7/30/2010

FBI backs record-keeping on prepaid cell phones

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

FBI Director Robert Mueller has endorsed anti-terrorism legislation that would require prepaid cell-phone sellers to keep records of buyers’ identities.

The bill sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would require purchasers to present identification at the point of sale.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Mueller said the bureau would be very supportive of such a reporting requirement and that it would be essential to the success of investigations.

7/27/2010

US government legalizes iPhone ‘jailbreaking,’ unlocking

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The U.S. government on Monday announced new rules that make it officially legal for iPhone owners to “jailbreak” their device and run unauthorized third-party applications. In addition, it is now acceptable to unlock any cell phone for use on multiple carriers.

According to The Associated Press, the government approved a handful of new exemptions to a federal law that prevents the circumvention of technical measure that prevent users from accessing and modifying copyrighted works. The report noted that every three years, the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office authorizes exemptions to ensure existing law does not prevent non-infringing use of copyrighted material.

In addition, another exemption was approved that would allow all cell phone users to unlock their device for use on an unapproved carrier. Currently, Apple’s iPhone is available exclusively through AT&T, but unlocking it can allow for voice calls and EDGE data speeds on rival carrier T-Mobile.

Other exemptions announced Monday allow people to break protections on video games to investigate or correct security flaws; allow college professors, film students and documentary filmmakers to break copy protection measures on DVDs to embed clips for educational purposes, criticism, commentary and noncommercial videos; and allow computer owners to bypass the need for external security devices (dongles) if the hardware no longer works and cannot be replaced.

Ask.com augments search engine with people

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Ask.com, the Internet search engine owned by IAC/InterActive Corp, is seeking some human help answering web surfers’ questions.

The company has begun testing a new service that lets users of its search engine submit questions to other Ask.com visitors, tapping into the powerful social networking trends that are increasingly gaining popularity on the Web.

The new service represents a striking shift for the company, which like most Internet search engines has long sought to distinguish itself based on the brawn of its computer algorithms.

But with only 3.6 percent share of the U.S. search market in June according to analytics firm comScore, Ask.com is looking for ways to differentiate itself from rivals Google Inc, Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp.

7/25/2010

Google admits that employees change index rankings

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

From ZDNET:

“Companies with a high page rank are in a strong position to move into new markets. By “pointing” to this new information from their existing sites they can pass on some of their existing search engine aura, guaranteeing them more prominence.

This helps companies such as AOL and Yahoo as they move into the low-cost content business, says Mr Bonnie. “They can use their Google page rank to make sure their content floats to the top,” he says.

Google’s Mr Singhal calls this the problem of “brand recognition”: where companies whose standing is based on their success in one area use this to “venture out into another class of information which they may not be as rich at”. Google uses human raters to assess the quality of individual sites in order to counter this effect, he adds.”

India unveils prototype of $35 computer

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

It looks like an iPad, only it’s 1/14th the cost: India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011.

The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, web browsing and video-conferencing. It has a solar power option too - important for India’s energy-starved hinterlands - though that add-on costs extra.

7/13/2010

Consumer Reports confirms iPhone 4 antenna problems

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Consumer Reports tested three iPhone 4s and several other AT&T phones in their RF isolation chamber that simulates varying levels of signal from every carrier, and found that the iPhone 4 was the only handset to suffer signal-loss issues.

What’s more, CR directly says that its findings call Apple’s explanation of a miscalculated signal meter into question since the tests “indicate that AT&T’s network might not be the primary suspect.” CR found that simply putting duct tape over the bottom-left corner is enough to alleviate the issue — we’re guessing that’s Jony Ive’s worst nightmare — and says that while the iPhone 4 has the “sharpest display and best video camera” of any phone it’s tested, it simply can’t recommend the device until Apple comes up with a permanent and free fix to the antenna problem.

7/8/2010

Japanese Firm Lets EVs Refill Faster Than a Gas Car

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Thanks to Japanese based JFE Engineering, you can now add half-charging your EV to the list, courtesy of its ultra-fast charge station.

Designed to comply with the CHAdeMo standard developed by Tokyo Electric Power Company, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota, the system is capable of charging a 2011 Mistubishi i-Miev from empty to 50% full in just three minutes.

Even just three minutes plugged into the fast-charge station was enough to enable a standard 2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev to travel a further 50 miles before further charging was required.

7/5/2010

Amazon.com offers new lower-priced Kindle DX

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday it is introducing a new version of its higher-end Kindle at a lower price as competition among electronic-book readers intensifies.

The new version of its Kindle DX has a better screen that will display sharper images.

The large-screen reader, which Amazon hoped would catch on as a textbook substitute at universities, has free wireless over 3G cellular networks. It will be sold for $379, about 23 percent less than the $489 Amazon charged for the previous generation of the larger Kindle DX.

Amazon also said it improved the way the Kindle DX handles PDF documents, potentially solving a major complaint among students who tested out the Kindle in a pilot program over the past academic year. The original Kindle DX didn’t allow people to zoom in closer on PDFs, leaving graphics and small print difficult to decipher.

The new device can be pre-ordered immediately and will ship on July 7.

Driving While Blind ?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Could a blind person drive a car? Researchers are trying to make that far-fetched notion a reality.

The National Federation of the Blind and Virginia Tech plan to demonstrate a prototype vehicle next year equipped with technology that helps a blind person drive a car independently.

The technology, called “nonvisual interfaces,” uses sensors to let a blind driver maneuver a car based on information transmitted to him about his surroundings: whether another car or object is nearby, in front of him or in a neighboring lane.

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