Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dell Adamo: All dressed up with nowhere to go?

Dell Adamo: All dressed up with nowhere to go?


Dell computers has been on the forefront of the notebook and portable PC market for years.  They have been able to establish a huge market share for offering good internal computers for an affordable price, making them very popular among young adults and college kids.  However, they have just started to re shape their image with their new sleek laptop with incredible internal makeup. Dell's new Adamo is latin for to fall in love with and covet, what dell was trying to get its clients to do by falling in love with the new design and every detail.  

The owner of the company says that this is not going to be Dells bread and butter.  That rather than mass producing the Adamo all at once, they will use it to offer consistent consumers of Dell products a new type of notebook that emphasis its its razor-thin bezel around their 13.4 inch glass screen, a super thin profile etched in aluminum.  Put more plainly, "The value they get out of the product is in the halo effect they hope it brings to the entire product line and to the entire company," said Baker.

Over the past few years, Dell has focused much of its earlier advertising towards internal makeover.  This creates superior value for a customer in allowing them a to sacrifice all of the flashy components of other laptops but to focus on what is important.  Personally, I think that Dell is trying to be something that their not.  They have set up an already effectively and established AD campaign as well as already create a name for itself as a cheap but efficient computers and laptops.  This image has allowed Dell to become a major player in the computing market as a whole.  

A customer who wants to go to Dell, is not going to get the same kind of satisfaction anymore with their new focus on design.  People are not going to get the new satisfaction of buying a good but cheap computer capable of hanging with the best on the market with Mac and IBM.  Their new look is compromising their new release of technology both with the price and what's on the inside.  Their new computer is supposed to go for near 2000 dollars, which again can only deter potential customers, and only confuse their existing clients about their own Dell products themselves.

Sean Duane

Science Moves a Step Closer to Mind Reading

Scientists in London have found that it may be possible to read someone’s mind by simply examining their brain activity. In an experiment involving virtual games, the scientists found that they were able to find out in what part of the game the player was by using a scanner to measure their blood flow. The researchers were able to measure the activity of some neurons in the hippocampus, which controls navigation and memory. Eleanor Maguire of the Welcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging at University College London simply puts it, “In other words, we could ‘read’ their minds.” Although the idea that someone could read personal thoughts is a long way away, there is a possibility that in the future, machines will be made to read memories. Maguire points out that ultimately, this could help understand disorders like Alzheimer’s. In the neurons studied, memories of the past and visualizations of the future are encoded. Ultimately, this could lead to using this new technology to help solve forensic cases.
I feel that using this technology would be a major invasion of privacy no matter who is being tested. These days, it seems that the government is monitoring nearly everything we do and the fact that it is possible that they may eventually have the technology to read our minds will raise huge ethical issues. If this technology really develops into the possibilities stated in this article, people are almost certainly going to have a problem with it, as this idea is the most intrusive form of invasion of our privacy thought possible. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to ignore the fact that this idea of reading memories could revolutionize criminal justice. This technology goes way beyond lie detectors. To have the ability to read the memories of a potential suspect of crime could become a quick, definitive way of proving innocence or guilt. But despite the positive uses of mind reading, I feel that if this technology is put to use, the idea of reading memories will spend more time being argued than actually used.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Online Ads: Will Fewer, but Bigger, Be Better?

Robert D. Hol’s article, “Online Ads: Will Fewer, but Bigger, Be Better?” is about how numerous popular Web publishers are adopting a new display-ad format that they expect will captivate viewers and ultimately increase revenues. In the past few years, search advertisements have been booming while online display ads have decreased. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) announced last week that there will be three new display-ad formats that will hopefully engage readers more fully and allow online publishers to charge advertisers more. The new display ads will be bigger than standard display ads and will be more interactive. A unique aspect about the new ads is that it will allow viewers to bookmark them the same way one can bookmark a website, that way the viewer can go back to them at a later time. The article goes into further detail describing the “trio of new display-ad formats.” A few of the major Web publishers that are going to use the new ads are BusinessWeek, The New York Times, Time, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, USA Today, and several others that will, in total, account for two-thirds of the U.S. Internet audience. I think the new display-ads will catch on and definitely engage viewers more. I know that I personally ignore advertisements that I see on websites and cannot recall the last time I clicked one on the side of a web site. With fewer but bigger advertisements per page one may be more likely to focus in on the specific ad. These new display-ads will be an alternative to the “cheap ads” on many sites that “many premium sites think are devaluing their ad space.” The article goes on to talk about the ads taking over more of the screen and “in a potentially interruptive way for the user. If they annoy more than they engage, such ads could backfire.” I have the same concern regarding the ads because if the new interactive advertisement appears and maybe is too crazy or annoying it could cause the viewer to become annoyed and leave the site. The new ads are meant to “give more room for creativity to brand marketers” which could lead to advertisements that are too crazy or too outrageous. Andres Combuechen, CEO and chief creative officer of Atmosphere BBDO, the digital agency of agency giant BBDQ said, “The industry needs something new to get reinvigorated.” If the web has been lacking in innovation in this field I think it is a good idea to look towards alternative options. Marketers these days measure the success of advertisements by measuring the number of clicks, but how the new advertisements success will be measured is still unknown. Many believe that the web has become a “sewer” and that it needs to be renovated with new innovative aspects, such as these new display-ads. The new display-ads will hopefully give advertisers more “flexible, creative ways to engage with potential customers.”


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Toshiba's TG01 Challenges iPhone 3G

The technology industry is constantly growing as well as changing the very needs and so called "norms" of the new products these companies produce. I personally love my blackberry, the ability to send and read emails from the palm of my hand is convenient and pretty cool.  The new technology with cell phones now has changed.  The new "norms" of getting a new cell phone is now rated on how fast and able a person is able to surf the web to do whatever task needed whenever it has to be done.  The iphone has been the leader in this industry with its 3G network making it the fastest phone to surf the internet.  

Now however, Mac has a new competitor, Toshiba's TG01.  This new smart phone is also going to be the first carrier of the new Windows Mobile 6.1 allowing windows to be present in the internet phone market.  This phone however is very unique, it is much thinner than any competitor.  It has a 3-D interface on top of the windows mobile to make travel and directions much easier.  The TG01 is also going to be able to pick up and answer calls by shaking to answer and end calls as a cool side effect.

What's really important about this phone is what's inside.  This is the first phone to use Snapdragon chipset which can allow the phone to have the speed of high speed wireless internet while it conserves battery power, the ideal chip for a portable device.  I think that this new phone has the potential to be better than the iphone.  It has a very high speed wireless internet capabilities including email and all the amenities of windows, which is something that people can already be familiar with.  Its fast ability to download anything from the internet is also accompanied with a 32 GB hard drive allowing the device to have a mass amount of storage on a cellular phone. 


