David Kirkpatrick

July 16, 2010

Steve Jobs is slowly losing his mind

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:25 am

That’s the only explanation for his increasingly poor decision making at Apple. The iPhone 4 has a very serious — almost to the point of crippling — design flaw in the phone’s antenna that Apple engineers knew about long before the release of the product. Jobs liked the design too much to make any alterations that would address the design flaw. His decision put a sub-par high-end product on the market where it will face increasing criticism. And now he’s doubling down by possibly not issuing a recall for the faulty device. This move should cost Apple customers and a serious hit on the stock value.

From the link:

Apple engineers were aware of the risks associated with the new antenna design as early as a year ago, but Chief Executive Steve Jobs liked the design so much that Apple went ahead with its development, said another person familiar with the matter.

The electronics giant kept such a shroud of secrecy over the iPhone 4’s development that the device didn’t get the kind of real-world testing that would have exposed such problems in phones by other manufacturers, said people familiar with the matter.

And:

Apple first suggested people buy a case or hold the phone differently. A week later, it said that the problem lay in a software glitch that has been making signal reception look stronger than it is in all of its phones since the original iPhone three years ago.

The explanations, however, have only fueled the discontent, particularly after product-quality watchdog Consumer Reports challenged those assertions, saying there was a hardware problem. Since the iPhone 4 launched, Apple’s stock price has fallen more than 7%.

February 11, 2010

Big Brother …

… may well be a little electronic device in your pocket. It shouldn’t be shocking, but I never cease to be amazed at the unconstitutional power grabs the Federal government continues to attempt and take in terms of civil liberties and personal privacy. New technology is wonderful, but it is very important to track, and reign in, the long, sneaky arm of the Fed.

From the link:

If you own a cell phone, you should care about the outcome of a case scheduled to be argued in federal appeals court in Philadelphia tomorrow. It could well decide whether the government can use your cell phone to track you — even if it hasn’t shown probable cause to believe it will turn up evidence of a crime.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology will ask the court to require that the government at least show probable cause before it can track your whereabouts.

And:

There’s no question that cell phones and cell-phone records can be useful for police officers who need to track the movements of those they believe to be breaking the law. And it is important for law enforcement agents to have the tools they need to stop crimes. However, it is just as important to make sure such tools are used responsibly, in a manner that safeguards our personal privacy.

But documents obtained by the ACLU and the EFF as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show that the government takes advantage of this technology to track cell phones as extensively as possible — often without first obtaining warrants — except in states where courts step in to establish boundaries.

And here is the absolutely ridiculous government argument for retaining this right to breach your privacy:

The government has argued that “one who does not wish to disclose his movements to the government need not use a cellular telephone.” This is a startling and dismaying statement coming from the United States. The government is supposed to care about people’s privacy. It should not be forcing the nation’s 277 million cell-phone subscribers to choose between risking being tracked and going without an essential communications tool.

What’s at stake in the case is not whether it’s OK for the government to track the locations of cell phones; we agree that cell-phone tracking is lawful and appropriate in certain situations. The question is whether the government should first have to show that it has good reason to think such tracking will turn up evidence of a crime.

Update 2/13/10 — the above link and quotes are from the ACLU. Here’s the Cato Institute’s take on this issue. As with many, many public policy issues, Cato and the ACLU are in total agreement here.

February 9, 2010

Pervasive games — gaming’s future?

Maybe so. Between the revolutionary Wii system, the coming-soon no controller gestural game control and crazy proliferation of smartphone gaming apps, the gaming industry is just massive.

Looks like pervasive games may be the next big thing.

From the link:

Instead, the most exciting developments are coming from the world of mobile phones or other sensor networks where engineers are testing a new generation of games that can be played anywhere there is a mobile phone or wireless network. These games are location aware, involve multiple players, rapid physical activity and Wii-like gesturing.

So-called pervasive games generate an entirely new set of challenges–and not just for the people who play them. They must work with multiple types of input-an iPhone must be able to play against a Nexus One. They involve many players communicating rapidly, so these devices need to synchronise with each other.

November 21, 2009

Mobile phones and driving just don’t mix

Even “hands-free” cell phone use. I’ve written on this exact topic for an insurance website and cited the same studies referenced in this article. I’m not even going to comment on the inanity of doing any sort of texting while driving — sending or receiving — but anyone who has ever spoken on a cell phone when driving (a group that includes pretty much anyone who has access to a car and a mobile phone) knows there were times that you lost total awareness of something happening on the road around you, be it a traffic signal, a missed exit, a near miss on a lane change, or something else. The kicker to all the studies is research has very conclusively proven it doesn’t matter if the cell phone use is hand-held or hands-free, it is simply more dangerous — much more dangerous — than driving sans mobile device.

From the second link:

Studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for example, show that drivers are four times more likely to have an accident if they are talking on the phone — hands-free or not — while driving.

