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iPhone-Tech firms aim to keep wayward walkers on path

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Todd Atwood says he doesn’t worry too much about accidents when walking down the street using his iPhone to make calls, send text messages or check his e-mail.

But he’s seen the consequences of paying more attention to the gadget than what’s ahead.

“I saw someone walk right into a sign,” recalled the 32-year-old Silicon Valley resident. “She didn’t hurt herself but she was startled. She dropped her phone, then her friends starting laughing at her. It was funny but I guess it could’ve been more serious.”

While using a cell phone while driving has triggered the most alarm bells and prompted laws in several states, experts say, pedestrians are also suffering the consequences of mobile distraction — tripping on curbs, walking into traffic, even stepping into manholes as they chat or type while walking.

To help these sidewalk stumblers step out more safely, technology companies are now stepping in, creating applications that do everything from make a smartphone screen transparent to transform speech into text.

Whether the technologies will prevent injuries and embarrassment remains to be seen, they are being welcomed as a move in the right direction.

“I don’t think we’re going to eliminate people from walking into things outright and of course we want people to be responsible, but what we’re trying to do is eliminate the friction point … and give the user back a little mental bandwith,” said Travis Bogard, the executive director for product management and strategy at San Francisco-based Aliph, which makes bluetooth earpieces.

Aliph’s Jawbone earpiece incorporates voice-to-text technology which eliminates the need to glance down at the keypad to send an e-mail or text message. It also has caller ID that speaks to the wearer so he or she doesn’t have to pick up the phone to see who is calling and a function that allows wearers to call up their contacts using their voice rather than fingers.

“All of this gets rid of the need to touch your phone, which causes your eyes to move away from what’s in front of you,” Bogard said.

Other programs also on the market aim to make it easier to type while walking. They tap into a smartphone’s camera to beam an image of what’s in front of the user over the message screen so typers can see what’sahead. They include Text Vision, Type n Walk and Email ‘n Walk.

“See-through screens, yes, would solve part of the problem,” said Clifford Nass, a professor of communications at Stanford University and one of the authors of a study on multitasking. “But there’s still a second problem, which has to do with engagement of the brain.”

Same goes with voice-to-text technology, Nass said.

“It can help a little bit but the fundamental problem is that we’re stuck with brains that can’t do all that much when we’re doing other things,” he said.

Two years ago, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued an alert warning of the dangers of text messaging while walking, driving, biking and in-line skating based on anecdotal evidence from physicians.

Manhattan physician Mark Melrose said he’s seen his share of near-misses on the city’s busy sidewalks and heard of bad accidents.

“A personal friend almost walked right into a manhole while looking at her phone,” he said. “Another friend was actually run over by a bike messenger. She wasn’t paying attention, walked into the street and the bike messenger walloped her.”

An Ohio State University analysis found that for the past few years, the number of emergency room visits resulting from pedestrian cell phone accidents has doubled year-on-year. The study showed that in 2008, just over 1,000pedestrians visited emergency rooms for injuries like walking into a pole while texting or spraining an ankle after falling down while talking on a cell phone.

Jack Nasar, a professor of city and regional planning who supervised the study by his graduate student, Derek Troyer, said there were likely even more accidents that were never reported because people won’t admit that’s how they were injured or the injuries didn’t warrant a hospital visit.

“The bottom line is that you’re phased out, less aware when you’re looking at a phone,” he said.

Peter Loeb, an economist at Rutgers University who studied the effect of cell phones on pedestrian fatalities, said cell phones can actually keep people safer because they get ambulances to the scene faster.

But, his study also concluded that once a certain number of phones exist in the market, the benefit disappears.

“As more and more people use cell phones, the distraction effect is overwhelming,” Loeb said.

Exacerbating that is texting, which has grown exponentially in recent years. The wireless industry association CTIA reported that the number of text messages sent by its members’ customers increased from 32.6 billion in the first six months of 2005 to 740 billion in the first six months of 2009.

At least two states, New York and Illinois, have considered laws limiting the use of personal electronic devices by pedestrians but no bills have been passed.

