April 18, 2014
Cellphones smuggled into prisons by corrupt guards, concealed in food containers or hurled over security fences are an increasing worry for law enforcement as prisoners use them to intimidate witnesses, direct drug deals and plan escapes. Reuters reports.
There are no widely available reliable figures on how many cellphones are in the hands of the 2.3 million inmates in local, state and federal prisons in the United States, but statistics point to a swift rise of the problem.
In California, for instance, the number of contraband cellphones discovered by corrections staff jumped to more than 15,000 in 2011, more than 10 times the 1,400 seized in 2007.
Read full article.
In this Explain Yourself video, a series in which New Yorker writers, artists, and cartoonists reveal the inspiration or thought process behind their work, cartoonist Liam Walsh discusses one of his most popular cartoons - on cell phones (posted on textually a few days ago). Watch video.
For anyone who would like to share this cartoon on a social network or post it on their blog - or has done so already, the right way to do it is to go through Cartoonbank.com and pay a small fee (between $10 and $20 depending on your circulation), so the artist is paid royalties.
There isn't always a way to pay for what we take and share, but here there is.
April 15, 2014
Mark Cuban's latest start-up, the messaging app Cyber Dust, is designed to give him (and all its users) complete control over one major chunk of daily communication: texting. Forbes reports
Described as WhatsApp meets Snapchat, texts sent via Cyber Dust automatically disappear 24 seconds after being read. Importantly, these messages cannot be traced and are not stored anywhere not even on Cyber Dust's servers assuring all users a high level of privacy and security.
Disappearing text apps, however, are not new to the app world, but Cuban plans to take Cyber Dust to the next level by introducing further functionalities that would enable users to erase their entire digital footprint over time.
Read full article.
April 14, 2014
According to Motherboard, last year, Brazilian authorities confiscated an estimated 35,000 phones from prisoners, yet Brazilian organized crime leaders continued to have widespread ability to make calls, receive calls, organize conference calls, and even hold virtual trials where gang leaders from different prisons are patched in to a central line to debate the fate of gang members accused of betraying the group’s ironclad rules.
They [prisoners] organize executions over the phone. You never forget it when you hear the crime bosses voting one after another – ‘kill’, ‘kill’, ‘kill’...I have heard this type of conversation many times,” said Marcelo Cristino, a federal prosecutor in São Paulo, as he described a conference call among an estimated seven PCC leaders.
Read full article.
SMS Enable Your Applications
Using Our SMS Gateway API
April 13, 2014
By New Yorker cartoonist Liam Francis Walsh.
April 9, 2014
Keen to ensure his ministers are paying attention, the French president, François Hollande, has imposed a ban on mobile phones during cabinet sessions.
Ministers will now be forced to leave their portable devices at the door when they join the French government's weekly cabinet meeting, government spokesman Stéphane Le Foll told reporters. "To focus on what we must do, the president has decided that there will be no more mobile phones in cabinet," Le Foll said.
[via The Guardian]
April 7, 2014
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a disturbing new 30-second video aimed to inspire drivers to keep their phones in their pockets while behind the wheel. [via Yahoo News]
The prototype charging unit, designed for the Samsung Galaxy S4, was demoed for the first time at Microsoft’s Think Next conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, today – but most of the innovation comes in the battery pack itself, rather than the charger.
As special batteries are required, there’s no need to worry about the effect on the long-term life of your existing battery pack. In fact, the company says that in addition to charging faster, StoreDot batteries will “withstand thousands of charge/discharge cycles, prolonging battery life expectancy considerably”.
April 5, 2014
The head of the European Union's Afghan election observer mission condemned the suspension of mobile text messaging services across the country on Saturday, saying it threatened the transparency of the poll. The Straits Times reports.
Cellphone users were able to make calls but not send SMS messages in an apparent effort to prevent candidates transmitting campaign messages on polling day.
EU chief observer Thijs Berman wrote to election officials to warn the move would "seriously handicap" the work of candidates' agents, who monitor polling stations, and could even affect their safety.
April 3, 2014
... For the past seven years the EU has been forcing prices down by placing a cap on the charges operators can impose and reducing that limit each year.
Although the removal of roaming charges could wipe 2 per cent off mobile operators’ revenues, the expected consolidation in the industry would allow greater economies of scale for the high costs of investing to build networks capable of handling ever-growing volumes of data.
