Archives for February 2009

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February 23, 2009

German village turns off street lights with mobile phones

A village in Germany is pioneering a method of saving energy and reducing carbon emissions by switching off the street lights at night.

If local residents need a particular street illuminated at night they dial a central number from their mobile phones. Steve Rosenberg reports.

Watch BBC video report.

[via DVICE]

emily | 8:58 AM | permalink

Texting can b gd 4 ur kids

text-messaging-1.jpg Concerns have been raised that an explosion in the use of "textisms" like "CUL8R" and "wot u doin 2nite?" could be damaging children's reading and spelling ability. From New Scientist.

quotemarksright.jpgTo investigate, Beverly Plester and her colleagues at Coventry University in the UK asked 88 children aged 10 to 12 to write text messages describing 10 different scenarios. When they compared the number of textisms used to a separate study of the children's reading ability, they found that those who used more textisms were better readers (British Journal of Developmental Psychology, DOI: 10.1348/026151008X320507).

But do textisms improve literacy, or do better readers use more textisms? The preliminary results of a follow-up study seem to suggest the former, Plester says. She believes that this is because textisms are phonetically based: "Phonological awareness has long been associated with good reading skills." Exposure to the written word in any form is also linked to improved literacy. "These kids are engaging with more written language and they're doing it for fun."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Links to postive studies on the effect of text messaging on student's writing skills:

-- Texts 'do not hinder literacy'

-- Texting teenagers are proving 'more literate than ever before'

-- E-Mail and Texting - Not at all bad

-- Texting 'is no bar to literacy'

-- Teacher finds novel way to use texting

Links to negative studies:

-- Text messages harm written language? (Oh-Hum)

-- Technology marches ahead, grammar gets worse

-- Y TEXTING MAYBE BAD 4 U

-- SMS Resulting in Poor English Grades?

-- SMS and Internet blamed for decline in English Examinations

-- SMS threatens Norwegian language say teachers

-- Teachers hung up on SMS

-- An essay written in text message shorthand

emily | 8:52 AM | permalink

Orange Loses Legal Action Over Poor Coverage

A British customer has won a court action after successfully suing the Orange network operator over poor coverage at his home and office in South London. Tom Prescott, 32, took Orange to court after they refused to cancel his 18 month contract when he complained about the poor coverage.

He argued that as the operator was willing to offer 18-month contracts, then it should have a reasonable expectation of being able to offer a service.

He won his case at Brentford county court and was awarded £500 (US$722).

[via Cellular News]

Related: - Landmark ruling opens floodgates for customers to sue operators (TechDigest)

emily | 8:42 AM | permalink

Glam edits Oscars twitter feed, and makes money

glamtvlivevideo.gif Women’s publisher and advertising network Glam is seeking to make money by editing streams from Twitter, Friendfeed and Facebook’s status updates. The New York Times reports.

quotemarksright.jpgFor the Oscars event, Glam has launched a widget on its home page that lets users tweet their thoughts about the Oscars. But Glam’s stream is different from a standard Twitter stream (#Oscars) because Glam edits it. Glam’s entertainment editors decide which users are allowed to tweet in the stream, and culls those who post what it feels are inappropriate comments. This way, Glam says, advertisers can get comfortable with the conversation. As a result, Glam has been able to sell sponsorship of the Oscars widget to Aveeno, a woman’s beauty brand (see its branding below on widget).

In this case, Glam chose to support Twitter. But Glam will support Facebook and Friendfeed for other events going forward.

The micro-blogging widgets are significant because they’re one of the first ways a company has tried to monetize microblogging through editing. Glam is calling its edited news wire “gWire.” Until now, microblogging has largely been either one-to-one or open to all. Glam lets both its own publishers and other third-party publishers embed the widgets on their websites.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:12 AM | permalink

Rejected! 10 iPhone Apps That Didn't Make Apple's App Store

A 'throw shoes at Bush' app, a breast-jiggler, a naughty entry from the South Park guys--these are some of the iPhone apps that Apple unceremoniously denied shelf space.

Apple has irked more than a few iPhone app developers by rejecting their creations for inclusion in the App Store, sometimes for reasons that seem to have little sense.

PC World delves into 10 iPhone apps banned in the U.S.A. and beyond.

emily | 7:46 AM | permalink

Excessive Text Messaging, a mental illness?

