Archives for February 2011

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February 28, 2011

One Third of Adults in U.S. and U.K. Play Games on Mobile Phones: Survey

tetrisiPhoneApp.jpg ScrabbleiPhoneApp.jpg One third of the U.S. and U.K. adults are mobile phone gamers, according to PopCap Games, a developer, publisher and operator of casual video games. TMCnet.com reports.

quotemarksright.jpgAmong mobile phone gamers, mobile phone is the primary gaming device, surpassing video game consoles and PCs in less than two years. Smartphone owners are the most avid consumers of mobile games, according to the survey conducted by Information Solutions Group (pdf).

... About 92 percent of smartphone gamers say they play at least once a week. 45 percent say they play daily compared to 35 percent of all mobile phone gamers. In the 2009 survey, only 13 percent of mobile phone gamers said they played daily, and 40 percent said they played weekly.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:54 PM | permalink

Palestinians turn to technology to avoid roadblocks

Adopting an attitude of “If you can’t beat’em, go around’em,” Palestinian computer programmers have developed a simple text-messaging system to warn drivers of long lines ahead in West Bank due to checkpoints set up by the Israeli army across the West Bank.

Called “Ezma,” or Arabic for traffic, the program is sustained on a user-fed databank that ferries it to subscribers, much like a traffic monitoring system in other countries.

[via The Jerusalem Post]

emily | 8:35 AM | permalink

February 27, 2011

Mobile reminders for Urban Sex Workers in India

Screen shot 2011-02-25 at 2.09.29 PM.png This guest post on MobileActive.org was written by Nithya Sambasivan, a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. A link to the complete paper (PDF) is here.

quotemarksright.jpgI spent a total of three months last summer conducting an ethnographically-inspired study of urban sex workers (USWs), where we designed, implemented and evaluated a phone-based broadcasting system for urban sex workers.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 4:36 PM | permalink

Stanford Research Offers Faster Wireless Networking

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new technique that will lead to faster wireless networking. Introduced to mobile networking experts at the MobiCom2010, the new technique doubles the data rate of communication networks without the need of additional frequencies.

[via Mobile Weblog]

emily | 10:56 AM | permalink

Libya's 'Love Revolution': Muslim Dating Site Seeds Protest

To avoid detection by Libyan secret police, who monitor Facebook and Twitter, Mahmoudi, the leader of the Ekhtalef ("Difference") Movement, used Mawada, what's considered the Match.com of the Middle East to send coded love letters to rally the revolution. ABC News reports.

quotemarksright.jpg...On the site, the revolutionaries used poetry laced with revolutionary references to gauge support and make initial contact. Then they had detailed follow-up conversations via text message and Yahoo Messenger.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 10:20 AM | permalink

Crowdsourced software could stop SMS spam

Forward us your Junk (SMS spam) to +91 8826068429.jpeg In the western world, receiving an illicit text is a minor annoyance, but it's a major problem in developing countries like India. In that country, it is estimated that 100 million spam messages are sent every day, according to a report issued last year by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Now, a system that filters out SMS spam by enlisting the help of your friends could calm things down. New Scientist reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThat was one of the big motivations for us to start looking at this problem," explains Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, who developed the software package, SMSAssassin, (pdf) with colleagues at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in New Delhi, India.

SMS filtering is not a new idea, and existing methods work much like email spam detectors. They all learn to identify spam messages by examining known spam, but this is less effective for SMS messages because their brevity makes it hard to identify features unique to spam. Abbreviations and regional words, common in text messages, make this even worse.

Kumaraguru's team worked around these limitations by relying on crowdsourced spam markers. SMSAssassin learns in the same way as other spam filters, and the researchers hope toone day allow users to share spam keywords with one another through a central server or by creating a distributed network via Bluetooth.

The team say this will let the system react quickly to new kinds of spam or messages tied to certain time periods, such as the Diwali religious festival. For now they are gathering user data by asking users to contribute their spam through a Facebook page.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 10:00 AM | permalink

When learning goes mobile for varsity students

Leveraging media tools that are most appealing to the younger generation, Abu Dhabi University (ADU) has embarked on a new education mechanism, using the Blackboard Mobile method where students can receive course materials via their mobile phones. Gulf News reports.

quotemarksright.jpgBy implementing BM, we enable students and teachers to gain instant access to their courses and content materials using their handheld devices. All assignments, teachers' announcements, class discussions, grades… etc can be checked on their mobile device," Dr James Mackin, ADU Provost, said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:46 AM | permalink

Device linked to smartphone helps diagnose cancer

The future of cancer detection may be in your pocket, according to The Boston Globe.

quotemarksright.jpgResearchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have built a $200 portable device that can hook up to a smartphone and analyze a tiny amount of tissue to determine in an hour whether a patient’s cancer is malignant and likely to spread.

