GEEK! has been placed on an indefinite hold for the foreseeable future as I've ran out of time to keep it up to date. For the mean time it will remain alive at this address in archive form. You can reach me via @geekonthepc. Thanks to everyone who read and got involved with the site! Who knows - when I get the chance I might start posting again! Wish me luck at Oxford Brookes University studying Mobile Computing! :)
Get unlimited wi-fi for your iPod Touch at a tiny price
I recently subscribed to The Cloud’s iPod Touch service, dubbed “Cloud Unlimited Music”. It is a service designed specifically for the iPod Touch and gives unlimited browsing and downloading at The Cloud’s wi-fi hotspots for just £3.99 per month.
I decided it was worth it as it is handy to have instant internet access in many public train station. The company’s hotspots can be found in many public places – such as train stations, pubs, hotels, restaurants and as most O2 stores. Considering the small price, I can head out and just catch my emails or finish a download.
I’m really impressed at how well the system works. I signed up and added my debit card as payment, and then 2 days later (today) headed out to my local town to try it out. I walked into an O2 shop and tried to connect. Straight away I was on the net – no need to log on or anything like that.
You don’t need to log on because the system works by checking your iPod’s MAC address rather than a username or password. When you sign up, you provide your device’s MAC address and your account is locked to that code. By doing this, it means that you no longer have to log on when joining a hotspot.
In addition, I was also really impressed at the speeds. My local O2 store gave me a download speed of over 8 megabits per second (which is more than twice the speed of my home broadband).
So overall, I’m very happy with it. It’s great value and works very efficiently. If you need wi-fi access for your iPod Touch in town – this is for you.
Skype has recently made Skype Access available in its new Skype beta 4.2. With the new beta there are a few bugfixes (apparently), a new call transfer mode (which was apparently in previous versions of Skype but non existent since 4.0), and a new feature called Skype Access.
Skype Access allows anyone with Skype credit to be able to pay for public wi-fi access via Skype. You simply connect to a hotspot that is supported by Skype and then use Skype Access to pay, per minute, for the service. As far as I know, the service currently costs about 15p per minute.
There’s no contract or anything like that, and it is available whenever you need it as long as you are connected to a supported hotspot.
I think this is a really good idea – very handy if you’re in somewhere like an airport and you need to quickly check your email or your Facebook page. I’m guessing people with netbooks are more likely to use the service since netbooks are much easier to carry around.
Skype reports that the service can now be used at over 100,000 wi-fi hotspots (in the UK, I think).
For me I will enjoy it most when it becomes available on devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch – which I’m sure it will do eventually – as that means I will be able to instantly get wi-fi in a number of public places.
Ah well, nice work Skype. This might actually pay off.
I was reading on the news site ISPReview today that we could well be at the end of our free wi-fi era already. The reason is that the government’s Digital Economy Bill would appear to suggest that wi-fi holders are to be held fully responsible for any data transferred across their internet connection.
Basically, this means that if you are in a pub using free wi-fi and you download an illegal MP3 from a site you are putting that pub owner at full responsibility for that download and is at risk for a hefty fine for allowing illegal downloads.
It was in the news that a pub owner has been fined £8,000 for an unknown customer downloading illegal files.
So this could signify the end of free wi-fi. Companies can’t afford to give out free internet if they risk being fined for something they didn’t do.
It’s a shame really, but I think it’s silly that business owners are put in responsibility for crimes they haven’t committed.
If you’re a big reader of the news from the rather large tech world, you may well be aware that UK mobile operator 3 (Three) are planning to launch a very cool new level of mobile internet.
They are dubbing it Mi-FI, but it is basically your own battery powered router for your 3 mobile broadband package.
It is [apparently] very simple to use – you just slot some batteries in, together with your 3 mobile broadband SIM, and then switch it on. From what GEEK! understands, it will then find the nearest internet connection from available GPRS, EDGE, 3G, and HSDPA connections in your area. As soon as it can connect to a network mast, it will start firing out a Wi-Fi connection that all of your Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect to.
The device itself will be available over the internet from September 17th and will be in 3 stores across the country from September 18th.
As for pricing, see below (quoted from ISP Review)
•‘Broadband 5GB 1 month’ is a one month contract which includes 5GB of data for just £15 a month. With this deal the wireless modem costs just £69.99.
•For an upfront charge of £99.99, Mobile Wi-Fi will also be available as a ‘Ready to Go’ kit. The deal includes a wireless modem and 3GB worth of data which can be used over a 3 month period. After the data has been used up, the modem can be used on a Pay As You Go basis.
So there you have it – looks exciting in my opinion. I wouldn’t say it was brilliant value, but if you’re a frequent user of mobile internet it is probably well worth the cost. I’m looking forward to seeing it in 3 stores.