Archives for August 2011

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August 31, 2011

Tanzanian farmers report improved yields via SMS

TechnoserveCoffeeInitiative.jpg From Frontline SMS Community Support Coordinator, Florence Scialom, speaks with James Hangaya, Monitoring and Evaluation Analyst at Technoserve Tanzania, about how he is using FrontlineSMS to help collect the data he needs for monitoring Technoserve’s Coffee Initiative project in Tanzania.

quotemarksright.jpgTraining for farmers is a key to Technoserve’s strategy in Tanzania, and forms a large part of their Coffee Initiative project. Training sessions help small-scale coffee farmers produce better quality coffee, thus helping them to secure higher prices in the international marketplace.

... The transition from paper to SMS has made a great difference to work flows, as James explains; “it saves us so much time and money, because our field staff no longer have to travel from the field to deliver paper survey results to our office, which can be a journey of more than 1,000 kilometres.”

Technoserve Tanzania plan to continue using FrontlineSMS for monitoring and evaluation, and are looking at ways to optimise and extend the ways they use the software, too. “In future we are looking to use FrontlineSMS to register farmers for training sessions and track their attendance. This will allow us to provide real-time reporting from the field,” explains James.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 5:38 PM | permalink

Information helps combat food insecurity in Kenya

77054scr.jpeg As famine is declared in five regions of neighbouring Somalia, ActionAid is working to improve vital communication with drought-affected populations in northern Kenya. ReliefWeb reports.

quotemarksright.jpg In partnership with “infoasaid”, a collaboration between the BBC World Service Trust and Internews, ActionAid is rolling out a project in Isiolo district, Kenya which aims to help combat food insecurity amonst communities affected by the ongoing drought.

The project uses innovative technology – Frontline SMS and Freedom Fone – to transmit information simultaneously to multiple recipients from a laptop computer.

Basic mobile phones and solar chargers were provided to 250 Relief Committee members who live within the communities we are working with, and who are themselves recipients of food supplies provided by ActionAid..quotesmarksleft.jpg

ActionAid’s Data Officer in Isiolo, Rahab Mburunga, explains how the project works.

emily | 5:26 PM | permalink

Financial Times pulls its apps from Apple

Reuters reports that The Financial Times has pulled its iPad and iPhone apps from Apple's App Store after losing a battle to keep control of customer data obtained through subscriptions.

quotemarksright.jpgApple has recently begun to insist that subscriptions to apps that it hosts must go through its own store, giving Apple ownership of valuable data about customers from those transactions, as well as a 30 percent cut of revenues.

The Pearson-owned FT and Apple had been in negotiations for months but ultimately failed to reach a compromise, an FT spokesman said on Wednesday.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 3:31 PM | permalink

August 30, 2011

Gallery of cell phones used by community health workers in Malaw

Malwiphones.jpg

A Flickr set of mobile phones used by community health workers in Malawi.

[via@Jason Grigsby]

emily | 8:57 PM | permalink

Bribespot: An app to report on corruption and bribes

hi-124-6.png MobileActive.org writes about Bribespot, a mobile app for Android (iphone version coming soon) that allows people to submit reports of corruption and bribes.

quotemarksright.jpgBribespot adoption and use has been widespread in Lithuania. Bribespot staff are based in the country and the service has received media attention. There are also many active users in Romania, where the service has been picked up by blogs and web portals. In Romania, many people use the app regularly, Bartas said, which might indicate persistent issues of corruption.

ne example from Lithuania is posted on the Bribespot site, in which an individual was asked for 200 USD for a speeding infraction. Another example from Poland reports a bribe for 25 EUR: Traffic cop stopped car. Suggested "half the fine" but first made sure his radiotelephone was off.

... To help verify reports and strengthen accuracy, Bribespot staff manually check all incoming reports. First, reports should state a specific instance of a bribe. Second, no names or specific accusations against a particular individual are allowed; these are edited out. About 2 percent of incoming reports are inappropriate and deleted.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:49 PM | permalink

Afrographique: (Infographic depicting smart and 'dumb' mobiles in Africa)

Infographic depicting smart and “dumb” mobile phone numbers on the African continent. Data from Informa Telecoms & Media.

