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FRIDAY - JANUARY 20, 2006 - ISSUE NO. 196

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Wireless Messaging Newsletter
  • VoIP
  • Wi-Fi
  • Paging
  • Wi-MAX
  • Telemetry
  • Location Services
  • Wireless Messaging
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Oregon Scientific Complete Regional Weather Station Review

Submitted by Brian on Monday, December 19, 2005

When MSN Direct launched, the first devices to market were watches, but there was a lot of promise for different, more targeted SPOT enabled contraptions. The Oregon Scientific Weather Station is the first non-watch SPOT device to be made available. The $200 weather station provides in-depth local weather data, indoor readings, atomic time, dual alarms and much more. While there are other weather stations on the market, none provides this level of detail without an outside antenna at this price point.

Weather Station Features

Weather Station Setup

weather station
Weather station front (view larger)

Setting up the weather station is pretty idiot proof. The box includes the weather station, power cord and ever 4 AA batteries. Add the batteries to prevent loss of signal because of power outage, plug in the AC adaptor and you're ready to go. The station will be mostly blank until it starts receiving signal. Interior measurements will work right away, but depending on signal strength it can take from 15 minutes up to 24 hours to get data. In the event the weather station is in an area of overlapping coverage, the unit will default to the strongest signal. Users can manually force to another area though, should that weather data be more representative. If after 24 hours you're not receiving a signal, consider moving the weather station to a second floor or near a window, where the radio waves will have an easier time getting though

How it Works

Just like the watches, Microsoft aggregates data and puts it out over the FM radio network for the weather station to find. The weather data comes from and is detailed for the local market. Microsoft then sends that data to the radio towers in the network. The radio stations broadcast the data over their local area. The weather station looks for an update every two minutes, translating the signal into complete real-time weather data.


We found the Oregon Scientific weather station to get fantastic reception. Of course it's much larger than a watch, so there's more room for an antenna. They've used a flexible mouse-tail type antenna that is 23" long. While it's recommended to use the weather station near a window, our test unit performed very well in a completely insulated room with no outside windows in our office building. It didn't pick up signal right away, but it was receiving data in just a couple hours. By comparison, none of our SPOT watches receive content in the same location.


Of course the most important element of the weather station is the quality and detail of the content and the ease of interaction with it. The data offered is very robust, probably too robust in some cases. For instance, knowing the interior dew point is probably a feature you're not going to be too concerned about. I mean, if you start getting dew inside your house, you might have other problems to worry about.

As good as the information is, if it's hard to get to, that's a problem. The standard display shows almost everything most people are going to want to see. Changing the display to reflect something like the UV index instead of rainfall is easy enough though, and lets owners have an experience with the weather station that's unique to their needs. Manipulating the display is straightforward enough, managing the weather station with the eight hardware buttons works out well.

weather station
Weather Station with functional areas highlighted (view larger)

Weather Message

This wide section across the top of the station displays several items, though the warnings notifier and message area are some of the most important features of the weather station.

Moon Phase—There are eight moon phases that display across the top of the unit. The phases blink across the screen, stopping on the current phase for five seconds, then scrolling around again. It's a minor complaint, but all the moon scrolling is a little distracting. There's a lot of action on the display, so blinking moons doesn't really add any value. I suppose they wanted to make sure the phase is obvious because the icons are pretty small, but even so, I feel the blinking is excessive.

Warning Alert—The "WARNINGS" message will be active in the top left section of the screen should there be severe weather. We saw this alert a few times for winter advisories and such. It's easy to miss the warnings message on the display, so there's also a lighted indicator integrated into the snooze button on the base of the unit.

Weather Message—The message display scrolls through current messages. Pressing the message button on the left of the device will let you manually scroll through the messages. There are four messages that always show, including sunrise, sunset, current visibility and air quality. Additionally when there are warnings, watches or advisories, the details will be noted as such and scroll in rotation with the other messages. The message area will also display connectivity issues, like "Lost Link," if it can't get connected.

Battery/AC Adaptor—These are just small icons that will show when the backup batteries are low or the AC adapter is unplugged.

Clock, Alarm and Calendar

The weather station automatically keeps in sync with an atomic clock, but there are several options to manage the time, along with alarms on this unit. It should be noted that this is a weather station with clock and alarm functions, not an alarm clock with weather data. The distinction is important as it sets expectations for what should be delivered.

Clock—As noted, the clock is in sync with an atomic clock and updates as you receive data. There's an indicator near the time to show whether or not the time is synchronized, so at least you know when the weather station is getting data. The clock display can also be changed to show the clock with seconds or clock with two letter day abbreviation, like FR for Friday. Should you wish to disable automatic time sync and set the time manually, that's an available option. The same configuration for manual time will also allow for changing the time zone offset, 12/24 hour format and date format.

