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Bluetooth: Cutting the cord

By: Shane McCormack
Harald Blaatand (Bluetooth) II, King of Denmark from 940-981AD, was not like other Vikings. In the first place he had a dark complexion and very dark hair, and in the second place, instead of the usual Viking activities of pillaging and plundering, he spent most of his time converting Denmark to Christianity and uniting Denmark and Norway in peace.
Not to be outdone by this spirit of teamwork and collaboration, albeit more than a thousand years later, another Scandinavian institution, Ericsson (the company), launched an initiative in 1994 to study low-power, low-cost radio interface between mobile phones and their accessories. The idea behind this research was to break down the barriers between different communications devices and from this a new technology, which literally cuts the cord that used to tie up digital devices, called Bluetooth was born.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology based on a short-range radio link. By using a radio-based link it connects different devices together giving the user the freedom to roam. Its key features are robustness, low complexity, low power and low cost. The standard is aimed at achieving global acceptance so that any Bluetooth device, anywhere in the world, can connect to other Bluetooth devices in its proximity, regardless of brand. The technology also offers wireless access to Local Area Networks (LANs), Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTNs), the mobile phone network and the Internet for a host of home appliances and portable handheld interfaces. Putting it technically, Bluetooth uses frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum (FHSS) communication in the 2.4-GHz industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) band, in which unlicensed devices are permitted to communicate in most countries of the world.
In 1998 Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba formed the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). Then in 2000 the Bluetooth SIG was joined by 3COM, Lucent Technologies, Microsoft and Motorola. Today more than 2000 companies are members of the Bluetooth SIG.
By having the Bluetooth technology you can have:
* Instant, automatic access to your personal and business data
* Your electronic devices wirelessly and spontaneously synchronising with each other
* Access to the Internet/intranet from wherever you are
* Instant networking with airlines, hotels, theatres, retail stores and restaurants for automatic check in, meal selection, purchases and electronic payment.
With Bluetooth you can synchronize the information on one Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), such as a palmtop, with another PDA. You can synchronize your PDA with your mobile phone, with your laptop and with your PC. And this is done with no strings attached, or no wires at any rate!
You can also use a Bluetooth PDA or notebook to connect with a local access point or utilize a Bluetooth-compatible mobile telephone to access e-mail.
For example if you’re a techno savvy business traveller just arriving at your flight destination you can configure your laptop (carry-on luggage of course) to communicate with your mobile phone via a local Bluetooth connection. With access through your mobile phone via the public telephone network, you can access the Internet or synchronize your e-mail while on your way to the rental car counter or in transit to your hotel.
If you have a mobile phone headset enabled with Bluetooth technology you can be connected to a phone worn on your belt or mounted in your automobile. With Bluetooth-enabled car kits drivers can use their mobile phone and still keep their hands on the steering wheel.
Bluetooth is a huge technology, which is rapidly growing and expanding globally and already a substantial amount of Bluetooth products are available to purchase that range from Bluetooth-enabled mobiles to a digital camcorder which lets you e-mail your digital still photos and MPEG e-Movies when you’re miles from the nearest PC (you can even surf the Web on the colour LCD screen of this camera).
Bluetooth is changing the face of the mobile world so watch this space for the next generation in wireless technology.

A More Useful Internet

By: Parisch Browne
Consider ‘Joe’ (Joe Soap), who has four children and likes to holiday in the sun and near the Mediterranean in particular. When Joe does an Internet keyword search for ‘holiday’, he will be presented with a mass of information, most of which will be irrelevant to him.
If you have used the Internet you will be familiar with this scenario of searching for information and being presented with numerous results that are not relevant.
At the Telecommunications Systems Software Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology we are working on the GUARDIANS project, in conjunction with seven other academic institutes and commercial organisations, to replace this scenario with one where when Joe performs a search the search system will know of Joe’s preference for the sun and of his kids. It will use this and other information to ensure that Joe receives only relevant results and therefore can more quickly obtain the required information/content. In this case his search for ‘holiday’ will highly rate results, which are related to the Mediterranean and cater for families.
Let’s consider a second scenario. ‘Joanne’ (Joanne Soap) is a senior astrologist working for the Irish Space Agency, and she wishes to do a search for material on the planet Venus. If the search keywords ‘planet’ and ‘Venus’ are entered Joanne will probably receive results but it is also likely (as she is the senior astrologist) that she is not interested in elementary information but only in more advanced information on the planet.
Our system will take this into account and therefore provide her with more relevant results. The system also considers accessibility preferences (e.g. whether Joanne has the ability to play videos on her machine or display certain types of fonts/documents). This is important as she may be connecting and searching from her home PC, her work PC, her WAP-enabled mobile phone, her Internet-enabled Digital TV Box or some other device, and the results that are relevant may vary depending on this device. She could be on the train travelling home from work, doing a search using her mobile phone. She may search for video satellite footage of Venus, and if she receives any relevant hits she can have them streamed to her home PC where they will be waiting on her return.
The important point here is that the system will know what platforms/devices Joanne has and what the capabilities of each are.
In a nutshell this European Commission sponsored project enables the user to exploit advanced search facilities that match his/her ever changing interests, past experiences and available resources, to the available content from a series of service providers, thus providing a more relevant Internet experience.
GUARDIANS stands for ‘Gateway for User Access to Remote Distributed
Information and Network Services’, and more information can be found at the Guardians website