In a paper published February 23 in the journal Science Translational Medicine, a team described the device they built and an early clinical test of 50 people who had their abnormal stomach tissue biopsied.

By looking at a combination of four biomarkers in the samples, the researchers correctly predicted whether 48 of the patients had benign or malignant cancers.

The technology is still at a very early stage and has yet to go through rigorous clinical testing. But it has shown promising early results and can produce a result in an hour, instead of in the days it might take with traditional methods.

The device can display its findings using the monitors on mobile phones.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Listen to Podcast from Science Translational Medicine, a conversation with Ralph Weissleder, who talks about his miniature micro-NMR machine operated by smart phone technology that can detect cancer cells in tissue biopsies from patients in less than an hour.

emily | 9:28 AM | permalink

Jan Chipchase on mobile money services in Afghanistan

Money bazaar afghanistan.jpeg VentureBeat on textually favorite Jan Chipchase, Frog Design’s “Director of global insights” which takes him all around the world and into the most private areas of people’s lives. The aim of his research is to understand what makes people tick and how that knowledge should inform the design of products and services.

quotemarksright.jpg... Frog Design just published some research from Chipchase on mobile money services in Afghanistan that illustrates the complexity of designing services for such markets.

Local mobile carrier Roshan recently introduced M-Paisa there. “Somewhere like the U.S., mobile money is just one step away. In Afghanistan, it’s probably 3 steps away. The 3 steps are textual literacy, mobile literacy and financial literacy (e.g. understanding the concept of “interest”). That doesn’t mean that people are not going to use it. It just means that they have to be even more motivated.”quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:51 AM | permalink

Homeless Man Uses Prepaid Phone, Twitter to Find Estranged Daughter

A homeless man in New York City used a prepaid cell phone to sign-up for a Twitter account and find his estranged daughter.

quotemarksright.jpgDaniel Morales was given the phone by the Underheard in New York project, which uses social networking to give a voice to the city's homeless. On Wednesday, Morales tweeted that he was looking for his daughter, as well as his phone number and a picture of her at age 16. The next day, his daughter, Sarah Rivera, saw the tweet and called from Brooklyn. The father and daughter planned to meet for the first time in 11 years on Friday. quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via Switched]

Previously:

-- Underheard in New York - Three interns of Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York decided to pair mobile technology with social justice, as they gave four homeless men cellphones. The idea behind their project called Underheard in New York is to help homeless residents of New York City speak for themselves via Twitter and SMS.

emily | 8:25 AM | permalink

February 25, 2011

Text Boyfriend Service Gives You the Affection You Need

textboyfriend.jpg

Text Boyfriend gives you all the (virtual) affection you need - for a small fee.

[via TrendHunter]

emily | 6:14 PM | permalink

SMS vital during dark hours of Christchurch earthquake

From 160characters.org, an eyewitness account from New Zealand in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.

quotemarksright.jpgOn Tuesday the 22nd of February a 6.3 earthquake flattened the central business district of Christchurch, New Zealand’s second biggest city, during lunch hour.

... Within minutes New Zealanders were being urged to rely on SMS as their primary means of communication. Voice calls were to be used for emergencies only. This message was coming not only from the major mobile providers, but also from the highest levels of government and the emergency services. It was explicitly stated by the Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English, during his first press briefing that afternoon.

The reasons for this are obvious to anyone who has worked in this industry during a natural disaster. Fixed voice networks are vulnerable: their lines and associated infrastructure (poles, cabinets, exchanges etc.) are easily damaged by natural disasters as was the case in Christchurch. Mobile voice networks, though more resilient, can suffer from damage to base stations and are easily swamped by high volumes of calls from panicked people desperately trying to reach loved ones. The voice services that are available after a natural disaster are desperately needed by emergency services to save lives.

So for a number of reasons the humble SMS became the method that people were urged to use, and also the one that they turned to.

... A more terrifying use of SMS was reported. People trapped inside collapsed buildings sent messages to friends letting them know they were alive.

