Americans are trying to control their impulses using technology that steps in to enforce good behavior - like an Internet-blocking program which shuts down Web access twice a day - to get some work done. Cellular-News reports.
Many tools are now available to help people stay in line, including a GPS-enabled app that locks down texting once a car gets rolling and a program that cuts off credit-card spending. Another device monitors your workout and offers real-time voice feedback.
... A handful of apps — including "Don't Dial!" and "The Bad Decision Blocker" — will cut off your access to phone numbers for up to 24 hours, the former allowing you to name a friend as gatekeeper.
Another app requires the answers to math questions before allowing you to send an e-mail, the presumption being it's really hard to do math while somehow impaired.
A very interesting article from CNN, on doctors in Tanzania using M-Pesa's banking service to send bus fare to women suffering from fistula -- a highly-stigmatized condition that women can develop after a long, traumatic childbirth without proper medical care.
The money is used to pay for a patient's bus ticket -- helping them travel from rural areas to Dar es Salaam, one of the few places where corrective surgeries are performed.
"It has changed our treatment, because now we are having so many patients who could not access treatment before because of the transport barrier," he says. "Last year we treated only 100, we had 163 surgeries; this year, up to now we've had 253."
"We use the mobile phone to actually transfer those transport grants to the communities, so that those woman can reach our facility -- and then the cost of lodging in a hospital, we also bear the costs," says Erwin Telemans, who runs the clinic.
engadget on Thimble, a wearable device concept for the blind that translates every day ambient information into braille.
A thimble takes ambient input and relays it in via an electro-tactile grid to the wearer's finger in Braille. It gets text input from an embedded camera or pulls RSS feeds, books, or presumably any other text via a Bluetooth-paired smartphone.
Malicious text messages that could disrupt a wide range of handsets is all over the news today. Coined "SMS of death", it makes for attention grabbing headlines. [via Gizmodo]
Despite how obsessed we may be with smartphones, it's the simplest cellphones which are most common—and the most vulnerable. In fact, it seems that many of those phones could be rendered useless by a maliciously crafted SMS.
It hasn't happened yet. But speaking at the Chaos Computer Club Congress in Berlin, German researchers showed how vulnerabilities in some the simplest, but most common phones in the world could conceivably lead to just such a scenario.
i4u has noticed that Trojan Condoms will be be exhibited at CES 2011 for the first time, showcasing a new line of ultrathin condoms.
According to Trojan chief scientist Dr. Michael Harrison:
Innovation in this category is critical. At the show, you'll see ultra thin TV's, tiny solid state hard drives and thousands of other innovations designed to improve the consumer experience.
It's a show dedicated to inventiveness, and that's exactly why we're here. We'll be announcing a collection of new products in early January that we believe are every bit as innovative as some of the bigger consumer electronics announcements, and certainly as important."
According to Business Week, Apple Inc. was accused in a lawsuit of allowing applications for the iPhone and iPad to transmit users’ personal information to advertising networks without customers’ consent.
The complaint, which seeks class action, or group, status, was filed on Dec. 23 in federal court in San Jose, California.
The suit claims Cupertino, California-based Apple’s iPhones and iPads are encoded with identifying devices that allow advertising networks to track what applications users download, how frequently they’re used and for how long.
“Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views,” according to the suit.
The suit, filed on behalf of Jonathan Lalo of Los Angeles County, identifies applications such as Pandora, Paper Toss, the Weather Channel and Dictionary.com, and names them as defendants along with Apple.
Apple iPhones and iPads are set with a Unique Device Identifier, or UDID, which can’t be blocked by users, according to the complaint. Apple claims it reviews all applications on its App Store and doesn’t allow them to transmit user data without customer permission, according to the complaint.
Business Daily Africa reports on how text messages warn farmers of Central Kenya when their coffee is being stolen.
Mr Peter Mwathi, an agricultural economist, has invented a gadget to prevent theft of coffee beans from factories.
The security system involves installation of a virtual perimeter fence that uses laser beams in place of barbed wires, fixed around sensitive areas such as coffee drying beds, stores, offices and machines.
The signals are sent to a decoder that sends an alert to mobile phones of select factory officials and are captured as incoming calls.
AT&T today announced the release of a powerful new documentary titled "The Last Text," featuring stories of real individuals whose lives have been adversely affected by texting behind the wheel.
