Archives for June 2004

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June 30, 2004

Marks and Spencer boss's mobile phone records may have been breached

The plot surrounding a takeover battle for high street UK retailer Marks and Spencer and a controversial share purchase by its chief executive Stuart Rose thickened amid reports that an impostor may have spied on his mobile telephone records, reports The Associated Press.

"The Financial Times reported that when Rose tried to obtain his phone records from his mobile operator mmO2 last week he had been asked for his password.

Rose insisted that he had never been given a password but was told by the operator that someone using his name had requested one a week earlier."

emily | 3:47 PM | permalink

TXT Traffic Alert Service

firwks.jpg Verizon Wireless doesn't miss a beat. The company is launching a text messaging traffice alert service just in time for the 4th of July getaways, according to a company press release.

To register, Verizon Wireless customers simply login to vtext.com, Verizon Wireless' TXT Messaging companion Web site, and select which traffic alerts they wish to receive. The service is being offered at no cost to Verizon Wireless customers during the July 4th Holiday Weekend (July 2nd - July 6th, 2004).

emily | 3:24 PM | permalink

Virgin Mobile to float in July

Virgin Mobile, part of entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Group empire, says it plans to make a long-awaited market debut in July, according to Reuters.

emily | 3:14 PM | permalink

Insurance Status by Text Message

An article on Insurance companies in India mentions one company called Bajaj Allianz, who launched a novel text messaging service. Bajaj Allianz sends out SMS status alerts to their motor policyholders who have a claim, until the final settlement. Via manoramaonline.com.

emily | 3:11 PM | permalink

Why cell spam unlikely to rival e-mail's scourge

John Summers, global director for managed security at Blue Bell-based Unisys, interviewed for The Philadelphia Inquirer, explains why U.S. cell-phone users are unlikely to face spam problems.

-- "U.S. cell-phone companies have learned from the mistakes of carriers in other countries and have installed technology to prevent spam and viruses from reaching cell phones.

-- It's easier to detect cell-phone spammers than e-mail spammers. Cell-phone messages come from one of six carriers, as opposed to thousands of traditional Internet service providers.

-- It's expensive to send cell-phone spam. Most carriers charge between 8 cents and 12 cents per message, while sending spam over the Internet is virtually free.

-- And receiving text messages costs, too - typically 2 cents to 3 cents per message.

Cell-phone companies have a strong financial interest in keeping text-message spam under control, Summers said, because text-messaging represents a potentially lucrative revenue stream. They have been encouraging "texting," particularly among teenagers and young adults."

emily | 10:45 AM | permalink

Mobile phone campaign helps employ crop pickers

mangoharvestjpg.jpg Mobile phones are coming to the rescue of fruit and vegetable growers looking for help to pick their crops, reports Australia's ABC News.

"The Federal Department of Employment has paired up with the National Harvest Labour Information Service in a scheme to 'text' the unemployed about where workers are wanted.

Trialled in March in South Australia and Victoria, and then in Queensland in May; the Territory is the next to take part in the sms initiative to get workers into the orchards and fields.

"It is expected that thousands of text messages by mobile phone will be sent to encourage the long-term unemployed to make the most of the Territory's upcoming mango harvest work."

emily | 10:34 AM | permalink

Nation's capital bars hand-held mobiles while driving

Under a law taking effect Thursday, Washington drivers will be allowed to hold telephones only to make emergency calls, begin calls or turn their phones on or off. Otherwise, they must use a handsfree device if they want to talk on the phone while at the wheel, according to CNN.

"Throughout July, officers will issue warnings to drivers found violating the district's new Distracted Driving Safety Act. In August, they will begin issuing citations that carry fines of up to $100".

emily | 10:08 AM | permalink

June 29, 2004

New lottery boost for charities

Hand.gif After 12 months of wrangling, lottery operator Million-2-1 have been given the go-ahead by the Gaming Board of Great Britain to run the first regional mobile phone lottery reports manchester news.

"The game has been created to generate extra funds for a cancer research, and a charity which helps underprivileged children.

Million-2-1 spokesman, Scott Davis said: "This lottery aims to make it easier for charities to gain extra funding".

How does it work?

"Under the scheme players are asked to register once by texting "Manchester" to 88821 and then each week they will receive a free text message asking them how many of the £1 tickets they want. If they don't want any they simply do not reply".

For more on fund raising by SMS, check out this category in textually.org.

emily | 4:46 PM | permalink

Dutch police start SMS-alert service

Hoping to increase the number of watchful ears and eyes on the ground, the Tilburg police are to deploy SMS messaging to warn locals of burglars, reports DMeurope.