Perez, Martin. "Toshiba's TG01 Challenges iPhone 3G". InformationWeek.com Feb 3, 2009:


Mobile Phones: A Pocketful of Marketing

Mobile Phones: A Pocketful of Marketing
The future is calling. Pick up!
By: Leigh Buchanan, Max Chafkin, and Ryan McCarthy

This article “Mobile Phones: A Pocketful of Marketing” is about the effects of the increasing trend of technological advanced cellular phones that can be used to browse the web. Since cell phones are being used like PC’s, wireless phone carriers are receiving more data then ever. The information technology allows them to know your phone number, address, credit card information, who your friends are, and your current location at all times. It is only a matter of time before marketers’ get there hands on this information, which will allow a whole new type of marketing. Not only will they have adds on websites when accessing on your phone, but also via text messaging. Companies can buy or rent short codes that can text you with ads or deals that are going on. Imagine that you are within a few blocks from a particular store, and knowing your current location, the store texts you a discount offer or soliciting you to come in. Personally I think this whole concept is a little scary and annoying. It means that people can know where you are at any time of the day and I don’t think I am quite comfortable with that. In the article they say there are privacy regulations, but obviously not enough for them to be able to access all my personal information. It seems as though these stores would be almost stalking you. After looking into this further on another website[1] it confirmed that privacy is going to be a main concern. The United States has minimal protection for consumers using mobile phones. This type of m-advertising could end up being used for improper or criminal purposes such as identity theft, fraud, or electronic stalking. Cellular users can unwittingly allow people to see the credit card information and passwords to accounts.

Article source: http://www.inc.com/magazine/20080201/a-pocketful-of-marketing.html
[1] http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/178895275_3.html

Wireless Chargers!? That is Pretty Frickin' Cool!

Have you ever wished your computer could charge in your lap while you are watching T.V. without having to deal with getting the power cord set up near you?  Well Ron Ferber, CEO of Powermat is trying to make that dream come true for all of us.  His company has developed new technology that allows all electronic devices to be powered wirelessly.  All that is needed is a Powermat and a small, paper thin attachment that is placed on your electronics.
At first I was skeptical, I mean really?  Wireless chargers?  But after watching the related video I got extremely excited about the concept.  As of now Ron Ferber and Powermat have developed small docking pads for small devices, however, they are looking into the future now.  Soon, Ron says people can have these docking pads installed into their counters and walls at home and devices can charge from multiple rooms away.  That's not all!  Powermat is also looking into installing pads into computers, entertainment systems, and even household items.
Think about it!  Instead of having to plug in kitchen items like microwaves and blenders you just need to have it resting on your counter like normal.  The only thing that I was concerned with was the idea of energy being transmitted wirelessly throughout your home space.  I do not yet know if this is dangerous, however, I am hoping greatly that it is not.

Cloning RFID passports - On the Go! New Passport Security Issues

With the convince factor of some new technologies, security can still be an issue. With approximately 750,000 new RFID (Radio Frequency ID) US passports in circulation, one British man named Chris Paget in San Francisco set out to show how simple these new passports are to steal. Using a grant from a technology firm, he purchased less than $250 in RFID reader technology and outfitted his car to be a mobile RFID receiving mobile. From just having the equipment on and driving around for 20 minutes, he was able to successfully clone two passports.

Luckily, he made the imformative video to show the faults with the new technology, instead of actually stealing identities. Paget stated
Publish Post
that he actually wants the entire Western Hemisphere Trabel Initiative to be scrapped until a more secure system can be implemented. RFID is a promising new technology - ariport officials could authenticate a person's passport in seconds. However, as RFID is becoming more and more common, so is identity theft.

What some other news scources point out is that not all RFID devices are so unsecure. Levels of encryption and device operating range exist that could potentially make sensitive devices like RFID passports and driver's licences more secure. Clearly, with such sensitive information, the government needs to issue more secure ways of reading the data.

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2009/02/02/video-hacker-war-drives-san-francisco-cloning-rfid-passports/

Microsoft Patent Envisions a Desktop Smartphone

Recently, Microsoft has requested a patent that would greatly increase the capabilities of smartphones, and hopefully increase their popularity in the process.  This “smart interface system” patent would be able to link up with a desktop through an output for an external display, along with an ethernet jack and a USB hub.  Microsoft hopes that this ambitious plan will help them in the future where they hope to rival the popularity of desktops with the smartphone.  The smartphone is already catching up to your standard computer, but its lack of keyboard or large display are said to be its main setbacks. 

            To make this happen, the outputs on the phone would match those of a new dock that would be created in order to link the phone with external devices.  As of now, the docks are only used to charge the phone, but Microsoft’s newly designed dock would allow these new features to come together.  Obviously, if the smartphone can develop enough features to truly catch up with real computer systems, it could allow Microsoft to market the smartphone as a cheaper alternative to owning an actual computer.  Wherever the user would go, they could just plug it in to a nearby monitor and get going like usual – the patent even calls for different settings (e.g. home and office) so that it’s like having two separate computers on you at all times.  If the patent is picked up, this software will be further developed and they’d work with other companies to see their dock’s design become a reality.


Technological Transitions Taking Too Long

While I have been watching my favorite television shows on Digital HD TV for over a year now, I did not even know that our nation was moving towards an all digital television broadcast for everyone eliminating analog completely.  Elliot Van Buskirk's article titled, "Here We Go Again: Congress Expected to Delay Digital Television, " has recently informed me of not only the government's inability to make a decision, but also how the public and businesses in television are affected by what seems to be a fairly simple transition.  

As the transition from digital to analog has already been delayed, the Senate is trying to pass a bill to just keep the delay until June 12.  However, as the bill is tossed back and forth, the House of Representives will vote another time to put this bill in act.  The last time the bill was twenty votes short of passing and with a democratic majority is likely to vote against it once more.

The article goes on to say why this transition just needs to take place.  From Professor Leslie Marx of Duke (and FCC Chief Economist) point of view, the more of a delay the more things are going to get worse.  I agree with her statement as I learned the businesses of television are suffering from this delay since government has not been able to keep their promises causing these businesses to be losing money.  I did ask myself, shouldn't this situation be solved with the public in mind and what is best for us as consumers.  However, as the article continued, I realized that this delay has indeed gone long enough and there have been programs to ease this transition, but if the public doesn't respond or do their part in this, it is those unwilling to cooperate who are at fault as well as the only ones who will suffer from the transition.  Well over a billion dollars was allocated to the public and businesses to better the transition.  While there have been rumors that all of this money has not been spent and its projects have been ineffective, some of the public are simply not responding as they have been given coupons to make this transition and have been too lazy to do so.  

This transition just seems so simple.  As new technologies such as digital television broadcasts in comparison to analog arise, some times people unwilling to make this transition have to suck it up.  The government and others cannot hold everyone's hand to get through it.  So many households own televisions and there is simply a small minority that refuse to cooperate and just get it all done.  Whatever the excuse (laziness, not enough money, etc...), there are cheaper options than getting a brand new 75'' flat screen HDTV.  The transition is just so simple and I cannot figure out why 1) the government does not just put this through and stop making delays and 2) why the public cannot cooperate and/or do it themselves since the government has proven incapable.  The government isn't asking everyone to buy all new TV's with the latest technology; the transition seems that it could be as easy as pushing the "easy button."  Until the government and public can achieve this, time and money will continue to be lost.

This article was found at Wired Blog Network:  http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/02/congress-ponder.html

Wikitude: A Promising First Step for a Virtual Tour Guide

This article was about a company called Wikitude, and its advancements for the new G1 smart phone. Wikitude offers new GPS software that acts like a virtual tour guide for people travelling foreign places. This new application uses the phones GPS chip and camera viewfinder to plot points on a map that shows up on the phones screen. The new application uses information gained to determine points of interest. This app gains info from its GPS chip locates your location and then uses your camera for info to plot points for you to visit with ease. This new technology is designed solely for tourists and should make a great addition to any adventures' pocket. Wikitude is making great headway in this new GPS market but there are still many refinements that need to be made to this new technology. This application zaps battery life from the phone. This happens because the phone use the GPS chip and the camera at the same time. Also the application only has a about 350,000 points plotted which is a minute number. This can be attributed to the applications relative new appearance. Overall this innovative application should make things easier.