[via @Jody Ranck]

afrographique.png

emily | 8:30 PM | permalink

Why mobile apps need to have privacy policies

Mobile application creators need to ensure that customers know exactly how their user data is collected and stored. So far, it’s not an industry standard, writes MobileBeat.

quotemarksright.jpgOften, when someone downloads a free app, she is giving up her data in exchange for that service. For example, she might download an app that requires her to link her Twitter account (or her Facebook) to use the app. In a typical financial transaction — say, $3 for a dozen eggs — you know how much you’re giving up. With these types of apps, though, the user enters an implicit agreement with the app and its brand. Usually that agreement is blind, with no notice of what exactly the app will collect and store or explanation of what will happen to that data.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more and be afraid. [via @JodyRanck]

emily | 3:05 PM | permalink

Time Chatting On Phone Down 77 Minutes In 2 Years

According to new data from J.D. Power, a consumer research and marketing company, Americans are now talking on their cellphones over an hour less per month than in 2009. The Huffington Post reports.

J.D. Power writes in a press release for its 2011 Wireless Network Quality Performance study:

quotemarksright.jpgWireless usage patterns continue to evolve, as fewer calls are being made or received. On average, wireless customers use 450 minutes per month, a decline of 77 minutes from 527 in 2009.

Customers are using their devices more often for text messaging. The study finds that wireless customers sent/received an average of 39 text messages during an average two-day period. During the course of a month, this equals more than 500 incoming/outgoing text messages.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 1:14 PM | permalink

August 29, 2011

Kenyans use mobile phones to send drought aid money

african-summit-raises-fraction-of-14bn-famine-fund-2345159.jpeg Jane Wangui Wainaina makes less than $10 a day serving hot food in the slums, but she still donated part of her income to help Kenyan famine victims by using a mobile phone banking service that executives say has helped raise millions of dollars. USA Today reports.

quotemarksright.jpg I felt a lot of sympathy for the people dying of hunger when we are eating," she said, leaning over to check that the cracked surface of a cheap mobile phone correctly showed her donation of $3.50 to the Kenya Red Cross. "I have been deeply shocked by what I have seen in the newspaper and on television, people dying from the famine. That's why I sent the money."

Wainaina used a mobile phone banking service called M-pesa, which allows people without a bank account to instantly transfer money between phones anywhere in Kenya. More than 50 countries now have such services, including Afghanistan, where it's being used to pay police in far-flung outposts.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image from The Independent.

emily | 9:45 PM | permalink

A moving tribute to Steve Jobs

The Crazy Ones was a commercial that Apple used to launch its ‘Think Different’ campaign back in 1997 just after Steve Jobs’ return to Apple. Ken Segall of Scoopertino fame wrote a post last week about the spirit of the ad and how much Steve loved it. In the post he mentioned that a video of historical shots of Steve would be a great compliment to Richard Dreyfus’ narration on the ad.

He thought it was such a good idea that he went ahead and did it himself, producing this fitting tribute to Jobs as he moves on from the CEO position to Chairman of the Board.

[via TheNextWeb]

emily | 6:15 PM | permalink

China has 929.84 million mobile phone users

According to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), China's mobile phone operators added 70.83 million new subscribers in the first seven months of this year, bringing the country's total number of cell phone users to 929.84 million, the MIIT said in a statement on its website.

[via Xinhuanet]

emily | 6:05 PM | permalink

August 27, 2011

3 million poor in Africa and South Asia to gain access to mobile phone numbers

MobilePhone_ET10.jpeg Three million people living in poverty in Africa and South Asia—around 75 percent of them women—will gain access to low-cost mobile phones identities and mobile phone numbers following United Kingdom-based technology firm Movirtu’s commitment made today.

BCtA is a global initiative supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among other international organizations, which aims to encourage private sector efforts to fight poverty.

Instead of sharing a phone number with family members or neighbours, those provided with a Movirtu cloud phone number will be able to use any mobile phone to log in with their own unique number to make and receive individual calls and access critical information and services such as banking or agriculture support.

... The company plans to bring the phone technology to at least12 markets in Africa and South Asia by early 2013, giving at least 50 million people in both continents access to the technology, with a target of 3 million using it on a regular basis.

A unique personal mobile identity will allow users to access network applications that provide information about employment opportunities, promote access to mobile payment systems or banking services, and help keep users up-to-date on a variety of health and market topics.

