Category: Network Lifestyle And Activities

Now Google is proposing search for the big screen in the home

 Google Testing TV / Web Search on DISH Network Set-top Boxes | eHomeUpgrade

Video business-news bulletin including story about Google’s TV / Web search

My comments on this technology

Google has become a byword for searching for information on the Internet in a similar manner to the way the word “Walkman” became a byword for personal stereo equipment or “Hoover” became one for vacuum cleaning. Their presence is now strong on the computer screen and the mobile screen, but the territory that they haven’t conquered yet is the television screen.

Now they are working with DISH Network (one of two major satellite-TV services in the USA) to develop a TV-show / Web search user interface for use on the set-top boxes that DISH Network provide to their satellite-TV customers. Could this mean that we could be able to find RF-broadcast content as well as content on the Web like YouTube clips or Web sites such as online episode guides. They reckoned that this may need the use of a QWERTY keyboard near the TV.

But I have observed an increasing furtherance towards text entry from the couch, which would be important with Google’s TV/Web search. For example, some remote controls are implementing text entry on a 12-key keypad similar to how those teenagers type out text messages on their mobiles and others, including TiVo are issuing remote controls that have a slide-to-expose QWERTY keyboard for text entry. On the other hand. there have been manufacturers who offered small wireless or USB keyboards being pitched at “lounge-room” use.

This is even though I have seen situations where teenagers have brought laptops in to the lounge area so they can IM or Facebook friends while watching their favourite TV shows, or where I have used Google or the Internet Movie Database from my mobile phone to search for information relating to a show that I am watching.

So it definitely shows that the Internet is becoming part of the regular TV-viewing life rather than a separate activity.

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Skype-enabled TVs – Now Samsung is in the party

Articles

Skype-Enabled TV Ecosystem Keeps On Growing | EhomeUpgrade

Samsung makes Skype for new LED lit HDTVs official | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Get Skype on your TV: Samsung joins the team – Skype Blogs

My comments

I have been following the idea of using a common large screen TV with Skype and similar videoconferencing software on a common PC as a cost-effective method to achieve family and small-business group videoconferencing. This was since Channel 7 Australia had run a news item about it being part of linking older people who were confined to a nursing home with their younger family and also myself seeing it in action with some friends establishing a video-conference with relatives in Italy using this tool on their laptop.

When Skype announced that LG and Panasonic were integrating this technology in to their newer large-screen TV models at CES 2010, I was excited about this idea becoming closer for most people. Now, Samsung had announced this week that they were integrating Skype in the LED-backlit 7000 and 8000 series TVs. This has meant that another TV manufacturer has stepped up to the plate as far as Skype integration is concerned.

These implementations typically require a compatible Webcam (which has an integrated microphone) to be connected to the TV’s USB port and the TV to be connected to the home network via its Ethernet port. The user can then associate their Skype account with these TV sets to start videoconferencing.

The only limitation I see about the action so far is that manufacturers who supply TV peripheral devices like PVRs and games consoles aren’t providing the full Skype-based video-conferencing setup as an add-on to their devices. If this happened, especially in the form of a software download for the likes of the TiVo or the PS3, this could please people who own these devices to set themselves up for large-screen group videoconferencing.

It is also worth knowing that all of these implementations can yield a high-resolution picture but only if the computer on the other end is running Skype 4.2 or newer or if the device on the other end supports Skype HD functionality. Also the Internet service must support sufficiently-high bandwidth for the high-quality pictures.

At least this is a step closer to ubiquitous cost-effective group videoconferencing for home and small business. As well, it is one step taken to bring the videoconferencing practice out of the science-fiction novel and 1970s “future tech” book in to common reality.

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Use of the Ekahau Real-Time Location System in a residential or small-business environment

I have been talking by e-mail to Mika Kouhia from Ekahau about the use of their WiFi-based real-time location technology in the typical home or small-business network. The applications that may come to mind here will typically cover an emergency-response / nurse-call system that is an integral part of the at-home care of elderly, infirm or convalescing people; or small businesses, especially those who are partners to large business, who need to track assets in a similar manner to what is done by large organisations.