Date—The default display is for the clock, however using the mode button while in that area, you can change it to display the date instead. The date shows for 30 seconds before reverting back to time. I don't know why there's not an option to leave it on date, some people might prefer that, but there's not.

Alarm —The clock section offers two alarms that sound with either a beep or one of five melodies. The melodies are actually pretty good and can be set in either a high or low volume. My favorite is the Russian Dance song from The Nutcracker. The alarm settings are pretty basic and easy to configure. When the alarm sounds pressing the snooze button on the base will delay the alarm for 8 minutes. Pressing any other button on the station will reset the alarm. Setting the alarm tones to high or low is limiting, it would be nice to have more control over the volume. This is also an issue with system beeps that occur when pressing buttons on the weather station. I found them to be too loud and there's no way to adjust the volume.

UVI, Barometer and Rainfall

Underneath the clock on the left side are two sections that track and display the UVI, barometer and rainfall readings. Using the mode button, you can page through data for UV index, barometric pressure or rainfall. The memory button allows for paging through the readings from each of the past 24 hours. This data is also shown via bar chart in the lower left corner of the display.

Today's Weather and 3-Day Forecast

The main body of the display shows a graphic depicting conditions forecast over the next 12-24 hours. There are 14 animated graphics that illustrate; clear (day/night), partly cloudy (day/night), cloudy, rain, snow, thunder, dust, fog, haze, smoke, windy and frigid. The animations are pretty good and do a good job of delivering the message without being too over the top. The smaller 3-window display underneath has smaller corresponding graphics for all 14 conditions. Those graphics, along with the day of the week stay static, while high temperature, low temperature and chance of precipitation rotate at roughly 3 second intervals. The temperature is displayed in Fahrenheit, though there is a switch in the battery compartment to change to Celsius. This section is arguably the most useful of the weather station. It does a great job of showing what to expect later in the day, along with the next three, in less than 10 seconds.

Temperature, Humidity, Comfort Level

The block to the right of today's weather contains several key data points surrounding current conditions both inside and out. The primary view shows outside temperature and relative humidity along with trends for both (raising, steady, falling). The mode button cycles from this display to heat index/dew point and wind chill. Pressing the IN/REG button toggles to interior readings for temperature/humidity and the mode button brings up an interior heat index and dew point. Some might question the need for interior heat index and dew point readings; I know I'll never use them. I suppose it was easy to add, so they did. From this area you can also view all time temperature and humidity highs and lows by pressing the memory button. The Up button will show the current day's high and low temperatures.

Wind Direction and Speed

The lower right area of the weather station shows pertinent wind data. The wind direction is noted by an arrow pointing in one of 16 directions around the edge of a compass. Inside the compass wind and gust speeds are displayed in miles per hour. Additionally wind speed is noted with a flag icon that shows one of five states; none (< 2mph), light (2-8), moderate (9-25), strong (26-54) and storm (>55).


The base of the weather station acts as the snooze button and also contains a LED for notifications. When the LED is solidly lit green conditions are normal. Solid red means a watch or advisory alert has been received and a flashing red light when there is a warning. The visual to go along with the scrolling messages is nice. I would have liked to see an optional audio alert for severe conditions, say a tornado warning. Hopefully future versions will allow for additional notification options.


The weather station display is pretty good. The surface is subject to a good deal of glare, but it's still easy to read from 6-8 feet away. The fonts are all clear and the icons intuitive. The default contrast is good, but there's no option to change it. The backlight is blue and provides about 20 seconds of lighting when the light button is pressed on the base. The backlight counter starts on the last button press, so if you activate it, then use some of the buttons to change the display, the 20 second counter starts when you're done. The length of time the backlight is on is great; it offers plenty of time to view all of the data. I would have liked to see an option to leave the light on longer, or even permanently, when on AC. While I earlier noted this device should be looked at like a weather station and not a clock, Oregon Scientific needs to recognize that a lot of buyers will be using this in their bedrooms and possibly as a primary clock and alarm system. In this regard, the display is a letdown.

weather station
Weather station with backlight on (view larger)

weather station
Weather station with backlight and sidelights on (view larger)


After spending several weeks with the Oregon Scientific Weather Station, I really enjoy it. Let me re-phrase, my wife loves it, I look good for getting it, so everyone's happy. Honestly I'm not that wrapped up in weather information, but she's taken to using the weather station instead of the weather channel on cable or online variants. For her, having fast access to the entire picture is great, especially in a device that looks good enough to live in the family room. And I think this is where the weather station excels. It looks good, functions well and provides more than enough detail for the typical user.

