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#804: The Acceleration of Wi-Fi, Keeping Things in Perspective, Is Jailbreaking Legal?


Greetings from Texas!

By the time you read this, I’ll be in Austin for Apple’s annual Training Camp. Four days spent learning about Mac OS X Lion Server and how iOS devices can be integrated into your business. Apple is doing great things with the iPad and iPhone, and it’s exciting to be a part of it. Small Dog is proud to be a part of the Apple Consulting Network!

It’s customary to talk about the New England weather in the intro, however at the time of this newsletter’s release, the weather where I am (will be? It’s so hard to write in the future tense) will be sunny in the low 70’s. A nice change from the single-digit temps we had last weekend and the snowy slushy wet soggy day we’re seeing today in Manchester. On my return flight, I’ll be leaving mid-60s and returning to below-40s. Welcome back to New England.

This week, we have articles about new breakthroughs in wireless networking, trying not to get ground up in the rumor mills, and whether or not jailbreaking your iOS device is really as illegal as the “experts” say it is.

We’re glad to have you all as customers, readers, and friends. Thanks, and keep reading!


  The Acceleration of Wi-Fi  

802.11ac is the next advancement in wireless networking protocol, boasting up to three times the speed of the now widely used 802.11n. While this is an incredible advancement in wireless technology, it really only applies toward local networking, for now. In other words, it won’t make your connection to the internet any faster, as the bottleneck in that case is the rate at which data is delivered to you from your service provider.

What this technological advancement does improve, however, is local speeds. These connection speeds will make streaming an HD movie or television show a lot more snappy, even to multiple devices simultaneously. It will also give you much quicker backups to your Time Capsule or NAS device.

Using a technology called Beamforming, an 802.11ac signal will be able to more efficiently deliver data to your compatible computer/device. Beamforming allows a transmitted signal to become directional and more specific with its target. Transmitting from antenna to antenna will be a lot more direct than it has been, resulting in a higher total received signal level.

To put this speed into numbers: The current standard, 802.11n, has a maximum single bandwidth stream of 150Mbps. 802.11ac, on the other hand, has a maximum single bandwidth stream of 433Mbps. On top of this, some of the devices being released with this technology will have three antennas, combining three streams together for a combined bandwidth of 1.3Gbps.

802.11ac has not been certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance as of yet, but is expected to be early next year. As Wi-Fi becomes increasingly more and more important and depended on in both businesses and homes, it’s a good thing to be aware of and prepare for these changes and advancements of the technology.

  Keeping Things in Perspective  

In this brave new electronic world where every bit of information can be blogged, emailed, texted, chatted, Tweeted, and posted to Facebook, it’s sometimes hard to make sense of it all. Specifically, sorting the wheat from the chaff. The truth from the rumor from the downright wrong. It’s made even harder when websites talk about their “reliable source” who knows someone who knows someone who is the roommate of someone who sweeps the floor at a Chinese fabrication plant. What to believe?

For example, last October Apple said they were making a big product announcement. Everyone just KNEW it was the iPhone 5. The blogs, the rumor sites, the news outlets, all of them printed in big bold letters “It’s the iPhone 5! It has to be, because we said so!” Then the announcement is made, and it turns out to be the iPhone 4S.

Suddenly there was so much backpedalling you’d think the entire Internet had turned into a health club. There were a few retractions, some apologies, and a whole lot of “Why didn’t Apple release the iPhone 5? They said they were going to! They lied to us!” Well, the truth of the matter is, they did not. Apple never says anything about a product’s release until the day they release it. People read rumor sites and took it as fact, when really it was just one blog trying to one-up the others.

Today’s news brings more of the same. A techno blog is saying in an “exclusive” report that Apple’s iTV is being released in April. They apparently know this for a fact, and are reporting it as such. What makes it more fun is that a competing blog is calling the article “laughable nonsense,” because they have even better and more reliable anonymous sources. So, to translate it, “our rumor trumps their rumor.” Their reason? Because the iPad 3 is being released at the same time, and Apple would never release two products at the same time. And they know this how? Because a financial news site says so.

One way to tell the facts from the wishful thinking is to read the article carefully. More often than not, the “reliable source” is a high ranking official at some big electronics company, all of whom shall remain nameless. This is akin to the news starting a sentence with “people are saying…” Actually, no one is saying it but the guy writing the news story. He just doesn’t want to admit that he’s making it all up to add credibility to an otherwise unreliable story. The harder they try to cover their sources, the more they are really saying “no one has confirmed this, but we need to make it sound like we have better information than the other rumor blogs.” Even the aforementioned business news site included the line about how Apple does not comment on rumors and speculation.

If they do name names, keep reading to find out where that guy works. The head sales guy at Fred’s Electronics knows no more about the release of the iPad than the guy running the corner sandwich shop. I lost track of how many times a software company has said that a game was being delayed, but the local retailer says “nope, they’re wrong, it’s coming out next week, wanna hand over $50 for a pre-order?” And all those representatives of Chinese factories who send in design specs for a new device; a few days later it turns out it was a fake, but during that time, the web site’s hits (which equal advertising revenue) tripled.

My advice? Keep it all in perspective. Until Apple posts it on their site, or Tim Cook gets up there on a stage and says it, it’s just speculation. It doesn’t exist. If you need proof of this, go read back articles from those rumor sites who swore that the iPhone 5 was coming in October. All those iPhone 5 cases that were being sold in anticipation of a phone when no one even knew for sure what it would look like. Will there be an iPhone 5 or an iPad 3? Most likely. Both have been highly successful products, so it makes sense for Apple to continue upgrading them with new technology. But as far as when this will happen, we can only guess.

  Is Jailbreaking Legal?  

I have had an iPhone since the 3GS was released and I currently have an iPhone 4S. I’ve also had two iPads and will likely purchase the new one when it is released. One thing I have always done to my devices was to “jailbreak” them, a term used to describe unlocking the capabilities of their devices.

Many people jailbreak their devices to be able to install applications that Apple will not let into the App Store. I’ve never liked some of the system sounds that Apple has set up; I have been able to change some of them by jailbreaking and then tweaking the settings. (e.g. Now my unlock sound doesn’t sound like a click, but the Star Trek communicator sound—much cooler.)

Up until 2010 many phone manufacturers declared that jailbreaking their device was illegal and would void any warranty on the phone. On some older iPhones, jailbreaking could “brick” the phone, meaning it becomes fully nonfunctional and you couldn’t restore the software to get it back up and running. These phone companies, Apple included, say that jailbreaking violates section 1201of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In July 2010, the U.S. government approved some exemptions to the federal laws that permit jailbreaking of electronic devices. These exemptions are due to expire next month. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is working to get the exemptions renewed and get them expanded to cover tablets as well. If you’d like to let your representative know and urge them to renew the exceptions you can head to the Electronic Frontier Foundations website here and submit a letter.

Unless you know what you’re doing I wouldn’t recommend jailbreaking your device, since the large majority of people don’t need system-level access. I also do not condone jailbreaking for the purpose of pirating software; it’s actions like that that prevent people from doing legitimate, legal, activities on their iDevice.

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