Monthly Archives: July 2011

  • The Week Magazine: 6 Strange Ways to Power Your Cell Phone

    July 27, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    Smartphone batteries are frequently running out of charge due to their constant use and many apps. Here at Wi-Ex, our cell phone signal booster products help you to save battery life. When using a zBoost product, it actually saves your phone some of its battery life because phones use more energy when searching for a new signal or when the signal is too weak. Here’s a list from The Week Magazine of some other unique and inventive ways to charge up your phone.

    1. Vibrations T-shirt charger

    At last month's Glastonbury festival in the U.K., music fans got to try out a new T-shirt that powers up their mobile phones. The shirts are made of a special material called piezoelectric film that is able to turn vibrations from the concert music into an electrical charge — and then give your cell phone a quick boost. It's just one of a number of strange new ways to get your smartphone some juice. Here are five others:

    2. Heartbeat charger

    Scientists are developing a system to give devices a charge from the human body. It would involve embedding stacks of tiny microchips in the body that would get power from the movement of an organ or body part. "It's conceivable that you could have them implanted inside your body, so that, say, every time your heart beats you can power your handheld device," says Nicholas Deleon at CrunchGear.

    3. Wind-and-solar-powered charger

    In 2010, two engineering undergrads in India created bicycle helmets that store wind and solar energy. Wear the helmet, which is equipped with solar cells and a small fan for wind energy, on a 40-minute bike ride, and you collect enough juice to charge your phone. Though it's still being developed, it could soon offer bicyclists further reason to be smug about their energy conservation efforts.

    4. Pan Charger

    Camping with your Android? Fear not, you don't need an outlet to keep it working. The Pan Charger, created by a Japanese company, allows the tech savvy cave man to charge his phone using any heat source — a campfire will do. Just set the pan over the fire and plug in your phone or MP3 player via a USB cord. "Unlike a solar power generator, our pot can be used regardless of time of day and weather, while its small size allows people to easily carry it in a bag in case of evacuation," says co-developer Ryoji Funahashi.

    5. Voice charger

    South Korean researchers are working on a device that would power your phone using the sound of your voice — or, better yet, a noisy traffic jam or a plane overhead. While it's still in development — don't expect it at the Apple store just yet — it works using a special sound-absorbing pad. When sound waves hit it, they cause zinc wires to move, generating a small electrical current.

    6. Fan charger

    Another iPhone charger, this one from the Netherlands, also uses wind power, but the bike ride is optional. The iFan looks like an iPhone case with a small fan attached to the top to harness wind energy. It can charge a phone in 6 hours. But you can speed up the process by holding it out a car window or, you guessed it, taking your iPhone on a bike ride, attached to your handlebars.

  • INFOGRAPHIC: Goodbye Wallets! How Mobile Payments Are Becoming the New Credit Card

    July 20, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    Money has evolved several times in human history: barter, coins, paper, plastic, and now, phones? It's true --- commerce is the next major advancement in mobile technology. Through the use of 'near field communications' (NFC) chips, several companies are about to revolutionize the way we shop, replacing our wallets with our smartphones.

  • July 14, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    Number one on my Christmas list last year was an Amazon Kindle 3G.  A lot of people asked me what made me choose a Kindle and why get the 3G/Wi-fi Version over the cheaper Wi-fi only version?  Well I decided to switch over to the Kindle when I was home visiting family on break from University.  My parents were currently downsizing their home and in the process of packing up their belongings.  I love to read so I noticed I must take after my father who had 40 boxes of books!?!?!  It of course made me start to think about the clutter in my home as well as my friend’s homes.  The sheer amount of text books, fun reading, and let us not forget the magazines throughout the house, was enough to drive me crazy!!  At that moment I decided it was time to catch up, and get rid of the book clutter and time for me to upgrade to the Amazon Kindle.  Not only did I eliminate the clutter but I’m saving money.  We all know how expensive books are, especially if a paperback version is unavailable.  I know none of you have forgotten how expensive those books are in the airport when you realize you left your book at home or in the hotel!  Ever since I’ve made that decision of getting the Kindle I have not looked back!