This new application seems to be very interesting and innovative. It seems as if Wikitude has discovered a new way to apply GPS to practical use. it seems as if this new technology will allow many adventures and travellers to discover new things and places in foreign countries. I am skeptical in its ability to locate new points and the very little number of points it already has. If a GPS system can't tell me what is out there to go to then what use is it to the average explorer. This may be attributed to the applications relative new invention but as I see it right now it isn't that practical. Also I don't like how this invention prohibits your phone from acting normally. This means with this app running your phone's battery life is severely hampered. This isn't good for any traveller who is out of there hotel all day searching local places of interest. While there is some evident drawbacks to this new application, I believe once they iron these out this application will help travelers worldwide. Imagine the days of now more maps or address books, this app could revolutionize the world of travel.


The Mossberg Solution: New Blackberry Offers Versatility in Flip form

This article was primarily about the new blackberry pearl flip phone. This new blackberry is offered on T-mobile service. The interesting thing about this phone is that it has wi-fi built in. Therefore, during conversations that are near a wi-fi network, the call is completely free of all service charges and does not use your plans minutes. When you are leave a wi-fi network your call will be automatically switched back to the tmobile network or it will search for another wi-fi network. Calls are not lost, but picked up by another network or your cellphone service. I was so surprised by this idea, because it makes so much sense to use the free public wi-fi networks, that are currently out there, for our phones. Another interesting feature of this phone is that up to ten email accounts can be set up on the phone. This makes it easier to check both your work, school and personal emails on the same device.
I was very surprised by this new innovation technology. It makes communicating on a cell phone so much easier. It has all the capabilities of a blackberry without the size, and is not a flip phone. This means that there is a lower risk of ghost calling, or calling with your butt( as they state in the new commercial). The Wi-fi feature is very interesting, and i like the way that T-mobile has built it into their plan for a $10/ month charge. I would pay $10 to have a crisper, clearer sounding conversation on a wi-fi network.
http://proquest.com can be found in the wall street journal

Laptops for $10!

I like to complain alot. It's a bad habit. One of the things I used to complain about the most was my Dell Latitude. I got it the summer before freshman year and instantly had problems with it. The $2,000 price tag got me a dead battery, a dated Microsoft Office, horrible sound quality, a shaky hard drive that crashed four times, and days of my life wasted on the phone with a distant customer service operator. Three years and an HP Pavilion later, I can finally say I am a happy laptop owner. Now I have other things to complain about, like the ridiculous price of movie tickets and my inability to save money.
That being said, a company in India is on its way to producing something that seems virtually uncomplainable: a laptop that costs less than the price of a movie ticket.
That's correct, the natively titled Sakshat (meaning "before your eyes") computer is one step from fruition, as designers are currently looking for a manufacturer. At this point in time, specs are few and far between, although the laptop will supposedly feature Wi-Fi capabilities and 2GB RAM. Funded by the Indian government, scientists have tagged the production of one Sakshat at a mere $20, with costs expected to be half that as production develops. Such a price drop seems likely based on the consistency of Moore's Law in the digital industry, which essentially states that performance to price doubles every 18 months (i.e. a computer that costs $1000 today will cost $500 in a year and a half). Microsoft is not expected to show its Windows face on the Sakshat however, because the inclusion of XP would add a cost of at least $50 per system, a steep price when compared to the open source Linux. Perhaps Windows is on its way out after all.

Article: http://www.inc.com/news/articles/200608/boston.html

This article discusses a new plan put forth by the Mayor of Boston to provide widespread access to wireless internet through out the city. The plan would not be built by a large telecommunications firm, but rather a non-profit organization that plans to raise the estimated 20 million dollars to get the system up and running within the next two years.
"Boston approves Non-Profit Wireless Network" was written a little more than two years ago, so I am curious to see whether or not the system was ever implemented in the city. I am also curious as to which non-profit organizations are going to raise this large amount of money, and how they plan on fundraising to make this proposal a reality.
Similar plans have been proposed in San Francisco and in Philadelphia, but they have partnered with Earthlink and plan on selling directly to end-users, whereas the Boston wireless network will be provided to users through other internet service providers who can access the network at low, wholesale costs.
I think this is a great program because, as the article mentioned, at that point in time 30% of Boston households went without any internet access. A low cost wireless network will not only help small businesses, but it will be beneficial for students who do not have access to the internet. When this plan is put into place, it will definitely help entrepreneurs in Boston, especially with the current problems we are facing because of the economy.
Out of curiousity, I looked into the organizations that have/plan to raise the money. They include the John Adams Innovation Institute, the economic development division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and the Boston Foundation (http://www.cityofboston.gov/wireless/). Moreover, I found a few articles stating that Boston has taken steps forward with this initiative and have provided internet access to certain parts of the city. As of last year, they went forward with a pilot program in one section of the city (http://www.cityofboston.gov/news/default.aspx?id=3829).

Yahoo to Anonymize User Data After 90 Days

In a hostile environment such as the internet where identity can be stolen, children harassed by sexual predators, and where acquiring viruses is as easy as one click, safety and comfort is commodity that must not be taken for granted. And with passing day the U.S. government is taking steps to make the internet a safe place. Due to reforming laws regarding kept data, last December Yahoo!, an internet giant where millions entrust valuable information, announced they will anonymize user data after just three months. At first glance this may not seem like a huge step forward, yet in comparison Yahoo! is truly ahead of the game. Competitors such as Google and Microsoft keep data to your name for 18 months. This means any searches, credit card numbers, and social security numbers passed through either site could be retrieved a year and half after you innocently typed them in. In a volatile and insecure environment this is frightening, especially since data collection of that magnitude could be lost easily.

By removing the last two numbers of the users internet protocol address (IP) it removes the unique ID to that users computer. These steps taken by Yahoo! to remove your IP address from your history on the site means safer searches and less need to worry about identity theft. Yahoo! is hoping to steal internet users from the other giants by ensuring this increased safety. This move has prompted talk of standardizing the way logs are anonymized to provide a safer overall internet experience. However, some feel that this move is not enough and Yahoo!’s steps are flawed and easily reversible. But, hey, it has to start somewhere. Right?


-Chris Saksa

Google Slashes the Internet

Open a web browsing program on a typical computer, and a short word comes up on the screen, along with a bar. The short word is “Google,” and the bar under it allows us to write anything we want. Once we click enter, we can get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of results, all pertaining to our query, the words we’ve typed into that bar. Sure, there are other searches, such as Yahoo, Ask, etc, but when it comes to market share and popularity, people just can’t seem to get away from Google. In the past few years, anyone can see this proven by simply looking at the difference in stock growth of Google, and its biggest rival, Yahoo. While Yahoo has simply become less and less profitable, Google has flourished, soaring to become one of the largest companies this world knows. They are just not even in the same ball-park. What happens when something becomes too powerful, though? Recently, on the morning of January 31st, for 40 minutes, Google stopped working, and it seemed that the internet “stopped.” This was all caused by a very small problem, due to human error, when a worker placed the string ‘/’ in the list of websites which could harm your computer. What resulted was chaos, any website which contained ‘/’, became as Google would warn, harmful to your computer, it said just about every website contained malware.


