Mobile



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You sit white knuckled behind the wheel. You quickly check your rear view mirror, then scan the field of cars ahead. Then you make your move and gently coast and brake into the red light during your commute home. This. Is. Racing.

Four Driving Metrics - Miles, Braking, Time, Speed

Raise your hand if you’re a good driver? Ok, put your hands back on the steering wheel. Now raise your hand if you can prove it. This becomes much tougher for a variety of reasons, starting with what is your definition of good? It is your amazing ability to simultaneously talk on the phone, eat lunch, check your email, drive with your knees while still obeying most of the rules of the road? Maybe it is your uncanny ability to beat the train and know where all the traffic cops sit so you can avoid long delays and speeding tickets?

As with most things, data might say otherwise. Insurance companies have always known more data is better. Now they are taking the stance more data is even better when shared with you. It just might change your driving habits. Techlife feels like a good driver, no insurance incidents, including accidents or major moving violations. But that kind of thinking is so last century.

I recently agreed to become a real life driver in the Data Racing League, allowing the insurance company to know nearly everything about every trip I take in my car. So I can hear half of you saying “Why would you allow that invasion of privacy?” and the other half saying “What does “everything” mean? What are they measuring?” Let’s look a little closer at what they measure first.

  • Mileage
  • Braking Events
  • Time of Day
  • Speed over 80mph

Seems simple enough with just four metrics. But here’s where the leery among you might cringe a little more. With just these four data points, the system breaks them up into smaller increments, such as a Hard Braking Event and an Extreme Braking Event.  What does that mean? Hard Breaking Events are a deceleration of 8 -10 mph in one second. Extreme Braking Events are a deceleration of over 10mph in one second. Pretty detailed. The system also tracks how many miles were traveled during various times of the day and how many miles you travel over 80 mph.

Overall Grades for Driving

You might be pretty skeptical, let’s just turn your fear of being tracked and monitored to the maximum setting . You, the person who tells the world on Facebook what you ate, where you ate it, and more than most of us care to know about it. The tracking breakdown is by trip, providing the four base metrics, combined with a start and stop time down to the minute of the whole trip, plus average speed and maximum speed.

“There better be a great reason for doing this! I’m not just giving my private life out to any company who will penalize me even more because -” Let me stop you right there. It’s money. That’s right, the insurance company is offering money in the form of a discount of up to 30% off my next premium and it continues as long as the device stays installed. The live discount for my company is clearly displayed on a companion website and adjusts daily. All of a sudden you might be wondering how invasive could it really be and how does it actually work?

Weekly Driving Grid by Event

Contact your insurance company or agent to see if they offer the program. If they do they will send out a small device that plugs into your car above the gas pedal  below the steering wheel. It’s a data port used by mechanics. This small device about the size of a large pack of gum talks to your car’s computer to collect the data. A few things to note, my insurance company insists that no matter what the device can only lower premiums. The goal of the company is to share this information with drivers so they can consider their habits long term.

Single Trip Details

I spoke to a company representative who said she tried it personally and due to her long commute via high speed highway most of her driving was over 80 mph and lots of mileage daily and her discount was zero. She opted out. There is no obligation to try it, you can quit the program at any time. Let’s face it your travels aren’t top secret and if you can save on your premiums, it’s probably worth it. Are you a Data Racer? Share your experience.


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Balloon Classic 2009 by Jerry Bolton c/o Aunty Monkey

I’m often asked by readers about reading. “How do you find the time to read?” “You must read a lot?” “What’s your secret to good reading?” Truth is I am a slow reader. If I don’t concentrate fully on my reading I find other ideas will creep into my mind and whole paragraphs go by before I realize I was off somewhere else and not comprehending the words in front of me. I then re-read those paragraphs once again. But the point is I read.