    Now let’s get back to the second question.  Why the 3G/Wi-fi Kindle and not the cheaper Wi-fi only Kindle?  It had a simple answer for me.  I no longer have home internet!  So the Wi-fi option to me is useless at home.  It still comes in handy when I am traveling and can access the airport Wi-fi or hotel Wi-fi, but I use the zBoost by Wi-Ex at home to support my Verizon Wireless aircard.   The use of my air card from Verizon Wireless would not be possible without my zBoost.  I had poor signal throughout my house, yet I had excellent signal outside.  So I did my research and settled on the zBoost by Wi-Ex.  I have not had an issue with my cell phone signal since the day I installed the zBoost.  Not only was I able to get rid of the cost of a landline, but I was also able to get rid of the cost of home internet.  All in all, none of my book downloading or internet surfing would be possible in my home without the zBoost by Wi-Ex.

  • PC World Shows You How to Work Outdoors

    July 12, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    While the Georgia heat has us all indoors, some of you may be looking for ways to take your work outside.

    PC World gives you some good tips on making the most of workout outdoors including boosting your signal with zBoost.

    How to Work Outdoors

    By Christopher NullPCWorld

    How to Work OutdoorsLaptops, tablets, and smartphones are supposed to make us mobile: Freed of cumbersome desktop technology, we can work anywhere we want. Why, then, don't you see legions of people at parks, beaches, or even sidewalk cafes typing away on their laptops? Mainly because they simply can't see their screens.

    It doesn't have to be this way. A little planning and know-how can get you ahead of the game when it comes to using your gadgetry outside. Whether you're reading ebooks on your iPhone or sneaking in a few work emails while the kids build a sand castle, here's how best to set yourself up to work alongside Mother Nature.

    Fall Into Shadow

    When working outdoors, shade is your friend. In fact, if you haven't prepared in advance for your outdoor adventure, it's pretty much all you've got. Your only hope to see anything on most LCD screens is to find some shade and dig deep into it.

    HoodmanThis portable, folding hood provides instant, deep shade.Anything can be used as shade in a pinch, from the obvious tree, umbrella, or side of a building to less evident objects, like a cast-off pizza box folded into a tent or, in a pinch, your own head. For head-shading, resist the urge to hold your laptop or mobile phone between you and the sun, thinking you'll block out the light like an eclipse: That simply won't work. Switch it around and put your head between the sun and the screen, so the shadow of your noggin falls on the display. This won't provide much shade, but, for limited use and with small screens like your phone, it will work well enough to at least read text.

    Get Shade Anywhere

    If working outside is going to be a regular thing for you, you might consider investing in a portable shade device that you can take with you as part of your travel kit. A company calledHoodman offers two clever covers that hook over your laptop's screen, shading it on all sides from sunlight while still giving you access to the keyboard. It looks a little strange--but no stranger than you will look working on your computer on the beach--and it works quite well. Best of all, the soft-sided shade collapses flat and stores easily in the included carrying case. Versions for Macs or PCs are available, both $40.

    Outdoor Out the Gate

    Fujitsu Stylistic Q550The field of outdoor-ready laptops is small, but it includes this Fujitsu Stylistic Q550 tablet.If you're a true outdoorsman, you may want to consider one of the small number of laptops that are available with so-called "indoor/outdoor" displays, designed for visibility inside or outside. When shopping, look for "I/O," "Outdoor View," or "Enhanced Outdoor" as part of the screen specs, or just ask--sometimes this key feature can be omitted completely from a list of a computer's specs.

    This technology has been especially popular with older-style tablet PCs as well as a few newer slate tablets. Some current devices that include the technology are the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550, the HP EliteBook 2760p, and most of the Panasonic Toughbookline.

    Compare and Contrast

    Using a high-contrast color scheme will improve your outdoor viewing experience, no matter how much shade you have, by turning your working experience into a black-and-white one that scrubs out many of the shades of gray (and splashes of color) to which office users are accustomed. The result is a stripped-down computing experience, but one that will make outdoor viewing considerably easier.