Read full UNDP Press release. [via @MobileActive]

Links to related articles blogged previously.

emily | 8:44 AM | permalink

August 26, 2011

Text Messages Aren't Enough When Natural Disasters Strike

SEDRedCross.jpg

Just in time for Hurricane Irene's arrival, a new survey from the Red Cross claims that social media is increasingly being used by Americans seeking information on natural disasters. A reliance on social media and text messages during emergencies has hidden dangers. Fast Company reports.

quotemarksright.jpg The American Red Cross has released a new survey that claims Americans are increasingly relying on the Internet and social media for disaster information. According to the Red Cross, 18% of Americans regularly rely on Facebook to obtain disaster information. The survey also claims that the Internet is the third most used medium to find out information about disasters--radio and television are more frequently used.

Facebook appears, by far, to be the most heavily used social media site for finding out disaster information. 91% of respondents polled over the phone and 78% of respondents online said they had used Facebook during natural disasters; another 25% of online respondents also used Twitter. Personal blogs, Flickr and tumblelogs such as Tumblr and Posterous lagged far behind.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 3:21 PM | permalink

UK. No government plans to curb social networks

The government and police did not seek any new powers to shut social networks, the Home Office says after a meeting with industry representatives, reports the BBC.

quotemarksright.jpgInstead they held "constructive" talks aimed at preventing violence being plotted online through existing co-operation, the Home Office said.

The meeting with representatives from Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry was held in the wake of English city riots.

The prime minister has said police may need extra powers to curb their use. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:34 AM | permalink

Visa vs.Google Wallet in mobile payments

visa-digital-wallet.png The digital wallet wars have begun. And credit card giant Visa and search behemoth Google are likely to be among the first to face off in the market as they each try to convince consumers to ditch their real wallets for ones that store credit cards and other information on their cell phones. CNet reports.

quotemarksright.jpg... While several other companies are also planning to launch digital wallets and mobile payment systems, Visa and Google will be among the first companies whose applications will hit the market in the next few months. Google is expected to launch its Google Wallet by the end of the summer. And Visa will be out with its yet-to-be-named digital wallet sometime this fall.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 8:29 AM | permalink

August 24, 2011

Mobile phones could soon be 'powered by walking'

_54791014_008785057-1.jpeg Taking a stroll may soon be enough to re-charge your mobile phone, after US researchers developed a way to generate electricity from human motion. The BBC reports.

quotemarksright.jpgGetting the energy from the handset to the device presents another challenge.

One way is to plug a USB cable into the shoe - probably not the most practical option.

A more sophisticated solution suggested by the University of Wisconsin team is to have the electricity-generating device connected to a shoe-bound wireless transmitter. This would take care of the power hungry part of a mobile phone's job - making radio contact with remote base stations.

Signals could be passed between the unit and the user's handset by more efficient short-range systems such as bluetooth or wifi.

The University of Wisconsin team published its study in the journal Nature Communications.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Related:

-- Telecom firm Orange, which sponsors the Glastonbury Festival, promoted its new "Power Wellies" last June as a means for festivalgoers to keep their cellphones charged.

-- A 19-year-old Indian from Himachal Pradesh has invented a pair of shoes fitted with an appartus, that charges a cell phone while you walk

-- Power-generating rubber films developed by Princeton University engineers could harness natural body movements such as breathing and walking to power pacemakers, mobile phones and other electronic devices.

-- A project called Green Erg harnesses (literally) a person’s movement energy to create electricity. Designed to work perfectly on all types of road, ground or floor conditons, it will generate enough power when attached to a person walking or to a moving skating board, bike, ox-cart, farm animal... for running cell phones or radios."

emily | 3:45 PM | permalink

Blogger sends uncensored news to Cuban cell phones

1ifQCl.Em.jpeg Cuban blogger in Spain, Ernesto Hernandez Busto, is sending uncensored news to about 1,000 Cuban cell phones daily — and exploring far more sharp-edged applications. The Miami Herald reports.

quotemarksright.jpgEventually, said Ernesto Hernandez Busto, he should be able to send SMS messages to special groups: If dissidents are being jailed in Santiago province, he could text “Stop the repression” to all cell phones used there by the Ministry of Interior.

