Archive for March, 2010

Cell Phone Radiation Concerns

Cell Phone Radiation ConcernsMuch has been written about the potential impact of radiation from cell phones. This includes the impact it may have on your health. The concerns range from cancer to overall health impacts if you use your cell phone too much.  We thought we would take a different approach to dealing with the issue. We follow a philosophy that is common to many issues.

Too much of a good thing can be harmful to your health. This applies to foods, the sun, and tobacco and on and on. Cell phones and their use may or may not impact us negatively, but why take the chance.  We all know people who are practically glued to their cell phones all of their working day or perhaps they are wearing the new blue tooth devices which fit into their ears. Even these devices which provide hands free service and are much safer to use compared to holding your cell phone while driving a car, also contribute some radiation.

Cell Phone Radiation Concerns

If you need to use your cell phone for work and use it a lot, you could be susceptible to potential health problems. If you are a teen and love to talk on the phone you could also be susceptible to a potential health issue.  We know that you cannot just stop using your phone. They have become a necessary part of our lives and we cannot live without them. So what are we to do if we are also concerned about our health?

Common Sense Approach

The common Sense approach is just that. Let’s face it we are never really going to find out if cell phones are harmful. Look at the tobacco industry. It took over 50 years for people to realize the impacts on their health. It may or may not be the same for cell phones, but why take the chance.

So let’s assume that they are harmful or will be harmful to our health over a long period of time.  If you knew this to be true what would you change how you use your cell phone?  Maybe. Would you stop using your phone? Not likely! Would you use your phone less? Perhaps for a while, but then you would fall back into your old habits.

What is needed is a few ideas that you can use to control not only how much you use your phone but where you place your phone to decrease the amount of radiation that is absorbed by your brain. If we apply this approach, we think that you can dramatically decrease the radiation that you are exposed to. Remember that we really do not care if the radiation is harmful or not, we just do not want to find out ten years from now that all of the experts were wrong and pay for it with a brain tumor etc.

A Few Basic Facts About Cell Phones

A few basic facts about cell phones will help us understand what we can do to help ourselves. All phones are engineered to not go beyond a preset level of radiation as determined by the industry and the government. So there is a maximum power level they cannot go beyond. This is supposed to be a healthy level that will not adversely affect us.

As you go further away from a cellular tower, the phone must radiate more power to maintain a telephone call or a data connection. The closer you are to the tower, the lower the power level will be.

The radiation emanating from the phones and penetrating your brain decreases by the square of the distance from your head. This is very important in managing the radiation levels that you are exposed to, as are all of the other facts that are mentioned in this section.

The message is to find ways to decrease the amount of radiation you are exposed to without having to use your phone less than you are, since it has become an important tool in your life.

What can you do?

In listing the following ideas, we recognize that not all are practical for all situations or people in their daily work activities. Select those that make sense for you in your situation!

  • Use hands free wherever possible including both an ear bud with a wire attached to your phone as well as Bluetooth devices
  • For long calls, switch to a land line so that you can get away from the radiation all together
  • Even for relatively short calls it may be appropriate to switch to a traditional telephone
  • Use your phones speaker phone in appropriate places so that you do not have to hold the phone to your ear
  • If your cell phones battery feels warm you have probably been talking too long.
  • Use a phone that is rated as having a lower emission level, check the FCC website.
  • If you are mobile and use your phone a lot, try to locate a nearby cellular tower and stop and finish your call parked close to a cellular tower. Remember you should not be driving while using your phone anyway. Switch to hands free mode
  • Even if you hold your phone one inch away from your head you are decreasing the radiation that penetrates to your brain. Most people will still be able to hear the person on the other end quite easily with the phone held away from your ear.

Summary

These are a few basic steps you can take to manage and decrease the radiation penetrating your brain. Following them and getting into the habit of using your cell phone in this manner will not limit your flexibility and efficiency, but it will decrease the probability of being damaged by this radiation. Remember we are not saying that the cell phone will cause health issues, we are just saying that why do you want to take the chance?  Cell phones have really not been around long enough for anyone to know and some people might be more susceptible than others. Who really knows?  Follow some or all of the above suggestions to decrease the radiation that penetrates your brain. Why wait for the experts to finally know, take matters into your own hands.

If you know of other ideas, please feel free to add them in our comments section!

