Archives for January 2011

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January 31, 2011

IEC International Standard for universal phone charger

Universal charger.jpeg It’s finally happening. A just-approved, international standard for a one-size-fits-all mobile device charger has been OK’d by the IEC, which announced it today.

It’s a USB format, agreed to by Apple, Motorola Mobility, Qualcomm, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and others.

According to the GSMA, about 51,000 tonnes of redundant chargers are manufactured each year. This new standard opens the way to a significant reduction of mobile phone-related electronic waste and, when widely adopted by industry, will allow consumers to use a single one-fits-all charger with all new smartphones.

Manufacturers will be able to achieve cost-savings in production, packaging and shipping, since they will no longer need to provide a charger with each phone. This may also positively impact end-consumer prices and will reduce the overall CO2 footprint of this industry, potentially cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 13.6 million tonnes per year.

Full IEC press release

emily | 8:05 PM | permalink

Mobile Apps Drawing in Shoppers, Marketers

Experiments with using mobile phones to lure customers into stores are showing promise, according to retailers involved in the efforts. The WSJ reports.

quotemarksright.jpgShopkick Inc., which makes a smartphone app that offers shoppers rewards and discounts for entering stores, said it has attracted 750,000 users since the app made its debut in August. Moreover, about 10% of them use the app at least once a day, said Shopkick, which has signed Target Corp., Best Buy Co., Macy's Inc. and other retailers to its service.

The retailers pay Shopkick to be included in the app and featured in special promotions. Though it declined to be specific, the high profile start-up said that each store visit by a user of its app costs a retailer "less than $1."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 2:57 PM | permalink

In Haiti, Cell Phones Serve As Debit Cards

LDgrocery.jpeg The past year in Haiti has been marked by the slow pace of the earthquake recovery. But the poorest nation in the hemisphere is moving quickly on something else — setting up "mobile money" networks to allow cell phones to serve as debit cards. npr reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe systems have the potential to allow Haitians to receive remittances from abroad, send cash to relatives across town or across the country, buy groceries and even pay for a bus ride all with a few taps on their cell phones.

Larousse Dorcent runs a small grocery store from a shipping container in a dusty slum above the Haitian port city of Saint Marc. Pigs and chickens wander freely through the neighborhood. It looks like a place that technology forgot — except that for the past two months, customers at Dorcent's shop have been able to pay by cell phone.

Dorcent punches a code into his own phone. Instantly he gets a message showing that he has 41,000 gourdes, or just over $1,000, in his account.

Dorcent says he likes that customers can pay from their phones straight to his.

"The first good reason I can give is when you're handling a lot of liquid cash, it's also being handled by a whole lot of other people throughout the country," he says. "And these days, with cholera, it's safer to not be in contact with currency that's making its way throughout the country."

What's happening here in Saint Marc is a test program for the T-Cash service that is being launched by the phone company Voila. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- Looking to cell phones to deliver aid in Africa - Workers in Niger are testing a system that allows people to store credits on cellphones and transfer the money to vendors to buy things like millet and rice.

-- Food vouchers on Cell Phones for Syrian refugees - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an electronic food voucher pilot project to aid 1,000 Iraqi refugee families in Syria.

-- Mama Mikes, offers mobile vouchers to Kenyans and Ugandans - Mama Mikes is an online store catering to Africans who live abroad. The virtual online store allows them to purchase gifts (chocolates, flowers, text books, electronics...), vouchers (food, electricity), and services (airtime, tuition) for their family, friends and loved ones based at home.

Buying rice with your cell phone - Mercy Corps, is providing food for people in St.-Marc Haiti who have taken in earthquake survivors. The US government-financed program will be pushing a button once a month, and $40 will automatically go into each person’s cellphone savings account — redeemable at local merchants for rice, corn flour, beans or cooking oil.

emily | 2:43 PM | permalink

Give a Minute and Change your City

give-a-minute.jpeg Spotted on Guerilla Innovation, Give a Minute, an online platform that encourages urban residents to respond to questions posed by featured city leaders.

quotemarksright.jpgThe platform is shaped as a virtual brainstorm session and ideas are visualized using Post-it notes in different colors (apparently, there is no explanation as to what the colors represent). To enable viral interaction, ideas can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter.