PH2009022101967.jpg... Although it's too early for conclusive data on the effects of prolific texting -- on attention span, social life, writing ability, family connections -- questions abound, even as many experts point to clear benefits, reports The Washington Post.

quotemarksright.jpgNationally, more than 75 billion text messages are sent a month, and the most avid texters are 13 to 17, say researchers. Teens with cellphones average 2,272 text messages a month, compared with 203 calls, according to the Nielsen Co.

The tap, tap, tap of connectivity can benefit teenagers at a time in life when they cannot always get together in an unscheduled way. Texters are "sharing a sense of co-presence," said Mimi Ito of the University of California at Irvine. "It can be a very socially affirming thing."

Some experts say there are downsides, starting with declines in spelling, word choice and writing complexity. Some suggest too much texting is related to an inability to focus.

The American Journal of Psychiatry published an editorial last year by psychiatrist Jerald J. Block, suggesting that addiction to the Internet and text messaging be included in the diagnostic manual for mental illnesses (compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder). quotesmarksleft.jpg

Picture above: Pam Zingeser relaxes with her daughter Julie, 15, and their dog, Tucker. Julie, who racked up more than 6,000 text messages in one month, sends a quick text. (By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)

emily | 7:34 AM | permalink

February 22, 2009

Help for poor to access banking

_45493426_mpesafull.jpg Bill Gates' charitable foundation has pledged $12.5m (£8.6m) to help the world's poor access banking services. The BBC reports.

quotemarksright.jpgWorking in conjunction with the mobile phone industry, the foundation aims to help provide a basic service that local banks are unable or unwilling to give.

It is thought that more than a billion people worldwide do not have a bank account but do have a mobile phone.

The foundation says that extending banking services to the world's poor is vital for economic progress.

... Research by consultants McKinsey estimates that the mobile money market for people without a bank account could grow to $5bn over the next three years.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Related: - Bill Gates grant to extend mobile banking to poor

emily | 11:14 AM | permalink

Mobile Phones to Serve as Doctors in Developing Countries

mhealth09.jpg "There are 2.2 billion mobile phones in the developing world, 305 million computers but only 11 million hospital beds," said Terry Kramer, strategy director at British operator Vodafone at the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona this week. That's why Vodafone, along with the United Nations and the Rockerfeller Foundation's mHealth Alliance have banded together to advance the use of mobile phones to better aid those in need of healthcare in the developing world. The New York Times reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIn a recent study released by the UN and Vodafone titled, "mHealth for Development: The Opportunity of Mobile Technology for Healthcare in the Developing World," over 50 of these types of initiatives throughout 26 countries were discussed. The biggest adopters of mobile technology were India with 11 projects and South Africa and Uganda with 6 each.

The new alliance wants to guide governments, NGOs, and mobile firms on how mobile technology can be used to help save lives.

Examples of the mHealth projects included:

-- Sending mobile phone owners updates on diseases via SMS.

-- Letting health workers in Uganda log data on mobile devices from the field.

-- In South Africa, the SIMpill is a sensor-equipped pill bottle with a SIM card that informs doctors whether patients are taking their tuberculosis medicine.

-- In Uganda, a multiple-choice quiz about HIV/AIDS was sent to 15,000 subscribers inviting them to answer questions and seek tests. Those who completed the quiz were given free airtime minutes. At the end of the quiz, a final SMS encouraged participants to go for voluntary testing. The number of people who did so increased from 1000 to 1400 over a 6-week period.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 10:54 AM | permalink

LG shows off solar phone, battery cover

lg-solar-phone-mwc-09-00.jpg

LG showed its own concept solar phone at MWC this week to match up with Samsung's Blue Earth.

The prototype LG handset can eke 3 minutes' worth of life out of a 10-minute charge in natural light.

[via engadget:mobile]

emily | 10:27 AM | permalink

February 20, 2009

Illuminated Crystal Phones

36329_1_468.jpg

Spotted on Trendhunter, the ‘Quartz Tele’ concept phone that turns phone dialling into a geological study.

quotemarksright.jpgOpposing the ultra-thin craze, the luminous ‘Quartz Tele’ extends its tentacle numerals towards your fingertips and lures you in for a phone call. The daring concept incorporates large quartz crystals for each number; pushing each crystal triggers the LED lights embedded beneath to give a more dramatic tone to making a phone call. quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 10:41 PM | permalink

Keeper app (Password and Data Security)

big_icon_1876.png The Keeper app was initially launched in August 2008 and was revised to a 2.2.version in November. It's currently offered at discount for anyone watching their app budget.

