Archives for October 2011

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October 31, 2011

UK Met police using surveillance system to monitor mobile phone

Civil liberties group raises concerns over Met police purchase of technology to track public handsets over a targeted area, reports The Guardian.

quotemarksright.jpgBritain's largest police force is operating covert surveillance technology that can masquerade as a mobile phone network, transmitting a signal that allows authorities to shut off phones remotely, intercept communications and gather data about thousands of users in a targeted area.

The disclosure has caused concern among lawyers and privacy groups that large numbers of innocent people could be unwittingly implicated in covert intelligence gathering. The Met has refused to confirm whether the system is used in public order situations, such as during large protests or demonstrations.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:05 AM | permalink

October 29, 2011

Worst Halloween costume ever?

Worst Halloween costume ever? via adverblog on Facebook.

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emily | 2:47 PM | permalink

SF cell phone radiation warning goes too far

SFCFRadiation.jpg San Francisco may have gone too far in mandating warnings about the radiation coming out of cell phones, a federal judge ruled on Thursday, reports CNet.

quotemarksright.jpgThe ruling, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, called for San Francisco to tone down its message and to remove the requirement for retailers to post warnings on their walls.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup said the warnings created an "untrue and misleading" perception that cell phones are dangerous and "somehow escaped the regulatory process." He added that the rule overstates the risks posed by cell phones.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 10:05 AM | permalink

EBay to drive mobile commerce innovation with open system

Mobile will play a big role for eBay as it migrates to an open ecommerce ecosystem that will enable developers to create new services and apps that enhance online and mobile shopping. MobileCommerce Daily reports via Paul Swanson+.

quotemarksright.jpgAt its Innovate Developer Conference yesterday, eBay announced its new X.commerce open commerce ecosystem, a deeper integration with Facebook and PayPal Access, which lets consumers use their PayPal login information to pay on retailers’ sites. The moves point to eBay’s desire to play a bigger role in all types of commerce, including mobile commerce.

“By providing these tools to developers, you have something that can really push forward both mobile and online commerce” said Nick Holland, senior analyst at Yankee Group, Boston.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 9:37 AM | permalink

October 28, 2011

Paper Vouchers help feed Somalians, Vouchers by SMS help feed Iraki refugees

The Opinion Page of The New York Times has an interesting article on how the Canadian Foodgrains Bank is providing Somalians with paper vouchers that they can use in shops of selected local merchants - instead of waiting in long lines in designated areas where sacs of grain are distributed.

It made me think of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Syria that rolled out not paper, but electronic food vouches for Iraqis, using SMS.

quotemarksright.jpgIraqi families eligible for e-voucher food assistance are given a SIM card and received a text message with a code during each two-month food distribution cycle. The voucher can be redeemed in selected government shops. After each transaction an updated balance is sent by SMS. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more. via @JodyRanck

emily | 10:24 PM | permalink

Ford adds 'Do Not Disturb' to 'My Key' that will block cell phones whilst driving

FordMyKey_2600.jpeg US car maker Ford has added a 'Do Not Disturb' feature to "My Key" that will block mobile phones whilst driving. The Inquirer reports.

MyKey launched in September in Europe, enabling parents to pre-program a master key that sets various limits on the vehicle, like speed, the volume of music or or failure to fasten seatbelts .

quotemarksright.jpgIn what Ford is calling an industry first, the feature will be able to block phone calls and text messages to a driver's mobile phone whilst they are driving with the My Key system. It is designed to give parents peace of mind and encourage younger drivers to concentrate on driving.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more. Image from Geek.com

emily | 9:55 PM | permalink

Indians use cellphones to plug holes in governance

INDIACROWDSOURCING%20004_1319567221.jpeg The Washington Post on a new grievance reporting service to use for sending complaints via text message to the Indian government about problems in villages.

quotemarksright.jpglmost everyone in this village in central India has a complaint. Electricity comes only three hours a day. The road has potholes. Widows’ pensions arrive late. The school lunch program often runs low on food.

Villagers say they send letters, call a goverment complaint line and wait outside officials’ offices for help, but never get a response. “All our complaints go into a blind well of the government,” said Mukesh Chandravanshi, 30, a farmer.