All ideas are reviewed by community leaders from the private and public sector and the best ones receive a personal response.

Give a Minute launched in Chicago in November, followed by Memphis. It will soon come to New York and San Jose. The platform is privately supported but it is not really clear how it is administered and how cities are being selected - or if the platform is open sourced for any city to employ and develop.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Watch video on Vimeo.

emily | 1:49 PM | permalink

SMS Alerts for NY restaurants in danger of being closed for health code violations

donteatat.jpeg

The NYC Big Apps competition is now in its second year, offering USD 20,000 of prizes encouraging developers to produce applications that "Help New York City become more transparent, accessible, and accountable." One recent entry caught Springwise's eye for its innovative concept and integration with Foursquare.

quotemarksright.jpgMax Stoller, a computer science student that developed the service called Don't eat at_____, notes that there are 1660 restaurants in the city that scored 28 points or more on their graded inspections without being closed.

These establishments are targeted by the Health Department for extra checks, but Stoller aims to give diners the information they need to avoid them altogether. To do so, users sign in to the website with their Foursquare login — giving the system access to their registered mobile phone number. They will then be sent a warning message if they check in to a poorly-rated restaurant.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 1:40 PM | permalink

China blocks the word “Egypt” on the country’s most popular Micro-Blogging Service

It appears the ripple effect caused by recent riots in Egypt and Tunisia have reached China where authorities have blocked search results for the term “Egypt” on local micro-blogging platform Sina. The NextWeb reports.

quotemarksright.jpgReported by the Associated Press today, the Chinese government has blocked the word “Egypt” from the country’s wildly popular t.sina.com, a Twitter-like service, while coverage of the political turmoil has been tightly restricted in state media.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

[via SmartMobs]

emily | 1:32 PM | permalink

Charatter Bear Reads Your Tweets Aloud

charatter-bear.jpeg Spotted on Neatorama, the Charatater Bear that reads your incoming tweets. By Japanese toy manufacturer WiZ.

The author of this post on Neatorama follows 52 people and receives a tweet about once every 90-120 seconds. Can you think of anything more annoying?. Watch video demo on YouTube (in Japanese).

emily | 11:05 AM | permalink

January 30, 2011

Egypt mobile phone network resumes in capital

Mobile phone services started to resume across the Egyptian capital on Saturday, after being shut down a day earlier during unprecedented demonstrations calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

[via Arab News]

emily | 11:32 AM | permalink

Anonymous Internet Users Team Up To Provide Communication Tools For Egyptian People

looting-engulfs-cairo-oth_n_815868.jpeg "Internet not working, police cars burning," sent out one Egyptian. "Today marks a great day for Egypt," sent out another.

These messages weren't coming from mobile phones or computers, but from an amateur radio sending out Morse Code somewhere amidst the chaos in Egypt. The Huffington Post reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe Egyptian government's efforts to shut down communications within the country has triggered a wave of activism from an international group of free speech activists on the Internet called Telecomix. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- How to foil an internet shutdown

-- How Egypt did (and your government could) shut down the Internet

emily | 11:23 AM | permalink

Cell Phones that work without towers

Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen’s Serval Project at Flinders University in Australia is software that can run on ‘off-the-shelf’ mobile telephones and allow them to relay calls for one phone to another – without the presence of mobile phone towers in the immediate vicinity – before ultimately re-connecting with an operating mobile telephone tower.

quotemarksright.jpgThe technology has broad potential in situations such as the recent and on-going flooding in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria where mobile phone towers were swamped and knocked out of action.