Cuban authorities cannot block the messages from the Cuba Sin Censura system, or Cuba Without Censorship, because each one is sent from a different telephone number, Hernandez told El Nuevo Herald.<(p>

The system is the latest evidence of how new technology, such as cell phones and the Internet, is helping to increase the flow of information into and out of Cuba, despite the government monopoly on the mass media and telecommunications.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:53 AM | permalink

After Quake, Rush To Call Loved Ones (instead of Texting) Overwhelmed Networks

phones23_wide.jpeg

After an earthquake shook the East Coast on Tuesday, many people reached for their cellphones and tried to call loved ones. And many couldn't get through — but it wasn't the earthquake's fault.

No damaged cell towers or wires were reported by the major mobile carriers following the quake. Jut too many people using their phones at once, overloading the cellular networks.

[via npr]

Better emergency systems in the works - but obviously not implemented:

-- New York City Launches Emergency E-Alert Pilot called "Notify NYC"

-- National emergency alert system tied to cell phones (called "Non-Voice Emergency Services or NOVES") is set to launch by year's end in some cities.

-- Industry response by tyntec CEO on both Alcatel-Lucent's BCM and 4G Americas NOVES emergency systems

-- BCM: Alcatel-Lucent's New Emergency Alert System for cell Phones

-- California to Deploy Mass Emergency Mobile Alert System

-- And Cingular Wireless" hurricane emergency tips which is also valid for an earthquake: Use text messaging instead of a voice call.

emily | 8:36 AM | permalink

August 23, 2011

Amex 9/11 Facebook App Aims To Inspire Volunteerism

IWillVolunteerAmexApp.jpg

American Express is honoring the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 with a new Facebook application, “I Will Volunteer,” that hopes to encourage the 60 percent of Americans research shows want to perform charitable acts as the 10th anniversary approaches. AllFacebook reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe I Will Volunteer app enables Facebook users to search the 9/11 day database for opportunities by project or type, sign up for opportunities in their area, and then share their commitment with their friends on Facebook.

Amex has posted the app on the brand’s Facebook page along with a separate page dedicated to the app.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 7:45 PM | permalink

Kenya Government orders operators to block counterfeit phones

africa_cell_phones_0401.jpeg

The Communications Commission of Kenya has directed mobile phone operators to disconnect subscribers whose mobile phones are counterfeit. All Africa reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe directive is expected to affect at least four million subscribers - one out of every five of the 22 million subscribers registered with the mobile phone companies.

The decision has been condemned by consumer organisations and the mobile phone companies as it is punishing people who are essentially innocent.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 6:47 PM | permalink

Antennas in Your Clothes? New Design Could Pave the Way

110822111742-large.jpeg

The next generation of communications systems could be built with a sewing machine. To make communications devices more reliable, Ohio State University researchers are finding ways to incorporate radio antennas directly into clothing, using plastic film and metallic thread. Science Daily reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIn the current issue of the journal IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters, they report a new antenna design with a range four times larger than that of a conventional antenna worn on the body -- one that is used by American soldiers today.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 8:45 AM | permalink

First dates from hell exposed in 140 characters

Screeny_2011.08.22.18.21.jpeg

A new Twitter page called First Date Hell gives serial daters a chance to dish their first-date horror stories in 140 characters or fewer, and some of them are pretty bad.

[via News.com]

emily | 8:30 AM | permalink

iOS 5 includes early earthquake warning notifications for Japanese iPhone users

According to 9To5Mac, Apple has added a new early earthquake warning notification option to iOS 5, following the devestating earthquake in Japan earlier this year.

quotemarksright.jpgiOS 5 users in Japan can turn on early earthquake notifications at the very bottom of the iOS 5 Notification Center settings pane. All the user has to do is flick a switch to start receiving these notifications. According to TIME, who profiled Japan’s earthquake warning system earlier this year, the system gives warnings from seconds to one or two minutes before the earthquake hits.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:24 AM | permalink

Skype Pays Around $85 Million for GroupMe

groupme.jpeg AllThingsD reports that Skype - which is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft - has acquired GroupMe, a company that has developed a way for groups of people to send messages to each across various smartphone platforms. People familiar with the transaction say Skype will pay around $85 million for GroupMe.