Later the next day, further uses for text messages were found. The Red Cross set up a number where people could text details of missing or found people. A group of enterprising software developers set up a number to which people could text reports of information about hazards or the availability of services – these were then published with their location onto a website.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 5:58 PM | permalink

"It's for you," Conceptual Art and the Telephone

It-s-for-you-at-HCC-art-gallery-explores-1030445.jpeg 'It's for you ' at HCC art gallery in Bridgeport CT, explores telephone use in modern society. ctpost.com reports.

quotemarksright.jpgWe use it for business and pleasure, to close deals and to open discussions, to make love and to make amends, to order pizza and to bring order to one's life, to access information or to impart it.

It's the telephone, that extraordinary instrument that connects us to the world that exists beyond our home or office.

"Many of the artists in the exhibition aim to democratize the artist/audience relationship, a quality that is intricately woven into the history of conceptual art."

One such artist is Yoko Ono, who created a piece especially for the HMA show.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 5:47 PM | permalink

The truth about Twitter, Facebook and the uprisings in the Arab world

Recent events in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt have been called 'Twitter revolutions' – but can social networking overthrow a government? Our correspondent reports from the Middle East on how activists are really using the web. Peter Beaumont for The Guardian.

quotemarksright.jpg... Neither the notion of the "Twitter Revolutions" or their un-Twitterness, accurately reflects the reality. Often, the contribution of social networks to the Arab uprisings has been as important as it also has been complex, contradictory and misunderstood.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- Why the revolution will not be tweeted - by Malcolm Gladwell (The New Yorker)

-- The Nation: Gladwell Gets It Wrong On Social Media (npr)

-- Egyptians Were Unplugged, and Uncowed (The NY Times)

-- Social Media Didn't Oust Tunisia's President — The Tunisian People Did (Gawker)

-- Tunisia protesters use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to help organize and report (LA Times)

emily | 11:05 AM | permalink

Using iPhones As Playing Cards

iphones-as-a-deck-of-playing-cards-1-1.jpeg

Spotted on PSFK, Shanzhai (counterfeit) iPhones as playing cards.

emily | 10:38 AM | permalink

Gadaffi’s Mass text messages

Via SmartMobs: According to sources on the ground twittering at #Libya, mass text messages being sent to users in support of #Gaddafi (but oddly, there are no tweets on #Gaddafi).

According to MAQUAM''s facebook page, those who forward the messages to others are promised phone credits.

quotemarksright.jpgThey’re sending messages for us to go back to work. And they’re sending messages saying to take care of our children and not to let them participate in this war.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 10:35 AM | permalink

Calling all cars: cell phone networks and the future of traffic

traffic-phones-list-thumb-640xauto-19759.jpeg In this in-depth look at the Mobile Millennium project, Arstechnica examines the technology behind a distributed automotive sensor network.

quotemarksright.jpgWe'll look at how the system is designed to protect user privacy, examine how data from thousands of mobile phones and hundreds of static sensors are combined to measure traffic flow, and look at how this technology will impact the future of driving.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full feature story.

emily | 10:25 AM | permalink

Security to Ward Off Crime on Phones

More consumers are buying smartphones. So more criminals are taking aim at those devices. The New York Times reports.

quotemarksright.jpgWith smartphones outselling PCs for the first time — 421 million of the hand-held computers are expected to be sold worldwide this year, according to market analysts at IDC — the long-predicted crime wave on hand-held devices appears to have arrived. According to the mobile-security firm Lookout, malware and spyware appeared on 9 out of 100 phones it scanned in May, more than twice the 4-in-100 rate in December 2009.

In fact, the most practical rule for protecting yourself is to start thinking of the smartphone as a PC.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- The secrets on your smartphone - Hang on to your handset ... smartphones are a goldmine of information for thieves.

-- Mobile forensics turns up heat on suspects - How forensic science is developping new tools to investigate cell phone data - even when deleted - and solve crimes.

-- Fighting Crime With Cellphones' Clues - Extracting clues and leads from mobile electronics is no cakewalk.

-- Cellphone Forensics at Crime Scenes - Logicube has developed a portable kit which can extract data from over 160 handset when needed by the police and forensic staff.

--Digital evidence is increasingly crucial to criminal investigations - Cell phones have become the new "smoking gun" for prosecutors and police in the Twin Cities and around the world.

-- UK police making Gil Grissom jealous... - The Forensic Science Service (FSS) has developed a mobile laboratory which will travel to crime scenes and carry out real-time forensic investigation and analysis.

-- The field of Cell Phone Forensics - Modern detectives are now using cell phone forensics to capture more and more criminals.

