October 12, 2011

AirPlay mirroring in iOS5: Oh, this can be big -- really big -- for Apple TV.


When I finally get around to downloading iOS5 for my iPhone and iPad, I'll certainly appreciate the 200+ new features that Apple is introducing with this big, free software upgrade, such as full Twitter integration, iMessage and Reminders.

But the big one I'm looking forward to? AirPlay mirroring. (SplatF's Dan Frommer's post about his most anticipated iOS5 updates got me thinking about this topic this morning.)

So what is AirPlay mirroring and why will it matter for users and the Apple TV? (Note: As a commenter below states, the AirPlay mirroring feature is only available for iPhone 4S and iPad 2.)

AirPlay is Apple's Wi-Fi content-streaming technology that enables you to push music and video from your iDevice to your television, with Apple TV ($99) as the wireless intermediary that makes it happen. Since I've owned an Apple TV, I've streamed photos, videos, and music from my iPhone to my TV. For instance, I take a bunch of photos of my kids playing outside and later, when we're inside, I flash those photos quickly on my TV. Wirelessly. Simply.

Now, AirPlay mirroring will allow you to mirror the entire iPhone or iPad, including all your apps. Suddenly, you can presumably start playing an iPhone game, and shift it to play on a bigger screen.

Or how about that Keynote or PowerPoint presentation you've been preparing? Imagine you have a demonstration to present to a group, and there's a 50-inch TV in the conference room. You bring your slim Apple TV and your iPhone/iPad and, bam!, you're giving a presentation without a laptop.

I really believe if Apple sets up a couch, a big-screen TV, an Apple TV and an AirPlay-enabled iPhone or iPad in each Apple Store, the company will see its Apple TVs fly off the shelves in short order. So much for Apple TV as a side "hobby," as Steve Jobs once called it.

I really believe AirPlay mirroring can be the sleeper hit feature of iOS5, which actually drives more hardware sales for Apple.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:37 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Wireless

August 15, 2011

Survey: 13% of Americans use cellphones to avoid interactions

In a report today from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 13 percent of Americans indicated that they use their cellphones to avoid real-life interactions with others.

The survey tosses out a number of statistics on the habits of American cell phone users.

Some more:

* Half of all adult cell owners (51%) had used their phone at least once to get information they needed right away. One quarter (27%) said that they experienced a situation in the previous month in which they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone at hand.

* Cell phones can help stave off boredom – 42% of cell owners used their phone for entertainment when they were bored.

* One third of Americans own smartphones. And it's in that demographic's usage patterns do you have a window into our mobile future: Fully nine in ten smartphone owners use text messaging or take pictures with their phones, while eight in ten use their phone to go online or send photos or videos to others. Many activities—such as downloading apps, watching videos, accessing social networking sites or posting multimedia content online—are almost entirely confined to the smartphone population.

[Thanks to @johnbhorrigan, who tweeted out the Pew report.]

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:02 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Smartphones, Wireless

Motorola Mobility added to Google's Circle

Big news on a Monday: Google is buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion -- a 63 percent premium over Motorola's stock price.

Google CEO Larry Page laid out some of the rationale for Google buying the handset maker, which makes cellphones tied to Google's Android platform, in a company blog post this morning.

Already, bloggers and tech journos are slicing and dicing the deal for meaning.

* Business Insider makes the point that with Google owning a hardware maker now, it's competing head-to-head moreso than ever with Apple.

* Larry Dignan over at ZDNet's Between the Lines blog gives six reasons why the deal makes sense. Among them: Google is getting tons of patents for wireless via Motorola, and patents help you ward off lawsuits. Also: mobility is the future of computing and Google needs to better integrate the hardware/software experience for Android.

* Here's the Wall Street Journal's straight-news take on the deal.

* So is Google now a "mobile company"? New York Times' DealBook discusses.

* Engadget's post is worth checking out, if only for the Photoshopped Google hearts Motorola graphic.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:24 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets, Wireless

May 20, 2011

AT&T's COWs at the Preakness

Maybe you've been to a large event where cellphone reception has been spotty due to the huge crowds.

Many large venues, such as sports stadiums, are nowadays working with telecom companies to add fixed gear that helps with cellphone communications traffic.

Wireless companies also have more mobile technology that they can deploy on the spot, to boost cellular transmissions. Meet AT&T's "COW" -- or cell sites on wheels. The company has deployed two of them to Pimlico Race Course, in preparation for the huge crowds tomorrow during the Preakness. Upwards of 100,000 are expected to attend -- and many will have smartphones that will stretch the capacity of wireless networks.

The COWs are in addition to the free Wi-Fi network that the Maryland Jockey Club is deploying during the event.

So, if you're planning to use your iPhone or Android, for instance, to play with the Preakness's smartphone app, during the day, hopefully you won't experience any delays or glitches.

Here's the AT&T COW in a Pimlico parking lot:

Photo courtesy of AT&T Wireless

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:04 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast, Events (Baltimore area), Gadgets, Wireless

May 19, 2011

Near field communication mobile payments coming to restaurants, via MICROS-Verifone partnership

What timing... Just this week, I wrote a story about MICROS Systems Inc. of Columbia, Md. jumping into the field of mobile payments with a smartphone app called Tabbedout.

Now, word comes out today that MICROS has partnered with Verifone to develop a near-field communications solution for the hospitality industry. What's NFC? Basically, a special chip installed inside your mobile phone allows you to use it as a kind of "mobile wallet."

Presumably you can link your phone directly to your bank account or credit card. And kapow! You are waving your phone around and spending money. Ah, the sweet smell of progress: it's never been easier to burn through your cash!

