Saturday, December 1, 2007

Crave Talk: Nintendo must make a mobile phone

From Crave -

Crave Talk: Nintendo must make a mobile phone

In a recent post, Crave's Andrew Lim discussed the merits of Nintendo making a mobile phone, even supply a photoshopped pic seen above.

As he pointed out, most mobile phone manufacturers -- in particular Nokia -- are taking gaming very seriously. This could dramatically affect the market, in the same way that the massive proliferation of music phones persuaded Apple to make the iPhone.

There are also Sony PSP phone rumors, which if true, could prove a genuine challenge to Nintendo's future portable consoles. So it is only natural for Nintendo to make a mobile phone, or perhaps partner up with a mobile manufacturer.

Nintendo has already demonstrated with the DS and Wii that it understands usability and aesthetics to such an extent that any phone it would produce would not only look beautiful, but would also be extremely usable in terms of hardware and software. The Nintendo DS already has the potential to be a PDA. At the moment you can use your DS (via an extra cartridge) to listen to music and browse the Internet over Wi-Fi using an Opera-based browser. It wouldn't take much to extend its functions.

Nintendo also understands casual, time-limited gaming better than any other company. If it could continue the quality of games it has produced for the DS on to a mobile, it would easily be the best phone gaming experience ever created. And that's the point: Nintendo makes consoles and is extremely good at it, so who would you rather have making your gaming phone?

Expert scares world with VoIP hacking proof

From Techworld -

An expert, Peter Cox, co-founder and ex-CTO of firewall vendor BorderWare, has released a proof-of-concept program to show how easy it would be for criminals to eavesdrop on VoIP-based phone calls.

Called SIPtap, the software is able to monitor multiple VoIP call streams, listening in and recording them for remote inspection as .wav files. All that is needed would be to infect a single PC inside the network with a Trojan incorporating these functions, although the hack would work at ISP level as well. The program can index 'IP-tapped' calls by caller - using SIP identity information - and by recipient, and even by date.

SIPtap demonstrates that the worst-case nightmares of VoIP vulnerability are now well within the capabilities of organized crime, which could use such a program to steal confidential data from companies, governments and even the police.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Amazon Kindle first hands-on

From Engadget -

A very brief hands-on review -

The device came out of box with too little juice to get on the EV-DO network, but the e-ink display looks great. The selector bar on the right is really interesting; it appears to be a white, opaque thin LCD panel that polarizes and turns clear letting reflective dots peer through -- the end result is a small selection bar that looks unlike anything we've seen on a portable reader device.

The keyboard is clicky and tactile, but with keys shallow enough that they won't get too in the way when you're reading. We're a little worried that the absolutely massive page forward / back buttons might get inadvertently triggered here and there, though.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Android Emulator Screencast

Here is a video of the Android Emulator (Android is the name of the just announced open source Google operating system for handsets). -

And if you are in an exploring mood, you can download the Android SDK at this Google site. It includes the Android Emulator. You can play with it to get a feel of what the operating system has to offer.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pen Phone Design is Smallest Yet

From Gizmodo -


There have been pen phone concepts before, even a few working products, but none as slim and small as the one shown above. It is not a finished product yet but the company wants to gauge interest in such a device. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

HTC shipping out 50000 mobiles with Google OS?

From Engadget -

A UBS analyst is reportedly confirming that HTC will ship about 50,000 cellphones running on a mobile OS made by Google by the end of this year. Analyst Benjamin Schachter also suggested that the first batch wouldn't "be for sale" -- rather, they'd be used exclusively by developers "to understand how the software works."

These reports also help substantiate the belief that Google will likely be focusing on software, and furthermore, Mr. Schachter insinuated that he wouldn't be too awfully shocked if another handset maker (such as LG, imagine that) also jumped in to provide hardware.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Free cellular calls. No cell towers needed. Say bye-bye to your service provider.

From Neoseeker -

TerraNet, a Swedish company, has begun testing of their new peer-2-peer calling system. No service provider needed, no cell towers required, just a fully charged cellphone and other users are all that is required.

Their system uses modified handsets to roam out over a cellular mesh network to find peers within 2km of range. Once a peer is found, your cell call is passed through that peer and up to a maximum of seven hops in total until you're connected. Though the system probably wont be implemented in large cities, TerraNet has pointed out that this P2P calling feature would be sufficient to cover a small rural village or a disaster area. The modified handset are currently undergoing some field testing in both Tanzania and Ecuador.

As mentioned earlier, the handsets in question do require the TerraNet hardware to function in this mesh network calling mode. TerraNet is hopeful that cell phone manufacturers will begin adopting this technology in future revisions of their phones. So far only Ericsson has signed on.

Monday, October 8, 2007

7 Reasons Why Microsoft is DOOMED

From Ask Rea Maor -

#1. Their business model is a dead-end. - Back when Microsoft first started business in 1980, software as a commodity was still a fuzzy concept. Now, in 2007, the concept of software as a commodity is rapidly wearing off again. Today, it’s all about the service and maintenance - something that Microsoft isn’t prepared to deal with.

#2. They flunk at Web 2.0. - Another shift in the technology market is the much-hyped web app. More and more programs can be downloaded from a server and run in a web browser, rendering the OS less important. Meanwhile, the biggest stake MS has ever had in the Internet user-space is its Internet Explorer.

#3. They’re running out of friends. - They’ve been brought up on multiple anti-trust charges. They have been the subject of 130 lawsuits, too. IBM, their former friend, now values Linux above them. And then there’s Sun, Apple, Google, and Oracle, who are flat-out competitors while favoring at least open source, if not Linux.

#4. They only have a couple of cash cows to work with. - Their two products that they stay afloat on is Windows and Office. All other products are also-rans. MSN, Zune, MS Surface, etc. And the XBox is selling well… at a loss.

#5. People are hating on Vista. - We didn’t even see this many people mad about Windows ME.

#6. Their stock isn’t rising any more. - This is not to say “this week”, but rather over the last seven years.

#7. PC makers are starting to turn their backs on Microsoft. - Sure, small-time markets have offered alternatives to Microsoft, but when a giant PC seller like Dell starts selling Ubuntu machines, that’s another big sign. HP has followed suit.

More details at the site.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

News Corp's Fox to launch free MySpace mobile

From Yahoo! News -

NEW YORK (Reuters) Mon Sep 24, 8:54 AM ET - Fox Interactive Media said on Monday it plans to launch ad-supported versions of MySpace and other properties for free on cell phones.

MySpace will let its users send and receive messages, comment on pictures, post bulletins, update blogs, find friends and update their mood status on cell phones.

MySpace, which attracts some 80 million unique visitors per month in the US alone, will offer a free version of its mobile application. A more fully featured version is available to paying customers of AT&T Helio.

Millennial Media will provide the mobile advertising technology to support the new products.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Facebook for the Few

From The New York Times -

Erik Wachtmeister, the Web site’s founder, in Stockholm.

If more proof were needed that the rich are different, it could be found on, an invitation-only social networking site.

“I need to rent 20 very luxury sports cars for an event in Switzerland on the 6th September,” a member wrote recently on the Forum, aSmallWorld’s popular nucleus. “The cars should be: Maserati — Ferrari — Lamborghini — Aston Martin ONLY!”

Another announced: “If anyone is looking for a private island, I now have one available for purchase in Fiji.”

Founded four years ago, the site, promoted as a Facebook for the social elite, has grown from about 500 members to about 150,000 registered users.

The site functions much like an inscrutable co-op board: its members, who pay no fee, induct newcomers on the basis of education, profession and most important, their network of personal contacts. Users are mostly young — 32 on average. Many have graduate degrees and a taste for living extravagantly on more than one continent. Sixty-five percent are from Europe, 20 percent from the U.S. and the rest scattered around the globe.

Advertisers were scarce at first. But in the last six months, luxury brands have come on board after a push from investors, including the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The site drew a flurry of media attention last year, when Mr. Weinstein purchased a minority stake through the Weinstein Company, projecting that aSmallWorld’s membership could grow to a million within a year or two. SmallWorld is his sole investment in an Internet property.

The draw is “direct access to some of the world’s most influential tastemakers,” a community of early adopters and a natural market for Weinstein's films, books and fashions.

“We’re dealing with a group of people that moves in social migration around the planet,” said Joe Robinson, the new chief executive. “From the point of view of a Mercedes-Benz or a Piaget, that makes this an enormous marketing opportunity.”

The Weinstein Company introduced Mr. Robinson, a former advertising executive with Fox Interactive Media, the owner of MySpace, to court advertisers like Lufthansa, Land Rover, Credit Suisse, Moët & Chandon and Burberry. Olivier Stip, the vice president of marketing for Cartier North America, said that an advertisement placed in June generated lively traffic for the jeweler’s Love collection.

