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March 26, 2002

The BIG Question: 802.11a or 802.11b? If you are considering the use of a wireless network in your institution, then you are probably asking yourself this question. In a nutshell, 802.11a is faster but has a limited range; 802.11b is slower but has a greater range. Don't necessarily listen to your tech people when you make this decision: it is true that 802.11a is newer and therefore less reliable than 802.11b but this does not apply across the board to all systems. We are planning to install 802.11a at our office here in Moncton some time shortly and OLDaily will let you know how it goes. Anyhow, this article is a pretty good decision checklist to help you decide.

As an aside, don't confuse any of the 802.11 standards with another popular wireless technology called Bluetooth. If you are confused, think of it this way: Think: "802.11 replaces the ETHERNET NETWORKING CABLE. Bluetooth, on the other hand, is primarily designed as a CABLE REPLACEMENT FOR PERIPHERALS." (My thanks to Jeffrey R. Harrow for this formulation in this week's Harrow Report - see http://www.TheHarrowGroup.com). By Jim Geier, 80211 Planet, January 24, 2002.[Refer]

Cirrus Advances 802.11e for the Home If you thought it was bad enough deciding between 802.11a and 802.11b, there is a whole alphabet soup waiting to pounce on you in the field of wireless local area networks (wireless LANs). This article introduces you to Cirrus's Whitecap product, which incorporates the 802.11e standard. According to the article, 802.11e adds adds multimedia and Quality of Service (QoS) support to the 802.11 family. Not mentioned in the article, but coming soon, is another variation called 802.11g. This is is a compromise standard, providing 22 megabits/second of bandwidth (faster than 'b' but slower than 'a') which can interoperate with existing 802.11b networks. Again, these are all ways of replacing your ethernet cable - the 'a', 'b', 'e' and 'g' designate different capacities. By Matthew Peretz, 80211 Planet, November 1, 2001.[Refer]

Super Synchronous SMEs: Subject Matter Experts as Synchronous Trainers The author, an experience hand in the field, provides some background and sound advice for subject matter experts (SMEs) working as online trainers in a synchronous environment (such as a webcasting or conferencing environment). One of the most valuable tips: use a producer. Though you may be very familiar with the environment, it is not until you try to tweak the controls while listening to or responding to a question that you understand how important a producer is. And if you are handling multiple simultaneous comments on air and via text, then having a producer flag them for you (i.e., prompt you to answer them) is also very important. By Jennifer Hofmann, Learning Circuits, March, 2002.[Refer]

Bleak Future Looms if You Don't Take a Stand It's a bit of a manifesto, but tech writer Dan Gillmor's stand on copyright and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act echoes my own. In a nutshell: "Here's my message to the record industry and its allies: I'm not a thief. I'm a customer. When you treat me like a thief, I won't be your customer. Enough is enough." By Dan Gillmor, San Jose Mercury News, March 24, 2001.[Refer]

Thumbs are the New Fingers for the GameBoy Generation People make fun of my two finger typing (actually, two fingers and two thumbs). But this interesting article that shows how young people - who grew up using new technologies - have adapted physically to their new environment. "The study, carried out in nine cities around the world, shows that the thumbs of the younger generation have overtaken their fingers as the hand's most muscled and dexterous digit." The young people themselves have taken note of this distinction, calling themselves the "oya yubi sedai", or "Thumb Tribe." By Amelia Hill, The Observer, March 24, 2002.[Refer]

Moving Slowly Toward Light-Speed Technology This is the sort of article that gets me thinking. For example, if you had a room completely composed of perfectly reflective mirrors (walls, ceiling, floor) and you flicked a light off and on, would the room ever get dark again? Somewhere, I'm sure, somebody has tried this. Anyhow, this article is about the use of light particles (photons) instead of electrons for data processing. "Photonic crystals -- tiny cages or honeycombs constructed of silicon -- trap, guide and switch light much the way semiconductors manipulate electrons in today's computers." The technology promises a next generation of computer systems - and capacity far beyond what we can imagine today. By Robert S. Boyd, San Jose Mercury News, March 25, 2002.[Refer]

High School Student Helps Launch Internet Telescope Network This is pretty cool. Students can create a (free) account and book time to use the Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope in New Mexico over the internet. The service, provided by the Student Telescope Network, allows students to manipulate the telescope and take actual pictures. To help students avoid wasting valuable telescope time, the service also provides a simulator for dry runs. This item links to an article which in turn provides links to the telescopes. By eSchool News staff, eSchool News, March 25, 2002.[Refer]


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