Archives for February 2009
February 23, 2009
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.
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.
To 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).
Links to postive studies on the effect of text messaging on student's writing skills:
Links to negative studies:
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)
For 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).
Read full article.
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.
... 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.
Nationally, 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.
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)
February 22, 2009
Bill Gates' charitable foundation has pledged $12.5m (£8.6m) to help the world's poor access banking services. The BBC reports.
Working 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.
"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.
In 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.
Read full article.
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.
February 20, 2009
Spotted on Trendhunter, the ‘Quartz Tele’ concept phone that turns phone dialling into a geological study.
Opposing 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
A round up of iPhone apps featured this week in textually blogs:
FedEx Mobile for up-to-date shipment tracking information.
UK's Telegraph gets an app.
Infinite SMS for sending free SMS messages.
GeoTweeter puts the 'where' into your tweets.
pearPad turns your iPhone into a remote trackpad and keyboard.
Swiss Television Network gets an app.
Rock band Presidents of the United States of America's app streams their music.
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]
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.
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.
Among those receiving brickbats is the BlackBerry Storm, RIM's move into the pure touchscreen market, where Apple has already sold 17m iPhones.
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.
The data was collected from more than 30 million app downloads Pinch Media has been tracking as part of its analytics services.
Read full article.
February 19, 2009
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.
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.
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.
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.
It 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.
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.
Ubergizmo reports on a pill dispenser with an SMS alert system
Designer 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.
A new 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.
Verizon and Sprint are moving to 4G platforms. They face the issue of whether consumers need and will pay for super-fast wireless.
The 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.
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.
The new-generation software was on a phone given to Mr Trujillo in Barcelona, Spain this week at the World Mobile Congress.
February 18, 2009
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]
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.
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.
The 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.
Eight is the average age at which children are given their first mobile phone, according to a survey, reports UK's Telegraph.
More 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.
"Senator Joe Simitian: Your cell phone law sucks." [via Mercury News]
That'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.
Picture from the LA Times.