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Welcome to August: and to all my friends in Europe, enjoy your month off.
Intersil boosts and cleans amplification: According to this News.com story, Intersil is releasing a new set of Wi-Fi power amplifiers that offer greater range (15 percent, they state) and a cleaner signal at the edge. The technical specs are in Intersil's press release.
Bluetooth about to emerge with Apple, Microsoft support: It's the operating system, stupid, to paraphrase the 1992 Clinton campaign. For all of the Bluetooth industry's prognostications, the plain fact was that with competing stacks, non-standard interfaces, and conflicting applications, Bluetooth was going nowhere until we had OS integration. Apple comes first with an impression array of integration, previously discussed; Microsoft lags, but they have every reason to wait and not trendset. Better Microsoft chooses correctly, because they can't mid-course correct as easily as Apple can.
Note also how casual the Bluetooth folk are about certifying interoperable: it's more like the regular meetings of Esperanto speakers arguing on the fine points of the language -- or perhaps Unitarians -- than, say, the Academie Français. That is, certification to Bluetooth is left up the individual company's testing procedures. This is unfortunate, as the Wi-Fi mark has been one of the single biggest factors in coalescing the 802.11b protocol into something that businesses and consumers can rely on. Bluetooth will sputter if interoperability certification doesn't become one of the requirements of the mark. No consumer will want to use Bluetooth if buying two or more identically marked devices doesn't offer complete intercompatibility.
In fact, a simple prediction is that if Bluetooth SIG sticks by their lack of a certification program, they will ultimately be force to create one, or see market forces develop a new mark based on the 802.15.2 PAN subset of Bluetooth. Bluetooth SIG members will still get licensing fees from 802.15.2 devices, but the Bluetooth mark will get relegated to a backwater and a new mark that works will rise. The market essentially assures this. (Also, Microsoft and Apple's standardization on a stack will force compatibility, too: no Bluetooth device could survive in the market without working with at least MS and hopefully Apple's stacks.)
Yesterday, I received a Cingular-activated Sony Ericsson T68i Bluetooth-equipped phone on loan along with an HBH-30 Bluetooth headset. It took a few tries to get all my ducks in a row, partly because of an odd entry interface on the phone: when it asks you to enter your password to pair (or associate together) a Bluetooth device with the phone, the phone displays asterisks instead of characters. This would be fine, although who is really staring over your shoulder at that point, but there are at least three methods of entering characters into the phone, which the manual helpfully and obscurely explains. I still can't figure out which mode I'm using to enter the Bluetooth password. (I'll be calling Sony Ericsson on that, of course, to find out the answer.)
But the system is pretty amazing. Discovery works just fine, and I was able to get the phone and my Mac talking to each other, and set up the Bluetooth headset. The headset has the generic code of 0000 for its pairing password, which is fine because you have to put the headset into a specially invoked mode to associate with it. Because every Bluetooth device has a unique device number, just like every Wi-Fi and Ethernet device, this association is unique and someone can't (ostensibly) hijack your headset.