Archives for January 2005
January 31, 2005
US and UK doctors use of a Blackberry device could cause arthritis or harm tendons in the thumb. The trendy handheld is potentially more harmful to the tendons that cell phone texting, because people type out longer texts by emails, reports the BBC via Gizmodo.
"[...] US experts have also raised concerns about repetitive Blackberry use. Professor Alan Hedge, director of the human factors and ergonomics research group at Cornell University in New York, said in the early 1990s people had complained of sore thumbs from playing computer games too much.
"It is the same principle. The thumb is not very flexible and repetitive use of it can lead to damage to the tendon on the outside of the thumb.
"The Blackberry is much more demanding than texting on phones because users tend to use them to type out emails. Maybe they should be limited to 50 words or so.
People who use them a lot could suffer from osteoarthritis
There have been no cases reporte to date however.
Click here for a roundup of related stories on how text messaging causes repetitive strain injury.
The latest issue of Business 2.0, on newsstands January 31, features the magazine's fifth annual list of the "101 Dumbest Moments in Business," spotlighting the biggest business blunders and comical corporate missteps of 2004.
Nokia made it in the top 5 dumbest moments of 2004 - While attempting to invite its customers to a festive gathering at an industry trade show in Germany, cell-phone maker Nokia sent a text message that instantly disables hundreds of phones, damaging them so badly that they must be taken to Nokia service centers for repairs.
[company press release ]
LG Telecom Ltd, the smallest of South Korea's three mobile phone operators, said Monday it will jointly offer a mobile banking service with Citigroup's local banking unit, reports Asia Times.
"LG Telecom subscribers will be able to conduct various banking transactions at Citibank Korea using specially equipped mobile phones starting on Tuesday, the company said in a statement.
In South Korea, which has the world's fastest mobile phone networks, mobile phone operators and banks are allying to spread mobile banking services. To use such a service, customers must buy a new phone equipped with a chip that is needed to communicate with bank computer systems.
So far, LG Telecom said, it has attracted 1.62 million subscribers to its mobile banking service. "
"The group, which is demanding further research into the health effects of mobile phones, said it had identified 16 people who believed they had been poisoned by such radiation. It said these people were suffering symptoms like fatigue, confusion, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and skin irritation.
The IDEA said similar complaints had also been recorded in most countries where mobile phones are widely used."
By filling in a short form, you can instantly send your legal request, right from the scene of an injury, to a series of interested attorneys.
-- Seeking a lawyer by sending SMS - A new service called Seeking a lawyer by sending SMS, was launched by Hangzhou Langyi Communication Network Technology in China in August 2004.
"According to the company, subscribers of Zhejiang Mobile can get professional help from a lawyer by sending "LS" or "Luishi in Chinese" to short code 07733148.
Legal services offered by the lawyers cover such areas as marriage, real estate, labour, medical service, traffic accident, public security."
The identities of as many as 1,700 U.S. military members who were, or currently are, stationed in Korea have been used to acquire cellphones and services that can't be traced, reports JoongAng Daily.
"An officer with Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's Cyber Crime Investigation team said yesterday that certain South Korean cellphone dealers copied the identifications of U.S. military servicemen when they bought cellphones and subscribed to services, in order to later sell mobile phones to people who want a phone that hides their true identity.
Cellphones and services registered under the copied U.S. military IDs were later sold to other parties.
A police officer said phones and services registered with fake IDs are used by criminals because they are hard to trace, but it is the first case in which U.S. military identifications have been used.
Max and Régine thought of me while grocery shopping in Turin, isn't that nice? and forwarded this along from a local supermarket.
An electric toothbrush telephone. Now who wouldn't need one of those?
A really witty article written by George Simpson for Mediapost.
"A brief story on the Sales & Marketing Management Web site discloses that, "Text messaging is no longer just a lingo for the kids. Today, the virtual shorthand is increasingly prevalent in the workplace." The story goes on to list the 10 most commonly used workplace acronyms, among them: NP (No problem) JK (Just kidding) CB (Call back) TTYL (Talk to you later).
"That's a nice start, but I (Simpson) don't think it covers all of the important things that business people need and/or want to say to each other each day. For example, here are some of my own:
-- L8AGN? (show up at 10 again and you'll be back in direct marketing in a heartbeat)
-- CCNY? (This is just horrible. Who taught you to write copy?)
-- $Yes$ (pad the billings, bigtime)
-- NOWAY (give it up, she knows you are married and she's dating a Tae Kwon Do instructor at the Y)
-- HGOVR (Do it yourself, I was out with an important client last night)
-- LOL (read your performance review)
-- CYA (we lost the account and human resources wants to see all of us on Friday at 3:30)
Simpson bets you have some of your own. Send them along and he'll post the funniest ones in a future column. Editorial@mediapost.com.
