Posts tagged ‘phone’

Phone Area Codes Based on Dialing Speed

By Chad Upton | Editor

Telephones have been around in some capacity since the mid to late 19th century, depending on who you credit with the invention.

fisher price phone

Early dialing was accomplished by inserting your finger in the rotary disk adjacent to the number you wanted and rotating the dial to the stopping point, then you would remove your finger and the dial would rotate back to its default position. Each number it passed on its way back would induce a pulse — a short variance in current — on the phone line. This pulse communicated the number to the phone system. (more…)

June 14, 2013 at 11:59 pm 10 comments

The Dropped Call Rules

By Chad Upton | Editor

No matter which mobile phone carrier you use, you’ll eventually drop a call with somebody. Even if you don’t have a cellphone, you still have to deal with dropped calls when you’re talking with people who do.

Sometimes you both try to call each other at the same time and get each other’s voicemail. Other times, you try to call the other person and they’re still talking away, oblivious to the fact that the call was dropped.

Rule #1: Whoever initiated the call, initiates the call back after a dropped call.

To some, this rule is obvious. But, it needs to be stated to remove any confusion and prevent the double voicemail dilemma.

Rule #2: Whoever was listening when the call was dropped, remembers the last sentence the other person said.

This is less obvious, but since the listener is the only one who knows exactly when the call was dropped; they need to remember the last sentence or at least the topic — this may be the same person who needs to call the other person back.

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Photo: addicted eyes (cc)

December 8, 2011 at 2:00 am 3 comments

Bluetooth Headsets Can Reduce EMF Exposure

By Chad Upton | Editor

Popular wireless devices such as cell phones and wifi transceivers produce electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

A lot of people are concerned about the health affects of EMFs, so the World Health Organization started a project in 1996 to study their effects on people.

They currently maintain that EMFs, “do not produce any known adverse health effect.”

Operating in the microwave frequency range of EMFs, there is no denying that cell phones induce some of the highest exposure. The UK’s Health Protection Agency claims that 1 year of wifi exposure is comparable to 20 minutes on a cell phone.

The additional exposure with mobile phones is attributed to two factors:

  1. Close proximity to your head
  2. High power output (to reach distant receivers)

Both the World Health Organization and the Health Protection Agency continue to review the effects of EMF exposure in humans.

The amount of energy radiated by each cell phone model is measured and tracked. This measurement is taken in watts of radiation absorbed per kilogram of human tissue (W/kg). The amount of radiation absorbed, varies across the body — it is typically averaged over 1 gram of head tissue.

Canada and the US allow up to 1.6 watts per kilogram of radiation in cell phones, while the UK allows up to 2.0 W/kg. cnet maintains an up-to-date ranking of cell phones that emit the highest and lowest amount of radiation. They range from 0.1 W/kg to 1.6 W/kg. Check your user manual to see if your phone is high or low.

Comparatively, many bluetooth headsets emit ~0.001 W/kg of radiation, making them far lower than the mobile phone itself.

If you use a cell phone a lot, you should probably be using a bluetooth headset or speakerphone instead of holding the phone against your head.

Many new cars include audio systems that integrate with your cell phone for hands free calling, these are great. If you want something similar for your car, you can get a bluetooth speakerphone. I’ve had really good luck with the BlueAnt Supertooth 3, it downloaded my entire contact list for voice activated calling and its noise cancellation is really great.

If you’re looking for a headset, be sure to check the class of bluetooth headset you get. Most bluetooth devices are considered Class 2 devices, meaning they output around 2.5 mW of energy, which is a very small amount. A “Class 2″ device is likely what you want, which should translate to range of approximately 33 ft (10 meters). One of the most advanced and highest rated Class 2 headsets is the Jawbone Icon.

There are also Class 1 headsets, which give you much better range (up to 330 feet/100 meters), but they output more radiation, about the same as the phone itself. The Callpod Dragon is an example of a popular Class 1 headset.

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Sources: cnet, business week, bluetooth SIG, Wikipedia (bluetooth, wireless safety), antiradiation

August 16, 2010 at 5:00 am 1 comment

How to Increase Mobile Phone Battery Life

By Chad Upton | Editor

Sometimes, you’re far from your charger and won’t be back anytime soon. Here are some tips to extend your battery when it’s running low.

Not all of these tips will apply to all phones, so use the ones that match the features on your phone. If your phone, camera or other gadgets frequently run out of power while you’re away from an outlet, consider an economical backup battery charger.

Turn Off 3G and Data

Most data capable phones can operate in different modes. If you turn off the high-speed wireless data mode, such as 3G, you will significantly reduce the power your phone consumes. This is the single biggest thing I find affects battery consumption.

Dim the Screen

The screen’s backlight uses a lot of power, keeping it off as much as possible will extend battery life. On the iPhone, press the top button, on many BlackBerrys, press ALT + ENTER to lock the keyboard and shutoff the screen. If your phone has an option to adjust the brightness, dim it. If it has auto-brightness, enable it. If you can set an “auto off” time then set it to the shortest time allowed.

Text Message Instead of Calling

If you can get away with communicating by text message, this can save power too. Although, it does require your screen, so short messages are better. These messages are embedded in the signals that your phone is already sending and receiving to normally communicate with the mobile network, even when you’re not using the phone, so it’s a very efficient way to communicate.