In addition to making payments with your phone, you'll be able to use NFC technology to take advantage of mobile coupons and promotions. Imagine the possiblities, say, if you can link NFC tech to social media apps, such as Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare -- so with a wave, you can send out a status update that you're at a particular restaurant.

Scary or useful?

It looks like Verifone has designed systems for white tablecloth restaurants as well as quick-casual. You could use your NFC-enabled phone right at the table, which will have a little wireless gadget (see below image from Verifone) that you wave your phone in front of. Here's an example.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Wireless

May 17, 2011

Paying with your iPhone, browsing menus with your iPad


In today's story about technology in the Baltimore area, we take you to two popular destinations in Howard County, Md.: Houlihan's and Victoria's Gastro Pub.

At Houlihan's, the Columbia restaurant has enabled a smartphone app called Tabbedout to work with its point-of-sale terminals, where orders are punched in and credit cards are run. Tabbedout is made by an Austin, Tex.-based company and it's being marketed in partnership with MICROS Systems Inc., a big player in POS terminals for restaurants.

Basically, you input your credit card info once into the Tabbedout app and then you can request the tab -- and pay it -- with a few swipes of your finger while at the restaurant.

At Victoria's, also in Columbia, management there is allowing its restaurant to be used as a test bed for MICROS's iPad menu app, which is under development. The app allows beer and wine drinkers to browse the restaurant's extensive libations selection (250 beers enough for you?), and keep track of the beers you drink as a beer club member.

It remains to be seen in which direction MICROS will go with the iPad app, but don't be surprised if one day soon you're able to download your favorite restaurant's iPad app and interact with it, say, as a member of a diner's club, even when you're not there.

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May 13, 2011

Stolen laptop recovered with help of technology, Twitter followers

Sean Power (or @seanpower) riveted the Twitterverse last night with his play-by-play of his efforts to use technology and the Twitter crowd to reclaim his stolen laptop.

His computer had been stolen days before in New York City and Sean had to fly to Canada in the meantime. But on his computer, he had free, open-source location-tracking software, called Prey, that alerted him when his laptop was being used. His laptop's webcam took pictures of the alleged thief, and tracked him as he surfed the Web, used Skype and even logged in to his bank account!

Sean ends up calling the guy and arranging for his computer to be given to two people, who apparently heard about the drama as it unfolded on Twitter, and offered to help Sean.

It's a crazy tale of high-tech and, um, crowdsourcing, I suppose, your stolen laptop's recovery. Hit up the links over in Geekwire to dig further into the story.

Here's a question: how popular is the Prey software today after Sean's story?

Here's their video of how the software works:

Prey Project introduction from Carlos Yaconi on Vimeo.

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March 9, 2011

Seeking recent users of "buy back" programs for gadgets

Hey gadget lovers: have you recently sold back a digital gadget (cellphone, tablet computer, laptop, iPod?) to an online "buy back" program? Did you purchase the new buy back program from Best Buy when you bought a gadget from them recently?

I'm researching a story about consumers using buy back programs and web sites to get money back for their used devices. I'm looking for Maryland consumers who've sold back their devices this way (or on eBay/Amazon) for some differing perspectives on the practice. Why do you do it? Is this part of your normal routine as a consumer? Are you an early adopter?

If you wish to share your thoughts on this, email me directly at and we can chat. You can also leave your commentary below! Many thanks.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Gadgets, Smartphones, Wireless

February 28, 2011

iPad 2 expected to debut Wednesday -- will Steve Jobs?


The media has been invited to an event in California this Wednesday, where everyone believes a next-generation iPad 2 will be unveiled. (That's the invitation image above.) Will Steve Jobs, who has taken a leave of absence for what is reportedly cancer treatment, be there to unveil the device? Ten days ago, Jobs attended a meeting of top tech execs in Silicon Valley, with President Obama -- the San Jose Mercury News has a photo of the dinner here, with Jobs sitting to the left of the big man himself.

The iPad has been Jobs' baby. The first iPad has been a huge hit, selling millions and turning many assumptions on their head -- mainly that people don't really know what to do with a tablet computer. Truth is, you can do a lot, once you get used to having the device in your life.

So, the word on the street is that the new iPad will have some incremental enhancements that many are expecting. It should be faster and lighter, with a slightly better touch screen (though not a full "retina" display like the iPhone 4). It should have both a front and a rear facing camera for shooting photos and video, and it should come Facetime-enabled, meaning you can hold video chats using Apple's software. I'd expect it to also be Skype-compatible, if not immediately out of the gate, then by the end of the year.

There's also a good chance you'll see a new iPad that works on both CDMA (i.e. Verizon) and GSM networks (i.e. AT&T), or different versions for each network. Some are even reporting there'll be a white iPad, not just the brushed aluminum bodied ones.

What I'd like to see: native printer support for more models other than HP. Right now, I'm using a $10 app called Print Central for printing to a WiFi Epson printer in my house. It works wonderfully with WiFi printers, at least with my Epson. But it would be nice if I didn't have to spend that extra 10 bucks.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets, Wireless

February 17, 2011

The smartphone/dumbphone digital Baltimore?

A commenter over on our Google Moderator page left a story suggestion that he'd like to see us cover: what is the state of the digital divide between smartphone and other cellphone users? Here's Craig's comment:

"There's an app for almost everything, but does everyone have a smartphone? What's the digital divide for smartphone users vs. non-smartphones. What's the real market for apps?"

Good question, Craig. I know in Baltimore there are the usual telecom wireless operators, i.e. Verizon and AT&T. But we're also seeing a company called Cricket getting in the action, offering smart and feature phones for cheaper prices. Sprint has a subsidiary called Boost Mobile. These companies offer monthly plans and alternative pricing options.

I haven't poked around yet to see if there are breakdowns of smartphone/feature (or dumb) phone users by geographic region. That would be an interesting stat. If anyone finds any data, please drop a link in the comments below.