-- Police turn forensic skills on handhelds - Handhelds are likelier to lead to handcuffs for techie criminals following the release of a report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

-- Mobile phone forensics 'hole' reported - Police investigations are being hindered by the use of proprietary mobile phone technologies, say forensics experts.

emily | 9:54 AM | permalink

Sharing the power in Tahrir Square

5423296010_ce514c7383_z-1.jpeg

Spotted on boingboing, a picture from cairofeb6_036, on how Tahrir Square's protestors shared their power.

emily | 9:50 AM | permalink

February 24, 2011

U.S. Fights to Shut Massive Text Spammer

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is taking legal steps to shut down a massive text-messaging spam operation that blanketed mobile phones with millions of unsolicited texts over the past year and a half. Security News Daily reports.

quotemarksright.jpgBeginning in August 2009, Flora’s Huntington Beach, Calif.-based operation sent at least 5 million messages; at one point, he was sending 85 texts per minute, the FTC said.

The FTC’s legal complaint alleges that Flora’s texts included links to websites with “.gov” that were “not operated by or affiliated with any governmental entity,” the FTC said.

If recipients responded to Flora’s unsolicited messages, he then sold their mobile phone number to third-party marketers. In addition, many consumers had to pay overage fees for the spam texts, the FTC said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:27 PM | permalink

Kerala to send SMS alerts for vaccination of babies

HospitalKiosks.jpg Parents of new born babies in Kerala will henceforth get SMSes on their cell phones about vaccination details for babies. The MedGuru reports.

quotemarksright.jpgInformation Kerala Mission (IKM), the flagship e-governance project of the Kerala government, has developed the system as a part of the ‘Hospital Kiosks.’

... By combining JanasevanaKendrams with hospitals online, IKM makes birth and death certificates available to informants within 24 hours of registration. And, of course, marriage certificates also get done the same way.

“The messages will be sent to the parents who register online the birth of their child through the Hospital Kiosks, the facility arranged at the hospitals for birth and death registrations,” said A Shaji, Director (Implementation), IKM.

"The mobile numbers mentioned in the birth registration forms will be collected and details of vaccination will be sent as SMS to the number.

The IKM kicks off the program statewide from next month in all hospitals which have these hospital kiosks. There are 365 hospitals, both private and public, across the state.

As the Health department has already made the registration of births through kiosks mandatory, it is easy to collect data.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 1:52 PM | permalink

A!arm iPhone app is silenced by a shout

AlarmiPhoneApp.jpg Instead of fumbling for your iPhone to shut off the alarm when roused from your slumber, A!arm app for iPhone silences the din by shouting.

Alarm includes a Sheep Count Game, for those who can't sleep and you can share with your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter that you have started your day.

[via Gizmag]

emily | 8:41 AM | permalink

Could Cell Phones Be Used to Treat Depression?

Image of Brain Glucose Metabolism.jpeg There’s been a lot of buzz about the JAMA study demonstrating that the radiation from cell phones activates some brain regions. But it’s unclear whether this cell-phone induced increase in brain activity is harmful or helpful. But if there aren’t harmful effects, the ability to induce brain activity could actually be a good thing. The Wall Street Journal reports.

quotemarksright.jpgCell phones potentially could be used therapeutically, as a non-invasive tool to interact with brain rhythms or stimulate parts of the brain that aren’t working optimally, according to Reto Huber, a professor at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich who also has studied electromagnetic fields and cell phone use but wasn’t involved with the new JAMA study.

There are already brain stimulation techniques for depression, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, aka shock therapy) and transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. The amount of additional brain activity induced by cell phones — about 7% to 8% — is on par with the amount of increased brain activity currently induced by TMS, according to Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse So perhaps one day cell phones could be hand-held brain stimulation devices, she says.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Previously: Study Shows Cell Phones Affect Brain Activity, Stirring Fears

emily | 8:04 AM | permalink

February 23, 2011

Breaking News: Man Tweets Without Really Thinking About It First

twitter.jpeg An interesting read from Dave Pell on npr, on tweeting about an article after skimming through the story - and missing the facts.

quotemarksright.jpgJournalist Nir Rosen managed to do the near-impossible. He published some tweets offensive enough to rise above the din of the Internet's general state of offensiveness and lost his fellowship at NYU.

Rosen's offending tweets were in response to the reports that CBS' Lara Logan had been sexually assualted near Tahrir Square on the day Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Here is a sampling of his handiwork.

quotemarksright.jpgLara Logan had to outdo Anderson [Cooper]. Where was her buddy McCrystal."