According to a new report, authorities within the US government created an SMS messaging service based on Twitter to undermine Raul Catro’s government and spread misinformation. Silicon Republic reports.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the service known as ZunZuneo, slang for hummingbird in Cuba, would let mobile phone users in the Communist state to receive messages 140 characters or fewer, just like Twitter, over a range of topics from sport, weather and entertainment.
...The US government, having funded the project, aimed to eventually send messages which would be critical of the Cuban government and its ruler Raul Castro, brother of legendary revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro.
The service became popular with Cuba’s young, tech-savvy population as aside from being a way of keeping up to date with the latest news, people could send messages between each other free of charge.
In the same way as Twitter, users could follow other users by sending messages to follow to their favourite ZunZeneo users.
At the height of its popularity, it had an estimated 40,000 daily users, however, no one was aware of its origins in the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which aims to spread democracy as one of its core goals.
Read full article.
Update White House denies 'Cuban Twitter' ZunZuneo programme was covert (The Guardian)
The White House is claiming that a secret programme to build a carefully-disguised “Cuban Twitter”, in order to foment political opposition to the Castro regime, was “not covert” but rather a “discreet” form of humanitarian assistance.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday that while in "non-permissive environments" it was necessary for USAid to be "discreet", the secret social-media initiative was “not a covert programme”.
“It was a development-assistance programme,” he said, adding: "I am not aware of individuals here in the White House who were involved.” He also said the programme was subject to congressional oversight.
Carney denied suggestions the programme was “under the table” or had “roped in” unsuspecting Cubans.
Anyone with an iPhone 5 can use its fingerprint reader to unlock the device and pay for apps or music in Apple’s iTunes store. Owners of Samsung’s latest flagship device, the Galaxy S5 smartphone, which launches on April 11, will be able to make much broader use of their fingerprints to pay for things. If they visit a website or app that accepts PayPal using the device, they can authorize payments by swiping a finger across the phone’s home button. And PayPal’s own mobile app can be used to pay for goods in some physical stores in the U.S.
Fingerprint payments are likely to be offered on many more smartphones in the near future. The Galaxy S5’s payments system is the first commercial deployment of a new protocol developed by the FIDO Alliance, a group founded by tech companies to end our reliance on insecure passwords. Indeed, fingerprint readers are expected to become commonplace on mobile devices over the next year or so.
Read full article.
Flone is a drone which uses a smartphone as a flight controller and explores novel ways to "occupy" public space, in particular the air and claim the right to use it before legislation makes it illegal. [via we-make-money-not-art.com]
Created by artist and computer engineer Lot Amorós, technical engineer Cristina Navarro, and industrial engineer Alexandre Oliver, Flone turns the mobile phone into a stand-alone flying apparatus which can go up to a height of 20 metres from the ground, come down, rotate and do the usual smartphone tasks, such as taking photographs or video recordings. It can also be remotely controlled by another smartphone with a wifi or 3G connection.
Its objective is to make air space accessible to everyone as a research platform, providing a range of applications for them to operate with a smartphone alone.
April 2, 2014
Time spent on the mobile Web declines, while app use rises with games, social networking, and messaging being US users’ biggest go-to categories. C/net reports.
New data released by mobile analytics firm Flurry shows that average US users spend 2 hours and 42 minutes per day on their mobile devices -- 86 percent of that time is spent in apps and 14 percent on the mobile Web. While time in apps is increasing, mobile Web use is on the decline.
Users are spending more and more time on mobile apps, but the increase of time spent over last year has been relatively small. For 2013, Flurry reported users spent 2 hours and 38 minutes per day on their mobile devices -- that means just a four-minute increase to this year.
April 1, 2014
Texting behind the wheel in Florida could land a driver in prison for 30 years, if a new bill comes to pass. TCPalm reports.
That's the punishment some Florida lawmakers are pushing through the Legislature if a driver kills someone while texting and driving.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Irv Slosberg, will go to a final vote in the state House of Representatives this week.
The bill would also punish typing anything into a phone. That includes social media, or punching in an address into a GPS.
Read full article.
March 30, 2014
A user who is walking while participating in a text messaging session may inadvertently collide with or stumble over objects in his path because his attention was focused on his device's display instead of the path that he was traversing," according to the patent originally filed in September 2012.
