Archives for September 2009

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September 25, 2009

The Extraordinaries app for micro-volunteering

extraordinairesapp.jpg The Extraordinaries is an interesting new concept in the growing field of iPhone applications — it allows people to use the every part of their spare time cow (waiting for a movie to start, riding a bus, waiting in line) to do small bits of volunteering through “micro-actions.” Mediaite reports.

Some possibilities:

-- Translate a nonprofit's Website into a foreign language
-- Record locations of potholes for municipalities
-- Identify birds for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
-- Tag images for the Smithsonian
-- Transcribe ancient texts for ReCaptcha
-- Review congressional bills for hidden pork
-- Fact check for reporters

Watch dedicated Extraordinaries channel on YouTube

emily | 8:54 AM | permalink

Telstra SMS alerts could save lives

The federal government has selected Telstra to build a new $15 million national warning system that will send text alerts to the mobile phones of residents threatened by bushfires. [via Australian IT News]

In the event of brush fires, disease epidemics, sieges, cyclones, terrorist attacks, locust plagues and heat or smog alerts, the system will be used to deliver recorded voice warnings to landlines and text messages to mobiles based on people's billing addresses.

It's hoped the system, which will be able to send at least 100,000 messages at a time, will be in use by the end of November in all states except Western Australia, which has its own State Alert system.

emily | 8:39 AM | permalink

DoCoMo Shows Off Concept Phone Made from Wood

DoCoMo_Shows_Off_Concept_Phone_Made_from_Wood_1.jpg Japan's NTT DoCoMo says that it has developed a mobile phone prototype made with the surplus wood of trees culled during thinning operations to maintain healthy forests. The prototype was created in collaboration with Sharp, Olympus and "more trees," a reforestation project founded by musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and others.

[via Cellular News]

Related concept phones made out of wood:

-- The nautical-aesthetic S-SERIES wooden mobile phone

-- S-series: wood-like concept mobile phone

-- The CulArt concept phone

-- Woood (2007) - Smart Phone Concept

-- The Ziricote (wooden) PHONE. One of a kind by Hulger

-- Gresso's mobile phone made of African Blackwood and Gold

-- Wooden handmade Cellphones from Mozambique

-- Hand-carved wooden phones from Russia

-- Fand-carved wooden "phones" from Helsinki

emily | 8:14 AM | permalink

Mexican Tax May Cost Mobile Carriers 5 Million Users

President Felipe Calderon’s budget proposals, including a tax on telecommunications, could force as many as 5 million Mexican mobile-phone customers to drop their lines, NII Holdings Inc. is telling lawmakers.

Lower-income subscribers wouldn’t be able to afford the service, and the decline in subscribers could slow Mexico’s economic growth, according to documents the company is providing to legislators.

[via Bloomberg]

emily | 8:06 AM | permalink

Mobile operators killing SMS revolution

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Joshua Goldstein writing for Business Daily describes how African mobile networks are costly because the price of sending an SMS is kept up by high taxes and interconnection fees.

quotemarksright.jpgHowever, there is reason for hope. Mobile companies and regulators around the developing world are recognising the “economics of abundance”— that more users at lower prices will result in more revenue.

In the Philippines, for example, according to telecom expert Steve Song, mobile providers charge less than one US cent per SMS on average. What is striking about this is that they manage to generate three times the revenue per capita from SMS traffic as compared with South Africa where the average SMS costs over nine US cents.

Also, in Uganda, for the first time in the telecom industry’s history, MTN agreed to lower the price of a premium SMS to 5 US cents for Farmers Friend, one of the newly launched Grameen and Google services, aimed at poor farmers.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image from Kiwanja.net.

Update: Uganda Rejects Call to Lower Mobile Phone Sales Tax

emily | 7:33 AM | permalink

September 24, 2009

O2 launches “people powered” network

O2 is launching a new mobile phone network which it has dubbed as the first “people powered” service in the sector. Mad.co.uk reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe online SIM-only offer called giffgaff will aim to capitalise on the trend towards online content creation. The company says the more a customer gets involved, the more they will be rewarded with cheaper calls and texts.

For instance, members will be rewarded for referring the service to a friend or relative, creating user-generated marketing, or voting on business decisions.

By doing this members will be able to get up to 100% of top-ups back. They will have a choice of what to do with their rebate, using it for mobile calls.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 10:16 AM | permalink

Philippines. House retreats from text-tax bill

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Just over a week after the Philippine politicians approved plans for a tax on text messages, the measure is to be subjected to an investigation following strong public opposition. The measure had been approved by the House of Representatives. [via Cellular News]

quotemarksright.jpgThe law is seeking a tax of five centavos (US$0.001) on every text message sent by mobile phone. Its backers estimate that the tax would raise up to US$700 million in revenue for the government.

