Tag: cell phones

Why Beekeepers May Soon Be Strapping iPhones to Their Beehives

By Patrick Morgan | February 16, 2011 6:02 pm

Do bees have a use for smartphones? Sure: Bee researchers have found a way to harness a smartphone’s accelerometer technology to predict when the queen honeybee will leave her hive–thereby allowing keepers to thwart the loss of up to half their bees.

In a phenomenon known as “swarming,” the flight of a queen honeybee can lead to the loss of half of the hive. As the queen bee makes her exit, many of the bees follow their leader–and with the departure of both its queen and half of its workers, the remaining hive is severely weakened. But if beekeepers know when the queen bee will leave, they can attract the departing bees with another, strategically positioned hive.

The art of predicting when a queen honeybee will leave has a long history. “In the spring time, many clues … demonstrate the proximity to swarming, such as the presence of more or less mature queen cells,” the researchers explain in their paper. “In spite of this the actual date and time of swarming cannot be predicted accurately…” But that was before beekeepers harnessed the power of smartphone technology.

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Android… in… Space! A Smartphone Prepares for Blast-Off

By Patrick Morgan | January 24, 2011 11:45 am

Cell phones will soon make a giant leap for mankind–right into outer space. In the coming year, British engineers from Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) plan to send a cell phone into orbit to test whether cell phones are tough enough to withstand outer space, and whether they’re powerful enough to control satellites. As the BBC reports:

“Modern smartphones are pretty amazing,” said SSTL project manager Shaun Kenyon…. “They come now with processors that can go up to 1GHz, and they have loads of flash memory…. We’re not taking it apart; we’re not gutting it; we’re not taking out the printed circuit boards and re-soldering them into our satellite – we’re flying it as is,” Mr Kenyon explained.

The jury’s still out as to what cell phone model will be the world’s first orbital smartphone–but the scientists have already decided to pick one that uses Google’s Android operating system. That software is open source, allowing the engineers to tweak the phone’s functions. Not every phone, after all, comes off the shelf with the ability to navigate a nearly 12-inch-long, GPS-equipped, pulsed-plasma thruster satellite.

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Step 1: Pee on Stick. Step 2: Ask Your Phone if You Have an STD

By Jennifer Welsh | November 9, 2010 2:28 pm

pee-phonePee-on-a-stick sexually transmitted disease tests could be making their way onto pharmacy shelves and bathroom vending machines in the UK soon. And in this system, a cell phone can take the place of a clinic doctor.

The country’s burgeoning STD problem has got doctors thinking about ways to make testing quicker, easier, and less embarrassing. One answer: A pee-on-a-stick test that could be connected to your computer or mobile phone to provide results, and treatment advice, within minutes. This has been heralded as a “pee on your phone” test, but of course it would be neater and better for your electronics if you pee first, then plug in.

If this new home testing procedure could make diagnosis and treatment of these all-too-common ailments easier, it would hopefully reduce their spread and prevalence, said Dr. Tariq Sadiq, who is leading the group developing the new testing strategies. He talked to The Guardian about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as the Brits call them:

“We need to tackle the rising epidemic of STIs, which have been going up and up and up. Britain is one of the worst [countries] in western Europe for teenage pregnancy and STIs. That there’s a major embarrassment factor here, especially among young people, makes the situation worse.”

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iPhone Alarm Bug Gave Thousands of Europeans an Excuse to Sleep in

By Jennifer Welsh | November 1, 2010 11:13 am

wakeupA glitch in the iPhone’s alarm software gave many Europeans an extra dose of sleep this morning, when their alarms went off an hour later than expected.

While the time on the phone correctly “fell backward” with Europe’s scheduled switch from daylight saving time, because of a software bug the alarm function didn’t recognize the switch, and all recurring alarms went off an hour later than intended. Frustrated iPhone users took to twitter, said the Daily Mail:

Users of Twitter were also quick to make jokes at Apple’s expense today. Garrettc wrote: ‘Daddy, do you remember where you were during the great iPhone alarm calamity of 2010?’ ‘No son, I was asleep’

Siobhan-83 wrote: ‘Ben’s iPhone alarm didn’t go off this morning, used it as an opportunity to tell him younger, newer models aren’t always the better option.’

And Jamiei said: ‘A whole hour of peace and quiet in the office this morning without any iPhone users courtesy of Apple.’

Hilariously, the bug was discovered a month ago when the exact opposite thing happened in Australia and New Zealand following their “spring forward” daylight switch–everyone got up an hour early. Apple had promised a fix to the problem then, and still claims the bug will be fixed with the release of an update (iOS4.2) in the coming weeks. But it probably won’t come out in time for the American daylight saving switch next Sunday (November 7) night.

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Everest Gets 3G Coverage; Avalanche of Tweets & Status Updates to Follow

By Jennifer Welsh | October 29, 2010 10:49 am

everestNcell, a subsidiary of the Swedish telecom company TeliaSonera, has installed a 3G data network in a Nepalese town that should reach the summit of Mount Everest. This high up, high-tech improvement will allow summit-ers to communicate with friends, family, and organizers from the top of the world.

A phone base station was set up near the town of Gorakshep at 17,000 feet above sea level, and the signal should reach to the peak about 12,000 feet above that, telecom officials said–but it hasn’t been tested yet. The service should be fast enough to allow adventurers to make video calls and surf the Internet from their phones.

