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    We've gone mobile!
    blog entry posted February 15, 2012 by Julie Smith David, last edited April 3, 2012 by Judy Cothern 
    744 Views, 2 Comments
    We've gone mobile!

    mobileThis week, we released our new mobile version of the AAA Digital Library.  If you want to access it from your smart device, just open the browser and go to  If you do that from your computer, you'll go to the traditional site... but if you go from a mobile device, you'll see the new mobile version! (With a tablet, you may be taken to the full site, but you can click on "View Mobile site" at the top. With mobile, you can log in to get access to full text articles, based on your membership subscriptions - or pair your device with your library to get access to all of the AAA content (as long as they've subscribed to the Digital Library package).  To learn how, just click on the link to the Digital Library Support Page.

    Check it out - and let us know what you think!  



    • Robert E Jensen

      "4G or Not 4G: A Guide to Cut Through All the 'Fast' Talk," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2012 ---

      Of all the confusing technology terms used in consumer marketing today, perhaps the most opaque is "4G," used to describe a new, much faster generation of cellular data on smartphones, tablets and other devices. It sounds simple, but there are many varieties of 4G and conflicting claims.

      AT&T T -0.30% claims "The nation's largest 4G network," and T-Mobile says it has "America's largest 4G network." Verizon Wireless boasts "America's fastest 4G network," and Sprint S -0.17% says it had the first 4G network.

      Yet the technology used by T-Mobile, and mostly comprising AT&T's 4G network, isn't considered "real" 4G at all by some critics, and the one used by Sprint has proven to be a dead end and is being abandoned. The flavor being used by Verizon is now being adopted by its rivals, but won't be interoperable among them.

      It's a headache for consumers to grasp. So here's a simplified explainer to some of the most common questions, based on interviews with top technical officials at all four major U.S. wireless carriers.

      What is 4G?

      It's the fourth and latest generation technology for data access over cellular networks. It's faster and can give networks more capacity than the 3G networks still on most phones. There's a technical definition, set by a United Nations agency in Europe, and a marketing definition, which is looser, but more relevant to most consumers.

      Who needs 4G?

      It's mostly for people with smartphones, tablets and laptops who often need fast data speeds for Web browsing, app use and email when they're out of the range of Wi-Fi networks. It can give you the same or greater data speeds as home or office Wi-Fi when you're in a taxi. In hotels and airports, it's often faster than public Wi-Fi networks.

      How does 4G differ from another term being advertised, 'LTE'?

      LTE, which stands for "Long Term Evolution," is the fastest, most consistent variety of 4G, and the one most technical experts feel hews most closely to the technical standard set by the U.N. In the U.S., it has primarily been deployed by Verizon, which offers it in over 200 markets. AT&T has begun deploying it, offering LTE in 28 markets so far. Sprint and T-Mobile are pivoting to LTE, though they have no cities covered by it yet.

      What are these other versions of 4G?

      Sprint uses a technology called WiMax. T-Mobile and AT&T deployed a technology called HSPA+, a faster version of 3G that they relabeled as 4G, and which many technical critics regard as a "faux 4G." Sprint will begin switching to LTE later this year, and T-Mobile in 2013.

      How fast is 4G?

      Claims vary and performance depends upon the type of device, location, and time. In my tests, 4G phones, tablets and data modems for laptops typically deliver from three to 20 times the download speeds of 3G devices. The speed king is LTE. The LTE devices I've used have typically averaged download speeds of between 10 and 20 megabits per second, with frequent instances of over 30 megabits per second. The other forms of 4G have generally produced download speeds well under 10 mbps in my tests. But all of these are better than 3G, which in my tests on all networks and many devices, averages download speeds of under 2 mbps. The Digital Solution 

      How does LTE compare with common wired home Internet speeds?

      Although it is wireless, LTE is often faster than most Americans' wired home Internet service. According to Akamai, a large Internet company, the average broadband speed in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2011 was a mere 6.1 mbps.

      How does LTE compare with Wi-Fi?