The committee agreed that more public hearings should be conducted on the controversial measure as some groups complained they were not heard at the earlier meetings.

... The Cellphone Owners and Users of the Philippines (COUP) has separately filed a lawsuit to put a halt on the legislation.

"The class suit is filed in order to prevent temporarily, and later on permanently, the illegal, prohibitive and unconstitutional imposition of an excise tax on SMS and overseas calls." the lawsuit claimed.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Related: - Philippines. SMS is tax goldmine

emily | 9:53 AM | permalink

Auto industry supports ban on texting in cars

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Wednesday announced its support for banning text messaging using a hand-held device or calling using a hand-held device while driving a motor vehicle, saying the visual/manual task interferes with the attention a driver needs to safely operate an automobile.

"Alliance member companies have long recognized the risks of distracted driving. That’s why automakers voluntarily developed and implemented guidelines for integrated advanced information and communications systems," added Alliance President and CEO Dave McCurdy.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is a trade association of 11 car and light truck manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen.

[Press release via Cellular News]

Previously: - Ford Backs Ban on Text Messaging by Drivers

emily | 9:33 AM | permalink

A Retrospective of Movie Phone-Fails

A video compilation of phone failures in horror movies - on YouTube.

[ Nerdist via Gizmodo]

emily | 9:28 AM | permalink

'Tweeting' medics expose patients

Twitter-bird-logo-001.jpg Medics posting messages on networking websites like Facebook and Twitter are breaching patient confidentiality, the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals, reports the BBC.

quotemarksright.jpg Research in the leading journal found examples of web gossip by trainee doctors sharing private patient stories and details.

Over half of 78 US medical schools studied had reported cases of students posting unprofessional content online.

One in 10 of these contained frank violations of patient confidentiality.

Many postings included profanity and discriminatory language. Sexually suggestive material and photos showing drunkenness or illicit drug use were also commonplace. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Online Posting of Unprofessional Content by Medical Students - Journal of the American Medical Association

emily | 9:11 AM | permalink

A Small Business Guide to Text-Message Marketing

The New York Times has published a Small Business Guide to Text-Message Marketing with quick tips, recommended reading and case studies.

Additional resources missing from this guide:

-- SMS and Business category on Textually

-- SMS Marketing and Advertising category on Textually

-- 101 Business Uses for SMS, a report published by Clickatell, recipient of the Moby award in the "Best Mobile Direct Response" category for its industry-first SMS campaign working with the US State Department, which sent 'live' text messages to global citizens during President Obama's Cairo and Ghana speeches this past summer.

emily | 8:44 AM | permalink

Dot Go could be 'the Internet for text messaging'

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For better or worse, text messaging has become, according to a company called Scientific Media, the most popular mobile application on Earth. And while many companies are trying to build marketing efforts around people's use of texting, it's clear there is a long way to go before those efforts are coherent. By Daniel Terdiman for CNet.

quotemarksright.jpgAt the DemoFall 09 conference here Wednesday, Scientific Media unveiled its Dot Go service, a tool it hopes large numbers of companies will employ to try to boost their text messaging-based marketing.

The idea? Blow apart the current texting/marketing dynamic, in which companies try to get users to text questions to them, but in which there's no easy way for people to remember the so-called short codes (the five- or six-number codes people text their questions to) used by most companies.

Scientific Media's solution to this problem is to do away with each company having its own hard to remember code, and instead have all text messages to companies go through its service, which is reachable by a single short code, "Dotcom."

Dot Go imposes a single rule, Scientific Media said: The first word of any text message sent to Dotcom (368266) specifies the Internet domain a user is looking for.

One major value proposition of this, the company argued, is that text messaging works on every mobile phone, meaning that anyone with such a device can use the service.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:38 AM | permalink

September 23, 2009

Starbucks Testing iPhone App That Can Pay For Coffee

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Starbucks is testing an iPhone app in Seattle and the Bay Area that links to a customer’s registered account—and includes a bar code that can be used to pay for purchases instead of the plastic swipe cards. WSJ reports the chain will use feedback from the experiment to help plan the next steps.