Lars Nyberg, CEO of TeliaSonera, told the Associated Foreign Press how excited they were to take the mountain into the wireless internet age:

“This is a great milestone for mobile communications as the 3G high speed internet will bring faster, more affordable telecommunication services from the world’s tallest mountain,” said Lars Nyberg.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Gr8. Victorians txted 2. B4 cells.

By Joseph Calamia | August 23, 2010 4:53 pm

Queen_Victoria_1887A message from the Victorians: “I 1 der if you got that 1 I wrote 2U B4.” Helz ya, 1800s Brit10! We got it. Though they didn’t have cellphones or their 160-character limits, phrases like this one show nineteenth century English writers weren’t above an occasional stylistic shortcut.

The line comes from the poem “Essay to Miss Catharine Jay,” part of Charles Carroll Bombaugh’s 1867 Gleanings From the Harvest-Fields of Literature. The poem will appear in a forthcoming exhibit at The British Library as an example of “emblematic poetry.”

As Discovery News reports, such shortcuts appeared even before the Victorians; for example, the phrase IOU (for I owe you) originated in 1618. Txtese abbreviations appeared in literature from both sides of the Atlantic, with Americans also writing to Miss Catharine Jay, or Miss K T J.

Perhaps the proto-texts teach an important lesson: Lopping off word parts doesn’t mean you don’t have class. Another excerpt meant for Miss Catharine Jay:

But friends and foes alike D K,
As U may plainly C,
In every funeral R A,
Or Uncle’s L E G.

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Discoblog: Texting While Diving? Buoy Allows Text Messages From Submarines
Discoblog: Woman Receives First Ever PhD in Texting
Discoblog: Watch Those Thumbs Go! Champion Texter Wins $50,000
Discoblog: The New Defense Against Despotism: Text Messaging

Image: Wikimedia

Can Greasy Fingerprints on Smart Phones Give Away Passcodes?

By Joseph Calamia | August 16, 2010 11:26 am

androidThat grease trail you’ve smeared on your smart phone’s touchscreen could give away more than your lightsaber skills or virtual girlfriend’s whims: Would-be smudge attackers, a recent paper argues, could follow your finger oils as a clue to your passcode.

In the paper “Smudge Attacks on Smartphone Touchscreens,” which we first saw on Gizmodo, a team in the computer science department at the University of Pennsylvania tried to pick out grease patterns from Android phones by photographing the phones and enhancing the patterns with photo-editing software. From the paper’s introduction:

“We believe smudge attacks are a threat for three reasons. First, smudges are surprisingly persistent in time. Second, it is surprisingly difficult to incidentally obscure smudges through wiping or pocketing the device. Third and finally, collecting and analyzing oil residue smudges can be done with readily-available equipment such as a camera and a computer.”

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Science Explains: Why Overheard Cell Phone Conversations Are So Annoying

By Joseph Calamia | May 21, 2010 1:06 pm

halfalogueHow many yakking people does it take to drive you freaking nuts? Not two. Not three. Researchers say it only takes one–if they’re talking to someone else you can’t hear.

Cornell University scientists monitored how well 41 college students could perform concentration exercises (like tracking moving dots on a computer screen) in different listening environments.

They compared their skills while working in silence to working while listening to a monologue, a conversation between two people, or a half conversation—called a “halfalogue.” In a paper to appear in Psychological Science, they say that this last case, listening to only one side of a conversation, was the most distracting. Read More

MORE ABOUT: cell phones, language

The Saga of the Lost iPhone May End With Criminal Charges

By Eliza Strickland | April 26, 2010 12:30 pm

iphoneAs everyone in the tech-savvy world knows, Gizmodo scored a major media coup earlier this month when it obtained a prototype of Apple’s next-generation iPhone  4. The fancy piece of hardware had been left behind in a bar by a hapless Apple engineer (his last Facebook post before his fateful memory lapse: “I underestimated how good German beer is”), and Gizmodo paid $5,000 to the person who found the phone.

Apple officially reclaimed its phone last week, but that may not be the end of the story. Now reports have surfaced that Silicon Valley police are investigating the incident, as purchasing the lost property may have violated criminal statutes.

CNET heard it from an a law enforcement official:

Apple has spoken to local police about the incident and the investigation is believed to be headed by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, the source said.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

OMG! Study Sez Teen Textng's Totally Up :0

By Smriti Rao | April 20, 2010 4:28 pm

TextingIn today’s not-shocking news, researchers have determined that teenagers like to text–a lot.

The new study by the Pew Center shows that the mobile phone has become the preferred mode of communication for American teens, with one in three teens sending more than 100 texts a day. Also in the category of not-shocking, the researchers found that older teenage girls are the most enthusiastic texters.

Some of the key findings:

  • The study points out that cell phone ownership among 12- to 17-year-olds has spiked, going up from 45 percent in 2004 to 75 percent this year.
  • With cell phones at their disposal, the teens were also more likely to text than call, although the majority still turned to an old-fashioned phone call when it came time to communicate with mom and dad.
  • Half of the teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three sends more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month.
  • Older girls who text are the most active, with 14- to 17-year-old girls typically sending 100 or more messages a day or more than 3,000 texts a month.

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