That said, I'd like to start a Google Doc Spreadsheet where we can all document examples of a "digital divide" in Baltimore, whether it's for businesses, or schools, or government.

Please add your ideas or examples here.

FYI: About a year ago, I wrote about the broadband digital divide in Baltimore when compared to other East Coast cities. Here's the story:

Baltimore City struggles to play catch-up with its suburbs and other U.S. urban areas in broadband Internet access

Access to faster broadband Internet service is increasingly viewed as an economic imperative, and not just a privilege for those who can afford it. But many rural and some urban communities, such as Baltimore, are worried that they're being left behind as commerce, innovation and prosperity are increasingly intertwined with the Internet."My take on it is that Baltimore is not equipped for the future," said the Rev. Johnny Golden, past president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and an advocate for improved access to technology in the city. "We have a decent broadband system for today, but it does not have the infrastructure to take us into the future where we need to go."

Continue reading "The smartphone/dumbphone digital Baltimore?" »

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:54 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Smartphones, Wireless

February 16, 2011

Tessco Technologies of Hunt Valley -- did layoffs recently happen?

I've been getting messages through sources on the Interwebs that there was a significant layoff at Tessco Technologies in Hunt Valley (possibly 30-40 people), but no one from the company is responding to my emails or tweets. (Were the PR folks laid off too?)

UPDATE: A Tessco happy hour to honor those who were laid off is being planned through this Facebook page.

Layoffs, if they happened, may not come as a surprise to those in the region who follow the company. Tessco had warned last month that its revenues could take a hit since one of its biggest customers is AT&T and that that telecom company was losing exclusivity for the heralded iPhone. Tessco apparently makes accessories for AT&T. (Here's a Baltimore Biz Journal story on the topic from January.)

So, I'm trying to get an accurate, confirmed picture of what happened at Tessco, if anything. Know something you can share? Leave in the comments below or email me at

Oh, by coincidence, it just so happens that a number of Tessco employees were "Glimpsed" as part of our regular feature on fashion attire in the workplace. Check out the photos if you got some time to burn.

:: If you're a Maryland tech company, don't forget to add your contact details in this public spreadsheet, so I have a way of reaching you. And if you have news ideas or tips to share, post them here for community review!

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 5:35 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, East Coast, Wireless

January 31, 2011

AT&T, the iPad and the mysterious 3G data usage

Is something hinky going on with AT&T and its iPhone/iPad data usage and billing practices?

Electronista posted a story about a new federal class action lawsuit that claims AT&T is over-stating the data that iPhone/iPad users on its data plans.

The reason this story jumped out at me today is that I ran into a similar problem with my iPad using AT&T's 3G service. I signed up for the 250 MB plan a little more than a month ago and I started getting alerts as my coverage was starting to run low.

But what I found was that my 3G data plan, for which I was paying $15 monthly for, was apparently consuming data even while I was in the Wi-Fi hotspot zone of my house. In fact, my iPad was often less than 10 feet away from my Wi-Fi router as the data plan was winding down.

I didn't understand this behavior then, and I still don't. Somehow, my 3G data plan was being used even while I was clearly on my Wi-Fi network. I did not renew my 3G plan because of the mysterious data usage leak.

So, AT&T (and other iPad/iPhone users): is this really a problem?

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:06 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*, Smartphones, Wireless

January 5, 2011

Millennial Media, hot on mobile ad trail of Google/Apple, raises $27.5 million

Pictured: Millennial Media co-founders: Chris Brandenburg (left) and Paul Palmieri

Millennial Media, a Baltimore startup that's a top player in the growing mobile advertising industry, said Wednesday it raised $27.5 million in new investments from several venture capital firms, which it will use to continue to fund its growth.

The new funding round was Millennial's largest since it was founded more than four years ago. It has raised more than $65 million from investors. The new money comes from several existing investors in Millennial, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, Charles River Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

The company said that it plans to use the new equity investment to fund the company's global growth plan this year. It also plans to build on its acquisition of TapMetrics, a mobile analytics company it acquired last year, and consider additional acquisitions this year.

The new funding comes as Millennial, which is competing toe-to-toe in the mobile display advertising market with Google Inc. and Apple Inc., said it tripled revenues last year, though the privately held company does not disclose specific revenue figures.

A recent report by market research firm IDC showed that Millennial had 15.4 percent of the mobile display advertising market, behind Google (19 percent) and Apple (18.8 percent). Mobile display ads are showed to cell phone users while they are perusing other content, usually on mobile websites.

The company says its mobile ads reach more than 85 percent of mobile users in the United States. The total mobile ad market was estimated at more than $1 billion last year, and is expected to grow quickly over the next few years.

The mobile ad market attracted Google and Apple, who have both bought competitors of Millennial for hundreds of millions of dollars. Several months ago, Millennial was rumored to be in acquisition talks with Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry smart phones, but the negotiations reportedly fell through.

Paul Palmieri, Millennial's chief executive and co-founder, sees the mobile advertising industry applying to many different kinds of devices, from smart phones and tablet computers to appliances.

"The mobile model continues to expand beyond the phone, and is becoming the new, device based Internet via apps on everything from refrigerators to tablets to televisions," Palmieri said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.

Millennial currently has offices in New York, London, and San Francisco, plus sales offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.

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January 4, 2011

Mario Armstrong: BaltTech's guide to Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in Vegas, baby!

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is kicking off in Las Vegas this week, and local/national tech commentator Mario Armstrong is going to giving live updates from the convention floor. For those who don't know, CES is where tons of new gadgets are released and pitched every year, from stuff that will actually go on sale to concept products that manufacturers are still tinkering with.