Those of you who have read to this point must like reading or you might be stuck in a jail cell or a hot air balloon and this is the only written word you have in your possession. For the latter group, welcome to Techlife. I don’t welcome the people who like to read, as they need very little motivation.  This column is aimed squarely  at the prisoners and balloonists of the world. You see prisoners and balloonists share the confines of a small space and limited contact with the outside world. In addition these two groups have niche interests so while they might read a general consumer publication they also might enjoy something written just for them.

Where do you find your niche?

Techlife reads c/o Google Reader

Techlife reads c/o Google Reader

Here’s where it gets interesting, in the past 30 days I have read more than 1000 articles.  (In reality the reading occurred on 22 days during the past 30, as I do take days off.) Diving deeper into the stats, I have only gotten to read 10% of the content from across 115 subscriptions. You likely imagine my postal worker cringing as he gets my mail each day. Lest you forget prisoners and balloonists, this is Techlife  and these subscriptions are all digital,  portable and free. Try Google Reader to see your own stats, and enjoy the in-sync mobile web browser version too. It’s my first bookmark on my smartphone.

Let’s assume our incarcerated readers are trying to better themselves. Finding a new interest and pursuing it with a passion might help a parole board see how you are a changed person ready to re-enter society. Construction would give you a chance to get hired and learn a skill in a trade. Start reading anything and everything on construction. Using a site like Technoorati you might find a site like “Green Building Elements” or  “A Daily Dose of Architecture.” Each site added to your list of subscriptions means more writers, more content and varied view points on the niche areas you are targeting.

115 subscriptions might seem like a lot, even if I am only reading 10% or less of each one. But finding unique sources on your own niche topics is how you become an expert? Use the sites you uncover to lead you further jumping off points. On “A Daily Dose of Architecture”, you will see on the left sidebar 10 entries under bookmarks leading toward new publications. A bit further down the sidebar offers the “66 Most Popular A/D Websites” and then below that “33 Favorites (not in the above list of 66)”.

Where do you go next? Balloonists your turn to reply.

 


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“On thine day, in thine month, in thine year, it has come pass thy new The Tab King has been crowned.”

Is Techlife really declaring it is the king of something? Well of course not loyal subjects, I mean readers. Kings are people and Techlife is but a vessel to share knowledge. And what is it again that I rule you ask? Tabs? Sit back and let me explain the kingdom of web browsing and open tabs.

Modern web browsers all employ the concept of tabbed browsing. A tab is a way of storing many browsing sessions in a shared window. Need to look up something but want to keep search window open as well, just open the search in a new tab. Visiting Facebook and need to read an article in your stream, open it in a new tab . The advantage of a new tab is your existing window remains as you left it. There is no hard and fast data on tab usage but in a recent unofficial Twitter poll, my usage of more than 60 concurrently open tabs outdistanced the rest by more than 35 tabs. (As I write this there are 73 open tabs in two browser windows.)

Why so many open tabs?

I use tabs for Techlife research of course. As well as keeping tabs on news of the day, shopping takes a few tabs for research and reviews, another for price comparison and yet another for the actual online store.

“So it came to pass that The Tab King began to worry about losing all the tabs.”

With all the open tabs Google Chrome rarely crashes and even when it does restoring the tabs is pretty easy. But yet, there are times when restoring the tabs is not easy and tabs are lost. I’m sure the astute reader says, what about Xmarks, the solution from a previous Techlife column? Bookmarking each tab is more of a chore and less a solution for short and mid term tabs.

The Elegant Evolution

Faithful reader Rob who has emailed back and forth suggested a new tool he found, TabCloud by Connor Dunn, a student at the University of Warwick, UK. This amazing tool allows a user to save the current tabs. But it does more. It lets you save them to the cloud. (Quick sidebar: The Cloud is another way of saying the internet, or more accurately not saved locally on your computer.) By saving your tabs to the cloud, TabCloud let’s a user access them anywhere.

“So faithful subjects of the realm, The Tab King was worry free and the brave reader Rob granted knighthood.”

Epilogue

“As The Tab King began to prepare for sharing the discovery of the brave knight Sir Rob with the loyal subjects, the King made yet another discovery.”  