Most lawmakers and experts agree that Big Brothering the sidewalks is impractical. They instead encourage public outreach and see promise in the technological innovations, including ones that don’t involve phones themselves, such as special crosswalk lights to grab walkers’ attention better.

“For pedestrians, it’s primarily themselves that they put at risk, not others, so that does separate this from driving,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, who sponsored California’s hands-free driving law. “At some point, however, we do have to accept personal responsibility.”

Read more via: http://www.ushour.com/tech-firms-aim-to-keep-wayward-walkers-on-path/

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Filed under: Mobile Technology, New Ideas, New Invention, Technology,

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

Starbucks is offering free Wi-Fi to all customers, at every location, starting today. Whether you’re clicking connect on Starbucks’ Wi-Fi or some other unsecured, public Wi-Fi network, here’s how to stay safe and secure while surfing a public hotspot.

Just because most wireless routers have a firewall to protect you from the internet doesn’t mean you’re protected from others connected to the same network. Lots of wireless hotspots these days are completely unencrypted, usually so they’re easier to connect to (baristas don’t need to be giving out the internet password to everyone that walks in). However, this leaves you unprotected against malicious users in the same coffee shop, so there are a few settings you should always make sure to tweak when you’re connected to a public network. We’re going to show you which settings are the most important ones, as well as how to automatically change your settings to the appropriate level of security every time you connect to a public network.

The Settings

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

1. Turn Off Sharing

When you’re at home, you may share files, printers, or even allow remote login from other computers on your network. When you’re on a public network, you’ll want to turn these things off, as anyone can access them—they don’t even need to be a hacker, and depending on your setup, some of that stuff probably isn’t even password protected. Here’s how to turn off sharing:

In Windows: Open your Control Panel, then browse to Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center, then click Choose Homegroup and Sharing Options -> Change Advanced Sharing Settings. Once here, you should definitely turn off file and printer sharing, and you may as well turn off network discovery and Public folder sharing. Some of this is done automatically by Windows if you specify the network as public (more on this later).

In Mac OS X: Go to System Preferences -> Sharing and make sure all the boxes are unchecked.

You’ll also want to turn off network discovery, which will be in the same place. This will prevent others from even seeing your machine on the network, meaning you’re less likely to be targeted. On Windows (as I mentioned), it’s just another check box under advanced sharing settings. On OS X, it will be called “stealth mode” and be under your firewall’s advanced settings (see below).

2. Enable Your Firewall

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks


Most OSes come with at least a basic firewall nowadays, and it’s a simple step to keeping unwanted local users from poking at your computer. You may already be using a firewall, but just in case, go into your security settings (in Windows under Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Firewall; and on Mac under System Preferences -> Security -> Firewall) and make sure your firewall is turned on. You can also edit which applications are allowed access by clicking on “allow a program or feature” in Windows and “advanced” in OS X. Your firewall
is not an end-all, be-all protector, but it’s always a good idea to make sure it’s turned on.

3. Use SSL Whenever Possible

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
Regular web site connections over HTTP exchange lots of plain text over the wireless network you’re connected to, and someone with the right skills and bad intent can sniff out that traffic. It’s not that big of a deal when the text is some search terms you entered at Lifehacker, but it is a big deal when it’s the password to your email account. Using HTTPS (for visiting web sites) or enabling SSL (when using applications that access the internet, such as a mail client) encrypts the data passed back and forth between your computer and that web server and keep it away from prying eyes.

Some sites will do it automatically, but keep an eye on the address bar and make sure the “s” in “https” is always there when you’re exchanging sensitive information. If it disappears, you should log out immediately. Note that if the sensitive browsing can wait, you might as well just do it at home—no reason in risking more than you have to. Other sites will default to HTTP connections, but support HTTPS if you manually type it in. Gmail, for example, will allow you to log in using HTTPS, and you can specify in your Gmail Settings whether you want it to use HTTPS automatically in the future. (Go to Settings, find the Browser connection setting, and set to Always use https.)

