Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Job That Ignites My Passion for Wireless

I recently started working at Frontera Consulting, LLC. The founders, and by extension the company, have had a lot of experience in creating and managing large networks and wireless deployments, ranging from setting up ISPs, to municipal Wi-Fi, and even Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multipoint links.

This is the type of job that is a perfect fit for me. I love the magic of receiving boxes of hardware and cable that will eventually become a communication network. There is always a sense of adventure that comes from going out in the field to install the equipment after you have set it up and run tests on it.

To the average user, it's just Wi-Fi; big deal. Almost everybody has a Wi-Fi router at home. Of course, they're not setting up backhauls, VLANS, and fiber links to get better reception while sitting on the toilet.

I feel gratification knowing that the end product just works. It is satisfying to know how much work goes into setting up a system that "just works". Even with all the technical skill and know-how, it is miraculous when these things work as planned.

In the coming months, I expect to learn much and to grow in my technical skills. There will be more miracles in my future.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I Encrypted Myself Out Of My Tablet

I had to reset my Nexus 7 tablet today because I had set up file encryption This is the same tablet that I sent in to Asus for repair because it just up and died. It has been working more or less OK since I got it back, with the exception that it can't see 5 GHz channels.

Back to the point of this post, I set up encryption on the tablet and did not bother to write down the encryption password anywhere. I cycled through my usual keys in different variations without any luck. This is what I call outsmarting myself. Apparently I was so clever at protecting my data that not even I could figure out how to get at it.

So, I reset my tablet and have been adding apps back to the Nexus again. The silver lining to all this is that I have discovered that there are new apps by Microsoft and Google that I want to try. It appears that maybe even the Blogger app is updated, although I am probably misremembering.

Despite this mishap, I think I shall reencrypt the tablet and write down the password in LastPass. Except for this instance, LastPass has been a great service that I have adopted, and that I would recommend for added security to your online and offline accounts.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Does Google Wallet Tap and Pay Work Without an Internet Connection?

I am finally in a position to use Google Wallet for making payments. But, I don't know if I can use Google Wallet tap and pay from my Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi only) without a network connection. The Help article on the subject is not clear on the matter. It states that you need a network connection once per day for tap and pay. It does not explicitly say that you need a connection to make payment at the point of sale; it implies that you merely need to sync once per day or to unlock via PIN.

I asked a friend of mine who has used Google Wallet to tap and pay; but, he has always had mobile service when he has done it. I called Google Wallet support; it took the guy a while to search for an answer while I was on hold. He seemed to think that I do need a network connection.

Forums and other articles seem split on the question.

Why Ask Now?

For many reasons, I was not able to make use of the service since it launched. I ordered the Google Wallet card as soon as I was able to access the form. Prior to that, I activated the payment service via Gmail. I was not able to use those two services, nor the tap and pay service, because I had no money in my account or did not have the technology to support it.

Recently, I poked around my pay cards, as I have not had a checking or savings account for years, and discovered that I could use them for electronic funds transfers, both in and out, like a checking account would do. Most prepaid cards only accept direct deposit, and reject drafts. So, due to a change in employment, in which I would have had to change direct deposit anyway, I finally linked a monied account to my Google Wallet.

Now that I am able to fund my Wallet account, I am curious if I need a network connection. This isn't mere curiosity. I have Nexus 7 tablet I mentioned, and a phone that doesn't do NFC. So, there is a practical reason. I am also more likely to be holding a tablet in line at checkout than my Google Wallet card.

Why It Should Work

Using my thinking skills, I imagine paying using Google Wallet tap and pay should work without an Internet connection because tap and pay credit cards work that way. My conjecture is that Wallet syncs once per day to update its NFC code for the day and stores it locally.

Why It Should Not Work

Because it would be too logical. 

What I Am Going To Do

Tomorrow morning, before leaving home, I will launch my Google Wallet app so that it can sync. Then, on the way to work, I will stop somewhere that supports tap and pay to test the feature. To be certain that I don't accidentally hop onto some runaway hotspot, I'll turn off the Wi-Fi radio beforehand. 

I'll either be pleased with the result or look like a dork. But, I shall no longer be an ignorant dork. 

I'll let you know how it works out. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I am not the news geek I used to be

Once upon a time, I would buy the newspaper and read it. Upon recently purchasing a Kindle, and already having a BN Nook, I have come to realize that I do not consume news as I once did.

Upon buying a Kindle from the pawn shop, I thought perhaps I would get a newspaper subscription; but, I decided to buy a single issue instead. It has been two weeks; and I have not finished reading through that issue.

In that time, I have read books via the text-to-speech feature; but, I have barely touched the news.

My only other distraction, besides books, is my daily Instapaper that pulls from various sources. At most, it includes the weekly local paper.

To be fair, it is not only my news consumption that has diminished. My email also receives less and less attention, in addition to my social media presence. I do check in on occasion, posting the odd item here and there. But, it becomes more of a binge activity as of late.

When I do get online, lately, it becomes more deliberate and specific. There are things that need to be done through a computer that cannot be done through a mobile interface.

There are items that are not time sensitive that can be condensed into an Instapaper, which I can read at my leisure. I have become a fan of IFTTT recently, which allows me to passively aggregate the information I need into a single place.

I think it is too easy to create a monster Instapaper. It is best to keep it to information that you intend to use and then unsubscribe at a later date, once the need is met. In other words, rather than subscribe to a daily paper, it is better to subscribe to a weekly, biweekly, or monthly in which the daily news has been digested. If you're going to stay informed, it is better to pay somebody to summarize the news for you.

So much news is flotsam and jetsam. You can afford to wait for the Reader's Digest version.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

My Nexus 7 Died

Tonight, I wanted to cast Game of Thrones to the TV. We had spent time watching Dr Who, which ran into the broadcast time. I went to grab my Nexus 7 tablet to launch HBO Go. Except, that my tablet would not go.

I tried holding down the power button. And then I Googled how to reset holding down the power and volume down buttons. There are other steps involved which involve charging for different time periods. I don't have time tonight. I'll try to resurrect my Nexus tomorrow. If that doesn't work, I suppose there shall be a phone call to make and warranty work to initiate.

It's such a bummer, partially because I missed the big fight on Game of Thrones. But, it's also a bummer because I really rely on my tablet to get me through the day.

I only recently purchased a Kindle Touch at a pawn shop, which is surprisingly useful. Before going to bed, I have made some adjustments to my IFTTT recipes to send certain updates to Instapaper, which I can update. The rest can be done via my mobile phone, which has a more limited older version of Android. I'll have to make due. Although, I think that in the meantime, the Kindle will actually fill in quite well. It's not as smart as my tablet; but, it could readily do the same things that I expect from my tablet during my work day.

Tomorrow, I'll try to bring my Nexus 7 back to life. For now, I must go to sleep.