We'll be embedding Mario's live video feed here everyday, so tune in. Most broadcast times start in the afternoon, so grab some lunch or a cup of coffee, and waste some time at work (but at least look like you're working hard, you slacker.)

Here's Mario's schedule:

* Weds. Jan. 5th 1-2p PST (4 pm EST):
THEME: Pre-CES show consisting of CES overview, what to expect, behind the scenes, press announcement news etc…

* Thurs. Jan. 6th 11a-12n PST (2 pm EST):
THEME: Opening Day consisting of previous nights CES Unveiled event and top 3 gadgets from Unveiled, show will cover news & announcements.

* Thurs. Jan. 6th 2p-3p PST (5 pm EST):
THEME: Green Gadgets, Wireless & Tablets

* Friday Jan. 7th 10-11a PST (1 pm EST):
THEME: Gadgets, Gaming, Computers, Home Tech

* Friday Jan. 7th 2-3:30p PST (5 pm EST)
THEME: Coolest startups, Emerging Tech, Auto Tech

Saturday Jan. 8th 1:30p-3p PST (4:30 pm EST)
THEME: BEST & WORST of CES -- totally dedicated to the best & worst finds

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Big Ideas, Gadgets, Wireless

October 18, 2010

Data-thirsty smartphones lead wireless companies to prep 4G networks


Many consumers today use a 3G, or third-generation, wireless network to make calls, watch streaming video, use maps and access the Internet – all on their mobile phones.

But now, to keep up with demand, major wireless providers are pouring billions of dollars into their networks to upgrade them to a new, faster, fourth-generation service known as LTE, for Long Term Evolution. For many of these companies, Baltimore will be among the first areas in the country to get a taste of 4G, possibly by the end of this year.

Several companies are using Baltimore as a pilot city for their roll-out of 4G networks, mainly because the city offers a mix of demographics, landscapes, building architecture and waterways. AT&T and Verizon are both building 4G networks in Baltimore. Another little-known but well-funded competitor, LightSquared, has raised more than $2 billion to build a combination satellite-LTE network. It plans to launch in Baltimore and three other cities next summer.

“I would say we’re at the very early stages” of 4G LTE networks, said Christian Dippon, vice president and telecommunications expert with NERA Economic Consulting, a global research firm.

Continue reading "Data-thirsty smartphones lead wireless companies to prep 4G networks" »

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Posted by Liz Hacken at 12:53 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Big Ideas, Smartphones, Wireless

October 13, 2010

Annapolis company's tech used in Chilean miner rescue

Zephyr of Annapolis makes gear that people wear so that their vital signs can be monitored remotely.

One of their products, the BioHarness, has been worn by the trapped Chilean miners to monitor their heart rate, breathing and other vital signs for the past couple weeks.

Zephyr's products have applications in first responder scenarios, defense and military, and research and training. Below is a photo of the BioHarness worn by the Chilean miners:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:31 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets, Wireless

August 16, 2010

Smart sensors, smart bridges

A University of Maryland researcher showed off his invention -- smart sensors for bridges -- to the Sun's Michael Dresser. The sensor, powered by the sun, ambient light and stray radio waves, can wirelessly relay information about a bridge's structural integrity to people monitoring a bridge.

The sensor is about the size of a credit card. Check out Mr. Dresser's story.


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:43 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Big Ideas, Wireless

May 26, 2010

Clear broadband Internet service coming to Baltimore "within two weeks" -- maybe June 1st?


What's old is new again, right?

Hey Baltimore, looks like we're gonna have some more options for our wireless broadband Internet needs -- again. A company called Clearwire, which took over Sprint's XOHM network (which first launch in Baltimore in 2008), is relaunching the service in Baltimore "within the next two weeks," a company official told me by email yesterday.

The new service is called Clear.

So what is Clear? It's wireless broadband built on the WiMax protocol, which basically means that Clear is turning Baltimore into one big Wi-Fi hotspot. So, you can sign up for home service or "on-the-go" service, and use the service anywhere in the Baltimore area. (I haven't seen coverage maps yet.)

The basic $30 a month service for the home gets you download speeds similar to DSL. For $10 more a month, you get triple or quadruple the speeds of DSL. If you sign up for a 2-year plan, you save money on your monthly payments, and the modem device (see left) you need for home setup is included. If you want month-to-month payments, you have to pay for the modem yourself.

The network was built a couple years ago by Sprint, which launched its XOHM service (essentially the same technical specs that Clear now offers) in September 2008. But Sprint sold off its XOHM subsidiary to Clearwire, and for awhile, it wasn't accepting new customers in Baltimore, though existing customers kept their service on.

Baltimore, by the way, was the first test market for XOHM/WiMax in the United States. I wrote the story when it debuted in Baltimore.

Right now, there are signs that Clear could launch in Baltimore as early as June 1st. Speed & Mobility LLC, an authorized dealer of Clear hardware, tweeted last night that Clear would launch in Baltimore on June 1st. And Millennium Computers, a computer store in Elkridge, tweeted several days ago that they'd start selling Clear equipment on June 1st, also.

UPDATE: I was reminded by John Taylor in Sprint PR that Baltimore will be one of the markets getting the soon-to-be-released HTC EVO 4G -- "America's first 4G phone". This is a cellphone that will be able to tap into the WiMax network offered by Clear/Sprint (this gets a little confusing because Sprint will be selling 4G service for its cellphones off the Clear network.)

Below is a Sprint salesman talking about the HTC EVO 4G coming to Baltimore:

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets, Wireless

April 19, 2010

True story? Top-secret next-generation iPhone 4G found hanging out in a California bar

Over the weekend, the gadget blogs absolutely lit up with speculation that an iPhone 4G -- the rumored next-generation handset expected this summer -- was actually found in a San Jose, Calif. bar. (This sounds like a geek joke: "Two iPhone 4Gs walk into a bar and one turns to the other....")

