Birthday Whimsy from Waynes Wireless Wire

Opinion: The wireless world sometimes takes itself too seriously and needs to have some fun.

There were no major events, save one, in the wireless world since the last time eWEEK brought you the Wireless Wire. 3GSM is long past, CTIA is a month away, yet the companies that make wireless products and provide wireless services continue to tell me about the products theyre bringing out. I guess they dont need a major trade show as a reason—they just need to have a product thats ready.

Of course, there is that one significant event between 3GSM and CTIA that might explain it. No, no CeBIT, but rather my birthday. Yes, this is the Waynes Birthday Edition of the Wireless Wire. Of course, CeBIT is happening in two weeks, but thats for the next Wireless Wire, which will come to you fresh from Hanover, Germany, and the CeBIT press room.

  • AirMagnet Manages Wireless—AirMagnet has debuted a new version of its Enterprise Analyzer for Cisco. This version of the wireless management software works with Ciscos Lightweight Access Points, which means that its the answer to the needs of a lot of enterprises. The package constantly analyzes the wireless environment where its installed for everything from interference to congestion to security issues such as rogue clients or access points. What will make a lot of enterprises happy is that this product can be operated remotely, so they dont need to have someone on every part of the network—everything can be run from the NOC (network operations center).

The AirMagnet solution has gained a lot of traction with federal government users especially because it meets needs of some fairly secretive agencies. Sadly, we couldnt get AirMagnet to tell eWEEK who exactly those were. According to AirMagnets director of product management, Wade Williamson, many companies will be able to simply add this product to their existing wireless network, and itll all work.

"It makes a lot more sense to use hardware thats already out there to do reporting," he said. The product runs on a Windows platform attached to the network.

  • Cognio Upgrades Spectrum Expert—Similar in some ways to AirMagnet is Cognios Spectrum Expert 3.1. This is a product that I have used and that I like, but that was for a different article in a different publication. Spectrum Expert also lets network managers see and manage the quality and connectivity of their wireless environment, and it makes useful recommendations as to how managers might fix a problem, if they find one. A cool feature in this version of Spectrum Expert is the ability to record and play back the events in the spectrum. This means that if someone tries to break into your wireless network, you can replay the event, and perhaps catch the evil-doer.
  • AT&T Announces Emergency Communicator—AT&T (formerly Cingular) has started shipping the M900, a cell phone device aimed at Homeland Security and emergency communications. The Motorola M900 features a radio transmitter that, at 2 watts, is significantly more powerful than is normally found in portable phones. The device also features a speaker phone, a high resolution graphics display, voice recognition and (according to the company) improved voice quality.
  • Neochromas Big Picture—Neochroma has developed the prototype for a screen expander for mobile devices. The attachment consists of a set of lenses that enlarge the otherwise tiny image on most cell phones so that they can be seen by actual people. According to the company, the result is an image the size one found on a desktop monitor. Neochroma is based in Germany, so maybe Ill see this one in action at CeBIT.
  • IBM Gets a Wireless Contract—IBMs Global Technology Services group really, really, wants you to know that theyve landed a contract with the city of Brownsville, Texas, to install a municipal wireless system for city employees and emergency workers. Members of the public might get a crack at it too, but those details have yet to be worked out. For those of you who are beach fans, youll know that Brownsville is on the Texas Gulf Coast and is known for lovely beaches and lots of former oil wealth. Its also one of the first stops for hurricanes aimed at the Gulf Coast. IBM hasnt said what company is actually providing the infrastructure, but IBM is doing the design and providing servers.
  • Talk to Sprint—Sprint Nextel is announcing a series of speech-enabled mobile applications that its developing in concert with Vocera Communications and Nuance Communications. The new speech applications will be supported by the Sprint and Nextel networks and are initially aimed at health care workers.
  • Paragon Dual-Mode—Paragon Wireless has announced its latest dual-mode phone, which has a slim look, supports Wi-Fi and VOIP (voice over IP) along with GSM, and will start showing up in the market in the United States and internationally soon. The hipi-2300 is designed to maximize battery life and has a 100-hour standby time. The phone will also play music files, play and record video, and it runs Windows Mobile 5.0. An upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 may happen later in 2007.
  • Sybase Announces a No-Name Product—Sybase has announced that its Information Anywhere suite now has a new messaging component. After a significant amount of time dithering about the name, the last I heard is that it will be called "The Messaging Component of the Information Anywhere Suite." Just love those catchy names. On the other hand, its in English, its non-pretentious, and it doesnt have weird capitalization. So maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful trend.
  • Industry Forms TEMIA—Companies in the wireless industry have formed a new trade association intended to create some standards in expense management, and in how expense information is formatted and traded. The TEMIA (Telecom Expense Management Industry Association) includes companies that are software suppliers, application service providers, software as a service providers and business process outsourcing providers.
  • Launches Cool Site—As my birthday present to me, I went looking for a wireless site that was something besides stodgy business stuff. Enter the guys at Crackberry. The site, which has just gone live, is aimed at BlackBerry addicts, as well as the people who cant seem to get enough of their smart phones and PDAs, even if theyre not all from RIM. As you might expect, the group of Canadians who brought this together started the idea in a bar. Yes, alcoholic beverages were involved.

Kevin Michaluk, the companys CEO (Crackberry Executive Officer) says that the site supports desktop and mobile users, and has features, including a rehab forum, although Michaluk said that the rehab forum is strangely empty.

Apparently, BlackBerry users are happy with their addiction. The company is offering Crackberry e-mail addresses and has a mobile Web portal. Best of all, they dont take themselves too seriously, which is a Good Thing. Considering all of the e-mail I get from companies that do take themselves ever-so-seriously, we need more of this.

Im off to CeBIT in a week to take a look at the weird and wonderful things that the world feels must be wireless. So look for a report from Hanover in two weeks, and lots of photos of what I found there. Meanwhile, set some of the seriousness aside and help make wireless a little more fun.

Senior Writer Wayne Rash is a longtime technology writer and journalist based in Washington, D.C. Hes the author of four books related to technology. He can be reached at


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Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...