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Apple Ipod as a Phone

Apple Ipod as a PhoneYou can use the Apple iPod as a Phone! I recently picked up an Apple iPod Touch from the Apple store in Las Vegas , Nevada. I had wandered into the store and was browsing some of the products when I was approached by one of the many sales people. I have to say that I am a solid PC user and do not know much about Apple’s products. I was intrigued by the number of customers in the store and everyone seemed to be animated and having a great time collaborating over some project they were working on. Perhaps Apple was running a special collaboration project, but I have never seen this in a PC store. I wanted to have a look at the new iPad which is what brought me into the store in the first place, however they did not have a model to show me so I was disappointed in this area.

Apple Sales People are Good At What they Do

Being a good salesperson, the person I spoke to started querying me about what I was looking for and we then had a conversation about how I might be interested in the iPod Touch.  What I was really looking for was an iPhone without the ATT voice and data plan. He quickly informed me that he could not sell me an iPhone, since it must be sold with an activated ATT plan and that I must also have a US address. I told him I wanted to make phone calls using the iPhone using Skype, browse the internet and check on email. His solution was the iPod Touch which can use WiFi connections to connect with the internet and do all the things that I was looking for. The main application I really wanted was Skype which there is an application for that can easily be installed on the iPod Touch free. I will digress and explain a bit about Skype , however this sold me in the iPod Touch right there. Now I do not need to lug my lap top around looking for a WiFi connection when I want to read email or make a few calls while traveling. Another huge advantage is that I can amuse myself while shopping with my wife by listening to the radio, music or reading news and email as long as there is a WiFi network around which there seems to be ample.

Apple iPod as a Phone – Skype

Skype is an emerging VoIP carrier that provides a free application to install on your PC or in my case the iPod Touch. Once installed, you create an account which is also free and you are ready to go. All of this can be done in about 15 minutes. Once installed, you can talk to any other Skype user for free over the internet as long as they also have Skype installed on their computer. You will need a microphone and it is also nice to have a built in camera as well since you can also do video calls with Skype all at no cost to the user as long as you are calling another Skype user.  Skype makes its money when you call outside of the IP network to a traditional phone or cell phone. Rates are typically 2 cents a minute or less. In order to make these kinds of calls you will need to add some money to your account which can easily be done if you have a Paypal account.

Once Skype was installed on my iPod Touch, I quickly signed in and was ready to make calls to all of my listed contacts. Note that you must be near a WiFi network for the iPod Touch to be able to access the internet and your Skype account. Skype worked just like it does on my PC with free calls to other Skype users and paid calls to cell phone users as well as traditional phone users.

The Apple sales person told me that the iPod Touch is exactly like the iPhone without the phone application installed.  What this really means is that there is no microphone installed and there is not a good ear piece.  Although you can hear sounds through a tiny speaker it is not sufficient for listening to music of other voice sounds. Instead you must use ear buds and a microphone chord which is then plugged into the iPod Touch. The quality is excellent and I have used the Skype application installed on the iPod Touch to make several calls to friends and family. In fact they have told me that the connection is better than when they have talked to me over my computer.

No Data Plan

I am still experimenting with adding app’s to the iPod Touch, however so far I have reviewed all of my emails, read the news using Google reader, checked on the weather, checked on the markets and followed some stocks that I am interested in with Yahoo. All of this may seem trivial to Apple users, however having the convenience of being able to do this with a small device like the iPod, without having to subscribe to a data plan from one of the carriers is a major advantage for me.

There seems to be WiFi networks around wherever we go. I did not realize just how many were available, since I did not always carry my heavy laptop around with me. All of the people with iPhones, Blackberries and other smart phones can access the internet and do all of the things that I just mentioned. However they are tied to a data plan which is a major disadvantage in my books when you can access the internet using WiFi for free!  Also you must be wondering why I chose to include this article in this blog under indoor coverage. Well most WiFi connections are indoor only. If you have a wireless network set up for home use, you can use the iPod touch at home as well while watching TV or whatever to finish up a few emails etc without having your lap top perched on your lap!

For more about iPod touch and smart phones, click here.

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Wireless Phone Plans

Wireless Phone Plans

Have you been looking at new wireless phone plans recently? If you have you probably already know just how complicated many of the wireless phone plans are from many of the carriers in the United States and in Canada. We recently were looking at changing our existing plan to try to save some money each month and at the same time add several features that we decided that we would want. What we found was so complicated and so difficult that we almost gave up. The telephone companies have purposely made it difficult for everyone to select economical wireless phone plans that make sense for each individual person. In this post we will discuss some of the issues that we ran into and look for your comments to help make this clearer for other readers.