What is the main complication that concerns the Ekahau Real-Time Location System

The main complication that limits this technology is the fact that most of the wireless networks deployed in this space only have one access point, typically the one that is integrated in to a wireless router. You may be lucky to use this technology on a wireless network that has an extra access point such as a wireless router that is repurposed as an extension access point and connected to the main router via a HomePlug powerline link or one of those access points that work with a HomePlug powerline backbone.  On the other hand, you would have to deploy “infrared beacons” around the premises and rely on the Wi-Fi wireless link provided by the router as primarily a communications link.

The infrared beacons work on a similar infrared frequency to the remote controls used to control the majority of TV sets and other consumer-electronics devices in circulation. Thus they won’t interfere with the passive-infrared sensors used in most security systems or automatic “sensor-light” setups because these sensors are tuned to an infrared frequency emitted as part of body heat.

The primary reason for implementing the technology in the home

Ekahau T301BD Wi-Fi Pager Tag

The primary implementation that I was talking about with Mika was to use their T301BD Wi-Fi Pager Tag which hangs around the neck of a person. This tag has an integrated display and two function buttons that also work as emergency-call buttons. As well, if the tag is pulled on the neckstrap, it can initiate an emergency response. The tag supports direct paging with push-button response, which can allow it to work with a “response-check” setup where if the user doesn’t respond within a certain time to a call, the system initiates emergency action. The display could come in handy by showing the person’s name, which would be a good help with people who have memory-loss disorders.

In this implementation, there may be the need to establish Internet access to the pager tag in order to permit this device to work as part of a solution provided by an external service provider. This may involve use of hardware or software on the network that provides at least dynamic DNS functionality and integration with UPnP IGD-enabled routers to provide access to the tag. The functionality could be extended to provide local nurse-call functionality with in-house location display through a local screen and / or Web page available through the home network.

Similarly, the pager tag could work with other technology to assist people who have memory-loss disorders by enabling the use of electronically-generated “reminder screens” for particular tasks. This is relevant to an article that I wrote about in my blog concerning technology that is to assist the elderly in their daily lives. Here, I had talked about a kitchen equipped with various technologies like pico-projection systems, RFID and Wii-style motion sensors to provide reminders through different food-preparation tasks.

How this could be taken further

Ekahau should then consider studying this application as a technology that suits the current home-driven health-care direction.

Here, we are dealing with an older population as people of the baby boom move in to the later years of life and more people live longer. As well, there is more emphasis on home-based health-care so as to provide patients with the dignity of being looked after in their own home environment. This also includes an emphasis on independent living for elderly people, including having younger relatives be part of the older person’s life in a support role.

Similarly, there are disabled or chronically-ill people who want to be in the familiarity of their own home and family and these people can be able to work as carers, whether alone or alongside paid staff members who work on a rostered system.

The supporting software could be integrated in to computing devices that work on any of the common desktop-computing, handheld-computing, set-top box or embedded-device platforms in order to establish an assistive-technology ecosystem in the home.

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Nigerian people now address their association with the 419 scams

Main article

‘Maga No Need Pay’: Nigeria Gets Creative to Fight Cyber Scams | Microsoft On The Issues blog (Microsoft)

Music video – “Maga No Need Pay”

Turn up the volume to enjoy this clip!

 

Direct link to YouTube clip for TwonkyBeam users to “push” to DLNA media players or if you can’t see the clip on this page.

At the moment, there aren’t any reliable sources where one can obtain the song as an MP3 file.

My comments on this action

Previously, I had written about social networking sites being used as part of 419-style scams, primarily in the form of the “lost traveller” appeal on these sites.

After reading the blog article about Microsoft assisting Nigerian music talent to take steps to educate the youth against cybercrime, I was impressed about how this country can turn itself around and out of the “419-scam” quagmire.