Following South Korea's Pantech launch of what was advertised as the world's first motion-recognition mobile phone, now subway commuters could get more energetic in Japan through a new motion-sensitive mobile telephone equipped with games that will let people on the move practise their golf swings or shoot up monsters, reports the AFP.
"The local branch of British mobile giant Vodafone on Monday unveiled the V603SH, billed as the first phone in Japan to respond to movements, which will let users perform basic mobile functions through programmed shakes and jerks.
The handset can be used as a golf club. Users look back at the screen to see how well they putted."
The V603SH also lets users watch television on a liquid crystal display screen that can rotate 180 degrees.
-- Cell phone gaming: Shake the Phone . KTF announced January the launch of a Motion Pack service that enables users to play mobile games by shaking the phone, without manipulating a keypad.
The Australian Communications Authority has asked the public to get involved with creating new regulations for mobile content - especially in the area of adult content and its possible access by children, reports James Pearce for Moco News.
“We're looking for feedback about proposed measures to restrict access by children to adult content, to prohibit explicit content and to protect children who use chat rooms on their mobile phones from behaviour such as pedophile grooming".
Australian officials are also considering new regulations for cameras - both in mobiles and on their own - following strong concerns of breaches of privacy".
January 30, 2005
My friend Gerrit Visser over at Smart Mobs has picked up on one of the stranger accessories for cell phones on the market - at least in our culture -, Nokia brand coffins.
An item available from eShop from Ghana
In the traditional culture of Ghana you are burried in a coffin that reflects how you earned your living and lived your life. It is believed that the dead have the same desires, such as money, food, drink, clothing, so all of these are placed in the coffin or beside the grave.
Related articles on cell phones and divinity/ funeral rituals:
-- Phones have been blessed in a ritual at a Matsu temple - Acting on that religious fervor, Okwap (a brand released by Inventec Appliances Corp) offers phones that have been blessed in a ritual at a Matsu temple. Matsu, the Chinese goddess of the sea, is a popular religious icon in Taiwan. Thousands of people make the pilgrimage to a Matsu temple in the South every year.
-- Dead people in Slovakia are buried with their mobile phones and it is not unusual, that while a priest performs the funeral rites, ring tones will echo around the church from within a casket. Slovakians have been buried with an object of value for generations. (cf article in Ananova dated October 31st, 2001).
January 29, 2005
Some call center operators have secretly set up phone sex operations in Bangalore and Mumbai, though it's strictly against the law and call forwarding to cell phones is making it even harder for the police to nail the offenders, according to an article in India Daily.
"The practice is totally illegal in India while somewhat legal in Western countries. The Indian operators running these call centers normally have a legitimate normal call center in the front and then phone sex center in the back end.
Girls are paid very heavy and plenty of young models are working in these underground centers.
According to sources, Interpol and Indian authorities are working together to tap the phones and nab these culprits based on the exact location of the phone.
But now call forwarding is creating another problem. The girls are being connected from the Western countries directly to their cell phones at their home. Many of these girls have claimed that they are talking to their fiancé and boyfriends in America and Western countries.
Interest in esoteric nursery gadgets is surging, fueled by the anxieties of increasingly older first-time moms and dads, report Cleveland's Plain Dealer.
Of the several innovative items mentioned - Like the "Original Slumber Bear", which plays recorded womb sounds and the "Cry Analyzer said to interpret an inconsolable infant's howls - this one caught my eye:
Just put the cell phone in the baby's room and when it detects a set noise level, it rings a preprogrammed number and lets a parent listen in and speak to the baby. Parents also can call BabyCare-equipped phones and silently listen in to the nursery."
It reminds me of the Mobile Baby Toy - which can turn your mobile phone into amazing developmental toy, with which your baby can play alone, or with you.
January 28, 2005
Despite a crackdown on terror suspects, Britain stands almost alone in the West in barring phone tap evidence from being heard in court. BBC News explains why.
"Phone tapping is a common weapon in the armoury of detectives and government spies, so it may come as a surprise to learn that evidence from telephone taps cannot be used in court.
[...] As it stands, tapes from conventional bugs - not attached to phones - can be used in court. Telephone conversations on an internal network can also be used and so can material where one of the people on the line is an undercover officer.
But a taped phone conversation between a suspect and a third party, on a landline or a mobile phone, is inadmissible. It can only be used for intelligence purposes.
[...] New mobile phones make bugging increasingly difficult. Conversations on old analogue phones could be heard using a £99 scanner, but today's standard mobiles use encryption. A decrypting device to unscramble calls costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. The latest mobiles are even harder to tap, although landlines are still relatively easy."
