New Year Camphone Coverage


One man holds the key to the room deep under Times Square, where the only sounds are a hissing pipe and a rumbling subway overhead. Behind the blue, padlocked door are the pieces of the New Year’s ball that will mark midnight as it slides 77 feet down a pole atop One Times Square.

The crystal sphere lands amid the gritty water tanks, rickety planks and iron grates that fill the rooftop of the building, one of the most recognizable in the world. The 25-story tower has hosted New Year’s celebrations since it opened in 1904, with the famous “ball drop” added in 1907.

One Times Square is a bit like an amusement-park funhouse: more glitz than guts. The building is covered with billboards, flashing lights and an electronic news zipper, but it is virtually empty.

Countdown Entertainment, which co-produces the annual Dec. 31 event, is the only tenant, on its 21st and 22nd floors. “This whole building is a promotional event,” Countdown President Jeff Strauss said.

Get Current Time with World Time Server
Enter a country or city:

Stay tuned for their Times Square 2004 New Year’s Eve Celebration. Beginning at 10:00 p.m., a live video feed of the celebration is sent to broadcasters worldwide via fiber and via satellite at 11:15 p.m. Here’s some Times Square Multimedia. Here are 250 links to broadcast events around the world, the most you’ll find on the web. MTV on cellphones isn’t live but it’s got ringtones and videos you can download. Sprint’s MobiTV service costs $9.99 per month plus connection charges for 2 frame a second broadcast reception.

Earthcam covers New Years with 6 webcams from Times Square and other live webcams from around the world including Moscow, London, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Seattle. Las Vegas.com has Las Vegas Cameras while Access Atlanta has local coverage as does CNN.

Gebbie, News Directory, TV/Radio World link to television and radio stations, world-wide. Newspapers of the World and the United States no longer have to wait for a news schedule. They can make their own. This year, of course, everyone seems worried about terrorism. Check out my Northwest OPS Center for hundreds of essential links. AlertsUSA delivers terrorism-related information via wireless audio streaming and SMS alerts to cell phone users for $2.99 per month.

Jook Leung is internationally recognized as an innovator in panoramic photography. http://www.vrphotography.com/VR Log, VR Photography and VR Mag have more information on 360 degree photography. Perhaps the most interesting are cameraphone blogs.

They include Textamerica, Dot Photo, Fotolog, Buzznet, AutoPic, Blogger Pro, TypePad, FoneBlog, Fotopages, Phlog, Audblog, CamBlog, 20six, Ploggle, albino gorilla, Photokyo, Rare Window, Uboot.com, AT&T Wireless, Cingular Mobile, Sprint PCS, Verizon Picture Messaging, T-Mobile Hiptop blogs, Hello (sharing), mlogs (audio & video).

TextAmerica, the free moblogging solution, now offers the ability to post short videoclips to a moblog like shack.textamerica.com. Do a search on New Years.

Netcam maker Veo (right) has a $200, user-controlled netcam. Their $300 user-controlled camera is wireless using 802.11b. Veo also has a PocketPC camera.

PhotoFusion, for Nokia camphones, automatically stiches stills into panoramas. Axis netcams do it with video. D-Link’s tiny $99 Netcam might be stacked for 360 shots.

Other netcams that might be adopted for wireless use include:

These cameras are stand-alone units. No computer required. Or wires.

Happy New Year!

No Sharing


Kevin Werback, who was at the FCC’s VoIP Forum, points out that Qwest CEO Dick Notebaert supports treating voice over IP as a largely unregulated “information service” in a Washington Times op-ed.

“Qwest is unique among the incumbent local phone giants, since it has a large Internet backbone and business services operation. Still, it’s good to see a telco CEO reject applying legacy regulation to VOIP”.

“The one point Notebaert’s op-ed doesn’t squarely address is whether VOIP should be subject to the inflated “access charges” that companies like Qwest charge to originate or terminate telephone traffic. The implication of classing VOIP as an information service is that access charges should not apply, and that’s the right result”.

The four regional telephone companies, Verizon, SBC, Qwest and BellSouth, want to shake the obligation of sharing their older voice infrastructure as mandated under the 1996 act. Verizon cites a study that said “lifting all remaining regulations on broadband would have an immediate impact on the economy by accelerating job and income growth.”

Their competitors, meanwhile, don’t want to be shut out of the Bells’ infrastructure.

Qwest has a satellite connection for television and could use 802.16a for “wireless DSL”.

The last thing they want to do is share it. It will be tricky trying to kill-off cable all the while promoting “competition”. Qwest wireless, in 802.16e/802.20 flavors, may most likely be a walled prison of service tiers. Can you say Comcast, (aka AT&T Broadband, aka Excite@home)?