TabCloud has an Android application and an iPhone and iPad webapp! The apps allows a user to access their saved tabs on their mobile device as well and it is as simple to use as the Chrome and Firefox extensions.


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Here at Techlife we have had the pleasure of writing about many family and friends who needed technology assistance. Remember the reader who dropped his phone in the toilet? A fan favorite and a personal friend. How do I get so lucky knowing these folks?

As Techlife likes to pay homage to the greatest hackers, Moms, we have had past columns such as GeekDad happy for Mother’s Day and This Mother’s Day Tell the Truth. Well, now it’s personal. In a celebration of Moms’ ingenuity, I offer up How my Mom Hacked Gmail.

My mom plays this mental game with herself. Maybe you do too. “Technology is too hard, and I don’t get it,” she often exclaims. But in reality she does get it, just at her own pace. Which leads us to the recent multi-year process of getting a smart phone. Now you may be saying to yourself what special smart phone did she get that took a few years to arrive?

Well, once again this is my Mom. The smart phones have been here, it was her reluctance mentally that hadn’t turned the corner. She had a cell and a Palm and was eager to carry a single device.  After years her realization was,whatever she imagined as the perfect device still hadn’t been made apparently.

So she settled on a top of the line Android Powered G2 with Google. Immediately the questions begin. Her biggest was Palm Notes. She used the basic notes function and wanted something like it. A simple request. Searching the Market resulted in more than 1000 note apps. “But, son,” she said. Always there’s a catch, right? Hers was she wanted to access the notes even when in the basement of her work with no connection, she wanted changes to auto-sync, she wanted to search them, and wanted to organize them. So far there are still hundreds of apps that work, no problem Mom.

Life got in the way of the family helpdesk, a few days later the smart phone vs. the toilet and other tech foibles speaking circuit concluded, I checked in with Mom again and asked her how it was going.  Expecting to hear how she still had had 48 more apps to test drive in the notes. She said, “I just decided to use Gmail.” I cocked my head to the side like a dog does upon hearing an unfamiliar sound. Slowly I replied, “How does that work?”

My Mom’s Gmail Hack

  1. Visit Gmail on Desktop and log in (not all Androids can do this on the device)
  2. In the upper left click on Contacts
  3. Under the New Contact Button, scroll down to “New Group”  and click
  4. Enter a name, I chose “Notes”
  5. Click the “New Contact” Button
  6. In the “Add Name” field add a category such as Work, Home or School
  7. Click the button with the “…” and enter the Note’s subject as the last name
  8. Now begin entering your notes
  9. Upon completion, click on the groups pull down and select “Notes” and leave “My Contacts” selected
  10. Repeat for all your notes
  11. Notes are searchable on desktop and handheld and synced to Google’s back end servers

Yep, my Mom took the simplest, easiest method she knew and adapted. Creating Gmail Notes, proving once again simple beats fancy every time. If you know her, call her a geek. She earned it. Happy Mother’s Day to all those moms.

 


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Tell me, how I can help?

As a rule, the idea of calling or emailing a support service for help with a toaster, a lawnmower or your 1982 Emerson Lilac Purple boombox is akin to having a conversation with a bear at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  You know the metaphor, right? It takes a long time to get down to the bottom of a big endless hole.  Once there the conversation is pretty scary with you pleading that they understand.  More than likely you are left with growling.

Or there’s our way.

In a March 2010 Techlife column, we celebrated with you the reader how RDRR Labs was named a Top Android Developer by Google.  A few notes on this; RDRR Labs is a two person team including myself and a friend. Google’s definition of “top” was more than 3.5 stars and at least 5,000 downloads.  Nice qualifications.  But to us that was not “top” yet. At that time our most popular app, Timeriffic had just under a 4.5 rating and near 10,000 downloads and was available in a few languages.

We made an effort to improve. We added more languages, today we have eleven. We have added features and listened to our users and today have more than 50,000 downloads. Best of all we have increased our app’s rating to 4.56 stars and rising. And lastly we have gone on a customer service campaign and this is where the real magic has happened.