"The police are counting on the service working both ways - that locals will also be encouraged to report back any possible leads (but not to go after the suspects themselves).

This service could be extended in the future to include other threats and alarms, such as missing children".

For more on how police forces around the world are using SMS, click on this category in Textually.org.

emily | 4:38 PM | permalink

SMS clubs

[ From favorite Red Ferret ] Gack! SMS.ac 'is host to the largest mobile community in the world. With approximately 10 million registered members in more than 200 countries, SMS.ac is a truly global mobile community that has connectivity to over 400 networks worldwide.'

SMS.ac has recently gotten a lot of attention for being host to the SMS Alibi and Excuse Club.

emily | 1:59 PM | permalink

Call girls and cell phones

The Times of India, in an article on the sex trade and the ‘genres' of call girls operating the market today, writes that they all have one thing in common, cell phones.

"Sources operating in the business inform, "Cell phones are a necessity for all these girls. They cannot operate in this business without it."

emily | 1:33 PM | permalink

Paddy Power rings up mobile betting

bookie.jpg Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has launched the Paddy Power Mobile, a new free Java-based, downloadable application to streamline betting on mobile phones for customers in both Ireland and the UK, reports MoreMobile.

"The service will work on any GPRS mobile phone that Java enabled.

The software also provides includes real-time pricing information, unlike WAP-based betting services where the odds sometimes change during the cumbersome bet-placing process."

emily | 1:08 PM | permalink

Cell phones and pets while driving

A Florida paper writes that, according to a study of driver distractions conducted last year for AAA, loose animal in an automobile may cause nearly as many fatalities as cell phones.

emily | 1:00 PM | permalink

Phoneless Reporters Can't Make the Call

46068.55IRAQ.sff.jpg Reporters were ordered to surrender telephones and walkie-talkies at the offocial ceremony for the transfer of sovereignty from the U.S. to Iraq - two days earlier than anticipated, reports The Seattle Post Intelligencer.

"When the transfer was complete, officially at 2:26 a.m. EDT, the reporters couldn't get to their phones fast enough.

"There were a lot of heavy bodyguards who were extremely physical in the way they tried to keep me away from my phone," she said. "It caused quite a few tempers to flare."

Interesting, Steve Outing reports via Jeff Jarvis, that Stuart Hughes, a BBC correspondent who lost his leg in Iraq, appears to have gotten there first in reporting the two-day-early handover of Iraqi sovereignty on his personal blog. Beating the mainstream press.

"BLOGGING EXCLUSIVE -- MUST CREDIT BEYOND NORTHERN IRAQ"

I can report that the date for the handover of sovereignty in Iraq has been brought forward from the scheduled date of Wednesday June 30th.

Speaking here at the NATO summit in Istanbul, Iraq's Foreign Minister, Hoshar Zebari, said "I believe that we will challenge these terrorists, criminals, Saddamists and anti-democratic forces by bringing even the date of the handover forward."

The handover is now expected to take place today".

emily | 10:22 AM | permalink

Graffiti cleaners coordinate by SMS

grafffiti1.jpg The Australain Government will push to have all graffiti on trains removed within 24 hours, to deprive vandals of a "perverse pleasure" in exhibiting their work, reports the Australian.

50 mobile cleaners will be recruited, who will use SMS messaging to coordinate the clean-up of trouble spots.

"If we can remove their tags as quickly as possible they tend to go elsewhere", said transport Minister Michael Costa.

In related stories on graffiti and cell phones, Scottish and UK police photograph graffiti with camera phones, to identify individuals responsible for multiple instances of vandalism, by looking at distinctive signatures and styles. cf Police camera phones hunt graffiti and Police test “snap trap” approach.

emily | 10:11 AM | permalink

Texting Beats Exercising for Holiday Kids

TV and text messaging are the preferred pastimes for many children on holiday rather than exercise, according to a survey by Thomson Holidays, reports the Scotsman.

"As many as one in five youngsters were more likely to be texting friends than taking part in any outdoor activity, researchers found.

[...] A survey of 1,000 adults in 2002 found one in 20 used their mobile to call their partner from the doorstep to let them know they were home".

emily | 10:08 AM | permalink

Want to Be Unpopular? Start With a Cellphone

29ROAD.jpg Joey Sharkey for New York Times, with reader contribution, on cell phone rudeness.

