Never Out of Touch

Plug-in access points and powerful pocket-sized computers keep you connected

3 min read

In her keynote speech at DemoMobile 2003, an annual show-and-tell for companies developing mobile and wireless technologies and gadgets, conference producer Chris Shipley joked about the end of the workweek as we know it. ”Forget 9 to 5,” Shipley said. ”Work will happen when it needs to happen, because we're 'always on' people.” I laughed as she said it, because my cellphone was flashing a text message from a co-worker and I was busy downloading e-mail to my laptop through the conference's IEEE 802.11 connection. And I was not alone.

Shipley's point is that communication is becoming a commodity as fast as the infrastructure to support ubiquitous communication and computing is put into place. The conference showed off the gadgets and services that will help people exploit that ubiquity. Here are three top picks from DemoMobile: a plug-in-the-wall router for quickly setting up a network, and a pair of pocket-sized devices, one a computer and the other a printer.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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