Archives for September 2006
September 30, 2006
A man was arrested after a 17-year-old Cape Cod boy he met on MySpace.com sent a text message to his family back home claiming he was being held against his will on the man's west Georgia farm, police said, reports the Associated Press.
"When the boy was left unattended after several hours in the home, he was able to send a text message from his cell phone to his family in Bourne asking for help and giving his address, Massie said. The family told the local police in Bourne, who notified Troup County authorities.
Massie refused to disclose what exactly the boy's text message said, adding that the information was evidence. He said police are also analyzing computers from Williams' home that were seized."
Similar story: - Text Messaging saves kidnapped girl
Software that contorts an image of a person's face to express different emotions could enrich text-based internet chat reports New Scientist. We're hoping it will work with cell phones too.
"The researchers behind the system say it can quickly transform a user's face to convey any of six emotions, ranging from anger to happiness.
A user first uploads a picture of their face with a "neutral" expression. Then they use their mouse to mark the ends of their eyebrows, the corners of their mouth and the edges of their eyes and lips.
The software uses these points to morph the face to express different emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. A user can select an emotion and one of three intensity levels when using the system."
Illustrations from Smiley Arena
Wooden handmade Nokia, 'Philips', and best of all, 'Scony' cellphones spotted in Pemba, Mozambique by vessenes.
Other wooden phones:
“The movement for simpler electronics is still alive and well; after all, life is complex enough already,” according to David Pogue’s Simplicity Derby for cellphones . By Signal vs Noise (by 37 signals) via Usability in the News.
Software Simplicity Score
"To judge each phone’s UI, he created a Software Simplicity Score which counts the number of taps needed to 1) turn off the ringer 2) open the phone book 3) open the recent calls list and 4) see your own phone number.
(Is this is the best way to test a phone’s simplicity and/or usability? As Steve Krug explains, it’s not necessarily the number of clicks that matters, it’s how much thought each click requires that matters. Still, it’s nice to have some metric for comparing relative simplicity.)
The winner of the tap test was the LG Electronics VX3400 (Verizon). Ringer off: 1 step. Phone book: 1. Recent Calls: 1. See your own number: 4. Speakerphone: 1. The Motorola C139 (Cingular), on the other hand, requires 7 (!) steps to turn off the ringer."
Most interesting though is the Jitterbug phone. It’s billed as “a totally new cellphone experience.”. What’s different about it? It’s big — “so big that when you’re on a call, the earpiece and mouthpiece are right next to the proper orifices of your head.”
September 29, 2006
The Fira of Gandia in Spain will be the scene for the world-premiere of partystrands outdoors, the audience will be able to influence the music during a huge beach party by sending an SMS with their favourite artist(s) to a shortcode.
During the Borja Dance Sessions, the DJ will make a proposal of several songs that will be displayed on different screens, and the audience will be able to vote their favourite. The most voted, will be the one that is going to be played.
People will also be able to send messages to eachother using the different screens. partyStrands helps the “macro party” to create a more dynamic and amused atmosphere, since it helps groups of friends interact to each other and with other groups in real time. Also it allows the DJ to communicate in a new and amused way with his public.
partyStrands beta-tests have been previously organised in Gandia. The system runs now in several pubs in Gandia, as well others bars in Madrid, Sevilla and New York.
Gandia will be first in releasing it in the open air, a macrobotellón celebration with thousands of people.
More on the UK's first cell phone sniffing dog, from Wisbech Standard.
"Murphy, a 20 month-old English Springer Spaniel, is undergoing the last stages of his training in prisons across the East of England. He has been trained to recognise the distinctive smell of phone handsets.
Phil Bowyer, of Orchard Leys, and a colleague, Mel Barker, have helped to train the only sniffer dog in the UK that is capable of identifying the scent given off by mobile phones.
Mr Bowyer, area drug dog co-ordinator for the prison service eastern area, said: "In order to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs and contraband entering our prisons the Prison Service is determined to develop new methods of detecting mobile phones.
"These new methods include the most up-to-date electronic mobile phone detectors together with the implementation of a research and development program to use 'sniffer dogs' to detect mobile phones."
Mr Bowyer added: "His training to date has been very successful, and he has been able to correctly identify mobile phones. The prison service will be monitoring Murphy's success with a view to introducing similar dogs in other jails."