Turn Wifi and Bluetooth Off

Wifi and Bluetooth are great conveniences, but when you’re away from your charger and worried about losing phone capabilities, they’re a luxury that can go. Most phones with these features, have an option to disable them.

Don’t Play Games or Music

Well designed mobile phone processors have a low power mode that sips power when the phone is waiting for incoming calls in standby mode. Playing games requires the processor to work at its limit, which requires a lot more energy than standby mode. The same goes for playing music, especially if they’re compressed, high bit-rate or encrypted or drm protected music files — extra processing is needed to process these files and power the headphones or internal speaker.

Stop Background Apps

Some background apps use more power than others, it really comes down to the hardware in the phone the app is using (ex GPS) and how processor intensive the activity is.

Generally, if you’re trying to save power, closing the apps you don’t need can save power. This mostly applies to BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile devices.

It isn’t as important on iPhone since background apps aren’t true background apps, they have limited capabilities and therefore don’t consume a significant amount of battery power. That said, if you have a GPS tracking, VOIP or a music playing app running in the background, it could use significant amounts of power over long periods of time and it should be closed.

If you have any other ideas, drop them in the comments. Thanks to Kraig Brachman for suggesting this secret.

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August 4, 2010 at 5:00 am 58 comments

Shoes on Power Lines

By Chad Upton

Tying shoes together by their laces and throwing them onto overhead lines is known as “shoefiti” (shoe + graffiti).

Shoefiti started in the United States and spread throughout the world, the photo above was taken in Berlin.

There is no single reason why people do this, there are many reasons.

When sneakers are festooned on power lines in rough neighborhoods, the conclusion for their presence is often crime related. Some believe they mark crack houses where you can get your fix or some free shoes via ladder. Others say they are shoes that belong to (or hang in memory of) a murder victim. Some say they are for marking gang turf, but Tucson Arizona police have denied that and flagged the turf marker idea as myth.

They did mention that many shoes are removed each week, since they are unsightly and can cause damage to the lines.

They also said that the volume of shoes increases during the summer break from school. A couple of stories have been told that may support this. One is that of tradition, shoes are thrown on power lines to celebrate the last day of school or graduation. Teenage boys have also been said to do this when they lose their virginity.

Perhaps the oldest story about the origin of shoefiti claims it was tradition for soldiers to hang their boots on the power lines at base when they completed basic training, went home on leave or left the service entirely.

In some movies, it’s the school bully who steals your shoes and throws them onto the lines. There are also stories of kids retiring their own shoes when they get a new pair.

Chances are good that the people who are doing it now have no idea why their predecessors did it.

Some people may think it’s a harmless tradition, but the shoes can disrupt utility services by adding weight to the lines which causes them to sag and potentially touch other lines or trees, which could also result in fire.

If you want to remove shoes from the lines, because you want your kicks back or you just want to clear the eyesore, you should call the utility company to do it — a few Darwin Award candidates have earned their nomination trying to DIY their shoes back.

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Sources: About.com, Snopes, Straight Dope, Wikipedia

Photo: edkohler

July 15, 2010 at 5:00 am 10 comments

Inactive Cell Phones Can Still Call 911

Over half of 911 calls originate from cell phones. This number will only increase as traditional phone service declines and cell phone adoption rates continue to rise.

In the US and Canada, wireless phone operators are required by law to connect all calls to 911 services, whether the customer account is active, past due or even canceled.

Even if you don’t need a wireless phone for your social life, it may be a good idea to keep an old phone in your glove box in case of an emergency. There is even an organization called AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org where you can donate an old phone or request a free phone for this exact purpose.

If you have a disabled phone without a service contract and want to use it for 911 service, you may want to test it. DO NOT just dial 911 to test it, they will likely send help, even if you say it was just a test. The proper way to test 911 service is to call the non-emergency number for your local public safety answering point (PSAP) office and schedule a 911 test. That way, they will be expecting your call and know for sure that it is a test. In the US, there is a list of non-emergency contact numbers for PSAPs listed here.

When you call 911, you should be aware that your location will also be transmitted to the operator.

Some cell phones have built in GPS receivers, allowing them to receive radio signals from space and accurately determine a very precise location on earth. But, GPS is rarely available when indoors and obviously many calls originate indoors. Calls to 911 may not use GPS location data, because the phone does not support it or because a GPS signal cannot be found (typical when indoors).

When GPS is not available, the wireless provider can get a fairly accurate location of the phone by analyzing it’s signal and the location of the towers that are receiving it. Current regulations require that a phone carrier can pinpoint a cell phone within 300-600 meters, depending on the technology the phone is using. By 2012, phone carriers should be able to pinpoint you location within 50-300 meters.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: 911 Wireless Service, FCC

May 25, 2010 at 5:00 am 6 comments

Keeping Headphones Untangled

Walking, flying, train and bus riding — these are some of the most inane, meaningless and repetitive activities that you may do. Many people do them everyday, even twice or more. Headphones, and the devices they’re connected to, make these activities more enjoyable, memorable and sometimes even meaningful.

I’ve spent my fair share of time commuting in planes, trains and automobiles, but few of these experiences were memorable. Even fewer were memorable in a good way. But, I’ll never forget the bus ride when I first listened to the song, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie. I had played the song dozens of times before, but this was the first time I really listened to it. (more…)

April 7, 2010 at 11:32 pm 2 comments

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