Sharkey wonders if anyone remembers "when public pay phones had doors? They were there to protect Americans' cherished privacy. But the doors are long gone and so, it would seem, is people's skittishness about spilling secrets to strangers. A large number of readers viewed the braying of personal matters by some cellphone users, like the lawyer I overheard on an Acela train discussing intimate details of a client's case, as a symptom of the nation's cultural decline".

Michael Reed wrote, "The sense of decent privacy in public places has been lost. There used to be a decorum and an expected behavior associated with public places. This is/was essential because it permitted us to sanely coexist, by mostly unwritten rules."

emily | 8:03 AM | permalink

June 28, 2004

SMS News Headlines Service

AlienPants is pleased to announce the launch of a new free to use premium SMS-based headline alert service. Aimed at news websites, PR agencies and other similar groups, the application provides a simple way of entering and delivering SMS-sized alerts to a list of mobile subscribers.

If you want to provide an SMS Headlines Alert Service for your website visitors, please contact bizdev@alienpants.com to set up an account.

See related article on this company 10,000 Games Cheat sent via SMS

emily | 11:02 PM | permalink

Mobile Gas Price Alerts

realgasprices.com.jpg In partnership with GasPriceWatch.com, Bonus Mobile will be offering up to date gas price information on over 100,000 stations nationwide. Local price information can be sent automatically to any cell phone subscriber in the United States, according to a company press release.

"The mobile phone will change the way gas will be sold in this country” said Brad Procter, Founder of GasPriceWatch.com. Mobile Gas Price Alerts will end the guessing game of knowing the best price for gasoline in your town”, according to William Volk, CTO/Business Development of BonusMobile.

emily | 10:55 PM | permalink

Nokia Joins Cell Phone-Environment Study

Nokia said Monday it will take part in a European Commission pilot project to study the environmental impact of cellular phones, along with ways to minimize the negative effects, reports The Associated Press.

"The project will evaluate products across their life cycle from manufacture to disposal and aims to promote more environmentally friendly products in the European Union".

emily | 9:55 PM | permalink

Quarter of all UK handsets MMS-capable

The number of GPRS handsets in the UK reached 16.5m in the last quarter, according to the UK's Mobile Data Association, reports DMeurope.

emily | 1:09 PM | permalink

GSM coverage in international waters

Orange has launched a service that will permit GSM handsets to work on ferries crossing the English Channel. SeaFrance is the only company to offer this service to its passengers, according to Cellular News.

emily | 1:05 PM | permalink

Mobiles 'could cut male fertility'

sperm.jpg Radiation from the phones could cut the number of sperm a man has by a third, according to researchers from the University of Szeged in Hungary, reports the BBC.

"The research, presented to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) meeting in Berlin, studied over 200 men.

The Hungarian study is the first to look at how electromagnetic radiation from mobiles could affect sperm.

According to Professor Hans Evers, the former chairman of the European Society of Human Reproduction, the Hungarian study"raises more questions than it answers". "Mobile phones are related to a certain lifestyle and they may be related to stress, to a heavily occupied business man rushing around from one office to another, having a lot of concerns in the life, there's all kind of things.

He said the only way to get a clearer picture would be for scientists to carry out a study which was carefully designed only to look at the effect of mobile phones on sperm".

Related articles:

-- 'Living without mobile phones can cause impotence' - Due to withdrawal symptoms. Researchers say 25% reported "an overall lack of confidence due to the absence of an important communication device".

-- Smart pants for Cell-Phone users - Singapore-based garment manufacturer Crocodile International, will be launching smart pants or "Radiguard' specialty trousers" for cell-phone buffs

-- New study says cell phones do not cause cancer - In Bresil, mobile users are concerned that cell phones interfere with their heartbeat when carried in a shirt pocket or affect a man's virility when carried in a trouser pocket.

-- Not-so-hot pants keep cell phones cool - Levi Strauss announced the launch of a new Dockers' model with anti-radiation-lined pockets.

emily | 12:43 PM | permalink

Amid crackdown on Web use, Chinese politicians use technology to tap public opinion

chinainternet.jpg A very interesting article from The Detroit News on China's ambivilence about new technologies - they are widespread - vs the government's tight control policies.