I have recently decided that I am just buying my own unlocked phone so that I have the freedom to do what I want and not have to deal with the phone company locked in contract issues. I have 2 years to go on my existing contract which is pretty good, but now I have a phone that does not obligate me to continue with a new 36 month contract. Read on for more tips.

Voice

Our family does a lot of local and long-distance calling with our wireless phones. As a result, we thought that we should have a plan that includes airtime for local calling as well as long-distance calling for one simple rate per minute. In addition we receive a lot of incoming calls and we were looking for something that included an incoming call free rate plan. Since we have multiple phones we also wanted something that allowed for free calling between family members.

The telephone companies have features that meet all of our requirements however if you purchase them on an individual basis your monthly telephone bill will be quite high. As a result we were forced into taking prepackaged plans that include features that we want as well as features that we do not care about or need. We also wanted so-called smart phone features such as call display, calling number ID, called return and voicemail. Again these features are all available individually, however there is often a better package if you purchase them as a bundle.

Text Messages

Text messaging is very popular these days. Many more teenagers use text messaging than adults however even among young adults text messaging is becoming a common way of communicating. We have had more success in communicating with our teenagers by text messaging than we have by phoning them. There are family plans available for text messaging providing 100 200 and 500 text messages per month. Also if there is long-distance involved, sending a text message can be much more economical than actually making a long-distance phone call.

If you do not take a text message plan, the telephone companies will charge you for every text message you send as well as every text message that you receive. If your friends and family members send you a lot of text messages this can become quite expensive. A simple solution is to take the small text message plan of say 50 text messages per month, which allows you to send 50 text messages each month while at the same time receiving unlimited text messages. If you are the type of person who receives more text messages than sending text messages, then this is the plan for you.

Voice Mail

Voice mail is also important to have as part of your overall package. You cannot always answer the phone nor should you if you are in a restaurant, driving a car or otherwise busy at meetings. Having voicemail is a useful way for your callers to still leave a message. Voice mail is often integrated as a bundle with other voice features and you may want to take this into account when making a decision about purchasing voice mail.

There is a right way and a wrong way to leave a voice mail message. Many people will say that so and so is calling and leave the telephone number and nothing else. This is the wrong way to leave a voice message. The person you called has no idea of what you are calling about and whether they should prepare something prior to returning your call. Leaving a detailed message of what you are calling about along with your telephone number and name is the best method to use when leaving a voice message. This way, the person you called can prepare for the return phone call and have the information you are looking for at their fingertips.

Data Plans

Data plans are also very complicated and confusing. In order to know which data plan you should purchase, you should have some idea of the amount of data that you will download to your phone. If you have a smart phone and are planning to do a lot of Internet browsing, to do a lot of music downloading, and especially to view many music videos or video programs on your smart phone then you will need a large data plan. The telephone companies are charging a great deal for data, in fact more than they do for voice. They are trying to recoup some of their lost revenues due to the competition that voice has with all the different carriers providing service. We suggest that you be very careful in managing your data plan so that you do not go over your plan limits. This can become very expensive.

Summary

In summary the first step you should take is to figure out what services you require how many text messages you will send each month what call features you would like and how much data you will need before deciding on which plan you purchase from the wireless phone companies. Data is particularly tricky, due to the large amounts of data required by video. If you feel that you will never download music videos or video programs then you can safely go with a smaller data plan however if you plan to download video and watch programs etc. then you should probably opt for a larger data plan.

Your comments will be much appreciated on this post. For more information about smart phones and plans, click here.


Google Nexus One Phone

We will be reviewing a variety of cellular phones on this web site. We are started with the Apple I-Phone, which is the current leader of the pack and in this post Google Nexus phonewe will review the Google Nexus One Phone.

What follows is an excerpt from TechCrunch Reviews written by Michael Arrington on Jan 5th, 2010.  We have added the detailed specs as provided by Google following the summary. Your comments are welcome.

The phone looks more like the iPhone than any other phone on the market. There is no physical keyboard like the Android-powered Motorola Droid, and the trade off is a much slimmer design. The phone is 11.5 mm deep, slightly thinner than the iPhone 3GS at 12.3 mm. It is also slightly lighter than the iPhone 130 grams v. 135 grams). The package comes with the phone, a removable battery, 4 GB Micro SD storage card (expandable to 32 GB), USB charger and microphone headset.

