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QR codes (+ free tools): Quick access to all kinds of data

Image of QR code for K-State IT Help Desk URL
QR code for the website of the K-State IT Help Desk

K-Staters may have noticed some funny-looking images of black-pixeled boxes popping up around campus lately, notably in Hale Library. So, what are they used for and what can you do with them?

These are “QR codes” or Quick Response codes (also known as QR barcodes). This technology allows the public to access information fast through graphical links.

QR code readers

To access the information behind a QR code, you first need to download a free QR reader to your smartphone and then scan/capture (take a picture of) a QR code. (Some smartphones may come with a QR reader already installed.) Here are a few that seem to work well:

  • For the iPhone, RedLaser is a free, general purpose barcode reader app.
  • For Android smartphones, Barcode Scanner is a free app that has received positive feedback.

For more choices, do a Google search for “QR code reader”. Continue reading “QR codes (+ free tools): Quick access to all kinds of data”

Driving fines started Jan. 1 in Manhattan for cellphones; in Kansas for texting while driving

As of Jan. 1, fines are now being given to Manhattan violators who break the new city law that took effect July 1, 2010, banning cellphone use while driving and holding a cellphone within city limits. The law allows hands-free use of cellphones, which includes a mobile phone headset (for example, a Bluetooth wireless headset or a wired headset), a car kit, or other phone extension that keeps the driver’s hands free.

Relatedly, the new statewide law of “no text messaging while driving” in Kansas also took effect Jan. 1. Continue reading “Driving fines started Jan. 1 in Manhattan for cellphones; in Kansas for texting while driving”

Q/A: Cellphone discounts for state employees?

I want to get a new personal cellphone and am looking at various models. 1) Is it true that State of Kansas employees can get discounts on their monthly personal cellphone plans? 2) What cellphones sync with K-State’s Zimbra calendar?

1. Cellphone discounts for State of Kansas employees. 
Some cellphone providers do offer discounts for state employees. See the State Thanks And Recognition (STAR) program (at www.da.ks.gov/star) and, in particular, the cellphone discounts that can include:

  • Monthly phone plan discounts of 15 percent or more
  • Discounts on cellphones and accessories
  • Reduced or waived activation fees

Continue reading “Q/A: Cellphone discounts for state employees?”

Spotlight: Photo of Saturday’s storm captured by iPhone

The editors couldn’t resist sharing a picture from Saturday’s (Sept. 25) thunderstorm about three minutes into the start of the K-State football game in Manhattan. The picture below was taken by Eric Dover, manager of Client Services in iTAC, using an iPhone 4. It illustrates the advantages of high-quality cameras in newer cellphone technology.

Microcells: Improving cellphone service in your home

Some of you may have experienced dead spots for cell service in and around your home. Several cellphone companies are selling solutions to boost cell coverage in your home. These devices are known as microcells. The way they work is that they piggyback on your DSL or cable modem connection. You plug them into your home switch or router, and they send all of the phone call and data used from your cellphone through your DSL or cable modem connection.

There are two costs for this service. The first is that you need to buy the microcell from your cellphone provider, and the second is a possible monthly service fee for the service itself, depending on provider and options.

Continue reading “Microcells: Improving cellphone service in your home”

Q/A: New cellphone, texting laws that impact Manhattan

Q. Is Manhattan implementing a new law that bans cellphone use while driving?

Yes and no. Manhattan has a new law that takes effect July 1 that bans cellphone use while driving and holding the cellphone. It allows hands-free use of cellphones, which means using a mobile phone headset (for example, a Bluetooth wireless headset or a wired headset), a car kit, or other phone extension that keeps the driver’s hands free.

According to the Manhattan Mercury’s June 17 article, violators will receive warnings until Jan. 1, 2011, when fines will start being given. KTKA.com 49 News reported June 22 that Manhattan City Commissioners made the change to be consistent with the state’s new text-messaging ban (see next question below).

Continue reading “Q/A: New cellphone, texting laws that impact Manhattan”

Cellphone ban July 1 for Manhattan drivers; allows hands-free kits

This is a friendly reminder that starting this Thursday, July 1, a new ordinance goes into effect for Manhattan banning the use of cellphones held to the ear while driving. (Editor’s note: See related article in this issue.) Hands-free kits such as Bluetooth ear pieces and/or hands-free speakerphone kits are still acceptable.

Continue reading “Cellphone ban July 1 for Manhattan drivers; allows hands-free kits”

Spotlight: Mobile devices that work with calendaring in Zimbra Collaboration Suite

As K-State goes live with the calendar portion of the Zimbra Collaboration Suite for official calendaring use on campus, many have asked the same question: What mobile devices work best with the Zimbra Collaboration Suite and do not require additional charges beyond a typical cellular rate and data plan?

The chart below lists devices that have been confirmed to work well with the Zimbra Collaboration Suite and require no additional charges beyond the cellular rate and data plan. Continue reading “Spotlight: Mobile devices that work with calendaring in Zimbra Collaboration Suite”

K-State personal cellphone service to be discontinued after Oct. 1

K-State Computing and Telecommunications Services (CTS) is discontinuing cellphone service for personal accounts, after Oct. 1. A letter was recently sent to K-Staters who have a cellphone that will be affected by this change, and those customers will need to make a change in how they receive services. Available options may differ depending on the contract status.

Those under contract for cellphone service with K-State CTS have two options:

  • Option 1. Go to any cellular phone provider of your choice and sign up for service with a new contract. Your K-State CTS contract will be terminated when you return your phone in working condition to CTS. If you pre-paid for any part of the phone’s cost, that amount will be refunded to your account.
  • Option 2. Keep your phone and pay the remaining amount that is left on the contract. You may then take your phone to US Cellular and sign up for a plan without a contract.  To keep your phone number, you must still complete a “change of responsibility” form. This phone will only work with US Cellular.

Those not under contract for cellphone service with K-State CTS have two options: Continue reading “K-State personal cellphone service to be discontinued after Oct. 1”

Travelers: Beware of international data-roaming rates

With the proliferation of smartphones in the last few years, more consumers are using data services such as e-mail, streaming video, web surfing, or other activities that require access to data through a mobile network from smartphones. Consumers are accustomed to the “all you can eat” data plans that can be used everywhere, which enhance productivity and support the interaction with information in new ways.

Those who travel abroad with data-enabled smartphones are used to higher roaming rates per minute for telephone calls and seek cheaper alternatives for overseas voice calls. However, data roaming is an entirely different beast. Many smartphones will silently ping various data services for updates on new information, which ranges from e-mail and instant-messaging applications to GPS-enabled street maps. All of this traffic requires data plans, which on overseas jaunts can add up to big bucks.

For example, AT&T charges $0.0195 (about 2 cents) per kilobyte; downloading a 1-megabyte file could cost about $20. For a consumer who uses about 50 megabytes of data on a phone the cost would be $975 if AT&T roaming rates were applied.

Continue reading “Travelers: Beware of international data-roaming rates”