Our app is free.  We don’t need to listen to anyone. We want too. To listen even  better, we have a developed an easy error reporting tool to help us answer our users questions. And that’s where things get interesting.

A user reported our app was broken and would not work on his new Droid X. I should add his tone was more like we had stormed into his home, taken his Droid X and crushed it under our foot. In other words; he was mad. We tried a few calm replies suggesting various options to him. 20 emails later, the app was still not working. Now admittedly we didn’t have a Droid X. Could it be this one phone actually didn’t like our app? It was worth finding out.

Techlife reader to the rescue!  I sent a quick message to a loyal reader who had just been bragging about her new Droid X. She was happy to see if the app worked. She installed it and reported back it was great. I thanked her and now was really stumped. How could our app be showing errors so different from what was expected? I took another crack, with a long email detailing the steps our loyal reader had taken and how the app worked great. The email I got back was the key to the whole mystery.

Our efforts are exactly what you can do when getting or giving help. Stay calm. Look carefully at the problem from the user’s side and above all don’t give up. The email we got back detailed the issue and talked about a specific feature. A feature we didn’t offer! It was then I realized he wasn’t using our app at all! A quick exchange  and he replied how happy he was we had solved his problem. Case closed.


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We* are hobbyists just having fun developing for Android, but Google sure knows how to make our day.  Check out the email we got.


From: Android Market
Date: Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 3:46 PM
Subject: Device Seeding Program for Top Android Market Developers
To: rdrr.labs@gmail.com

Subject: Device Seeding Program for Top Android Market Developers

Due to your contribution to the success of Android Market, we would like to present you with a brand new Android device as part of our developer device seeding program. You are receiving this message because you’re one of the top developers in Android Market with one or more of your applications having a 3.5 star or higher rating and more than 5,000 unique downloads.

In order to receive this device, you must click through to this site, read the terms and conditions of the offer and fill out the registration form to give us your current mailing address so that we can ship your device.

You will receive either a Verizon Droid by Motorola or a Nexus One. Developers with mailing addresses in the US will receive either a Droid or Nexus one, based on random distribution. Developers from Canada, EU, and the EEA states (Norway, Lichtenstein), Switzerland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore will receive a Nexus One. Developers with mailing addresses in countries not listed above will not receive a phone since these phones are not certified to be used in other countries.

We hope that you will enjoy your new device and continue to build more insanely popular apps for Android!

(email links removed)

RDRR Labs has:

Timeriffic with near 4.5 stars and way more downloads.
24 a beta app has 3.8 stars and way more downloads.
Brighteriffic has near 4 stars and way more downloads.

*Update 1: “We” means, a friend who does the code and Techlife’s lead writer who does visual design for Android apps.


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Blackberry Keypad by Mark Iafrate vs.   toilet by István Benedek

Dear Techlife,

I was in my office, my second office, and it happened.

My precious smartphone, tumbled out of my hands, bounced off my leg, I reached for it and it grazed my fingers.  I watched in horror as it gyrated like a diver in the Olympics and did a perfect entry, with little splash at all, but a resounding, plop into the watery depths.

I shut my eyes, muscled up the courage and reached my hand into….the toilet.  My goal, rescue my precious smartphone from what must be a Blackberry grave.  Wow that water was ice cold.

As I expected the poor baby was dead.  I am distraught, what can I do?  How can I dry my wet phone?

Sincerely,

Deep Bowl Diver aka Fumble fingers

Dear Fumble Diver…

It’s not as bad as you would think.  As you might imagine you aren’t the first to drop an electronic item in water, or more specifically a phone into a toilet.  Shh…it happens, to everybody, well not me, but everybody else.

Even better there is a solution to easily and cheaply dry out your phone!

Will the solution work for you or any of our other readers is clearly a case by case basis, but the solution is pretty simple.  Rice.  Yes, rice.

