SMS Text Messaging Turns 20

I can’t believe it. SMS text messaging is 20 years old. Although, it has been around for 20 years, a few people have not use it, or use it sparingly. A few have become billionaires because of SMS, wireless, and telecommunications in general. If you’re curious what the first text message ever was? Here’s an excerpt from CNN’s report.

The first-ever text message was sent December 3, 1992, by software engineer Neil Papworth, to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis, who received the message on his husky Orbitel 901 cell phone. It read simply, “Happy Christmas.”

Six billion SMS (short message service) messages are sent every day in the United States, according to Forrester Research, and over 2.2 trillion are sent a year. Globally, 8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year, according to Portio Research.

SMS messaging is expected to be a $150 billion-a-year industry in 2013, with carriers charging set monthly fees for unlimited texting, or as much as 20 cents per text. The actual cost to carriers for sending a text message is about 0.03 cents.

Marvell 8864 Gigabit Wireless

Marvell, the maker of wireless chips, plans to release the 8864 chip for the wireless 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, which is capable of up reaching gigabit speeds. The release is scheduled for some time next year. Excerpt from Computerworld:

The Marvell 8864 chipset increases performance by using four antennas to receive and four to send data, a configuration which is referred to as simply 4×4. Sending and receiving data using multiple antennas is possible thanks to a technology called MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output), which is already used in both Wi-Fi and LTE networks.

In addition to MIMO, Marvell’s chipset also uses a technology called beamforming, which improves performance by aiming the signal at the receiver. The way Marvell has implemented beamforming means smartphones, tablets and laptops don’t have to proactively support it to get the advantages.

The combination of multiple antennas with beamforming results in higher speeds, as well improved range and reliability. For users the improvements also mean longer battery life, because devices such as smartphones can “get on and off the air” faster, Giordano said.

To take full advantage of the 8864 chipset’s capabilities, clients also have to have a 4×4 antenna configuration, but other clients will also see significant improvements, Giordano said.

The Marvell chipset will be used on a multitude of different products, including access points, routers, gateways, video bridges and set top boxes, the first of which will start shipping in the middle of next year.

Free Boingo Wifi In San Francisco

If you’re traveling, working, or just walking around and near San Francisco, Christmas is coming early, courtesy of Microsoft and Boingo Wireless. Microsoft recently inked a deal with Boingo, to sponsor free Wi-Fi access at certain hot spot locations in San Francisco, as part of the Windows 8 celebration, to be announced later this month.

Here’s the announcement from Boingo’s website.

Boingo Wireless (NASDAQ: WIFI), the Wi-Fi industry’s leading provider of software and services worldwide, announced today that Microsoft is sponsoring free Wi-Fi access at high-traffic New York and San Francisco locations from now through the end of the year. The Wi-Fi sponsorship is part of the launch celebration for Windows 8, and will introduce the new Windows Store for Windows 8 to the app builder community. Consumers can also enjoy browsing great new apps in the Windows Store, view staff recommendations and get personalized picks based on apps they may already use.

As part of the holiday promotion, Microsoft’s sponsored Wi-Fi is immediately available for users of all Wi-Fi enabled devices in six Manhattan subway stations, supported by Transit Wireless’ state-of-the-art network, and across Wi-Fi hotzones covering iconic San Francisco locations including Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, UN Plaza, the Financial District, Nob Hill and more. Microsoft will also sponsor Wi-Fi via more than 200 Manhattan hotzones, starting November 1. The Wi-Fi hotspots are part of the Boingo’s Cloud Nine media platform, a global advertising network that enables brand advertisers to reach target audiences through high engagement Wi-Fi sponsorship.

Porting From Vonage To Google Voice

If you want to port your phone number from Vonage to Google Voice, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I will explain the process that I went through porting my number. Just to be clear, you can’t port your phone number directly from Vonage to Google Voice. However, it is possible. Porting a Vonage number to Google Voice require two steps. First, you need to port your number to a wireless provider. I chose AT&T. Second, once the number is transferred to the wireless provider, you will need to port it again to Google Voice. Unfortunately, there is no other easier way.

Vonage to AT&T

You can go with any wireless provider that you prefer. I chose AT&T since I’m already a customer.  The porting process usually takes anywhere from 7-10 days.  Since you are only doing this temporarily, I suggest you get yourself a prepaid GoPhone. Getting a prepaid phones will not require you to be tied to a 2 year contract. You just pay as you go, but AT&T require that I purchase a prepaid card.

So, I went to a AT&T store, and told the sales guy exactly what I was going to do. He did not have a problem with it. He asked me for my Vonage phone number, account number and ID. After a few minutes, I received a SIM card in return. I also had to purchase a $25 prepaid card, but there is no need for me to get a GoPhone. The cheapest GoPhone was $20. Unless you need one, you can probably skip purchasing one.

