Lost Packets: Networking news and trivia

Always-on phones ruffle family’s feathers

A recent study suggests the 24×7 availability that mobile devices provide may be taking a toll on family life. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study followed 1,300 adults over two years. For men, consistent cell phone use seemed to allow more work issues to creep into family time, but for women it went both ways, resulting in a less than satisfying family life. The study notes that this can lead to more stressful exchanges between family members. To ease all the tension, the study suggests policies should be established about after-hour phone calls or turning cell phones off during family time. As well, parents can take turns when one is on-call to handle any family crisis.

Denim dances to iPods

Levi Strauss has laid bare its latest designs on accessorizing jeans. The hip new range promises to pack Apple’s iPod music players, complete with mini joystick, into its pockets. The Levi RedWire DLX Jeans for men and women, due for release in the fall, feature a joystick in the watch pocket to operate the device and a built-in docking cradle for the iPod and retractable headphones. So far no price has been announced. Levi’s isn’t the only company to offer haute couture fashion for the iPod. Outdoor company Burton Snowboards released an iPod-compatible snowboard jacket in 2003. And last year Macy’s began selling men’s jackets with iPod controls on the sleeve, priced between US$275 and US$350.

Magic wave unlocks doors and computers

Amal Graafstra, a 29-year-old entrepreneur from Vancouver, can open his door and log on to his computer with a wave of his hand thanks to a radio frequency identification (RFID) computer chip embedded in his hand. Graafstra’s RFID chip, which interacts with a device installed on computers and other electrical devices, is activated when his hand comes within three inches of a reader. The implant is smaller than a grain of rice, is good for up to 100 years and is usually injected into the hand by a surgeon, Graafstra says. Tattoo artists and veterinarians can also insert the chip. The advantage of implanting the chip is it cannot get lost or stolen and a person can always remove the chip from their body. Graafstra says the reason he got the implant was so he could always have ready access to the things he needed. The cost of the chip is about US$2 and the reader will set you back US$50.

Parliament whips wireless into Houses

The British Houses of Parliament have a storied history, but a report by the UK House of Commons Administration Committee says the building needs to install secure wireless Internet access to help its members do their job. The need for a Wi-Fi network became apparent when new Members of Parliament struggled to work while waiting for office space. Currently, members only have wired access to the Parliamentary Data and Video Network and only computers matching a centrally specified standard can be connected. Even laptops supplied to Parliament members have both wireless and Bluetooth disabled. The report says this limits the amount of work that members without an office can do. Some of these new Members of Parliament have taken to piggy-backing a wireless LAN from a local coffee shop for Internet access.

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