The 10-minute piece will be distributed nationwide to schools, safety organizations, government agencies and more as part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign. Each of the eight individuals included in the full-length reel volunteered their stories to help AT&T educate wireless customers – particularly youth – on the risks of tapping away on their cell phones in the car. The documentary can be viewed online at AT&T’s “It Can Wait” website and on AT&T’s YouTube page.
A Michigan man has been charged under anti-hacking legislation designed to protect trade secrets after logging on to his wife's email account and discovering she was having an affair. [via The Guardian]
Leon Walker, 33, faces a trial lawyers say could have significant repercussions given that nearly half of US divorce cases involve some form of snooping, such as reading emails, text messages or social networking.
Haitian telecoms and banks are racing to sign up customers for mobile banking plans through which payments are made electronically from mobile phone to mobile phone. The money is stored in an “electronic wallet” — the phone’s SIM card — instead of that wooden drawer. The Global Post reports.
At least two major mobile phone providers have launched mobile banking programs, partnering with major Haitian banks and international aid agencies. The competition is spurred by a $10 million reward from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The money, dispersed in two awards in December and next spring, will go to the company that records the most transactions.
... The benefits for the poorest can be numerous: Many never before had access to a bank branch or held an account. Their banking history can be used to help secure loans or apply for other financial services. It’s more secure than handling cash. And it’s cheaper than a traditional bank account.
A US company has received permission to reopen a large rare earths mine, easing fears that the country was becoming too dependent on Chinese imports of the substances needed for mobile phones, solar cells and other technologies.
On the other hand, the number of phone calls grew.
"People sent fewer SMS messages from their mobile phones than last year but the number of SMS sent through the Internet has quadrupled, in particular from the Vodafone park which allows sending one SMS to many phone numbers," said Vodafone spokesman Miroslav Cepicky."
Mobile-phone companies are experimenting with a new way to steal their rivals' customers: the mobile insult to the device in hand. The WSJ reports.
Their new tactic involves mobile ads that appear when a person using a competitor's phone or network launches an application or browses the Web on their phone. The basic message: Oh, you could do better than that thing. In industry jargon, the tactic is called "intercept campaigning."
Nokia Corp. recently targeted ads for its Nokia Twist device at users of the Motorola Inc.'s Razr phone. Razr users who surf the Web would be dealt an ad saying, "Are you really still rockin' a flip phone?" It then suggests upgrading to a Twist.
Paid prioritization of Web traffic: Any commercial agreements between broadband providers and other companies that would allow providers to prioritize some types of Web traffic would likely violate the prohibition on unreasonable discrimination, the rules say. Those types of commercial agreements would "raise significant cause for concern," the FCC said in its press release. "This departure from long-standing norms could cause great harm to innovation and investment in and on the Internet.
But the chances of a lawsuit challenging the rules are extremely likely, according to most FCC observers writes PC World in a follow up article.
According to Swedish news agency TT via UPI, the number of Christmas text messages is declining as other methods of communicating become more popular.
Even though the number of text messages sent through Tre and Tele2 declined, Telia and Telenor set new records for the number of text messages sent Christmas Eve.
The trend toward fewer Christmas text messages is also reflected in some neighboring countries, the report said.
In Denmark, the number of text messages sent through Telia dropped by 1 million, while data traffic increased by 36 percent.
Norway's Telenor said its text messaging traffic has dropped by 5 million over the past two Christmas holidays.
"We're convinced that several of those who have sent text messages with Christmas greetings in the past now increasingly communicate through Facebook and other social media," said Per Aril Meling, Telenor's information officer.
According to Bloomberg, holographic conversations, projected from mobile phones, lead this year’s list of IBM predictions, an annual tradition whereby IBM surveys its 3,000 researchers to find five ideas expected to take root in the next five years.
The predictions also include air- breathing batteries, computer programs that can tell when and where traffic jams will take place, environmental information generated by sensors in cars and phones, and cities powered by the heat thrown off by computer servers.
As consumers and companies embrace smartphones to do more of their computing, the wireless industry is taking its first steps to beef up security on mobile devices. The WSJ reports.
Carriers are deploying new services and cutting deals with start-ups to help protect people from malicious attacks and misuse of their personal data stored on a smartphone. Meanwhile, handset makers and chip firms are taking steps to fortify their hardware as the number of attacks on mobile devices grows larger and more sophisticated.