Thoughts on AT&T Femtocell 
I think the AT&T Femtocell is incredibly misguided technology (at least for smart phone owners). On the surface, it looks kind of cool. Essentially, it is like a tiny cell tower that you can connect to your existing internet connection. Voice calls and data are routed via a 3G connection to the Femtocell and then converted to internet protocols and sent to AT&T servers. The advantage of the Femtocell is that you can get cell coverage where you might otherwise not get it such as in a deadzone, like a building with thick walls. There are also advantages in that a private Femtocell connection will be available when all the regular cell bandwidth is used up by other users (e.g. cities like New York).

So why is it misguided? On the one hand I think customers will be upset that they need to pay $150 to fix a problem that AT&T should probably be fixing for free. However, that's not the problem that I have with the Femtocell. The issue that bugs me is why use the Femtocell at all when everyone already owns WiFi access points?

For instance, iPhones can already communicate with WiFi for internet data connections. The iPhone will seamlessly switch from 3G to using a trusted WiFi AP with no impact on the user. Also, we already know that iPhone apps can use the headset speaker and microphone and they can be used effectively with VOIP applications (e.g. Skype). So instead of a $150 Femtocell box, AT&T should be working with Apple (and other cell phone manufacturers) to create software that will automatically switch from cellular to encrypted VOIP for voice calls. As mentioned before, they've already got the internet data switching working. And the iPhone is more than powerful enough to process VOIP data.

The only negative I can think of is that maintaining an open WiFi connection is probably a big drain on a cell phone's battery. For instance, I believe the iPhone closes the WiFi connection whenever it can (especially when the screen is turned off). If cellular service is not available and the phone is sleeping, then no incoming calls will be able to be received. Also, some WiFi APs might not have bandwidth of a quality good enough for VOIP. This might necessitate a feature where the user can select which WiFI APs are trusted for voice to VOIP re-routing. (Perhaps too confusing for the average user.)

However, I think a lot of folks are in a situation where they receive 1 or 2 bars at home, just good enough to receive a call. However, if you don't stand in the "magic spot" the call gets dropped. I think people in this scenario could benefit a lot from a WiFi-only solution rather than the Femtocell. Finally, WiFi VOIP would have an immediate effect on reducing AT&T's cell bandwidth whereas the Femtocell will only have an effect as quickly as they are sold.


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Tilt to Live 
I am excited to report that a previous student of mine from the GA Tech College of Computing Video Game Design class has released his first commercial game. It's called Tilt to Live and it's available for iPhone on the App Store. It's a fast-paced arcade style game involving tilting of the phone to steer around avoiding baddies and collecting weapons/power-ups. It is lots of fun and very intuitive.
Tilt to Live is only $2. IMO, definitely worth it. Buy it now and show your support for GT-educated game developers! And if you like it, be sure to tell all your friends.

Tilt to Live Video Trailer - Direct Link




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Confusion Say... 
Here are some things I find confusing.

Mimosa, Samosa, Samoa

Spicy filled pastry, champagne cocktail, or country/Girl Scout Cookie? I always have to think carefully to make sure I get these sorted out. :) You would think it's a good thing that these words don't regularly come up in conversation, but I think that's the source of the problem.

"Could/Should/Would of/have"


I'm aware that "Could of/have" is a common grammatical mistake and will generally recognize it when I'm writing. Yet somehow I can never be 100% certain which is correct. So I hit up Google every single time. :-P I shouldn't even bother given all the grammatical mistakes I don't catch.

Regardless/Irregardless


I at least can remember which is correct. That doesn't mean I won't say the wrong one before it's too late. (Hint: "Irrespective" is the source of the confusion.)

Words that I only read

More an embarrassment than a confusion, there are certain words that only seem to show up in what I read but are never spoken or heard...until that fateful day when it fits perfectly into a conversation and I mangle the pronunciation. When I was younger I have been burned by "genre" (I pronounced it "Gen-Air" ), "superfluous" ("SUPER-flu-us!" ), "timbre" (is not what a lumberjack says), "Euler Angle" (it should be spelled "Oiler" ), and "Bezier Curve". The last, I have heard botched worse than I have managed myself (e.g. "brassiere" ).

Tornado Warning / Tornado Watch

Is it a WARNING that conditions are ripe for tornadoes and we're currently WATCHing a live tornado or is it a WARNING that a tornado has touched down and we're WATCHING out for the possibility of them forming? I can never keep it straight. So if you find me wrapped around a tree branch, you'll know what happened.



Now I could make up some clever mnemonic to avoid confusion, but even those can cause trouble. :)




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Runner's Shoe Tip 
After running, pull the tongue out of your running shoes, prop them up, and aim a small fan inside so they dry as quickly as possible. I've found the fabric lining inside lasts longer, not to mention they smell much better!

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Prank #5: Mutton but Trouble 
Iíve talked about a few different pranks before. Now hereís one where I was on the receiving end.

Once upon a time, I was an undergrad at Georgia Tech. For a few quarters (we didnít have semesters at the time) I lived in a house in Home Park just off campus with 4 other students: 2 girls, 2 guys. The guys, Jeff and Cory, were the ones that pranked me.

One day, I was working on a class project and needed some files that were located back on a computer lab at campus. I shut down my computer and left the house for a bit, then came back once I had the stuff I needed. I hit the power switch on my computer and waited for Windows95 to boot. After a few seconds, I realized something was going horribly, horribly wrong. A pastel pink color was loading as the background color of the desktop. Then a sheep in fishnet stockings appeared in the middle of the screen. Finally, I was greeted with a start-up sound of a sheep saying, "Ba-a-a-a-a! I love you, Jeffrey! Ba-a-a-a-a!" After Windows finished loading, all I could see were different shades of pink all over the place including the Start Menu, window frames, etc. To make matters worse, any time I moved the mouse cursor over anything I heard "Ba-a-a-a-a!!!"

Turns out, Cory and Jeff had discovered a website (that still exists to this day) called Mutton Bone that sells inflatable sheep. As poor college students, they couldnít afford to actually buy one for a prank (thank goodness) but they could swipe the website graphics and reuse them. Once they had come up with the idea for the prank they covertly prepared all the content and then spied on me to see when I left the house and finally infiltrate my room and desecrate my computer.

Jeff has the uncanny "stupid human trick" of being able to not just Ba-a-a-a, but actually talk like a sheep. So that skill worked great for making all the sound effects with a microphone. When they actually did the prank, Cory and Jeff modified all the system theme colors to appropriate shades of pink, added the sheep sounds for all the different GUI and system events, and replaced my background image with the "Love Ewe."

I quickly destroyed all digital evidence of the crime, but for your enjoyment I have recreated a visual of the prank as best I recall. If you want to hear the audio, be sure to ask Jeff to talk in his "sexy sheep voice" next time you see him. Oh, and I still owe those guys big time.




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