Advertising rates are competitive with those of and On average, clients spend $20,000 to $50,000 a month. The company also arranges dinners and tastings where members can sample advertisers’ products. For one recent gathering, Rémy Martin supplied 4,000 bottles of its premium Cognac, valued at $200 each.

But the presence of advertisers raises questions about just whom they are reaching and whether this business model works. Mr. Robinson said 35 percent of aSmallWorld members log in every day. But Andrew Lipsman, a senior analyst at comScore Network, a company that rates online usage, said that it is hard to track the number of unique visitors because the site is relatively small. “If there are a couple of hundred thousand registered users,” he said, “probably only a fraction are visiting the site regularly.” Compare that with Facebook, which in July had 30.6 million unique visitors, a number that has doubled since last year, Mr. Lipsman said.

Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research in Foster City, Calif., said that for advertisers trying to concentrate on a group of influential people, a special-interest publication makes sense. “I liken advertising on aSmallWorld to advertising in the Harvard Business School alumni report,” she said. “For luxury advertisers, the online options are fairly limited.”

Skeptics are not sure just who is getting the message. “For truly wealthy consumers, time is the ultimate luxury,” said Pam Danziger of Unity Marketing, which researches luxury brands. “These people are not going to waste it hanging about on a social networking site.”

The company does not publish members’ income or net worth, so their actual spending power is difficult to gauge. Hollywood strivers, fashion models, financiers and minor European royalty have been admitted inside its virtual velvet rope. But users also include publicists and party promoters who use the site as a personal database. In theory, they are just a few clicks away from Mr. Weinstein, a member, or boldface names like Naomi Campbell, Quentin Tarantino and Frédéric Fekkai.

The site has drawn enough notice to breed its share of copycats. Milton Pedraza of the Luxury Institute, a New York research group, plans to introduce Luxury early next year as an advertising-free, gated online community; members will pay an annual subscribers’ fee of $250. He says members will each have a net worth in the millions or tens of millions. “They are not only resilient,” he said, “they are nearly immune to a housing or stock market downturn.”

Google to Sell Web-Page Ads Visible on Mobile Phones

From New York Times -

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 17 — Google said Monday that it would begin selling ads on Web pages that are viewed on cellphones. The company said that its new product, AdSense for Mobile, would establish a cellphone advertising network in which Google would match ads with the content of mobile Web pages, much as it does online.

Other Internet giants, including Yahoo and AOLTime Warner, as well as some start-ups, have also created advertising networks tailored for mobile phones.

Dilip Venkatachari, product management director for AdSense, said the ads would provide a new source of revenue for publishers and could encourage more online sites to create mobile-focused Web sites. Like most other Google advertising systems, ad prices will be set through an auction and and advertisers will pay when a user clicks on its ad.

Mr. Venkatachari said Google had encouraged publishers to have no more than two ads per mobile page, a smaller number than typically appear on a PC’s Web browser.

Google has been testing the system with a limited number of advertisers and publishers this year. On Tuesday, it will open it to all mobile publishers in 13 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, China and India.

Last summer, Google began selling ads that appear next to search results on mobile phones through a program known as AdWords. Last week, it said that all of its online AdWords advertisers, which are said to number in the hundreds of thousands, would be eligible to have their ads appear next to search results on cellphones.

Google’s further inroads into mobile advertising have long been expected. But the market remains relatively small, and analysts do not expect the new service to contribute much soon to Google’s bottom line.

Still, advertisers and publishers appear to be growing increasingly comfortable with mobile advertising. AdMob, a start-up that runs a mobile advertising network, showed 230 million ads in January and expects to show about 1.5 billion this month, said Omar Hamoui, its founder and chief executive.

“The reason that Google and others are getting in is that the market is growing so rapidly, so people are getting very excited,” Mr. Hamoui said.

Earlier in the year, AOL acquired Third Screen Media, an AdMob competitor, while Microsoft acquired ScreenTonic, a mobile ad company based in Paris. On Monday, Nokia said it would buy Enpocket, a company in Boston that displays ads on cellphones.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pros seem to outdo cons in new phone charger standard

From CNET News, September 20, 2007, 1:05 PM PDT -

On Monday, the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP)--a forum dominated by operators but including manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG--announced that its members had agreed on micro-USB as the future common connector.

Micro-USB, which is thinner than the currently ubiquitous mini-USB standard and therefore better suited to the ever-shrinking dimensions of mobile phones and other consumer electronics, was introduced to the world by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) at the start of this year. Like mini-USB, the standard also makes it possible to charge phones from PCs.

Complete story at the site.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Five Facts About Google Phone

From GigaOM -

1. Google Phone is based on a mobile variant of Linux, and is able to run Java virtual machines.

2. All applications that are supposed to run on the Google Phone are java apps. The OS has ability to run multimedia files, including video clips.

3. The UI is typical of mobile phones, and the image (with red background) floating around isn’t representative of the Google Phone UI. The entire UI is said to be done in Java and is very responsive. The UI has a “search box.”

4. There is a special browser which has pan-and-browse features that are common to modern browsers such as browsers for iPhone and Symbian phones. The entire browser is apparently written in Java and is based on the WebKit core, the same engine in Safari and in iPhone, and Google has been making optimizations to speed it up.

5. Initially there was one prototype, but over past few months Google has the mobile OS running on 3-to-5 devices, most of them likely made by HTC and all have Qwerty apps. The model that folks have seen is very similar to the T-Mobile Dash. Around 3GSM, there were rumors that Google, Orange and HTC were working together on mobile devices.

Could GPay Be Google’s Killer Phone App?

From TechCrunch -

A new patent was published August 30 that would suggest that Google is developing a mobile phone payment system.

The Text Message Payment patent details a system where by Google offers a mobile focused payments under the title of GPay.

Examples of payment scenarios given in the patent include paying for goods from a vending machine, as well as purchasing items directly from offline retailers.

While it’s certainly possible that the GPay Mobile payments system could well be platform independent, GPay could also end up as an exclusive offering of the rumored GPhone, Google's mobile phone. This will give Google the jump over other mobile operators by enabling mobile payments natively from the handset.

Google competitor PayPal currently offers their own mobile payments system, but it hasn’t set the world on fire; Google on the other hand would have the advantage of embedding GPay in the GPhone.



Sunday, September 2, 2007

What Your Cell Knows About You

From Time -

Cell phones have, in recent years, began emerging as an important resource for both criminal investigators and defense lawyers. Now a group of forensic code breakers is working to go beyond the obvious and familiar — the call logs and address books — and tap deeper into our phones, into a hidden gold mine of personal information. Their work is prompting kudos from crime busters while raising concern among civil libertarians.

Twenty years ago it would have taken a police agency months of shoe leather and paper hunting to assemble the kind of information that is available on a cell phone's internal memory and which can be extracted by a deep probe.

Most cell phone owners think simply removing a phone's SIM card removes personal information, but the phone's internal memory, even communication exchanged between the phone and its server, remain. Phone manuals detail how to perform multiple reset commands to erase personal information and some online recycling phone services offer command sets for specific phones, but most people never bother to go through the tedious process.

However, few U.S. law enforcement agencies have the forensic tools at hand and criminals often exploit that advantage, stymieing investigators with simple if crude methods. Typically, law enforcement agencies rely on simply "thumbing through" a cell phone to retrieve data. Another tool is "pinging" a phone to search for its location, helpful in missing-persons cases and in tracking suspects. A more complex forensic approach now available utilizes a command system that initialize modems to ask the phone specific questions about the information it may be storing.

But not all cell phones respond to modem-style commands and some cell phone developers are often loath to share their proprietary technology. Nokia phones are particularly hard to crack. In the U.S. alone there are over 2,000 models of phones — and even within one model line there may be a dozen phones using different codes for each function. The Holy Grail for the cell phone code breakers is to develop a forensics tool — a "Swiss Army knife" —that can be used easily in the field.

Stats & Research: SMS Traffic Up 50%

From 160Characters -

Global mobile data revenues from services other than SMS exceeded USD10 billion in Q1 07 according to Informa’s World Cellular Data Metrics (WCDM).

The total of USD11.3 billion compares with UD$8.1 billion in Q1 06.

The figure means that nearly one third of mobile data revenues now come from non-SMS services, suggesting operators’ investments in advanced technologies are finally reaping rewards.

But this does not mean the end of the road for SMS. Worldwide SMS traffic was up year-on-year by around 50% to more than 620 billion messages in Q1 07. SMS revenues were up 23% over the same period, helping total data revenues to reach USD34.3 billion in the quarter, the highest ever. The higher increase in SMS traffic compared to revenue reflects lower SMS tariffs and the greater availability of bundled packages.

Out of 70 operators tracked by WCDM, the proportion of data revenues coming from non-SMS ranged vastly, from just 1% (Vodafone Egypt) to over 70% (KTF, Korea).