Of course, images and videos of it have filled the Web. So far, gadget-blog Gizmodo seems to have it in hand, while Engadget has followed the news, too. It's rumored, btw, that Apple Inc. did lose a prototype and wants it back.

It'd be interesting to see if Apple DOES move to try to claim this phone, if it is indeed theirs. In the meantime, for a company that loves secrecy as much as Apple, if this indeed is the iPhone 4G, that's gotta be a major gaffe on their part.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:11 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Gadgets, Smartphones, Wireless

April 14, 2010

HTC Droid Incredible spotted on Verizon's Website


The onslaught of Google's Droid-powered phones continues:

Engadget spotted the HTC Droid Incredible on a Verizon Website today, and snagged a photo of it for its blog.

Not much is known about the phone except it's expected to launch April 29, for $199. 

Any Droid phone fanboys and girls out there? What's your early take on the Incredible? 

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 5:25 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets, Wireless

April 8, 2010

Clear (formerly Xohm) back in Baltimore with 4G wireless?

Just spotted this Clear vehicle in Baltimore. Could WiMAX 4G finally be on the way back to the city? Please?Twitterer @spamspam posted a photo today showing a Clear van on the streets of Baltimore. (The photo is clearer here.)

For those gadget geeks who care, Clear is the inheritor of Sprint's XOHM network based on the 4th generation WiMax protocol for mobile broadband Internet.

Sprint started up XOHM (pronounced Zome) in the city a couple years ago, but the service went offline several months ago as Sprint transitioned the network to another company called Clear.

About a month ago, I spoke with a Clear representative who said the network -- which offers fast high-speed internet over the air and without a landline -- will eventually reboot in Baltimore.

But there was no definite timeframe for its return. Seeing the marketing vans in the street, however, is a good sign.

Having Clear open up shop in Baltimore would definitely give people another option to the usual Verizon/Comcast/AT&T mobile broadband choices.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:39 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: *NEWS*, Wireless

March 31, 2010

iPad Apps roundup


Here's a quick late afternoon roundup of iPad Apps-related news moving quickly on the Web right now:

:: The Huffington Post has a cool video montage of 10 iPad-ready apps, describing them as "awesome." We'll see....

:: BBC has a report that iPad apps will generally cost more than their iPhone/Touch counterparts. Of course they will!

:: This Saturday, April 3, is when the iPad hits the stores. Expect pandemonium. The San Jose Mercury News reports developers have been racing to build apps that can get approved in time for the launch. Crunch time!

Below is an interesting, "hands-on" video by Engadget with the iPad that isn't official Apple marketing material:

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:50 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Wireless

March 17, 2010

No cut/copy/paste for Windows Phone 7

Apple fanboys: here's your chance to beat up on the Microsofties.

Tech blog Engadget confirmed that Windows Phone 7 Series -- Microsoft's entry into the smartphone market due this holiday season -- will not feature clipboard operations. Meaning: no cut, copy and paste.

iPhone users moaned for a long time that their phones didn't have that feature, until OS 3.0 last year. Bringing cut/copy/paste to the iPhone was seen as one of the top imperatives among the gadget's fans.

I remember when Apple finally announced the feature at an event last year, people in the audience cheered wildly. Nerds are awesome that way.

Mind you, the lack of cut/copy/paste in the iPhone didn't inhibit it from being a runaway smash hit amongst consumers, who've complained but mostly managed to live without several "missing" features of the iPhone (i.e. no Flash video support, no mini-SD card slot, no removable battery, limited multitasking, etc.)

So, it's odd -- or maybe it's not? -- that Microsoft is flirting with incurring the wrath of geeks everywhere by not enabling clipboard operations in Windows Phone 7 -- especially since its old Windows Mobile platform has that capability, as Engadget notes. (And a site called Trusted Reviews details other features that Windows Phone 7 will lack.)

What's up wit' dat, Microsoft?

What's do you think's going on here?

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:39 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Wireless

March 8, 2010

Startup story: Millennial Media

I interviewed Millennial Media's Paul Palmieri and Chris Brandenburg for a story that appeared in the Baltimore Sun's Sunday's Business & Jobs section.


Sipping a venti coffee at a Starbucks in Timonium, Chris Brandenburg, a computer engineer and caffeine junky, was ready for a new challenge – and Paul Palmieri was about to give him one.

On that day in April nearly four years ago, the men were at a crossroads in their lives: Brandenburg (pictured left) had just left and Palmieri (pictured right), a veteran wireless industry executive working for an investment fund, was hungry to make his mark with a startup.

Palmieri had several ideas, but the one he talked about most during their coffee shop meeting was an advertising network that would tap the nascent market of advertising on cellphones. Brandenburg was game. Within two weeks, he would go on to build a rudimentary computer server that could dish ads to cellphones – and showed it off to Palmieri.

“He walked me through the demo and it was just like, ‘Wow, we’ve gotta do this. We’ve gotta go hard after this,” Palmieri said.

Soon after, Millennial Media was born.

In less than four years, the Baltimore company has raced to the top of its industry. Millennial Media has raised $40 million from investors, including several million during a brutal economy, enabling it to expand and hire this year. Two of its biggest competitors were recently bought by Google and Apple for hundreds of millions of dollars each – which has driven Millennial’s own worth up, analysts say.

The company is positioned at the forefront of an industry that many say has excellent long-term growth potential. For Palmieri, launching Millennial was the culmination of a long obsession with the combination of wireless technology and marketing.

Millennial’s successful growth thus far is largely a Baltimore story. Several of the company’s top executives are refugees of, which is owned by AOL. The company’s offices are in the city’s incubator space in Canton. When technology observers talk about the next local startup company that could attract a generous buyer or unveil a lucrative public offering, Millennial is usually at the top of the list.