    Set contrast options in Windows 7.Windows’ high contrast themes aren’t the prettiest on the block, but they make outdoor operating easier.In Windows 7, open the Personalization Control Panel and scroll down a bit below the Aero Themes. You'll see the Basic and High Contrast Themes listed here. Experiment with the four high-contrast options to find the one that works the best for you--though adjusting to a white-on-black color scheme can be jarring and will take some acclimation time.

    Your LCD brightness should generally be set to the maximum available (though this will put more strain on your battery), and you might also consider increasing the text size by using the "Larger - 150%" setting on the home screen of the Display Control panel, to make things even easier to read.

    Get E-Inked

    Got a lot of reading to do but don't want to put it on paper? Electronic ink devices like Amazon's Kindle are perfect for this kind of work, since the reflective screen is designed to work without backlighting. The result: Text on a Kindle looks even better under bright light than in the dark.

    The newest Kindle can accept a wide variety of file formats, including Word, PDF, RTF, HTML, plain text, and various image formats for display on the device. Simply email the documents as attachments to the address noted on your Kindle's Settings page under "Device Email." Amazon offers copious additional details on the ins and outs of sending personal documents to your Kindle at this link. But remember that older Kindle models have different supported formats.

    Surf's Up, Sand's Out

    If your outdoor working adventure is taking you somewhere more exotic than the backyard, be sure to prepare for those twin menaces of all electronic devices, water and sand. Water is well understood as an electronic hazard, but sand can quickly brick anything with moving parts: A single grain of the stuff can kill your digital camera's zoom mechanism or prevent the shutter from opening and closing, not to mention scratching the screen of your tablet or laptop.

    Waterproof iPad case from TrendyDigitalBag your laptop, tablet, or cell phone with an instant waterproofing system like this one from Trendy Digital.Protection from the elements can be as simple as keeping your gadgets in a sealed Ziploc bag when they aren't in use, or as complicated as investing in a custom, ruggedized, waterproof case. A wide variety of cases for all manner of devices are available. You can check out brands like OtterBoxXGear, andTrendyDigital to get started.

    Now About That Web Connection...

    Seeing your screen is one thing. Getting online is another. In parks, on beaches, and even in backyards, getting a Wi-Fi or cellular signal can be a challenge. Short of petitioning your carrier to erect a cell phone tower closer to the waterfront, these tricks can increase your chances of getting a wireless signal from a remote location.

    Wi-Fi: If you're simply working in the backyard and are trying to access the Wi-Fi signal inside your house, you can accomplish this in a few ways. You can extend the signal outdoors by relocating your router near that side of the house or add a repeater to extend the signal outdoors. Aftermarket antennas can also be used with some routers to increase their signal strength, hopefully letting you reach your hammock in the gazebo with a Wi-Fi signal. If changing your router setup doesn't work, you can invest in a new Wi-Fi card for your laptop with an external, high-gain antenna, increasing your available range.

    WWAN: Again, if you're near home and outdoor cellular signal strength (either for voice or data usage) is no good, you can use a femtocell to boost the signal. Verizon's Wireless Network Extender and AT&T's MicroCell attach to your home broadband connection and act as a sort of mini tower. Femtocell range is typically under 150 feet, so locate the unit near the backyard.

    zBoostzBoost signal-boosting device.

    However, if you're in a public place and need a better signal, a few hacks can boost the number of bars you get on certain phones by one or two, although few of the hacks are very pretty. The website Wisebread experimented with an admittedly ugly wire-and-cans trick and claimed a three-bar improvement in a cellular signal. Rick Broida has some additional tips on the subject, including a discussion of zBoost, which is a more appropriate range-boosting solution for newer phones, MiFi units, and mobile hotspots--all of which increasingly lack the external antenna connector required for tricks like the cantenna described above.

    Don't Forget the Juice

    As a final consideration, remember that working outdoors usually means being disconnected from the grid, and since upping the contrast and other tweaks can drain your battery faster, you may find your laptop fading before your sunscreen does.