Source: Informa Telecoms & Media’s World Cellular Data Metrics

Source: Informa Telecoms & Media’s World Cellular Data Metrics

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Forget iPhone, the Gphone is here

From Rediff August 24, 2007 01:53 IST

Google is believed to be a fortnight away from the worldwide launch of its much-awaited Google Phone (Gphone) and has started talks with service providers in India for an exclusive launch on one of their networks.

Talks are believed to be taking place with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar, respectively India's first and third largest mobile telephony operators, and state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam.

Sources close to the development said a simultaneous launch across the US and Europe is expected, and announcements would be sent to media firms in India and other parts of the world. US regulatory approval, which is expected soon, is the only hurdle that Google is waiting to cross, they added. Google plans to invest USD7-8 billion for its global telephony foray.

In India, it is also believed to be in talks with Indian providers to offer data and content and platforms including Instant Messaging (IM) and Search functions. However, these could not be confirmed.

Reports of Google getting into handset manufacturing as an answer to Apple's iPhone has been doing rounds in cyberspace and international media for some time. These reports suggest that Google has developed a prototype that will hit the markets in a year's time. The US-based company has neither confirmed nor denied these reports. The Wall Street Journal too had reported that Google had invested "hundreds of millions of dollars" in the project and was involved in discussions with US-based T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

Globally, Google is likely to participate in the upcoming auction for 700 MHz spectrum for which it is prepared to spend up to $4.6 billion. The firm is also introducing ads to YouTube videos which could be replicated on mobile phones. Ironically, Google recently partnered Apple to produce services such as e-mail and maps for its iPhone handset. And Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive, said recently that more Google services for the iPhone would be rolled out.

More at Rediff.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bugging VoIP SIP Phones

From Sunnet Beskerming -

Recently findings suggests that it is a relatively simple matter to remotely eavesdrop on a broad range of SIP-enabled devices. For readers who aren't aware of what SIP-enabled devices are, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is a protocol that is used by a lot of VoIP software and associated telephone handsets to establish, modify, and control a VoIP connection between two parties.

The research that was published indicates that, for at least one vendor, it is possible to automatically call a SIP device from that vendor and have it silently accept the call, even if it is still on the hook - instantly turning it into a classic bugged phone. Whereas historic telephony bugs needed physical targeting of the line running to a property or place of business, the presence of VoIP in the equation allows bugging from anywhere in the world with equal ability. Now anyone can do from their armchair what only spies and law enforcement used to be able to do from inside the telephone switch / pit / distribution board, though it's still illegal to do so.

As well as bugging the phone, the action effectively acts as a Denial of Service against the device (after all, it is already engaged in a call).

Having found the bug via fuzzing, the discovering researchers believe that there may be a number of vendors that have created their own SIP networking code, with equivalent bugs contained within.

While the vendor concerned is expected to release appropriate patches soon, the disclosure is likely to turn attention on other SIP device providers.

This may already be happening, with two separate exploits released publicly in the last couple of days targeting Cisco SIP handsets, with the result of a Denial of Service condition against the phones. VoIP client software from eCentrex has also been targeted with public exploit code, except this time it allows for control over vulnerable devices as a result of a remote buffer overflow condition.

Concerned users and administrators who have SIP enabled software or hardware should be aware of their potential limitations and have appropriate mitigation strategies in place, especially if they are used in sensitive areas (military use, national secrets, trade secrets, etc).

Nokia's iPhone -- no, seriously

From Engadget -

The above phone was presented during Nokia's GoPlay event as a glimpse into the future of Nokia interface design. It's due out next year. When pressed during the Q&A about the striking similarity to the little Cupertino device, Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's Executive VP & General Manager of Multimedia, said, "If there is something good in the world then we copy with pride."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Google is working on a mobile OS, and it's due out shortly

From Engadget, August 28, 2007 -

We've actually got some hot news from a number of very trustworthy sources about Google's plans for the mobile space. Namely, Google's mobile device platform is well on its way, and will be announced in the very near future.

The "Gphone OS" began development after Google's very quiet 2005 acquisition of mobile software company Android, started by Danger cofounder and former-prez / CEO Andy Rubin. At Google, Andy's team has developed a Linux-based mobile device OS (no surprise) which they're currently shopping around to handset makers and carriers on the premise of providing a flexible, customizable system -- with really great Google integration, of course.

As for the timeframe, we keep hearing Google will announce its mobile plans some time post-Labor Day (September 3rd); from what we've heard Google isn't necessarily working on hardware of its own, but is definitely working with OEMs and ODMs to get them to put the Gphone OS on upcoming devices. Think of it more in terms of Windows Mobile or Palm OS, Google wants to supply the platform but not sell the hardware. Still, don't entirely rule out the idea.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SMS: Expected Response in Five Minutes

From the 160Characters site -

According to an online 160 Characters survey that looked at how different messaging platforms elicit differing response times, 84% of users expect a SMS response in five minutes The survey looked at the user messaging habits across email, IM and SMS in personal and work environments.

The results highlight preference for using SMS as a key communication tool, especially when an immediate or near immediate response is required. 84% would respond to a personal SMS in less than 30 minutes according to the results while only 56% would respond in that time to a work related message.

The response time generally depended on the context and the person sending/receiving the mail, but differences emerged between the broad context of messages and between business and personal use.

26% of respondents would take between two and five hours to reply to a personal email and 31% would wait till the next day to reply. 26% said it would take them two to five hours to reply and 22% would wait till the next day. At least this was better than the response time to personal email with 31% waiting for the next day.

No one admitted to not using SMS for personal reasons but 12% still don't use it at work. However this compares to 60% who would never use MMS for work related communications with long delivery times cited as the main reason.

Mobile IM still has some way to go for both business and personal use with 42% not using mobile IM for personal reasons and 54% not using it for business.

This compares to the PC where only 15% don't use PC based IM for personal and 27% not using it in business. For those who use Mobile IM, 57% expect a reply within 5 minutes for a personal message while only 18% expect a business reply in that time.

There seems to be a trend to launch mobile IM under the guise of upgraded SMS. There is a temptation to merge messaging types as networks become more sophisticated. These results show that consumers are well aware of the different features of each messaging type and that they are comfortable choosing the message type most suited to the context of the message.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cool stats on mobile from BBDO last year

From Communities Dominate Brands -

From "Wireless Works" by BBDO and Proximity, from April of 2006. But inspite of it being over a year old, it has fascinating data. They interviewed 3,000 people around the world, and snippets of their findings include:

81% of youth aged 15 - 20 sleep with their mobile phone turned on.

Women in Japan have daytime and evening phones just like they have daytime and evening handbags.

96% of people screen their incoming calls.

76% of Australians and 76% of Spanish have already responded to mobile marketing campaigns, ie interacted with a brand via mobile.

In China if forced to choose between retrieving a forgotten wallet or retrieving a forgotten phone, 69% will go get the phone rather than the wallet.

And 63% of the phone owners will not lend the phone to anyone else.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Is Skype More Centralized Than Claimed?

From Techdirt - Skype recently suffered a pretty massive outage that prevented, a lot of, if not all, Skype users from logging in. The outage raised certain questions since Skype has been promoted as a decentralized P2P network without a potential central point of failure.

But the truth is Skype was never a completely P2P system as its authentication has always been centralized. In fact, there has been accusations in the past that a previous service by the Skype's founders, Kazaa, wasn't really decentralized either. Moreover, rumors persists that the founders have simply reused Kazaa's underlying code in building Skype. So, just how decentralized is Skype?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Nokia Warns Consumers Of Battery Overheating Risks

August 15, 2007 - Nokia warned consumers that 46 million batteries used in its mobile phones could overheat and offered to replace them for free while it negotiates with battery maker Matsushita over who would bear the costs.

Nokia, the world's top cellphone maker, said about 100 incidents of such overheating had been reported globally, but none had involved serious injuries or property damage.

"Nokia has identified that in very rare cases the Nokia-branded BL-5C batteries ... could potentially experience overheating initiated by a short circuit while charging, causing the battery to dislodge," it said on Tuesday.

Nokia said it was working closely with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., which made the batteries in question between December 2005 and November 2006, to investigate the problem.

Replacing the batteries would have some financial impact, but Matsushita would pay part of the costs, Nokia said.

Analyst Richard Windsor of Nomura estimated the cost to Nokia at a maximum of 100 million euros ($137 million). Research firm Gartner said one such battery would cost around $4.

Some U.S. cellphone analysts said the warning would be unlikely to either hurt Nokia's market share or boost its main rivals such as Motorola Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. or LG Electronics

But Jyske Bank downgraded its rating on Nokia shares to "reduce" from "buy," saying every third Nokia user would now have to check their phone's battery.

