Technology show. What do you have to do to get a phone signal? Click finds out why your mobile cannot always connect to the network. Plus, the self-destructing USB stick.
Browse content similar to 07/04/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
industrial action as the annual conference this week.
Hello? Hello? Just how far are you prepared to go
to get a signal? This week, we find out why your mobile cannot always
connect, no matter what position you adopt. And should phone
companies be let off the hook? And Bordeaux purifies in geekiness.
The report from its second digital week.
All of that plus the latest Tech News, the data store which is so
secure, it self-destructs if you lose it. And more moon then you can
Welcome to Click. This week, our mobile-phone expert has been a bit
secretive regarding the contents of his report. I know it is about
phones but he said he would call me with more detail. In fact, that is
him. Hello. Hello? Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
Hello? This is useless! Don't you just hate it when that
happens? This handset has more advanced processes than rockets
that sent the first men to the moon. It can hold my personal diary, my
video player, it can even monitor my blood pressure. But I cannot
make a decent call. Not that he ever makes sense anyway.
The user experience of phone calls, while it has become more ubiquitous,
you can make a call anywhere, has not fundamentally changed in 100
years. It sounds the same as it did when telephones were first invented.
Phone technology has radically changed since 1876 but the basic
desire in making a call is still the same. To hear and be heard
clearly. So why do we still suffer from bad connections and dropped
calls? The smartphones of today have nothing to do with the phones
of yesterday. They are purely focused on noise, managing voice
signals and grabbing onto that antenna to get the perfect signal.
We have to deal with data, mobile broadband and applications. What
happens is the operators are having to start applying this new
technology in their networks. a real-estate issue. There are two
aspects. One is room for electronics that can help voice.
The other is space for microphones and speakers. What little space
there is for electronics seems to be earmarked for glassy extras. The
kind of stuff in advertising campaigns. People's priorities have
changed. Most people are interested in cameras, what apps they can get,
things like that. And then there are efficiency measures as we
demand better performance. They are designed with a view to saving
battery life. So they connect and disconnect multiple times. This
puts a lot of strain on the signalling network which is not
designed to cope with all of that signalling traffic. As a result,
Mobile sales can only carry a certain number of calls. So if your
call disconnects from the network and there are no free spots when
you want to call, you may have to wait, even if your handset is
showing several bars of signal. But arguably one of the biggest hurdles
facing the mobile industry today is the distribution of the spectrum
available for their traffic. Imagine I am a mobile operator and
this tomato is my available bandwidth. When we want to provide
a few different services, we can slice it nice and thick. We make
sure everybody gets a sizable, reliable chunk. But in today's
world, where operators need to slice their available bandwidth
ever more thinly to feed the hunger for things like video, apps and
research projects, it does not take a master chef to realise there will
be a trade off. In data terms, voice does not need
much bandwidth. Typically, one- third of streaming music or one-
tenth of video. But it needs to be a consistent connection. Where as
data for a webpage can be sent in fits and starts, slowly building up
the image, we tend to notice if our caller's voice breaks up or drops.
But dropped calls may not be solely down to the network.
Have you ever had a phone that was particularly good at making for
taking calls? Not all handsets are made the same. Where you put your
antenna, for example, is important. Apple's revolutionary idea to wrap
it around the outside of the handset seemed like a step forward.
Until users quickly found the signal dropped nothing if you held
the iPhone 4 a certain away. Red- faced Apple offered free covers.
And there are different frequencies so the number of chips can also
interfere with call quality. It is a real challenge for the equipment
manufacturers to get it all packed into the same device and have it
work in different countries and across various spectrum's that a
given operator may have within any single country. Sometimes, your
handset struggles to lock onto a signal, even though you know there
is one there because you made calls from that location before. But zero
bars does not necessarily mean you cannot make a call. If your display
shows no signal, do not fear. It may actually have stopped hunting
around for one. It does that to save battery but you can force your
phone to check for a signal by simply turning the airplane mode on
and then back off again. And then it should go hunting. And as 4G
networks move out, more calls can be made over internet protocol.