I’ve got nothing against large companies. It’s duopolies I hate. The wireless “broadband economy” could go right down the tube if real competitors are shut out.

PCTEL + Intel + Micro-Star


Internetnews reports that PCTEL and Micro-Star International will bundle PCTEL’s soft access point software with its WLAN devices and PC motherboards. The joint offering converts any PC into an access point that can link several computers through a single broadband connection.

Besides eliminating the need for external routers or access points, the companies say the joint offering is easier to use than current industry offerings. PCTEL’s Segue SAM software automatically scans the user’s PC and configures in seconds, “illuminating” the area with Wi-Fi capability in seconds.

MSI will ship motherboards with the PCTel soft access points (APs) beginning in February. PCs with soft AP functionality would likely be available by the end of the first quarter of 2004. Wi-Fi cards with Segue software on CD and expected in February.

PCTel’s Segue SAM currently works with GlobespanVirata’s Wi-Fi chips (formerly Intersil’s chips), but the company is working closely with other chipset makers and hopes to eventually be compatible with all WLAN chips.

PCTEL, signed a $14.5 million licensing deal with Intel last week. Intel, which plans a similar software access point, will receive a license to PCTEL’s patents, while PC-Tel will receive a cross-license to Intel-owned patents that relate to its areas of focus.

PCTel will also come out with a more secure version of their Segue Roaming Client, including 802.1X authentication, in January.

Integrating an access point in a computer does not have universal appeal. “Not everyone wants other people sharing their processing power or bandwidth…many people are looking for just the opposite — to block access to their computer,” says Julie Ask, a Wi-Fi analyst for Jupiter Research. It would also require your computer be turned on constantly.

PCTEL’s software access point runs on Windows machines and is somewhat similar to NoCat, the open source software used by many community lans for re-directing users to a splash page and free internet access.

DailyWireless has more on One Piece Access Points.

Mad Cow RF-ID


Shares of Minn.-based Digital Angel have doubled since the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dec. 23 announcement of mad cow disease. Digital Angel’s RF-ID tags, used to track livestock and pets, are suddenly hot.

“They have the only [Food & Drug Administration] and USDA-approved implantable microchip in livestock, explains David Talbot, director of Melhado, Flynn & Associates, a brokerage firm, and an investor in the company. “About the size of a grain of rice, it is injected under the skin with a syringe. This enables you to track the animal and take their body temperature remotely, from a distance of 20 feet away.”

The USDA, has, apparently, been contemplating an electronic-tracking system for livestock to help avoid the difficulties it now faces in investigating the mad cow outbreak in the U.S. The Animal Identification Plan is a nationwide tracking system expected to be implemented over the next three years.

The requirements of the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 and the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Act, may result in the use of RFID and other technologies to track food from its point of origin to its retail outlet. RF-ID requires no batteries. A resonant circuit is activated when a nearby transmitter is encountered.

Optibrand uses retinal scans of cattle to confirm their identity and uses readers with GPS chips to record the animal’s location. Optibrand, based in Fort Collins, Colo., announced a five-year deal Tuesday to supply its technology to Swift & Co., a leading meat producer, which may make the entire life of livestock more easily traced.

Paul Cheek, CEO of Global Technology Resources says they can track food down to its components. KSW-Microtec has also developed RFID tags for food products while Savi Technology combines item-level tagging with satellite coverage to track products globally.

Digital Angel’s Bio-Thermo chips will not only identify an animal but tell how it feels using temperature as a health indicator. The current method of rectal readings often stresses the animal, resulting in incorrect readings. The Bio-Thermo chip provides an easy way to take frequent readings – for monitoring the effects of medication, as an example. Digital Angel also plans to develop additional services utilizing the unique automatic noninvasive features of the system.

Beef producers have long used brands, plastic ear tags or tattoos to identify individual animals. But data collection is time consuming and prone to errors. Electronic ear tags automate the data collection. Electronic implants, the next step, provide a unique and inalterable form of identification. These devices can and will integrate biosensing capabilities.

Destron Fearing, associated with Digital Angel, makes ear tags attached to livestock and electronic microchips implanted under the skin of pets, fish, laboratory animals and livestock. Their microchips are used by Bonneville Power to monitor salmon passage through dams in the Pacific Northwest. Juvenile salmon are tracked and reported to a remote computer in less than 2 milliseconds. It does this while fish are passing through fisheries facilities of hydroelectric dams at speeds in excess of 20 feet per second

Fish farms like Dragon Fish Industries can certify that their fish were not acquired in the wild. Arowana, the fish they farm, is considered an endangered species.

Fish implanted with microchips and creeks wired with electronic sensors are part of an Oregon project to improve forest management.

