Archives for September 2004
September 30, 2004
-- Be sure of the number
-- Allow time to answer
-- Be ready to talk
-- Ask if it's convenient to talk
-- Greet the caller pleasantly
-- Identify yourself
-- Hang up gently
-- Use a normal tone of voice
-- Say "Thank You", "You're Welcome"
"'Following "The Man of the Crowd"' is a 24-hour walk in which two participants, linked by text messaging, drift separately through the city in an alternating pattern according to the movements of strangers.
Based loosely on Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The Man of the Crowd" and inspired by Vito Acconci's 1967 "Following Piece," Ray and Walton have developed a collaborative performance that involves following strangers over a 24-hour period. Working as a team connected only through text messaging, the two will alternate turns following selected strangers through New York City. "
Canadian journalist Saleem Khan, writing for TheFeature.com, reports on a story published in The Manila Standard in the Philippines which "touched off a wave of panic with a front page story Monday, telling of the discovery of the bodies of 5 children dumped along roadsides, gutted of their hearts, livers, kidneys".
Of interest to this column, apparently, the reporter who broke the story received the details as a text message on his mobile phone.
I turned out to be a hoax.
"The "culprit of this hoax" admitted he made up the story and had sent it to a reporter in a mobile phone text message as a joke.
The way in which this media frenzy unfolded raises serious questions about the impact of mobile phones on news reporting. In what seems to be a rush to print on a sensationalistic story -- presumably from a source the reporter trusted -- the Manila Standard abdicated its role as a gatekeeper and clearly failed to practise one of the most basic rules of journalism: Check your facts.
That isn't to say that mobile phones and other new technologies CAN'T be reliable news sources. Word of the SARS outbreak first spread in SMS messages.
But if traditional news media continue to break with the standards and practices of good journalism in a race to compete with new media that serve a different niche, they will erode the public trust and thereby render themselves extinct by virtue of their eventual unreliability."
Looking to give college-bound students an edge, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions has teamed with Handmark to develop a wirelessly accessible test preparation application, reports Wireless Week.
"Kaplan Mobile SAT/PSAT-ACT 2005 is designed specifically for mobile phones and PDAs. The application is a college admissions test preparation tool that includes strategies and practice tools.
The application also includes prep challenges in the form of games students can play on their own or with others, quizzes, practice tests and other interactive options.
Students interested in studying on their mobile devices will have to plunk down $29.99 for the application."
Related articles and services:
-- Turning a Cellphone Into an SAT-Prep Tool - A new service called "Prep for the SAT," beams SAT practice questions to cellphones so kids can brush up during idle moments in the day -- say, while waiting for the school bus.
-- M-Learning - Using mobile phones and handheld computers to teach basic skills could help a generation of youngsters turned off by traditional education. That is the hope of those involved in the 4.5m euro (£3m) m-learning project, an EU-backed initiative taking place in the UK, Sweden and Italy.
-- SMS used to break student apathy - To hold the attention of his four classes aged 15-16 years, an Italian high school teacher has been trying out innovative new teaching methods by testing his students by SMS.
-- Setting the tone for new way to learn - A new system using the same technology that allows people to download ringtones or get the latest football scores on their mobile, will allows pupils to do their homework using their Nokias and Ericssons, thanks to an Edinburgh art tutor's brainwave.
The mobile-phone industry and the The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers are expectedly shortly to announce plans to address exploding mobile phones, possibly with an eye to crafting industry standards for batteries, which are suspected as the cause of the problem, reports RCRNews.
The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association and IEEE plan to issue a joint press release within the next day or so on the project.
Last month, an exploding phone sent a California teenager to the hospital emergency room. The teen reportedly was using a Verizon Wireless LG phone.
Another incident of an exploding cell phone battery, this time in the US. Shelley Kaehr was visiting South Carolina when her Kyocera cell phone, Model 2325, blew up and burned her hand.
