GadgetTrak is a piece of software that you install on your mobile phone or laptop. The software will periodically check in and let you know the physical location of the device. If a camera is present, for example on a laptop, it can even take a photo of the thief and email it back to the owner. The software cannot be disabled by the thief.
For a Mac or Windows laptop, the price is $34.95 per year.
For Android and Blackberry phones, which includes remote data wipe ability, secure encrypted backup and a loud piercing audible alarm even if the device is in silent mode, the price is $19.95 per year.
For iPhone, iPod, and iPad, the GadgetTrak app is .99 cents, The iOS version does not include remote data wipe, but does include remote camera and push notification support to inform the thief of the GadgetTrak software’s presence.
I know a lot of telecommunications traffic is moving to the internet, but in some situations a real phone system is still necessary. And sometimes, I stumble across a technology that is just so geeky-cool that I can’t resist it. That’s why I am dying to build an OpenVBX system. It’s like a home server for your telephones. If you like playing with things such as FreeNAS and WebDAV and understand them, then this shouldn’t be a stretch for you. And did I mention that it’s just really cool technology? And it’s free and open-source!
Rather than me trying to explain it, here’s the description given by their web site:
Get virtual phone numbers, and build business apps with the easy drag ‘n drop editor. OpenVBX comes with applets for auto-attendants, call forwarding, voicemails (with transcription), receiving text messages and more.
Integrate OpenVBX with your existing systems. Build your own custom phone applets with just a little bit of PHP. Rebrand and resell OpenVBX to your customers.
Give every user their own phone number and personal conference line. Dial whole departments, share voicemail messages with the team. OpenVBX is for companies and collaboration.
It comes from Twilio, which is a cloud-based communications service. OpenVBX is an open-source project which was started by Twilio. You host it on your own server – Twilio has not announced any plan to host a version. If you don’t want to host it in your home/business then you can easily find a paid host that offers one-click installation of OpenVBX (just like installing WordPress on your blog).
There are a few apps available on their website and you can write any that you want and easily add it to your installation. You’ll need to know some PHP, but that’s a pretty common language in today’s world, so if you don’t know it then it’s easy to find a programmer who does.
The air is electric with heady excitement. The big day has finally arrived. “This one will be nirvana!” you tell yourself. As you enter the doors and walk down the isle, there she is waiting at the altar, all decked out in a one-use dress. Your heart races with anticipation.
There’s your dream — waiting there for you, with a pre-nuptial agreement in one hand and divorce papers in the other, complete with fine print written in legalese.
For some of us the marriage is a happy one. For others it is a marriage of convenience. And for a small number the marriage ends up going sour and costing them a bundle of money.
Am I talking about a wedding? No, I’m talking about the trip to the cell phone store.
We tend to get all excited about the latest phone models, comparing this feature set with that feature set, this screen with that screen, etc. Once we make a decision and our heart is set on a specific device, we eagerly sign the contract and end up married to a cell carrier for the life of the contract.
Devices aside, the big U.S. carriers have been making constant improvements to their networks. It’s a huge job, but there’s a lot of future money at stake.
In the realm of cell phones, I’ve always found it fascinating and somewhat telling how people will bounce from one cell carrier to the next, seemingly on a whim. If it becomes chic to talk bad about a specific cell carrier, it seems that a lot of people will change cell carriers the same way some people will worry about saturated fats or the latest diet fad.
And now we have the iPhone 4 and it’s purported antenna problem story of the past few days. At this point Apple has sold more than 3 million iPhone 4’s and the vast majority of iPhone 4 users have been happy with their new phones. Yet I find it interesting that all of this media attention about antenna problems has put doubt in the minds of some iPhone 4 owners.
The smartphone is a concept and an evolving device that has been around for a few years, though until now mass consumer adoption has been slow.