In a novel twist on SMS marketing, real human beings answered the phone for Madonna's promotion of her most recent album to fans, following an SMS blast to their cell phones.
Consumers got the option of preordering her album by pushing “1” on their phones to connect to a live customer service representative who processed the order, reports DMNews in an interesting article on global outsourcing.
"In the past, such live assistance was cost-prohibitive. But by using an offshore call center, companies can add live operators to their mobile marketing campaign for less than half of what it cost before".
Viriginia becomes the first Sate to ban minors from using mobile phones while driving a car, reports Wavy.com.
"A bill that bans motorists in Virginia younger than 18 from talking on cellular phones while driving and subjects them to tickets if they don't wear seat belts won easy Senate passage Friday.
[...] Maine and New Jersey have already banned cell phone use by drivers under 21 who have only a learner's permit. No state imposes a cell phone ban on licensed teen cell phone users, Sundeen said, but several legislatures this year are considering legislation similar to Virginia's"
"Users can register for the poll by texting the word "vote" to short code 46265 before the game and will receive reminders during the Feb. 6 matchup. Each vote costs users 50 cents, and results will be announced the day after the game."
This really cute looking cell phone targeted to the 4 to 8 year-old crowd, called Baby Mo, is being removed from the French market, reports TopMobile.org (in French) due to pressure by consumer protection groups (APE and Priartem) because of the possible danger of radition on the brains of such young children.
The phone comes with earphones, is super resistant to shocks, has 4 ringtones and offers the option to memorise 5 cell phones numbers. And it has no text messaging functionality. Its a tought break for the Belgian company who makes the handset.
In Austria, on average, children receive their first mobile phone at the age of ten and a half, according to an autumn 2004 study. The reason? Parents value the feeling of security the mobiles offer them, reports DMeurope.
"In response to such concerns, mobile operator Mobilkom Austria, the Austrian Youth Red Cross and the Vienna Ombudsoffice for Children and Youth have today launched a mobile phone guide for children. The guide aims to educate children on the responsibilities that mobile phones bring with them.
The brochure is primarily geared towards children between 10 and 14 years of age, and provides information on emergency numbers, mobile phone use in case of emergency, how a mobile phone can help in situations where children feel uncomfortable, and how children can best keep track of mobile phone costs."
Those interested can order the mobile phone guide at no cost by e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another something wonderful from near near future.
"Shawn Bonkowski (with Dana Gordon) made a desk merged with an answering machine. The Message Table receives, plays and stores phone messages.
When a message is left, a box representing that message slowly rises from the desk. The higher it rises, the longer the message. So when you return home, you know how many messages are waiting for you. To hear one, open the box's lid. Pushing that box back down into the desk deletes the message. How cool is that?
In their own words:
"This system is designed in wake of high rise in mobile snatching crime and its easily selling in open mobile market. A web based system will help user to launch it's complain of mobile phone theft from any where on given website address. It will shorten the time to stop reselling of that stolen mobile set in open market. Every shop owner has to verify from the website or the phone numbers provided by KEDA before purchasing any used mobile set."
This article is really funny (well, at least from where I sit), a must read from Russian newspaper Pravda describing "SMS dependence as serious and real disease, which exerts a very negative influence on mental abilities". My favorite part is where "the operators are blamed for attempting to infect users with de desire to SMS, to fill their pockets" and "texting communication ousts normal human contacts". Marvellous!
"While cellular operators are counting money in the bank, psychologists say that cellular phones have generated a new epidemic in the whole world - the SMS addiction.
Professional psychologists already offer their services in connection with the widespread SMS-mania. Little is known about this side of the cellular communication mania in Russia, although the SMS-addiction has laid foundation to several scientific works in the West.
Specialists say that a big fan of SMS messages does not perceive them as a way of communication - they become a whole environment for such individuals. More importantly, a sick person may not even suspect himself of having psychological disorder.
German experts say that not less than 380 thousand Germans are suffering from the SMS addiction. The short message service dependence is a serious and real disease, which exerts a very negative influence on mental abilities of a human being. To crown it all, a person may suffer numerous financial problems because of the obsession.
There is no profound scientific research of the SMS phenomenon in Russia yet. For the time being, we have a work on the Internet addiction. A theory says that the virtual communication is gathering steam all over the world because people are gradually losing the art of personal communication," Sergei Enikopolov from the Russian scientific center for psychological health said. "Cell operators are trying to "infect" people with the disease, with the help of the short message service. Sending an SMS may seem a good way to get rid of the feeling of loneliness. On the other hand, the texting communication ousts normal human contacts," he added.