Click here for related incidents reported around the world.
Handhelds are likelier to lead to handcuffs for techie criminals following the release of a report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, reports News.com.
"Digital information is especially susceptible to theft because of its portable and easily transferable nature. Hard drives have been the medium of choice for data theft because they can store large amounts of data. But increasingly, handheld devices and memory cards have been available in larger capacities. Additionally, hard drives have been shrinking so much that some can be inserted into handhelds.
The report is meant to help investigators better understand what is and is not possible with forensic software tools. Findings in the report assess available software and determine what data can be recovered from seized handhelds.
The study was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and was meant to complement tougher tests being developed as part of the Computer Forensics Tool Testing Project--a joint effort of NIST, the National Institute for Justice and law enforcement organizations.
SMS prices in Europe vary from country to country. The most expensive service is offered in The Netherlands where users are charged 0.21 per message, than comes Germany (0.25 cents). In Italy the average price is 0.15 ($0.18) Scandinavian countries offer the lower rates: only 0.04 ($0.05) ( in Denmark, 0.11 ($0.13) in Sweden and 0.12 ($0.15) in Finland. In the UK each SMS costs about 0.16 ($0.20), while in France 0.13 ($0.16) are charged.
The research was carried out by Xonio (in German).
[ via adverblog ]
For on SMS pricing issues and the people's protests throughout Europe, check out this category in Textually.org.
September 29, 2004
A teen texting service has been opened up to more youngsters following its huge success, reports Cambridge News UK.
"South Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust is behind the scheme, which allows school pupils to text their health concerns to health professionals confidentially.
The scheme was initially launched for pupils at Melbourn Village College in February last year. It has since been expanded and also covers pupils at village colleges in Bassingbourn, Linton and Sawston, before recently being rolled out at Swavesey Village College.
Alison Thompson, child and family nurse, said: "The teen text messaging service has been extremely successful, with high numbers of teenagers seeking advice on issues ranging from sexual health, relationships, coping with puberty and concerns about body image."
Related articles and services:
-- Texting teens use SMS for help - A UK charity offering advice on subjects such as relationship and health issues is using text messages to communicate with teenagers.
-- Text service brings health message to youth - Encouraged by the success of a confidential scheme introduced in February in Melbourn and Harston (UK), South Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust ( NHS ) has extended it to Linton and Sawston.
-- Sex in the Air campaign - A wireless service in Singapore (where mobile penetration is greater than 75 percent - it's 51 percent in the US) encouraged young citizens to talk about sex last Fall, in a Sex in the Air campaign initiated by Action for AIDS.
Thanks to an innovative application of cellphone technology, a South African clinic is on the verge of becoming a paperless operation, reports All Africa.
"A Cape-based project called Cell-Life has developed software and data management systems that enable the centre's health workers to monitor patients who are on AIDS drugs and pick up problems before they become life-threatening.
Most of the 525 HIV patients who get their pills from the centre take three drugs roughly 12 hours apart. It is vital that patients take their pills without fail; even missing one in 20 can cause the medicines to become less effective against HIV.
Hannan Crusaid's 40 counsellors have been trained to use cellphones equipped with a special menu that allows them to capture data about patients' symptoms and pill taking as well as other factors that might affect their health such as lack of money to pay for transport to the clinic, or a shortage of food.
The information is relayed instantly over Vodacom's GSM network to a central database, which can be accessed by clinic staff over a secure connection.
In addition to their scheduled visits, counsellors arrive unannounced once every four months to do a pill count. The information they collect is compared with clinic data on the number of pills issued to patients, and enables staff to spot looming trouble.
The cellphones are not used to remind HIV patients to take their pills, partly because they are encouraged to manage their own health, but also because it would not be practical to send mass alerts on a long-term basis. "People will be taking these pills for years. There's no way they'd respond to messages two or three times a day on a cellphone they'd switch them off."