It's heavy duty protection for your iPhone with military grade encryption (128-bit AES) and claims to be the most secure password storage system application available for the iPhone and other mobile devices.

And right out of Mission Impossible, it comes with a Self Destruct Mode.

emily | 6:26 PM | permalink

STD test result by SMS

NHS Hounslow in the UK is using the internet and text messaging to encourage more young people to be screened for chlamydia, reports The Register.

quotemarksright.jpgThe west London primary care trust has launched an online service to enable Hounslow residents aged between 16 and 24 to request free, painless self-testing kits. The results can then be sent back by text message.

Tracey Warrener, lead commissioner for sexual health at NHS Hounslow, said: "Once you get the postal kit you need to give a urine or swab sample, which is then sent to a laboratory.

"The results are sent back by either text message or call or letter. If the result does come back 'positive', it is easily treated with one dose of antibiotics. I also advise that they make sure that their sexual partner also gets tested, as they may also need to be treated.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via Gizmodo]

emily | 3:24 PM | permalink

Weekly round up of iPhone apps featured in textually blogs

A round up of iPhone apps featured this week in textually blogs:

TEXTUALLY

big_icon_20979.png FedEx Mobile for up-to-date shipment tracking information.

chrisapp.png UK's Telegraph gets an app.

big_icon_20593.png Infinite SMS for sending free SMS messages.

geotweeter.gif GeoTweeter puts the 'where' into your tweets.

pearPadapp.png pearPad turns your iPhone into a remote trackpad and keyboard.


WATCHING TV ONLINE

tsrinfoapp.png Swiss Television Network gets an app.

RINGTONIA

pusa.jpgRock band Presidents of the United States of America's app streams their music.

emily | 9:07 AM | permalink

Flipswap Offers Coffee for Used iPods, Cell Phones

Flipswap has caome up with a compelling sweetener to convince people to recycle old cell phones and iPods -- free coffee. The company, which already gives consumers cash for old devices, has partnered up with Tully's Coffee Corporation

[via Fast Company]

emily | 9:01 AM | permalink

Breast Englargement Ringtone in the News again

boingboing has dug up an all time Ringtone favorite. The breast enlargement ringtone. Scientifically explained on the Discovery Channel via YouTube by Dr Tomobechi.

Such a ringtone made headlines in September 2004 - when a member of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan (that unleashed deadly sarin gas on the Tokyo subway system nearly 14 years ago) started selling a ringtone that should make your breasts grow larger just by listening to it.

emily | 8:58 AM | permalink

Touchscreen phones fail to push buttons

Apart from Apple's iPhone and LG's KC910 phone, touchscreen mobile phones are disappointing customers who have bought them, according to shopper feedback collected by Reevoo.com. The Guardian reports.

quotemarksright.jpgAmong those receiving brickbats is the BlackBerry Storm, RIM's move into the pure touchscreen market, where Apple has already sold 17m iPhones.

Though the Storm wins a 7.3 rating out of 10, that leaves it far down the listings: most phones reviewed by Reevoo users get at least an 8.0 rating or higher.

The top-rated phone at present, the Nokia 5220 XpressMusic, uses a standard keypad and gets an 8.8 rating. The iPhone and LG's "Renoir" are the highest-ranking touchscreen phones, both receiving an overall score of 8.3.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 8:42 AM | permalink

Average iPhone app usage declines rapidly after first download

According to Apple Insider, the vast majority of apps downloaded from the App Store are in use by less than 5% of users after one month has passed since the download.

quotemarksright.jpgThe data was collected from more than 30 million app downloads Pinch Media has been tracking as part of its analytics services.

Just 20% of users even return to run a free application again the day after it's downloaded. As time goes on, that decline continues, eventually settling below five percent at the one month elapsed mark and nearing zero after three months.

... Paid apps are used slightly more than free ones and for slightly longer periods. In the findings, very few apps can succeed with ad support. The number of views just isn't there.quotesmarksleft.jpg

pinchmedia-1.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 7:50 AM | permalink

February 19, 2009

MySpace Signs Mobile Deals with Palm, Nokia

MySpace is unveiling new agreements today with Palm Inc. and Nokia Corp. that it claims will help it become the first social network to support every major smartphone according to the Associated Press via appscout.

emily | 11:05 PM | permalink

pearPad turns your iPhone into a remote trackpad and keyboard

pearPadapp.png pearPad is a little application that turns your iPhone/iPod touch into a remote trackpad and keyboard for your Mac over WiFi.

pearPad features swipe-gestures- (quick strokes across the iPhone/iPod touch screen) and shake-detection that you can map to any key-combination you like. The app also includes large buttons, a divided qwerty-layout and a dedicated number-pad.