So have we placed too much power in the hands of Google? If a simple human error which probably took about a second to occur, could cause the internet to basically shut down for forty minutes, what would happen if such a website was ever hacked? Sure, it seems impossible, but why? Why do we have so much trust in Google? It has already proven itself as accident-prone. What would happen if an employee actually wanted to cause some damage? Everyone clicking on Google whenever they want to use a search engine simply means that we put it all on one thing, if this one mega power were to ever collapse on us, we truly could be in for a world of pain. Not only could it destroy the stock market further than we could have ever imagined, due to people losing faith in what they believed to be perfect, but we very well would be left without the internet for quite some time. Would we make it? I really don’t think so. 



A Smarter Security System for Smartphones

A company named PINoptic is claims to have developed a brand new picture-based security mechanism for smartphones to make the phones more secure. As opposed to a simple four-digit PIN number which is easy to copy or hack, this new system allows the user to create a pass code using images rather than numbers. “The images appear randomly on different numbers every time the user attempts to unlock the phone, thus making the phone 37 times more secure than a phone protected by a standard four-digit code” (Reardon 1). According to PINoptic, the software is essential for smartphones because of the secure files and information that can be viewed on a smartphone, including access to corporate networks, e-mail accounts, and corporate data. All of these files can help any thief begin the process of a personal identity theft. As smartphones become more and more popular among corporate circles, they are the next logical target for hackers around the world.
There is no questioning the fact that a purely random picture-based security system for phones would be much more reliable than a standard four-digit code, which any person can easily memorize. In fact, “PINoptic claims that any person who did not originally make the code would need to view the correct sequence at least ten times before attaining the ability to enter it correctly” (Reardon 1). The implications of people hacking into smartphones range from the not-so-serious problems, like friends playing jokes on each other, to the extremely serious effects of identity fraud. In either case, the original user of the phone would like to take any steps possible to prevent the unwanted intruders, and PINoptic’s system is a logical advance in smartphone security.
One instance of a possible problem from an intruder into a smartphone would be stealing contact information from phones and using it maliciously. “One such instance happened with the popular job search website Monster, where hackers stole contact information from users of the website. Although no resumes or sensitive data were taken, the hackers could contact Monster users and trick them into providing sensitive data” (Mills 1). By attaining sensitive information, like phone numbers or account codes, and portraying themselves as the original user of the phone, hackers can surely influence unsuspecting colleagues or friends into providing additional personal information, and therefore could cause numerous problems.
Needless to say, all smartphones can provide a hacker with sensitive data about the customer and allow for identity theft to take place. Allowing this data to travel in such a small device also opens the possibilities of hackers getting into lost phones, or even stealing phones from people’s pockets to enter the system. PINoptic’s system would thwart the hackers for an extended period of time; possibly for long enough that the owner could take a preventative action.
The true impact of a system like this is unknown, but it is a great idea that could revolutionize basic security measures as we know them today.



Nokia's Point and Find Phone Interface Moves Closer to Reality

Over the years, Nokia has searched for innovative ways for users to use their cell phones. This wireless telecommunications company has been developing a technology called “Point & Find” that will enable a [Nokia] cell phone user to take a picture of an image or advertisement and find out more information about the image right on his/her phone. This idea finally became a reality a few years after Nokia acquired a small company called “Pixto.”

The general manager for Point & Find says that this technology can provide a bridge between the digital and physical worlds. All of the visual information in the world will now be able to be researched quickly and with very little effort other than taking a picture. One of the examples in the article offered the scenario of pointing the phone at a movie poster and receiving information such as show times and tickets.

The technology works by matching the image the user provides with an image from what will apparently need to be an extensive and meticulously updated database that pertains to the user’s location.

Nokia is further developing the idea and is hoping more partnerships and innovations will lead to a more versatile “Point & Find” application that could extend so far as restaurants and banners.

Although Nokia currently holds the spot of market leader—surpassing similar barcode technology used in Japan—by exclusively offering this technology to Nokia phones, the company states that the technology will ultimately be extended to all camera phones with basic GPS abilities.

Article found at: http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/11/nokias-point-an.html

BabyBerry: The BlackBerry for Your Toddler

The invention and development of the cellular phone has forever changed the way the communicating world operates. From the seemingly prehistoric "car phone" (appearing to be closer in size to a human arm rather than a "hand held" device) to the recently booming BlackBerry, cell phones have become more and more significant in the daily life of the consuming public. As they became more common around the household, children naturally began mimicking their cell phone using parents and siblings. It used to be that a mere plastic replica of a cell phone was a sufficient toy for a young child, but the growing popularity had to push that to the limit. In 2003, the Firefly was introduced to provide parents and their children a simple model of the cell phone designed with parental controls that would keep them connected. The Firefly is designed to hold only a few phone numbers of family members and friends, based on the parents' discretion. However, as the cell phone began to include the ability to surf the Internet, the child counterpart too had to be adjusted, granting the same ability. That's where the BabyBerry comes into play. Currently, children's toy maker LeapFrog is creating a device similar in appearance and partially similar in ability to the BlackBerry. Officially called the Text and Learn kid’s PDA, LeapFrog's version has a full keyboard, five tools for navigation, and designated tools for messaging, baseball, and a tool for managing wireless connectivity. Has the evolution of the plastic cell phone replica really advanced this rapidly to a connection managing BabyBerry? Not so fast. The BabyBerry, although appearing to include all of these abilities, does not actually maintain the technology for this--it cannot connect to the Internet or any cellular network. Essentially it is more of an educational device. The applications it does have, like the calendar application, is designed to help children learn numbers and dates. It also includes applications for phonics and numeric games. So, for about 30 U.S dollars parents will soon be able to provide another means for their children to be more like mommy and daddy. And although the BabyBerry doesn't fully match up to the adult BlackBerry, it is only a matter of time before devices like this will include the full ability to connect to the Internet as well as cellular networks.



Monday, February 2, 2009

Flash on iPhone Hopes Dashed

According to Adobe, their most famous product Flash will not be coming to the Apple iPhone any time soon. Flash is the program responsible for playing many videos on Internet websites, such as YouTube and Hulu. One of Apple’s main boasts about the iPhone is that it provides a real browser as opposed to a pseudo version which is standard on many mobile devices. The lack of Flash is a huge blow to this claim, because it severely limits the video-watching capabilities on the phone. Flash Lite, the lesser version is simply “not advanced enough” for the iPhone according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. This appears to be a minor problem for Apple and the iPhone but upon closer investigation, it actually could severely affect sales. Many other mobile phones and other portable devices are being cranked out by rival companies will have Windows Mobile and Google’s Android which both are going to be Flash-ready sometime very soon. The simple lack of Flash will not negatively affect sales, but if several rival phones have better features and capabilities, then that may just tip the scales in favor of these new competitors. This problem seems like something that could be easily fixed with two technology giants working simultaneously on it. However, it seems that there is more to this problem than the simple lack of progress. It seems as though there is more boardroom strife that is occurring here than one would assume. Perhaps Adobe is bitter that Jobs, in a conference call with reporters, claimed that Flash was not good enough for the iPhone. Considering how important sales of the iPhone are for Apple, I would think that they would be doing everything they could do instead of insulting Adobe. Plus, only a few short weeks after dissing Adobe, Apple released the iPhone Software Development Kit, apparently allowing them to make a version of Flash that was iPhone capable. Even after this though, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen claimed that the two companies needed to both be involved in this project, claiming the Software Development Kit was not accomplishing everything they had hoped. There seems to be a great deal of pettiness when it comes to the introduction of Flash capabilities to the iPhone. Many speculate that the boardroom drama is holding it up more than the technological issues themselves. It is really a pity that these two companies cannot find some way to reconcile their grievances with each other so that the customers do not have to suffer. The iPhone is the undisputed king of the mobile phones with internet access but there is one gaping hole in its services. Many videos online will not work simply due to the fact that there is no Flash installed on the phone. If it is a technological problem, then I do not begrudge the companies one bit, however it simply seems like there is more to it than just that. There is no public feud between the two firms but all signs point to the fact that more is going on than a tech delay. If this is the case, then I am severely disappointed in both, but more so Apple. I would assume they were above all that.