Blackberry Keypad by Mark Iafrate +  toilet by István Benedek =  Rice bowl by Lali Masriera

Rice cooks in water by absorbing the moisture it is sitting in, like a sponge.  To dry your smartphone try these simple steps:

  1. Open the phone, if possible (iPhones exluded.)
  2. Remove the battery, SIM card and storage card.
  3. If it is a clamshell, open it fully.
  4. Pour uncooked white rice into a bowl.
  5. Submerge phone, battery, sim and storage cards in bowl of dry rice completely for 3 full days.
  6. Remove, reassemble and power on.

Your luck will vary based on many factors, including the length of time the item was submerged.  Also before you call your carrier and claim, “It just stopped working. I don’t know what happened.”  All mobile phones have liquid activated stickers inside them in a few places.  This helps a technician know if you have had water damage normally not covered by your warranty.  So Fumble Diver, try the rice first, you already voided your warranty.

Finally, a quick comment about the bathroom referred to as your second office.  I am sure there are plenty of readers who nod their head in acknowledgment of that reference.  Newspapers, books, magazines are commonly brought to the office bathroom as a place to get some reading down.  You might call it multi-tasking.  A bit of office bathroom smartphone etiquette:

  • silence your smartphone in the bathroom
  • no calls in the bathroom

Follow these two simple rules and we won’t have any problems.  No one wants to hear you jabbering away about how some widget will be delivered on time or how your weekend drinking binge turned out.  We also don’t want to hear you playing Pac-man or Bejeweled.  Spare us your awesome dexterity.

Author’s note: Great news!  Fumble Diver reported back before we went to press.  After just 1 day, the phone was powering up and working but had water spots on the LCD screen.  That’s when we reminded Fumble Diver about step 5, part 2 – 3 full days.  Do you have a way to beat the smartphone blues?  Tell us.


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Today marks a new carrier, Verizon coming on board with Android with two new devices under their Droid line.  The Motorola Droid and the Droid Eris by HTC are sure to be holiday hits, and when people start looking for good apps from the Anrdoid Market, Techlife wants to make sure you have our top 10.

Our friends at Phandroid, started this idea with 5 people listing their top 10 apps so we thought we’d weigh in with our own list.  This is done in that format, with a bonus app!

marketbagtimerifficweatherwidgetultimatefavesvisualvoicemailmobiledefense

Long time Phandriod/Android Forum guy, using a G1 since the start…here’s my top 10.

1. Timeriffic – FREE – control wifi, brightness, audio and more with a simple timer, saves your battery. (full disclosure I collaborated on this)

2. Weather Widget – FREE – Beautiful weather app, with great options. This sits on my main home and I use it all the time.

3. UltimateFaves – FREE – Creates a quick 3D Ring of anything you want a shortcut too, calling people, applications, your choice. Unique interface.

4. Visual Voicemail – FREE – Does what it says, constantly working on it and updating, very responsive devs.

5. Mobile Defense – FREE – Find (gps), disable and more for your phone (USA only). I hope I never need it. Also is stealthily hidden.

chompsmssmspopupcestosimeembatterywidgetwallr

6. ChompSMS – FREE – SMS replacement with an iPhone style chat interface

7. SMS Popup – FREE – Wakes phone display and plays audio and shows a small overlay of the most current SMS message. Flawless.

8. Cestos Full – FREE_- Multiplayer online game, arcade style, if you have a few minutes, it’s great. Good community too, with built in chat.

9. iMeem – FREE – Great web streaming radio customizable. Like Pandora, but without choppiness and massive battery drain. Albeit a slightly smaller catalog and some battery drain.

10. Battery Widget – FREE – easily see your exact % of juice left. Pressing the widget offers up toggle settings for a few options too.

Bonus App – Wallr – FREE – For those wanting a low resource option for changing their look, this app looks in a designated wallpaper folder and will randomly select a new wallpaper, on a schedule you set up. Mine is 1 per hour.

Thanks to our friends at Androlib.com for links, and images.


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The Dojo's Cubed Addict - Multiplayer Real Time game for Android, Mac, PC and Linux.