Now a simple cellphone text messaging program is providing a more direct line of communication between villagers and the government. Developed by activists, local officials and an IT company, the system ensures that complaints are immediately acknowledged and that residents regularly receive updates on how and when their problem will be resolved.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 1:50 PM | permalink

October 27, 2011

Mobile Banking App Usage in the USA Increases by 45 Percent

An analysis of mobile financial services usage in the US shows that 32.5 million Americans accessed mobile banking information on their devices at the end of Q2 2011 in June, representing 13.9 percent of all mobile users.

The comScore study also revealed that 12.7 million mobile users reported using banking apps, showing a notable increase of 45 percent from Q4 2010.

Full ComScore press release via Cellular News.

emily | 2:56 PM | permalink

Voice wars: Apple v Google v Microsoft

Voice is the new black when it comes to interacting with our gadgets - and Google and Microsoft aren't about to let Apple's Siri personal assistant hog all the limelight.

[via The Sydney Morning Herald]

emily | 2:47 PM | permalink

RIM facing lawsuits over outage

According to the BBC, Blackberry customers in the US and Canada are suing Research in Motion over the recent global outage which left millions without email, instant messaging and net access.

quotemarksright.jpgA Canadian lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, was brought on behalf of all Blackberry owners in the country, and accuses RIM of breach of contract. A similar complaint has been filed in the US.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 2:36 PM | permalink

October 26, 2011

Man embeds smartphone into prosthetic arm

SWNS_HANDS_FREE_03_270x402.jpeg Fifty-year-old Brit Trevor Prideaux, a catering manager from Somerset, England, who was born without a left forearm, came up with the idea to integrate a smartphone into his prosthetic. News.com and Cellular News report.

quotemarksright.jpgIn an interview with The Telegraph, Prideaux of Wedmore, Somerset describes how he sought help from medical experts and communications chiefs at Nokia to build the special prosthethic. "I think this is the first time this has ever been done in the world - and it is brilliant. "I can now take calls and make texts just by using my one hand, while the phone sits inside my arm.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 9:03 AM | permalink

TV audience will vote with Twitter for singer on X Factor

imgres.jpeg Next week, for the first time, as an alternative to calling or texting in a vote for a singer on “The X Factor,” Twitter will make it possible to vote with a message to the show’s account. The New York Times reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe voting option is the result of a new technological investment by Twitter and is a reflection of the company’s symbiotic relationship with the television industry.

TV producers like Mr. Cowell, who crave the immediate feedback they can get from Twitter, have given the Web site free promotion, helping it to gain more users who will give even more feedback. Over time, the theory goes, having more users will help the five-year-old Twitter turn a steady profit.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:52 AM | permalink

Wearable fabrics with embedded electronics that can collect, store, send and receive information

25shirt_graphic-articleInline.jpeg John Volakis, the director of the ElectroScience Laboratory at Ohio State University is working on “smart textiles”: wearable fabrics with embedded electronics that can collect, store, send and receive information. They could be used in military apparel, everyday t-shirts, or hospital gowns.

quotemarksright.jpg... An antenna hospital gown could transmit data like heart rates to a health professional’s computer. Such wireless monitoring could be used not only in hospitals, but also in people’s houses, to remotely keep tabs on the sick and elderly while they move about unencumbered.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[via The New York Times]

Related:

-- BAE body wearable antenna takes smart phones to war - British military company BAE Systems has developed different types of wearable antennas to reduce the load that soldiers have to carry.

-- Antennas in Your Clothes? New Design Could Pave the Way - Ohio State University researchers are finding ways to incorporate radio antennas directly into clothing, using plastic film and metallic thread.

emily | 8:35 AM | permalink

October 25, 2011

Marathon using social media to help track runners step by step

If your friend who’s running the Marine Corps Marathon posts to Facebook or Twitter in the middle of the race, don’t be that impressed writes The Washington Post.

quotemarksright.jpgIt’s one of the latest gee-whiz advancements in runner-tracking technology within the past decade. It started with text messages of finish times to runners and their supporters, evolved into more sophisticated systems that relayed the pace of participants at several points during the race and has now reached social media platforms, along with mobile phone apps and GPS devices that allow spectators to follow every step of the way.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:29 PM | permalink

Obama staffer packing up cell phones

volunteer.jpeg

Spotted on Barack Obama's 2012 Tumblr, a campaign volunteer packaging up cell phones to be sent out to the Ohio offices.

emily | 8:20 PM | permalink

Combating Cholera with Cell Phones

In early September, 29 community health workers began using Nokia cell phones as the latest tool in the fight against cholera. The specially programmed phones help track information about cholera patients in isolated communities throughout Haiti’s Central Plateau – an important step in gathering the up-to-date infection data that could prevent more deaths.

