Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wireless Options: Virgin, Verizon, Sprint and CDMA

Virgin Mobile has announced they will soon be selling a pay-as-you-go iPhone4 and iPhone 4S, offering contract free service starting at $20 per month, moving all the way up to $50 per month for unlimited talk and data.

What's interesting about this is Virgin uses something called CDMA for channel access - that's the same technology used by Sprint and Verizon Wireless. And get this - Virgin is considered a virtual mobile network operator, purchasing network capacity from Sprint. This means when you use a Virgin phone, you're using the Sprint wireless network. Sprint service is just as good as AT&T or Verizon in my opinion. The latter two just do a lot more advertising to make us thing they are better.

So, let's think about this, Virgin uses the same access technology as Sprint and Verizon and Virgin's a lot cheaper. You're also not locked into a 2 year contract. Hmmmmm......switching sounds like a no brainer. There is a catch though - Virgin is charging $650 for a iPhone 4S - full price. It's still cheaper though over the long run. Let's compare Sprint's $80 per month unlimited data service (two year contract) to Virgin's $50 per month service (pay as you go).

I have not included Verizon Wireless in the table because Verizon is eliminating the unlimited data plans. If you've recently bought a Verizon iPhone 4S though you could switch by unlocking (not recommending you do this but many have or are considering) it and switching over to the Virgin network. To break your Verizon contract you would have to pay around $600 which sounds like a lot but it may be worth crunching some numbers to compare total cost.

If you've got an AT&T iPhone you're out of luck - it uses a different technology for channel access called GSM which is not CDMA compatible.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) - June 2012

I've written in the past about the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke, MA. The project is collaboration of five of the state’s most research-intensive universities (Boston University, Harvard, MIT, UMass Amherst and Northeastern), state government and private industry — the most significant collaboration among government, industry and public and private universities in the history of the Commonwealth, and the first facility in the nation of its kind.

The facility is currently under construction and when completed will provide a world-class computational infrastructure, indispensible in the increasingly sensor and data-rich environments of modern science and engineering discovery. Today, virtually no major breakthrough, be it designing a new drug, developing new materials for clean energy or addressing climate change -- can take place without computation. In silico experimentation adds a powerful new dimension to knowledge discovery in all fields, alongside theory, physical experimentation and observation. With the increasingly integrated role of computation in fundamental and applied research, the MGHPCC represents a critical piece of infrastructure that will continue to fuel the world-leading innovation economy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through cooperative research, education and outreach activities.

On Wednesday afternoon a group of got to tour the construction site. Here's my picture set.

We all left with our jaws hanging. An incredible facility and some amazing people doing some things nobody else has ever done. Thanks especially to Claire and John.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

See You Later WiMAX

I've written here in the past about WiMAX and the slow but inevitable take over by LTE. Well, it's starting soon - at least with Sprint's wireless services. Here's some details from an Inside Sprint blog post yesterday:

  • On 6/7, smartphone customers in markets slated for LTE will be notified via text message of the upcoming launch.
  • The message states: SprintFreeMsg: Ready for some GREAT news? Sprint is rolling out an all-new network in (insert city here). Learn more at sprint.us/sat Reply End to stop.
  • Sprint’s all-new network launches by mid-summer 2012 in 4 cities: Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta.
  • More cities launch later this summer and throughout the year.
  • The all-new network includes the launch of 4G LTE and improvements to Sprint’s 3G network.
Benefits include:
  • More reliable connection to voice calls, emails, and apps, and the internet
  • Expanded coverage in their area
  • Faster downloading, surfing and streaming
  • Improved indoor/outdoor signal strength
  • Enhanced voice quality
  • Fewer dropped calls
See you later WiMAX!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Likejacking Using Social Media Spam

Social media spam is taking off and it is not good. Up until a year or so ago, spam was primarily delivered using email. As email spam filters have improved - spammers have turned to an easier target - social media sites including Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

How bad is it getting? Mark Risher, CEO of Imperium is quted in a recent Business Week piece claiming spammers create as many as 40% of the accounts on social media sites. He also says about 8 percent of messages sent via social pages are spam. This is twice the volume of six months ago.

Here's how it works in Facebook - it can be as simple as liking or sharing an image or page which could allow a spam app access to your profile and friend list. Many are now referring this as "likejacking" or "clickjacking". Pinterest is extremely vulnerable with spammers embedding links in pictures - click a thumbnail to view a picture and you may end up linked to someplace you do not want to go.

Social media sites are playing catchup now, hiring hundreds of programming specialists and security experts to protect users from spammers. It will get better.

Last January, Facebook sued Ascend Media, an advertising firm that, according to the same Business Week piece, is pulling in around $960 thousand per month.  In addition, Twitter recently sued alleged spammers Skootle and JL4 Web Solutions.

Bottom line - don't friend, like, share, click, users and things that look spammy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bits and Bytes Podcast - 4G LTE, Motorcycles Made From Car Parts, and Bamboo Clothing

Last week Mike Q and I recorded a new 36 minute and 10 second podcast covering 4G LTE, Motorcycles made from Car Parts, and Bamboo Clothing. Here's links to referenced content  in the podcast:

Verizon HomeFusion Uses 4G LTE to Complete Last Mile Nationwide  

Google Translate Car to Motorcycle

You can listen directly in your browser clicking the play arrow below.

If you have iTunes installed you can subscribe to our podcasts by clicking here.