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Tag: wireless

Techno-whipped? I pity the fool

In our eighth month of bouncing about this expansive and expensive country, Ace and I seemed headed for our most frugal stretch yet – thanks mainly to lucking out and finding some free housing upon our return to Baltimore.

For the first time, in our continuing effort to see America while spending less than what we were while sedentary and housed – about $1,500 for rent, food and utilities – we were looking at a three digit number instead of four.

Now, thanks to my stupidity, and with an assist from Verizon, we’ve blown it, and somebody has some explaining to do.

Before we left on our journey, I canceled my home Internet service (through Verizon) and signed up for wireless mobile broadband (through a different part of Verizon), allowing us to get online no matter where we were for $59 a month – the package they suggested for a heavy user.

It worked pretty great. There were only two or three locations in our 22,000 miles of travels, where service was non-existent or spotty.

I was so pleased, I even eventually sent Verizon the payment they were seeking from me for home Internet service for the month following the date I moved out of my house. It was basically a choice between paying the money I didn’t really owe, being regularly harassed by the credit agency to which they turned the matter over, or spending far too much time on the phone, holding and then some, to try and straighten it out.

All was going smoothly with my wireless mobile broadband — or so I thought until last week, when Verizon informed me that for the past two months I’d gone over monthly limit, and that I owed them more than $400. Read more »

AT&T unveils collar that will track your dog


A dog collar that will allow pet owners to map their pets’ location on their computer or other wireless devices will soon be hitting the market, Apisphere, Inc.  and AT&T announced.

“The dog collar, with an embedded wireless SIM, will leverage Apisphere’s award winning geo-mobility platform to transmit location-aware data across AT&T’s nationwide wireless network directly to a pet owner’s wireless handset or personal computer,” according to an AT&T press release

In other words, what the communications company is saying, I think, is that the new gizmo will tell you where your dog is.

Apisphere is a provider of “location-smart technologies” for mobile applications and devices.

Pet owners who use the technology will be instructed to register their pets and important contacts as soon as they attach the collar. Owners may establish a “geo-fence” around the home where the pet can roam freely. Through the technology, owners can locate their dog if he strays outside of his established parameters.

Apisphere software will transmit street level data for easy pet location. Owners will have the option to program text, email, video or audio alerts, to be distributed as often as they like.

“There are few things as important to my daughter as knowing the whereabouts of our dog,” said Glenn Lurie, president, AT&T Emerging Devices, Resale and Partnerships. “The peace of mind that a wirelessly connected collar will bring my family and pet owners across the country is long overdue. We’re extremely excited about this product and its possibilities.”

Pricing, distribution, and design details of the collar will be made available at launch, expected later this year.

(Art: From Peterclarkcollage.com)

The SNIF Tag: Big master is watching

Cool or creepy? You decide.

SNIF Tag is a device you attach to your dog’s collar, allowing you to go online and monitor his activity. It doesn’t tell you where your dog is — only what he’s doing, within the boundaries of sleeping, eating and playing anyway.

The website explains it this way: “You’d like to be home with your dog all day long but sometimes the little things like work and travel get in the way. With the SNIF Tag, you never have to wonder what your dog is doing while you’re gone. Using motion-sensing and wireless technology, the SNIF Tag records all of your pet’s activity indoors and out and displays the information through a simple, clear, online interface.”

On top of that, the device records all encounters with other dogs wearing SNIF Tags, meaning, when you get back home, you can go online and read about the other dog’s owner.

You may, for example, be afraid to talk to the babe with the boxer, but with SNIF Tag, assuming the boxer is wearing one as well, you can look up her profile back home and send her a message.

“By recording encounters with other SNIF dogs, your SNIF Tag becomes more than a pet monitoring device– it’s a tool for social networking that expands your circle of friends every time you take your pup for a walk.” As the video points out, it can lead to new “friends … or maybe more.”

I can see how the device could provide useful information, such as making sure your dog walker is really walking the dog and for exactly how long, but all in all it strikes me as a little covert — and as a tool that will make life easier and more guilt-free for absentee pet owners, who shouldn’t have a pet in the first place.

Here, though, is the most disturbing part of all, it’s regularly $299! (A special $199 introductory rate is now in effect.)

Founded in 2005 by four MIT Media Lab graduates, SNIF Labs designed the SNIF Tag and touts it as an opportunity to network and learn more about your dog’s behavior in real-time.

“We loved the idea of using real-world social networking to let your dog do the relationship-building work and act as a kind of social catalyst,” said Noah Paessel, CEO and co-founder of SNIF Labs. “SNIF Tag not only gives dog owners peace of mind, it also offers a non-threatening way to meet new friends and companions via their dogs’ encounters.”

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’d rather see my now dog run and wrestle in person, than as a blip on the computer screen. That’s just not how I like my interface — be it canine or human.