The song was emphasised at the youth there who would think it was cool to become engaged in these scams and other cybercrime, especially thinking they could “live large” on the profits of these scams at the expense of their victims or “maga”. It is part of the Microsoft-led programs which work in a similar way to “Hand Brake Turn” and similar redirection programs sponsored by churches and similar non-profit organisations to steer youth who are at risk of committing crime away from it.

Here, it is definitely a break from the usual information that exists about these scams where the emphasis is on preventing people becoming victims of these scams.

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Skype videoconferencing coming soon to regular TV sets

Skype goes living room, embeds on LG, Panasonic HDTVs

Skype, toujours interdit sur 3G, investit les écrans de TV – DegroupNews (France – French language)

Skype Wants to Make Your TV More Social – GigaOM / NewTeeVee (USA)

Skype offers living room TV action – The Register (UK)

From the horse’s mouth

Get Skype On Your TV – Skype Blogs

My comments on this topic

Previously, I had written in this blog about the use of videoconferencing, especially Skype and Windows Live Messenger as a way for families separated by distance to stay in touch. This also included reference to a previously-broadcast television news article about this technology being used to bring older relatives who were at rest homes or supported-accommodation facilities closer to their families. The newscast showed images of the older relative at the supported-accommodation facility celebrating a birthday with the relatives who appeared on a large flat-screen TV set up as a videophone.

In that article. I had talked about integrating your flat-screen TV with your PC for video conferencing by linking your computer to the television via its VGA or HDMI inputs or integrating an older CRT-based TV using its composite or S-Video inputs so many people can benefit from the larger screen.

Over the last few days, I had read some articles about an announcement that Skype had made concerning integrating its functionality into regular “brown-goods” TV sets and associated equipment. The main thrust of this was to implement 720p HD Skype videoconferencing; and with selected Panasonic “VieraCast” and LG “NetCast Entertainment Access” TV sets, you add a webcam supplied by the set’s manufacturer to the sets and connect them to your home network to enable “PC-less” video conferencing. This definitely will appeal to people who find setting up or operating computers very intimidating and may also appeal to those of us who cannot stand the sight of computer equipment in the main lounge area and believe that computer equipment belongs in the den or study.

This will appeal to families who have distant relatives and want to use the TV located in the lounge room or family room to keep in touch with these relatives without much in the way of setup headaches. Similarly, these sets could lower the startup and ongoing costs involved with videoconferencing facilities for places involved with the care of senior citizens because the Skype-equipped TV sets will need very little in the way of staff-training and support costs. It will also appeal to small businesses, farmers and the like because they can benefit from “big-business” videoconferencing at a “small-business” price without “big-business” setup hassles.

As I have said before, this could be extended to other “advanced-TV” platforms like most of the “set-top-box” platforms such as TiVo so that people who have video equipment based on these platforms could benefit from this form of video conferencing without having to add extra boxes or replace their existing TV sets.

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Facebook Tip: Is someone saying things “off the wall” on the (Facebook) Wall about you? Who can read it?

Today (November 26) , a close friend of mine had a very bad experience with Facebook where he was pilloried by one of his Facebook Friends. He had become aware of this through viewing his Homepage and feared that he was going to be embarrassed by the post-writer in front of his other friends who have Facebook presence. This may be the usual reaction of many social-network users, especially Facebook users, when someone else posts something stupid on their Wall or page about the user.

If someone writes a post to their Wall, all of the post-writer’s Facebook Friends can see that post on their Home Pages which they see when they log in, and on the author’s Profile. But this post doesn’t appear on their own Profile. Nor can any of their other Facebook Friends see this post unless they have the post-writer as their Facebook Friend. A different situation may occur if someone writes the remark on someone else’s Wall. This may have it that the friends of both parties may see the remark.