"In seeking control, the government is waging a tough battle: In China, the ascent of consumer electronics -- and all the bells and whistles that accompany it, from going online to text messaging by cell phone -- is starting to change even politics."

emily | 11:44 AM | permalink

SMS price war could hit UK

A war over the price of SMS text messages in the Netherlands could be replicated in the UK and even lead to a fiercer division between operators that choose to target businesses and those that focus on consumers, reports Silicon.com.

emily | 11:31 AM | permalink

SMS speed record sets Guinness World Record

phpfTctKg.jpg A 23-year-old Singaporean woman appears to have set a world record for sending text messages over a cellphone, underlining Asia's growing obsession with cellplhone technology, reports IOL.

"Kimberly Yeo thumbed 26 words in 43.24 seconds into her phone, beating a world record of 67 seconds for the same words set by a Briton in September 2003, said Singapore's dominant telephone carrier, Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), on Monday.

The message - typed in lower and upper case - is a Guinness World Records standard in the relatively new category of cellphone text messaging".

Related articles:

-- Txt chmpn - James Trusler, 30, from Shoreham, West Sussex, beat his previous world text messaging record by nearly a minute. James has been confirmed world text champion by the Guinness Book of Records since September 2002

-- Lindsay's fleet fingers win texting title - A 16-year-old girl from Wigan is the UK's fastest texter (November 28, 2001)

emily | 11:28 AM | permalink

Branded Disney phones?

disneylogo2.jpg Media companies such as Walt Disney and News Corp's Fox Entertainment Group already push entertainment and news to phones through pacts with mobile companies. But the creator of Mickey Mouse might go a step further and sell its own branded wireless phone service in the United States, using an existing operator's network, reports Wired.

[...] "If you saw a Disney phone, you would probably be pretty comfortable giving it to your child," according to IDC analyst Scott Ellison.

[...] Disney's wireless business is already profitable in markets where it is well established. Disney first started selling mobile content in 2000 via a partnership with Japan's NTT DoCoMo.

But providing a branded phone service in the United States, where six national providers are already scrambling for customers amid slowing growth, is a more complex prospect."

emily | 8:34 AM | permalink

June 27, 2004

Men just love their cellphones

suitandphone.jpg Don't you just love these studies?

"What's it with men and their mobiles? "Men use their mobile phones as peacocks use their feathers and male bullfrogs use their croaks: to advertise to females their worth, status and desirability," said researchers in the journal Human Nature, which published the study.

According to a new *survey, men's relationship with their mobiles is vastly different from women's: men just love their gadgets and play with them, reports The Times of India.

"Technology subserves primal impulses, specifically the impulse to strut.

It also suggests that the evolution of technology is driven, not merely by scientific innovations or the demand for heightened worker productivity, but by the social need of people to find novel ornaments and status symbols that distinguish them from the pack.

"There's a gender difference in the way they're displayed and used. To women, a phone is just a phone, while men fingered theirs so often, you'd have thought it was, well, a cigar," says the pub study.

*The Siemens Mobile Lifestyle Survey 2004 was conducted in nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

emily | 11:35 AM | permalink

Verizon recalls cell phone batteries

Verizon Wireless - for the second time this year - has recalled 50,000 cell phone batteries, some of which may be counterfeit, after reports suggesting that they may cause minor fires and injuries, reports News.com.

When M-510 batterie are charged, the batteries can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to users, according to the recall notice, issued Thursday.

There have been 18 such incidents, all involving batteries purchased separately from the phones as spares or replacements, Verizon said. In some events, the phones became hot enough to sear the seats and floorboards in a car or cause a minor personal injury, the company added."

emily | 11:03 AM | permalink

I Want to Be Alone. Please Call Me.

bels.75.jpg "One of the many paradoxes of modern technology is that gadgets meant to connect us also end up isolating us", writes Ken Belson in a wonderful article on the social impact of cell phones, in the New York Times.

"Sociologically speaking, mobile phones pit the priorities of the "in" group - those on the phone - against those in the "out" group, or people in close proximity to the talkers.

Ordinary phones, of course, created this dynamic more than a century ago. But mobile phones have extended this exclusivity to places where community used to be the norm - on planes, for example, in conference rooms and in restaurants. Settings previously devoted to eye-to-eye contact and earnest talk are fast turning into venues for shutting out others."

Belson Brings up another interesting point:

"Years ago, cellphones were the province of the powerful, but now that they are mass-market items, everyone has delusions of grandeur," said Eric Cohen, editor of The New Atlantis, a journal focused on technology, ethics and society. "Now there are 280 million masters of the universe in America."

An on rudeness:

"A theory backed up by studies showes that most Americans think that while other cellphone users are rude, they are not. To academics, this is known as the actor-observer paradox".

emily | 10:55 AM | permalink

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