Blog entries categorized under Digital Blogs

No strings attached – *Between the lines*

Posted by Glog
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on Monday, 02 April 2007
in Digital Blogs
I refer to Lun’s previous blog of a similar title, in which he covers a couple of the wireless options available to the average user.  In a very deft move, my company brought me up to date with the rest of the world by dropping a new cellular data card on my desk.  Whoopee thought I, somebody loves me, somebody values me! Look at this rare and valuable perk…  Hmmm not so fast junior – there’s a catch here somewhere…  Let me explain.  What happened when you and your friends all purchased your first cellular telephone?  Your phone stayed on your person 24/7, and you suddenly became accessible at all times yes?  This was desirable from a social point of view naturally.  Then it progressed to the work phone, and you suddenly became accessible at all times, yes?  This was great if you were using the phone to crack major deals whilst sitting at your favourite watering hole, or wandering up and down the airport terminal waiting for your plane.  It wasn’t so great when you were responsible for a crucial piece of equipment back in the server room, and the phone rang at 2am for you to get your butt over to the office and rescue some ailing hard drive.  Well, the data card has followed exactly the same path, in that early adopters can show off their mobile browsing skills and send off that “really important” email while relaxing on the sofa….. but it goes beyond that as I have discovered.  I am responsible for collating a certain end of month report.  This report is required no matter what is going on at work, or away from it, as the case may be.  Needless to say, at the end of December I spent precious festive holiday time chasing up co-workers for their input, and slaving away at the report.  I managed to complete 90% of the report and passed it up the line feeling quite proud of my loyalty to responsibilities. However, a crucial portion of the report was missing, because one of my co-worker’s data cards went on the blink and that information was not forthcoming. This little episode raised issues back in the office. Questions were asked as to why the card had malfunctioned, what had the co-worker done to address the problem, why they had not gone into the office to produce the work rather than blaming the faulty card for non-performance.   I realized that the corporate noose tightened significantly the day I logged on to the network and mail system.  Whilst this is not quite “Instant Messaging”, the data card is every bit as invasive and pervasive as SMS!  i.e.: “I sent you that email, why haven’t you responded? What? Look, I know that you’re at home, but you have a notebook and data card and you are expected to check your email….! Please get back to me with that report ASAP!”  Get the picture?  As good as the technology is, it becomes a double edged sword inasmuch as one now has the means to get the work done at all times in any location, and that is exactly what one is expected to do.  I pity the workaholics – poor blighters haven’t got a chance… 
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No strings attached – *between the ears*

Posted by Glog
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on Friday, 05 January 2007
in Digital Blogs

Now that I have my new data card – GPRS with Edge – I have swelled the ranks of the electronic polluters.  It’s not enough that we have 33 million (or so) cellphones in this country, we now have to go and turn on many thousand more data cards and Wi-Fi adapters and pump more electro-smog through the working environment.

...
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Web site shopping - Instant gratification society

Posted by Glog
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on Thursday, 06 April 2006
in Digital Blogs
As consumers of web services - in their various forms - we have become used to real time (or in-the-moment) responses.  We are a group of society accustomed to instant gratification whatever we do, and wherever we are.

Where am I going with this? Perhaps I should start by describing where this originated.

I am the user of a Nokia 9300 communicator (don`t get me started on the slow Symbian OS for this model...), and bundled with this phone came a neat app called MobiPocket. This is software that allows one to read eBooks on portable devices such as phones and PDAs.  MobiPocket.com allows users to create an account on its server and download eBooks for consumption on their devices.
I decided to try this out for myself, but without much success. I must have made 6 or 7 attempts to create a username and password combination, and each time the page simply reloaded - not even an error message was displayed.  I alternated these attempts with an attempt to actually log in. This met with equal (non)success. At one point the site actually returned the message that the login/password combination already existed, and that I should choose another account.  I eventually gave up in total disgust.  I`ll settle for creating my own content with the MobiPocket ebook creator I downloaded from the site instead (14 day eval version).