“During and following the flooding many mobile telephone towers in the Brisbane area were affected, however there were many other towers that were still operating more or less normally,” Dr Gardner-Stephen said.

“Our technology allows the signal from the working towers to be relayed into areas lacking signal, allowing calls in and out of affected areas. What is amazing is that we have programmed fairly ordinary mobile telephones to perform this function, without using any specialised hardware,” he said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[Flinders University press release via Times of India]

emily | 9:38 AM | permalink

January 29, 2011

How to Foil a Nationwide Internet Shutdown

ioerror.jpg

Following the unrest in Egypt, Lifehacker on what to do when governments shut down broadband and mobile connections. It two words: dial up.

quotemarksright.jpgUnless the Egyptian government kills all of the phone lines as well, you might remember one means of getting online that broadband has since relegated to obsolescence: dial-up.

While there's no Egyptian ISP that will allow internet access to Egyptian citizens, other countries will, meaning any Egyptian citizen with long-distance calling capabilities can break out their old school 56k modem and dial-up an ISP in another country.

Several ISPs—such as Budget DialUp—offer dial-up numbers all over the globe. Some ISPs in other countries are offering free access to Egyptians specifically in response to the Egyptian government's actions. According to twitter user @ioerror, French ISP FDN is one of them:

Egypt can use this number for dial up: +33172890150 (login 'toto' password 'toto') - thanks to a French ISP (FDN)#egypt #jan25quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

[via Gawker]

emily | 12:18 PM | permalink

Global SMS hit 5 trillion in 2010

The latest forecasts from UK-based Informa Telecoms & Media said mobile SMS traffic reached five trillion by the close of 2010 but the number of mobile phone text messages is expected to reach 8.7 trillion a year by 2015.

quotemarksright.jpgThe report, dubbed Mobile Messaging, published on the website of Informa Telecoms and Media said global SMS revenues are also forecast to rise to US$136.9 billion in 2015 from US$105.5 billion in 2010.

“SMS will remain a significant source of revenues and traffic for mobile operators on a global basis until at least 2015,” the report said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via myjoyonline.com]

emily | 10:00 AM | permalink

January 28, 2011

Egypt internet disrupted, SMS down

Egyptians-protest-in-cent-008.jpeg

According to the AFP, Internet service was disrupted in Egypt early Friday as cell phone text messaging appeared to be down, hours before activists who used both to organise large anti-government protests planned further actions.

Image from the Agonist.

emily | 8:44 AM | permalink

Would-Be Suicide Bomber Killed by Unexpected SMS From Mobile Carrier

An unexpected and unwanted text message from a wireless company prematurely exploded a would-be suicide bomber’s vest bomb in Russia New Year’s Eve, inadvertently thwarting a planned attack on revelers in Moscow, according to The Daily Telegraph via Wired.

quotemarksright.jpgThe would-be suicide bomber was planning to detonate a suicide belt bomb near Red Square, a plan that was foiled when her wireless carrier sent her an SMS while she was still at a safe house, setting off the bomb and killing her. The message reportedly wished her a Happy New Years, according to the report, which sourced the info from security forces in Russia.

Cell phones are often used as makeshift detonators by terrorist and insurgent groups.

The dead woman has not been identified, but her husband is apparently serving time in jail for being a member of a radical Islamist terror group.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:30 AM | permalink

January 27, 2011

Why Porn Stars Love Twitter

twitter.jpeg According to The Daily Beast, hundreds of adult stars are on Twitter, talking to fans and receiving gifts.

quotemarksright.jpgWhile the porn business has enjoyed a reputation for always being at the cutting edge of technology and the Internet, social media at first presented a special challenge. ... Porn is still a business where performers rarely use their real names, and worry about everything from stalkers to obscenity prosecutions. Yet, after individual porn stars built huge followings on Twitter, the industry has belatedly learned the value of social media: Porn stars love Twitter.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via CNet]

emily | 9:00 AM | permalink

Senator eyes bill on mobile privacy

Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, argues that a search warrant should be required before police can track your electronic whereabouts via your cell phone signals. CNet reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIn an luncheon speech at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., Wyden said his staff was drafting legislation to restore "the balance necessary to protect individual rights" by requiring police to obtain a search warrant signed by a judge before obtaining location information.

