing the home-automation devices rather than enrolling the network bridge in to an established control system at a later date. In some cases, you may have to perform a reset operation upon all of the existing components and re-configure you system when you install that network bridge.

This also underscores the situation where a vendor may allow in-place upgrading and integration of a device known to have a long service life like most major appliances, HVAC or building-security devices. This is typically achieved through the use of an expansion module that the user or a technician installs in the device and this device gains the extra functionality. Here, it should be required for the device to be integrated in to the “Internet Of Things” network without you having to reset your network or do other difficult tasks.

To the same extent, one could easily start a system around one or more older devices, yet install newer devices in to the system. For example, you have a UK-style central heating system that is based around an existing boiler that has support for an advanced heating-control system if you choose to have a control module retrofitted to that unit and this module has an LCD touchscreen as its user interface.

You purchase this module and ask the central-heating technician to install it in your boiler so you can save money on your fuel bills. Here, this system uses a room thermostat which you start out with but also can work with thermostatic radiator valves and you buy and attach these valves to the radiators around the house to improve the heating efficiency and these devices work together properly, showing the results on the module’s LCD touchscreen.

Subsequently the boiler reaches the end of its useful life and you replace it with a newer more efficient model that has integrated support for the heating-control system that you implemented but in a newer form. Here, you don’t want to lose the functionality that the room thermostat or the thermostatic radiator valves offered, but want to fully benefit from what the new unit offers such as its inherent support for modulated output.

Needs

Task-focused application-level standards

The needs highlighted here are to implement task-focused application-level standards that work for the purpose of the device and support a simplified installation routine. As well, the role of any bridge device implemented in an “Internet Of Things” setup is to provide a proper application-level bridge between different medium types independent of device vendor.

But what are these task-focused application-level standards? These are IT standards that are focused on what the device does for that class of device rather than the device as being a particular model from a particular vendor. An “Internet Of Things” example would be a smart thermostat that is known to the other devices as a “HVAC thermostat” with attributes like current temperature, setpoint (desired-comfort-level) temperature, setpoint schedules and other comfort-control factors. This makes it easier for other devices to interact with these devices to, for example set up a situation-specific “preferred” room temperature for your heating when you use a particular user-code with your building alarm system or have a weather-forecast service cause the temperature to be adjusted in a manner to suit an upcoming situation.

Some good examples of the application-level standards are the UPnP Device Control Protocols for IP networks, or the Bluetooth application profiles. In one case, the Bluetooth Human Interface Device profile used for the Bluetooth keyboards, mice and remote controls was based on the USB Human Interface Device standards used for these similar devices. This simplified the design of host operating systems to design interoperability with Bluetooth and USB input devices using code that shared the same function.

Ability for a fail-safe network

An issue that is starting to crop up regarding the Internet Of Everything is being sure of a fail-safe network. This is in the form of each device in the network always discovering each other, control devices controlling their targets every time and sensor devices consistently providing up-to-date accurate data to their target devices.As well, a device that has a “standalone” function must be able to perform that function without being dependent on other devices.

Some devices such as smart locks have to he able to perform their essential functionality in a standalone manner if they lose connectivity with the rest of the network. This can easily happen due to a power cut or a network bridge or the Internet router breaking down.

Network bridges that work with multiple non-IP standards

As well, manufacturers could be challenged to design network bridges that work with more than two connection types such as a bridge that links Zigbee and Z-Wave home-automation devices to the one IP network using the one Ethernet connection.

This would include the ability to translate between the different non-IP standards on a task-based level so that each network isn’t its own silo. Rather, each device could expose what it can do to or the data it provides to other devices in the same logical network.

This may come to the fore with the concept of “meshing” which some standards like Zigbee and Z-Wave support. Here, a network can be created with each node being part of a logical mesh so that the nodes carry the signals further or provide a fail-safe transmission path for the signals. The “bridges” could work in a way to create a logical mesh with IP networks and networks that work on other media to use these other paths to create a totally fail-safe path.

Conclusion

It will take a long time for the “Internet Of Everything” to mature to a level playing field as it has taken for desktop and mobile computing to evolve towards to that goal. This will involve a lot of steps and place pressure on device manufacturers to implement these upgrades through the long working life of these devices.

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Why is that program failing to start?