My experience left me with the feeling that I have truly become a creation of my environment.  A website that wants my eyeball-seconds must deliver first time or I am going to move on.  I want instant gratification, and I want it now!

That I tried several times bears mute testimony to the fact that the site offers something I want - but one strike and you`re out is my attitude at the moment. It will be a long time before I decide to try again.

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Who rules the waves? #2

Posted by Glog
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on Friday, 17 March 2006
in Digital Blogs
Ok,
for those of you who picked up certain inaccuracies in part one of this
topic, well done!  It always helps to have the facts at hand, and I
have subsequently learned a few since my last posting.


Not much has changed however, but one aspect of the laser link story
needs to be clarified. It seems, according to the legislation, that
only certain service providers are authorised to supply the equipment
and undertake laser link installations. These are the rare few that
possess a PSTN Licence. (PSTN = Public Switched Telephony Network).

The interesting thing here is that there are only three (yes, 3!) PSTN licence holders in the country. These are


  1. Telkom (understandably),


  2. The SNO (SNO? What SNO?), and


  3. Sentech (a parastatal, just by the way).


So what?, you may ask. Well, IMHO this raises a couple of questions, such as:


  1. What has been deregulated? (It appears that the State is still in control, so what was deregulated?);

  2. Why
    does an organisation or company need a PSTN licence to supply and
    install laser link technology? (arguably, many of these installations
    are simply extensions to private circuits anyway - notwithstanding the
    fact that they traverse public spaces);

  3. Are
    the current vendors of this technology taking big chances in the face
    of legislation? Are the profits worth the risks? Or is the legislation
    ambiguous, allowing for several different interpretations?

So, it may be a while before the complete story is known.

No doubt many more such stories will be told in Joe Citizen`s ongoing
quest for access to the radio spectrum to bridge the digital divide.


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Who rules the waves?

Posted by Glog
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on Wednesday, 08 March 2006
in Digital Blogs
I was under the impression that ICASA rules the airwaves, but it appears our friendly incumbent telecoms operator is still under the impression that it does.
Some time ago new technology was introduced to provide for CANs (Campus Area Networks) in the form of laser link (as it is commonly known).  Laser devices configured in direct line of site can transmit network traffic up to 4 kms at better than WAN speeds. Brilliant technology that allows a business to exend its LAN to the office up the street, or halfway across town.

In the early days, the problem was, no data carrying medium was allowed to cross a publlic space, until the recent deregulation of certain telecomunications regulations.  Laser links were snapped up and installed all over the place, and for good reason too, they work like a charm. 

Until this week that is.  The aforementioned telecoms operator has apparently tried to put a stop to certain installations of these devices.  What`s puzzling is that one organisation affected by this is simply trying to increase the bandwidth and fault tolerance of the existing laser link by installing another.  The initial installation I should point out, was undertaken with the approval of ICASA.  Hence my question: Who is calling the shots?

Go ahead, I say. The telecoms operator is no longer the regulator, and the decision was made to allow these devices anyway. Anyone else out there that has had a similar experience?

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Push to talk Over Cellular (POC) supports RICA

Posted by Glog
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on Thursday, 23 February 2006
in Digital Blogs
Having recently read an ITWeb article about proposals to introduce Push to talk Over Cellular (POC), I pondered the implications of this initiative. On the one hand, this is pretty innovative of the cellular service providers, as they open up another market niche for themselves. With the security industry being such a dynamic one in this country, I feel sure that the two-way radio specialists currently have a steady flow of business.  For the Celluar service providers this is just another potential revenue stream, and it makes sense to pursue the opportunity. How will the radio handset vendors compete?

On the other hand,
the use of POC technology gives the security agencies a means of monitoring previously unheard communications in terms of RICA.
This also gives ICASA an opening to eventually decomission all commercial and private analogue radio devices that are not associated with Essential Services. (even these are going digital sooner rather than later)
Valuable radio spectrum could probably be freed up as a result of the walkie-talkie traffic being routed via the Cellular frequencies.

For the paranoid, will the use of analogue devices eventually be outlawed? We`ll just have to wait and see.

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