Tuesday May 12, 2009

Wi-Fi, Gadgets and Applications

I recently started using a new gadget that has made mobile information access much easier.  However it took some tinkering to get it all working seamlessly. MP3 and iPod music players are almost as common as wrist watches today.  My kids and I have acquired a collection of them over the years.  The latest edition for me is the iTouch which is the newest iPod that enables you to not only listen to music, but watch movies, photos, connect to the internet via w-ifi and install applications.  Basically the iTouch is everything the iPhone offers except the phone service (which you get from a mobile carrier network such as AT&T, Vodafone, etc.).

The internet connection via wi-fi is what really sets this appliance apart from competitors.  At home I can connect to my fully encrypted network.   What astonished me was my ability to connect to unsecured networks in many different localities.  For example while sitting in a medical building waiting for an appointment with my physician, I connected to my opthamologist's office on the other side of the building.  No encryption key required.  I have been able to connect to wide open wireless networks at banks, schools, hospitals, shopping malls, restaurants, and other people's home networks!  While this is rather convenient for me, it is scary at the same time.  I've also been impressed with establishments such as a world renown teaching hospital in Boston that offers guest wi-fi services once you accept terms and conditions.  The same applies to airports around the world where airlines may offer password based complementary or pay per use w-ifi access.

Now let's get to the applications which is the best part of the iTouch.  As is the case with the iPhone you can use a rich set of both complimentary and purchasable applications.  The iTouch comes with a base set of applications such as Calendar, YouTube, Email, Safari, Clock and Stock tracker.  You can also add applications such as Google Earth, Yahoo, USA Today, The Weather Channel, Yahoo, Google Maps, Currency converters, etc.  I loaded a complementary app called Nambu which allows you to post to all of your social networks at once via services such as Twitter, FriendFeed, Linkedin, Facebook, Ping.fm and pic.im.  Posting photos, links, micro blogs, product info, etc. is all seamlessly integrated. With Ping.fm you can post via a browser, SMS or through a 3rd party client such as Nambu. 

Now if we can only get all of those institutions and folks to secure their non-public networks!


Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

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The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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