It turns out that the new Dell Inspirion Mini 9 will not only be selling with Ubuntu pre-installed, for those of you who want it, but Gizmodo let’s us know that the new Dell ‘netbook’ will also be sporting an integrated 3G card!
Posted in Gadgets
Tagged 3G, laptop, Ubuntu
Given that now more than ever aid organizations are relying on GPRS and 3G data cards to stay connected it is a bit disconcerting to see that both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have limited network coverage. As I mentioned before the GSM network coverage is lacking in South Ossetia. Now that the Russian Navy is steaming toward the coast of Abkhazia I should mention that it looks like GSM coverage is also poor in that region. With the overall picture looking grim for connectivity in the contested areas I sure hope that Georgia permits free use of satellite communications and that US export and Georgian import restrictions are minimal.
This is a fairly common problem that most aid agencies face. Telecommunications networks in the areas where aid agencies operate are often underdeveloped. Most likely this is because carriers are concerned about placing their gear in unstable regions where it could be easily lost or destroyed in the event of conflict. (Although one has to has to wonder if there are not sometimes other less savory reasons for not extending a network.) Thankfully, it looks like agencies are currently conducting their operations in more stable areas like those around Tblisi.
If anyone has any updates on this issue please be sure to comment.
Last week I was speaking to a friend in Croatia and he was thrilled that he could soon wander down to the local Hrvatski Telekom store and pick up an iPhone 3G. Until now most iPhones in eastern Europe sold for ridiculous sums a Russian friend was quoting me astronomical prices for unlocked phones in St. Petersburg. While they are still not cheap by most folks’ standards they are now available to a much wider market. You will soon be able to pick-up a unit in Kenya, Croatia, Jordan, etc. What most people don’t understand, and why this roll out is so important, is because it now makes an A-GPS enabled GSM phone available to markets from which most international aid organizations pull their staff.
As an American aid worker I was almost always a minority when I was in the field. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with some of the most talented professionals that Eastern Europe, the Middle East, SE Asia, and Africa had to offer. Now that these professionals have access to the same tools that someone on their lunch break in the Embarcadero has, and they are taking them to places where they are truly needed, the benefit that this type of technology has to offer will quickly become apparent.
Now, I may be pumping the numbers on Croatians, Kenyans and Iraqi’s that are going to be running out and throwing down a chunk of change on an iPhone 3G, and I am certainly ignoring the fact that most already own well equipped Nokia Nseries phones that have long had these capabilities, but my guess is that you’ll soon see a video clip of an aid worker speaking frantically into an iPhone 3G during the next major international event.
What do you think?
Yesterday, I posted from the floor of the Yosemite Valley using the new WordPress App for the iPhone and I have to say it worked like a charm. I snapped the pic below with the iPhone, typed out a quick post while standing at the edge of the meadow just in front of Yosemite Falls and a minute or so later I could view the post in Safari. It appeared just as you see it below and I think it looks great. It looks like a poor quality pic but the air was filled with smoke from the nearby fire and I had to shoot back out toward the entrance of the valley since you couldn’t even see Half Dome at that point. We packed up and headed home shortly after to escape the smoke.
The App did a great job of resizing the pic but I would have liked to have had a little more control over the layout. Also, there does not seem to be a ‘Publish’ button rather you are required to save your post as ‘Published’. However, adding Tags and selecting a Category was simple. I hope they will continue to develop the App and integrate more editorial tools so that we have more control over our posts. In any event, it did a great job in those 5 minutes I spent standing on the side of the road.
For Communications Officers this offers a powerful tool for blogging from the field. As long as there are no network restrictions and enough bandwidth you should be able to liveblog from just about anywhere in the world and with the new iPhone 3G you should be able to geocode your posts.
I just came across the 2D Sense iPhone barcode reader this morning. I did a search on my wife’s iPhone in the App store for ‘QR Codes’ and it popped right up. (Still no luck with ScanLife!). It has a very clean interface and does a good job at pulling QR Codes off of a computer screen. (I have yet to try it in the wild.)
If you are looking for a way to easily generate QR Codes for websites you visit and you are a Firefox user be sure to check out the Mobile Barcoder 0.1.4 which I wrote about here, a few posts back.
2D barcodes hold a lot of potential for the aid community and I hope to soon see some apps that help to make our job easier. The 2D Sense Platform is a good start.
I promised a review of a Cradlepoint product and so here it is.
I recently had the opportunity to set-up a Cradlepoint MBR1000 Mobile Broadband Router for use on a 46′ Nordhavn in Florida. The owner wanted a wireless network onboard and the ability to print from his laptop from anywhere on the boat. We used a Verizon Wireless USB720 modem which the owner had already been using for some time for connectivity while offshore. I ordered the router from one of the third party vendors listed on the site and it arrived with no problem. After unpacking I followed the simple instructions and in less than a minute the router was pumping out an extremely powerful signal. I set up everything for the owner out here in the Bay Area and he took it back to his boat where he plugged it back in and was online in a matter of minutes.
The interface is clean and easy to use. When I called customer support with a configuration question they were courteous and helpful and quickly walked me through the necessary steps. Some folks may be put off by the price but I don’t think it should deter anyone from buying this product. While I am only reviewing the MBR1000 I don’t think I would hesitate to purchase any of Cradlepoint’s other products. The smaller compact units might prove extremely useful in the field.