Just recently, I was talking with a friend from the church that I go to and she was telling me that iTunes for Windows was failing to start on her computer. This happened after Apple rolled out an update for that music management system which also works as a bridge to one’s iPhone or iPad.

What I suggested for her to do in this case was to use Windows Control Panel to uninstall the software, then to visit Apple’s Website to reinstall iTunes. She thought that she would lose her music library and other settings associated with the program but, after she reinstalled iTunes as I had suggested, the program worked properly and she had access to her music library.

Most software programs rely on many different library and support files for them to work properly and these are typically delivered as part of an installation or software-update routine. But all it takes is the main executable file or one of these files to be corrupted and not carrying expected data for the program to fail to start or to run abnormally and slowly. As well, an increasing amount of software is dependent on resources held by other programs for it to perform certain functions.

How could these files be corrupted especially after an update? They can be corrupted by glitches in an Internet or network connection as the file is drawn down from the download server. Similarly, a hard disk may be starting to “lose it” and carry corrupted data especially as it becomes more fragmented and full of different data and this happens more as an update procedure substitutes older runtime files for newer files which may be larger or loads extra runtime files.

But a complete uninstall and reinstall routine allows the program to reconstruct all of its files that it needs to work with and rebuild all of the data associated with its settings that affect how it runs.

In some cases, identifying a program that is failing to start or affecting other programs and performing a complete uninstall / reinstall routine on that program may fix these problems. As well, it can cause a program to run more smoothly and quickly.

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Dealing with Internet trolls

Article

How to kill a troll | Naked Security (Sophos)

My Comments

Anyone who has a personal Internet presence on a message board, social network or similar environment or operates such a presence for their company or other organisation can end up facing the worst side of the Internet.

This is typically in the form of the “Internet trolls” who exist on message boards, social networks, blog comment trails and online chat rooms just to cause trouble. This has manifested in online harassment which is mainly in the form of schoolyard-grade activity like foul names or targeted embarrassment attempts. But there have been acts like physical threats against person, animal and property; stalking, sustained harassment and sexual harassment with young women being the main victims.

It included a situation that I faced regarding a café I regularly visited where their Facebook presence was tarnished with foul comments because the business didn’t permit a protest group to put some flyers about their campaign by their cash register. Here, I was defending the café in their stance regarding what had happened.

But what can you do? You could block the accounts where the behaviour is coming and implement technological measures that do this for you. Here, such measures work on logic like blocking relatively young accounts that mention you, accounts with very few followers that mention you or accounts that generate replies containing certain keywords.

On the other hand, you could embarrass the source of the comments. This plays on various analogies associated with social taboos like in-workplace sexual harassment where a person isn’t just hauled up before law courts but the court of public opinion doesn’t look favourably on them. This would be hard to implement in the online world due to the ease in which one can create an anonymous online presence such as with the use of multiple disposable emails or pseudonyms.

Some countries like the UK have given their online-harassment laws more teeth such as legislating for longer prison terms. To the same extent, we should be encouraged to use all of the civil and criminal laws available to us as a tool to deal with Internet trolls, but a key problem is working with the problem from a cross-jurisdictional angle. This is where you identify that the activity is appearing from another state within the same country in the case of countries like Germany, Australia and USA, or another country; such as someone residing in the UK being harassed by someone using a computer located in New York State in the USA.

As well, there have been various PR activities to pillory the trolls such as Mary Beard’s activity after being victimised by schoolyard-grade online behaviour. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind on British TV and had her friends and supporters work together to “fight back” against the troublemakers. Businesses and organisations who have been “got at” by trolls can use their loyal support base who have an active online presence such as their regular customers to work together for this same goal. 

Let’s not forget that the channels that exist to report trouble on a social network, bulletin board, chat forum or the like do exist for you to report this kind of trouble.

Personally, I would encourage any campaign to crack down on Internet trolling to be done as a group of many people. They can pool resources and use their contacts to work together to defend the people who are being affected or make life hard for the troublemakers. This can manifest in using technological tools to limit their effect on the affected forums, using civil and criminal legal action against the troublemakers or use online and offline public-relations efforts with a view to pillory them.

Sometimes some disturbing situations that happen with social networking, Internet forums, instant messaging and the like may require you to simply ignore or block trouble on the Internet but others may require you to work actively against it.

