Archives for July 2011

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July 31, 2011

Shareholders take Vodafone to account for network shutdown during Egyptian Revolution

AccessNow, an NGO that works for human rights values in telcoms policy, took a resolution to the Vodafone Board meeting in London last week, holding the company to account for its network shutdown during the Egyptian revolution and asking it to endorse a plan to uphold its customers’ human rights in future. boinboing reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIn addition to prolonging the misery and bloodshed of the Egyptian revolution, Vodafone’s network shutdown also resulted in the death of Egyptians who couldn’t use their phones to call ambulances during medical emergencies. Not to mention all the money the shareholders lost when millions of Egyptians lost their phone service.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Previously: - Vodafone under fire for bowing to Egyptian pressure

emily | 11:01 AM | permalink

Hundreds of Different Phones to Be Gathered for New Public Mobile Testing Lab

MobilePortland has set up a test lab for for platform vendors, carriers, and handset manufacturers who develop applications.

In their own words:

quotemarksright.jpgOne of the biggest challenges for mobile developers and businesses is getting access to devices for testing. Not even the largest of companies can afford to purchase all of the possible devices on which their software or services may run on.

We’re working on solving both of these problems by creating what we believe is the first community device testing lab in the United States.

The community device testing lab will be located in the heart of the Pearl District in downtown Portland. Developers, designers, and entrepreneurs throughout the region will be able to visit the lab to test their work on hundreds of mobiles devices. Developers working on location-based applications will be able to check out devices for field testing.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via ReadWriteWeb]

emily | 10:52 AM | permalink

Obama Loses 36,000+ Twitter Followers in #Compromise Campaign [STATS]


President Obama created a barrage of activity @BarackObama on Friday afternoon when he began urging his more than 9 million followers to tweet at their Republican Congressmen to “ask them to support a bipartisan solution to the deficit crisis.”

quotemarksright.jpgThe account has also been making use of the hashtag #compromise in an effort to drive home the message of bipartisanship.

The results so far have been mixed. According to NM Incite, the #compromise hashtag had been used more than 22,000 times and reached 36 million users (followers of accounts using the hashtag) as of around 5 p.m. ET on Friday, and people had mentioned the President some 28,000 times in tweets.

NM Incite says 40% of the @BarackObama mentions and 28% of the #compromise tweets expressed positive sentiment, with only 13% and 12% of them expressing negative sentiment, respectively.

As we noted in our earlier coverage, however, some users felt the state-by-state tweets were creating way too much noise — the President has lost nearly 37,000 followers so far today. You can see the drop as the day progressed in a chart from Simply Measured.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 10:39 AM | permalink

Heartening stats for text messaging

Some heartening stats for text messaging via FierceWireless.

According to ITU:

-- Text messages were sent by the 5.3 billion mobile users worldwide, generating $14,000 per second for operators, assuming an average of $0.07 per SMS.

-- Texts were ranked by over 80 per cent of those surveyed as being the most popular way to send a message to a friend or relative -- significantly ahead of e-mail at 7 per cent--and Facebook with 6 per cent.

Read full article.

emily | 10:00 AM | permalink

Facebook and Twitter are creating a vain generation of self-obsessed people with child-like need for feedback

twitter.jpegFacebook and Twitter have created a generation obsessed with themselves, who have short attention spans and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives, a top scientist believes, reports The Daily Mail.

quotemarksright.jpg Repeated exposure to social networking sites leaves users with an 'identity crisis', wanting attention in the manner of a toddler saying: 'Look at me, Mummy, I've done this.' Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, believes the growth of internet 'friendships' – as well as greater use of computer games – could effectively 'rewire' the brain.

... The academic suggested that some Facebook users feel the need to become 'mini celebrities' who are watched and admired by others on a daily basis.

They do things that are 'Facebook worthy' because the only way they can define themselves is by 'people knowing about them'. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:40 AM | permalink

Men build small flying spy drone that cracks Wi-Fi and cell data


Are Wi-Fi networks may be in danger from small threats flying above us?

An airplane hobby shop owner and an ex-Air Force official team up to create a drone that cracks into Wi-Fi and cell phones.

[via Digital Trends]

emily | 9:18 AM | permalink

July 30, 2011

NY MTA: We Get 700 Text Messages A Day for Bus Arrival Info

Brooklyn-Heights-Bus-and-Train-Map.jpeg The NY MTA says it receives about 700 text messages a day seeking arrival or departure information for B63 buses in Brooklyn. Transportation Nation reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe transit authority last winter began piloting a GPS-based program on the Bay Ridge-Brooklyn Heights bus route, where users can send a text message asking when a bus will be arriving at a given stop.