The reason, researchers say, is that drivers often become engrossed in their conversation, rather than focusing on driving, even if their hands are on the wheel. “Once a conversation begins, we don’t see a difference between hand-held and hands-free,” says Adrian Lund, president of the institute.

And from the first link, the pull quotes I chose for this web content created for an insurance aggregator client:

How dangerous is mixing driving with cell phone use?

The quick answer is pretty dangerous. The National Safety Commission released the results of a number of studies showing distractions, particularly cell phone use while driving, cause many accidents.

Here are two excerpts from the NSC alert:

“A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that almost 80 percent of motor vehicle crashes and 65% of near crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds before the event. While the study looked at all different types of driver distractions, it listed use of wireless communication devices (cell phones and PDAs) as the most common form of driver distraction”

And,

“An earlier University of Utah study showed that a 20 year old driver on a cell phone had the same reaction time as a 70 year old. Regardless of age, drivers on cell phones were 18% slower in stepping on the brakes, and 17% slower in regaining their speed after braking. They also kept a greater following distance and slower speed than drivers who were not using cell phones, which contributes to congestion on the roadways.”

Based on these statistics a number of states have banned cell phone use that isn’t hands-free when driving, many more cities and towns have passed similar bans and new cell phone related ordinances are being enacted on a regular basis. The studies into the safety of cell phone use find there is little difference in the distractions created by hands-free or hand-held conversations when driving. It goes without requiring emphasis that texting while driving is very distracting and dangerous.

November 19, 2009

We hardly knew ye …

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:52 pm

CIO.com has a slightly tongue-in-cheek article titled, “Technology We’ll Miss When it’s Gone.”

I’m going to say this particular bit of tech is, for all intent purpose, already gone:

8. Pay Phones

Every horror movie fan knows the drill: When things get dire, there’s no cell phone signal; or if there is, the battery dies within a couple of minutes (hot link: “Cell Phone Battery Explodes in the Night!“). If only Homeland Security could come up with a system of publicly accessible telephones that accepted pocket change and let citizens make calls from any street corner in America. Alas, the telephone companies have largely dismantled the country’s pay-phone system, though you may still find a few phones in an airport or subway station. Worst of all, the remaining pay-phone stations sit idle and ignored. Whatever happened to turning old phone kiosks into Wi-Fi hotspots?

November 12, 2009

News for heavy cell phone users

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:41 am

Via KurzweilAI.net — And not that great of news ….

Wireless Phones Can Affect The Brain, Swedish Study Suggests
Science Daily, Nov. 11, 2009

A study at Orebro University in Sweden indicates that mobile phones and other cordless telephones have at two biological effects on the brain: increased content of the protein transthyretin in the blood-cerebrospinal-fluid barrier (part of the brain‘s protection against outside influences), and various health symptoms reported by children and adolescents, with the connection strongest regarding headaches, asthmatic complaints, and impaired concentration.

 

Read Original Article>>

August 26, 2009

Wireless industry under the gun

Filed under: Business, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:13 pm

I won’t go all the way out to say the wireless sector regularly engages in bad business practices, but it’s pretty hard to argue the industry has been best serving the customer for, let’s say, the last 15 years.

Good luck in staring down a government with rolled-up sleeves and the political will to impose heavy regulation on offending businesses.

More regulation may not be the answer, but a bit more electronics liberation would be nice.

Check out the disingenuous quote from the CTIA veep below — wireless offerings are cheaper than 15 (fifteen!) years ago? Really? And there are services you can get today that weren’t available in 1994? Wow that progress thing is just so cool! Thanks for setting this story straight Mr. Spokesman.

From the link:

Facing an unprecedented onslaught of criticism of its pricing practices, exclusive handset deals and other moves, the wireless industry is gearing up to defend itself in hearings before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other government groups.”The wireless industry in the U.S. has the coolest handsets, the applications are more robust, and the networks have the highest speeds with the lowest pricing,” said Christopher Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs at the CTIA in an interview today. “Can things get better? Yes. But things will get better.”

The CTIA, an association of carriers, handset makers and a growing number of wireless ecosystem players like Google Inc., says it is a bit confused by the level of criticism heaped upon the industry in recent weeks. Critics have leveled a variety of complaints ranging from what they contend is a lack of wireless innovation to overcharging for monthly services, Guttman-McCabe said.

Click here to find out more!“I think it’s extremely hard to understand the criticism we’re hearing,” Guttman-McCabe said. “People pay … a hell of a lot less than they paid [for wireless services] 15 years ago, and think of what you get now that you couldn’t get then.”The CTIA is planning to carefully watch the FCC’s meeting on Thursday to consider whether to conduct three probes, or “inquiries,” into the wireless industry. The FCC will decide whether it will work to find ways to encourage wireless vendors to be more innovative, competitive and open in providing information to consumers looking to buy wireless services.