Previous article on AIDS monitoring by SMS
Sending in text messages to find out "Whats better for me - a banana or a bowl of broccoli?" the Register was quite impressed with the quality of the replies:
"Broccoli is said to have the highest nutritional value of any food, with as much calcium per unit weight as milk, and plenty of vitamins and fibre"
But what really got their interest was the fact that the service has identified a significant spike in sex-related questions at 10.48pm.
Messages received include "Am I looking hot 2night?" and "Am I going to have sex with the bird next to me?", to which the answers are "Mate you're more than hot. You're sizzling. You're so hot you may well be the cause of global warming" and "If you are confident, friendly and polite you will be able to charm anyone, even the girl next to you", respectively.
Some questions though are better left unanswered, as the Register experienced after asking: "What's the best UK IT news site?"
No more than two minutes later came the reply: "Depending on what area of IT you are interested in, the best UK IT website could be one of quite a few..."
Yes, yes, we gasped, scrolling frantically down the screen.
"...Try www.compinfo.co.uk and www.eweek.com"
With which this plug for AQA is terminated by the Register!"
Related articles and services:
Give me a P! Give me an H! Give me an O-N-E!
Customers with Get It Now-capable phones to customize their phones with insignias from their alma matter.
As per a company press release, Verizon Wireless, and Summus, Inc., a leading provider of mobile media applications that optimize the consumer wireless experience, today announced the availability of College & Greek Logos in Verizon Wireless' Get It Now virtual store."
And related, College fight songs can also be found online as ringtones. cf:
A new service in South Africa allows motorists to check for outstanding driving and parking fines via cellphone, according to ITWeb.
"By sending an SMS with licence plate details to 35040, the user will receive an SMS listing outstanding fines as well as the due amount.
The service was developed by mobile solutions company CellSmart Technologies and Belstow Traffic Solutions.
While the initial offering involves SMSing traffic fine details, Kajee says other services will be added in future. Once everything is in place and all the municipalities are on board, we want to be able to send pictures from the actual camera to phones by MMS.
Auckland's young theatre buffs could soon have easier access to cheap tickets and inside information on the stars of shows, reports xtramsn.
"The Auckland Theatre Company is launching a text messaging service aimed at 18-25 year olds.
Spokeswoman Helen Bartle says the idea is based on a successful UK initiative and will be New Zealand's first text messaging service for the arts.
People will voluntarily sign up for the text messages, but Ms Bartle hopes they will pass the messages onto their friends. She says it will be a real coup if people reject reality TV in favour of going to the theatre."
I enjoy this so much, I'm blogging it wherever I go.
September 28, 2004
In order to craft the most accurate poll, political polling institutions like the Gallup Organization want their surveys to have an equal chance of reaching every U.S. adult. Because nearly every American owns a telephone, most major polls are done by phone, reports Wired]
"But pollsters like Gallup's Steve Hanway are worried because a growing number of adults' only phone has no cord. The Hanways of the world don't want cell-phone users to have to pay for minutes during a survey call, and some are afraid of liability issues raised by the possibility that a cell-phone user may be driving. So outfits like Gallup and California's influential Field Poll only call land lines.
And that means that because pollsters are missing out on a small -- but growing -- segment of the population, the veracity of polls purporting to represent the views of all Americans may be in question."
-- Conflicting polls add to election confusion - Interesting, in trying to make sense of the polls on the presidential candidates, are they way off since they're not touching cell phones? The Dallas Morning News writes "The rise of cell phones has made it harder for pollsters to track down respondents, analysts said, and a rising number of people don't want to participate at all.
Long-running efforts to transmit alerts to cellphones in the event of dangerous weather, terror attacks or other emergencies are gaining momentum, reports the WSJ.
"The Department of Homeland Security is talking with four of the six largest U.S. wireless companies, including Verizon Wireless and Nextel Communications Inc., about joining a pilot program in the nation's capital. Also, a regional carrier in the Midwest recently completed a test for delivering such messages to its 30,000 customers."