The procedure involves texting a six-digit code number to “41411,” then waiting for a text back that tells users how many miles or how many stops the bus is away.

Unlike some privately generated apps, the MTA app doesn’t “find” users, nor does it tell how many minutes a bus is away.

But the authority it still has 18,000 “mobile interactions” and 13,000 “desktop interactions” a month.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 2:34 PM | permalink

Barack Obama Spamming the Hell out of Twitter

LAUNCH-blog-Obama twitter-home.png

With the deadline for raising the nation's debt ceiling closing in, President Barack Obama has flooded his @BarackObama stream yesterday morning with tweets directed at voters in every state (in alphabetical order) to ask their Republican reps in Congress "support a bipartisan compromise to deficit reduction." Tweets include the handles for members in that state.

[via Launch]

emily | 11:37 AM | permalink

20 Metrobus Drivers Fired for Using Cell Phones in 2011

Washington's Metro has fired 20 bus drivers for talking on a cell phone while driving since the beginning of the year. The culprits were caught on cameras mounted inside the buses.

The zero tolerance policy was activated two years ago when a photo of a Metrobus driver on a cell phone taken by a passenger became public.

[via NBC Washington]

emily | 9:46 AM | permalink

Short text messages show surprising storytelling power in Norway tragedy

funeralnorway.jpeg The narrative power of the text message was revealed dramatically in recent days as the world mourned the deaths of almost 80 Norwegians, most of them young, all victims of a single mass murderer named Anders Breivik. Roy Peter Clark for

quotemarksright.jpgAs the killer stalked his young victims, gathered at a camp to learn about government and democracy, a 16-year-old survivor named Julie Bremnes began an urgent exchange of text messages with her mother Marianne.

... From Julie’s caring attention to others who are in harm’s way; to the reassurances mother and daughter provide each other; to the delivery of information that will keep her safe; to the gloriously Norwegian understatements of love; to the authenticity of the girl’s fervent exclamation points, her slang that she is “shit scared,” even one of the best uses of the smiley face I have ever seen.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:38 AM | permalink

July 29, 2011

PrePay to Represent a Quarter of USA Cell Phone Accounts by Year-End

Prepay accounts will account for a quarter of USA accounts by the end of this year, according to the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC).

quotemarksright.jpgAccording to new data released by the NMRC think tank, about three out of five new wireless subscriptions in 2010 were for prepaid cell phone service -- a margin of more than eight million new prepaid subscriptions versus just under new 4.8 million postpaid subscriptions.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:30 AM | permalink

Officials in China to monitor public wi-fi use

Chinese web users at a cyber cafe  - Feb.jpeg According to The Sydney Morning Herlad, new regulations in China requiring bars, restaurants, hotels and bookstores to install costly web-monitoring software, are prompting many businesses to cut internet access and sending a chill through the capital's game-playing, web-grazing literati who have come to expect free wi-fi with their lattes and green tea.

quotemarksright.jpgThe software, which costs businesses about $US3100 ($2840), provides public security officials the identities of those logging onto the wireless service of a restaurant, cafe or private school and monitors their web activity.

Those who ignore the regulation and provide unfettered access face a $US2300 fine and the possible revocation of their business license.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image from the BBC.

emily | 9:06 AM | permalink

Twitter gets more ad-friendly

twitter.jpegTwitter on Thursday began prominently promoting in user feeds the brands people follow, the latest move to boost its advertising model. USA Today reports.

quotemarksright.jpgWhat this means is that when people sign on to Twitter or refresh the site, messages from particular brands that they follow will appear at or near the top of their feeds rather than getting pushed down chronologically. Once viewed, those ads will sink. This assures advertisers that they will reach their followers, of course.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 9:00 AM | permalink

Talk to Me art show at MOMA

29TALK-articleLarge.jpeg In “Talk to Me,” a show at the Museum of Modern Art, objects and people interact using cellphones, Twitter, video games and other forms of technology.

quotemarksright.jpgThe exhibition focuses on objects that involve a direct interaction, such as interfaces, information systems, visualization design, and communication devices, and on projects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users.