New paint promises high-speed Wi-Fi shielding

IT managers have been fighting an ever-persistent battle of how to protect their networks since their inception. Now with wireless networks it is even harder and more costly to protect the network than it has ever been. Companies have used encryption to protect their data as well as more physical solutions such as installing energy efficient windows that block radio signals from leaving or entering the building. Now, thanks to Shin-ichi Ohkoshi's team at the University of Tokyo in Japan, there is a new solution that proves to be inexpensive and very effective. Previously it had been known that iron-rich oxides absorb electromagnetic waves up to Ohkoshi’s team has discovered an aluminum-iron oxide that is able to absorb frequencies 4 times higher. This new oxide is added to paint then applied to buildings and is proven to absorb EM waves. The best part about this new solution is that the paint is inexpensive (about $14 a kg) due to the abundance of aluminum and iron.

This is an incredible new technology that has been developed and could be very helpful to larger businesses. For small business this solution is probably an unnecessary expense because Wi-Fi encryption is enough security to protect their wireless network and is much less expensive than even a cheap alternative like this paint. But, this paint is an alternative, which means that it should be used when encryption is not enough protection. Big business is definitely the target market for this product because they allocate a lot more funding for security and are always looking for the new technology that will put their business a step ahead of the hackers trying to breakdown the wireless network. After the perfection and eventual release of this product to consumers, it should provide a cheap new way to keep hackers out of private business networks.

A Closer Look at The LG Watch Phone

Ever wonder what it would be like to be James Bond? Thanks to LG, you can be one step closer to this fantasy. On January 9, Cnet published an article introducing LG's new invention: the Watch Phone. The Watch Phone's unique touch screen only measures 1.43 inches diagonally and uses the normal "T9" text function so our changing world can continue to keep in contact through text messaging. Not only can one wear this new device around the wrist to make it easier to carry, listening to music is now easier than ever. The ever so popular Bluetooth is available in this little device offering 70MB of music from an existing ITunes library and you don't even need headphones in order to listen to the music; the phone acts as a stereo. However, there is a slot for headphone to be plugged into if needed. Also, LG's new addition contains a tiny camera that can be used for still frames and for video conferencing; keeping in touch with others is going to be easier than ever. A downside to this amazing new invention is it has not been introduced to the United States yet, but it will be available in Europe sometime this summer and the price is still undecided.

After reading this article and watching the additional video, I am very intrigued by this new device. One would think that due to the various applications this Watch Phone contains, the size would be that of a normal IPhone, but it sits on the wrist with it's adjustable band just like a normal watch; you cannot tell the difference. If the LG Watch Phone is introduced to the United States, I predict it will be a huge hit. However, there are a few problems that need to be addressed. The fact that it is a touch screen and is very small in comparison with what is already available in the market, there should be a small pencil-like figure to help the owner press the correct buttons on the screen. Also, a problem that concerns me is that the "Talk", "Clear", and "End" buttons are located on the sides of the Watch Phone next to the customer's skin. This is a problem because depending upon how sensitive these buttons are, one brush of the buttons can result in an accidental dial, an accidental loss of information, and/or an unexpected hang up during a phone call. All in all, it is going to be interesting to see how the US responds to such a device that embodies the life of a Pop Culture Icon: James Bond.

The article is found here: http://ces.cnet.com/8301-19167_1-10137452-100.html

Microsoft partners with Netflix on Xbox Live

Last year, Microsoft’s video gaming console, the Xbox 360 teamed up with movie renting company Netflix to provide streaming movies directly from a Netflix database to Xbox Live Gold member’s console. The move was seen as mutually beneficial as both Netflix and Xbox have similar demographics and combined they can both get more business. My roommate has this service, and from a first hand experience I can say it is incredible. Using a simple internet cable plugged into the back of the Xbox console, our room now has 10,000 movies and shows that are available with a few simple clicks of a controller. The Xbox 360, which rivals with Sony’s Playstation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii, has taken this new technology to find yet another niche in the gaming world. While the Xbox 360 has been looked upon as the hardcore gamer’s machine, this new addition is expected to get people who are deciding between the three machine’s to pick the Xbox. Although the 10,000 movie and show selection available through the streaming feed is only ten percent of the full capacity of Netflix, people who purchase this also benefit from receiving the basic movie mailing service provided by Netflix. This innovation and partnership is truly one of a kind and it certainly looks to stiffen competition between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.


Yahoo!'s Next Frontier: Internet TV

Douglas MacMillan's article, "Yahoo!'s Next Frontier: Internet TV" is about how Yahoo is teamed up with Intel to create television widgets to make multitasking simpler and bring Internet content to television screen. At the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Yahoo announced that they will be releasing a number of televisions and products with their new software this spring that would allow users to bring up their social networking site's widget or favorite news outlet's widget and check up on things all while watching television. The widget of course will not be the whole site, just "scaled down versions of popular Web pages and applications." The widget will be simple, easy to use, and not distracting so the user can still watch television.

With the huge success of Apple’s iPhone, it is clear that consumers today love to be able to have and do everything in one gadget. These Internet widgets will allow consumers to check up on mostly everything all while comfortably watching television. Consumers today also love to personalize everything they own, especially their toys or gadgets. A consumer using Yahoo’s Internet TV will be able to personalize it by picking and choosing the widgets and applications they wish to download. In store-bought TVs, there will be an array of preloaded widgets along with an online Widget Gallery where consumers can choose what they wish to download. For example, if one is an avid reader of The New York Times, they will be able to choose to have The New York Times widget as their news source as opposed to another news outlet.

By the end of this year, there will be about 20 different widgets available. Yahoo will create some of these widgets, while others will be “created by a range of outside developers, including such social media sites as Twitter and NewsCorp.’s MySpace and news outlets like The New York Times.” Any content creator will be allowed to develop a widget because Yahoo is giving everyone “an open invitation.”

The article discusses how many consumers today are on their laptops doing work or e-mailing while watching television. I find myself constantly multitasking, whether it is writing a paper, emailing, reading the news online, or going on Facebook for pleasure all while watching television. I think it is highly innovative of Yahoo to bring Internet content to TV. For example, it is very convenient for a user to simply press a button to activate a weather widget to see the current temperature all while watching Jeopardy. I think this is a good chance for Yahoo to redeem themself as a Web pioneer. It will be interesting to see how consumers will react to Yahoo’s new product in these struggling economic times. Hopefully by the end of the year things will be progressively turning around and consumers respond well to Yahoo’s Internet TV.