The Dojo's Cubed Addict - Multiplayer Real Time game for Android, Mac, PC and Linux.

As we meet with client’s the hardest thing for them to wrap their arms around is that on the web, your business is instantly global.  “Awesome, bring it on.”  “Yeah, so, no big deal.”  These are some of the common answers we hear from client’s.  It is then we sit them down and using their enthusiasm or lack thereof, we coach them on doing business in a global economy.  It’s not always easy with i18n (shorthand for internationalization) and l10n (shorthand for localization) and social networking and web 2.0 and e-commerce.

Now imagine adding mobile customers to the mix.  That is exactly the challenge David Kainer of The Dojo experienced.  Provide his customers a gaming platform globally that easily works for all mobile devices and Linux, Mac and Windows computers (<=computer download link, start playing today) based customers.  He also added in multi-player real-time , and to top it all off…it is all FREE.

Techlife sat down with David, who from his Sydney office, works with the London office to learn about The Dojo.  How?  Why? How hard?  It’s all in there, and we even cover why he chose Google’s Android first over Apple’s iPhone. 

Techlife: What is The Dojo?

David Kainer: The Dojo is a global platform for uniting game players in interactive gaming, irrespective of platform. It’s aim is to provide great multi-player experiences on mobile and online and really begin to blur the boundaries between the two. Best of all – it’s free.

T: How did you come with the idea for The Dojo?  Was it based on something?

(more…)


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Virtual G1: Take it for a Test Drive

How can I possibly buy a phone I have never seen? This is the number one question people ask when talking about the Android G1 or Google Phone with me.  The G1 folks have addressed this with Virtual G1. The virtual 360 degree G1 that rotates and opens to show off the full keyboard.  A guide view showing you where the battery and SIM card will go.  Best of all, an emulator view built in Flash to let you examine the software and hardware of the G1 in action.

The emulator is limited in many areas of function and there is no sound for any action.  It gives a good feel for what the device will do, at least to hold people over until the Tmobile release on October 22nd.

Thanks to Gizmodo and Engdaget for the fun tool.


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“Hello, I’m a Gphone.”

“Hi, I’m an iPhone.”

Tmobile G1 powered by Google's Android image

Tmobile G1 powered by Google

Will we start seeing these commercials soon?  With the release party of the Tmobile G1, an HTC phone (manufacturer), powered by Android (Google’s mobile OS) we just might.  The Google Phone is the direct competitor to the frenzy surrounding Apple’s iPhone.

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The G1 is heavily subsidized at $179.99, and available today for pre-order on Tmobile’s site for existing customers.  (Apple’s least expensive iPhone is $199 today.)  The public release is October 22nd.

Techlife will be getting a G1.  Andy Rubin, got his start with Danger and the Sidekick, another Tmobile device recently purchased by Microsoft.  The similiar look and feel to the hardware is unmistakeable and the fact Tmobile is carrying the phone is a shrewd move as they might lose customers otherwise, and instead get “us” to upgrade.  It worked on this Sidekick user.

Eric from Google gives us an idea of how easy the phone is to use and how your data is safe.

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Thanks to Gizmodo for the great live analysis.  Thanks to AndroidGuys for the link to the live feed.  Thanks to Lifehacker for some great Android information.

Techlife will be covering the G1 more as we get to try it out and use it day to day.  It is something these offices are eagerly awaiting. Something less covered but interesting to us is the Android and Google Docs interface.  Maybe some of our friends in the Google Docs group can shed some light on it.

Will you be upgrading to the G1? Let us know in the comments.

(more…)


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Internet access has become a part of our daily life and sometimes just cause you are away doesn’t mean you should be without. We had the pleasure of trying out internet access on the go and Techlife readers won’t be disappointed.

(part of the syndicated print column’s writing process exposed to online readers)


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Techlife hits the road every so often for time away from our main office. In the past our mobile smartphone was the only link back to the office. As we await the HTC Dream, an Android powered smartphone from Tmobile (Editor’s note: this was just given the greenlight!) and Google, we find more and more reason to stay connected using a laptop with broadband access.