A pregnant woman was handcuffed by police and forced onto her stomach during an arrest that began with her talking too loudly on her mobile phone, according to BreakingNews Ireland.
"Deputy Transit Police Chief Timothy Gronau said Officer George Saoutis followed police procedure after Aaron refused to stop cursing loudly during a mobile phone conversation and became abusive and uncooperative.
Aaron said the officer approached her as she walked to catch a bus, telling her to keep her voice down. She twice tried to break away, but he caught her arm, then placed her face down, handcuffed her, and charged her with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest."
Federal officials are investigating how a smuggled cell phone got into the hands of a federal inmate housed at the Hammond City Jail in the past month, reports The Northwest Indiana Times.
"The city's own probe has led to the resignation of a police officer. Police Chief Brian Miller would not release the officer's identity, but said the incident led officials to implement changes in how jail personnel handle federal inmates.
Miller said smugglers were able to get contraband into the jail because city workers are used to dealing with local offenders, who can only be held in city lockup for a short time.
Click here for related articles on cell phone smuggling in prisons - around the world.
Frost & Sullivan expects a significant drop in the contribution of SMS toward mobile data revenues from 90% in 2003 to 40% in 2008. In 2008, MMS is expected to achieve a 65% penetration rate, reports. ITFacts
The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (NPT) had a historic announcement to make at a press conference on Monday, reports Aftenposten. "Mobile telephony has now become bigger than landline telephony in Norway. The biggest growth is in the Internet market with Norway a world leader in use of broadband".
"According to the NPT, 96 out of 100 inhabitants have a mobile phone and Norsk Gallup reports that over ten percent have two or more mobile subscriptions.
There are 4,376,000 mobile subscriptions registered in Norway - the population in Jan. 1 2003 was 4,554,000.
The average mobile phone user sends an average of 82 messages a month, which breaks down as 68 SMS (Short Message Service) texts, 13 are content such as logos or ring tones, and one MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service).
September 27, 2004
The more functions cell phone manufacturers add, the greater the amount of power the phones use and the less practical running them on lithium batteries becomes -- so the race to find a viable alternative is on. From CNN.
"Two of the world's biggest electronics makers, Hitachi and Toshiba, are currently competing against each other to come up with an alternative, most likely to be micro fuel cells.
Miniaturized direct methanol fuel cells are different batteries in that they create power instead of simply storing it.
That power is made by new technology utilizing cheap methanol.
If all goes to plan, come 2007, Japanese phone users will not use an electric charger to power their mobiles, they will instead carry a small bottle of methanol and with just a few squirts, they will have power for their phones.
But the method has its downsides, including how passengers will be able to take small amounts of flammable methanol on airliners.
Negotiations are already underway with authorities to get around current restrictions."
Another incident of an exploding cell phone battery, this time in the US. Shelley Kaehr was visiting South Carolina when her Kyocera cell phone, Model 2325, blew up and burned her hand, reports The Lewisville Leader.
"Kaehr was holding the cell phone in her left hand when the lithium battery attached to the phone exploded, spewing battery acid all over her hand.
John Chier of Kyocera Wireless said he other incidents have been reported with this model of phone but that there is nothing to suggest any kind of epidemic with the phone model or its battery."
Clamshells will account for 37% of handset sales worldwide in 2004, rising steadily to account for the majority of sales by the end of 2007 according to a new report from Strategy Analytics, reports Cellular News.
However,the end of the bar is not nigh. Bar form handsets will account for 6 in 10 handset sales worldwide, or 399 million units, in 2004.
Bars will account for the larger percentage of device sales through 2006 because the design offers the advantage of lower production costs, which are critical for price-sensitive markets."
Aiming to please "texting-crazed" young Americans, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. is today launching a hand-held device called Ogo that lets people send unlimited text messages, instant messages, and e-mails for $18 a month, reports Bostonc.om.
