What “MP3” means

mp3-image-2I checked into a hotel recently where the clock radio in the guest room had a conventional 3½-millimeter plug (see photo) which could be plugged into the guest’s smart phone or music player.  This would permit playing music through the speaker of the clock radio.  What I found amusing is what the manufacturer chose to write on the clock to let the user know about this feature — “MP3”.  This is silly.

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Adopting a digital wallet redux

In a previous blog post I urged you to adopt a digital wallet.  Players in the digital wallet arena are falling by the wayside, but this leave unchanged the important reason why you should adopt a digital wsoftcardallet, namely that bad guys won’t be able to skim your credit card number as they would with your use of a swiped mag-stripe card.  Most strikingly the digital wallet that I adopted, Softcard, has bitten the dust.  Appropriately for this blog, nobody actually purchased the ill-fated Softcard.  Instead someone merely purchased its intellectual property.

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Most-read postings in “Ant-like Persistence” for 2014

The arrival of a new year prompts every blogger to look back to see which postings in the previous year reached a lot of eyeballs.

Well, by far the most-read posting for all of 2014 in Ant-like Persistence was “A little-known USPTO initiative to reduce the backlog“.  This posting, dating from early April of 2014, might be of great interest to patent practitioners who missed the original posting.

In second place was “USPTO is closed today, Monday, March 17“.  This was the posting that told readers that it was a snow day in Washington.  It meant that anything that needed to be filed in the USPTO on Monday March 17 could be postponed until Tuesday March 18 and still be timely.

The people who subscribe to this blog are likely to hear of such USPTO closings in the future.  So if you have not already done so, subscribe to the blog.  And if you have a friend or colleague who would like to hear about it when the USPTO has a snow day, encourage them to subscribe to the blog.


Picking a wifi hot spot – 5 GHz band

If you are a frequent traveler you know that it is a life-changing event to start carrying a wifi hot spot with you.  I count it as a necessity.  I have had a dozen mobile data devices over the past fifteen years or so.  Years ago the way to connect was by means of a plug-in card in your notebook computer.  Nowadays the smart way to go is a wifi hot spot.  The hot spot provides wifi for your notebook computer, for your tablet, for your smart phone, and if you are traveling with co-workers, it provides wifi for your co-workers’ devices as well.

Many hotels gouge their guests with charges of $10 or even $15 or $20 per night for internet service.  Some of them charge this fee a second or third time per night for your second or third device. zte01  Even in a hotel that (nicely) does not charge for the wifi you can occasionally have a bad night that the hotel’s wifi is not working well or at all.

When you are in an airport, you may find that the “free” wifi in the airport is very slow, or only works for so many minutes and then they expect you to pay to keep using it.

The monthly fee that you pay for a wifi hot spot can pay for itself during just a single out-of-town trip.

A wifi hot spot can make an intercity train ride much more productive.

If you do international travel, as I often do, the usual worry with international data usage is the fear that you could return to the US and receive a bill for thousands of dollars.  The way to avoid this risk is to use prepaid international data such as AT&T’s Buyasession program, loaded into a wifi hot spot, and then configure your smart phone and notebook computer and tablet to draw their data only from wifi and not from the local phone company.

The point of this blog posting is to tell you about a particular wifi hot spot that has served me well lately, and that has a particular feature that I have not seen in other wifi hot spots.

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Adopting a digital wallet

nfc-logo(Here is a follow-on article.)

I finally decided to try out a digital wallet system.  By this we mean a system that uses an NFC (near field communications) radio link to pay at a store.  You can recognize which stores are equipped for NFC payments by looking for this logo (right).

Of course the digital wallet system that is all over the media lately is Apple Pay, which works only with certain very recently released models of iPhones.

It turns out that Apple Pay is the johnny-come-lately to the NFC party.  Other companies have been offering NFC payment systems (digital wallets) for over a year now. These systems that have been around for over a year do not require you to have an iPhone.

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