Previously: Jail dog sniffs out illicit phones
The most common woes from online social networking services are caused by the lull between the times that your contacts are online. By practice, they would have to go online, check their email notifications for new alerts, and then respond. Moblabber reduces this wait time by allowing your social network to be up to date anywhere where there is a US mobile carrier signal that supports Moblabber.
Moblabber takes social networking to the next level by introducing a gateway to all your friends with the power of text messaging. Subscribers are able to create user profiles, upload pictures, create and join interest groups, send messages to old friends and make new ones – all through their mobile phones. A subscriber only needs a phone capable of sending and receiving text messages to avail of the service. [Press release via digg]
The teenager killed in the school hostage standoff sent a text message to her dad before she died, reports TheKSBWChannel.
" John Keyes was standing with dozens of other anxious parents, wondering about his daughter's fate when he asked a reporter from the Flume newspaper to help him communicate with his daughter through the cell phones he had just bought for her and her twin brother for their 16th birthdays.
He asked "How are U?" and sent it to the Emily's cell phone.
"R U O.K.?" his text message asked.
Emily messaged back: "I Love U guys.".
Less than two hours later, Emily Keyes was fatally shot by the gunman, who killed himself as a SWAT team stormed in."
The Java programme called Mensa Mobil (mobile menu) contains the menu of 15 different food halls of Dresden Technical University, 14 days in advance. Students can choose the day and the cafeteria to be kept informed of menu selctions and prices as well as information about ingredients.
To install the program via Bluetoothm, a hotspot system called Bluebot is placed at the central mess hall of Dresden Technical University, next to the main auditorium. The Bluebot system locates all mobile phones within 40 meters. If users confirm a connection to Bluebot , the mobile menu will be installed within seconds for free.
Nearly 30 students install the program every day. [Press release]
Along the lines of the sky falling on our heads, here's something new to worry about. According to Cellular News, solar flares could disable mobile phones.
"Solar flares could knock out GPS enabled mobile phones, reports researchers at Cornell University. Because solar flares -- larger-than-normal radiation "burps" by the sun -- are generally unpredictable, such failures could be devastating for "safety-of-life" GPS operations -- such as navigating passenger jets, stabilizing floating oil rigs and locating mobile phone distress calls."
According to this page dated 2000 on NASA website, solar flares are on the rise, occuring several times a week.
Cell Phone cases from Handyhuellen. Not very practical, but they sure are pretty.
Spotted on favorite Miss Swiss.
iAfrica reports on a murder case ruled South Africa , dubbed "SMS murder". It illustrates how text messaging was used as crucial evidence in getting a conviction.
"The drama started when Wesley Neil Julyan's co-perpetrator, Jaco Strauss, who was jailed for 15 years for murder and aggravated robbery, sent an SMS to a former lover in England about the incident.
The lover went to the police in England and Interpol informed Port Shepstone detective Basil Crause.
After murdering a drunk Kenneth van Aarde by strangling him with a shoe lace, Strauss and Julyan dumped his body in a bushy area and buried him near the Julyan home at Mtwalume. They tried to sell his car.
It is doubtful if his body would have been found had it not been for the SMS sent to England."
Related: - South African "SMS murder"
September 28, 2006
Fossil and Sony Ericsson, will soon roll out several lines of Bluetooth wireless technology-enabled watches.
Fossil will be introducing the ABACUS MobileWear and FOSSIL Caller ID watches and Sony Ericsson will be introducing its own line of jointly developed products. All watches will seamlessly link to most Sony Ericsson Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. [via Press Release]
Picture from Mobility Site
UK crime victims are being urged to summon police help by sending them a text message, according to The Sun.
"Cops hope the alternative to dialling 999 will appeal to younger people — and be of practical help to the hard of hearing.
The idea is being tried out by Essex Police and the number will be released later. But the force stressed that 999 should still be used if possible.
Some detectives criticised the text move, fearing it will cause delays and possible dangers."
Al Qaeda’s novel death technique: Detonating hundreds of simultaneous explosions through cell phone and Internet
According to Debkafile, counter-terror sources report extreme concern among security services in the United States, Europe, the Far East and Israel, after the source of 350 multiple attacks in Bangladesh on Aug. 17, 2005, was traced to Tripoli, Lebanon.
"French counter-terror experts leading an international inquiry into the attacks discovered that a facility, set up there by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s late Iraq commander, had developed the new design which works through Internet messengers like Skype or MSN.
Network-connected mobile phones can remotely detonate over the Internet simultaneous explosions hundreds of miles apart, anywhere on the world. US forces located and killed Zarqawi on June 7, 2006.