If you access your email from a desktop client such as Outlook or Mail.app, You’ll want to make sure that your accounts are SSL encrypted in their settings. If not, people could not only theoretically read your emails, but also get your usernames, passwords, or anything else they wanted. You’ll need to make sure your domain supports it, and sometimes the setup might require different settings or ports—it’s not just a matter of checking the “use SSL” box—so check your email account’s help page for more details. If it doesn’t support SSL, make sure you quit the application when you’re on an insecure public network..

4. Consider Using a Virtual Private Network

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks


Unfortunately, not all sites offer SSL encryption. Other search engines and email providers may still be vulnerable to people watching your activity, so if you use one of these sites frequently (or really just want the extra protection), you may want to try using a VPN, or virtual private network. These services let you route all your activity through a separate secure, private network, thus giving you the security of a private network even though you’re on a public one. We’ve detailed
how to set up a VPN with Hamachi, though there are a number of great services—check out our Hive Five for best VPN tools for more ideas. If all that’s a bit too complicated, you can always go with previously mentioned Hotspot Shield, which is a fairly popular app that will run in the background and set up the VPN automatically.

5. Turn It Off When You’re Not Using It

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
If you want to guarantee your security and you’re not actively using the internet, simply turn off your Wi-Fi. This is extremely easy in both Mac and Windows. On a Mac, just click the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar and select the turn off AirPort option. On Windows, you can just right-click on the wireless icon in the taskbar to turn it off. Again, this isn’t all that useful if you need the internet, but when you’re not actively using it, it’s not a bad idea to just turn it off for the time being. The longer you stay connected, the longer people have to notice you’re there and start snooping around.

How to Automate Your Public Wi-Fi Security Settings

You don’t want to have to manually adjust all of these settings every single time you go back and forth between the coffee shop and your secure home network. Luckily, there are a few ways to automate the process so you automatically get extra protection when connected to a public Wi-Fi network.

On Windows

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
When you first connect to any given network on Windows, you’ll be asked whether you’re connecting to a network at your home, work, or if it’s public. Each of these choices will flip the switch on a preset list of settings. The public setting, naturally, will give you the most security. You can customize what each of the presets entails by opening your Control Panel and navigating to Network and Sharing Center -> Advanced Sharing Settings. From there, you can turn network discovery, file sharing, public folder sharing, media streaming, and other options on or off for the different profiles.

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

That’s a good start, but what if you want a bit more control? Previously mentioned NetSetManis a great program to customize your network profiles for different networks; you choose your IP address, DNS server, or even run scripts (opening the window for pretty much any action) every time you connect to one of your preset networks.

On OS X

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
On OS X, you don’t have a lot of options for automating your network preferences, but
previously mentioned Airport Location will do everything you could possibly want and more. With it, you can turn on your firewall, turn off SMTP mail, connect to a VPN, and a whole lot more, all depending on the network you’ve connected to. Heck, you can even change your desktop background for each given network, as well as run Applescripts for those functions that just aren’t built in to the app.

In Your Browser

How to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks
The
previously mentioned HTTPS Everywhere Firefox extension automatically chooses the secure HTTPS option for a bunch of popular web sites, including the New York Times, Twitter, Facebook, Google Search, and others, ensuring secure HTTPS connections to any supported web site, every time you visit. You can even add your own to their XML config file. Note that as a Firefox extension, this works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Consider a Safety-First Approach

If you’re a real road warrior, you may find yourself adding so many profiles that automating your safe settings at every step along the way may seem like a lot of work. While most chains like Starbucks or McDonald’s should have the same names for each of their Wi-Fi networks (and thus your profiles will carry over), an better approach may be to make your more secure settings the default for your system, and create just one profile for your home network. Thus, by default, file sharing would be turned off, your firewall would be at its most secure state, and so on—then, when you return home to your protected network, you can have Airport Location or NetSetMan turn your less secure settings on.


This isn’t all-encompassing by any means, but should give you a good quick checklist of things you should do every time you connect to a public network. There are certainly a number of other things you could do (such as setting up a SOCKS proxy over SSH), but these steps will take you a long way on the road to security when you’re browsing on those public hotspots. Of course, some of you already have your own public browsing routines, so be sure to share your safe networking tips in the comments.