The Nexus one has four functional touch buttons at the bottom of the screen (back, menu, home, search) and a navigation trackball pointing device. It also has physical power and volume controls. But most of your interaction with the phone will be through the gorgeous 3.7 inch 480 x 800 OLED capacitive touchscreen. This is the best mobile phone display on the market today, blowing away the iPhone’s 480 x 320 display. The screen is bright and alive, and an absolute pleasure to use.

Google Nexus One Phone – Snapdragon

This phone is also powered by the Snapdragon 1 GHz core processor, which is more than able to handle the Nexus One’s 3D graphics, multiple applications running in the background and heavy browser use simultaneously. Unlike previous Android phones, there is no slowdown or lag when you push the phone’s performance, and less of a need to kill applications to keep the device humming.

On the downside: all this hardware bling is an energy hog. The screen will self adjust brightness and Google is smart about turning down the processor when it’s not being used. But I’ve found battery life to be woefully brief, even by iPhone standards. Officially the phone has up to 7 hours talk time, 250 hours standby, 5 hours of 3G Internet use, 7 hours of video playback and 20 hours of audio playback. Unofficially, I was able to kill the fully charged battery with 1.5 hours of continuous gameplay (Robo Defense) on the full-brightness screen. Be prepared to keep this phone near a charger at all times. You can easily view what’s using the battery, though (the screen is 71% of my current usage), and then adjust the hardware or software usage to maximize battery life.

Overall the Android is a superior mobile device, particularly when paired with Google Voice. Google is calling this the first of the Super Phones. And they may not be exaggerating all that much.

Features:

  • 5 mega pixel camera , with auto focus from 6cm to infinity
  • 2 times digital zoom, LED flash
  • User can include location of photos from phone’s AGPS receiver
  • Video captured at 720×480 pixels at 20 frames per second or higher, depending on lighting conditions
  • Android Mobile Technology Platform 2.1 (Eclair) Operating system , Qualcomm QSD 8250 1 GHz processor

Display:

3.7 inch display widescreen WVGA AMOLED touchscreen

800 by 400 pixels,  with 100,000 to 1 contract ratio and 1 ms typical response rate

Audio Playback:Audio encoders; AMR-NB 4.75 to 12.2 kbps sampled @ 8kHz

Video Playback: H.263 (encode and decode) MPEG-4 SP (encode and decode) H.264 AVC (decode

Capacity: 512MB Flash; 512MB RAM;  4GB Micro SD Card (Expandable to 32 GB)

Connectors: 3.5mm stereo headphone jack; Dock pin connectors;  Micro USB port

Accessories: Haptic feedback; Second microphone for active noise cancellation; SIM card slot;Micro SD slot

Sensors: Proximity sensor; Light sensor

Headphones: 3.5mm stereo headphone jack

Size & Weight: Height -119mm; Width -59.8mm; Depth-11.5mm; Weight-130 grams w/battery;100g w/o battery

Colors: Black

External Buttons & Controls:

Front / Top

Power;  3.5mm stereo headphone jack;   Charging and notification indicator;   Illuminated capacitive soft keys: Back, Home, Menu, and Search;   Tri-color clickable trackball

Back / Bottom

Camera;   Camera flash;   Speaker;  Dock pin connectors;  Micro USB port; Microphone

Left side

Volume Control;

Cellular & Wireless:

  • UMTS Band 1/4/8 (2100/AWS/900)
  • HSDPA 7.2Mbps
  • HSUPA 2Mbps
  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • A2DP stereo Bluetooth

Location: Assisted global positioning system (AGPS) receiver; Cell tower and Wi-Fi positioning; Digital compass; Accelerometer

Power & Battery:

  • Removable 1400 mAH battery, Charges at 480mA from USB, at 980mA from supplied charger
  • Talk time : Up to 10 hours on 2G; Up to 7 hours on 3G
  • Standby time : Up to 290 hours on 2G; Up to 250 hours on 3G
  • Internet use: Up to 5 hours on 3G;Up to 6.5 hours on Wi-Fi
  • Video playback: Up to 7 hours
  • Audio playback: Up to 20 hours

Languages: English (U.S), French (France), German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Korean, Japanese, Russian,

For more about Smart phones, click here.

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