"I think this will hurt Nokia's brand a lot, and that's the most precious asset Nokia has," Jyske analyst Soren Linde Nielsen said. According to Interbrand, Nokia's brand is valued at $33.7 billion, making it the world's fifth-most valued brand after the likes of Coca-Cola and Microsoft.

Full details at NY Times.


To check if your Nokia battery needs replacement, go here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Google shows phone prototype to vendors

August 02, 2007 (IDG News Service) -- Google has developed a prototype mobile phone that could reach the market within a year. It plans to offer consumers free subscriptions by bundling advertisements with its search engine, e-mail and Web browser software applications, according to a story published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal.

Google is showing the prototype to phone manufacturers and network operators as it continues to hone the technical specifications that will allow the phone to offer a better mobile Web browsing experience than current products. It declined to comment on the report of the prototype, but confirmed that it is working with partners to expand its software applications from the traditional Internet to mobile devices.

More at Computerworld.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Asus Eee and Wireless Email

From Asus Eee News, Mods and Hacks -

ccording to Om Malik, he checks his email on his iPhone-Nokia E61i-Blackberry while in the bathroom, crossing the street and during dinner at a busy restaurant. And he is not alone in his email obsession.

An AOL survey shows that checking email on the portable devices has doubled since 2004. Americans who carry a mobile email device have some really strange addictions:

* 59% are checking email in bed
* 53% in the bathroom
* 37% are checking email while they drive.
* 43% check their email first thing in the morning.
* 40% have checked their email in the middle of the night.
* 83% have checked their email while on vacation.
* An average email user checks mail about five times a day.

With so many users requiring just about 24/7 access to email wherever they are, it is little wonder the global market for wireless email is projected by Palo Alto-based research firm The Radicati Group to grow from US$6 billion in 2007 to nearly US$25 billion in 2011.


To date, the dominant player in wireless email has been RIM, whose Blackberry was the first device to enable users to check their email effortlessly while mobile. Their handsets resemble mobile phones and PDAs and are just as easy to use. However the service is not free and is often bundled with mobile phone service operators' subscriptions.

While the Blackberry supports email attachments, viewing these can be a pain with the limited small screen. Editing, if possible, is even more tedious.

Now here comes the Asus Eee. It is actually small and light enough to toss into large ladies' bags, trendy messenger bags, or students' backpacks. Meaning it is likely to be carried around by users. Well, not exactly the way they would bring a mobile phone along without thinking twice. But at a price point that is actually cheaper than most smartphones, chances are if the user usually totes a bag, the Asus Eee will be inside.

While the Asus Eee, with its projected 15 second boot-up time, does not offer the always-on convenience of the Blackberry, coupled with Wifi, it clearly can be used to do email. So what if I have to wait a few seconds longer to access my email? If I have a few minutes to kill and I have access to free WiFi, the extra seconds won't hurt. Moreover, the Asus Eee might even have a hibernate mode that will reduce the boot-up time even further.

Of course, the Asus Eee obviously does not provide as smooth a user experience for email as the Blackberry does. But it clearly provides a very interesting alternative - and a free one at that. It even allows for more efficient viewing and editing of attachments.

With services like Mobigram and Muztah popping up that offer free international text messaging on mobile phones/handsets via WiFi, 3G and GPRS, suddenly international communications have become extremely affordable - as in free (well assuming the WiFi service used is free). Use the mobile phone to text short messages via Mobigram or Muztah, use the Asus Eee for longer email messages, especially those with attachments. Of course, for some users, the Asus Eee can arguably replace mobile phones, what with its ability to do IM and VoIP. But that's for another post.

Follow Up on Medison Celebrity's US$150 Laptop

The backlash on Medison Celebrity's incredible US$150 notebook offering has intensified with readers after readers posting precautionary warnings in popular forums and sites such as Gizmodo, Engadget, and Slashdot.

One blog was even specifically created to expose the alleged scam. Named Medison Scam, it attempts to disproves countless claims on the Medison Celebrity's website with detailed explanations and facts. If anything, it provides a lot of interesting information.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Social Networks - the new email for teenagers

According to a CNET article by Stefanie Olsen, teenagers today message each other not by email but via texting and social networks such as MySpace and Facebook. They only use email when communicating professionally or with adults.

While email has remained the choice for corporate communications despite the annoyance of spam, the increasing popularity of IM, VoIP, and text messaging have given rise to alternate services. Of all, social networks appear to be the most potent. With tens of millions of members, the two leading networks, MySpace and Facebook, wield great influence over a generation living online, either through the cell phone or the Internet. And just as IM is being replaced by text messaging, social networks are replacing email for communicating with friends.

More and more, social networks are playing a bigger role on the cell phone. In the last six to nine months, American teens have taken to text messaging in numbers that rival usage in Europe and Asia. According to Jupiter Research, 80% of American teens with cell phones regularly use text messaging.

Still, the age group is a fickle bunch. They're constantly looking for the next, new thing to stay current with friends; and they often use different social networks and tools to keep up with different sets of people. They are often on lots of sites and picking and choosing activities from each one, concerned that if they subscribe to only one social network it would mean losing out on friendships with people who are active in other rival social networks.

The two major social networks don't interoperate, leaving an opportunity for a new social network that could act as an intermediary to aggregate friends in one place much the way Trillian did for IM applications like Yahoo and AOL.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Top 10 Unofficial Gmail Apps and Add-ons


Gmail's huge success owes itself in large part to the wide range of applications, browser add-ons, styles, scripts and bookmarklets that work with it. From the get-go Google's stayed out of developers' way and turned a blind eye to unofficial Gmail add-ons, even ones that may very well violate its terms of service. But Google's high tolerance for third-party apps have only helped Gmail win the hearts of power users and tweakers everywhere and countless apps have been released since then.

The popular Lifehacker site recently listed the top unofficial ten apps here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Google Readies $4.6 Billion To Enter Wireless

July 20, 2007 12:40PM -Google has allocated $4.6 billion for the upcoming auction of wireless spectrum in the 700 MHz band, putting it in direct competition with AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and others. The company says that its participation in the auction depends on the FCC adopting "open access" to the spectrum, a notion strongly opposed by several telcos.

Open access, according to its proponents, could mean that you buy a cell phone, load any software Relevant Products/Services you want on it, and then choose your carrier. This is different from the current system of "locked" cell phones in the U.S., where you get your phone and services from the carrier.

More at NewsFactor Network.

$298 Wal-Mart PC features, bloat

July 18, 2007 - 05:00PM CT. Wal-Mart has begun selling desktop Everex IMPACT GC3502 for only $299. It comes with Windows Vista Home Basic and 2.2 installed on a system that includes a 1.5GHz VIA C7 CPU, 1GB of DDR-2 SDRAM, an 80GB hard drive, a DVD burner, and integrated graphics, as well as a keyboard, mouse, and speakers.

Cost aside, the two centerpieces of the Everex are the inclusion of 2.2 and the absence of bloatware typically bundled with low-cost PCs.

While the price may be right for budget-conscious shoppers, the replacement of familiar brands like Intel, AMD, and Microsoft with VIA and may give some would-be buyers pause. And as the price and specs indicate, the machine is going to find itself on the very low end of the performance spectrum. That said, for basic word processing, e-mailing, listening to music, watching video, and web surfing, the machine should be adequate, and Windows Vista Home Basic doesn't have the graphical overhead of the other versions.

Full details at ars technica.

Multi-gigabit wireless "within three years"

Thu, 2007-07-19 15:21 -Multi-gigabit wireless technology using extremely high radio frequencies (RF) to achieve broad bandwidth and high data transmission rates over short distances will be ready within three years making wired computers and peripherals obsolete, a team of Georgia Tech scientists announced today.

Scientists at the institute's Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC) are confident the approach could result in a range of personal area network (PAN) applications, including next generation home multimedia and wireless data connections able to transfer an entire DVD in seconds.

The research focuses on RF frequencies around the currently unlicenced free-for-all 60 gigahertz (GHz) range.

GEDC team have already achieved wireless data-transfer rates of 15 gigabits per second (Gbps) at a distance of 1 meter, 10 Gbps at 2 meters and 5 Gbps at 5 meters.

Full details at Press Esc.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

EU Backs Nokia-Led Mobile TV Standard

July 18, 2007 -BRUSSELS - The European Commission backed a Nokia-led mobile television broadcasting standard in a move that could spur growth in the fledgling but potentially lucrative sector.

The lack of a single technology has held back wider take-up for television on cellphones and the EU's support for digital video broadcast handheld (DVB-H) could be the decisive factor in the battle to establish a global standard.

The European Union executive made GSM (global system for mobile communication) mandatory as a cell phone standard in the 1990s, opening the door for rapid growth in that sector in Europe. GSM is now the standard in many non-EU countries.