[via Macnn]

emily | 9:32 PM | permalink

Budget airline allows mobile phone use on planes

Ryanair began offering a mobile phone service for calls, text messaging and e-mails on some of its flights on Thursday, becoming the first budget carrier in Europe to test the use of cell phones in flight.

[via Forbes]

emily | 9:27 PM | permalink

Ripping off iPhone apps (updated)

classicscomparison169.png

Ars Technica posted a story about a new scourge plaguing the App Store: 100% complete app ripoffs. An app called Classics: Jane Austen pictured at right, is a complete rip off of an excellent iPhone book reader called Classics ($3), pictured on the left. ZDNet reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIt appears that shady developer Diego Dominguez Ferrera of Ubiklabs has completely and unapologetically stole several aspects of the successful Classics app including the background pattern which is a pixel exact copy of the wooden background found in the original app.

And he doesn’t stop there, Ferrera also stole the page flip sounds and the app’s feature list from Classics. For good measure he also lifted the bio snippet of Jane Austen word-for-word from the Wikipedia entry.

Shameful.

Apple really needs to add a “report this app” button to all apps in the App Store for cases like this.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full articles: ZDNet and ars technica

Related: - Annoy-A-Teen Developer Considers Charges Over Pirated iPhone App

emily | 9:17 PM | permalink

Nelson Mandela Foundation received $85,863 from SMS competition

happybirthdaymadela.gif

Zain Group, the leading mobile telecommunications operator in the Middle East and Africa, is proud to announce that they have donated $85,863 to the Nelson Mandela Foundation from funds raised in a SMS competition held last year. The competition formed part of a global SMS birthday wishes campaign prior to the ’46664 Concert Honouring Nelson Mandela at 90’ held in June at Hyde Park in London.

[ArtZone]

Related: - Nelson Mandela Charities Launch International SMS Campaign

emily | 6:41 PM | permalink

Pill Dispenser With SMS Reminder Feature

sidepill.jpg

Ubergizmo reports on a pill dispenser with an SMS alert system

quotemarksright.jpgDesigner Steven Grech has come up with a new pill dispenser that aims to improve patient compliance as it features an alert system via SMS to remind the user to pop designated pills are pre-programmed times of the day. The device will also record when you took your medication, showing the pharmacist the correct intervals.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 6:34 PM | permalink

GeoTweeter

A new geotweeter.gif GeoTweeter app that puts the 'where' into your tweets.

GeoTweeter automatically appends map links to your tweeted messages: configurable map icons show your followers not only where you are, but also what mood youre in. GeoTweeter also lets you tweet previously saved places - perfect for recommending favorite restaurants and bars on Twitter.

See sample GeoTweets with screen shots on Schmap.

emily | 5:22 PM | permalink

Cell Phones and Connections Faster than Lightning

Verizon and Sprint are moving to 4G platforms. They face the issue of whether consumers need and will pay for super-fast wireless.

quotemarksright.jpgThe next generation of cellular service may be judged on more than how it functions. It may be much faster than the 3G networks that service handsets now. But that won't matter if customers are unwilling to upgrade their current service and get new subscription plans. At some point, old handsets for 3G won't work, and acquiring new cell phones will be an additional cost.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via Time]

emily | 4:10 PM | permalink

Aussie telco boss loses top-secret Windows cellphone

htc-touch_pro-2.jpg Sol Trujillo, controversial head of Australian telephone provider, Telstra, has had his pocket picked. Worse still a mobile phone, probably the same as that illustrated, loaded with top-secret software was nicked at the same time. Blorge reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe new-generation software was on a phone given to Mr Trujillo in Barcelona, Spain this week at the World Mobile Congress.

Details are as yet a little scarce but the reports in the press suggest phone is thought to to be either an HTC Touch Pro2 or the HTC Touch Diamond2, which operates on the new Windows Mobile 6.5 software.

A Telstra spokesman yesterday confirmed the phone was given to Mr Trujillo, but said it was in the possession of a senior Telstra executive at the time of the theft.