The introduction of the iPhone in June 2007 marked a radical improvement in smartphone interface design, usability and device capabilities. The iPhone caused a big upheaval in the then somewhat sleepy cell phone market. Even though the iPhone was an instant hit and unquestionably successful product, Apple’s choice of tying the iPhone exclusively to AT&T in the United States likely slowed the pace of faster smartphone adoption. In a way, this slowing of smartphone adoption has been good because it has allowed carriers to beef up their networks in the interim.
Google entered the smartphone market announcing Android in November of 2007. Initial implementations of Android-powered devices demonstrated promise, but it has taken a while for Android itself to be improved, and smartphone manufacturers such as HTC and Motorola to come up with highly-desirable devices that take full advantage of Android’s evolving and and advanced features and capabilities.
We are now in July of 2010. The iPhone 4 has been introduced. Alongside the iPhone 4, highly-desirable and functional devices such as the HTC Evo 4G, Droid Incredible , Droid X, and other Android-powered devices have either arrived or are shortly to come on the market. Now there’s suddenly a new problem – all of these devices are in short supply, and manufacturers such as HTC are scrambling to ramp up production to meet the demand that seemed to come out of nowhere.
Where did all of this smartphone demand come from? There are several pieces of the marketplace puzzle that have finally come together all at the same time. The new smartphone devices are finally at a point where they are highly usable. Multiple competing cell networks are finally at a point where data connectivity and speed make them usable. Also, millions of consumers over the past few years have become intimately familiar with “dumb” phone models that have had smartphone-like features embedded into them, such as integrated cameras, limited Internet browsing, gaming, text messaging and GPS functionality. They make regular use of these features, and are ready to move up to better devices with larger screens.
The smartphone has reached critical mass and is ready to continue the march towards maturation. Smartphones are becoming a very mainstream product. People who a few years ago would have never considered any phone labeled with the smartphone moniker are now readily embracing the new devices.
As a result of this mass consumer adoption of the smartphone that’s now underway, the market for highly-specialized smartphone apps will continue to explode to a degree in the future we might consider surprising even today. Multiple millions of consumers have millions of different needs and expectations. This exploding smartphone app market lends itself to the development of highly specialized niche applications.
Virtually any type of personal or industrial use a computer can be put to can likely also be done with a specialized app running on a modern smartphone. One tiny example of this is already in use is the area of automotive diagnostics. For many years, automotive technicians have used laptop computers in conjunction with special software connected via a cable to an automotive diagnostic port to onboard vehicle computers. Such software already exists for the iPhone to be used in place of a laptop computer, able to replace the cable connection with a Bluetooth connection. Imagine this realized potential multiplied a million times and you catch a glimpse of the future potential for smartphone apps and the uses these devices can and will be put to.
Remember when they first started discussing radiation of cell phones? You could get a tumor calling mum. Well now San Francisco decided you need to know how much radiation you are sticking to your ear.
On a article on Engadget, they show a chart of which phones are rated with low radiation and which ones are high. Nokia, Blackberry Storm and Samsung are the lowest radiation phones, while Blackberry 8820, Palm Pixi, Kyocera Jax and HTC Magic were the highest.
Get a Safer Phone
The website – Get a Safer Phone – charts out radiation for cell phones and smartphones. The main cancers that cellphones could cause were Glioma and Acoustic neuroma. There is also a recent study that the parotid (salivary) gland may be at risk of tumor.
Get a Safer Earpiece
If you think that switching to a bluetooth might fix that, think again. Bluetooth headsets also have a radiation rating, although it is considerably less. The best way save your brain from tumors is using the corded headset.
Where is the iPhone?
The iPhone 3G was rated at 0.24 – 1.03 Watts per kg. The 3G S is at 0.52 – 1.19 W/kg. The Droid is 1.19 W/kg. In comparison, the lowest was 0.22 – 0.55 W/kg while the highest was 1.28 – 1.58 W/kg.
Therefore, the iPhone is one of the worst 25% of phones in the category. No mention what the 2G version, let alone the iPhone 4 is at.