      Wi-Fi is usually a wireless broadcast of a wired Internet service, so, if the average U.S. broadband speed is 6.1 mbps, that's around what the average Wi-Fi speed is. But, in public places, the shared Wi-Fi is often much, much slower than LTE. In tests I did this week at Dulles Airport near Washington, and at a hotel outside Boston, the public Wi-Fi networks delivered well under 1 mbps on the new iPad. But the Verizon LTE cellular network on the iPad averaged over 32 mbps in both places.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on education technology ---


    • Robert E Jensen

      "A Way to Share Photos, Files And Money in Black & White:  Walt Mossberg reviews Xsync, an iPhone app that uses QR codes to transfer photos, songs, videos and even money, The Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2019 ---

      Say you want to quickly transfer a file, like a photo or a contact entry, from your smartphone to a friend's. Most people would email or text the file. But a number of technologies have come along to make the process quicker and simpler.

      On some Android phones, you can "beam" files like photos from phone to phone by tapping one phone to another, or bringing them very close. But that requires that both phones have a special chip, called NFC, which isn't yet universal on Android phones and doesn't exist at all in iPhones.

      Another approach is to use an app called Bump, which transfers files between iPhones and Android phones when those holding them do a sort of sideways fist bump. It works pretty well, but you have to make contact with the other person.

      This week, I've been testing a different approach—an iPhone app called Xsync. It doesn't require any special chip and instead uses a free app and a hardware feature almost every smartphone possesses—the camera. While it is primarily meant, like Bump, for transfers between phones in proximity, it works over long distances. I was able to almost instantly send and get photos, videos and songs using Xsync between two iPhones held up to computer webcams during a Skype video call.

      The key to Xsync is the QR code, that square symbol found seemingly everywhere these days—online, in print newspapers and magazines, on posters and other places. These codes typically just contain text—often, a Web address. But Xsync, a tiny company based in Seattle, generates QR codes that initiate the transfer of whole files, or in the case of photos, even groups of files. It has a built-in QR code scanner to read these codes using the phone's camera.

      The biggest drawback to Xsync is that it is currently only available for the iPhone. An Android version is planned for sometime this quarter. Meanwhile, you can use an Android phone with any QR code reader to receive, though not send, files sent via Xsync.

      The Xsync app is something of a teaser for the underlying technology, which the company calls the Optical Message Service. The company's goal isn't to build its own apps, but to license the technology to cellphone makers so it becomes a built-in way to transfer files.

      Here's how it works. Once you install Xsync on your iPhone, you select an audio file, photo, video, contact, or calendar appointment, each of which is represented by a simple icon. The app creates a QR code representing the intended transfer of that file and temporarily sends the file to Xsync's server. Your friend uses Xsync to scan the QR code you've created with his or her iPhone's camera, and the files are sent to your friend's iPhone.

      In my tests, it was easy, quick and reliable. I successfully used Xsync to send and receive all the included types of files with an iPhone 5, an iPhone 4S, and an iPad Mini. I was also able to receive files on an Android phone, a Google GOOG -0.96% Nexus 4, via a QR code generated by Xsync.

      You can even generate a QR code using Xsync that will allow you to transfer money from your PayPal account to another person's, though that requires an added authentication step for security. But it worked, and would be a good way to, say, split a bill at a restaurant. (This PayPal feature of Xsync doesn't work with Android, for now.)

      The company says the file transfers are secure, for two reasons. First, they are encrypted. More important, each code is generated for a specific transfer and expires after a relatively short time. For instance, codes for photos expire after 24 hours, according to the company.

      You can use Xsync to transmit certain kinds of files—including documents—you've stored in your Dropbox account, though, oddly, the Xsync app hides this document-transfer feature under an icon for sharing calendar appointments.

      And you don't have to be close to make the transfer. In addition to my Skype example, you can send a QR code generated by Xsync via email or text message, or even post the code to Facebook FB -1.59% . Another person can then scan the code to get the file.

      Xsync can generate codes that represent either existing files on your phone, or files you create on the spot. If you don't want to use an existing one, the audio, photo, video and calendar icons in the app invite you to create a new file to be transferred.

      Continued in article