A lot of people are going to get bogged down in the fact that the weather station doesn't make for a very good alarm clock. I think Oregon Scientific could have side-stepped this issue by adding an option to leave the backlight on when the unit is plugged in. I'm not sure if they're worried about the life of the backlight or they simply missed the idea entirely. Either way, it will technically work as an alarm clock, as it offers dual alarms, but unless you put it on your nightstand and want to hit the base every time to see the clock when it's dark, I'd pass on the weather station for this use.

The weather station does a good job of executing its core objective, which is to provide accurate and timely weather information. It's exciting to see a new type of device leveraging the MSN Direct network and data delivery system. With service through 2010, the depth of data delivered and good design quality, the retail price of $200 is justified. And since it's easy to set up and use, the weather station will make a great gift that you can be sure won't get passed along to someone else. My mom could use it, which makes for a good litmus test for the general public.



Bottom Line

If you want a weather station, this solution is more expensive than some of the competition, but the depth of data offered, without an external antenna, can't be beat.


Bid to sue Motorola for faulty equipment fails

Jan 19, 2006

The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision dismissing a case filed against Motorola by families of New York firefighters killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, an Associated Press report said.

The report said the firefighters’ families accused Motorola of supplying the rescuers with allegedly faulty radios that prevented them from hearing evacuation orders while they were in the north tower trying to rescue people.

The families also accused New York City and Motorola of entering into a fraudulent, no-bid contract that supplied firefighters with ineffective radios that city and company officials knew for years did not work in high-rise buildings, the report said.

The Supreme Court, however, upheld the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which stated that the families had waived their right to sue when they accepted compensation money from the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, the report said.

The report said the firefighters' families argued that the lower courts had misinterpreted the law and Congress' intent.

Source: America's Network





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Motorola in Macedonia wireless broadband

SKOPJE, Macedonia, Jan. 16 (UPI)—Macedonia will be using Motorola's wireless broadband platform, the company said Monday.

The communications group said its MOTOwi 4 Canopy system will be used as the government-sponsored Macedonia Connects project, which aims to provide the entire country with affordable broadband connections. The project has already delivered access to 350 primary and 100 secondary schools.

The project is meant "to establish a national wireless network requires that at least 95 percent of a country's population has ready access to low-cost Internet connectivity," said Glenn Strachan, the Macedonian Academy for Education Development's director of the Macedonia Connects project. The AED project is being funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development along with Macedonia's Ministry of Education.

"Wiring the schools created the springboard to full connectivity, and we knew from experience that this would produce a tremendously positive economic impact for Macedonia," Strachan added.

Source: UPI

What will generate the real heat in '06? Let's start with VoIP security

By Thomas Nolle, Network World, 01/09/06

nolie white OK, it's the time of year when pundits are supposed to talk about the Issues that Alter and Illuminate Our Times. Boring. Instead, let's talk about the issues that will give us indigestion and keep us up at night. There will be plenty.

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Issue No. 1 is the Dark Side of VoIP. Everyone likes free stuff, and there will still be a lot of free VoIP this year, even with the cable companies blowing past everyone else in revenue generation. But this also will be the year that corporations earnestly begin blocking Session Initiation Protocol and Skype calling, that lawsuits hit providers that have failed to respond to 911 calls and that some players are threatened with injunctions for not complying with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. It will be the year of voice spam and of the first Trojans, viruses and scams targeted at VoIP rather than at browsers. For the enterprise, there will be denial-of-service attacks on VoIP trunks and even a few call-hijacking scams.

VoIP security isn't the same as IP or Internet security. There are tremendous differences among VoIP providers with respect to the security precautions they take with your information and traffic and their own infrastructures. Attacks are targeted at publicity, which means things that are widely used are more likely to be attacked. VoIP will become more widely used this year, which means we'll have to face the security issues for real.

Some of VoIP's issues could be resolved without attacking the second and perhaps more difficult issue: the very nature of a public IP infrastructure such as the Internet. Anyone who reads the papers knows that public carriers now dominate IP investment, and these providers are not looking to deploy free services for others to exploit. The success of the IPsphere Forum (formerly the Infranet Initiative Council) in attracting enthusiastic carrier support speaks to the determination of the major network players to make IP a business, as TDM, frame relay and ATM were before it.

The question of whether public network services should be free is a public-policy issue that's decided by the business structure that regulations put into place. Carriers are public corporations and thus are bound to the profit motive. Those who believe that the Internet should be free need to pursue the notion of carrier nationalization, the elimination of private enterprise in the services market. If that doesn't sound practical, we have to move beyond mythology and expect these guys to make a buck.