That solved some of the issues. Other recent advances could help
with the call experience as well. Noise reduction technologies in
phones have been around for a few years. But they are evolving as
well by isolating your voice and eliminating background noise, even
if you are in an incredibly busy environment. With the technology
available, you can transmit a full audible bandwidth which only humans
can hear. You can transmit a few audible bandwidth. So some
operators have already added the new Kodak to their networks
delivering what is being marketed as her HTC voice. But does it work?
I can hear the voice coming through clearly, even over the microphones
and craziness in the background. is very clear. There was no static.
There did not seem to be any blanks. good. Our chips are very small and
we have taken full advantage of the miniaturisation that is possible.
That is actually the size of our chip. I am sure Alexander Graham
Bell would not even recognise the device we call a telephone today.
But he may find it a little easier to recognise the voice of the
person calling. OK, next is a look at this week's
Tech News. A government plan to monitor emails
and web surfing in the UK has sparked a row with civil liberties
groups and some MPs who say the proposed laws would be an invasion
of privacy. Downing Street has not finalised the proposals but say any
new legislation would focus on who was communicating with who, when
and where, rather than the content of any exchanges which would still
require a warrant. It says the changes are needed as more people
use online communications. Users of the TomTom sat nav have
been driven around the bend by what they say is interference. Some of
the devices have stopped working. Drivers in Switzerland, the UK and
Denmark say the screen went grey and the machine said it had no
signal. The firm said it was working on a fix and promised
further updates. Imagine seeing all of the
information you need by looking at the world around you. This is
Google's vision of how augmented reality may work in a few years. It
revealed what it calls Project Glass - a display that offers
information triggered by voice or location. Keep your eye on Click
for a closer look at this. These villagers in Lancashire have
gotten bored with waiting for a super-fast broadband connection. So
they have started laying their own network. Many volunteers with
spades took part in digging an 83 kilometre long trench. When
finished, it will connect to several villagers and provide fibre
optic cables. They hope to be switched on by July.
Finally, we may be one step closer to the flying cars we were promised
as two companies say they have successfully concluded the first
test flight. The transition vehicle from a US company has two seats,
four wheels and wings that fold so it can be driven like an old
fashion car. Meanwhile in Europe, the Dutch made personal air and
land vehicle folds down to a three- wheel car. Lovely!
Now, how many of these have you lost in your life? It is too easy
to leave one plugged into somebody else's machine or let it slip out
of your pocket. But we are increasingly storing more valuable
things on these. This could help. It is like a simple USB flash drive.
But it is not a simple USB flash drive. This is armed to the teeth.
Used by the secret service, inside it has a GPS receiver, a battery
and a mobile SIM card. That means you can track its location if it
goes walkabout. The battery recharges every time it is plugged
into the PC, which means you can track it to the nearest mobile cell
or, if it can see the GPS satellite, right down to a volcanic lair. If
your documents are for your eyes only, you can block access to them
remotely through the online console or by sending a coded text message.
And if locking it is not enough, it has one final trick. With one fatal
click, you can shoot a high-voltage charge into its core, melting the
chip, destroying the evidence and saving the world. But it comes with
The French city of Bordeaux, famous for wonderful wines and fabulous
food. It is on a drive to promote its geeky side. It is hosting its
second Digital Week, getting those who have turned cold by technology
a little more involved. Skateboarders are not normally
found in Bordeaux city centre, but this is Digital Week. Town Hall is
giving skaters some licence. Skateboarders are getting radio
frequency ID bracelets so that photographers can fire off snaps of
them to their Facebook pages and post them on the website. Radio
frequency ID is like the key. We check the bracelet, that is the key.
The smartphone sends the picture on the service. We can send it on
Facebook. When we think of Bordeaux we think of wine and food. This
local technical company has knocked together a recipe finder called the
Saveur Digital. You can find cooking tips on the website. The
idea is to build a bridge between the traditional products of this
region and new technology. Particularly useful when it comes
to ingredients that could be difficult to swallow. Like tripe.