A Brief History of the Internet

By: Keith Hearne
In the late 1960s a group of researchers at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) were investigating the importance of the networking concept of packet switching (transporting information between computers). This, coupled with the idea of a Galactic Network put to them by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), became the seed from which the Internet came into being. However, it wasn’t until 1973 that DARPA began work on a project known as ‘the Internetting Project’ whose objective it was to design and develop communication protocols (sets of rules), which would allow networked computers to communicate transparently with each other. The result of this project was the creation of a system of protocols known as TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol), this protocol suite forms the backbone of the Internet today.
The use of TCP/IP became more widespread over time; its growth was aided by the fact that the software was public domain, that is, accessible by everyone, and the basic technology was decentralized. This meant that people could link up to other networks of computers that were also in the public domain. Entire networks fell into the digital embrace of the Internet, forming a branching complex of networks. Just as the phone network had done so before, the computer network began to generate more and more revenue, and became more valuable as it encompassed larger territories of computers and resources.
The Internet’s growth and popularity was greatly helped in the 1980′s by a number of groups, some of which became commercial network providers investing in the development of the major backbone and connectivity of computer networks. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), through its Office of Advanced Scientific Computing initiated this move in 1986. The new NSFNET set a blistering pace for technical advancement, linking newer, faster, shinier supercomputers, through thicker, faster links, upgraded and expanded, again and again, in 1986, 1988, and 1990. American government agencies such as NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy also came on board, each of them maintaining a digital satrapy in the Internet confederation.
A node is a computer on the network and as the nodes in the network grew and spread geographically it became necessary to divide domains logically, hence the naming suffixes we have today. For example, .ie for Ireland, .co.uk for companies in the UK, and so on for different geographical locations around the world. This added to the six basic Internet domains: .gov, .mil, .edu, .com, .org and .net.
* Gov, mil and edu – denote governmental, military and educational institutions, which were the pioneers, since the Internet had begun as a high-tech research exercise in national security.
* Com – stands for commercial institutions, the most popular prefix today.
* Org – non profit organizations.
* Net – gateways between other networks.
In 1971, thirty-one years ago, there were only four nodes in the Internet network. Today there are millions of them, scattered over practically every country in the world with millions if not billions of users. In the early 1990′s the Internet experienced a rapid growth rate, which by technology standards probably has not been equalled, and could only be compared with the recent explosion of mobile phones. The Internet has infiltrated and almost inadvertently permeated into everyday life in modern society, with people doing everything from buying to learning on the Internet.
Despite its humble origins the Internet looks like it is firmly integrated into society today, and is here to stay.
For further information, or for more in depth history of the Internet check out the following websites:
Brief History of Related Networks
Brief History of the Net
Internet & Web History

Irish SMEs not ready for Broadband associated costs

By: Helen Barry
Recent figures released by the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland (CCI), showed that 81% of Irish SMEs were content with dial-up access to the Internet and that cost implications meant that they were not in a position to take up broadband offerings.
John Dunne, the Chief Executive of CCI, stated that ‘the focus of Internet access in Ireland and talk of broadband offerings needs to change rapidly as there is a strong demand for an always on flat-rate access, for which the infrastructure is already in place, but this requires the effective unbundling of the local loop. John Dunne expanded his concerns further and explained that the research shows that the demand for broadband access does not yet exist and rather than looking at increasing the cost of supply we should look at what will stimulate demand. Only when significant demand has been generated will the market be attractive for telecommunications investors.
With respect to these developments, IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) recommended that telecommunication providers should be allowed to raise the cost of services to business. However, the CCI rejects this recommendation as Ireland is already one of the most expensive places to rent leased lines among OECD countries. Therefore, IBEC’s proposal would, in effect, further penalise those businesses using such services, particularly those outside the Dublin area, rather than stimulate greater demand. The use of information and communication technology (ICT) should be concerned with cutting costs in business but Ireland’s telecommunications infrastructure makes that very difficult for all but the largest businesses.

How Secure is Your Transaction?

By: James Cloney
How do you tell if your Internet connections are secure? These days many people are opting to use the Internet or World Wide Web for shopping instead of fighting for a parking space in crowded towns and cities. You can buy anything from books to groceries, even book that long needed holiday. But how secure is your online transaction.
Nearly all online purchases are made with a credit card and in some cases a debit card or laser card. To ensure the safety of you personal details many web sites use something known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to encrypt your card details as they are sent from your home pc to the company hosting the online shop. These sites usually inform you they are using this technology. If the don’t check if the web address on the page that asks for your credit card information begins with ” https:// ” instead of ” http:// “.
This is something to watch out for when you are carrying out a purchase online. You should only ever give your password and credit card number through a secure connection on a web site, never in an e-mail.
“Theft of identity,” in which someone gets access to your bank account or gets credit cards or loans in your name, is a problem, and you should carefully guard personal information that might allow a thief to impersonate you.
Other ways to tell whether a web site uses security software:
* You see the icon of a lock on the status bar (Microsoft Internet Explorer).
* Your browser displays the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen (Netscape Navigator; – versions 4.0 and higher);
* You see the icon of an unbroken key at the bottom of the screen (earlier versions of Netscape Navigator);
Alternatively if you see something you like on the web but don’t want to give your credit card details online many web merchants allow you to order online and give your credit card information over the phone. If you’re more comfortable with this option, make a note of the phone number, company, the date and time of your call, and the name of the person who recorded your credit card number. Hence you have all the details should anything go wrong. Happy shopping.

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