Coming soon: ‘Super Wi-Fi’ connectivity?

Tapping unused TV white spaces could help bring wireless connectivity at speeds ranging from 15 to 20 Mbps.
Tapping unused TV white spaces could help bring wireless connectivity at speeds ranging from 15 to 20 Mbps.

A new flavor of Wi-Fi, with longer range and better wall-piercing power, could show up in wireless gadgets a year from now if the Federal Communications Commission works out the last details of new spectrum rules that long have been in the making.

Nearly two years ago, the FCC voted to open up the airwaves between broadcast TV channels—so-called “white spaces”—for wireless broadband connections that would work like Wi-Fi on steroids. But wrangling over key technical details, including concerns about interference with TV signals and wireless microphones, has prevented exploitation of these spaces.

On Sept. 23, the FCC plans to vote on rules meant to resolve those issues. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski predicts electronics makers will jump at this “super Wi-Fi” technology, as the agency calls it, and make it just as popular as conventional Wi-Fi.…Read More

Canadian parents say Wi-Fi made kids sick

Some parents in Ontario, Canada, say they suspect Wi-Fi transmitters at their children’s school made them ill, UPI reports. The group of Simcoe County parents have approached school officials about the issue they believe exists at Mountain View Elementary School in Collingwood. One parent, Rodney Palmer, said his children, ages 5 and 9, and others started getting sick last year. “Six months ago, parents started noticing their kids had chronic headaches, dizziness, insomnia, rashes and other neurological and cardiac symptoms, when their kids came home from school,” Palmer said. “But that somehow on the weekends, when they were at home, it would disappear.” The parents started to look at electromagnetic fields produced by wireless internet transmitters in school classrooms as the culprit. Palmer said they found the microwave signal in his daughter’s kindergarten class was four times stronger than the signals found at the base of a cell-phone tower. “Parents raised the concerns about possible medical ill-effects, but to date we have not received any documentation from a doctor saying a child is ill as a result of wireless technology,” Simcoe County District School Board Superintendent John Dance told the Toronto Sun. He said the county’s internet equipment meets national safety standards. A Toronto school district spokesman said the board is investigating the issue with a report expected out this fall…

Click here for the full story

…Read More

Looking at the iPad from two angles

Apple’s iPad seems to be hated by techies and loved by everyone else—so New York Times technology columnist David Pogue has written separate reviews for the two audiences. The iPad is basically a gigantic iPod Touch, Pogue writes for techies, with hardly any buttons at all—just a big Home button below the screen. One model gets online only in Wi-Fi hot spots; the other can get online using Wi-Fi or AT&T’s cellular network, but that feature adds $130 to the price. There’s an eBook reader app, but the selection is comparatively small, and you can’t read well in direct sunlight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad gets heavy in your hand after awhile (the Kindle is 10 ounces), and you can’t read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine. Typing on the on-screen keyboard is hard, but the processor is really fast. A key drawback is that the iPad can’t play Flash video. While some sites are converting their videos to Apple-compatible formats, “it will probably be years before the rest of the web’s videos become iPad-viewable,” Pogue writes. For non-techies, he writes that the simple act of making the multitouch screen bigger changes the whole user experience. And the eReader app contains what Pogue calls “endearing grace notes”: For example, you can tap a word to get a dictionary definition or bookmark your spot. What’s more, Apple says 150,000 existing iPhone apps run on the iPad, and the battery lasted longer than 12 hours in Pogue’s test. “The techies are right about [one] thing,” Pogue concludes. “The iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it.”

Click here for the full story

…Read More