It still is worth checking for mutual friends between the post-writer and yourself, especially if any of the mutual friends have become “sworn enemies” such as through a personal, workplace or business fall-out. A good utility to install on your Profile is the “Friend Wheel”, which allows you to see “who’s got whom” of your Friends in the Friend List. This tool, which I have on my Profile, draws a circle with all your friends as “nodes” and rules lines that indicate Facebook links between your friends. When you click on the “Click to enlarge” option, you will be provided with a dynamic circle where you can highlight a person’s name and it will show just their friends.

Similarly, browsing in the post-writer’s Profile may be of use so you can determine who are their Friends, especially any Mutual Friends. This is especially true where people browse around friends’ profiles to find out if the person they are after is on the social network.

Once you understand this situation, you can reduce the panic that you may feel with yourself in front of your friends if someone says something “off the wall” on their Wall.

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Now the bathroom scales can connect to the home network

 Withings – Home Page

Why Fit | Wi-Fi Networking News

WiFi-enabled bathroom scale slides into USA, overweight Yanks sluggishly back away | Engadget

My comments on this next step for the home network

When I was young, the typical kind of bathroom scales that were commonly available were of a mechanical type that needed adjustment before anyone could be weighed. As well, a person who didn’t have good eyesight couldn’t easily weigh themselves and had to require someone else to read the weight. There was a trickle of electronic scales but these were very expensive and mainly available through selected mail-order catalog stores rather than the homewares departments of a typical department store.

In the last 20 years, we have seen the arrival of cost-effective electronic bathroom scales that had a large digital display or, in some applications, voice synthesis; didn’t need to be adjusted every time each person weighed in and could allow a person with limited eyesight to weigh themselves. These units are becoming available through most homewares stores and departments.

This bathroom scales is the first unit that does more than the typical bathroom scales can do. It can measure fat mass and body mass index; but works with a Web portal that keeps record of this data for up to 8 members of a household. The data is transmitted to the portal using the WPA-secured Wi-Fi segment of your home network and is kept in a secure manner on the portal. As well, there is a local application available for the Apple iPhone / iPod Touch platform which provides the data in a manner optimised to that handheld device. But the Web dashboard can be visited through a regular Web browser setup.

From what I have seen of this device, there isn’t anything about what is involved in integrating the scales in to a secure wireless network. As far as I am concerned, these are the kind of devices that WPS-Push-Button-Connect is made for. Another thing I would like to see for these scales is an API being available so that one can write software such as integration into various desktop, network and Internet health-records programs.

As well, this has actually been the first kind of personal-health device available on the market that is able to be part of a home network. It could pave the way for more of these networked health-measurement devices to be made available for home-network use.

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Videos – Setting up your games console to become part of your home network

Today, I had seen some excellent YouTube videos posted by Netgear on how to integrate your games console in to your home network. They make references to the networks being based on their own hardware, but these instructions apply to any and all home networks no matter what router is at the edge.

Also, when they discussed how to connect the XBox360, PlayStation 3 and Wii to the home network, they mentioned that you can use a HomePlug-based power-line network setup using their PowerLine AV network kit to build the HomePlug segment. The main theme was to connect the HomePlug adaptor to the console via its Ethernet port and select the “wired” connection option as appropriate.

The reason I have liked the videos was because they gave a visual walkthrough of the setup user interaction needed to be performed at each console. They also pointed out if a console needed extra hardware to be part of the home network depending on the connection type. They are also worth having as a reference if you are likely to move your console(s) between locations such as for video-games parties.

If you are viewing this in an RSS Web feed, whether through your RSS software or as syndicated content on a Website like Facebook, you will need to visit this blog to view the videos. You can do this by clicking on the View Original Post option in the software or Web site. 

TV-connected consoles

Microsoft XBox360

Connections Benefits
WiFi – optional USB adaptor Online Gaming via XBox Live, Games and extras available for download through XBox Live, Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger) chat, Web browsing
Ethernet – Integrated Windows Media Center Extender, DLNA-compatible media player

 

Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) – includes “PS3 Thin”

Connections Benefits
WiFi – Integrated Online Gaming via PLAYSTATION Network, Games and extras available for download through PLAYSTATION Store, YouTube terminal
Ethernet – Integrated DLNA-compatible media player
 

Nintendo Wii

Connections Benefits
WiFi – Integrated Online Gaming, Wii Channels, Web browsing, Games and extras available for download to Wii and DSi from Wii Shop online store
Ethernet – optional USB adaptor  
 

Handhelds

All of these handheld have integrated WiFi as their sole connection means due to their portable nature.

