I finally bought an EVDO card for my Mac. So far it’s been a great experience, the expresscard driver software is already in Leopard so I didn’t have to load anything, basically it was as simple as taking the card out of the box, inserting it in the slot, and clicking on the “connect” menu item that displayed in the menu bar icon that showed up when I inserted the card.

It’s fast, definitely the best wireless experience I’ve had through a non-wifi network. Verizon’s EVDO costs $60 a month, in addition to the cost of the card, but that’s a small price to pay for widely available fast wireless connectivity.

I work from a lot of different places and hoping to find a wifi connection just wasn’t cutting it. Also, I am finding that wifi is increasingly not free in many public places therefore EVDO is a good hedge against wifi inflation. While my favorite hotel in Denver, The Monaco, offers free in room wifi, a significant number of hotels still don’t so when I’m traveling I no longer have to subject myself to the irritation of paying $10 or more for a 24 hour wifi connection.

The only thing that is kind of annoying is the blinking green light on the card, I may put a piece of tape over it.

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Gizmo5 – Backdoor dialing

Backdoor dialing… just the sound of it makes you want to check around to make sure no one is looking when you load the page…

It’s an interesting concept, you basically tap into the telephone network and place calls to numbers supported by the network. I was trying to find a simple label to hang on this to better describe it… seems like hosted VoIP but all VoIP has a degree of hosting so maybe this is best described as something between Skype and VoIP.

I can see how this service would be appealing to non-U.S. callers who are dialing into U.S. numbers supported by the service, but beyond that I am a little skeptical. There just isn’t a big enough economic incentive for me to go through the extra steps of using this, but then again if it meant I could downgrade my mobile plan and save $20-30 a month, well that does add up over the course of a year.

I loaded the app and clearly there is a lot more going on here than simply making voice calls, which may shed some light on their business model, but it’s late and I am not motivated to dig into it. I’ll try it out and write a follow up post.

Looking around the Gizmo5 Labs website did peak my curiosity, their VoIP API got my attention.

Approximately 11% of US telephones, including mobile numbers and land lines from carriers such as Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc., are connected via VoIP. Working with telecom partners we are now making it possible to dial these numbers without going through the traditional phone system.

This means you can call certain mobile and land line numbers from any computer connected to the net and talk for free. Because these calls are bypassing the traditional phone network entirely there is no per minute fee or other charge for the caller regardless of where they call from.

[From Gizmo5 – Backdoor dialing]

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FlyClear Expands

I have written on several occasions about my experience with the Clear security program at SFO and other airports around the country. All things considered this is worthwhile for me, $100 a year to avoid lines at security checkpoints isn’t a steep price to pay for frequent travelers.

Having said that, I recognize it for what it is, a toll lane that speeds me through the security checkpoint using the same procedures everyone else uses.

Here’s a couple of updates the company emailed me about today:

  • Denver is launching its Clear lanes this month.
  • Oakland is launching its Clear lanes next month.
  • “We have persuaded TSA to drop what we considered the illogical requirement that Clear members need to present a photo identification along with their biometrically-secure Clear cards to pass through security.”
  • “We’ve announced to the homeland security industry a $500,000 “Innovation Prize” as part of our continuing effort to invest in technology that will allow TSA to modify its security process for members (by allowing them, for example, to keep shoes and outer garments on or not to have to remove laptops from carry-on baggage). The prize will go to the first industry team that comes up with a TSA-approved technology enhancement that improves throughput by at least 15% while not compromising security. And that’s on top of our ongoing effort, along with GE, to get GE’s shoe scanner through the final approval and deployment process. All of this will enable your Clear lines to move still faster.”

Lastly, Clear’s proposal to the Atlanta airport is interesting because it offers a promise for how private business can expand the service offerings at government administered facilities (in this case TSA security checkpoints) without imposing additional costs on taxpayers.

  • “We’ve offered to build and finance an entirely new lane for Clear members, with the cost of the extra TSA personnel reimbursed by Clear. We stand ready to do the same at other airports, and TSA is cooperating in this major step forward.”

As long as TSA is focused on the administration of security as opposed to simply hiring more people to do the same inefficient things they have always done, well I’ll support that and compliment

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Real Stimulus vs. Hand Waving

The linked article nicely sums up why one-off “economic stimulus” packages are nothing more than hand waving designed to convince voters that their politicians are doing something.

Economic stimuli programs are not one-time checks to give people back money they already paid as taxes.

If somebody grabbed your wallet and then handed you back a $20 bill, would you be grateful? Realizing the money was yours to begin with, you would probably call the cops rather than thank the thief.

[From Tax cuts are the best stimulus – Examiner.com]

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