"Yes yes its wrong what happened to her. Of course. I don't support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too."

"Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women, which is still wrong, but if it was worse than I'm sorry."quotesmarksleft.jpg

During an interview with Anderson Cooper, Rosen apologized for his remarks and explained that he didn't realize that Logan's assault had been sexual in nature at the time of his first tweet. He stood by this assertion even though his tweet included a link to a short statement from CBS News that clearly included that detail.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full post.

emily | 10:21 AM | permalink

Web Wiretaps Raise Security, Privacy Concerns

14192616157377018ddc916bb09250d4.jpeg In the old days, wiretapping was easy: Law enforcement officials just tapped a wire. Even with cell phones, police merely had to take a warrant to the phone company and tell it to tap the number. But now, in this age of Skype and instant messaging, things are a lot trickier, and law enforcement says it needs help. npr reports.

quotemarksright.jpgFederal law already requires tech companies to cooperate with court-ordered surveillance. The problem, says FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni, is that the companies offering services like Web-based e-mail or social networking sometimes can't cooperate.

"What we're finding — and it's not universally the case, across the board — but what we're seeing is they do not have intercept solutions available for all of the types of services that they're offering for people to use to communicate," she says.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 10:11 AM | permalink

NZ. Phone networks still fragile

Mobile communication in the west of central Christchurch is improving with the restoration of power supply, but operators say the networks remain congested due to high demand. stuff reports.

quotemarksright.jpgUsers are being urged to minimise their cell phone use.

East of the CBD, it is not known when power will be restored due to the extensive damage to power supply infrastructure, and this is affecting communication network availability in the area.

Vodafone says many of its sites in the area are currently back-up power but others have gone off the air as they have exhausted their back-up power sources.

... Vodafone communications manager Matt East says customers should continue to use their phones only for emergency calls, and texts for non-critical communications.

"We also ask that customers limit mobile data usage, like Facebook, Twitter, video/picture messaging and email, as this puts strain on the network and may hamper rescue efforts."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 9:42 AM | permalink

We owe the internet for changing the world. Now let's learn how to turn off

Opposition supporters talk in Tahrir Square in Cairo.jpeg Twitter can help bring down Middle Eastern dictators – but being forever online disrupts our lives for the worse. A thought provoking article from The Guardian.

quotemarksright.jpg... The internet has made him "resentful and short-fused", stressed by the pressure to be available and to respond now, says essayist Douglas Rushkoff. "It's as if the relentless demand of networks for me to be everywhere, all the time, were denying me access to the moment in which I am really living," he writes plaintively.

But he has a valuable insight. It's not the internet itself that's doing this. It's the advent particularly of mobile technology, of the smartphone, turning the internet from an occasional, "opt-in" activity to what Rushkoff calls an "'always on' condition of my life". The internet is no longer just on your desk, but in your pocket, nagging you to stop what you're doing and pay attention.

We cannot turn back time. Nor, given the internet's power for good currently on display around the Middle East, should we want to. But we need to reassert control. We need, in short, to rediscover the off switch. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- 'The Shallows': This Is Your Brain Online (npr, June 2010)

-- Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price (The New York Times, June 2010)

-- Does the Internet Make You Smarter? (WSJ June5, 2010)

-- Is Google Making Us Stupid? (The Atlantic, July/August, 2008)

emily | 9:20 AM | permalink

Libya's Internet hit with severe disruptions

Internet traffic in Libya.png

Libya's Internet links have been severely disrupted as chaos spreads across the country, reports News.com.

quotemarksright.jpgOver the weekend, traffic appeared to be following a "curfew" pattern, with more restrictions imposed in the evenings, and YouTube is now almost entirely unreachable while Facebook is blocked.

Craig Labovitz, the chief scientist of Arbor Networks, said that as of today, Libya is experiencing a significant Internet outage with traffic volumes 60 percent to 80 percent below normal levels.

That follows a complete outage on Friday night, with the country vanishing from the Internet as completely as Egypt did during its revolts a few weeks earlier. Partial service was restored Saturday morning, only to be cut off again at around 2 p.m. PT, or midnight local time.

Jim Cowie, co-founder and chief technology officer of Internet intelligence firm Renesys, says it's not clear whether the disruptions are intentional or caused by other factors such as power outages. (A report by a CNN correspondent in eastern Libya said the power was up but the Internet was down.)quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:11 AM | permalink

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