... The forthcoming legislation, he said, is being drafted with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and will apply to "all acquisitions of geolocation information," including GPS tracking devices that police are generally allowed to place on cars without warrants under current law.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- Why you should always encrypt your smartphone - A very interesting article from arstechnica on how to protect your cell phone from search and seizure. Taking small basics steps such as storing your mobile phone in your luggage, footlocker, or the glove comportment in your car, or any other closed container that's not on your person.

-- Court Upholds Searches of Text Messages in Drug Arrests - The California Supreme Court ruled in San Francisco on Monday that police are entitled to search text messages on the cell phones of arrestees without obtaining a warrant.

emily | 8:49 AM | permalink

January 26, 2011

Prostate Pal app for iPhone

prostatepaliPhoneApp.jpg Prostate Pal developped by a Concord Hospital urologist Dr. Ronald Yap is an iPhone app to help men track their prostate health in conjunction with their healthcare providers.

quotemarksright.jpgThere are millions of men around the world who have these problems, and it makes them feel quite helpless. When you have an app, you can take charge of it. It empowers the patient to log the symptoms and keep track of them," Yap said Monday.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via Reuters]

emily | 12:47 PM | permalink

FCC may approve cellphone use of satellite airwaves

The FCC is expected to grant a request by LightSquared, a satellite broadband start up, to drop a requirement that mobile phones using satellite airwaves must be able to communicate with satellites, the Wall Street Journal said.

[via Reuters]

emily | 12:42 PM | permalink

Politician Proposes Ban On Using Cellphones or Headphones While Crossing the Street

Politician Proposes Ban On Using Cellphones or Headphones While Crossing the Street.jpeg

Following legislation introduced in Albany in 2007 to ban gadgets use while crossing city streets and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's bill proposal to ban cell phone on crosswalks in 2008, now New York State Senator Carl Kruger is in turn proposing a similar ban, citing a rising number of distracted pedestrian accidents. The fine for getting caught would be $100.

[via Gawker]

Previously:

-- Lawmakers propose crosswalk cell phone ban - State legislators may pass a bill that fines pedestrians for using cell phones while crossing the street.

-- Just call them textlemmings - The phenomenon of pedestrians stepping in front of moving cars while texting furiously on a handheld device or cell phone.

-- Cell phones pose a threat to children crossing the street - A recent study found that children using cell phones are 43-percent more likely to be hit by a vehicle while crossing the street than are children who are not using cell phones.

-- Cell phone use - not music - reduces pedestrian safety - Two new studies of pedestrian safety found that using a cell phone while hoofing it can endanger one's health.

-- Kids with cell phones not as safe crossing streets - Unintentional pedestrian injury is a leading cause of death in middle childhood, reports The Washington Post reporting on a study that claims children who talk on a cell phone may not be able to cross the road safely.

-- Bill baning iPods and cellphones on NY city streets - Legislation will be introduced in Albany on Wednesday (February 2007) to lay a $100 fine on pedestrians succumbing to what State Sen. Carl Kruger calls iPod oblivion.

emily | 8:47 AM | permalink

January 25, 2011

Unpaid SMS loans in Sweden shrink

061201-mobily-muzix.jpeg The number of unpaid SMS loans that end up with the Swedish Enforcement Administration (Kronofogden) has shrunk dramatically, according to the government agency. The Local, Sweden's News in English reports.

quotemarksright.jpgLast year, 28,038 cases ended up at the agency, which handles all debt collection in Sweden, compared with 46,531 in 2009, a decrease of 40 percent. The share of loans possessed by young people in Sweden also continued to decline last year, the agency added.