About 5,000 acres owned by Roseburg Forest Products has been turned into an outdoor research laboratory that will track the movement of cutthroat trout and determine how much shade and fallen trees they need to thrive. RF-ID chips will be implanted in 600 fish. They will be tracked by 60 RF-ID readers along the creekbed.

More than 10 federal and state agencies, nonprofit organizations and private companies contributed $750,000 in cash and support for the project along the north and south forks of Hinkle Creek. The shady landscape is filled with typical second-growth forest and meandering water.

Biologists, hydrologists, forest engineers and consultants will study the movements of native cutthroat trout. Each fish is identified as they pass one of the antenna sensors or enter fish traps in the study area. Researchers also have placed 45 water-temperature sensors in the streams. Water-level gauges and solar-power panels have been installed to operate electronics.

“We really need to know how fish and water quality respond to modern forestry practices at the watershed scale”, said Dan Newton, Oregon timberlands manager for Roseburg Forest Products.

The 10-year project began in 2001, but it took nearly two years of preparation to begin gathering information. We are starting to accumulate a critical mass of data here, said an Oregon State University professor Arne Skaugset, a lead researcher in the study.

RF-ID using WiFi frequencies (2.4 Ghz) is now coming on the market. National Scientific Corporation (NSC) announced developer kits for its Wi-Fi Tracker tag hardware that ties directly into the Ekahau Positioning Engine. It will eventually be available in a tag or badge for GPS-like positioning info (and two-way data), indoors. Right now it uses an active transponder in a PDA-size device for GPS-like tracking information (without GPS). This might be useful in applications like the Portland Streetcar. ETA readouts jump all over the place because the Streetcar’s GPS reception gets reflected or lost between buildings. Using WiFi for positioning could result in more accurate estimated arrival times.

Bluesoft is deploying AeroScout Wi-Fi Tags which combine RF-ID with Wi-Fi compatibility and long battery life (up to 5 years). RF-ID in the Arm may be next.

Texas Instruments, an RFID company, suggests a possible scenario if a consumer carries the tag in a purse or wallet (implying a loyalty card): “The technology has the potential to tell retailers exactly who’s in their store at any given moment while offering full purchase histories for each shopper.” According to RFID Journal, plans to realise this potential are already under way. IBM sells RFID product tracking and inventory control systems.

MasterCard and American Express have been testing “contactless” RF-ID versions of their credit cards for more than a year. The cards need only be held near a special reader for a sale to go through — though the consumer can still get a receipt.

More information is available at MIT’s Autoidcenter.org, EPCglobal, RFID.org, RF-ID Journal, buyrfid.com, ACSIS.com, RFID toolkit, rfidtalk.com and nocards.org. WiFi Planet overviews RF-ID technologies.

Related Daily Wireless articles include Tracking RF-ID, Digital Angel, RF-ID: From Soup to Nuts, Tracking Ship Movements – And You, Homeland Insecurity, Marathon RF-ID Tagging and Port Security with RF-ID, Intelligent Transportation and Wi-Fi Birdhouses.

Free USB Client


Don Park writes:

A $10 USB wifi client with a $10 rebate!

Once [Portland’s] PTPnet is built out a little more, people are going to ask “how do I get on PTPnet”? I think its useful to keep an eye on the least expensive solution for client access.

A couple weekends ago I saw someone hack open another brand of usb wifi device and solder on a higher gain antenna. The result was great and very inexpensive. A $10 USB device plus a cantenna would be a great way for someone with some “craft” skills to put their house on the net.

Tom Higgins made his own cantenna for $12 in parts, a hole punched with a screwdriver, a glue gun and duct tape. His cantenna gets 15-18 dbm gain. Plug in a $200 dual-radio ORiNOCO AS-2000. Bingo.

Long range USB clients and a cheap cantenna might serve Low-income WiFi. An $80 Linksys WRT-54g access point can be modified to run Splash54G embedded on the unit’s RAM, eliminating the computer. SeattleWireless tells all. A $100 hot spot with a “free” wireless backbone could be a dream come true.

Here’s an idea: Suspend 3-4 bikes on flag poles, each equipped with a local omni and a “last mile” antenna to PTPnet, a Vivato array, 802.16a tower or mobile satellite dish some miles away. Wireless birdhouses (with RF-ID bird tracking) might work too. Or a red ball. Kill the cow.

BikeNet would provide live transit info, emergency backup and brand identity. Access Points as Art.


Earthquake First Responders


The magnitude 6.5 Iranian earthquake, hit the historic city of Bam early Friday morning, destroying homes and trapping thousands under the rubble. Death toll from the 12-second earthquake is estimated at 25,000 and it could go much higher.

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi Lari said on state television from Bam, “The city is ruined. More than 70 percent of it is destroyed.”

The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and Mercycorps, among others are mobilizing.