Cyber Attacks May Be Connected With Real War

This article discusses the possible correlation between online attackers and the shooting war between Russia and Georgia last August. Georgia's websites began being attacked close to three weeks before the war broke out. The attackers inserted a slide show onto the foreign ministry's website which compared Georgia's president to Adolf Hitler. Online attackers also took control of a significantly large number of Georgian computers and overloaded them with junk traffic. This widespread overload largely impacted the Georgian nation's abilities to communicate throughout. But who is to blame? The Russian government and the Russian Business Network (a Russian cyber-criminal group) are both under suspicion. Unfortunately however, no one knows for sure who was really responsible for these attacks, due the difficulty of pinpointing an online attack. Bill Woodcock, the research director with the Internet infrastructure group emphasizes the difficulty of assigning blame. He says, "You'll never be able to establish who was sitting in front of a computer from which an attack originates."

Reading this article raises a huge red flag. It shows me how society today is becoming overly reliable on computer technology. While computer technology is faster and easier to use, it can be easily disrupted. It is also difficult to figure out the reasons for these disruptions when they do occur. These online cyber attacks could very easily mislead national officials to believe that other nations, who have been recognized as enemies, are responsible for such attacks. They could also lead officials to make improper decisions. I believe that, though technology has come a long way and is continually being improved upon, certain types of technologies should not be used for certain types of communication if they are not one hundred percent reliable.

Mobile Networking: Pros and Cons of Femtocells

This article discusses a very new technology that enables cell-phone users to enjoy the same quality and signal strength indoors, that they do outdoors. This new technology is called femtocell, and it is the smallest unit of a cellular network, small even than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Femtocell technology has been something that has been discussed and rumored about for a few years now, but only Sprint Nextel Corp. has products available to the public. Analysts projected that there would be a "flood" of these devices into the marketplace by the end of 2008, but that projection has now been moved back to late 2009 or even 2010. 
A femtocell device will act as a "miniature cellular base station or a mini tower" inside of consumers' homes and businesses. The femtocell device will reroute your calls through a broadband connection instead of running them through the main cellular network, thus reducing the need for cellular carriers to build expensive new towers. Femtocell devices will have a range of about 5,000 square feet and are protected by a firewall. You can restrict the number of people who can use your femtocell tower by entering their particular cellphone number into the device. This will quell the critics who complain about anyone being able to benefit from a personal purchase as this. 
In September 2007, Sprint Nextel launched the "Airave", their preliminary femtocell box, to Denver and Indianapolis. With those test markets being a success, the box was offered nationwide in August 2008. The Airave box plugs directly into your existing router and allows three callers to use the service at the same time. This product is the first of its kind, but it is projected that the other major carriers aren't far behind with their femtocell devices. I feel this will be a very successful and highly demanded product simply based on my past experiences of poor cell-phone reception upon entering buildings. This seems to be a common problem, and as femtocell technology grows and gets better, the need for landlines could soon be obsolete. 


"Power Slider Protects iPhone" article

Apple received many complaints about the limited lifetime of the new iPhone. Many owners complained that they couldn’t make it through the day without losing their charge. Apple developed a new system that does two jobs in one; the Power Slider both protects the phone and extends the battery life. The new gadget has a battery capacity equaling one hundred and twenty of the 3G iPhone’s capactiy. This more than doubles the battery power of the iPhone 3G according to InCase, the maker of the battery. The Power Slider has a USB cable that hooks up to the handset. First, the iPhone uses up all the battery power in the Power Slider, then it uses its own battery power. On the back of the case is the five-LED which indicates how much battery power is left in the Slider. Many other companies have tried to make extended batteries or add on accessories to increase battery power for the iPhone 3G but most batteries are large and keep the iPhone from fitting in the owner’s pocket. This is impractical and annoying. Many batteries also tarnish the “sexy” look of the iPhone. The Power Slider is simply a small black case that covers the back of the iPhone, not taking away from the sleek look. The iPhone measures 4.5 by 2.4 by .5 inches without a case. The Power Slider is the most sensible option, measuring 5.1 by 2.6 by .9 inches. This adds 2.5 ounces to the iPhone 3G. It may seem frustrating that the Slider adds that extra weight but it is the best option compared to the other larger back up batteries for the iPhone. The Power Slider adds up to three hundred and thirty three hours of standby time and up to twenty six hours of audio playback. On the iPhone 3G network the talk time can increase by five hours and by ten hours on the iPhone 2G network. It adds up to seven hours of video playback. The owner can extend the use of the internet by five hours on the iPhone’s 3G network and six hours on Wi-Fi. One downside of the Power Slider is the price. It costs 100 dollars to obtain this extra battery extender. The Power Slider began to ship to customers at the end of November 2008. I was curious to see if the price went down at all since the launch of the Power Slider. On Amazon.com it sells for 99 dollars and used it was only 78.99. I wanted to see if there was any cheaper way of obtaining this case and went on eBay.com. On this website, the Power Slider sells for as little as 40 dollars! I looked at other extended, bulkier batteries on the same website and they sold in the same price range. The Power Slider creates value by both protecting the iPhone and providing battery power for the same price as larger back up batteries.


Going Mobile: A Whole New World of Web

With the growing popularity of smart phones, the use of mobile internet is increasing. This is causing the creators of websites to make their sites more accessible for mobile users. The article gives a few different ways to go about this endevor. First it is suggested that the site should be created while keeping in mind that it will be viewed over a handset. You should create a simple, yet highly functional page that can be accessed both on ordinary as well as high-end phones. It should also be noted that how the website is organized is crucial. There needs to be an ease of access for the user.

Although the site should be straightforward and organized, that does not mean you should not include any special features. Many handsets allow for the use of video and other media, and that should be taken advantage of. The article explains that by selling yourself short in the startup of your mobile website because these features are increasingly becoming expected by users, not the exception.


Researchers to Turn Wireless and Green Technologies to Monitor Bridges

Engineers at the University of Texas have decided to create a new way to monitor bridges using tiny wireless sensors. It has been shown by the Federal Highway Administration that twenty-five percent of highway bridges in the United States are lacking in their structure and are becoming obsolete in functioning The engineers in Austin have been given a grant of 3.4 million dollars over the next five years to create these monitors. The purpose of these sensors, which will be placed on the inside of the bridges, will be to monitor the bridges for fractures. In addition, they will detect signs of corrision, something that current bridge inspections can't do. This may prove to be difficult because, as most of us know, steel and concrete have an effect on most wireless devices today. For the engineers to find a solution to this problem, there is going to have to be many experminents testing the wireless technologies to determine which way to go. This will involve the civil, mechanical and electrical engineering departments of the university. But not only will these devices hopefully be more effective in highway bridge inspection but they are also intended to be eco-friendly. Today, the concern for a healthy environment in constantly growing. The concept of "green" is becoming more and more popular and many people will be happy to hear that this new technology is to be powered by solar and wind energy rather than electricity. If the engineers succeed in creating these monitors, not only will we have a more sufficient, effective way to check the structural security of the bridges, we will also have a simple, eco-friendly way to keep drivers safe.