[Partners in Health via @JodyRanck]

emily | 7:53 PM | permalink

Bubbly's voice tweets to expand from Asia

Bubbly.jpg

Fans of Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber looking for more than their 140-character tweets may soon be able to follow and hear their idols chatter over a new online service. Reuters repors.

quotemarksright.jpgVoice microblogging service Bubbly, which allows people to send Twitter-like short sound messages, has grown to reach more than 12 million clients in Asia in just 18 months and plans to take the service global this year.

It sends users a text message with a link to a short audio message from people they are following. The message is played back as a voice call.

... Bubble Motion plans to roll out applications for Apple's iPhone and Google's Android smartphone platform later this year and seeks to expand offerings from voice to text, photo and video in the future.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 6:30 PM | permalink

Why Siri's voice is male in the US and female in the UK.

A wonderful article by Jeremy Wagstaff in The Guardian on why Siri's voice was male in the U.S. and female in the UK.

Related

-- Why Are Computer Voices Female? Ask Siri

emily | 1:15 PM | permalink

MPs call for telecom companies to cut 'stealth tax' on stolen mobile phones

MPs have accused Vodafone, Everything Everywhere, Three and O2 of using mobile phone theft as a "stealth tax" and urged them to slash charges for calls made on stolen mobiles. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIn an Early Day Motion (EDM), a cross-party group of more than 20 MPs said that mobile operators should charge customers the wholesale rate for calls made after phones are stolen, rather than the "much higher" retail charges that they currently face until the theft is reported.

Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, told The Telegraph: "Mobile phone operators are raking it in. At the moment mobile phone tariffs are competitive, and the way [operators] are compensating is by using theft like a stealth tax. First of all they charge rip-off insurance – often £10 to £15 a month – and then, when the phone is nicked, they charge for the calls made. They shouldn't be stealth taxing consumers in this way."quotesmarksleft.jpg

According to consumer research organisation Which?, nearly 6m people in Britain have had their mobile phones stolen in the past five years.

Read more.

emily | 12:43 PM | permalink

October 24, 2011

App lets consumers wait in line remotely

Qminder.jpg Still in beta testing mode, Estonian Qminder is a queue management system that spares consumers the need to wait in line in person, not just at hospitals and doctor’s offices, but also at banks, restaurants and stores. Springwise reports.

quotemarksright.jpgAfter downloading the app, customers can “take a number” remotely, which marks their place in the virtual queue. In return, Qminder estimates how long the wait promises to be and sends a notification when the user’s turn approaches.

For venue owners, the app can be used to determine when peak hours are occurring, enabling managers to better schedule extra staff. The app can also be set up to work with existing queue systems, or using a web service.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more. via @DMcDonald

emily | 9:23 PM | permalink

Registering births and deaths using mobile phones in Kenya

index.jpeg The Health Metrics Network (HMN) priority strategic initiative called MOVE-IT aims to improve monitoring of vital events ― births, deaths and causes of death ― through innovation and the use of information technologies.

Tens of millions of births and deaths go unrecorded each year and reliable data on causes of death are lacking for the majority of the world's population. MOVE-IT aims to contribute to reversing the lack of progress over several decades by supporting the development of standards and tools, advocacy, and innovative country projects.

Read interview with Doris Ma Fat, Statistician, Health Statistics and Informatics Department, World Health Organization (WHO) via @JodyRanck.

emily | 8:13 PM | permalink

How Text Messaging was used in the Tunisian Elections

This is an e-mail I received from one of my readers, under the cover of anonymity, reporting first hand on how text messaging was successfully used in the Tunisian elections.

quotemarksright.jpgAm contacting you hoping you will kindly accept to write a short post about the fact that SMS texting has been very massively used in the Tunisian elections, the elections has finished today (23 October) and it lasted 4 days, from 20 to 23 October).

