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Holiday Nerd

January 14, 2008 - 0 Comments

Happy New Year! During the holidays, I visited family back east, sharing good meals (too many) and good times (never enough). My inner nerd also enjoyed checking out their new networking gadgets. My mother-in-law received a WiFi picture frame, a great device for grandparents everywhere. Particularly compelling is the ability to email photos directly to the frame, via Seeframe. After transferring photos from our digital camera to a PC, we just email them to a particular address, and they start appearing in her living room, with no technical gymnastics on her side. (Keep the email address private, to avoid unpleasant pictorial surprises!) Even quicker, we can send photos directly from our camera phones to the frame, for near-real-time grandchild updates. This ability to send photos from a mobile phone to a picture frame serves as a reminder that possible innovations for fixed-mobile convergence are much broader than just handing off phone calls between cellular and WiFi radio access.My sister showed me her new iPhone (also good news for the niece who received her hand-me-down phone). She’d already mastered bringing up maps and satellite views, and the whole family gathered round to share favorite YouTube videos. As she pinched to shrink and spread to enlarge, I was reminded how much a good user interface opens up technology to those interested in its benefits, but impatient with its impenetrable rituals. As I described the Cisco technology working behind the scenes to make this experience possible, I was also reminded how little anyone cares, as long as it works! My parents recently subscribed to FiOS, and they’re pleased with the telephone, video and Internet services. The system included a WiFi router, installed with WEP security enabled. (In contrast, about ten of their neighbors’ WiFi access points were visible, and each one I tried was wide open.) From my laptop, I measured almost 20 Mbps downstream and about 5 Mbps upstream. They’d experienced one problem with no dial tone, but when they called for support (on their mobile phone), they discovered the problem was an extension left off the hook, an old fashioned problem indeed. The FiOS equipment had been installed with a tidiness that reminded me of central office cable lacing (although of course now they use nylon cable ties). But what impressed them most was the courteous and thorough service provided by the installing technicians, a reminder that the technology debates about Ethernet and passive optical networks, hybrid fiber-coax and video over IP matter little outside our industry conferences.

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