The choice is a blow for Qualcomm and South Korean vendors which have promoted their own technologies. So far only DVB-H has a global presence, while South Korea, Japan, the United States and China are embracing local rivals. Some of the other technologies are also making a play for the global market, preventing services being offered worldwide under a single standard.

Commercial DVB-H broadcasts have started in India and Vietnam, in addition to some European countries, while Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia are to open networks this year.

More details at Extremetech.

Fujitsu Unveils World's Slimmest Waterproof Phone


Fujitsu has unveiled the world's slimmest waterproof phone, the F704i. It's an updated version of the F703, which is yet another excuse for a cute Japanese girl to wear a bathing suit and hold a phone. At a mere 1.8mm thick, it is able to survive under a few feet of water for up to a half hour. Other features include a music player, MicroSD card slot, 3G, 1.3-megapixel camera with image stabilization.

Details at Gizmodo.

Hong Kong MTR To Get WiFi’d Up


Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway through PCCW will start offering WiFi inside the trains themselves around Hong Kong very soon.

The service will first be introduced in station concourses and on platforms this summer, with trains the next step.Connection speed will be 54 megabits per second, fast enough to watch videos on the internet. It will cost HK$20 a day for unlimited access.

Details at Butterboom.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Microsoft To Buy Facebook For $6 Billion?

From InsideMicrosoft -

Rumor is that Microsoft is looking to close a deal to buy Facebook for $6 billion dollars as Steve Ballmer is desperately trying to make a big splash play to counter Google in the internet game.

Facebook actually fits into Microsoft’s portfolio, since the latter doesn’t have a social network. What Microsoft does have is Windows Live Spaces, a blogging service and the two should complement each other.

Ballmer arguably should be willing to go as high as ten billion, since Facebook can make their Google competitor reality. If Facebook makes Windows Live work, they may see a billion dollars a quarter in revenue, more if they reach Yahoo levels. That six billion could be earned back real fast.

Sigbritt, 75, has world's fastest broadband

From The Local (Sweden) 12th July 2007 11:07 CET -

A 75 year old woman from Karlstad in central Sweden has been thrust into the IT history books - with the world's fastest internet connection.

Sigbritt Löthberg's home has been supplied with a blistering 40 Gigabits per second connection, many thousands of times faster than the average residential link and the first time ever that a home user has experienced such a high speed.
Related Articles

But Sigbritt, who had never had a computer until now, is no ordinary 75 year old. She is the mother of Swedish internet legend Peter Löthberg who, along with Karlstad Stadsnät, the local council's network arm, has arranged the connection.

Sigbritt will now be able to enjoy 1,500 high definition HDTV channels simultaneously. Or, if there is nothing worth watching there, she will be able to download a full high definition DVD in just two seconds.

The secret behind Sigbritt's ultra-fast connection is a new modulation technique which allows data to be transferred directly between two routers up to 2,000 kilometres apart, with no intermediary transponders.

According to Karlstad Stadsnät the distance is, in theory, unlimited - there is no data loss as long as the fibre is in place.

Intel, `$100 Laptop' Project Make Peace

After an initial lashing at Intel for coming out with its Classmate PCs, OLPC proponent Negroponte appears to have make peace with the company, as reported in an AP story dated Jul 13, 4:34 PM EDT and posted at Wired -

As Nicholas Negroponte stormed the developing world trying to drum up buyers for the innovative $175 computers designed by his One Laptop Per Child education nonprofit, he encountered a persistent obstacle: competition from Intel.

Intel's chair Craig Barrett had derided Negroponte's machines as mere gadgets. And Intel was signing up international governments for its own little "Classmate" PCs, which follow more conventional computing designs than OLPC's radical "XO" computers.

Negroponte was suspicious of Intel's motives, since the XO runs on processors from Intel's fiercest rival, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Negroponte said Intel had hurt his mission and "should be ashamed of itself."

But in recent weeks, Negroponte and Intel CEO Paul Otellini began peace talks and on Friday, the two sides annnounced Intel will join OLPC's board and contribute money and technical expertise to the project.

Intel will continue to sell the Classmate, which has fallen in price to the low $200s, attracting buyers in Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria. OLPC still hopes its machines reach schools in several countries this fall. But now, Intel and OLPC might seek ways to package their computers together. OLPC also expects help from Intel in their efforts to perfect the XO machines - and get their cost closer to the originally stated goal of $100.

The initial wave of XO computers will still use processors from AMD which has been a major partner, along with such other big names as Google Inc., News Corp. and Red Hat Inc. But without a doubt, Intel would love to oust AMD as the processor supplier. After all, that is Intel's core business - not selling little computers.

Several countries have expressed interest in the $175 XOs, but OLPC has backed away from predicting which governments will be first to officially sign contracts to buy the machines. The project needs orders for 3 million laptops before its low-cost supply chain kicks into action.

One possible selling point for the Classmate is that it can run a version of Microsoft Windows in addition to the open-source Linux. XOs use a homegrown, open-source setup uses a new approach designed to be intuitive to children.

Microsoft has been working to get Windows to run on XOs. But it still doesn't appear that will be ready soon. The main reason is that it is hard to tweak Windows so it can interact with the nonstandard XOs.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Will Mobile WiMAX Crack Fortress Europe?

From Businessweek July 11, 2007, 12:32PM EST -

For the past 15 years, American firms Intel and Microsoft have been largely shut out of the European-dominated mobile phone industry. Not that they haven't tried—Intel made processors and memory for handsets and Microsoft have been pushing Windows Mobile. But the business was still largely controlled by telecom companies such as Nokia, Ericsson, and Vodafone.

Now, with the pending arrival of Mobile WiMAX, the U.S. crowd stands its best chance in years at knocking down Fortress Europe. A kind of Wi-Fi on steroids, Mobile WiMAX delivers data at speeds comparable to conventional third-generation (3G) mobiles but promises to be cheaper to implement because it uses newer, more efficient technology.

More importantly, because it's based on Internet protocols, WiMAX lets carriers offer a single data service—akin to wireless DSL—that can carry any kind of traffic, from voice calls to Web surfing to video. That's a significant advantage over the separate voice and data services now delivered by mobile operators. WiMax allows service providers to become full telcos.

The implications for Europe's existing mobile players are enormous. Operators who have sunk billions into 3G spectrum licenses and speedy new networks will likely face significant competition from new entrants, including fixed-line telcos such as Britain's BT Group that could add WiMAX services and compete with mobile carriers. Already 345 operators around the world—including 57 in Eastern Europe alone—either have acquired WiMAX licenses, launched trials, or begun commercial services.

Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung all have said they will make a WiMAX-compatible handset by 2008. The market for WiMAX-enabled devices could amount to $4.7 billion in 2012.

Equipment makers Alcatel Lucent, Nortel , and Nokia Siemens Networks have also committed to delivering mobile WiMAX gear. But the industry's No. 1 seller of wireless networks, Ericsson, is skipping WiMAX entirely and betting its whole future on 3G and telecom-style successors.

The biggest potential opportunity lies for companies like Intel that have ached for years to get a piece of the mobile action. The chip giant is aiming for a repeat of its success in driving adoption of Wi-Fi: Starting next year, it will build support for Mobile WiMAX directly into computer chipsets used in PCs and laptops. And to seed the market, Intel also is tossing hundreds of millions of dollars into wireless operators that are building WiMAX networks to compete with conventional cellular operators.

Among the most prominent: A $600 million investment in Seattle-based Clearwire which already holds the No. 2 position in WiMAX frequencies in the U.S. after Sprint Nextel, and now has snapped up WiMAX spectrum rights in Germany, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, and Romania. If Clearwire blankets Europe with WiMAX service, it could become the Vodafone of wireless data.

Intel also has invested in Britain's Pipex Wireless and Heidelberg-based Deustche Breitband Dienste, which is spending $1.3 billion on a nationwide German WiMAX network.

The opportunities for WiMAX are likely even greater in emerging economies, where the existing infrastructure of wired broadband service and 3G mobile isn't as well developed. Russian telecom provider Synterra said it had awarded a contract of undisclosed value to Alcatel Lucent to build a mobile WiMAX network covering more than 1,000 Russian cities and towns by the end of next year.

The role of governments in awarding wireless licenses highlights an important caveat. In the end, analysts say, the question of whether 3G or WiMAX wins out over the long term—or indeed, whether they peacefully coexist—will come down to spectrum allocation and license fees.

In Britain, for instance, U.K. Broadband, owned by Hong Kong-based PCCW, has asked communications regulator Ofcom to let it bid for a swath of spectrum near the 2.6 GHz frequency band that's currently set aside for future evolution of 3G. If U.K. Broadband wins, it could signal an end to a policy of mandating that certain frequencies be used only for particular technologies.