AT&T to Google Voice

Once the porting process is cleared with AT&T, I ported the number again to Google Voice. You can only port once to Google Voice. The porting fee is $20 payable via Google Wallet. Google will check if your number is available for porting. It will then go over the several porting conditions that I detailed below.

The cost of porting is $20.00 (payable through Google Wallet). Your mobile phone service plan will be terminated when you port your number to Google Voice and your carrier may charge you an early termination fee. Once porting is complete, you will not be able to receive calls to your mobile phone until you complete the following steps: Google Voice is not a mobile phone service provider, so you must setup a new mobile phone service plan (with your existing carrier or a new carrier) and request a new number. Once you’ve secured a new mobile service plan and a new number, you will need to add this new number to your Google Voice account as a forwarding phone. You may be unable to receive text messages for up to 3 business days after the porting process is complete. Your Google Voice number will be replaced by the number you are porting. It will remain on your account for 90 days(you will be able to make it permanent for a one-time $20.00 fee).

Google will also ask you for more details, like the wireless account number, phone number, address, etc. The porting process usually takes about 24 hours. Once you have confirmation from Google that the porting process is complete, your Vonage number should now magically work with Google Voice.

Total Cost

I spent $25 for the prepaid card and $20 for Google Voice port fee. The total cost to port from Vonage to Google Voice was $45. It was worth it, if you really want to hold on to your old number. With Google Voice, I can now call any US or Canadian mobile or landline phone for free.

Buffalo Airstation WHR-HP-G300N

The Buffalo Airstation WHR-HP-G300N is a high-powered Wireless-N access point and router. It’s capable of transfer speeds up to 300Mbps. It operates at 2.4Mghz and comes with 4 Ethernet/Fast Ethernet ports. The firmware is powered by open-source DD-WRT.

So, I bought three Buffalo WHR-HP-G300N wireless routers for a client about a month ago hoping they would be a great addition to a list of reliable and stable access points that I will be maintaining. I ended up returning two of them due to issues with the signals that were dropping out after about a day or two.

I kept one router for testing purposes. I left the router running for about a week or so. I noticed that the wireless signal would disappear after about a day. I had to reboot the access point to get it working again.

I’m very disappointed about the wireless router being unstable. The wireless signals would disappear after a period of time. I went to Bufallo’s website and downloaded the latest driver. The page indicates that the latest firmware, although Alpha, V24SP2 17798 Alpha, is dated at Dec 5, 2011.

The firmware that came with my unit is the latest professional version, V24-SP2 build 17135, which is built on June 6, 2011, which is the one having all the issues. I had no choice but to try the latest version, although it is alpha.

Suffice to say, after the firmware upgrade, the wireless signal has been stable. No drops. No reboots needed. The WHR-HP-G300 has been running for almost a week now. It seems that Buffalo has fixed the issues with the signal drops.

If you’ve purchased the Buffalo Airstation WHR-HP-G300N and you are having issues, you might want to consider upgrading to the latest firware, V24SP2 17798 Alpha, dated Dec 5, 2011.

Install Canon Pixma MP495 on Ubuntu

I recently purchased a Canon Pixma MP495 wireless printer for just $30 at MicroCenter. It was a great deal that I couldn’t pass up. The MP495 wireless printer typically costs $80, but I bought it for only $30 because it was purchased along with a PC desktop system.

The fun part was setting up the wireless printer to the network. I downloaded the printer drivers directly from Canon’s website, and configured the printer from my MacBook Air. I was able to successfully connect and print on the network. I was also able to get another PC to work with the printer.

This article will cover how to setup and add the Canon Pixma MP495 on Ubuntu Linux.

Printer Driver

The printer setup on the Ubuntu Linux desktop system, as it turned out, wasn’t such a big deal after all. The first thing that I needed to do was download the correct Linux printer drivers from Canon’s website.

MP495 series IJ Printer Driver Ver. 3.40 for Debian Linux

Unpack the downloaded zipped file. From the Terminal, go to the “packages” folder and choose the appropriate drivers based on your processor type and architecture. In this example, I’m using 64 bit AMD processor on my desktop. The commands I typed were:

sudo dpkg -i –-force-architecture cnijfilter-common_3.40-1_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i –-force-architecture cnijfilter-mp495series_3.40-1_amd64.deb

To add the printer, you should use CUPS. Since the driver is already installed, your distro should be able to recognize the printer using the CUPS setup.