The SMS texting was used by the citizens to consult where shall they vote, the service (made available with a cooperation between the governement and a private local company) was really a big success, here's some numbers:

-- More than 3 million SMS has been served on the 23rd of October, totalling around 6 million SMS in one day (assuming every SMS-MO has its response: SMS-MT)

-- 1 million SMS has been server on the 22nd of October

-- 700k SMS has been served from 20 to 21st of October

The service is very basic, people have to send SMS with this syntax:

bv ID_CODE LANGUAGE

Example: To know where one should vote, mobile users sent out an ID like this one: 'bv 67521266 F' to short code 1423, A reply was returned by SMS indicating the correct voting office (in french, if "F" was added at the end of the text).

The service was a real success, and tunisians estimate that there's a historical record of the participation percentage, we're talking about more than 87% of participation ..

Anyway, i thought it is interesting to write something on textually (am your reader since early 2006) to spread the word about SMS usage in elections and its success in the tunisian post-revolution and first 100% democratic elections.quotesmarksleft.jpg

emily | 6:34 PM | permalink

Following major earthquake, Google launches Person Finder app for Turkey

howitworks.gif TheNextWeb reports that Google has launched its Person Finder service in Turkey following yesterday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake which has killed at least 217 people and injured a further 350.

quotemarksright.jpgFirst launched to assist with the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, Person Finder offers tools that allow people to publish missing person reports and other individuals or organisations to offer information that helps find them. The tool can also be embedded in third-party websites.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 1:07 PM | permalink

Local transactions by Kenya’s mobile money service, M-Pesa exceeds Western Union’s global transactions

mpesa-image.jpeg

Launched in March 2007 by Kenyan telecoms operator, Safaricom, the service which now has over 14 million users in Kenya is currently the world’s most successful mobile payments system. The NextWeb reports.

quotemarksright.jpgLocal transactions by Kenya’s mobile money service, M-Pesa currently exceeds transactions made by Western Union globally, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports. According to the IMF, “M-Pesa now processes more transactions domestically within Kenya than Western Union does globally, and provides mobile banking facilities to more than 70 per cent of the country’s adult population.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. via Jody Ranck Summify. Image from CGAP.

emily | 9:32 AM | permalink

Cartoonist Bors on Steve Jobs Afterlife

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By Portland cartoonist Bors. Published in The Washington Post. Robert Minkoff+ via Dan Gilmore.

emily | 8:50 AM | permalink

October 23, 2011

San Francisco Delays Controversial Cell Phone Law

San Francisco’s cell phone law mandating cell phone retailers to disclose the radiation from the devices has been delayed, as CTIA has sued to overturn the law and moved to block the implementation, reports IBTimes.

quotemarksright.jpgThe CTIA, a trade group representing cell phone companies, has sued the law saying it is a violation of their First Amendment rights.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

Previously:

-- San Francisco Passes Cellphone Radiation Law

-- San Francisco to vote on cell phone radiation labels

-- Main to legislate over cancer warnings on cell phones

-- SF Mayor back mandatory cell phone radiation labels

emily | 9:51 AM | permalink

October 22, 2011

UK Parliament Debates Installing A Black Box On Your Computer

EU MEP Tiziano Motti (Italy), wants everything you do online to be logged and saved, for the sake of the children. Like a black box installed on every computer. He proposes an early warning system of criminal activity, specifically whenever an image of sexually abused children is detected, an alarm, goes to the authorities to be able to see who uploaded it. activepolitical.com reports.

quotemarksright.jpgHis proposal involves a technology called Logbox. And just as with an aircraft's black box, Logbox is installed on computers, laptops, smartphones, and e-readers because yes, all that can be connected to the internet.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. via Jody Ranck's Summify.

emily | 9:07 AM | permalink

Listen to Steve Jobs on Meeting His Biological Father

This clip from Sunday's 60 Minutes profile gives us a rare opportunity to hear one of the most serendipitous moments of Jobs' life—from his own voice. [via Gizmodo]

emily | 9:00 AM | permalink

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