“They are a high-flying company and I think they have great upside potential; they have the talent, they’re building a great team,” said Steve Kozak, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, an association for local tech companies.

Kozak compared Millennial to Timonium-based Bill Me Later – “a quiet little company that nobody knew about”—that ended up getting bought by eBay in 2008 for $945 million. “I don’t know what their exit plan is, but I would not be surprised if some really good news came out of that company,” said Kozak.

What has fueled Palmieri’s vision for the company is his belief that mobile advertising is a new, largely unexplored world compared to traditional online advertising. People interact with their cellphones and smartphones when they’re on the move in unique ways, and the gadgets themselves can do things a desktop computer can’t, such as offer location-based services.

But the industry is still young and fragmented, with wide variations in technology, offerings and marketing adoption.

For years, industry prognosticators have talked about the money-making possibilities in mobile advertising. The platform itself offers various choices for marketers, such as text-message campaigns, or advertising within applications or on mobile Web sites.

But it’s only been in the last year or two – with the growing adoption of the iPhone and other high-powered smartphones – that industry analysts see mobile advertising beginning to fulfill expectations. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has projected that the mobile advertising industry will grow from $416 million in 2009 to $1.56 billion in 2013 – fractions of the many billions spent on online advertising in general.

Both men had worked at for a time, but didn't know each other well while there. Instead, they got hooked up by a mutual friend at the company after they had both left. Here's a little background on them.

(click through to read more)

Continue reading "Startup story: Millennial Media" »

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:36 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: East Coast, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Startups, Wireless

February 2, 2010

Mobile marketing in 2010: "a year of experimentation"

R2Integrated of Baltimore released their own mobile marketing survey last week, which signaled that marketers will play it a little conservatively in the space in the coming year. Basically, it seems, marketers still need to teach themselves how to best take advantage of the different tools mobile marketing has to offer. Afterall, it's a new way to reach people who are usually on the move -- which is different than marketing campaigns devised for TV and even the desktop Web.

“It appears that 2010 will be a year of experimentation and education on mobile marketing as marketers struggle to come to terms with its practicality and ROI,” said Matt Goddard, co-founder and CEO of R2I, said in a statement. “This shouldn’t suggest that marketers ought to table their mobile marketing plans, but that they should pay considerable attention to how they can connect the dots back to driving revenue.”

Below is a summary of the survey, for your perusal:

R2I Mobile Marketing SurveySummary Results

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:40 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Wireless

January 29, 2010

Mobile ad leader "excited" about Apple iPad

The Apple iPad could be huge for the nascent mobile advertising market -- now advertisers can expect to have ads that display in tens of thousands of iPhone apps displayed on a new portable device. And, it appears Apple has positioned itself to take full advantage of the growing industry with its recent purchase of Quattro Wireless. paulpalmieri.jpg

Another big mobile ad company, based here in Baltimore, Millennial Media, is also bullish on the iPad's prospects for mobile advertising. Paul Palmieri, Millennial's co-founder and CEO (left), shares his thoughts below:

As the CEO of the leading independent mobile advertising network and technology provider, I am excited about the opportunity to extend our market-leading advertising solution to the new iPad ecosystem of application developers, publishers and advertisers. 

I wanted to share a few of my initial thoughts on the iPad after yesterday’s announcement:

The iPad is a big mobile device, not a stripped down PC. This isn’t a surprise to us. We have been predicting for years that tablet devices would ultimately be based on mobile platforms. Why? I see a couple of reasons for this:

* First, the mobile experience is inherently different from the desktop experience. Devices and applications (and ad networks) built from the ground up to serve mobile users deliver a far superior experience. Trying to cram the wired web into smaller, mobile devices just doesn’t work for mobile consumers. millennial-media.gif

* The other primary reason is that mobile users are more willing to pay for content and are much more responsive to advertising (if done correctly) than web surfers on the wired web. Publishers and application developers see the potential of extending the smart phone ecosystem of pay and advertising- supported applications and mobile web-based content to a new category of device that is from its inception, inherently mobile. 

Continue reading "Mobile ad leader "excited" about Apple iPad" »

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:44 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Gadgets, Wireless

January 28, 2010

Apple iPad: pros and cons


As I reported (along with the rest of the techy and general media), Apple Inc. introduced the highly anticipated iPad tablet computer yesterday.

In general, I think, it was about what people had come to expect after months of speculation. As always, I expect Apple to add more bells and whistles to the thing -- and drop prices -- in six to 12 months. I might be a relatively early adopter, but I'm not bleeding edge, preferring to mull over a tech purchase and consider closely my own use patterns and needs.

That said, I sketched out some preliminary pros and cons of the iPad, as I perceive them. What am I missing? Of course, there's a little irony that I used a cheap Office Max yellow-lined pad in my analysis of a $500 pad-like machine. (Here are Apple's official tech specs for the iPad.)

The way I see it, if Apple managed to eliminate just two of my cons -- I'd say any two -- I'd feel more excited about the iPad. Til then, it's entered "wait, see and touch" land in my thinking -- which means many more future visits to the local Apple Store. (Aside to wife: Sorry, honey.)

That said, I think natural customers of this device will be iPhone and iTouch users, as well as those looking for netbooks to use primarily as a Web browsing device. I think that if most iPhone and Touch users are honest with themselves, they use these gadgets to do a LOT of Web surfing and content consumption -- and they may unconsciously be pining for more screen real estate to do these tasks on.

The iPad may not be an instant success, but I think the new category that Apple is taking a gamble on is here to stay.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:23 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Gadgets, Wireless

January 27, 2010

LIVE Apple iPad coverage today

For updates via Twitter, follow @gussent.