The technology uses a smartphone's rear-facing camera to replace the text message's background with a live video feed of whatever’s in front of the user, thereby reducing the chances of stumbling over or bumping into an object while texting.
There's an app for that too that's been around for a while : Type n Walk
March 28, 2014
Opticians are warning overuse from phones and other devices like computers, tablets, and flat screen TVs can lead to long-term damage. The BBC reports.
It comes as a survey of 2,000 people suggests under 25s check their phones thirty-two times a day.
Optician Andy Hepworth said: "Blue violet light is potentially hazardous and toxic to the back of your eyes. So over a long period of time it can potentially damage your eyes.
"When you're looking at a smart phone, the light peaking out of that is blue violet."
He says tests have found that over exposure to blue-violet light has the potential to put us at greater risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
Read full article.
Response rates for surveys via texting in developing regions typically are well above 20 percent; in the United States, 0.5 to 1 percent is considered good. Tech Page One reports.
When the World Bank surveyed the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2011, it used text messaging. ?A traditional survey would have cost $3.5 million, taken 18 months and reached 2,500 people,? recalls Steve Gutterman, president of GeoPoll, the organization that conducted ?DRC Speaks!?
The 10-question survey about conflict, security and development was GeoPoll?s first survey in the Congo using SMS and feature phones. ?We reached 100,000 people in a single day for a fraction of the cost,? Gutterman says.
Similar results are being repeated throughout the developing world. Although the specifics vary, organizations know that in regions with little infrastructure, virtually no cabled Internet and very real physical dangers, text messaging is the most effective and accurate way to hear from a meaningful cross section of people who often have little voice outside their own communities.
March 26, 2014
The patient, a 34-year-old doctor, ironically enough, spent six hours on Christmas Eve sending WhatsApp messages to her friends and family. During that time, “she made continuous movements with both thumbs to send messages,” according to a report in The Lancet, one of the most well-respected medical journals in the world.
She woke up the next morning with pain in both wrists, which was diagnosed by a doctor as “WhatsAppitis”.
Read full article in Motherboard.
Text messaging may be dying out as a means of communication in many parts of the advanced world, but it may yet prove to be a vital life-saver in flood-prone African villages. Sri Lanka's Sunday Times reports.
An early-warning system that aims to capitalise on the explosive growth of mobile phone penetration in Africa could soon be in place to broadcast alerts to all users at risk from natural disasters such as flooding or hurricanes.
Millions of people in Africa have only limited access to television, radio or Internet but mobile phone ownership has grown exponentially, even in poor remote villages.
A network of satellites and weather stations will detect the threat and send a text to villagers within 15 minutes, hopefully allowing time for evacuation.
“The technology is able to identify all the active cellphones in a certain area, such as a shopping mall, a village, or a park, and send messages straight to the terminal without any previous subscription,” Alberto Perez, Nvia’s Africa manager, told AFP.
“With the same system, we can also send vital information to people about natural disasters that can save their lives and minimise damages”.
March 25, 2014
The forward-leaning posture that many people adopt when texting, going online, sending emails or playing games on phones and other mobile devices increases the risk of an early death in elderly people, and there are fears that younger people could also be knocking time off their lives.
The UCA claims that poor posture is as big a health risk as obesity. Studies suggest a link between forward-leaning posture in older people and hyperkyphosis, which is associated with pulmonary disease and cardiovascular problems.
United Chiropractic Media Statement Warning: Bad Posture Caused by Mobile Device Could Shorten Your Life (pdf)
Things aren’t looking great for Chinese firms working in the world of mobile payments. The fast-growing trillion dollar industry—which includes online investment funds, virtual credit cards, and e-commerce–is facing new pressure from Chinese regulators and state-owned banks. Quartz reports.
This week, China’s central bank said it is considering placing limits on how much cellphone users can spend via their smartphones. The regulator is also considering requiring online money market funds, like Alibaba’s Yu’e Bao, to begin holding minimum reserves on the deposits they collect.
Over the past few weeks, China’s top four banks, all of them state-owned, have set limits (paywall) on transfers to mobile financial products. And earlier this month, China halted the use of virtual credit cards and QR codes, used for online shopping.
Read full article.
Brian Singer started TWIT (that’s texting while driving, for the uninitiated) after the he noticed how many people he saw staring at their screens during his commute.