[via MocoNews]

emily | 4:41 PM | permalink

South Korea to Allow iPhone Entry

ALeqM5jbDpXrzyOdq-_GK9Bcf-OO52lrsg.jpg According to the WSJ, South Korea's communications regulator decided Wednesday to allow the sale of Apple Inc.'s iPhone, a government spokesman said, lifting a technical requirement that had blocked the product.

quotemarksright.jpgThe Korea Communications Commission made an exception to a rule that requires cellphones sold in the country to use domestic technology for location-based services such as GPS. The commission's action comes after months of consumer pressure. South Korea has long stood out as one of the few technically advanced countries that doesn't allow the iPhone.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 8:15 AM | permalink

Twitter Begins Emphasizing SMS Again

Too expensive to maintain, Twitter shut down SMS in several countries (in fact, all of them besides the U.S. and India). But even since Kevin Thau, Twitter’s head of mobile products and partnerships, came on board in January, SMS has seen a resurgence. And today it looks like Twitter is ready to emphasize the service again.

[via TechCrunch]

emily | 8:02 AM | permalink

Canadian Wireless Carriers Enable Charitable Donations via SMS

MobileGiving.jpg

Canadians have a new way to support charities via their mobile phones, thanks to a partnership between the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) and the recently-established Mobile Giving Foundation. Telecommunications Industry News reports.

quotemarksright.jpgUsers will initially be able to support Plan Canada, the Children’s Wish Foundation, Best Buddies, and Jays Care Foundation.

“We thought this was a way to help new donors be charitable. In some cases people, can only give small gifts,” explained Bernard Lord, head of the CWTA. “They don’t know how to do it and they don’t want to write a cheque for $5 or $10, but they can give $5 or $10 through their cellphone. We think it will reach mostly a younger generation, the new generation coming up, the 20s or 30s, but it could be anybody.”

The CWTA assures users than 100% of the money donated will go to the respective charity. Donations will show up on a customer’s wireless bill and tax receipts will be made available.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Related: - UK text donations will be VAT free

emily | 7:52 AM | permalink

September 22, 2009

Ford Works to Develop Voice-to-Text System

Looking to add to its winning Sync system, Ford is researching a voice-to-text system that would allow drivers to keep the utility of text-messaging without taking their eyes off the road. Ford is so far the only automaker to endorse the national texting ban.

[via KickingTires]

emily | 10:26 PM | permalink

RU Kidding - "txtspeak" Has No Impact on Children's Spelling Ability

This will prolly comes as a bit of a shock to UR system, but findings from a group of University of Alberta researchers show that language commonly used in instant messaging has no effect on your child's spelling abilities. If anything, says study author Connie Varnhagen, using language variations commonly used in instant messaging and texting is actually a good sign.

[via Cellular News]

Related: - Texting can b gd 4 ur kids

emily | 10:17 PM | permalink

Earphones with capacitive sensing technology

it_photo_136780_50.jpg Sony Ericsson has announced a pair of inner-ear headphones that know when you're using them. PC Pro reports.

quotemarksright.jpgAccording to Sony Ericsson, the MH907 headphones use capacitive technology to start the music when you insert both headphones into your ears.

Removing one of the earbuds will pause the music, while reinserting it will cause the music to resume - all without the need to touch the controller, which could be useful for those gasped conversations on the treadmill.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 4:03 PM | permalink

Apple Approved Nearly 1400 iPhone Apps Last Friday

According to MacRumors, Apple approved close to 1400 iPhone apps last Friday, by far the largest number approved in a single day in the past few months.

Over 300 of the approved applications were games.

emily | 3:44 PM | permalink

Emoji Dick: Moby Dick to be translated into Japanese emoticons

emoji_1486775c.jpg Thousands of people will be paid small sums to translate portions of the original 1851 text into Emoji, the picture character language widely used in Japanese SMS messages. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgWhile the premise of the project – titled Emoji Dick – may be whimsical, it highlights the innovative ways in which the labour pool of bored internet users is being tapped to complete complex tasks.

Fred Benenson, the New York-based web product manager behind the idea, has launched an online appeal to raise $3,500 to pay for the crowd-source translation.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 3:37 PM | permalink

Verizon, AT&T: Net neutrality not OK for wireless

The wireless industry is gearing up to fight new Net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission is formulating to keep the Internet open. CNet reports.

quotemarksright.jpgOn Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., outlining plans to turn the agency's principles for open Internet access into official regulation.

In addition to making sure that network operators cannot prevent users from accessing lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, or attaching unharmful devices to the network, Genachowski wants to add two more rules.

The first would prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management. The second principle would ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement.

Broadband providers such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon Communications have opposed regulation or new laws that would dictate how they could run their networks. Up until this point, the Internet has been free of any regulation. And these companies would like to keep it that way.

That said, the nation's two biggest phone companies, AT&T and Verizon, have accepted the principles outlined by the FCC, when it comes to their wired broadband networks. Even though they don't think additional regulation is needed, they have agreed in principle with keeping their broadband networks open.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 2:49 PM | permalink

Clickatell Case Study: Schuh

Clickatelllogo.jpg Discover how fashion-forward retailers can establish leadership through mobile messaging, thanks to Clickatell.