Apple-media-invitation-2010-01-27-580x393.jpgHit refresh every minute or so!

Whenever possible, BaltTech will be featuring live reports from the Web to participate in covering Apple's big event today, where the company is expected to unveil a new "tablet" computer. Other sources of info include Engadget and Gizmodo.

PLEASE HELP: I will be looking to feature (and embed) live streaming video OR audio of the Apple event in this blog, so you can watch it in real-time. So if you find such a feed, please shoot me a Tweet with the link at @gussent or leave in the comments. In the meantime, check out The Sun's Read Street blog for a live Twitter feed!Many thanks!

IF a tablet is announced today, here are some questions I'll have about it:

* How much will it cost?
* How does it interact with existing iPhone apps? (And does it run a version of the iPhone operating system?)
* What kind of e-book experience does it offer?
* What kind of gaming experience does it offer?
* Does it do live video-conferencing?
* How will the iTunes store change to accommodate it?

What other questions do you have about the device? Drop a note below.

Live blog updates:

1:00 pm... Huge applause
1:03 pm ... Steve Jobs... we have over 140 apps on app store and 3 billion downloads from users.
1:04 pm ... Jobs talks about huge revenue gains for apple in last quarter....
1:04pm... revenue from ipods, iphones, macbooks... "apple is a mobile devices company... that's what we do." Jobs.
1:05pm Jobs: Apple, by revenue is the largest mobile device maker in the world... (when you talk about mobile/portable in total)
1:06: Now let's get to the main event (jobs teasing the crowd... instead, takes crowd back to 1991 and the first powerbook, as the first modern laptop computer)
1:07 Is there room for another category of devices? Of course we thought of this question for years as well (brief outage
1:09: third category of device have to be better at gaming, e-media than a laptop or a smart phone... some people say 'that's a netbook.' the problem is that netbooks aren't better at anything... they're just cheap laptops. (big laughs)
1:10: We call it the iPad
1:11... it's the best browsing experience you've ever had... (it looks like a big fat iPhone, folks)
1:12: describes how to email... almost lifesize keyboard.. "it's a dream to type on."
1:12: iPad is an awesome way to enjoy your music collection... (Jobs running through the various applications...i.e. YouTube in high-def...)
1:13: Jobs making lots of comparisons and saying it's better navigation experience than a smaller smartphone (Leo Laporte's feed just fuzzed out)
1:14 Jobs shows how easy to easy to buy movie tickets with iPad ("grab the tablet that's in the kitchen...")
1:18: Jobs shows off closeup of the virtual keyboard
1:19: shows off how to manage photos on the iPad
1:20 (Editorial: So far, folks, I think we're about par for the course here. .. No huge surprises if you've been following the tablet rumor mill the last few weeks)
1:21: Built in ipod in the iPad... no surprise there. (Leo Laporte's audio feed is glitchy again)
1:22: Jobs showing off the calendar function
1:24: Jobs showing off Google Streetview and how to find restaurants (sushi in San Francisco, for example)
1:24: Showing off video now, i.e. Youtube in HD.
1:27: movies, tv shows, music videos [so far, this device is heavy on pushing iTunes and YouTube content]
1:28: ipad is half an inch thin and weighs 1.5 pounds. 9.7 inch display ("super high quality", Jobs says)
1:29: Jobs going over tech specs of the iPad [appears to be around same size as Amazon's Kindle DX]
1:30: wireless networking
1:30 Ten hours of battery life [commentator asks, are those Apple hours or real hours?]
1:31 Now talking about the Apps and the Apple Apps Store
1:32 New apple exec explains how the iPad can automatically increase the size of apps originally designed for iPhone so they can be used on the iPad
1:35 Editorial: will this iPad be an ergonomic nightmare for people who try to type with it?
1:40: [Experiencing some technical problems on the live feed]
1:40: Showing off the gaming experience on the iPad.
1:41 [Editorial: Listening to Leo Laporte's feed... I have to say, if Apple prices this at $999, I don't think it'll be a winner. Just my 2 cents]
1:42 NYTimes content looks really nice on the iPad.
1:44: Electronic Arts about to show off games on the iPad
1:48 Very cool racing game being demo'ed... [Game console makers may have something to fear from this portable device]
1:49 Now Major League Baseball will show off what it has to offer on the iPad
1:52... here we go: the ebook reader. Jobs makes direct comparison to Amazon Kindle ... new app is called iBooks. ("we're going to stand on their shoulders," Jobs said of Amazon.)
1:53: will have five of the largest publishers in the world supporting iBooks... "and we'll open up the floodgates for the rest of the publishers this afternoon."
1:55 Jobs explains how to navigate on the ebook pages...
1:56 "And that is iBooks..."
1:57 [FYI: Gizmodo has some good, clear photos of the iPad over at:]
1:57: Jobs introduces updated iWork software productivity suite for the iPad
1:59 New versions of Keynote, Pages and Numbers software....
2:02 [Editorial: I'm not sure anyone was expecting Apple to configure iWork to work on the iPad....pleasant surprise? This device can also be used to do some productive work, too.]
2:06 Showing off how to use Pages to make spreadsheets.. [Aside: Imagine that: making spreadsheets with your fingers!]
2:10 $9.99 for each of the three iWork software apps... [Cheaper than I thought -gus]
2:12 Back to Jobs: syncing with iTunes.... 3G wireless data built in... Now what's it cost for data: U.S. Telecom typically charges $60 a month ... we 've got two awesome plans... first gives u 250 MB per month: just $14.99, or an unlimited plan for $29.99... AT&T providing the data .... No contract. you can cancel anytime....
2:23: Okay, folks, I'm stepping away from second-by-second blogging of the event... what do you think so far of the iPad?? Drop comments below!!