That means getting standards groups such as the IETF, which have forsworn any accommodation to regulation or profit in their work, to get real. The IETF has done a lot for us, but it has marginalized itself with an unrealistic attitude. That's what has made the IPsphere Forum popular: It's realistic. If we lose the IETF, we lose the popular voice of the Internet. Can the body save itself in 2006?

The final issue is service-oriented architecture (SOA). SOA principles are being built into every application from every major software vendor. SOA changes everything, from how workers get their information to how network traffic is generated. We're embarking on a major SOA investment, perhaps the largest IT change since Y2K, and we're not doing anything different. Private networks, public networks and network technology are mission driven, and the mission is changing. We need to be thinking about what the optimum network for SOA deployment would look like and how SOA would change our notions of reliability, complexity, security and traffic management. How can something that BusinessWeek called "the most important trend to hit software in a decade" be treated at the network level as business as usual? Well, how many companies do you know that understand the impact of SOA? Do you?

This year is going to be one of the most significant in the history of networking, and the issues that I've mentioned here all will be addressed—even resolved—this year. The question is whether it will be a reasoned resolution or simply an accidental one.

Nolle is president of CIMI Corp., a technology assessment firm in Voorhees, N.J. He can be reached at (856) 753-0004 or

Source: NetworkWorld

Linksys Announces SIP-Based IP PBX, Desktop Phones, and Gateway For Internet Telephony Service Providers


IP PBX and Phones Enable Service Providers to Deploy Residential and Small Business Phone Systems with Big Business Features and Functionality

IRVINE, Calif.—January 5, 2006—Linksys®, a Division of Cisco Systems, Inc., the recognized leading provider of voice, wireless and networking hardware for the consumer, Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) and small business markets, today announced a new line of SIP-based telephony products for Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSPs) targeting large residential, SOHO and very small business customers. The new line of IP communication solutions includes an IP PBX/Key system, a wide range of IP desktop phones and an Analog Gateway for connection to the Public Switched Telephone Network. Used together with an ITSP voice service, they provide a complete IP telephony system for up to 16 users.

According to AMI research, there are more than 35 million small businesses world wide. 56% of these businesses have 1 to 4 users, and another 11.8% have 5 to 19 users. The new Linksys IP telephony products target this market segment. ITSPs focusing on the higher-end of the residential market, or the lower end of small business market can deploy services on this platform to help customers save money by using the Internet to make telephone calls.

"With the new Linksys SIP-based IP communication offerings, ITSPs can offer residential and small businesses a voice service with many of the features found in large business voice IP networks, such as multi-line service, music on hold, auto attendant, and more at a more affordable price," said Jan Fandrianto, vice president of voice engineering at Linksys. "The new IP PBX and IP phones bundled with a service provider offering will make the deployment of voice networks easy to install and simple to use at a price small businesses can afford."

This new solution will complement the recently announced Linksys One solution. Linksys One is an ideal solution for small business with 5-100 users needing a complete communications solution that addresses voice, video, and applications. The LVS series was developed to address the residential and very small business of 1-4 users that may grow to 16.

The Linksys SIP-Based IP Products include:

Linksys IP PBX: SPA9000
The Linksys IP PBX lies at the heart of the telephony solution, delivering advanced, multi-line features commonly found in enterprise telephone networks. With the Auto Attendant feature, small businesses with up to 16 users can customize their voice network to direct calls to the right person or department and program the system to allow on and off business hour greetings. A promotional message can be created to greet or provide information to callers placed on hold, or pipe in the music of choice. The system also allows users to park calls, fax over the Internet and use the intercom for paging. There are over one hundred telephony features built-in. Out of the box, the SPA9000 supports up to four (4) users. Via a software license key upgrade, up to sixteen (16) users can be supported. Details can found at

Software Functionality

Hardware Interface Functionality

IP PBX Features

Linksys IP Desktop Phones: SPA901, SPA921, SPA922, SPA941, SPA942
This new line of affordable IP desktop telephones provides a wide variety of phone options for small businesses. Choose phones with one or two Ethernet ports, 1, 2, or 4 extensions, optional Power over Ethernet functionality, or the cost-conscious, durable no-display model. These telephones work with all SIP-based IP Telephony solutions, but when used with the SPA9000, the phones install in minutes, automatically configuring themselves with business features set by the Service Provider. With an optional Wireless-G Phone Bridge (WPB54G) users can install phones in hard-to-reach places without running cables. The line of Linksys IP Desktop phones can also be used in conjunction with leading SIP application server platforms to provide an IP Centrex service model for service providers looking to provide PBX/Key system features to small businesses.

