Archives for December 2010

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December 30, 2010

Tools and Apps to cope with temptation

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.

quotemarksright.jpgMany 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 10:16 AM | permalink

Skype adds video-calling to iPhone app

SkypeiPhoneApp .jpg Skype today begins offering a two-way video application for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Skype rushed the app for New Year's Eve, the biggest day of the year for video calls.

[via USA Today]

emily | 10:06 AM | permalink

EU Bodies Deliver Universal Phone Charger Standards

Two European standards bodies, CENELEC and ETSI, on Wednesday delivered standards for a universal micro USB phone charger, which will let Europeans use one charger for multiple phones.

quotemarksright.jpgThe European Commission expects the first common chargers and mobile phones compatible with the new standards to hit the European market in early 2011.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via PCMag]

emily | 9:56 AM | permalink

December 29, 2010

In Tanzania, Doctors send bus fare to women needing care by SMS

womenclinicTanzania.jpg 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.

quotemarksright.jpgThe 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."

Doctors at the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania clinic (CCBRT) say the average cost of a return bus ticket for a woman traveling from a rural area for treatment is $60, a huge amount in a country where the majority of people live on $2 a day.

"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. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 5:23 PM | permalink

Christians Excited About 'See Jesus' iPhone App

SeeJesusiPhoneApp.jpg The latest Christian application for iPhones is called "See Jesus," and the faithful reportedly love it, writes God Discussion.

quotemarksright.jpgUsers view an optical illusion for 30 seconds on their iPhones. After staring at it, they will see an image of Jesus on a blank surface.

The application sells for 99 cents, with 20 percent going to charity.

The application's developer, AppTech Global, Inc., is targeting the faith-based market. Its "See Jesus" application went on the market at the beginning of December.

"The feedback we have been getting on the 'See Jesus' App has exceeded our expectations and confirms that the Christian App market is under appreciated.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more about the app.

emily | 5:17 PM | permalink

Thimble wearable device converts text into braille

thimblebraille.jpg

engadget on Thimble, a wearable device concept for the blind that translates every day ambient information into braille.

quotemarksright.jpgA 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Watch video demo.

emily | 9:23 AM | permalink

‘SMS of Death’ could disable cell phones

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]

quotemarksright.jpgDespite 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:58 AM | permalink

December 28, 2010

New Jersey Mayor Uses Twitter to Help Residents Through Blizzard

CoryBookerTwitter.jpg

Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey is using Twitter to help his constituants through the snow storm. Nice.

[via Mashable]

emily | 5:26 PM | permalink

Trojan Condoms will be showcased at CES

300_236947.jpeg 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:

quotemarksright.jpgInnovation 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."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. CES Exhibit Directory. Image from Associated Content.

emily | 5:09 PM | permalink

iPhone 4 gets stickers in Japan that make mobile payments

softbank-iphone-nfc.jpeg

According to TUAW, Japanese carrier SoftBank is offering Sony's FeliCa payment system for the iPhone 4.

quotemarksright.jpgThe system includes an NFC-enabled "seal" that affixes to the back of the iPhone 4 and is compatible with the official Apple bumper case.

From the carrier's press release, the system functions independent of the iPhone, so you do not have to install specialized software for the system to work. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 4:59 PM | permalink

Apple Sued Over Applications Giving Information to Advertisers

apple-logo.jpeg 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.

quotemarksright.jpgThe 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- IPhone Apps Transmit Phone ID Numbers, Study Finds

-- A WSJ Investigation finds that iPhone and Android apps are breaching the privacy of smartphone users

emily | 4:48 PM | permalink

Consumers Prefer Operator Billing to iTunes, PayPal Accounts

Consumers prefer operator billing for mobile content purchasing, according to analysts at Strategy Analytics.

quotemarksright.jpgIn a new report authored by Paul Brown, the firm asked consumers in the U.S. and Western Europe to rate their interest level for several different mobile payment options.

Surprisingly, operator billing came out on top, even over the use of pre-registered accounts such as iTunes or PayPal and over the use of credit cards/debit cards.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via ReadWriteWeb]

emily | 4:35 PM | permalink

MHealth: Mobile technology brings healthcare home

An ageing - and expanding - population is presenting health care providers and governments with a budgetary crisis.

Telecoms companies are also facing challenging times, with traditional markets reaching saturation, forcing them to explore other revenue streams.

Vodafone, Orange, AT&T Wireless, Turkey's Avea, and Japan's NTT DoCoMo are all investing in mobile healthcare.

Read BBC's special report on mobile applications for healthcare in Europe and Africa.

emily | 11:03 AM | permalink

edible iPhone cookies take off with Twitter

edible-iphone-2.jpeg The Asahi Shimbun reports about how a cafe in Tokushima prefecture became famous across Japan after Twitter users discovered its iPhone cookies: [via Japan Probe]

quotemarksright.jpgKudo said the idea for the biscuits came from one of her customers, who asked her to make a look-a-like of the iPod touch media player for her husband’s birthday gift in October 2008.

Kudo mistook the gadget for the very similar iPhone, which had just appeared on the market, but the customer was delighted by the end product.