New Green Technologies might help British Gov't

As the world continues to look for innovation and technology to replace a system run on oil, a well known British company looks to new technology to make the change. In this article British engine and power system maker Rolls-Royce is attempting to use new technology to lead the way past oil. Britain may be required in the next few years to have more renewable energy and it currently has few ways of getting more. Rolls-Royce has taken new technology and used it to address this problem. By making new turbines that harnesses power from the tides, they can create an unlimited source of energy. This is both great green technology for all governments, but also a great business decision on Rolls-Royce’s part. It looks like if all goes well, Rolls-Royce could end up with a fat contract from the British government to manufacture the turbines for them. Technologies like this are always a win-win situation. In this case the government gains a new form of renewable energy and the company is well compensated for its efforts. Currently, Rolls-Royce spends about 5% of its R&D on renewable technologies. If this is as popular a technology as everyone hopes, look for that number to rise in the future. This is the kind of trend that we need to get the ball rolling on renewable energies. A lot has been said about our dependence on oil but to really break the cycle first we need some technologies that are proven and popular. Technologies like this hopefully will lead companies to see that there is a worthwhile market out there and will hopefully lead to a larger budget in their R&D departments for green technologies.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tech for Blocking Cell Phones While Driving Falls Short

Growing concerns in society today include a lot of talk and criticism about the use of cell phones while driving. Technology advances today have developed software and products that allow for the system to lock a cell phone by using a Global-Positioning-Device (GPS), to record how fast the person is going and would lock the person’s cell phone at high speeds. While the idea of the software seems like a flawless piece of technology to enhance the safety of drivers, there are problems with the product which may delay the product from becoming more popular. Two products, including software from WQN and another, due to be released from Aegis Mobility, both shut down service at high speeds, but would also lock down if the person was merely a passenger in the car or on a train. Advances for “quit” options and “driving scores” are being looked at to improve these technologies. In addition, a feature such as texts messages that alert parents where the kids are, or shutting down service in school to stop cheating are also added to some of these products. Other products being tested include key-fobs that would deactivate cell phone use when the key is in the ignition. Parents must decide whether or not this technology should be used to limit their children’s activities and habits. They also must weigh whether or not the hassle of the cell phone being deactivated when their child is simply a passenger is enough to use or not use the device. Personally, I feel that this type of software and technology is too over-bearing. I agree that driving while talking on a cell phone is extremely dangerous, but I do not think that parents should be using these devices to limit their children. The legal driving age is at an age that the law feels is safe for adolescents to be operating a vehicle. I think parents should trust in how they raised their children to make good decisions, rather than rely on a device that restricts people in such a way. While technology is a great thing that helps society in more ways than one could imagine, in this case I feel that it is taking the place of people’s personal responsibilities.

"Tech for Blocking Cell Phones While Driving Falls Short"
By Paul FoyAP 01/19/09 8:55 AM PT

No Wifi? No Problem. Gmail Releases New Offline E-mail Tools

Google's popular Gmail will soon be available even when you aren't connected to the internet.  It is called Offline mode, and makes it possible for users to read, star label, archive, and even compose new messages.  Unfortunately you can't send email, but if you click send Gmail will automatically send it as soon as you connect to the internet.  In addition, Goggle's web application Gears even downloads and saves your important emails.  This makes it faster and easier to use Google offline.  It has its own system to figure out which messages are worth saving.  It ignored everything in the trash and spam folders, but automatically saves everything less than a month old and all messages marked as important.  Some do not like their emails being stored, but Google defends that this is a relatively popular practice.  Gmail users have had their privacy issues in the past.  Google automatically scans every email so the advertisements correlate with the subject of the message.  As useful as that is from a marketing standpoint, users argue that it is a breach of privacy.  But even with these privacy issues, Gmail is more popular than ever.  This new feature will definitely increase the popularity of the already popular email service.  This is a feature that no other web-based email service offers, and certainly makes Gmail more attractive to consumers.  None of its competitors have similar features that make it possible to check email while offline.  I believe this new feature will be very helpful for consumers.  For example, it will now be possible to organize and catch up on your emails when you can't connect to the internet.  This will be extremely useful for travelers who can now make use of a long plane or train ride.  There are a few drawbacks to Offline mode though.  While offline, it isn't feasible to attach files to your messages, because that requires a connection to the internet.  It also is impossible to view your contacts while in Offline mode.  However, the few downsides are not that major of an issue when you look at the big picture.  Google has made it possible to view, edit, and organize your emails when not connected to the internet.  This product will help people stay on top of their email accounts and make email more accessible.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Verizon Offers Pint-Sized Personal Cell Tower

Article: "Verizon Offers Pint-Sized Cell Tower" by Chris Maxcer 1/27/09 [Tech News World]

The article discusses how many Verizon Wireless cell phone customers will now be able to make calls through an at home receiver. When users try and make a call through their cell phones the receiver, or router, will pick up the call and allow the call to be made by transferring it through the user’s broadband network instead of the local cell phone tower. This small router, known as the Wireless Network Extender, will act as private cell phone tower in the homes of people who do not get particularly good cell phone reception in their homes. The device is very space efficient and is about the size of a typical wireless network router used for the internet. This is very important for those people who may live in areas where their homes are isolated or in valleys where the cell towers cannot provide good cell phone reception. The router can transfer up to three calls at a time and this new service will not require any change in service plans since user's old plans will still remain in effect. The only additional cost is the one time cost of the router. If users of the wireless network extender are worried about outsiders using their network they can set online preferences which allow the router to only receive certain calling numbers which the user can program. This technology may prove to be very beneficial to Verizon Wireless because this would transfer more of the number of calls through broadband internet and less through Verizon’s own cell phone towers. This would allow the network to be less cluttered and have a more powerful signal to other local cell phone callers. For the users this would eliminate the hassle of trying to find a location in their home where they can use their cell phone and find a signal. Since the network extender uses a broadband network, calls may have weaker reception if large files are being downloaded simultaneously from the internet as the call. According to the Verizon Wireless website the router is a one time cost of $250. Customers will have to decide if this cost is worth the convenience of being able to make calls all the time from their cell phones at home with better reception.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Apple iPhone Subsidies Take a Bite out of ATandT's Profits

Apple iPhone Subsidies Take a Bite out of ATandT's Profits

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Derek Caney)2009-01-28

The article “Apple iPhone subsidies take a bite out of ATandT’s profits” discusses the payments that AT&T makes to apple, for the right to be the sole iPhone carrier, and the effects that these hefty payments had on their 2008 profit margin. AT&T experienced growth in the number of subscribers using their wireless network, however, this growth was offset by the decline in the number of land based subscribers. Profits were further consumed by the large subsidies that AT&T pays in order to carry the iPhone. These payments ensure that Apple will only let AT&T sell the iPhone and use it as part of their wireless network. AT&T has said that even with these payments to Apple, AT&T believes that this arrangement still works out in their favor since the iPhone is such a desired item. The fact that while profits did drop, overall revenues and stock pricing rose shows that value that the iPhone has upon the company. AT&T released the information that 40 percent of iPhone purchasers were new to AT&T. A second sub-theme of the article is the increasing reliance that telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Verizon have on their wireless networks as opposed to the traditional land lines. This is because each year more customers switch away from landlines and choose to use wireless networks. Even with these apparent woes facing AT&T they have said that they expect “solid results” in 2009 with relation to revenue growth and are not concerned about the slight downturn they experience in profits this year. 