The San Francisco-based artist started posting his images to a website and now encourages users to send in shots they take while traveling.
The resulting pictures are rarely exciting in their composition, but it’s utterly terrifying to scroll and see person after person caught redhanded using a phone while operating a moving motor vehicle. Singer generally posts several photos per week, each with an appropriately snarky headline about the person’s unsafe behavior.
Read full article.
March 24, 2014
Below is the text message that Malaysian Airlines sent to relatives of the passengers of missing flight MH370 today to inform them of the latest development in the search.
In the SMS, Malaysian Airlines tells families that it is now believed the plane went down in the Indian Ocean and that there are no survivors, reports The Journal.
New global research by the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by mobile interaction service provider tyntec, has revealed that on average almost 50% of One-Time Passwords(OTPs) fail to arrive due to invalid mobile numbers provided by end-users.
For the report titled ‘Unlocking the Security Potential: The Key to Effective Two-Factor Authentication’ the Ponemon Institute surveyed more than 1,800 IT and IT security practitioners around the world.
The research also revealed that 65% of respondents felt the traditional username and password approach was insecure. As a result, 90% of global IT managers say their organisations plan or consider the possibility to adopt SMS-enabled two-factor authentication (2FA) in 2014 in order to improve online security.
... Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of the Ponemon Institute, added: “Enterprises and internet companies know that the traditional username and password is simply not enough anymore. However, companies deploying SMS-enabled two-factor authentication need to ensure that one-time passwords aren’t being sent to invalid mobile numbers. As a result, the research confirmed that 67% of respondents said customer experience improves when SMS-enabled two-factor authentication is combined with real-time verification of the receiver’s mobile number.”
Read full press release.
Link to White Paper: Unlocking the Security Potential: The Key to Effective Two-Factor Authentication’
Click on graphic for larger view.
March 21, 2014
In Canada, anti-human trafficking and women’s groups say the use of the Internet as the primary way to sell sex has made it almost impossible for them to make initial face-to-face contact with women in the sex trade.
Project Backpage, a pilot program in Edmonton, Canada that started in 2012, is using FrontlineSMS software created to effect social change through text messaging.
The program sends text messages offering support and contact information to phone numbers scraped from ads on the Edmonton “adult” section of Backpage.com, an online classified advertising website similar to Craigslist.
Twitter has been banned entirely in Turkey, according to a report from Istanbul-based media outlet Today’s Zaman. In response, Twitter’s official policy account offered Turkish users a workaround: SMS.
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
March 20, 2014
Ukraine's military has been on alert over the past weeks as Russia began to annex a portion of its land and widespread protests led to the ouster of its previous leader.
For support, Ukraine has been running a fundraiser to bring in money for the military, and it's been attempting to do so over the phone: by texting or calling a number, Ukrainians have been able to automatically donate 5 UAH (about 49 cents USD) to the country's army. Its defense agency has been advertising the phone number on its website and Facebook, and so far, Ukraine reports that it's brought in over $375,000.
Malaysia Airlines will begin sending out SMS blasts with brief updates to the families of the passengers and crew onboard MH370.
The airline is also setting set up an e-mail address for family members as a means for them to communicate with the national carrier. Updates are also available via the MAS website.
[via The Star Online]
March 17, 2014
Samsung has developed a smartphone case that helps the visually impaired by enhancing their awareness of their surroundings. The Ultrasonic Cover for its Galaxy Core Advance smartphone helps owners sense the presence of people and objects up to two meters away.
The cover includes a number of physical buttons to aid disabled users. The Ultrasonic Cover emits a high-frequency sound, listening for the sound wave that bounces back. When it detects a nearby object, the phone lets the smartphone owner know by sending a vibration alert or text-to-speech notification. In some sense, it's almost like the case can see for its owner.
The maddening scramble to find the right charger for your smartphone could be coming to an end - by 2016. The BBC reports.
European politicians have backed a regulation that will force smartphone makers to use just one type of charger.
On Thursday MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the regulation, which will see a common charger used for smartphones by 2017.
The regulation is still only a draft law and must be approved by Europe's council of ministers. However, that body has already given its informal backing to the law, suggesting it will win final approval.
European member states will have until 2016 to translate the regulation into national laws and manufacturers will then have 12 months to switch to the new design. The process of getting manufacturers to agree on a common design began in 2009.
Read full article.