News of Kudo’s creation did not spread widely until a message on the Internet micro-blogging site Twitter in January by the well-known economic critic Kazuyo Katsuma.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- iPhone apps cupcakes

-- iPhone app cake

-- More iPhone app cupcakes

emily | 10:52 AM | permalink

December 27, 2010

SMS alerts to prevent theft of coffee beans in Kenya

JARED NYATAYA.jpeg Business Daily Africa reports on how text messages warn farmers of Central Kenya when their coffee is being stolen.

quotemarksright.jpgMr 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 6:07 PM | permalink

Rwanda processes 5,000 mobile banking transactions per day

According to The Philippine Star, MTN Rwanda processes 5,000 mobile banking transactions per day. The service, “MTN Mobile Money” was officially launched in February 2010.

emily | 6:02 PM | permalink

The Last Text

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.

[via AT&TPress release]

emily | 5:26 PM | permalink

American charged with hacking after snooping on wife's emails

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]

quotemarksright.jpgLeon 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 5:17 PM | permalink

Mobile banking: a new way of doing business in Haiti

Haitian woman on the .jpeg 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.

quotemarksright.jpgAt 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- Bill Gates offers $10m fund for mobile banking in Haiti

-- Mercy Corps brings mobile banking to Haitians without bank accounts

emily | 12:34 PM | permalink

Mine could ease US dependency on China for phone components

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.

[via TG Daily]

emily | 12:32 PM | permalink

Czechs send fewer SMS, MMS messages on Christmas Day this year

Following earlier news today that Christmas texting dropped in Sweden, Denmark and Norway compared to last year, now the Prague Monitor, claims Czechs sent 73.76 million SMS messages on Christmas Day this year, roughly 1.1 million fewer than in 2009.

quotemarksright.jpgOn 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."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Related: - Christmas texting drops in Sweden, Denmark, Norway

emily | 12:12 PM | permalink

Mobile Makers Target Rivals on Phones

Nokia_7705_Twist2_270x287.jpeg 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.

quotemarksright.jpgTheir 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 11:10 AM | permalink

What's in the FCC's New Net Neutrality Rules?

The FCC voted Dec. 21 to create new network neutrality rules for broadband providers. [via PC World]

This part sounds like good news:

quotemarksright.jpgPaid 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

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.

Related: - Some of the key wireless points on the FCC vote on net neutrality

emily | 10:01 AM | permalink

Chienese Scientists work on in-flight cell phone system

Chinese scientists are developing an in-flight wireless entertainment system allowing airline passengers to use cell phones onboard, experts said yesterday, according to English EastDay.

quotemarksright.jpgCurrently, commercial aircraft use heavy cables for entertainment systems onboard and there are restrictions on cell phones, said officials of the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences at Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park.

But in a joint project between the institute and Boeing, these problems could be solved within three years, SARI officials said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:34 AM | permalink

Christmas texting drops in Sweden, Denmark, Norway

christmas_smiley_greeting_card-p137679351873586100q6am_400.jpeg According to Swedish news agency TT via UPI, the number of Christmas text messages is declining as other methods of communicating become more popular.

quotemarksright.jpgEven 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:24 AM | permalink

December 26, 2010

BM Expects to See Holographic Phone Calls, Air-Powered Batteries by 2015

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.

quotemarksright.jpgThe 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. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:40 AM | permalink

December 25, 2010

Man divorces wife by SMS

wp1062-indian_red-small.jpeg Amazing, this is still going on. According to Emirates 24/7, a Saudi court decided to separate a national couple after the husband sent a SMS to his wife mobile phone telling her that she is divorced.

quotemarksright.jpgThe husband told the judge he sent the message after an argument with his wife but that he did not mean to divorce her,” the Gulf Kingdom reported on Saturday.

“But the judge considered the SMS as a real divorce under Islam and decided to support the wife’s plea for divorce.”quotesmarksleft.jpg

Click here for related links to divorce pronounced by SMS.

emily | 10:14 AM | permalink

DoT might ban cell phone use for bus, truck drivers

The Department of Transportation (DoT) proposed a rule on Friday that would ban interstate bus and truck drivers from using handheld cell phones while working. [via The Hill]

The proposed rule would specifically ban these drivers from "reaching for, holding or dialing a cell phone" while driving.

Drivers who violate the rule could be charged $2,750 and risk losing their commercial driver's license.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today released the latest video in the Department of Transportation's "Faces of Distracted Driving" series on YouTube.

Distracted driving killed nearly 5,500 people last year and injured 500,000 more.

[via Truckinginfo.com]

emily | 9:50 AM | permalink

December 23, 2010

Fortifying Phones From Attackers

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.

quotemarksright.jpg 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.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 3:40 PM | permalink

Politics by cell phone: Pew Research Post Election Survey

Mobile Politics.jpeg More than a quarter of American adults – 26% – used their cell phones to learn about or participate in the 2010 mid-term election campaign.

In a post-election nationwide survey of adults, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 82% of adults have cell phones. Of those cell owners, 71% use their phone for texting and 39% use the phone for accessing the internet.

With that as context, the Pew Internet survey found that:

-- 14% of all American adults used their cell phones to tell others that they had voted.

-- 12% of adults used their cell phones to keep up with news about the election or politics.

-- 10% of adults sent text messages relating to the election to friends, family members and others.

-- 6% of adults used their cells to let others know about conditions at their local voting stations on election day, including insights about delays, long lines, low turnout, or other issues.

-- 4% of adults used their phones to monitor results of the election as they occurred. 3% of adults used their cells to shoot and share photos or videos related to the election.

-- 1% of adults used a cell-phone app that provided updates from a candidate or group about election news.

-- 1% of adults contributed money by text message to a candidate or group connected to the election like a party or interest group.

Read full report "Politics go Mobile".

emily | 3:33 PM | permalink

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