David Kirkpatrick

February 26, 2011

Something to ponder …

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:31 pm

… while spending half the day on the cell.

It’s doing something.

From the link:

Radiation from a mobile phone call can make brain regions near the device burn more energy, according to a new study.

Cellphones emit ultra-high-frequency radio waves during calls and data transfers, and some researchers have suspected this radiation — albeit inconclusively — of being linked to long-term health risks like brain cancer. The new brain-scan-based work, to be published Feb. 23 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows radiation emitted from a cellphone’s antenna during a call makes nearby brain tissue use 7 percent more energy.


Image: “A bottom-of-the-brain view showing average use of radioactive glucose in the brains of 47 subjects exposed to a 50-minute phone call on the right side of their head,” – Nora Volkow, JAMA

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

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August 26, 2010

Makin’ phone calls with Gmail

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:58 am

Gmail gets deeper into telephony with the ability to make calls to landlines and cell phones.

From the link:

Google is shaping Gmail into the ultimate communications hub. Today, the companyannounced that United States users will be able to make and receive calls within Gmail, providing they install the company’s voice and video plug-in.

Users could already call and video chat with other Gmail users, but the new features allow them to call landlines and cellphones. Google says that calls to phones within the U.S. and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year, and calls to many other countries will cost 2 cents a minute.

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.

December 3, 2009

Cell phones and brain cancer

Maybe there isn’t too much to worry about after all. Lots of frightening real and virtual ink has been spilled on the topic of cell phone usage and brain tumors. Looks like current research isn’t seeing a problem there. Of course brain cancer is not the only medical worry with cell phone usage.

From the first link, the release:

No change in brain tumor incidence during a time when cell phone usage increased

There was no substantial change in brain tumor incidence among adults 5 to 10 years after cell phone usage sharply increased, according to a new brief communication published online December 3 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Although cell phone use has been proposed as a risk factor for brain tumors, a biological mechanism to explain this association is not known.

Isabelle Deltour, Ph.D., of the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, in Copenhagen, and colleagues analyzed annual incidence rates of glioma and meningioma among adults aged 20󈞻 years from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Researchers identified 60,000 patients who were diagnosed with these types of brain tumors between 1974 and 2003.

The researchers found that incidence rates over this 30 year-period were stable, decreased, or continued a gradual increase that started before the introduction of cell phones. They also found no change in incidence trends in brain tumors from 1998 to 2003. The authors say this finding may be due to one of several reasons: that the induction period relating cell phone use to brain tumors exceeds 5󈝶 years; that the increased risk in this population is too small to be observed; that the increased risk is restricted to subgroups of brain tumors or cell phone users; or that there is no increased risk.

The authors did not assess cell phone usage at the individual level during this time period, only brain tumor incidence.

“Because of the high prevalence of mobile phone exposure in this population and worldwide, longer follow-up of time trends in brain tumor incidence rates are warranted,” the authors write.

Note:

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute. Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage.

Visit JNCI online at http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org and the JNCI

For the latest cancer news and studies, follow us on Twitter @JNCI_Now

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>>

November 6, 2009

Texting and driving just don’t mix — even hands-free

An interesting blog post from Dan Ariely, a visiting professor at MIT’s Media Library on the “tiny irregularities” of texting while driving:

Sad story out in the New York Times describing growing concerns about texting while driving. In Britain, a woman was sentenced to a 21-month sentence after it was found that she had been texting while driving, which resulted in the death of a 24-year old design student. In many ways, texting while driving illustrates a case in which tiny, individual irrational decisions can accumulate and cause widespread suffering, not only for the individuals who are texting, but their unsuspecting victims. Unlike cases of drunk driving, in which the driver’s decision making abilities are impaired, drivers who text are at their full wits to wait until they’ve pulled over to check their texts, and yet in the process they routinely underestimate the risk they impose to themselves and others.

The professor was quite wrong, however, on one aspect of the issue:

… we can hope that cell phone companies are continuing to explore voice activation technologies that can read text messages aloud and also transcribe them from voice — thereby by-passing the problem altogether.

In researching web content I created for an insurance website, I came across this research that finds hands-free listening  to mobile devices is not much safer than hands-on cell phone use because the issue is the distraction of the usage, not merely taking eyes off the road ahead (all bold text my emphasis):

Five states currently ban the use of hand-held cell phones in favor of hands-free devices while driving. However, several studies have shown that there is little difference between the two when it comes to minding the road ahead. Both hand-held and hands-free devices involve listening. The act of listening is what distracts drivers from paying attention to the road. A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University placed participants in a functional MRI scanner that allowed researchers to observe brain activity while the subjects “drove” on a computerized roadway. Without distractions, the area of the brain that lit up most was the area involved in spatial perception (knowing where you are and what’s around you). When the same subjects were tasked with listening to and correctly answering a series of questions as they drove, the area of the brain that lit up most was the area involving language comprehension, while activity in the spatial perception area of the brain decreased by as much as 37 percent. Multitasking places high demands on the brain.

August 17, 2009

Cell phones, safety and your auto insurance rates

Information from WeCompareInsurance.com:

Cell Phones, Safe Driving and Auto Insurance 

Automobile insurance is vital if you drive a vehicle, in fact a certain level of liability car insurance is likely required in the state the car is registered. Auto insurance is also a great place to save money because it comes in so many types and levels of coverage. One way to save car insurance money is to drive safely and avoid accidents. The subject of cell phone use and automotive safety gets a lot of attention, but the fact is driving and cell phone use just don’t go together.

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.

To keep a safe driving record, avoid accidents and continue saving money with your auto insurance it’s best to pull over for any cell phone conversations when you are in your car.

Did You Know? Using a cell phone gives a 20-year-old the reactions of a 70-year-old.

Takeaways:

  1. Cell phone use while driving – hand-held talking, hand-free conversation and texting – is dangerous and distracting.
  2. Using a cell phone when driving affects many driving skills, including reaction time.
  3. Cell phone use is the most common form of driver distraction.

An independent online resource is the fastest and easiest way to have auto insurance providers competes for your business. Click here if you are ready to start comparing auto insurance quotes from multiple providers.

December 19, 2008

Nanotech transistor from IBM to improve cell phone

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

I’ve done some recent blogging on nanotech transistors (this post is on the very subject of the post you’re reading) and it looks like IBM has something gearing up for market-ready to improve cell phone range and battery life.

From the second link:

Researchers at the company are using nanotechnology to build a future generation of wireless transceivers that are much more sensitive than the ones found in phones today. They’ll also be made with a less expensive material, according to IBM. The catch is that the new chips probably won’t make it into consumers’ hands for another five or ten years.

The scientists, sponsored by DARPA (the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), have built prototype transistors with the new material, called graphene. It is a form of graphite that consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern. Graphene’s structure allows electrons to travel through it very quickly and gives it greater efficiency than existing transceiver chip materials, said Yu-Ming Lin, a research staff member at IBM in Yorktown Heights, New York. The project is part of DARPA’s CERA (Carbon Electronics for radio-frequency applications) program.