This system, seen only in Bangladesh so far, is more complex than any used by al Qaeda before.
.. The materials found at the al Qaeda lab there were removed to forensic facilities in Paris and produced the following picture:
For its Bangladesh operation, al Qaeda had prepared 350 cell phones. Communications software was installed in each, together with a simple interface program designed in the Tripoli lab. Loaded onto the master computer in Tripoli linked to global Internet was the readily available Skype or MSN software. The cell phones were given 350 different usernames – or rather the same one with a different numeral, e.g. Tom1, Tom2, and so forth up to Tom350. The program was relayed to the mobile phones which then transmitted the operational signal to detonate the explosives.
The Bangladesh method would be hard to apply in the United States, Europe or Israel. Anti-terror security measures are more stringent there and would make it difficult to plant 350 hidden bombs without some being detected."
September 27, 2006
"T-Mobile USA is expected to launch a host of new services, including a new generation of Internet phones, to attract customers away from both wireless and land-line phone companies -- and it plans to drop its celebrity pitchwoman, Catherine Zeta-Jones.
... The new initiatives will be followed by a major rebranding effort. The company has decided to drop Ms. Zeta-Jones from its advertising in favor of a more man-on-street approach. Ms. Zeta-Jones may continue to appear in some ads until her contract expires next year, but eventually she will be phased out. The amount of her contract wasn't available, but it is valued at several million dollars."
The providers of four major electronic money systems in Japan have agreed to adopt a common reader/writer terminal from next year. The agreement should open the way for wider acceptance of the systems and improve convenience for users. Infoworld reports.
"All four companies operate systems that are based on the same basic technology -- Sony Corp.'s contactless Felica smartcard platform -- but they require that retailers install a dedicated reader/writer terminal for each e-money system. As a result, it's common to find stores that accept only one of the several e-money brands in operation.
Under the new agreement, which was announced on Wednesday in Tokyo, the common terminal will be rolled out from January."
Mobile phone company Vodafone is set to announce it will sell it's own-brand low-cost 3G handsets as of October, according to Rueters. "Huawei Technologies, China's largest telecoms equipment maker, will supply the handsets.
China Telecom, a leading fixed-line phone operator in China, has joined the country's fierce Internet search engine competition with Microsoft as its technical partner, reports China Net Investor.
"A search engine titled "114", an established telephone inquiry service in China, has appeared on China Telecom's partner website, www.vnet.cn."
September 26, 2006
Some headlines from Ringtonia.com today:
-- BLUETUNA - A mobile phone application based on bluetooth which helps locate and meet people with similar taste in music.
-- Nokia launches 8GB music phone, and signs David Bowie up for mobile music community - Nokia has come out with a barrage of announcements today that delight music fans.
-- Jimi Hendrix Comes to Verizon Wireless - Verizon Wireless customers will be able to download more than 60 tunes from Jimi Hendrix.
-- Music that you can’t hear!? - After the teenage Buzz Tone or Mosquitone, the one adults can't hear, now a song - with secret parts.
Howard Rheingold was interviewed by Robin Hamman for BBC Radio 5 Live's Pods and Blogs ...
Click here to listen. The interview lasts about 10 minutes.
According to Robin Hamman: "We talked about the common themes between his books, the differences between mobile phone and social software usage in the UK compared to the US, and participatory media".
Revision3 is an Internet television network to develop and showcase original music, science, technology, and comedy programming designed to speak to a new generation. The shows are designed to be watched on everything from cell phones to computers to televisions.
As the amount of on-demand content and video-ready mobile devices explode, so does the demand for shows specifically geared toward consumers that want niche content developed with their lifestyle in mind.
In addition to being available at www.revsion3.com, Revision3 shows are currently available with every TiVo box with a podcast feature, on Palm, Inc. devices via the Blazer browser, and on partner web sites such as Apple iTunes, Google Video, YouTube, BitTorrent and DivX.
As the 2006 political season moves into the home stretch, ePolitics has released a new e-book to give campaigners and web professionals a comprehensive guide to using the Internet to promote candidates, shape public opinion, motivate supporters and raise money. [via U.S. Newswire]
"Online Politics 101: The Tools and Tactics of Online Advocacy (pdf) looks comprehensively at the online organizing methods that work including cutting-edge applications such as MySpace, viral marketing, text messaging and video distribution channels such as YouTube.