The cellular market is developing very fast, which increases the number of those, who cannot live a day without an SMS message. According to experts' estimates, Russian people sent over three billion short messages in 2003. The number doubled in 2004; a further increase is expected in 2005."
Today is not a good day for text messaging! Following Pravda's alarming article, here we go again on how text messaging causes repetitive strain injury. This follows a much published story of 13 year old girl with a 100-SMS-a-day habit, who was diagnosed with tendinitis in Italy.
According to the Herald Sun - which is claiming Australia's teenagers are leading the world in the use of mobile phones - the Australian Medical Association said that repetitive strain injury from too much texting would dry out the lubricating fluid between tendons and that "excessive mobile use among those with developing brains can also cause emotional problems.
For others, more pragmatic, the main problem with teen's text-messaging is financial".
The BBC takes a look at how games on mobile phones are maturing.
[...] What has also helped games on mobiles thrive is the fact that it is easier than ever to get hold of them thanks to technology known as Wap push.
By sending a text message to a game maker you can have the title downloaded to your handset. Far better than having to navigate through the menus of most mobile operator portals.
The number of handsets that can play games has grown hugely too. Almost half of all phones now have Java onboard meaning that they can play the increasingly sophisticated games that are available - even the ones that use 3D graphics.
[...] Experts say there are more mobile gamers than console owners."
This makes one stop and be grateful at how easy it is for us to recharge our cell phones. It also follows an earlier story posted today on a company called Freeplay Energy, that develops and sells 'wind-up' energy generators - for remote areas without electricty (cf Mobile Power)
Mobile phones have become popular in a remote Romanian village - even though users have to walk five miles to recharge them, reports Ananova.
"People from Ciosa, in Bistrita Nasaud county, are buying phones even though they have never had electricity in their village.
Their network signal is good but they have to walk to the next village to recharge their phone batteries.
The Jurnalul daily newspaper reports that many of the village's 80 households now own at least one mobile phone."
Forget about cell phone jammers, here's a low tech solution to prevent SMS cheating, the honor code.
"The Internet, cell phones, pagers and sophisticated calculators are big advances in technology. They also make it easier for students to cheat in class and on homework, reports The Enquirer.
That's why a committee of high school students at Villa Madonna Academy and their principal, Pamela McQueen, are meeting Monday to begin developing an honor code.
At the conference she reviewed codes from other high schools, including McQuaid Jesuit in New York, Seaholm in Alabama and Northwest Rankin in Mississippi.
Rankin implemented its code two years ago. Possible penalties for students there who cheat or plagiarize include a grade of zero on assignments, ineligibility for school-sponsored offices and disqualification for school awards."
Why should one care about mobile phone viruses? There is clearly a profit motive, and that's all that is needed to kickstart another dubious industry, reports The Register.
"From a virus that will dial 1-900 numbers all day long, to the one that automatically buys a hundred ringtones that get added to your phone bill, there is money to be made by the next wave of miscreants.
However, the reality is that the real threat from viruses just doesn't exist today. [...] The best reason why mobile viruses won't become an issue for some time is the wide array of different phone models, network technologies and embedded operating systems."
Across the poorest regions of Africa and South Asia telecoms operators are rolling out mobile phone networks and making a tidy profit, reports the BBC.
"Their customers, meanwhile, reap their own benefits, by checking out commodity prices or connecting with business partners or family.
In Nigeria, the average mobile phone generates $55 in revenue every month. In Rwanda and Mozambique, two of the world's poorest nations, it is $20.
It's not that Africans are mobile phone crazy. Rather, many phone owners make money by reselling airtime to their local communities.
And here is the opening for the next profit niche with a social purpose, says Rory Stear of Freeplay Energy, the company that develops and sells 'wind-up' energy generators best known in the 'wind-up radio'.
"Kenya has 30 million people and three million cell phone users - but only 200,000 households that have electricity," he says.
"People mail their mobile phones to relatives with electricity at home just to recharge them... Now think of the possibilities of selling an energy solution together with a telecoms partner", says Mr Stear."
New mobile phone speech software is poised to improve the working lives of many blind and visually impaired users, giving them access to SMS, e-mail, Wap services, contact lists and other mobile applications, reports PhysOrg.
"ScanSoft's Talks software can alert the user to e-mail, text messages and incoming calls, and turn menus, instructions and content displayed on the mobile phone screen into speech. The The converted text can be heard through the internal speaker or an optional wired or Bluetooth headset. There is also a caller ID function so the user can hear who is calling without taking the call.
Vodafone will be the first operator to make the Talks software available on its mobile phones. Orange in France and Telecom Italia will also offer packages based on the software.The main UK distributor will be the Royal National Institute of the Blind."
Related articles on mobile services/technology for the blind