Leo LaPorte's live broadcast from the Apple event:
Live Broadcast by Ustream.TV

Live Videos by Ustream

First-person iPhone footage of the Apple event today:
Free video chat by Ustream

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:23 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Gadgets, Gamers, Geeks, Media, West Coast, Wireless

January 26, 2010

Your cellphone bill has gone down 50% in 20 years -- are you happy now?

Why are you complaining about your cellphone bill? Don't you know that the average monthly bill for cellphones has gone down nearly 50 percent since 1988?!

I stumbled across this graph from CTIA, the wireless industry's trade group, yesterday while leafing through its Website. Back in 1988, when cellphones were the size of shoes, the average monthly bill was $95. Cellphones were truly a luxury item. They reached a monthly low in Jun 1998, at $39.88, but then bumped up into the mid-to-high $40s. My back-of-the-napkin guess is that's because feature phones and smartphones started to hit the market (and text-messaging plans started taking off).

So, does this make you feel a little better about your wireless bill? Hehe.... :-)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Wireless

November 19, 2009

Why are utility apps so juicy for advertisers?


One of the more interesting nuggets to come out of Millennial Media's latest monthly report (called S.M.A.R.T.) on smartphone ad-market analystics was this above chart showing average click-through rates in five (not four) app categories: games, social, entertainment, utility and navigation.

The chart above compares the smartphone platforms of Apple, Google's Android and Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry.

A click-through rate of 2 percent for ad campaigns is considered "very successful." So which category blows the others out of the water? That's right: utility. All three smartphone platforms showed a high click-through rate for advertisments that ran in utility apps.

I'm a newbie to these ad analytics for mobile, but I'm very curious to peel back a few more layers of this onion, to see why smartphone users are more inclined to click on in-app ads in the utility apps, compared to the other categories.

So how about that Millennial and MobClix? What are your theories on what's going on with these utility apps and why are smartphone users more inclined to click on in-app advertising with them?

(Note: Millennial's monthly S.M.A.R.T. report was put together with statistics from MobClix. The above data are year-to-date figures.)

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:15 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Apps, Media, Research, Smartphones, Wireless

November 16, 2009

Millennial Media scores new round of funding

millennial-media.gifToday, Baltimore's Millennial Media, which started up in 2006, announced it raised $16 million in new financing from some venture capital firms, including New Enterprise Associates. (Check out my story here.)

Last week's news that Google was buying mobile advertiser AdMob for $750 million probably didn't cause venture capitalists to throw money at Millennial (such deals usually take more than a week to put together), but it also probably didn't hurt the growing little firm.

The conventional wisdom now is that Google's purchase of AdMob "validates" the nascent mobile advertising industry. When a big company like Google drops a ton of dough on a small company in a still-emerging market, you know that will attract many more serious investors and players to the industry.

According to eMarketer stats via the Interactive Advertising Bureau, here's what the mobile ad market looks like:  



I'm gonna bet that the Google-AdMob acquisition, though the first big one in the mobile ad space, won't be the last. My guess is we may be a few months, perhaps even weeks, away from similar acquisitions of smaller mobile ad firms by big Google-esque-like competitors. What do you think?

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

June 24, 2009

That sound you hear is Cricket

Maybe you're on a tight budget and need to manage your wireless bill pretty closely. Or maybe you just don't buy the hype and don't feel like you need the latest iPhone or Blackberry. Or maybe, just maybe, you're philosophically and economically against locking yourself into the same wireless provider for a two-year contract.

CricketWireless.jpgChances are if you fit into one of these three scenarios, you're looking at hard -- or already using -- a pay-as-you-go wireless cellphone provider. In Baltimore, the new kid on the block this week is a company called Cricket, which started selling its plans yesterday. (They also launched in Washington D.C. yesterday.)

Cricket's active in over 30 states and has more than 4 million customers, according to a news release I got my hands on yesterday. They offer wireless phone plans as well as a wireless broadband on the 3G CDMA and EV-DO networks for computers.

Monthly plans start as low as $30, but that only includes unlimited local calling; long distance and roaming charges are extra. The company also offers more a la carte options, like paying $1-$3 a day for unlimited talk/texting, depending on how you configure your plan.

Cricket's got other competitors, such as Sprint's Boost Mobile, another pre-paid cellular phone service. Boost offers similar pricing plans, with monthly unlimited ($50), daily plans or pay-for-what-you-use deals. 

:: This map will shows Cricket coverage in your area.

I compiled a list of reviews of Cricket. You'll find them on the jump:

Continue reading "That sound you hear is Cricket" »

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:03 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Wireless

June 2, 2009

Three tales of growth in a recession

GBTCmembermeetingcrowdshot.jpg Their message was tantalizingly exciting at a time when the cable news channels, talk radio, blogs and newspapers are filled with news of economic woe. Afterall, there is a recession all around us -- haven't you heard? 

Yet these executives from TCS, Sourcefire, and Salar -- three totally different companies -- were telling a crowd of about 100 people how they're bringing in more dollars. (That's the attentive crowd to the left.)

The venue was a hotel conference room at the Sheraton in Towson, Md. The moderator: Art Jacoby, an experienced business advisor who's well-traveled in Baltimore biz circles.

The executives were Tim Lorello, global commercial sales senior V.P. and chief marketing officer, Telecommunication Systems Inc. (aka, TCS, a service provider to wireless cos.), of Annapolis; Michele Perry, chief marketing officer, Sourcefire (computer network intrusion prevention), of Columbia; and Todd Johnson, president of Salar Inc. (clinical software for hospitals), of Baltimore. 

Here's a quick-and-dirty rundown of what each talked about at the meeting, organized by the Greater Baltimore Technology Council:

Continue reading "Three tales of growth in a recession" »

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 6:02 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Government Tech, Wireless
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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