Examples range from a few iconic products of the late 1960s to several projects currently in development—including computer and machine interfaces, websites, video games, devices and tools, furniture and physical products, and extending to installations and whole environments. quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via The New York Times]

emily | 8:39 AM | permalink

Facebook and Twitter help speed up response to national disasters and emergencies

twitter.jpeg Social media allowed an ''unprecedented'' two-way exchange of information between the public and those given the task of preparing for and responding to major events such as earthquakes, floods and infection pandemics, said researchers, reports The Telegraph.

quotemarksright.jpg'By sharing images, texting and tweeting, the public is already becoming part of a large response network, rather than remaining mere bystanders or casualties,'' said the US team led by Dr Raina Merchant, an emergency medicine expert from the University of Pennsylvania.

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors say harnessing social media could help emergencies to be handled in a ''quicker, more co-ordinated, effective way''. The technology allowed officials to ''push'' information to the public while at the same time ''pulling'' in valuable data from bystanders.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:32 AM | permalink

Digital Lifestyles in China Explained [infographic]

The 2011 Digital Lifestyles Report focuses on behaviors and trends surrounding digital device usage, content consumption and e-commerce among the 300 million 18 to 30-year-olds in China. An infographic highlights key bits of data found in the report.


Click here to enlarge.

emily | 8:20 AM | permalink

Cell Phone Study 'Misleading': Children May Still Be At Increased Cancer Risk

ChildonCellPhone.jpg The Huffington Post on serious concerns regarding the methods and conclusions of the first study evaluating the connection between cell phone radiation and brain cancer in children and teens. Not only was the study flawed, they note, but it was also financially supported by the cell phone industry.

quotemarksright.jpgAfter looking at brain tumors and cell phone use among about 1,000 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 19, European researchers determined that kids who averaged one or more weekly cell phone calls over a period of at least six months were not at an increased risk of developing a brain tumor compared to peers that were non-users. Overall, less than 15 percent of the children and teens had spent more than 4 years as a cell phone user.

"It’s ridiculous to think that because you didn’t find a significant increase in brain cancer among kids that now cell phones are safe," added Devra Davis, president and founder of the consumer advocacy group Environmental Health Trust. She likened the study to looking at 16-year-olds who smoked as children to see if they had lung cancer. “You’d find nothing,” she said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more


-- CEFALO Research: Mobile Phone Use and Brain Tumors in Children and Adolescents: A Multicenter Case–Control Study - Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

-- Swiss Cell Phone Findings Troubling for Children’s Health

emily | 7:56 AM | permalink

July 28, 2011

Alibaba Group Launches Mobile Phone Operating System

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said Thursday a partner will launch at the end of July the first mobile phone in China to use an operating system developed by Alibaba, kicking off competition with Apple, Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in the smartphone operating system market.

[via The Wall Street Journal]

emily | 1:59 PM | permalink

Mobile 'pinging' claim raises legal questions

A former News of the World journalist's allegation the newspaper paid police to track mobile phones raises serious questions about the UK's eavesdropping laws, according to experts.

quotemarksright.jpgSean Hoare said it was possible to "ping" a handset's location for £300.

While there is no firm evidence to support the accusation, if true it would undermine safeguards within the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The law outlines a system of checks intended to prevent it being abused.


Read full article. @mobileactive

emily | 1:50 PM | permalink

Text messages from Norway victim to mother

Julie and Marianne Bremnes.gif The BBC publishes a series of text messages sent by a brave victim to her mother while hiding out from the terrorist during the Norway shooting spree.

The SMS exchange between mother and daughter were originally published in Norwegian newspaper VG.

quotemarksright.jpgJulie Mummy, tell the police that they must be quick. People are dying here!

Mum I'm working on it, Julie. The police are on their way. Dare you call me?

Julie No.

Julie Tell the police that there is a mad man running around and shooting people.

Julie They must hurry! ...quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via Emergency Management]

emily | 8:53 AM | permalink

'War Texting' Lets Hackers Unlock Car Doors via SMS

car keys.jpeg Software that lets drivers unlock car doors and even start their vehicles using a mobile phone could let car thieves do the very same things, according to computer security researchers at iSec Partners, reports PC World.

quotemarksright.jpgDon Bailey and fellow iSec researcher Mathew Solnik say they've figured out the protocols that some of these software makers use to remote control the cars, and they've produced a video showing how they can unlock a car and turn the engine on via a laptop. According to Bailey, it took them about two hours to figure out how to intercept wireless messages between the car and the network and then recreate them from his laptop.