Sony Playstation Portable (PSP)

Benefits: Online Gaming, Web Browsing, RSS Feeds and Podcasts

 

Nintendo DSi

Benefits: Online Gaming,Game download via DSi Store, Web browsing

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Facebook Tip: Sending a private message or “does the message need to be on your Wall or your Facebook Friend’s Wall for all to see”

Through my use of Facebook, I have seen some other users post messages intended for a particular recipient on that recipient’s Wall. Some of the messages are meant to be particularly confidential between the sender and the recipient. There is a way of sending a 1-to-1 message privately between Facebook Friends. What you do is either to go the the Friend’s profile and click on the “Send <Friend’s name> a message” option under their picture; or click on the “Inbox” option and select “Compose New Message”. In the “To” box, type in the Friend’s name or e-mail address – this is made quicker through the use of “auto-complete” data entry based on your Friend list.

When you send your message, the recipient will get a notification of a “new message” with a number beside the Inbox header. As well, if the recipient has it so configured, the recipient’s Facebook account will send the message to their e-mail address.

I have written a short note about this in my Status Update on Facebook so all my Facebook Friends are reminded of this issue, but have updated my Status Update with another Facebook topic. I am sorry that this will appear again on Facebook because I have set up this blog to be simulcast on my Wall and this kind if information may be of use for those who follow this blog through other channels.

The same issue will appear with other social-networking Websites like Twitter or MySpace and you will have to know how to send a 1-to-1 message to a particular member of the site.

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Teleworking Best Practices

Pandemic Preparedness: Teleworking Best Practices | Wi-Fi Planet

My comments on this topic

In the article referenced from this post, the last few paragraphs talked about being prepared for teleworking whatever the “raison du jour” was. This was because whenever there was a national security incident, a natural disaster or a plague, the concept of telecommuting would be raised through business discussions. But whenever these risks subside, telecommuting falls off the agenda.

I personally consider the concept of teleworking as something to be factored in to everyday office life no matter the national or global situation. One application I think of very heavily would be for workers who end up doing double-duty as family carers, such as for ill or convalescing children; or elderly parents.

As well, it may appeal to people who are approaching the end of their tenure at the business to be able to increase being used to staying home rather than at the office. This is more so with family-run businesses where there is an increased risk of “living in the office” even as their active tenure comes to a close.

Similarly, it could also allow larger office-based employers to reach talent pools that exist in rural communities for some of their office jobs. The employers can be able to then work from home for most of their working month, but come in to the office for meetings and similar activities.

The way to technically prepare for teleworking would be to ensure that there is a good-quality secure Internet link to the office, such as a VPN, and consider the use of a VoIP or other “virtual extension” setup for the telephone. A webcam can be handy if you intend to do some video-conferencing with the office.

As far as the printer is concerned, make sure that you can print out any workplace documents with it. This may involve making sure that any “remote-desktop” programs can work with your local printer.

Small businesses can look towards using LogMeIn or GoToMyPC as a quick-setup remote-desktop tool, especially if you use “home” versions of Windows operating systems in the office or you don’t have much computing knowledge. If you use a “pro” or “business” version of Windows and have a fair bit of computing knowledge, it may be worth knowing how to use the Remote Desktop functionality.

As far as your VoIP or “virtual extension” setup is concerned, it may be worth making sure that your system can be capable of allowing the same extension number to be easily switched between two or more physical terminals, like a softphone program, VoIP handset or classic fixed or mobile telephone. This can permit the phone system to work with your work-home life.

Once you have a setup that allows you to do your work at home, you can be ready to work from home at a moment’s notice.

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