4G wireless: What's all the fuss?

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. I'm hearing about and receiving a lot of advertisements about something called 4G service. I'm not really sure what it is, but what is all the fuss about?

A. 4G, from a technical perspective, represents a very high (greater speed and capacity) level of wireless service. 4G stands for “Fourth Generation,” and follows 3G (duh!). Depending on the network, 4G is anywhere from four to ten times faster than 3G.

4G is not available in all markets, but over time, it will be, with AT&T and Verizon currently leading the charge and the advertising blitz. Many libraries and municipal wireless hotspots offer 4G connectivity, and it will soon become even more prevalent than it is today.

I recently viewed a demonstration comparing AT&T's 3G and 4G LTE technologies. In the demonstration, two mobile devices were configured, one with 3G and the other with 4G. A full-length motion picture was then downloaded. When the 4G completed the download in approximately 30 seconds, a stopwatch was started to determine how much longer 3G required to download the same movie. The result: A whopping 26 minutes and 39 seconds!

Bottom line: 4G is a very big deal, particularly if you work with photographs, video, or large amounts of data. While the technical specifications of 4G aren't necessary to commit to memory, just remember that 4G is significantly faster than 3G. And when it comes to Internet-connected devices, speed is the proverbial Holy Grail.

Q. Maybe I'm just uncoordinated, but I accidentally right-click things that I don't mean to. Is there any way to make my mouse less sensitive to my clumsiness?

A. If you're an inadvertent right-clicker, try slipping a short piece of rubber band in the slot under the right-hand mouse button so you have to press harder to click it. If it isn't possible to elevate the right mouse button to slip in the section of rubber band, apply a piece of heavy-duty sticky tape (like duct tape) on top of the right mouse button to pull it up, insert the rubber band section, then remove the tape.

Q. I'm concerned that my children are visiting some unsavory Web sites. Is there any way I can keep tabs on what they're doing online?

A. Spector is a program that secretly takes up to 60 snapshots of your computer screen every hour, just like a surveillance camera. The photos are then saved to a hidden location on the computer's hard drive. Spector can record chat room conversations, text messages, email sent and received, Facebook postings, sites visited, programs used, keystrokes typed, everything your little future felons do on the PC. This award-winning program is $99, and is available for immediate download so you can be snooping/supervising within minutes!

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week

On the Day You Were Born
These “what-happened-when” sites are a dime a dozen, but this one, courtesy of Kakophone.com, has some interesting twists, including how old you are in Martian years, which is not a bad deal since a Martian year is 687 earth days. Hey, you never know when some Klingon is going to ask.

Government Made Easy
This is the official U.S. Government's Web site, USA.gov, which is described as “an interagency initiative administered by the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.” It sounds complicated already. Initial impressions notwithstanding, the purpose of this site is to make it easy for the public to obtain U.S. government information and services. That's the theory anyway.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met, one of the finest museums in the world, also has one of the best Web sites. Visit the Exhibitions, Works of Art, and Now at the Met areas, in particular.

Mr. Modem publishes the weekly "Ask Mr. Modem!” technology-help newsletter and a plethora of helpful eBooks at www.MrModem.com.