Similarly, a group of European leaders meeting in Gothenberg, Sweden, this week is weighing how to reallocate the analog TV spectrum that will be taken out of service after digital TV catches on. If regulators sanction the use of the 500 MHz and 800 MHZ frequencies currently used by analog TV in Europe for WiMAX, it would be a big boost for emerging operators. Lower frequencies allow for greater coverage at less cost, thus lowering the barriers to entry, says CCS Insight. But if traditional mobile operators grab the frequencies to improve their 3G coverage, it'll take a bite out of WiMAX's opportunity.

So it goes in the high-stakes race for the future of European wireless. The incumbents are hoping for regulations that keep them in the driver's seat. And the American interlopers are waiting for a crack to open in the walls of Fortress Europe.

DIY Linux Mobile Phone

From LinuxDevices July 11, 2007 -

Linux-based SBC vendor Gumstix will soon begin accepting pre-orders for cellular networking and GPS daughtercards. Its Goliath daughtercards target remote data applications such as fleet tracking, as well as "hobbyists who want to build their own phone.

Gumstix Verdex with Bluetooth, top and bottom

The Goliath daughtercards will work with Gumstix's Verdex (pictured at right), a minuscule SBC about the size and shape of a stick of chewing gum. The Verdex is powered by an Intel PXA270 SoC (system-on-chip) -- probably the most popular mobile phone processor in today's crop of Linux-baed mobile phones.

Two Goliath models will be offered initially: the Goliath-vx, which implements GPRS/EDGE functions based on a Siemens MC75 wireless module; and the Goliath-GPS-vx, which adds a u-blox Neo-4S GPS module, both pictured below.

Additionally, Gumstix will offer a 4.3-inch LCD module based on a Samsung LCD. The LCD module will measure 4.2 x 2.6 inches (106 x 67 mm) -- the same dimensions as the Goliath boards, according to the company.

Both Goliath modules will interface with the Verdex SBC via full-speed (12Mbps) USB, with GPRS signals redundantly routed to a serial interface. Additionally, both daughtercards will integrate a USB hub controller, enabling one off-board and all on-board Goliath USB devices to be simultaneously usable by the Verdex board.


Gumstix plans to ship the Goliath-vx and Goliath-GPS-vx in volume in "late July." It will begin accepting pre-orders through its online store on July 16, it said.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Samsung Youtube Phone SGH-L760

From I4U News Tue, 10 Jul 2007 05:30:00 CDT -

Samsung Youtube Phone SGH-L760
Hi-Res Photo Gallery

Samsung is introducing a Youtube enabled mobile phone for the European market. The SGH-L760 is a 3G phone lets you upload video recorded with the phone's camera directly to Youtube, uBlog and Buzznet.

The phone features a 2MP video camera, TFT screen with 176 x 200 pixel resolution, FM radio, Bluetooth, MP3 player, web browser, RSS reader and microSD card. Dimensions are 100 x 47 x 15mm.

Samsung will release the SGH-L760 Youtube phone still this month in Germany and other European countries. Carrier O2 will offer the SGH-L760 in Germany.

Ultra-thin and ulra-light notebook coming before the end of the year - sources

From MacScoop July 10th, 2007 04:18:26 PM -

Apple is headed towards the release of a notebook that is so small and light that it could redefine the standards of ultra-portable computing.

The new notebook is likely to complete the MacBook Pro line-up with a smaller version featuring a 12" display — a form factor that was formerly used on the PowerBooks' entry-level but was discontinued when the line-up made the switch to the Intel architecture in 2006.

Compared to the original 12 inch PowerBook, which is Apple's smallest notebook released so far, the new notebook is said to be half as thick, or something between 0.6 and 0.7 inch (15 to 18 mm). It will also be, by far, the lightest computer Apple ever released, or less than 3 pounds (<1.36kg).

Mock-up below is based on the 12" PowerBook advertising material.

ultra-thin Apple notebook

The $300 Linux-Powered 'iPhone Killer' Arrives

From Wired Blog, July 09, 2007 | 1:41:33 PM -

Ficneo1973_small After seemingly endless delays, the OpenMoko phone is here. The first version of the unlocked Linux-based NEO 1973 mobile phone is available for purchase from It's not as jaw-droppingly pretty as the iPhone, but it shares a design philosophy -- no buttons, just a screen -- and it's ready to be loaded with any number of open-source software applications.

The base NEO sells for $300. It has a 2.8" VGA touch screen, a micro SD card slot, a USB port and 2.5G GSM quad band capability.

Keep in mind that this unit was pushed out early so developers could begin writing device drivers, custom GUIs and some cool apps for the phone. The next revision, which will be available starting at $450 in October, will be ready for the mass market. It will have WiFi, 3-D motion sensors and added graphics accelerators. So this phone isn't exactly an iPhone killer -- the next one will be a contender.

When it comes to devices, more choice is almost always "a good thing." But will consumers respond to the NEO? Developers are going to dig this phone. But what's more important to consumers -- a super-sexy status item that's locked to one carrier and one set of functions, or a less sexy look-alike with a fully free and open software system?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Trillian Astra chat / IM software for iPhone

From the Cerulean Studios' blog -

This week was pretty slow at Cerulean Island. July 4th came mid-week, and we decided to put out a quick build on Monday to address some important bugs that would have negatively impacted some of the new alpha testing team’s first impressions. This, unfortunately, didn’t leave us with an incredible amount of time to work on new features and bugs.

Instead, we decided to add roughly 3000 new testers to the team, our largest expansion yet! This aggressive headcount increase was due in part to the launch of our upgraded fleet of shiny Astra servers on the backend - as we’ve been repeating all along, we’re putting alot of effort and focus into ensuring that the servers can support the load of our entire userbase once we launch. One of the unique challenges we face with Trillian Astra is that once we hit the switch, we need to support a large number of concurrent connections to our backend very quickly. As anyone who has done serious server development can tell you, this isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

Given our limited development time, we decided to take a small break from our standard development roadmap. It was important for us to continuously watch the servers, add new testers, and make the small changes we noticed necessary as they cropped up throughout the week.

Ultimately, we ended up finding some time to work on some “alternative” interfaces to connect to the servers of Trillian Astra. We think some of you might have a unique need for this one…

Trillian for iPhone (thumbnail)

Currently the contact list and message windows are up and running. You can see the status of your contacts they update. You can send and receive messages in real-time, as long as your browser window is open. There is no need to move Windows around on the phone, as everything is compact and fit tight to the screen. This beauty is completed with a smooth and true-to-the-pixel user interface done right. This interface of Trillian Astra is designed for iPhone; it doesn’t just “happen to work” with it.

Friday, July 6, 2007

South Koreans Connect Through Search Engine

From New York Times -

SEOUL, South Korea July 4, 2007 — Park Hye Ran, a 15-year-old high school student, wanted to know the shortest route from a bus terminal in the southern port city of Busan to a fish market to the east.

That is precisely the kind of question that Cho In Joon, 50, a seller of lottery tickets in Busan, loves to answer.

Sitting at a computer installed at his street kiosk, Mr. Cho posted a reply for Ms. Park — and for other users who might one day ask the same question — with instructions on where she should switch trains, which station exit she should take and how long it would take to walk from there to the market. He even attached a map of the market area.

Thanks to tens of thousands of other volunteer respondents, Web users in Korea seldom Google anything. They “Naver” it.

Tapping a South Korean inclination to help one another on the Web has made the undisputed leader of Internet search in the country. It handles more than 77% of all Web searches originating in South Korea, thanks largely to content generated by users, free of charge., another South Korean search portal, comes in second with a 10.8% share, followed by Yahoo's Korean-language service with 4.4%.

Google, the top search engine in the world, barely registers in the country’s online consciousness, handling just 1.7% of South Korean Web searchesl

HTC Omni

From the::unwired comes this post regarding information on the forthcoming HTC Omni. According the leaked details and specs, the device looks indeed impressive and if the info turns out to be true, it's really the legitimate follower of the HTC Universal. Release date is planned for October:

Feature Highlights:

  • Windows Mobile 6.0 OS
  • Samsung SC244X at 400 MHz and Qualcomm MSM 7200
  • WiFi b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • WVGA 4" 800 x 480 main display with sub-display
  • TV and VGA out
  • 256 MB ROM, 128 MB RAM and microSD memory card slot
  • Full QWERTY keyboard
  • Dimensions: 130 x 81 x 16 mm

Maverick Systems' First Portable Gateway, Super Router

From Gizmodo -

Japan-based Maverick Systems has just announced their development of the world's first portable wireless internet gateway.