    The solution is simple, if on the expensive side: Upgrade to an extended-cell battery, using a "battery slice," which is a flat battery that locks onto the bottom of a laptop--or simply carry spare batteries with you to get considerably more running time when you're working remotely. For smaller devices such as cameras or dedicated voice recorders, rechargeable batteries generally provide more bang for the buck.

    More esoteric power solutions--like solar recharging systems--won't offer much help. Most of them just don't have the power required to provide much of a boost to anything beyond a cell phone or camera--and even then, their internal batteries will need to be charged before you head out.

    However, before draining your gadgets out in the wild, you can follow some proven tips to helpboost the battery life of your laptop and smartphone.

    Related Articles

    What gear and tricks do you use to work outside of the office? Please share your tips in the comments below. For more advice, see the following articles.

  • Fortune Magazine:100 Great Things About America

    July 7, 2011 - Leave a Comment

    I love lists.  They are always controversial.  How could someone pick this instead of that?  I am a bit partial to this particular list since it named by hometown of Sandusky, Ohio as #54.  See if some of your favorite things about America made the list by clicking on the link below.

    100 Great Things About America - July 2011

    Sometimes it's easy to overlook our country's glory. For the second year running, we present 100 outstanding things about the U.S.A.

    By Andy Serwer, managing editor

    FORTUNE -- Though our affection for America is a year-round phenomenon, summer seems to make the heart and mind grow even fonder. Holidays contribute to this: Memorial Day ushers in the season, followed soon after by our Uncle Sam's favorite, July Fourth. Getting out into the great outdoors also kindles nation-love, as only a visit to national parks like Yellowstone or the Great Smoky Mountains can do. So, too, does the food of summer: grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, corn on the cob, and blueberry pie on a brimming picnic table. So we think it only fitting to present to you our second annual list of 100 Great Things About America as the summer season officially kicks off.

    The list reflects our sensibility here at Fortune. Yes, it's heavy on business (see Warren Buffett, No. 30, and even Exxon Mobil (XOM), at No. 88), but it also includes NASCAR, No. 51, as well as Carlos Santana and Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon, sitting next to each other at 19 and 20. We have a soft spot for fast cars, virtuoso guitar players, and a nip of fine bourbon, among other indulgences, but many of these manifestations of Americana happen to be shining commercial success stories too. (Did you know that Santana recently opened a chain of Mexican restaurants named Maria Maria and has his own line of women's shoes?)

    Why only 100 great things, you might ask? Of course there are many more than that, which is why we decided that this year's list wouldn't include any from last year's tally. That's why you won't see Mount Rushmore (last year's No 4). We're also not including any deceased persons, so, much as we love them, no Abe Lincoln, M.L.K., or Joe DiMaggio (or maybe Ted Williams for Red Sox Nation). Actually, I think we should do the list for eight more years so we end up with a mega-list of 1,000 Great Things About America. I don't imagine we'll have any problem finding that many, do you?

    This exercise may seem to fly right in the teeth of the national zeitgeist, as there's more concern than celebration about America right now. All the more reason for doing it, I say. Yes, we face unprecedented challenges, but focusing solely on those vexing issues is not only misdirected but actually dangerous. And the optimists' case isn't just pie in the sky. In his new book, The Next American Economy: Blueprint for a Real Recovery, author William J. Holstein shows that made in america is still very much alive. He points out that many U.S. companies, like Caterpillar (CAT) (No. 13) and Boeing (BA) (its 747 is No. 29), have done a remarkable job navigating through, and succeeding in, the new global economy. He cites cities like San Diego for genomics, Pittsburgh for robotics, and Cleveland for electronics as hubs of world-class innovation. And he points out that higher wages mean China no longer offers a wide cost advantage for manufacturers.

    To be sure, Holstein writes, we need a better model for cooperation among business, academia, and government, but we are far from a gloom-and-doom starting point. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America, "The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults." We will surely be putting that to the test in the coming years. But for now, please take time to celebrate some of our greatness and think about how each of these entries contributes to the tangible and intangible success and well-being of America.

5 Item(s)