As for labels – we have enough of them. Nutritional values on food, Surgeon General Warnings on cigarettes. Might as well put warnings on TV’s, routers, laptops or any electronic device.
Yes, there was sarcasm in the title. But the FCC proposed a really is a great idea. Tell people when they are about to hit their limits.
I remember when I got my first overage bill. It was $130 more than expected. While I was a bit perturbed, I understood and paid it off. Definitely took a hit in my pocketbook.
Of course I did have a Land line and my Nokia phone (which still was just for calling people) had only 250 minutes and $.40 a minute after. I also could walk 20 feet to the west and all of a sudden get “Roaming” charges. So going over on a plan was easy – in 1998.
Nowadays, the land line is gone in liu of Skype and Google Voice. The Cell is the primary contact for calls, texts, emails and facebook posts. I have an unlimited text and data plan and if I go over in minutes, I have a backlog of rollover to keep me safe. Then again, I pay $130 a month…
Stopping the Overage:
37 years after the first cell phone call was made, companies are finally realizing that someone might go over in their minutes. O.K, the FCC is realizing this and trying to make the phone carriers comply. If the user hits their limit, they get a message stating that.
The user then can choose if they want to rack up additional charges or turn their phone off until the next month starts. Wait – you can turn a phone off?
Similar but Sad: Data Plan overage
Vodafone in the UK – who nixed their unlimited data plan – announced they will be offering a free text service to warn people if they hit their limit. So those of you in the UK who watch their soaps or Dr. Who from the phone during lunch might not be able to watch more than 1 episode for the whole month.
Remember last year the Chicago Bears fan who watched the game from his netbook on a cruise ship? He got $3000 in overage fees for his wireless data plan.
It’s all about a text
I get texts from AT&T whenever my bill is ready; Or if I haven’t paid last months yet. I suppose it’s time of month to see that text message aga…. oh wait. Here it is. They are so eager to make sure you pay your bill, but not that eager to let you know if you stretch your limits.
It’s not like someone has to sit by their phone and text everybody that goes over “Dude: You’re hitting your limit.”. We have automated scripts that can do that. Just like my bank has an automated script to tell me when my account hits below…. oh wait. Just got THAT text message, too.
I totally agree on an alert system. I can’t log into the website everyday to see where I am in minutes. Then again, if I ever go over
Recently my wife and I moved away from our home in the United States to do some humanitarian work in a developing country. Our internet connection is fairly consistent, though sometimes incredibly sluggish (usually around 256k both ways). In a previous post I wrote about the purchase of Majic Jack. The television sales unit that assigns a United States number and allows for unlimited calling for around $25/year. It has not disappointed for the most part and has allowed us to make calls back to our family even on the slow connection. But you can read that article for a review, so what about the rest of our calling system?
Our current set-up gives us one main phone number from the U.S.A. and allows us nearly unlimited calling for a total of about $75/year. Here is the order of services used.
Google Voice – This is our “One” number to rule them all. We have given our Google number to all of our friends and family. We then forward on the Google number to our Majic Jack and in-country cell phone. Don’t forget – Google Voice is free! The SMS feature works well, the transcribe voice mail needs some work, the notifications and ease of use are superb.
LocalPhone.com – A British company that allows you to assign a U.S.A. number to an international number (our in-country cell phone). So whenever Google forwards a call to the LocalPhone number my in-country cell phone rings. For our country the cost is less than 3.5 cents per minute. Not bad at all. Additionally, all incoming calls to cell phones in our country are free (the cell companies make their money on the outgoing calls).
So what about the performance? The lag/latency has been astoundingly good. Much better than using a land-line system ever was. Only once did it take so long to make the triple connection (Google to LocalPhone to my cell phone) that the person was directed to voicemail before I could answer. It is times like these that make me write, and fully mean, the overused phrase “Isn’t technology amazing?”