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Using Skype for chat during your favourite PC games

Article – From the horse’s mouth

You can use a regular communications tool for in-game chat

You can use a regular communications tool for in-game chat

Skype

How to use Skype for desktop Gaming

My Comments

Some of us may want to use Skype or similar online communications tools to chat with fellow games players when we play games on our regular computers.

There are some reasons where the software for in-game chat functionality can be difficult to set up and manage and the conversations on most in-game text / voice-chat functions is like a simple party line where everyone and his dog can join in uninvited. This opens the door to Internet trolls and other miscreants who can upset your gaming sessions.

To my knowledge, Skype is the only program that can support group text and voice communication. On the other hand, other online-communications software like Viber, Lync and Pidgin offers varying levels of functionality to allow your gaming clan to chat together. Most will offer group-based text chat with some offering group-based voice chat. But what is common with Skype, Viber and their peers is that you chat with those participants whom you and your mates invite.

Skype with uncluttered Modern user interface

Skype – an important part of a gamer’s arsenal

For Skype, you would need to have the latest version of Skype running on your Windows, Macintosh or Linux computer. Then, set up and test your wired or Bluetooth headset to make sure it is working properly with Skype if you want to have voice calls. You do the similar procedure with Viber or other communications software. With your Bluetooth headset, you would need to use the “Hands Free Profile” function for the voice communications and if you are using a stereo Bluetooth headset or Bluetooth headphone audio adaptor like the Sony SBH-52, you may want to make sure that the sound device that your game uses for effects and music is the Bluetooth Headphones or A2DP device if you want others around you not to be hearing the game effects or repeated music loops.

Create a group-chat session by dragging the friends, teammates and others together. If you do want a group voice call, you can create this with Skype but avoid the temptation to create a video call because this takes up the bandwidth.

Then you minimise Skype or your other communications software and start your game. Make sure that other unnecessary programs aren’t running while you are playing so you can dedicate your computer’s resources to the gameplay and communications.  If you are running a multi-screen setup, you may find that you could run text-chats on one of the screens.

Using a regular Internet-communications service rather a game-hosted Internet service gives you that advantage to have better control over how the peer-to-peer games banter turns out so you can all get the most out of the game.

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Doncare has launched a mobile-phone app to help people in domestic-violence situations

Article

Doncare launches LiveFree App to fight domestic violence | The Weekly Review

From the horse’s mouth

Doncare Community Services

Press Release (PDF)

Facebook Page

App Site (iTunes App Store)

My Comments

Doncare Community Services, along with Doncaster Rotary Club, have just launched an iPhone app that provides information about domestic and relationship violence. This provides the general information that women need to know about handling these situations along with knowledge of legal and similar resources they can avail themselves of.

A typical situation that concerns online domestic-violence resources is that these resources are typically furnished as Web pages which can yield a privacy risk for the victim of this violence due to the fact that Web browsers list what you have browsed. This is a key risk for  lot of these victims who live in a highly-controlled abusive relationship. Here, the perpetrator is often likely to check on recent Web-browsing activity that the person has done on the computer equipment used in their home as part of wanting to know what they think and do as well as whom they see. These people even have to do this browsing from their workplace’s computer, a friend’s computer or a publicly-accessible computer like one installed in a library or café.

The native mobile app has the advantage that they can download the app from the platform’s app store, use it and delete it quickly if they fear that the perpetrator is snooping around their phone. Then they re-download the app from the app store as and when they can.

One limitation about this app is that it is focused on resources and legal options that are available and relevant to Victoria, Australia. An improvement that I would have would be to download information about options available in other jurisdictions, something that can be provided during the setup phase or at a later point. This effort could be positioned as part of a localisation effort that would take place during the app’s lifecycle.

At least this is an example of what can be done by family-violence support organisations regarding using the smartphone and tablets that people own. This is where a free, easily-downloaded, easily-uninstalled app that has this critical information and access to critical resources can be used as a tool by people who are at risk.

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Product Review–Brother PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer

Introduction

I am reviewing the Brother PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer which is the first portable label printer to be designed to work with smartphones and tablets.This is brought about using integrated Wi-Fi wireless network connectivity with Wireless-Direct (own access-point) operation along with the ability to work with a mobile-platform label printing app.

Brother P-Touch PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer

Price (Printer unit): AUD$249

The printer itself

Brother P-Touch PT-P750W wireless label printer with Samsung Android smartphone

This is what this Brother label printer is all about

The Brother PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer has “three-way” power where it can work from AC power via a supplied AC adaptor, 6 AA batteries or an optional rechargeable battery pack. If you run it on the AA batteries, you can only connect to it using the USB cable which limits its printing abilities to laptop computers or tablets running the “regular” Windows or MacOS X operating systems.