July 3, 2009

Music industry loses another toe …

… in yet another self-inflicted injury. You get the feeling the RIAA, ASCAP and other industry organizations are out to destroy commercial music. The industry has evolved, these tired dinosaurs haven’t and keep flailing about damaging everything in their path.

From the link:

A digital rights group is contesting a U.S. music industry association’s assertion that royalties are due each time a mobile phone ringtone is played in public. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) filed suit against AT&T asserting that ringtones qualify as a public performance under the Copyright Act. ASCAP, which has 350,000 members, collects royalties and licenses public performances of works under copyright.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), however, asserts that copyright law exempts performances made “without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage,” which would include a ringtone heard in a restaurant.

Click here to find out more!The organization further argued that the move by ASCAP could jeopardize consumer rights and increase costs for consumers. The EFF filed an amicus brief for the case on Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.”These wrongheaded legal claims cast a shadow over innovators who are building gadgets that help consumers get the most from their copyright privileges,” the EFF said in a blog post.

May 22, 2009

Mobile phone virus research

Something to think about in terms of future threats to our increasingly electronic and computurized lives.

The release:

Viral epidemics poised to go mobile

Scientists predict mobile phone viruses will pose a serious threat

IMAGE: This image shows the different mechanisms of virus transmission between mobile phones.

Click here for more information. 

If you own a computer, chances are you have experienced the aftermath of a nasty virus at some point. In contrast, there have been no major outbreaks of mobile phone viral infection, despite the fact that over 80 percent of Americans now use these devices. A team headed by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, director of the Center for Complex Network Research at Northeastern University, set out to explain why this is true.

The researchers used calling and mobility data from over six million anonymous mobile phone users to create a comprehensive picture of the threat mobile phone viruses pose to users. The results of this study, published in the May 22 issue of Science, indicate that a highly fragmented market share has effectively hindered outbreaks thus far. Further, their work predicts that viruses will pose a serious threat once a single mobile operating system’s market share grows sufficiently large. This event may not be far off, given the 150 percent annual growth rate of smart phones.

“We haven’t had a problem so far because only phones with operating systems, so-called ‘smart phones’, are susceptible to viral infection,” explained Marta Gonzalez, one of the authors of the publication. “Once a single operating system becomes common, we could potentially see outbreaks of epidemic proportion because a mobile phone virus can spread by two mechanisms: a Bluetooth virus can infect all Bluetooth-activated phones in a 10-30 meter radius, while Multimedia Messaging System (MMS) virus, like many computer viruses, spreads using the address book of the device. Not surprisingly, hybrid viruses, which can infect via both routes, pose the most significant danger.”

This study builds upon earlier research by the same group, which used mobile phone data to create a predictive model of human mobility patterns. The current work used this model to simulate Bluetooth virus infection scenarios, finding that Bluetooth viruses will eventually infect all susceptible handsets, but the rate is slow, being limited by human behavioral patterns. This characteristic suggests there should be sufficient time to deploy countermeasures such as antiviral software to prevent major Bluetooth outbreaks. In contrast, spread of MMS viruses is not restricted by human behavioral patterns, however spread of these types of viruses are constrained because the number of susceptible devices is currently much smaller.

As our world becomes increasingly connected we face unprecedented challenges. Studies such as this one, categorized as computational social science, are necessary to understand group behavior and organization, assess potential threats, and develop solutions to the issues faced by our ever-changing society.

“This is what statistical analysis of complex systems is all about: finding patterns in nature,” said Gonzalez. “This research is vital because it puts a huge amount of data into the service of science.”

 

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March 10, 2009

Google’s Android on the desktop?

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:53 pm

It may just end up there.

From the link:

It’s not news that Microsoft will get Windows 7 out as fast as possible this year. Vista has been a complete dog, so Microsoft will rush to deliver what is essentially a cleaned-up, lightweight version. What is news is that Google will have its own contender for desktop operating system king: Android.

Android, you ask? What would a Linux-based phone operating system be doing on the desktop? Running it, perhaps. You see, Matthäus Krzykowski and Daniel Hartmann, founders of start-up Mobile-facts, discovered late last year that Android has two product policies in its code. Product policies, they explained, are instructions in an operating system aimed at specific uses. Android’s two policies are phones and MIDs (mobile Internet devices). You probably know MIDs by their more popular name: netbooks.

The light begins to dawn, doesn’t it? But just because a program says it can do a job doesn’t mean it can actually deliver the goods. Recall, for example, just how well Vista ran on “Vista Capable” PCs.

So, Krzykowski and Hartmann decided to see if they could get Android to work on a netbook.

It took them about four hours to compile Android for an Asus’ Eee PC 1000H. Then, they reported on VentureBeat.com, “we got the netbook fully up and running on it, with nearly all of the necessary hardware you’d want — including graphics, sound and wireless card for Internet.” In other words, Android is already a desktop operating system.

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