A USB card/device, the gateway functions much like a wireless router. But it can support up to 32 simultaneous connections, meaning that pending your base computer finding a proper bandwidth connection, it could supply a 32-person hotspot in a quasi-mobile operation. Or better yet, using a WiFi hotspot, you could extend said hotspot to your friends sitting at a cheaper cafe across the street.

iPhone Adobe Flash Support Coming


According Gizmodo, reviewer Walter Mossberg, Adobe Flash is rumored to be coming to the iPhone. So was the original exclusion a technical decision or a business decision?

Apple had originally announced YouTube support but then suggested that only those videos that had been rolled over to the Apple-favored H.264 codec. While arguably a technical hurdle, the iPhone's ARM processor has sufficient power to use the approach taken by Archos' demonstrated Wi-Fi media player that could easily browse YouTube, and queue up any video on the site, using an Opera browser with Flash plug-in.

Or was a Flash-friendly iPhone not sufficient leverage to convince Google to adopt the codec crucial to the YouTubin' success of the browserless Apple TV platform. By giving YouTube special favoritism in the iPhone launch, Apple got Google to do its codec swaperoo. But users (and developers) have demanded more, because this isn't just about YouTube. People want Flash for non video stuff, too, such as site menus and games.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

OpenMoko's Neo 1973 Open-Source Smartphone Ships In October at $450 to $600

From Gizmodo -


The world's first open-sourced Linux GSM mobile phone known as the FIC/OpenMoko Neo 1973. It will be ready for customers in October, in two configuration, the USD450 Neo Base and the USD600 Neo Advanced.

Original Specifications:

• 120.7 x 62 x 18.5 (mm)
• 2.8" VGA (480x640) TFT Screen
• Samsung s3c2410 SoC @ 266 MHz
• Global Locate AGPS chip
• Ti GPRS (2.5G not EDGE)
• Unpowered USB 1.1
• Touchscreen
• MicroSD slot
• 2.5mm audio jack
• 2 additional buttons
• 1200 mAh battery (charged over USB)
• 128 MB SDRAM
• 64 MB NAND Flash
• Bluetooth (2.0)

Updated Specs

* 802.11 b/g WiFi
* Samsung 2442 SoC
* SMedia 3362 Graphics Accelerator
* 2 3D Accelerometers
* 256MB Flash

Developer kits will be available starting July 9 and will include -

Neo Base ($300)

• Neo 1973 (GTA01B_v4)
• Battery

• Stylus
• Headset• AC Charger
• Phone Pouch
• Lanyard
• SanDisk 512MB MicroSD Card
• Mini USB Connectivity Cable

Neo Advanced ($450)

• Neo 1973 (GTA01B_v4)
• Battery (2x)
• Stylus
• Headset
• AC Charger
• Phone Pouch
• Lanyard• SanDisk 512MB MicroSD Card (2x)
• Mini USB Connectivity Cable (2x)
• USB Host Mode Cable
• Debug Flex Cable
• Debug Board v2 (JTAG and serial console)
• Ruggedized Toolbox with shoulder strap
• Guitar Pick (for opening case)
• Torx T6 screwdriver

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Using Gmail as Online Drive

From Asus Eee News, Mods, and Hacks -

A rather old trick but one that may prove useful with the Asus Eee is using your Gmail account(s) as an on-line hard drive for your notebook. Details can be found at Bleeping Computer.


Actually the trick works for generally any computer running Windows.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Nokia Touchscreen Phones to Add Tactile Feedback

From Extremetech -

Nokia has licensed the right to use Immersion's VibeTonz Mobile Player technology in any of its mobile devices sold worldwide. Immersion said it will begin supplying the VibeTonz software developer's kit (SDK) to Nokia's developer community starting this month. In turn, that community will be able to create downloadable applications and future content for VibeTonz-enabled cell phones.

According to Immersion the system can provide tactile cues for mobile touch screen interfaces, as well as be used for mobile games with touch feedback. It is currently used in more than 4 million LG and Samsung phones worldwide.

With Apple's iPhone leading a new wave of touch-sensitive phones, industry analysts are predicting optical sensors and touch will be the next big things.

The tactile cues are obviously intended to provide as close a simulation to the user experience of typing on standard mobile keypads. But without a base reference like the protrusions on the F and J keys on QWERTY keyboards and on the 5 key on standard mobile keypads, how will users be able to touch type on touch screens when entering SMS messages?

Google Purchases Web Phone Service

From The New York Times -

Google has GrandCentral Communications, a Fremont, CA-based service that lets people use a single number for all their phones. Its users can also create a single mailbox, accessible over the Internet, for all their phone messages.

GrandCentral was founded in 2005 by Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet, two executives who worked for Dialpad Communications, a Web phone company that was acquired by Yahoo in 2005.

GrandCentral’s investors include Minor Ventures, a San Francisco venture capital firm. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Rival Manufacturers Chasing the iPhone

From The New York Times -

Now that analysts and industry executives are getting their first good look at the iPhone, many are concerned that Asian manufacturers may have underestimated the Apple threat.

Analysts say that the iPhone, with its full-scale Internet browser and distinctive touch screen with colorful icons, is more than just another souped-up cellphone. They fear the Silicon Valley challenger could leap past Asian makers into the age of digital convergence by combining personal computing and mobile technologies as no device has before.

Their fear is that the iPhone will become the prototype of the future of mobile phones. And that Apple may repeat in wireless communications what it accomplished in portable music with the iPod: changing the industry.


Personal take - For iPhone to succeed (and redefine the standard) in Asia, it will have to support prevalent SMS texting habits in the various countries. Text input is by no means standard, given the myriad of different languages. For languages such as English and Tagalog that use primarily the phone keypad to enter text and allow straightforward memorization of keystrokes, physical keys that provide tactile feedback are practically a requirement.

Thus under its current configuration, iPhone will not capture significant market share. The irony, of course, is that if future generations of iPhones were to incorporate physical keypads in order to gain additional market share, the resultant design would make them conform more to present phones and therefore less revolutionary.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Asus and Intel slaughters OLPC with Eee-ase

From Asus Eee News, Mods, and Hacks -

Over at ZDnet, George Ou seems to have whipped up a storm after comparing the Negroponte's OLPC to the Asus Eee. As the title implies, Ou thinks the latter will beat the digital hell out of the OLPC. Based on the comments, he is being criticized for making conclusive statements without actually test driving both units. Following is part of his review:

ASUS and Intel have created an alternative for Negroponte’s OLPC called the “Eee PC”. The difference is that the ASUS Eee PC is actually something that looks usable and perhaps even desirable for everyday use as a super cheap UMPC.

The ASUS Eee will cost a mere $199 whereas the so-called $100 OLPC costs $175. Given the fact that Eee can run Linux or Windows XP and it can boot off NAND flash memory in a mere 15 seconds, the Eee slaughters the OLPC with ease.

The OLPC was originally slated to be the $100 PC but the actual production cost is somewhere around $175. I had a chance to get a test drive of the OLPC at the CTIA wireless conference and it was probably the worst computing experience I’ve had in a long time. The rubberized keyboard was virtually stuck to the surface with almost zero tactile feedback and the Operating System of the OLPC spends a painful 2-3 minutes to boot. Even launching a new application seems to take an eternity.

The user interface of the OLPC doesn’t even feel worth of a cheap fisher price toy. If I were to rank it, it would be somewhere above DOS and far below Apple’s Lisa. I can’t wait to test drive the Eee PC.


Well, we will see if Ou is proven right once Asus starts selling the Eee. Personally I think he is. Actually I am an avid fan of Negroponte, having read and re-read his The Architecture Machine and the Soft Architecture Machines upon which the OLPC's Sugar OS seems to be loosely based. In fact, I apply a lot of the principles in designing UIs for our mobile apps.

However, in sheer practicality, if I need to procure units for our educational outreach program, I would opt for the Asus Eee. Why? It is more versatile. Since it supports Windows XP and comes bundled ready to use with Xandros and OpenOffice, adults can also use it as well. Somehow I just can't picture teaching adult public school teachers website design while they labor on colorful, toy looking OLPCs.

Granted, the OLPC's OS might be more appropriate for children. But that is just UI software that can be developed for the Eee. Where OLPC will have an advantage is in areas where electricity is not available. But it also follows that if electricity is not available, chances are the infrastructure for Internet access will likely be not available as well. These days, no computer-oriented educational program would be complete without the Internet. Thus, the effectiveness of such programs in remote areas is at best questionable.

Piper Jaffray: 500,000 iPhones sold over the weekend

From Crave -

Piper Jaffray reported that Apple sold about 500,000 units from 6 p.m. Friday through the close of business Sunday. Despite low supply at AT&T stores and activation issues, it appears that the iPhone era at Apple got off to a good start. Piper Jaffray said Apple had iPhones available in each one of its stores on Saturday, and in 84% of its stores Sunday.