"I Am Here: One Man's Experiment With the Location-Aware Lifestyle (Wired Magazine: 17.02 Article by: Matthew Honan 1/19/09)

This article described the social research of one man while using wireless technology and hoped to prove to its readers the constant change and innovation we are experiencing today. The application "Who'sHere" for the iphone has even the most tech-savvy guru baffled and in awe. "Who'sHere" allows other users of the application to know exactly where you are and what is around you based on longitude and latitude recordings. There were many benefits to this product as Honan noted such as the ability to find new restaurants based on likes and dislikes. He was also able to find and compare the cheapest gas prices around. Once Honan updated his current location he was able to find the locations of his friends also using the application "Who'sHere." This allowed him to meet friends in the area for lunch and he observed that this can defeat the problem of loneliness. I believe this is a great innovation because rather than go to a restaurant alone one of your friends that you have not seen in a while may be in town for a business trip and you can meet him or her and catch up on old times. Honan found a few drawbacks in the process describing how he met a friend in town for lunch through “Who’sHere” however a couple uninvited friends showed up as they noted Honan’s location through the application and created an awkward situation to say the least. He also described how he was blowing off a work meeting for a casual bike ride and did not want his superiors to find out where he was. This can become a problem with this type of technology and so Honan learned that privacy settings can be set allowing a user to change their location from a pinpoint spot to a more generalized city or state. I feel this is a good way to protect yourself from people possibly waiting for you to go on vacation and then breaking into your home or harming your family. I still believe there should be stronger privacy settings because anybody with your phone number can gain access to your general area. It is a very dangerous world and this application can greatly expose a person and their loved ones to serious danger. Anybody with an iphone can download this application making the number of users extraordinary. At this rate it appears to me as if there would even have to be a special police force protecting people from the danger they expose themselves to when using this new technology. Honan summed it up best saying that while we rely on technology so much we must not lose our “sense of place” and we must still rely on our senses to guide us. We still have a mind and we cannot let that go to waste and become too dependent on technology. In my opinion technology is a great aid but it should not take over our lives.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cable & Wireless Sets Up Communications Gateways in India by John Ribeiro

In the past, C&W (Cable & Wireless) had to rely on a local telecommunications services provider in India to route all its traffic in this location. But now C&W has received government security clearances in India, meaning the company now owns the entire network and can run its own gateways in and out of India. In the current world of rapidly expanding globalization and privatization, C&W has taken a great stride in networking across the world. The company now can offer new services and it is no longer restricted by the smaller capacity of the local telecommunications services provider. In the past nine months, C&W has invested $30 million to build this “multiservice platform network” in India that will be one of the company’s largest and most important platforms. With complete ownership of the network, C&W will be able to expand the network’s connectivity, reaching across all of Europe, Asia, and North America. I was really intrigued by this article because yesterday in my International Business class we talked about India’s fast economic growth and how they are moving away from a state-owned economy to a more privatized and globalizing capable economy. The Indian government’s granting of these security clearances is a great example of this economic transformation.


Article: "Mobility: Past, Present and Future" by Craig Mathias 1/13/2009 [SearchVoIP]

This article takes a look back at the year 1981 when the first laptop computer, the Grid Systems Compass Computer was developed. While the developers of this computer understood the importance of mobility, this laptop did not have wireless, and it was a matter of time until that type of technology would become available to the public. The article then moves back to the present to look at the abundance of mobile Internet devices available to the everyday consumer today. There is even a more recent trend of "the handset as replacement for the PC" (Mathias). These popular and convenient smartphones have a plethora of applications that were once only available on PCs, and the prices are more reasonable than ever. I thought the most interesting part of the article was its focus on mobile device management, which integrates network management to wireless devices used in the field by employees and managers alike. Years ago mobilizing the workforce meant supplying employees with cellphones and a company e-mail address. Today it means providing "employees with mobile access to corporate data"(Neidlinger). Implementing this type of technology in the workplace will virtually minimize "the difference between what can be done in the office and what can be done in the field." According to my research on the subject, this type of application will also improve accuracy of data entry, reduce gaps by "providing real-time mobile access to valuable information," as well as creating a more environmentally friendly workforce by reducing travel, energy costs, and reliance on printed documents. (Neidlinger) So what is stopping this type of business management tool from "aligning mobility with corporate mission in the interest of improving productivity, lowering costs and gaining competitive advantage?" While the technology and the wide-area networks to make this mobile computing work have been developed, this technology will not be available to the public for several years. According to the article, this is due to the poor economic conditions we are currently facing. However, I disagree that the recession is the only element effecting the popularity of this new technology. While these mobile computing tools could definitely improve employee efficiency and facilitate communication between management and other departments, they could also pose a great threat to the managers of the companies implementing them. This is because as the owners of the wireless devices given to the employees, the bosses are held liable for any mishap or accident that could take place while using the device. This could occur when the employee is using the mobile computer on the job or at his home. It also allows employees access to corporate data, important documents that need authorization, entering orders, and the companies financial statements. This opens the possibility of fraud from within the company framework, as well as the chance that company information could leak out to competitors. These are great risks for any manager, and are part of the reason why we are not yet ready for mobile device management. This is important for people deciding whether or not to mobilize their entire labor force. Just like we had to wait for wireless, we too need to wait for the right time to incorporate these devices into daily business practices. I thought this article was very interesting because it shows the development of not only wireless technology, but also of mobile computing. Today mobile computing is second nature to many, and who knows, it may become a requirement for employees in the near future.

Mathias, Craig. "Mobility: Past, Present and Future." Jan 13, 2009. SearchVoIP.

Neidlinger, Yves. "Reasons to Mobilize Your Workforce." Wednesday, December 3, 2008. Mobile Technology Blogspot.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Article "Obama Plans to Keep his Blackberry" by Nancy Gohring [InfoWorld]

The article was about President Obama and his decision to keep his Blackbery as means of communication with his close friends and some Senior staffs. He believes that his Blackberry is one of the few ways he can escape the bubble that he is about find himslef in. The major problem with this comes from the fact that the Blackberry has decent secuirty settings and capabilities when being used by the regular person but for the President decent doesnt cut it. Obama's wishes and attachment to his blackberrry will be respected but more security devices will be placed on it just incase. For the little tasks that hes going to require of the Blackberry, these new placements will be enough but for the commona dn presidential related task, he is going to be given the Sectera Edge which is approved by the national Security Agency. Curious to see what edge the Sectera Edge had on the Blackberry, I checked it out online. Its a windows mobile, touchscreen, palm pilot, looking phone with so many applications, it might as well be a laptop computer. This will definately allow him to work from anywhere. After finding that out, I wondered how many normal poeple owned one. I looked on ebay with hopes of trying to find one on sale. I found ZERO people selling it which makes me think that maybe the Goverment doesnt allow these on the market.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the silicon solution

Article: “The Silicon Solution” By Mario Paniccia and Sean Koehl
1/21/09 [IEEE Spectrum]

A faster internet is always in demand. Today, speeds of traffic data are reaching ten billion bits per second. Although this rate may seem impressive, Intel and other companies are still coming up with faster and faster microprocessors. There is one major catch however; the copper. Copper is used in a lot of internet hardware including the wireless serves that allow connectivity. Factory printed-circuit boards that contain this copper have tiny, microscopic imperfections that have not been a problem for our generation so far. However, as the speed of internet traffic reaches ten billion bits per second, these imperfections cause data to be distorted. Researchers have found a solution for the problem by replacing the copper on the circuit boards with Silicon. Silicon can be easily adjusted to work into the factory printed-circuit boards and other servers. Researches even predict that wireless internet speeds have the opportunity to reach over one-hundred billion bits per second without and distortion from the silicon. This would allow people like us to download a full movie on our lab top in seconds.