Janne Åkerlund, a communications officer at the agency, called it a fantastic development. "There is a drastic reduction for all ages and genders and is a fantastic result. We are down to 2007's levels. In the case of young people, the message has gotten through for sure. They obviously understand that it is damn expensive to buy for something for 3,000 kronor ($457) and pay 3,600 kronor," said Åkerlund.

In addition to a massive information drive, which the agency took part in, a certain degree of self-regulation took place in the industry ahead of the new consumer credit law that came into force on January 1st this year, Åkerlund believes.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

Related:

-- Instant text loans - available with a single SMS

-- Small text loans - a simple SMS for your cash needs

-- SMS loans are becoming a national problem for Estonia

-- Mentally ill person can take a SMS-loan in Estonia

-- Young Estonian became a drug mule for a large SMS loan

-- Finns struggling with SMS loans

-- Loans by text message send young Swedes spiralling into debt

-- $300 Loans by Simply sending a Text Message

-- SMS loans could be ruining your Christmas season

-- Finland Should Ban Late-Night SMS Loans, Justice Ministry Says

emily | 4:39 PM | permalink

Modern Dating: What's Lost in Texting

Judith Acosta, for the Huffington Post on language modification, reflecting changes in our culture and in our collective consciousness.

quotemarksright.jpgThe minimization of communication is no accident. It comes as a consequence of minimal thinking, lethargy and indifference. To some, this is the death knell of American and Western civilization, the end of democracy as we know it (which requires active and informed participation by all citizens), the end of the broadest literacy rate in the history of mankind and the end of equality of opportunity (for this too, takes an active, watchful and observant eye). quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 4:31 PM | permalink

An I.R.S. App Lets You Track Your Tax Refund

24bits-irs-articleInline.jpeg People using the Internal Revenue Service’s new mobile phone app cannot avoid taxes, but they can at least track their refund. Bits reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe IRS2Go app, introduced on Monday, lets filers check on the status of their refund from their phone and get daily tax tips. The free app is available for iPhones and phones on the Android system.

It’s the first mobile phone app from the I.R.S., which is trying to dispel the image that it is behind the technological curve.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:54 AM | permalink

Twitter Ad Revenue May Triple This Year to $150 Million

twitter.jpeg Twitter's revenue from advertising may hit $150 million this year, according to estimates from eMarketer. [via ReadWriteWeb]

quotemarksright.jpgeMarketer says it's "cautiously optimistic" about Twitter's new ad products and predicts that the microblogging platform may see a threefold increase in revenue this year from the $45 million it brought in in 2010, the first year it sold advertising. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read eMarketer press release]

emily | 8:50 AM | permalink

Ugandans to check voting status on phone

uganda_voting_001.jpeg Ugandans can now check their voting status via their mobile phones, at a cheap cost, across all networks, thanks to the new Electoral Commission service. [via Daily Monitor]

quotemarksright.jpgThe simple sms sent to 8683 will avail the recipient all details about their voting status as indicted in the voters’ register like polling station, district, sub-county and county.

The Electoral Commission (EC) chairman, Dr Badru Kiggundu launched the service, which cuts across all mobile phone networks, in Kampala yesterday.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more. Image from IFES.

emily | 8:36 AM | permalink

An Israeli Mobile Phone Provider's Hasidic Blues

PH2006033100266.jpeg According to Fast Company, an Israeli mobile phone provider is in trouble over an aborted ad campaign aimed at Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

quotemarksright.jpgCellcom, the country's most popular mobile carrier, received a rare order from the Israeli Communications Ministry to stop a marketing campaign targeted at haredi (ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic) Jews. The laws of the Middle Eastern country grant the Communications Ministry wide latitude to intervene in the business practices of mobile phone providers.

The trouble comes from a price war between Cellcom and Mirs, a smaller mobile carrier with extensive ties to the haredi community. Mirs has become popular among Israel's haredi Jews thanks to their aggressive marketing of kosher phones--inexpensive handsets that are crippled in order to disable their text messaging, voice mail, gaming and application functionality.