"What's notable is one thing the cellphone giant's new unit does not do: make phone calls."
Click here for picture on Engadget .
Cell phones and wireless PDAs have one perennial problem: either no keyboard or a very small one. That makes typing anything more than a phone number a tedious, fumbling task. But a solution is on the way: mobile devices that are adept at recognizing spoken language, according to the MIT Technology Review via Smart Mobs.
"Some cell phones already use speech recognition as an alternative to keypad entry for simple tasks such as dialing a number, but someday soon you may also find yourself dictating a text message into your phone, asking your car for directions, or telling your MP3 player that you want to listen to the Beatles".
The Kyoto prefectural government will launch a project in December to lend 500 mobile phones with language-translation and road-navigation functions to foreign visitors, reports The Daily Yomiuri.
"When a user types an English or Korean word into the phone, it will appear on a screen in Japanese. Plans are to introduce a translation function for Chinese users next fiscal year.
A road navigator with a global positioning system will display a map on the screen and help users find their destinations by indicating subway lines and bus routes.
The prefectural government plans to offer the mobile phones at Kansai airport, hotels and other places and will provide information about local events and locations via the phones. " Very nice.
Other mobile translation services:
-- SMS translator - A computerized SMS translation service called TransClick, provides quick and accurate translations between most major languages.
-- SMS translation service for travelers launched - The Dutch motoring organisation ANWB, and Van Dale, a prominent dictionary publisher, have launched an SMS-based service that translates between French, German, English, Spanish, and Dutch.
-- My Taylor is Rich: Translation cell phone - A groundbreaking cell phone that automatically translates the speaker's language from Japanese to English and vice versa could be on the market by 2007.
-- Lingophone.com - Lingophone allows mobile users to translate English text into numerous European languages while on the move.
Mia over at Popgadget, reports on a one night event called Sky Ear in which a glowing "cloud" of mobile phones and helium balloons is released into the air so that people can dial into the cloud and listen to the sounds of the sky.
The cloud consists of 1000 extra-large helium balloons that each contain 6 ultra-bright LEDs (which mix to make millions of colours). The balloons can communicate with each other via infra-red; this allows them to send signals to create larger patterns across the entire Sky
Using mobile phones people can listen to the actual sounds up high, the electromagnetic sounds of the sky as well as streams of "whistlers" and "spherics" (atmospheric electromagnetic phenomena that are the audible equivalent of the Northern Lights). Of course, the action of calling the cloud changes the electromagnetic environment inside and causes the balloons to vary in brightness and colour.
Sky Ear has had two successful launches, in Fribourg, Switzerland (July 4, 2004) and Greenwich, London (September 15, 2004).
An SMS contest in terrible taste is stopped.
China has ordered television networks not to run unauthorised contests using mobile phone text messaging after a state-run station held a lottery to guess the death toll from the school siege tragedy in Beslan, Russia, reports The Daily Telegraph.
"The lottery angered Moscow, offended many viewers and prompted lively commentaries on China's Internet bulletin boards. Most praised efforts to crack down on such programs."
Urballoon is an urban media space: a balloon equipped with a projector and wireless connection to the web that enables people to submit content online and broadcast it in public spaces.
The balloon is located in the entrance of City Hall Park in New York as part of Spectropolis 2004 (October 1- 3, 2004).
The ball is tethered and floats at a height of approximately 3 stories. The images and text submitted via this site are projected directly below it. [ via Popgadget ]
September 26, 2004
With the election five weeks away, U.S. counterterrorism officials are obsessed with reports from multiple sources that terrorists hope to disrupt the campaign. The FBI is pursuing a tough new anti-terror strategy in the runup to November, reports TIME magazine.
"[...] Agents have been askinglaw-abiding emigres to report strangers who spout radical rhetoric or who have large sums of money and no jobs; those who rent apartments and vanish for weeks; or people who borrow cell phones and computers to message friends abroad."