The 44-page, free handbook also discusses topics ranging from the essentials of building an effective campaign website to the use of blogs to promote candidates and causes.
The latest in must-have mobile accessories ccording to Popgadget, are MoPods. They spin and flash in a crazed manner when your cell phone receives a call or text message, even in silent mode.
"You can pick from 6 characters including a penguin, kitten, monster and devil. Available on UK site Firebox."
This week's Carnival of the Mobilists is hosted by ZDNet's The Mobile Gadgeteer. Check it out.
On a personal note, my entry was made light of, on how many Iraqis are abandoning cell phones because they bear nothing but tragic news (calls of death threats, blackmail or ransom demands). I thought it was an incredibly sad and unique tale of cell phone usage and disapointment, the first instance I'd ever read about of a backlash against cell phones, not brought on by a government trying to control information, but by the people. Articles so far - like this one from the NY Times - mostly described cell phones in Irak in a positive light, as a status symbol and a wonderful tool to reassure familes that they are safe after a bombing.
In developping countries, cell phones are generally considred a lifeline and this was the case for Irak too when cell phones were finally made available, the last country in the Middle East to get a mobile phone network. But apparently, it's no longer the case, not for everyone, not any more.
"Custumers shopping in the supermarket (and anyone walking within a 100m distance) who has an open Bluetooth connection, receive a message indicating the discounted Go-Tan products available in the store.
The action will last until the end of the week, and it's still too early to look at the results.
... According to the Emerce article wehre the story initially appeared, over 25 percent of Dutch mobile users leave their Bluetooth with an open connection".
Two teams faced off Saturday in Jane McGonigal and Ian Bogost's game, "Cruel 2 B Kind," one of several featured during Come out and Play, the three-day celebration of street and live-action role-playing games held in New York. Daniel Terdiman covered the event for News.com
"Cruel 2 B Kind teams send "kindness" text messages (such as "Have a spectacular day") to an opponent in the hope that the greeting matches the opponent's designated weakness. If there's a match, the message recipients are Killed with kindness and must join the winning team in its quest for more kindness victims.
If there's no match, the targeted team responds by texting "You're too kind" to the attackers, and both teams move on.
-- 'Payphone Warriors' call on New York streets - In "Payphone Warriorss," teams of four players spread out from Manhattan's Washington Square park in a mad dash for dominance over the area's many pay phones. The idea was that at each new bank of pay phones, a player would pop in a quarter, call a prescribed number and then punch in his or her team's code.
-- Gaming on the streets of Manhattan - The inaugural Come Out and Play Festival, which ran from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon and aimed to bring the world of games out of the living room and into the streets.
September 25, 2006
AskMeNow has announced the immediate availability of its intelligent mobile answer service in the US for anyone on the Alltel, Cingular, Sprint-Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon wireless networks, as well as the launch of its national television campaign aimed at the 219 million cellular phone subscribers, reports Broadcast News. The TV commercial can be viewed here.
[UPDATE: It's not a 219 million dollar campaign as I previously titled this entry. The 219 million refers to the campaign being aimed at the 219 million subscribers]
"AskMeNow customers can text any question, in any format to ASKME (27563) just as easily as if they were texting a friend, and receive a specific answer to their cell phone within moments.
Any person with a cell phone and text/SMS capability now has access to virtually all of the information on the Internet through AskMeNow. In addition to receiving basic searches to 411, Weather, Directions, Travel and Trivia information, customers can ask free-form questions on any subject, such as “What is the path of Hurricane Helene?” or “Did Barry Bonds hit a home run last night?” and receive fast answers.
UK-based firm Moixa Energy is offering an interesting solution for those who are too lazy to carry around with them an extra USB cable or AC adapter to charge their mobile phones. The CellFreak reports.
"The company has posted on its website an upcoming rechargeable phone battery called USBCell which comes with a built-in USB connector.
This battery can be plugged directly into the USB port for charging and you don’t even need to remove the battery from the phone."
The Washington Times reporting on DEMOfall 2006 conference in San Diego this week, singles out a voice-messaging service called Pinger, which aims to be an alternative to texting. It also could be a convenient way to deliver a message to a group of people.
"Pinger is instant voice messaging for your mobile phone. With Pinger you send voice messages directly to someone instantly—no ringing, no greetings, no lengthy prompts. It combines the ease of instant messaging with voicemail, and being able to dial one number to access anybody in their contact list".