While most kosher phones are blocked from accessing the internet entirely, several high-end models permit access to a handful of websites approved by influential haredi rabbis.

Mirs alleges that Cellcom's intentional poaching of their customers violated Israeli law. According to Gad Perez of the Israeli business daily Globes, “the ministry based its decision on the grounds that if Cellcom had targeted the haredi community as a whole, it would not have intervened, but the direct targeting of Mirs' customers violated the terms of Cellcom's license.” According to a letter sent by Mirs to the Communications Ministry, Cellcom's pricing plans were “predatory.”quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:28 AM | permalink

January 24, 2011

Mobile phone app ‘can spot paedophiles’

Researchers at Lancaster University have invented a mobile phone application designed to identify adults posing as children. The Visitor reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe software, which is called Child Defence, uses the latest advances in language analysis technology to identify language quirks peculiar to different age groups. It can also link in with websites such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing children to scan chat text from their site. It enables children to build up profiles of individuals who they are chatting to online.

There is other child protection software on the market, but this is said to be the first software which children can use themselves.

It was written by researchers at Isis Forensics, a spin out company based in Lancaster University’s InfoLab21.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. And Isis-forensics press release.

emily | 1:04 PM | permalink

U.S. Diplomacy Embracing Twitter Amid Global Crises

Twitter Diplomacy.jpeg The State Department is tightening its embrace of Twitter and other social media as crises grip the Middle East and Haiti, with officials finding new voice, cheek and influence in the era of digital diplomacy, reports The Huffington Post.

quotemarksright.jpgThe State Department is tightening its embrace of Twitter and other social media as crises grip the Middle East and Haiti, with officials finding new voice, cheek and influence in the era of digital diplomacy.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:27 AM | permalink

Phone lights guide helicopter to lost hikers

Two lost hikers were rescued in California after shining their cellphones at a sheriff's helicopter, according to UPI.

quotemarksright.jpgWe were able to locate them because they shined their cellphones up at us. We have night vision goggles on board. That kind of stuff stands out like a spotlight," Sgt. Dave Thompson said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- Lost walker saved by phone flash

-- British snowboarder saved by the light of his cell phone

-- The glow of a mobile phone screen leads to rescue in the Tasmanian bush

emily | 8:52 AM | permalink

Mobile phone to blast into orbit

orbit.jpg According to the BBC, British engineers are planning to put a mobile phone in space.

quotemarksright.jpg The team at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford want to see if the sophisticated capabilities in today's phones will function in the most challenging environment known.

The phone will run on Google's Android operating system but the exact model has not yet been disclosed.

It will be used to control a 30cm-long satellite and take pictures of the Earth in the mission later this year.

Although mobile phones have been flown on high altitude balloons before, this would likely be the first time such a device has gone into orbit several hundred kilometres above the planet.

The mission is known as STRaND-1 (Surrey Training Research and Nanosatellite Demonstration). It involves both the company and researchers from the local university's Surrey Space Centre (SSC).quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:41 AM | permalink

340 diseases diagnosed by SMS

According to Grant Newton, CEO of South African Sanlam Health, cellular network operator MTN and Sanlam have spent more than 10 years developing a series of questions that patients will answer by SMS or on the phone, which will enable doctors to diagnose 340 diseases. Times Live reports.

quotemarksright.jpgPatients will be required to key in "yes" or "no" answers to a series of voice prompts and then will be given a likely diagnosis and told how soon they need to see a doctor.

"It will offer a number of possible - and I want to stress 'possible' - diagnoses. It would answer how soon a patient would need to get to hospital," Newton said.

The companies plan to employ doctors and nurses at call centres to talk to patients and diagnose them over the phone.

The service will be accessible only by MTN subscribers.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 8:01 AM | permalink

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