The Wall Street Journalreports on the increasing numbers of homeless computer users. While some resort to familiar solutions such as using computers set up in shelters or at public libraries, others carry their own laptops and external hard disks, and some even generate their own electricity or connect their units to car batteries to keep their systems running. Cybercafes, sympathetic friends, and "hidden" locations in public places that offer AC power and wireless access are some of the methods used to stay online.
Except for where homeless users run their systems and make online connections, they're not much different than those of us using PCs at home or at the office: PCs are used for news, information, and entertainment, social networking, advocacy, and jobhunting. As one homeless user puts it: "You don't need a TV. You don't need a radio. You don't even need a newspaper, but you need the Internet."
If you had to hit the streets, what would you give up before you gave up your PC? Join us after the jump and share your thoughts.
While AirTran claimed that they would be the first to implement Wi-Fi on all of their flights, Virgin America just beat them to the punch.
Yesterday Virgin officially announced that they would feature Wi-Fi on all 100 of their daily flights. Costs clock in at $12.95 for three hours and over, $9.95 for less than three hours, $5.95 for red-eye flights, and $7.95 if you just want to use a handheld device (such as a cell phone or a DSi).
Sure, the prices might seem a little beefy, but when I’m given the mental option between watching the inevitably bad movie that’s playing on the screen in front of me, or surfing the net on my own accord, I’ll opt towards the latter every time.
Did you know that more Wi-Fi networks are out there than what your computer can normally see? It's true. But depending on the security settings of the wireless network and its overall signal strength, you might not see these alternate options pop up in the standard Windows network settings dialogue. That's where Wi-Fi scanning applications like NetStumbler or inSSIDer come into play. That, and they're the best way you go about cataloging all the hotspots in your neighborhood from the passenger seat of your moving vehicle.
Click the link, and we'll show you how you can use inSSIDer to find out valuable information about the wireless networks floating around you right now!
Starting today, any clientele of Delta Airlines that choose to fly between New York, Boston and Washington D.C. will be treated to the option of in-flight Internet.
The sky-fi (see what I did there?) will run those on flights under three hours $9.95 for the entirety of the flight. Any flights that go over three hours will cost you an additional three buckaroos, bringing the grand total to $12.95.
It’s expected that the feature will be available in all flights (including on Delta’s merger partner, Northwest Airlines) on May 31, 2009. The technology is slated to be brought on board by IBM, HP, Dell and newcomer Super Micro.
Thankfully, this should provide a nice alternative to watching V for Vandetta three times in a row (it loses its edge after the first time) because the rest of the movies are terrible choices. Now, you can just browse your favorite sites, like Maximum PC!
Election Day wasn't the only event to make history on November 4th - the FCC made its own kind of history on Tuesday in approving the development of wireless devices that can use "white space" (the unused broadcast TV spectrum between broadcast TV channels, which ranges from 512MHz to 698 MHz). Unlike the close race between fellow senators for the US Presidency, the FCC decision to open up unused TV spectrum was unanimous, ZDNet's Sean Portnoy reports, despite lobbying against the rule by 50 members of Congress and a variety of recording artists worried about the effects of the decision on their live performances.
The decision (available here in PDF format) balances the hopes of companies like Microsoft and Google to make wireless Internet-enabled devices even more ubiquitous than now with the fears of the theater industry that exploiting white space will interfere with wireless microphones that use the same spectrum, and the concerns of the National Association of Broadcasters that using "white space" will interfere with TV viewing.
To find out how the FCC plans to make everybody happy in wirelessland, join us after the jump.
Wi-Fi is fast emerging as the most popular technology for wireless communication between disparate gadgets, but security remains a major concern. However, researchers at Boston University’s College of Engineering are working on an alternative way of connecting devices that will be innately more secure than Wi-Fi.
Moreover, an LED-based communication technology will enjoy a distinct security advantage. It will be more secure compared to Wi-Fi due to the inability of light to penetrate through opaque surfaces like walls.
“Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires,” said an ebullient Thomas Little, a BU engineering professor, about the idea. Soon, our networks will quite literally “light up”.
A study by market research firm In-Stat has found that our dependence on wires is rapidly waning with the rise in the sales of embedded Wi-Fi devices. The study pegged the sale of embedded Wi-Fi devices around the world at 294 million units in 2007. It expects the figure to leapfrog to 1 billion by 2012.
According to the study, Wi-Fi enabled cell phones will usurp PCs as the most popular (largest) category of Wi-Fi devices. Even digital TVs are expected to interact with a wide gamut of devices using Wi-Fi in the imminent future. As Wi-Fi marches towards ubiquity, there are some compatibility and security issues that need to be addressed urgently.
This multi-function Wi-Fi device is super handy in some applications; utterly useless in others. It’s great if you have an extensive hardwired network and want to deploy a wireless access point and a three-port switch in a room your Wi-Fi router can’t otherwise reach. But it sucks as a wireless bridge because of its extremely poor range.
Second, users of Eye-Fi cards will be able to add the photo transfer features of their choice to cards that were not bundled with these features.
Here are the new options:
Users of the entry-level Eye-Fi Home card can add web sharing for $9.99/year, making the card equivalent in features to the Eye-Fi Share card.
Users of the Eye-Fi Home or Share card can add geotagging for $14.99/year.
And, users of the Eye-Fi Share card can add automatic uploading at open hotspots or at Wayport hotspots (there are over 10,000 of those) for $14.99/year.
By adding geotagging and hotspot support, users of Eye-Fi Share cards make these cards equivalent to Eye-Fi Explore cards.
The already long list of online photo sharing services Eye-Fi supports now includes Apple's MobileMe and AdoramaPix, effective immediately. Eye-Fi cards are now being bundled with digital cameras at Wal-Mart.com, and will be available at Best Buy stores starting October 5.
What do you think about the ability to add the features you want to Eye-Fi cards? Hit the jump for your chance to sound off.
If your ISP goes down during a bad thunderstorm or other unexpected outage, you might find yourself reflecting on just how dependent you've become on this thing they call the interweb. But while most of us only have to suffer through temporary downtime on rare occasions, what about the "other 3 billion" people who lack internet access altogether?
Google hopes to change that, and with the help of Liberty Global and HSBC, the three internet saviors are backing a start-up called O3b Networks (can you guess what O3b stands for?). Initial production of 16 low-cost satellites is already underway and will eventually provide the infrastructure for locales without high-speed networking cable, including emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
"The O3b Networks system wil completely change the economics of telecommunications infrastructure in the world's fastest-growing markets for communications services," O3b said in a statement.
Look for the service to become active in 2010, with the door being left open for even more satellites down the line.