If it is not cooked properly it can be dangerous. If you have the right
instructions it can be easy to understand and nice. Bordeaux's
town hall wants to promote local IT companies. They are running a
ground-breaking design course. It includes data visualisation, data
collected by governments or companies is illustrated so that
people can physically manipulate and understand it. It is where data
design and democracy meet. We live in a society where information is
omnipresent. It is a way to understand them better. It is a way
of summing up data in a clear presentation. When Bordeaux's
design students graduate they will need a place to work.
Town hall is giving over one of its unused buildings as a nursery for
IT start-ups. The idea is to get people with ideas and drive
together under the one roof. It is not just exploring what is possible
with technology, but what is not. They do not buy into the widely
held belief that it is easy to work on Skype with someone in India as
it is to work with someone in the same room. They believe if you want
to get something started from the ground up, you need to have all
your expertise in one place. Giving people a hand up early on is what
allez less e-filles is about. Girls like technology, not just as
consumers, but they are put off by the stereotype of the anti-social
geek. TRANSLATION: Boys are often stronger in technology. As soon as
a girl sits down at the computer they say, leave it to me because I
am better. Companies are looking for women in website positions.
Mostly because they are more perfectionist in their tasks. This
is an added value for a company to meet a woman. When you look at the
make-up of classes and technical schools there are an enormous
number of boys but very few girls. That is what we are trying to
succeed with his operation, attracting girls to this profession,
which is the profession of the future. Bordeaux's Digital Week has
outlined some audacious plans for the future. Plans that could turn a
beautiful French city renowned for its culinary expertise into a
Now, as we reported a few weeks ago, next year you'll be able to take a
trip into space for $200,000. If you do not have that kind of spare
cash lying around, do not worry because NASA is offering a
different trip with a down-to-earth price tag where you can put space
40 years after we put the first man on the Moon, now you can hold of
the Moon in your hands with NASA's free smartphone app for Android and
iPhone. There is enough video to satisfy any armchair astronaut. If
you want to find something random to read, the features section is
where you should head. All of the articles are accompanied with high
quality imagery that we have come to expect from NASA. You can have
the app set your wallpaper with NASA's image of the day. Who needs
a $200,000 ticket to the Earth's outer atmosphere anyway? When you
are starting out in business getting the right advice can be
vital. When it comes to technology that advice can be expensive.
Hackerbuddy.com is a great social concept that works to put together
start up coders and designers so they can help each other out with
free advice through e-mail. You think hacker, you think bad guy,
right? He wants to break into your bank account or bring down a blue-
chip website. In computer programming circles the word hacker
can describe anyone who knows how to code useful and interesting
websites. Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team are examples of non
malicious hackers. The website is young but it is already home to
5,000 members. If they accept your plea for help you are given e-mail
addresses. You can progress the project without the website's
involvement. When it comes to school sports day
you need to be there in person. For top-flight sport supporters
catching it live on TV is the next best thing. Livesport.co.uk bills
itself as the definitive UK Sport TV Guide. You'll never miss a match.
The navigation bar on the left let's you search for a sport from
American football to wrestling. There are listings for 3D TV
broadcasts. It is a free app for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. You
can save it in Google Calendar. As the saying goes, in the back of the
net my son. If you are stuck for something
creative to do with your cover image, this post on design and
photography, MachoArts, showcases some brilliant ideas. After racking
up 30 million iPhone users, Instagram finally released their
free app on Android this week. Only if you have 2.0 and up.
Finally, the story of the disposable camera. Camera Obscura
Project is the home of the snap happy project where a throwaway
camera was left with instructions for whoever found it to take a
photo and leave it somewhere else to be found again. The experiment
was such a success they are sending out a batch of cameras around the
UK, in London, Brighton and Manchester. What will they catch on
their travels this time? Will any of them make it home to be
published on this blog? Watch this space to find out.
That was Kate Russell with Webscape. If you missed any of the links, you
What do you have to do to get a phone signal? Click finds out why your mobile cannot always connect to the network. Plus, the self-destructing USB stick.