Help Quake Survivors in Iran

About 70 firefighters from California Task Force Two were loading up equipment early Saturday morning at a Pacoima facility and were set to fly to Iran aboard a military cargo plane, said Inspector Roland Sprewell of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

It was the first international deployment for the team, which also responded to the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and went to New York City and Washington D.C. following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Sprewell said.

The U.S. military played a role in helping to battle the Simi Valley fire in Los Angeles, California in late October. They used $2,500 Harris SecNet 11 Secure WiFi cards, using 802.11b Intersil chips, onboard firefighting helicopters to transmit critical frontline data and video to the command center. The Army has spent $20 billion since 1994 to create the Army Battle Command System, a network of 11 applications that provides warfighting data, to computers in command centers and the vehicles of commanders and troops in combat.

San Diego’s HPWREN is using RIMS (Response Information Management System) to coordinate and manage its response to disasters and other emergencies. An online form details specific information such as the nature of the threat; the area needing air support; when equipment is needed; where it should be delivered; how long it will be used; and a contact name. WIISARD, allows EMTs with PDAs to receive information from the hospital and transmit back so personnel can prepare for patients before they arrive.

Wireless


Live Seismographs
  • U/W’s Live Seismograph
  • U/W’s Current Quakes
  • Recent NW Quakes
  • Geophysics
  • Alaska Tsunami Ctr
  • USGS Earthquake Ctr
  • Live California Seismographs
  • Calif/Nev Live Quake Maps
  • San Francisco Quakes
  • U.S. Scanner Frequencies
  • Portland Police Scanner
  • Oregon Scanner Freqs
  • Google Quake News
  • Yahoo Quake News
  • The Treasury will spend $3 billion on Project 25 radios. What good are they for data? A $25 WiFi card or a secure 200mw WiFi card, the 3e-110 PC ($60) might work better. A wireless videophone or netcam with MPEG-4 chips might be standard issue in next year’s handhelds available at any Office Depot. Microsoft Portrait, runs on both PCs and handhelds. It delivers portrait-like video in low bandwidths and full-color video in broadband. Velco one on everybody’s chest. Click for live video. Bermai’s 802.11e chipsets can stream content to an HDTV client, a SDTV client, and a third party data client simultaneously. Even 360 degree video.

    Xybernaut’s mobile, wearable computers operate hands-free. Track with WiFi badges and Ekahau’s Positioning Engine. IBSS’s Synapse platform provides RFID applications that run on Xybernaut’s wearable computers. Turn-by-turn directions driven by GPS is also available.

    Battelle sensors can monitor the environment. Link ‘em. A tower with a Vivato or a balloon with Bandspeed’s 6-sector access point (above, right) offers 2-3 times the range and automatic handoff between sectors.

    Earthquakes will happen. A 9.0 subduction zone Earthquake on the West Coast of the United States is practically guaranteed. It could debilitate the United States with tens of thousands dead.

    The Southern California Earthquake Center uses Grid-based Visualization which could be installed on a rack at the Pittock Internet Exchange using the Global Ring Network for Advanced Application Development (GLORIAD). It consists of a 10 Gbps “lightwave” network around the entire northern hemisphere. The network begins at the StarLight facility in Chicago, transits the Atlantic Ocean to the Netherlight facility in Amsterdam, continues to Moscow and to Novosibirsk in Russia, then across Siberia to Beijing and Hong Kong before crossing the Pacific Ocean and completing the ring in Chicago. The Taiwan connection, called TANet2, now has a 2.5 Gbps connection to Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Gigapop. The 10 Gbps connection uses Tyco fiber which terminates in Portland’s Brewery Blocks.

    Unfortunately, Oregon is out of the loop.

    Earthquakes are not a Homeland Security thing. And they won’t care about your business or internet connection. Duck and Cover. The Broadband Future.

    Perhaps a requirement of $2,500 secure WiFi cards by Homeland Security or the military will prevent inter-agency interoperability. Again.

    When disaster strikes in the United States, individuals and volunteers may be a key resource.

    Off the shelf 802.11i/e gear can probably do the job. Why not build your own Wi-Fi Bike/Repeater? It could also be used by parks or police. Write a grant. Or do it yourself.

    Pop a $200 ORiNOCO AS-2000 Access Server in your saddle bag or a $500 wireless backbone AP with a “last mile” antenna and local omni. Alvarion and Pronto and FatPort deliver VoIP using one-piece, solid-state access points. That’s what CoMeta does.

    Three or four bike/repeaters could share a 2-way satellite dish. Transportable satellite dishes include Tachyon, MotoSat’s van-mounted mobile, Norsat NewsLink and Swedish. It might provide more “homeland security” than old fashioned radios or mobile terminals, dependent on the cellular network to operate.

    What would you do if 70% of your town was destroyed.
    Think about it. Help Quake Survivors.