Scanner Driver

MP495 series ScanGear MP Ver. 1.60 for Debian Linux

Unpack the downloaded scanner zipped file. From the Terminal, go to the “packages” folder. Once again, choose the appropriate printer driver based on your processor type and architecture. The commands I typed were:

sudo dpkg -i –-force-architecture scangearmp-common_1.60-1_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i –-force-architecture scangearmp-mp495series_1.60-1_amd64.deb

You should be able to launch the scanning software from the Terminal.

scangearmp

In addition, you can add a startup icon from the Main Menu. Here’s another instruction from Ubuntu’s support forum.

AT&T Upgrade Fee $200

An AT&T smart phone upgrade fee will now cost you $200. If you recently signed a 2 year commitment with AT&T and you decided after a couple months later that you want a new smart phone, it’s going to cost you $200. As I recall, the AT&T early termination fee is $350.

In my case, I’m out of contract. I still haven’t decided which phone to get or what carrier to go with. Typically, you can get a great deal by jumping to another wireless provider than the one you are currently with because usually wireless providers consumers tantalizing offers to get you to jump ship.

It’s a good possibility I may just do that.

AT&T New $15 Data Plan

If you get a smartphone nowadays, all phone providers have been forcing users to have a data plan for about $30 a month. I happen to be one of the lucky ones with a smartphone (Blackberry Curve) without a data plan. I have been interested in getting a data plan, but the $30 data plan per month is too steep for me. Now that AT&T is revamping their data plan, I might reconsider. From ZDNet:

AT&T on Wednesday carried out sweeping changes to its data plan pricing structure in a move that could force rivals to follow.

AT&T’s move (statement) comes as analysts come around to the realization that the U.S. wireless subscriber market is saturated. The game is to keep the subscribers you have happy and that means better pricing and long-awaited perks like tethering.

Among the major changes from AT&T:

  • An entry data plan for $15 a month capped at 200 MB of data. AT&T says 65 percent of its users could get by with the $15 a month plan and cut their costs in half. Should you exceed your 200 MB cap then you get another 200 MB for $15.
  • A plan for $25 a month for 2 GB of data. This “DataPro” plan allows for an extra 1 GB of data for $10 should you go over the cap. AT&T said that 98 percent of its customers use less than 2 GB of data a month. That cap is hard to top.
  • Tethering will arrive on the iPhone and any other smartphone for $20 a month on top of a DataPro plan. Generally speaking, this set-up means a 2 GB plan with tethering for $45 a month total.
  • iPad customers will see their $29.99 unlimited plan replaced with the $25 a month DataPro plan. You still prepay without a contract.

Start Using Difficult Wi-Fi Passwords

If you have an easy, guessable password that contain words found in dictionaries, you might want to alter your approach, because you are subjecting your password to be cracked easily. Having a weak password compromises all systems, from mainframes, servers, desktops, phones and network systems. With network devices, wireless networks particularly access point routers have been using encrypted passwords or passphrases to secure wi-fi networks.

128 bit WEP was widely used initially, but have given way to a more secure WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). WPA was created by the Wi-Fi Alliance to replace WEP. TKIP or Temporal Key Integrity Protocol was brought in as the protocol of choice, but it had its shortcomings. WPA was eventually replaced by WPA2, and in turn, the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced the AES protocol.

Of all protocols available, experts recommended WPA2 AES because of its strong encryption. Having a weak password or passphrase jeopardizes the security of a network. It’s recommended that administrators choose strong passwords. Such passwords can be obtained from free password generator programs that can generate a random combination of alphanumeric, case-sensitive characters sprinkled with a few special characters in between.

Yesterday, a WPA cracker service was announced. The $34 service says it can crack a password in less than 20 minutes.

The service leverages a known vulnerability in Pre-shared Key (PSK) networks usually used by home and small-business users.

To use it, the tester first submits a small file that contains an initial communication between the WPA router and a computer. Based on that information, WPA Cracker can then figure out whether the network is vulnerable to a type of attack.

While this job would take over five days on a contemporary dual-core PC, on our cluster it takes an average of 20 minutes, for only $17.

The $34 price tag is for the whole cluster. Using half the cluster costs $17, but the job could take 40 minutes.

All the more reason for users to start using difficult Wi-Fi passwords.

WPA Cracked In 60 Seconds

If you have a wireless access point router at home, most of us do, you might want to review your wireless setup. It’s a well-known fact that WEP is insecure. Most of us, are now using WPA. I hope you are. But, don’t get too comfortable. Now, security experts are saying that WPA encryption can be cracked in less than a minute. The Temporal Key Integrity Protocol or TKIP algorithm is the culprit. If you have a wireless router, first, make sure you are not using WEP. Second, when you do use WPA, make sure you don’t use WPA TKIP. Use WPA AES or the new WPA2 settings. Article.