Send an email to Whitson Gordon, the author of this post, at whitson@lifehacker.com.


Read more via: http://lifehacker.com/5576927/how-to-stay-safe-on-public-wi+fi-networks?skyline=true&s=i

Filed under: Computer Matters, Internet Security, Mobile Technology, Technology,

Globe & Mobily launch 1st Kababayan SIM for OFWs in Saudi

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) can expect to pay lower rates for calls and text messages to family and friends in the Philippines on the back of the recently-inked partnership between Globe Telecom and Saudi Arabia-based mobile operator Mobily. The latter is Saudi Arabia ’s second largest mobile operator with a market share of about 40%. It is the brand carried by Saudi elecom firm Etihad Etisalat.

Mobily partnered with Globe to launch the Mabuhay Kababayan Prepaid SIM, a new service that gives Mobily subscribers special rates for calls and text messages to the Philippines . With the Mobily Mabuhay Kababayan Prepaid SIM, calls to Globe, Tattoo and TM in the Philippines will be charged 99 halala (0.99 Saudi Riyal or about P12.01) per minute, and 30 halala (0.30 Saudi Riyal or about P3.66) per text message.

“We value the hard work and sacrifices of our OFWs and we know how important it is for them to stay in touch with the loved-ones back in the Philippines . You can expect a lot more from this major partnership with Mobily,” said Kimmie Moreno, Marketing Head for Overseas Filipino Communities (International) at Globe.

“We have partnered with a reputable telecommunication company like Mobily to allow our kabababayans in Saudi to keep in touch with friends and family at reduced rates, giving them more talk time. This is a key milestone for Globe since this is the first of such partnership in the Middle East,” said Rychie Albert, Globe’s International Business Development Head for Middle East and Europe .

There are an estimated 1.1-Million Filipinos living and working in Saudi Arabia.

Filed under: Kwentong OFW, Mobile Technology, OFW Corner,

Apple iPhone 4 – 32GB – black


Product summary

THE GOOD: The iPhone 4 offers enhanced performance, a lovely new display, and an improved design. It also adds a ton of sorely needed features, both by itself and through the iOS 4 update.

THE BAD: Multitasking entails some trade-offs, and home screen folders are limited to 12 apps. AT&T reception continues to be spotty.

THE BOTTOM LINE: With iPhone 4, Apple again shows that it is a powerful player in the smartphone wars. It won’t be for everyone, and AT&T remains a sticking point, but the handset’s striking design, loaded feature set, and satisfying performance make it the best iPhone yet.


Read more  via: http://reviews.cnet.com/smartphones/apple-iphone-4-32gb/4505-6452_7-34117595.html?tag=nl.e404

Filed under: Innovation, Mobile Technology,

8 million Filipinos now using mobile banking — BSP

Over eight million Filipinos are now using mobile banking services in the country, which the central bank says would boost more efficient financial services in rural and other hard-to-reach areas at relatively lower costs.

BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said there are now 49 rural banks offering mobile banking from none before 2005.

These eight million users use the electronic money (e-money) services of major telecommunications companies Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, which offer Smart Money and G-Cash, respectively, BSP said.

These allow mobile subscribers, particularly those without bank accounts, to deposit, transfer, and withdraw money from one e-money account to another in the telecom company’s business centers nationwide.

Espenilla noted that the Philippines has been recognized by international organizations for its microfinance initiatives and is considered as the leading pioneer in mobile banking solutions for the poor.

Some banks even lowered interest rates on microfinance loans for clients who use text-a-payment platform by 50 basis points on monthly rates, Espenilla added.

“Technology extends outreach of microfinance and banking services to a large number of bankable but un-banked especially those in rural and hard to reach areas at lower costs and higher efficiency,” he said.

He explained that the mobile phone industry in the Philippines serves all income groups especially low income groups and more than 75 percent of the population have mobile phones.

Electronic transactions, which involve the payment of purchased goods and services, could also be used for remittances from Filipinos abroad, Espenilla noted.