For The Motley Fool, the deal is another nail in the coffin for SMS.

emily | 8:14 AM | permalink

Calif. Assembly passes cell-phone privacy bill

The state Assembly unanimously approved a bill Monday that would force law enforcement officers to secure a warrant before they can search the contents of a cell phone.

quotemarksright.jpgIf Gov. Jerry Brown signs it into law, it would overturn a January state Supreme Court ruling that allowed officers to search the contents of a cell phone they take from anyone they arrest.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via The San Francisco Chronicle]

emily | 8:11 AM | permalink

[Infograhic]: Text Message Campaigns: Who’s Really Opting In?

A new Infographics by Tatango on text messaging campaigns and who's really opting in.

Click Image to Enlarge
Tatango SMS Marketing Infographic
Source: Tatango SMS Marketing

emily | 7:43 AM | permalink

August 21, 2011

U.S. Providing Iraq With Phone, SMS Monitoring Devices

B3E5C90E-3E89-45B7-9362-BF33F2997C9E_mw800_mh600_s.jpeg U.S. military official says Washington will provide Iraqi authorities with technology to monitor and record phone calls and phone-text messages with the aim of preventing terrorist attacks, RFE/RL's reports via Radio Free Iraq reports (RFI).

quotemarksright.jpgGeoffrey Buchanan, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, told RFI a deal was signed with Iraq's Interior Ministry to provide it with the new technology. He said the agreement is part of an Iraqi training program.

With the new high-tech devices, Iraqi authorities will be able to monitor at least 5,000 mobile phones and fixed phone lines simultaneously, both domestic and international calls.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 7:25 PM | permalink

Courts grapple with GPS technology in criminal cases

As rapidly evolving technological advances allow people to be tracked by global positioning devices found in most new cellphones, Congress and courthouses nationwide are trying to balance privacy rights with the law enforcement’s need to locate criminals. The Olympian reports.

quotemarksright.jpgNearly three dozen ACLU affiliates around the country filed public information requests this month with local police agencies seeking statistics on how often GPS data is sought, how it’s used and how it’s stored.

Congress, meanwhile, has held hearings on cellphone technology and privacy, acknowledging that existing law hasn’t kept up with issues raised by the proliferation of smartphones and other devices capable of keeping real-time tabs on their owners.

“For investigators, the cellphone has become one of the greatest tools available,” said Douglas Ward, director of the Division of Public Safety Leadership in the Johns Hopkins University School of Education.

"But certainly we want to do this the right way and protect people’s rights,” he added. “This technology is going to cause more and more of these arguments, and the courts are going to have to settle how it all turns out. Like anything else, there can be abuses. Justice demands that we weigh that.”quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:56 AM | permalink

Russia loses contact with newly-launched $265m satellite

The-Express-AM4-satellite.jpeg According to China Daily, Russia has lost track of a newly-launched, multi-million-dollar telecommunications satellite on Thursday.

quotemarksright.jpgThe $265-million Express AM-4 satellite, described by its makers as the most powerful satellite ever built in Europe, launched late on Wednesday aboard a Proton-M rocket from the Russian-leased launchpad in Kazakhstan.

It said experts were working to re-establish contact with the craft to provide digital TV, Internet and telecoms services for Russia over the next 15 years.

The spacecraft was fully insured for 7.5 billion roubles ($264.5 million) with Russian Ingosstrakh insurance company.

Judging by early efforts, officials have a roughly 75 percent chance of linking back to the satellite and manoeuvring it into the correct orbit, space industry expert Igor Lissov told Reuters.

Its loss would be a "nightmare" for Russia's industry, he said, delaying key commercial projects by three to four years and embarrassing Moscow at a time when it hopes to showcase its technology at this week's MAKS airshow outside the capital. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 9:44 AM | permalink

Trend: [Infographics] about anything

The Infographics craze is spreading beyond the tech community - including to the film industry where Paramount Pictures has released one to promote their new film "Cowboys & Aliens":

-- Cowboys vs. Aliens: Who Would Win? This Infographic Has the Answer

Also released this week:

-- Infographic Of The Day: Are You Adventurous In Bed?

-- Infographic: What Your Bra Says About You (On A Date)

emily | 9:02 AM | permalink

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