Category: General

I have blogged in the past (here and here) about my frustration with digital books and the Kindle.  It is a great device, but I have always struggled with the economics of the platform.  This is especially telling when compared to the option of borrowing books from the library which the Kindle has never supported…until now.

Amazon has announced they have inked a relationship with Overdrive, the company that provides eBook lending services to many libraries including mine.  I believe that this is a major accomplishment since it brings Amazon’s class leading eBook reader into the traditional library realm. Read More »

I previously blogged about my frustrating experiences with an AT&T aircard.  It was highly unreliable and caused extreme annoyance due to its ability to consistently connect.  Fortunately, I was within the return window and so sent the unit back to AT&T and then switched to a Verizon wireless card.  The Verizon experience has been completely different.

My company has not certified Verizon’s new 4G LTE cards which the carrier is heavily promoting.  Instead, I received a UMW190 instead.  One unexpected benefit of the UMW190 is that it also includes a GSM radio and so will work outside of the US.  This is helpful for world travelers, but I do not believe that it supports 3G GSM.

In short, the card has been solid.  Everywhere I have tried it whether in congested airports, cities or rural areas, the card has just worked.   To be fair, performance can be inconsistent ranging from around 60 Kb/sec to 1,000o Kb/sec.  However, this is mobile data and so I had expected as much.  Interestingly, I did notice a bit of signal stability issues when I used the card at an event with 400 people, but at its worst, the card still outperformed the lackluster AT&T unit.

I do see a need for LTE.  This card is great for general email and web surfing, but is not fast enough for bandwidth intensive activities like streaming video.  Since I primarily use the card for work, it meets my requirements quite effectively.  However, if I need to download or upload large files, a WiFi or wired connection is a better choice.  (To be clear large file uploads/downloads work fine, but are slow.)  I cannot help but wonder how much faster everything would go if I had the LTE model. 

In summary, if you are considering an air card, do not bother with AT&T.  Your best bet is to go with Verizon Wireless.  Interestingly, I am potentially getting an Atrix 4G on AT&T which has wireless hotspot functionality and so I may have another opportunity to test AT&T in the future.

AT&T Data Woes

I started a new job back in November and it has been a whirlwind.  As part of the transition, I have changed cell phones and added an aircard.  In a future piece, I will discuss my new Palm Pre.

My employer offered the option of three mobile data providers: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.  Sprint coverage is not good where I live and so I debated between AT&T and Verizon. I eventually chose AT&T because online articles had suggested that AT&T had the fastest network (excluding VZW’s new LTE which had not been announced at the time) and because AT&T’s GSM technology would work better outside of the US.  Both arguments later proved faulty since Verizon offers GSM capable aircards and recently announced high-speed LTE service.

I was excited when my new USB Connect Lightning arrived and was surprised by its large size.  However, I was happy to have the service and that the unit arrived just before a trip.  The initial configuration was painless although I was slightly disappointed about the weak signal in my house.  Signal strength is not great where I live, but my cellphone appeared to handle the situation better.  Regardless, I was looking forward to having Internet access wherever I traveled.

Read More »

Re-thinking the iPad

I have blogged on numerous occasions about how I dislike Apple’s closed approach to iOS/iTunes.  However, I have also blogged about my search for a PDA for my wife and she chose an iPhone because she preferred its ease of use.  It is in the context of these contrasting perspectives that I have begun to ponder whether to acquire an iPad.

I am in the process of changing jobs (blog post here) and during the transition, am without a laptop.  Surprisingly, I am really missing the portable computer.  I used it frequently to surf the Internet during commercial breaks on TV or watch football on Slingbox while my kids viewed movies.  Additionally, I often found that the best time for blogging is in the evening on the living room coach after everyone has gone to bed.  Unfortunately, none of these activities are possible now since I only have a desktop computer.  Mynew job will provide a laptop, but I think that I need my own hardware.

My goals in purchasing a new system are to minimize expense and to choose a solution that best meets my requirements.  As I see it, I have three options. Read More »

I recently decided to enable WordPress multisite support on this blog.  For those who are unfamiliar, multisite is a new feature in WordPress 3.x that allows for the hosting of multiple blogs in one WordPress instance.  Previously, this functionaly required separate installations.  I have always wanted to try out the new feature and the request by a colleague to host their blog seemed like an ideal opportunity.

Enabling multisite is relatively complex.  It requires manual editing of WordPress configuration files.  However, once enabled, the configuration process is relatively easy and I had no problem maintaining my existing content and graphical layout.  The installation did request that I change the blog URL from www.livens.org to livens.org, but this did not have a meaningful impact.  However, a URL issue shortly emerged. Read More »