It uses the TZe series of P-Touch thermal label tapes which snap in to the Brother labeller in a manner not dissimilar to an audio cassette tape. Here, you have a wide variety of label tapes that can suit the different situations ranging from coloured labels through tamper-evident labels even to waterproof labels.

Connectivity

Label printed by Brother PT-P750W printer from Samsung smartphone

Light-switch label turned out by the above-illustrated setup

This machine can be connected directly to a regular computer via the USB cable or can be connected to regular computers or mobile computer devices via an existing Wi-Fi network segment or Wi-Fi Direct link. This includes the ability for Android phones that have an NFC connection and the Brither iPrint&Label app to “touch and go” for printing. As for the existing Wi-Fi segments, this can work with small networks that implement pre-shared key methods like WEP or WPA-PSK or can sign in to enterprise networks with a username and password. In these situations, if the network segment doesn’t implement WPS “push-to-connect” functionality, you have to use a regular computer running Brother’s “Printer Setting Tool” which you download from Brother’s Website and connect the printer to the computer via a USB cable to supply to the printer the parameters for the Wi-Fi segment you intend to have this printer work with.

Brother P-Touch PT-P750W wireless label printer - label cassette bay

Uses TZe label cassettes

This network functionality can only work if the printer is connected to AC power or the optional lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. As well, it doesn’t implement the web-based “own-access-point” Wi-Fi setup that is common of a lot of wireless devices for integration with existing Wi-Fi segments. This may not be an issue with those of you who would keep this machine in the back of the van, ready to turn out labels as needed. If you have a device that doesn’t support NFC “touch-and-go” connectivity, you just need to turn on Wi-Fi and the printer will go in to Wi-FI Direct mode if it isn’t connected successfully to the

If you are printing from your smartphone or tablet, you would need to use the Brother iPrint&Label app to turn out the labels. This app worked well with my Samsung Android smartphone and it didn’t take long for me to link the smartphone up directly to this device and turn out a test label. It worked very well with a clean easy-to-use interface that allows you to get the job done.

Personally, I would have liked this app to support the ability for one to supply network connectivity information to the printer using that app’s interface as well as being able to print direct. Using a flashing Wi-Fi light to indicate Wireless Direct can have us think that something is going wrong even though the steady NFC light to indicate connection can lead to operator confusion. Rather, I would implement a dual-colour LED for the Wi-Fi light to indicate “infrastructure connection successful” in green and “Wireless Direct connection successful” in red or yellow. As well, have the light flash during connection establishment.

Label Quality

The labels have come out of the Brother PT-P750W labeller very crisply and clearly even when I have used the iPrint&Label app.  The app even implemented “right-sized” labelling to fit multiple-line text on the same piece of tape.

Usage Notes

Brother P-Touch PT-P750W Wireless label printerI used this device at the church I attend to help one of the men who is a licensed electrician and does the AV and electrical work for that congregation to turn out a label for the external-lighting switch. Here, I found that the Brother PT-P750W “tries” for my home network and doesn’t immediately fall over to Wireless Direct behaviour every time it is powered up. Personally, I would like to have a switch on the unit that enforces Wireless-Direct as an operation mode there and then, in a similar way to some of the Pioneer wireless speakers that have a switch on the unit to enforce this mode, and this mode is highlighted by the Wi-Fi light changing to a different colour to indicate “independent” wireless-network operation.

The man’s wife was intrigued by the way the Brother PT-P750W operates with a smartphone like his iPhone so as to make better use of that phone through the day. I had explained to the man how the device worked where he used his iPhone or iPad to label switches and outlets and he was even approaching me regarding how much it cost.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

An accessory that may be nice to have and may gain traction with this device’s target market would be a DC power adaptor. This would plug in to a vehicle’s cigar-lighter socket to allow this unit to be powered or charged from the vehicle’s 12-volt circuitry. Here it would earn its keep with those of us who work out of the back of a van by allowing us to charge the Brother label printer’s rechargeable battery while we are driving between jobs or locations, or have the unit working with the full wireless abilities and printing from our smartphones when we are preparing labels in the back of the van but without needing to have the optional rechargeable battery or compromising the battery’s runtime.