SMS offers new opportunities for retailers to better interact with their customers. Taking advantage of this opportunity, fashion leaders such as Schuh - a UK footwear retailer - have adopted new mobile messaging and marketing programs and have seen direct increases in retail sales as a result. schuhlogo.gif

Schuh understood that through simple, low cost, targeted mobile marketing campaigns, both online and in-store customers would always be given the earliest opportunity to participate in competitions, brand promotions or upcoming sales.In addition, Schuh used SMS to inform customers in real-time of orders and deliveries.

How it was done

Schuh integrated their existing software with their choice of Clickatell’s broad range of API solutions including sample code scripting and customer support to make it easy for a user to integrate SMS messaging into eCommerce websites and back-end systems. Within a short space of time, Schuh had successfully integrated messaging into their customer-facing applications and business processes and were ready to start sending SMS messages.

You can download the case study here (pdf)

Throughout September, Textually will be promoting Clickatell through a series of editorial ads that will highlight some of their specific services tailored to governments, industry, retailers, social networks and individuals, helping them do business smarter and faster - not only controlling costs but driving more revenue too.


emily | 2:22 PM | permalink

Cell-Phone Radiation Risks: Why the Jury's Still Out

Another article on cell phone safety, from TIME. A good recap.

quotemarksright.jpg... Despite the government's view that cell phones pose no danger, other researchers note that most of us have been using them for less than a decade. If there is indeed a cumulative risk to using a mobile phone, it's possible users won't be aware of it until it's too late — just as it took doctors decades to connect cigarette-smoking with lung cancer. "We all wish we'd heeded the early warnings about cigarettes," says Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist at EWG and the author of the recent report on cell phones. "We think cell phones are similar."quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 2:18 PM | permalink

Barnes & Noble iPhone apps surpass 1 million downloads

Barnes&NobleEreader.jpg According to a press release from Barnes & Noble, Inc., the B&N eReader app for the iPhone and iPod touch recently hit the one million mark.

The free B&N eReader app is one of the most popular apps in the iTunes Books category, and held the No. 1 spot throughout the summer.

[via ZDNet]

emily | 2:12 PM | permalink

Cell Phones Ring For Climate Change 'Wake-Up Call'

Climate change activists set their cell phone alarms to go off simultaneously in a noontime protest at a downtown parklet Monday. PittsburghChannel.com reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe group said it's intended as a "wake-up call" for world leaders who will be involved in the G-20 economic summit Thursday and Friday in downtown Pittsburgh.

Alarms went off near the corner of Seventh Street and Penn Avenue at exactly 12:18 p.m. to symbolize Dec. 18 -- the last day of the United Nations' conference in Copenhagen, where environmentalists hope a global climate treaty will be reached.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 2:04 PM | permalink

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emily | 8:12 AM | permalink

September 21, 2009

SK Telecom App Store Looks Disappointing

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Following months of massive anticipation, SK Telecom unveiled its "T-Store'' online store last week. Unfortunately, according to The Korea Times, the initial response from mobile users and bloggers was downright harsh, with the potential buzz project turning into a public relations disaster.

quotemarksright.jpgThe biggest complaint is that the applications listed on T-Store could not be downloaded through computers or Wi-Fi connections, but only through SK Telecom's third-generation (3G) mobile data network, which has been ignored by a larger part of users because of expensive rates.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 1:44 PM | permalink

Cellphones and iPods go to the field to help study nature

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quotemarksright.jpgCellphones, iPods, and other small yet powerful mobile computing devices could usher in a new era of environmental monitoring in remote places, helping scientists to study the natural world - and on a budget.

The ubiquitous gadgets are being used to record frog calls, hoot for owls, and identify plants from Hawaii to the United Kingdom.

Last week, dozens of researchers gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to compare notes on the use of consumer electronics in the study of flora and fauna, a new field they call human-environment mobile-based interactions.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article in The Boston Globe

emily | 1:37 PM | permalink

Text messaging helps young Palestinians find work

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A non-profit group in the occupied West Bank has started a scheme that uses mobile phone text messaging to help young Palestinians find work. The Guardian reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe group, based in Ramallah, has already registered 8,000 Palestinians on its Souktel system, most of them recent graduates. The system connects them to about 150 leading employers who are looking for staff.

Internet access in the West Bank remains low, reaching about one-third of the population. Most computer use is at internet cafes, which are largely male-dominated domains in what is still a conservative society.

Souktel enables young people looking for work to register by answering a series of simple questions in Arabic through text messages, which are used to create a mini-CV. They then receive regular information about relevant jobs on offer.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 1:28 PM | permalink

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