Significantly 95% of iPhone buyers in San Francisco, New York and Minneapolis purchased the 8GB model, according to a survey conducted by the firm. About half were new customers for AT&T.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

iPhone Unlocking Services

From iPhonetics -
Companies have started to offer their iPhone unlocking services. One site, iPhoneunlocking, claims to have unlocked 3459 iPhones at the time of this post. (Click on image to enlarge it.)

Saturday, June 30, 2007

China SMS Stats for 2006 Spring Festival

From ChinaTechNews -

According to Xinhua News Agency, these figures are for the 2006 Spring Festival holiday:

"China Mobile and China Unicom, the country's two major mobile service providers, users have sent about 12 billion greeting cellphone messages during the Spring Festival holiday. Every mobile phone user sent 30 messages on the average from January 28 to February 4, according to sources from the two companies. Calculating on the basis of 0.1 yuan (1.25 US cents) per short message, China Mobile raked in 950 million yuan (US$118.8 million) from this service, while China Unicom generated 310 million yuan (US$38.8 million). China Mobile alone sent 1.9 billion messages on January 28, or the eve of the Spring Festival, while China Unicom sent 1.4 billion on January 28-29. China Mobile alone sent 1.9 billion messages on January 28, or the eve of the Spring Festival, while China Unicom sent 1.4 billion on January 28-29."

Global mobile phone use to hit record 3.25 billion

Per Yahoo News, global mobile phone use will top 3.25 billion, which is equivalent to around half the world's population , in 2007 as cell phone demand booms in China, India, and Africa. The three billion milestone will be passed on July 2007. In comparison, the world's population is forecast to hit around 6.6 billion in July.

Interestingly, it took over 20 years to connect the first billion subscribers, but only 40 months to connect the second billion. More than 1,000 new customers are effectively signing up for mobile phones every minute around the world.

Private Facebook Pages Are Not So Private

From Wired News -
A security researcher has discovered that private Facebook profiles aren't quite as hidden as many users might think they are. Pages that are supposedly restricted are visible to anyone using searches based on religion, sexual orientation or relationship status.

A quick search by Wired News for women in a major U.S. city who were interested in random hookups with men revealed the names and photos of two high school girls, including one ninth grader.

Facebook responded to Wired's inquiry Wednesday evening with an announcement that it had changed the behavior of its privacy settings.

"Facebook offers sophisticated search and privacy controls and is constantly making improvements based on feedback from our users," the spokesman wrote. "We have since updated the advanced search function so that profile information that has been made private by a user, such as gender, religion and sexual orientation, will not return a result."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Why iPhone Won’t Redefine SMS Texting

From iPhonetics -
For all its innovations, Apple’s iPhone has slim chances of making an impact on the way mobile phone users around the world do SMS texting. In two words: QWERTY keyboard. Here’s why:

First of all, even if the Apple goes on to sell 10 million iPhones in the first year as Steve Jobs has predicted, that is just roughly 1% of the nearly 1 billion phones sold annually. You simply can’t redefine a market with such a miniscule share.

Secondly, most of the new market gains are entry level phones sold in third world countries. This implies that most buyers are first time users who in most likelihood have never used a computer before, or if ever, sparingly. Thus, for a lot of them, the mobile phone keypad has become their first exposure to typing. For the younger generation, it is their de facto standard. In fact, a lot has mastered the art of touch-typing on phone keypads. They can enter SMS messages one-handed rapidly into the phone without ever looking at the keypad or the LCD. Somehow I simply can’t imagine them doing the same with the iPhone’s on-screen QWERTY keyboard. The Apple design lends itself to two thumb typing, which is definitely far from the current single thumb texting experience.

Yes, Apple will most likely go on and sell millions of the iPhone as it has previously succeeded with the iPod. But until it adds a physical mobile phone keypad, it most likely will remain a niche play. And when it does add a keypad, it will no longer be redefining the SMS experience but merely improving it.

Digital Divide via Social Networks

Interesting piece from Danah on how the American social classes are reflected in the respective user bases of Myspace and Facebook.

Curiously, I personally feel Faceboook, with all the recent updates and changes, is fast approaching the chaotic look of Myspace. Just my 2 cents.

Apple to launch iPhone in Europe on July 1?

Newswireless is reporting that Apple, in a joint promotion width Vodaphone, T-Mobile (Germany) and Carphone Warehouse, will be launching a 3G version of the iPhone on Monday i the UK. The US version launched today does not support 3G and instead uses the slower EDGE technology.

Shipment date is still unknown, but supposedly on course for the year-end date predicted last October by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

So where does the line start?

Five Ideas That Will Reinvent Modern Computing

From PC Magazine - Interesting prediction of five future trendsetters. These include -

IMAX at Home
HP Labs is developing Pluribus, a cineplex-quality image using a handful of ordinary, USD1,000 PC projectors—in less time than it takes to pop the popcorn. For a mere USD12,000, you could c a home theater that stands up to the USD100,000 image at local movie houses. And this mega-display is good for more than just movies. It might be even better for 3D games.

The Midair Mouse
Soap goes one step further than the current state-of-the-art wireless mouse: It works in midair. With this new-age pointing device, now under development at Microsoft Research, you can navigate your PC using nothing but a bare hand. You can lose the end table and the lap desk. You can even lose the couch and the bed, driving your machine while walking across the room. It's a bit like the Wii remote—only more accurate and far easier to use. In fact, Soap is so accurate that you can use it to play a high-speed first-person shooter.

The Perfect Machine
But at Bell Labs, they are working on a new quantum computer, a machine which uses a quantum bit, or qubit, instead of the basic bit for storing and processing information. A qubit is not stored not in a transistor but in a quantum system, such as the spin of an atom's nucleus. An "up" spin might indicate a 1, and a "down" spin might indicate a 0.

But thanks to the superposition principle of quantum mechanics, a quantum system can exist in multiple states simultaneously. At any given moment, the spin of a nucleus can be both up and down, holding values of both a 1 and a 0. Put two qubits together and they can hold four values simultaneously (00, 01, 10, and 11). That makes a quantum computer exponentially faster.

But when a quantum system interacts with the classical world, it decoheres: It loses its ability to exist simultaneously in multiple states, collapsing into a single state capable of holding only a single value.

Researchers have long been working on this problem but no major breakthrough has been achieved. Now Bell researchers are working on a new method called "topological quantum computing," which involves tying quantum systems into knots. By tying them into the right knot, they are able to do the right quantum computation. In short, these knots are a great way of solving the decoherence problem - the first to do so.

Extreme Peer-to-Peer
The classic point-to-point networking model is fundamentally flawed. If you want a piece of data from the network, you almost always need a direct connection to the data's original source—the server. That's true even if the data has already been downloaded to a device that's much closer. So often, tapping into a distant server wastes time. And if the server is unavailable, you're out of luck entirely.

With a project called Content-Centric Networking, PARC networking gurus are turning this model on its head. They're building a networking system that revolves around the data itself. Under the CCN model, you tell the server you want a particular piece of data. You broadcast a request to all the machines on the network, and if one of them has what you're looking for, it responds. It's a bit like BitTorrent, but on a grander scale. CCN can improve everything from the public Internet to your private LAN.

The Man-Made Brain
At IBM's Almaden Research Center, a team are chasing the holy grail of artificial intelligence.- they're looking to build one—neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse.

The project is particularly daunting when you consider that modern neurology has yet to explain how the brain actually works. Yes, we know the fundamentals. But we can't be sure of every biological transaction, all the way down to the cellular level. Three years into this Cognitive Computing project, Modha's team isn't just building a brain from an existing blueprint. They're helping to create the blueprint as they build. It's reverse engineering of the highest order.

What's that good for? Anything and everything.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The wide world of Sprint's WiMax

From Business 2.0 - An article on outlining plans for Sprint Nextel's upcoming USD3 billion mobile WiMAX network due later this year.

But according to OM Malik on GigaOM, Sprint is apparently rethinking its strategy. Accordingly, it is mulling one or more of these options:

1. Form a joint venture or a partnership with Clearwire.
2. Maybe spin-off the WiMAX business.
3. Attract outside partners like cable companies to co-invest in the WiMAX buildout.

Sprint has had informal talks with Time Warner Cable, its partner in a four-play offering Pivot. However, a potential sticking point is that cable providers want a guarantee that they would be able to lease access to the WiMax network at low cost to offer future broadband services.

Still, this proposal makes most sense when compared to the Clearwire option. Sprint has been hammered on the stock markets, though theprice declines have nothing to do with WiMAX. Instead, Sprint’s misfortunes are directly correlated with massive churn in its cellular customer base. Sprint Nextel’s postpaid gross additions fell 12% in Q1, and revenue grew a meager 5% - leaving investors disatisfied.

The integration problems between Sprint and Nextel are the real reason the former finds itself between a rock-and-a-hard-place. While WiMAX might seem crazy today, it may seem like a minor investment and could dramatically change the future of mobile communications.