Another accessory that Brother could supply, whether “in the box” or as an optional extra, is a matching fitted carry-bag or road-case for this printer where the printer, its AC adaptor, a USB cable and a few label cassettes can be kept safely while it is taken “on the road”. Here, it also provides a single known place for the machine and these accessories so you don’t lose anything easily as you take it between locations.

As I have said before. the Brother software could support the ability to use one of their labellers to create a calibrated measuring tape. This could come in handy when you want to make a surface become a reference for measuring an item’s length or height.

Conclusion

I would pitch the Brother PT-P750W at electricians and other tradesmen along with maintenance departments who place value on using a smartphone or tablet to turn out labels as part of the job. The fact that it can work as its own Wi-Fi wireless segment as well as working with an existing Wi-Fi wireless network increases its portability even more because you don’t have to pair your mobile device or this printer with an existing Wi-Fi wireless network.

For that matter, I would see this machine as a viable tool rather than a toy. If you are intending to use the Brother PT-P750W Wireless Label Printer “on the road”, I would recommend that you purchase the rechargeable battery pack and have this set up for Wireless Direct exclusively for a truly portable setup with your mobile device.

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Facebook launches a “Safety Check” program for use during emergencies

Facebook Safety Check iPhone notification screenshot courtesy Facebook

Facebook Safety Check notification on iPhone

Articles

SAFETY CHECK: Facebook Tool Simplifies Users’ Communication During Disasters, Crisis Situations | AllFacebook

Facebook’s new Safety Check lets you tell friends you’re safe when disaster strikes | NakedSecurity (Sophos)

From the horse’s mouth

Facebook

Introducing Safety Check (Press Release)

Feature Description

My Comments

Facebook has just released a system which works during natural disasters or other civil emergencies to allow people to be sure that those friends of theirs who are in the affected areas are OK. This system, known as Safety Check, was born out of a “notice board that Facebook built in to their system during the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. It would still complement other methods like phoning or texting those you know in the affected areas.

If an emergency happens, this would affect a known geographical area and Facebook would determine if you or your friends are in that area or not. Typically, this would be brought on by emergency services and the media advising Facebook of these situations. This would be based on the City data in your Profile or rough-gauging where you are interacting with it from. It would also use the Last Location details if you opt in to and implement the “Nearby Friends” app as another metric.

Facebook Safety Check dashboard screenshots (regular computer and mobile) courtesy Facebook

Facebook Safety Check dashboard- regular and mobile (handheld) views

Here, you will have a notification that will pop up if you are in the affected area and you mark this as “I’m Safe” if you are OK and safe, or mark as being “Out Of Area” if Facebook miscalculates your location and determines that you are in that area when you are are not in that area. The latter situation can happen for people who are in a large metropolitan area or conurbation and the disaster or crisis situation only affects a small part of that area.

This status will show up to your Friends as a Notification and in their News Feed to reassure them.This is augmented by a special “dashboard” page created for the emergency that shows a filtered list of your friends who are in the area affected by the crisis so you cab know who has “called in” to say they are OK,

This same setup also benefits those of us who are outside the affected areas and want to simply be sure that none of our friends have been affected by that crisis. Here, we receive the News Feeds and Notifications about our Friends who have “checked in” as being safe or out of the affected area and can also see this on that same “dashboard” page.

As for the privacy issue, these updates are only visible to those people who are currently your Facebook Friends when it comes to “coarse” coverage and to those of us who have reciprocally enabled the “Nearby Friends” functionality on Facebook for each other.

Although Facebook is the dominant consumer-facing social network and is able to achieve this goal, various other messaging and social-network services could learn form this setup to allow “at-a-glance” notification of our loved ones’ welfare during natural disasters and other crises.

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“Borgen” is now augmented with a virtual-reality tour of that famous Parliament House

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Google Europe

Denmark’s “Borgen” goes live on Street View

My Comments

For a break, some, if not a lot, of you may been enjoying the Danish political thriller “Borgen” which is set around Denmark’s Parliament. Here, Google had taken this interest in the high-quality European TV drama and provided a virtual-reality “walk-through” of this famous Parliament house (Christianborg Palace) for you to enjoy.

You have the ability to detail in on the artworks as well as effectively walk through this famous building and it can work with most browsers including what is on your regular computer or on your tablet. Treat yourselves to this as part of watching that series.

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