Smart Devices Monitoring Us and Predicting Our Needs

Our smart phones can tell not only when they’re being used, but how you’re holding them, if you’re walking, how many steps you take a day and obviously know your phone call patterns and even your calendar.  How far are we going?

Now, developers are looking at including biometrics and cameras to monitor us even more.  This will let these devices provide us with what we need, when we need it — kind of like a butler of years past.

But, what does it mean to our privacy?  Do we really want a machine that can be monitored by who-knows-who to keep track of every part of our lives?

For more, read Smart gadgets may one day anticipate our needs.

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Bad Cell Coverage No More!

Who hasn’t had trouble with cell phone reception?  There’s a new cell phone being developed that will also use your WiFi, but did you know that you can get your own “Micro Site” from the major carriers that will get rid of those dead zones in your home or office?

If you’ve got Verizon, here’s the inside scoop on the hardware from Tom’s Guide.  This device specifically provides a signal for your Verizon Wireless cell phone when there’s no signal at all.

Sprint/Nextel has a similar device with a different payment plan (what else is new?).  If you’ve got one or more Sprint phones and little or no signal, you can buy the Sprint Home Booster (Airwave) and plug it into your Internet connection.  It does a pretty decent signal for your phones.

When there’s a big storm, such as what we’ve recently seen in Haiti and in Indonesia, and the cell phone networks go down most people are out of luck.  Same problem when you’re in a remote area of any country, but if there’s Wifi available there’s a new cell phone being designed that provides the connectivity you need: Scientists develop mobile phone that doesn’t need reception.

If you’ve got a signal from your wireless provider, but it just isn’t strong enough there’s a generic solution you can use at your home.  There are quite a few of them out there, and here’s one that we found on that seems pretty good.

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iPhone 4 Antenna Problems Are the Beginning of the End of Apple

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

We’ve been watching the popular iPhone 4’s technical problems over the past few weeks with its antenna design.  The iPhone 4’s DeathGrip is so common that anyone who owns and uses an iPhone on the road has experienced its propensity to dropping calls.

As a radio technician (Advanced-Class HAM license), I have to say that it’s impossible that competent design engineers missed this potential problem.  I truly doubt that Apple’s being hiring idiots to do its hardware designs, so it only left me with one possible answer: they knew about the problem in advance and that the problem was a design trade-off.  Turns out I was right again.

Steve Jobs admitted today that there is a real problem with the design, but gave the “but everybody else has a similar problem” excuse.  Sheesh!

It looks like we’ve got the evidence we need: Apple has finally become too arrogant to be responsive to even its greatest fans.  The fall is on the way…

Apple, I knew thee when.

Apple knew about iPhone 4 antenna problems long before its release.

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eMail Stress Level Fixed at 50 Per Day

eMail was very handy when I first started using it in 1981.  Back then you only got eMail that really mattered and you were happy to get it.

We wern’t getting bills from the utility companies, bounce notifications from the bank or SPAM from thousands of Nigerian Princess who can’t get their jiggy on.

And it’s still become worse.

Harris Interactive‘s study of eMail stress levels shows that almost everyone thinks that 50 eMails per day is their limit — at the office, home or now on-the-road with our great new smartphones.  (Expect to see suits filed by lawyers for their clients whose work stress of having to deal with eMails is going to kill them all…)

I have to agree that 50 eMails a day is a little much.  My SPAM filters block an average of 3,000 messages per day and a couple of hundred get through.  Uggh.

Maybe my stress isn’t caused by the Wife and Kids after all?

Survey warns of e-mail stress

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Apple’s iPhone 4 Connection Problems: Thoroughly Reviewed

Apple‘s iPhone 4 has problems with dropped calls and slow data rates.  The blame’s been cast on everything from left-handed users holding the phone incorrectly through the signal strength display not being correct.  (They’ve got to be kidding, right?  How can the signal strength meter on a digital phone cause the phone’s modems to mess up?)

Well, I’ve found a great reference, photos included, as to what is actually happening and why.  Bottom-line?  You know that cool stainless-steel band that goes around the outside of the phone?  Turns out Apple placed two different antennas on the outside of the phone and didn’t protect them from your hands!  (Why bother, after all, who would hold a cell phone with their hands?)

When you hold the phone around the lower left side you’re actually shorting out (RF-wise) the two antennas and causing a measured 24dB drop in signal strength.  Ouch!

Read on for a great explanation, photos and tests:  Apple’s iPhone 4: Thoroughly Reviewed

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