“The amount of e-money transactions is already huge, and we expect it to grow further,” the BSP official added.

The BSP said it has ordered firms offering e-money services to register with the central bank as an electronic money issuer (EMI).

These could include banks, non-bank financial institutions, and money transfer agents. Those qualified as EMI include stock corporations with a minimum paid-up capital of P100 million.

E-money is also not considered a bank deposit and is not covered by the deposit insurance provided by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC).

The guidelines also limit the maximum amount that can be loaded to any e-money instrument to P100,000 a month. — OMG, GMANews.TV

By GMANews.TV


Via: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/193856/8-million-filipinos-now-using-mobile-banking-bsp

Filed under: Bank Services, Business, Mobile Technology, Sorsogon News Updates

Phones running hot after radiation warnings

LOS ANGELES: San Francisco is set to require mobile phone makers to warn customers that the gadgets are bathing them in radiation.

The city’s Board of Supervisors has approved the unprecedented law in a 10-to-1 vote, and it is expected to be signed by the mayor, Gavin Newsom, who has endorsed the measure.

The law requires makers of mobile phones to display in stores details of the levels of radiation emitted by different handsets in the same way that restaurants show the number of calories in food and drinks.Failure to comply will incur a $US300 ($347) fine.

In particular, shoppers must be shown estimates of how much of the radio wave radiation from each mobile phone model is absorbed into the body of the person using it.

If signed by Mr Newsom, the law would take effect early next year and be the first of its kind in the US.

San Francisco, one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the US, was also the first big city in the country to ban plastic bags in supermarkets.

Sophie Maxwell, the local politician who introduced the mobile phone law, said it was intended to ”help people make informed choices”.

But opponents within the mobile phone industry said it would mislead customers into believing some mobile phones are safer than others.

They argue that safety is already ensured by the regulator, the Federal Communications Commission, which imposes a maximum specific absorption rate of 1.6 watts a kilogram on all phones sold in the US.

The debate over the health dangers of mobile phones remains unresolved.

A $US24 million United Nations study released last month was considered inconclusive. Its authors said because cancers can take decades to develop there was no way to estimate the risk.

Agence France-Presse; Telegraph, London

Via: http://www.smh.com.au/world/phones-running-hot-after-radiation-warnings-20100617-yjt3.html

Filed under: Mobile Technology, New Ideas,

Study on Cell Phone Link to Cancer Inconclusive

As mobile phones began to increase in popularity, concerns arose that long-term cell phone could cause brain tumors. But a major, decade-long international study which researchers hoped would settle the issue has instead proved inconclusive.

According to The Associated Press, a 10-year survey of almost 13,000 participants found most cell phone use did not increase users’ risk of developing meningioma, a common and frequently benign tumor, or glioma, a rarer but deadlier form of cancer.

The study, conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, found that there were “suggestions” that using cell phones for more than 30 minutes each day could increase the risk of glioma, the APreported. But the authors added that “biases and error prevent a causal interpretation” that would directly blame cell phone radiation for the tumor.

Cell phones carry radio waves that are similar to those of microwave ovens, but there is no support for the claim that these waves have negative effects on the body.

Researchers also admitted that cell phone use has greatly increased in the decade since the study began, possibly skewing the numbers.

“The users in the study were light users compared to today,” Professor Elisabeth Cardis of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Critics of the study also argue that its creators ignored several important factors, including the slow growth rate of brain tumors, which could take up to 25 years to form.

Creators of the study plan to release a comprehensive overview of available research within two years. Researchers are also looking to see if cell phones increase the development of cancerous tumors in the ear’s acoustic nerve. Another study will also examine cell phone’s affects on children, who many believe are more susceptible to radiation.

“Until stronger conclusions can be drawn one way or another it may be reasonable to reduce one’s exposure,” Cardis told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “One way to do this would be to make calls using a hands-free device.”

By AFRO Staff

Source: http://www.afro.com/sections/news/afro_briefs/story.htm?storyid=1418

Filed under: Computer Matters, Mobile Technology, Scientific Study, , ,

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