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For a recent trip to a tiny coastal getaway, we did a quick check of free wi-fi, and pay-as-you-go wifi and came up empty. But this lack of wi-fi turned into the ultimate turn of good fortune.

Techlife got to try two amazing services, Verizon Mobile Broadband and Rovair. Verizon has had mobile broadband, in the form of a card or USB for laptops for a few years. Rovair is a startup offering a turnkey solution for renting broadband cards and a data package.

We visited Rovair’s site a few weeks prior to travel to rent our card. Prices vary based on length of time and they do offer rush processing. We initially chose “let Rovair select broadband for me” which lets them choose between Sprint and Verizon. They do offer links to both Sprint and Verizon coverage maps for mobile broadband. In the long run we ended up with a Verizon card. (see below)

Their staff answered questions quickly and was helpful in explaining we needed to download some software from Verizon. The software was available for Mac and PC. When the card arrived, it plugged right in and a few moments later the laptop was on online. Easy.

We of course put the card through its paces by working in the car on the way, and then once we arrived. Verizon’s service was so fast and easy that if not for their monthly limits, of 5 GB data usage, it might be a perfect permanent (in the office) new option for us. Before we knew the limitations we considered a mobile broadband router, as we could pop out the card to use while on the road.

Rovair passes on the limitations to 1 GB per week of rental, pro-rated for rentals of less than 1 week. As heavy users we came just shy of 1 GB of usage in much less than a typical work week, after all it was a vacation. We were also cautious to not stream video or music and we still came pretty close.

Returning the card to Rovair was easy, just drop it into the provided UPS envelope and drop it off. We were a little sad to see the card go. We will be certainly considering Rovair in the future for our traveling needs. It really makes a world of difference.

And if Verizon changes their plans for heavy users we might consider a card for the office.

Overall: Rovair makes renting mobile broadband easy. While not likely cost effective for the casual user, any small business owner who wants to be connected while on vacation, on-site, at a trade show or sales meeting should consider renting their high speed access. Request Verizon as friend who rented disliked the Sprint coverage in their area.

Have you ever used your cell phone tethered as a modem? Let us know in the comments . Was it easy? Fast?


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Techlife has gone mobile. As Sidekick’s Blackberry’s gain in popularity we often get requests from readers to offer a quick loading mobile edition. When selecting our direction we wanted to make sure to provide the same great experience our readers have come to enjoy in the paper edition and full web edition.

As you can see from these screen captures it’s a pretty decent option. Please let us know if you find any browsers that have issues. The nice thing is it should auto-detect your mobile browser.


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OLPC on 60 minutesWayan Vota from OLPC News

While writing a recent article, on the OLPC XO Laptop, one of the all time most popular articles on Techlife, we got to meet Wayan Vota the founder of OLPC News. Wayan’s a strong, independent voice in the community of OLPC and the XO Laptop. He was featured on 60 Minutes for his work. (see 7:06 mark on Techlife TV for Wayan) I appreciated his grasp of both technology and non-profits and how the two mesh, so we sat down with him to learn more about what makes Wayan tick (tick, tick.) (unabashed 60 Minute pun for the OLPCNews readers who know me.)

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Lesley Stahl discusses the 60 Minutes piece on the OLPC on Techlife TV.

Techlife: Wayan Vota. Interesting name, what are the origins?

Wayan Vota: Born on Bali to hippie folks. Got a local name in the process.

TL: Why did you start OLPC News?

WV: In the summer of 2006 I noticed there was much hype around OLPC, but little thoughtful analysis of its proposed methods and assumed impacts. I wanted to explore the details of OLPC’s implementation plan – how it expected to actually get laptops in the hands of children worldwide – in public form of open commentary and discussion. With ~5,000 daily readers, over a dozen writers, and too many contributors to count, I feel that OLPC News is successful beyond my wildest dreams.

(more…)

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