Model Ethernet Ports # of Extensions Display
SPA901 1 1 None
SPA921 1 1 Monochrome
SPA922 2 with PoE 1 Monochrome
SPA941 1 2, upgradeable to 4 Monochrome
SPA942 2 with PoE 2, upgradeable to 4 Monochrome

Linksys Analog PSTN Gateway + Phone Adapter: SPA3000
If power is lost to the SPA9000 or Internet service is down, calls can be redirected to a traditional PSTN carrier using the SPA9000 Analog Gateway so service continues without interruption. The SPA3000 can be remotely provisioned and supports dynamic, in-service software upgrades.

Service Providers Supporting the SPA9000 Platform

ITSPs currently developing services using the SPA9000 Platform include:

North America EMEA APAC
VoicePulse Telio (Norway) Engin (Australia)
RNK Telecom  

Pricing and Availability
The Linksys IP PBX, IP Desktop Phones and Analog Gateway were developed for ITSPs interested in deploying voice solutions targeting large residential or small business customers. Evaluation units are available immediately through Linksys U.S. Distribution partners, including Ingram Micro, Tech Data, and D&H Distributing. Authorization from Linksys, and a Linksys Voice Service Provider Agreement is required to purchase these products.

Estimated Street Pricing for the new SIP-based IP Communication Solutions is as follows:

SPA9000: $ 399.99
SPA9000UPG: $300.00 (Upgrade license for SPA9000 to support 16 phones).

IP Desktop Phones
SPA901: $89.99
SPA921: $119.99
SPA922: $159.99
SPA941: $149.99
SPA942: $179.99

SPA941UPG: $30.00 (Upgrade license for the SPA941 to support 4 extensions)
SPA942UPG: $30.00 (Upgrade license for the SPA942 to support 4 extensions)

IP Analog PSTN Gateway
SPA3000: $ 89.99

WBP54G: Wireless-G Phone Bridge for Linksys VoIP endpoints: $ 39.99
PS100: IP Phone Power Supply: $ 14.99.
Optional power supply for the SPA922 and SPA942 must be ordered separately.
POE5S: PoE Dongle for VoIP: $ 29.99. Enables PoE on Linksys VoIP endpoints: SPA901, SPA921,SPA941, SPA3000, SPA9000

Internet Telephony Service Providers interested in using the Linksys IP communication platform to develop VoIP-based residential or small business phone system solutions should contact 1-800-LINKSYS and select option 1 for sales.

About Linksys
Founded in 1988, Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, Inc., (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the recognized global leader in Wireless, VoIP and Ethernet networking for consumer, SOHO and small business users. Linksys is dedicated to making networking easy and affordable for its customers, offering innovative, award-winning products that seamlessly integrate with a variety of devices and applications. Linksys provides award-winning product support to its customers. For more information, visit

# # #

Linksys is a registered trademark or trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and certain other countries. Other brands and products are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. Copyright © 2006 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Source: Linksys

U.S. to open WiMAX spectrum

Mark LaPedus
EE Times
(01/18/2006 6:31 PM EST)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Looking to stay ahead of Asian and European rivals in broadband deployment, the U.S. is making an aggressive bid to open up spectrum for emerging WiMAX technology, according to a Bush administration official.

The U.S. is moving to open up WiMAX spectrum on several fronts, including the 700-MHz frequency band, said Michael Gallagher, assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. Gallagher also serves as administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The move is part of the Bush administration’s effort to stay “one or two steps ahead of other countries” and provide “universal, affordable access for broadband [in the United States] by 2007,” Gallagher said during a presentation at the WCA’s 12th Annual International Symposium and Expo on Wednesday (Jan. 18).

WiMAX — the IEEE 802.16 standard — is a specification for fixed broadband wireless access systems employing a point-to-multipoint architecture. At present, the early versions of WiMAX are deployed at the 2.5-, 3.5- and 5.8-GHz frequency bands.

Washington is looking to expand the spectrum to satisfy what could be enormous demand for the technology. This year and next, the U.S. government is expected to auction off the separate 1,710- and 2,110-MHz frequency bands for WiMAX applications.

By 2008, it will auction off the long-awaited 700-MHz band, which is currently occupied by analog TV. The U.S. hopes to shift the TV market to digital by 2009, thereby freeing up the spectrum for WiMAX, Gallagher said.

“I think you will have an opportunity for WiMAX in those frequencies,” he said.

Source: EETimes


Well, that's all for this week folks.

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With best regards,

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Brad Dye
Wireless Messaging Consultant

P.O. Box 266
Fairfield, IL 62837 USA

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