Bailey calls his technique "war texting," a reference to another hacking technique called "war driving," which involves driving around cities looking for data on wireless networks.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 8:32 AM | permalink

Google Opens SMS-to-chat Gateway to More African Countries

gmaillogo$.jpeg Google already allows Gmail users to exchange chat messages with mobile phone users via SMS in 23 countries worldwide, but now French mobile phone operator Orange wants to help the search giant extend the service across Africa and the Middle East. PC World reports.

quotemarksright.jpg Gmail SMS Chat allows a Gmail user to send short text messages to someone with only a basic mobile phone and no Internet access or Gmail account. The phone owner can also reply to the Gmail user. Phone users pay to send messages, and may also pay to receive them depending on their contract with their operator. The Gmail user pays nothing, although Google does impose a limit on the number of messages that can be sent: each message replied to raises the limit, allowing five new messages to be sent.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 8:28 AM | permalink

July 27, 2011

Steven Levy on Letting Bots Do Our Tweeting for Us

Forget about the Turing Test. If you're an AI wiz, try the Levy Test. Create a social-network bot that can post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. so convincingly that it's more authentic than the human who is supposedly logged in. Good for filling in on vacations. And you can maintain your virtual persona even when you're dead.

[Steven Levy+]

emily | 7:11 PM | permalink

The Cost of Mobile Internet Around the World [Infographic]

This infographic by Android Tablet Fanatic is an exploration of mobile Internet cost around the globe (2 GB a month) which also takes into account the type of data network deployed by each country. Click here to enlarge.

emily | 2:15 PM | permalink

Vodafone under fire for bowing to Egyptian pressure

Vodafone.jpeg Vodafone Group is to meet human rights campaigners to discuss how it can prevent its networks being hijacked by repressive regimes after it was forced to send out pro-government messages and shut down its network by the Egyptian government during the uprising at the start of the year. The Guardian reports.

quotemarksright.jpg... Access wants telecoms companies to agree crisis protocols with governments. These should ensure users can make emergency calls at all times, that calls and emails are not hacked, that networks are shut down for minutes or hours rather than days and that carriers cannot be used to disseminate propaganda.

Phone and internet companies are frequently forced to choose between protecting freedom of expression and commercial interests. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:15 AM | permalink

Mozilla eyes mobiles and tablets

The creators of the Firefox web browser have started developing an operating system for mobiles and tablets, reports the BBC.

Although the project will draw on some parts of Google's Android mobile operating system much of the code will be freshly written.

emily | 9:12 AM | permalink

Sleep with your iPhone? You're not alone

sleepapneadisorder.jpeg The Daily Herald on our attachment to cell phones.

quotemarksright.jpg... Michelle Hackman, a recent high school graduate in Long Island, N.Y., won a $75,000 prize in this year's Intel Science Talent Search with a research project investigating teens' attachment to their cell phones. She found that students separated from their phones were under-stimulated -- a low heart rate was an indicator -- and lacked the ability to entertain themselves.

Most of the teens at Hackman's affluent high school own smartphones, she says, and could even be found texting under their desks during class. "It creates an on-edge feeling and you don't realize how much of the lecture you're missing," Hackman says.

For some, the anxious feeling that they might miss something has caused them to slumber next to their smartphones. More than a third of U.S. adults -- 35 percent -- now own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center, and two-thirds of them sleep with their phones right next to their beds.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image from Sleep Apnea Disorder.

emily | 8:49 AM | permalink

July 26, 2011

Is the government using cellular data to track Americans as they move around the U.S.?

Business Insider reports that a group of Senators questioned the general attorney for the National Security Agency Tuesday about whether U.S. intelligence agencies are using cell phone geo location data to track U.S. citizens without their knowledge.

quotemarksright.jpgAccording to The Wall Street Journal, the leader of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olson told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that: "There are certain circumstances where that authority may exist."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 11:48 PM | permalink

Healing apps to treat PTSD

A half-dozen apps with names like 'T2 MoodTracker,' 'PTSD Coach' and 'Breathe2Relax' have been developed by the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department, but not to diagnose illness or replace psychiatric counselling. Rather, the apps offer at-your-fingertips information about what the military calls 'invisible wounds' of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - and techniques for managing the symptoms.

Read full AP article.

emily | 11:28 PM | permalink

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