Steve Ballmer, head of Microsoft, only unveiled the software this week which is burn before reading material. Journalists were not even allowed to touch the phone.

The phone — not the stolen one but an exact copy — will be on sale in the US by June, with the new software following by the end of the year. The advertising could be spectacular — At last, the mobile worth stealing.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 10:32 AM | permalink

February 18, 2009

FAA to Pilots: Cell Phones Off in the Cockpit, Please

Passengers are usually pretty well conditioned to turn off cellphones, Blackberries and laptops before departure. But what about pilots?

The good folks over at Flight Global dug up this interesting FAA safety advisory. While the story is told in subdued government-ese, this must have been a real forehead-slapping moment for the pilot that left his or her cell phone on during the safety inspector’s visit. [via The Wall Street Journal]

quotemarksright.jpg While conducting an en route inspection of an air carrier, an aviation safety inspector (ASI) experienced an event that was categorized as a potentially serious hazard. During the takeoff phase, just prior to reaching V1, a rather loud “warbling” sound was detected by both crewmembers. It was later determined that the sound came from the First Officer’s cellular phone, which had been left in the ON position. As a result, the ring tone caused a distraction between the crewmembers during the takeoff phase and could have led the crew to initiate an unnecessary rejected takeoff.

During a debriefing, the crew stated that their General Operations Manual (GOM) did not address procedures prohibiting the crew from leaving their cellular phones in the ON position while at their duty stations. This was verified by the ASI.

The FAA recommends that airlines review their operation manuals to ensure that pilots are reminded to turn off cellphones in preparation for departure. That goes for those occupying jump seats as well.quotesmarksleft.jpg


emily | 5:53 PM | permalink

Indians prefer phone calls to SMS

rickshawcalcutta.gif For people in India, making a call has become the best option to connect, while other countries like to use the SMS to convey their message. 86 percent of Indians had either made or received a call in the past three months but Filipinos have not made or received a single phone call for the same period, instead they prefer the SMS. Silicon India reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe basic reason behind the preference of calls to SMS is the cost factor. The average tariff in India for local calls is Re 1, the same as the local SMS rate, while for STD calls, the average tariff is Rs.1.50 and the SMS rate is higher at Rs 2. Thus, SMS tariffs are either higher than voice rates or at best comparable, which makes the latter more lucrative.

"The phone patterns in countries like Thailand and the Philippines are also very different as compared to, say, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh," says Rohan Samarajiva, Chairman and CEO of Lirneasia and a former Srilankan telecom regulator told The Times of India. These findings are the result of a Sri Lankan study titled Teleuse@BOP 08-09 conducted by Asian ICT think-tank Lirneasia, which spanned across Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Thailand. The study surveyed close to 10,000 people from the low-income or Bottom of Pyramid group (earning less than $38 a month). In India, it was around 10 cities which were surveyed.quotesmarksleft.jpg


emily | 5:44 PM | permalink

Children get first mobile phone at average age of eight

child-mobile_1298315c.jpg Eight is the average age at which children are given their first mobile phone, according to a survey, reports UK's Telegraph.

quotemarksright.jpgMore than a third of children (35 per cent) own a mobile by the time they are that age, the charity Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg) discovered.

Its survey also found that three-quarters of all children aged seven to 15 owned "at least" one mobile.

The charity's survey highlighted how early children now become financially aware – with peer pressure forcing them to get to grips with money to afford mobile phone ringtones, call costs and computer games.

It found that children as young as seven were offering to do chores in exchange for cash to buy ringtones.quotesmarksleft.jpg


emily | 11:33 AM | permalink

"Senator Joe Simitian: Your cell phone law sucks" Billboard

BILLBOARD3.jpg "Senator Joe Simitian: Your cell phone law sucks." [via Mercury News]

quotemarksright.jpgThat's the blunt message on a large billboard off Highway 101 south of the IKEA store in East Palo Alto. Who is behind this? A fellow named Grant Paulson of Pleasanton, who despises California's hands-free cell phone law, authored by Simitian and in place since last summer.

Paulson paid $10,000 for the billboard, money he considers well spent, though many drivers seem to find the verbose, 75-word message a distracting nuisance. Paulson, 47, said Tuesday he doesn't like the cell phone law because he finds it hard to hear calls on hands-free devices and he considers the rule an attack on personal freedoms. He's pushing for a statewide ballot measure to repeal the law.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Picture from the LA Times.

emily | 11:17 AM | permalink

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