Tag Archive: wireless


Smart Gadget Sleeper Cells

Smart Gadgets are Like Sleeper Cells in Your Kitchen: Most people don’t know their gadgets can already talk to one another, and even be controlled remotely by their utility company.”

GE has been shipping appliances for the past three years that are “smart.”  Smart meaning that they are equipped with ZigBee wireless capabilities so that your appliances can communicate with each other—and more ominously, with your utility company or anyone over the Internet.  Most of the ZigBee capable appliances aren’t even labeled as such.

This is potentially a huge privacy breech.  It seems that few of these appliances communicate back… yet.

(hat tip to the blogfather)

There’s a market in Israel for “Kosher” cell phones, which purposefully lack features like text messaging, etc., among the haredi / ultra-Orthodox communities.  (See, e.g., this for details)

However, the IDF and others are trying to ensure that these phones can receive emergency messages.  They want to be sure that these messages, and only these messages get through.

(Oh, and it doesn’t mention whether or not these Kosher phones turn themselves off or refuse phone calls on the Sabbath.  I’d be interested to know that.)

In a recent court decision, VPR Internationale v. Does 1-1017 (C.D. Ill.), the court found that IP addresses do not equate to a person.

There is no real way to prove any connection between an IP address and a person, but—at best—only a physical location to which the IP address is attached.  From there it must be shown that there is a specific device at the location and a specific person using the device to prove any misdeed.

This is a high burden but a fair one.

Because of technologies such as network address translation (NAT), any number of people can share an Internet connection.  Because of Wi-Fi, someone could be using that Internet connection who is outside of the home.

In the case, Judge Baker cited to a similar matter of a raid of a home where someone had downloaded child pornography at the place where the IP address resolved.  The home was raided and no such matter was found.  It was a neighbor who was using an available Wi-Fi network to cover his tracks.

Square allows small businesses and individuals to collect credit card payments.  It works by using a small hardware dongle that connects to the headphone jack of a mobile device.  The card is then swiped through the device and payments can be collected on the spot.  It works on iPhone, iPad, and Android phones.  Customers sign the device and a receipt is e-mailed to customer.

Square charges 2.75% of every transaction, but there are no monthly or additional fees.  They are now processing more than $1,000,000 in transactions a day.

Some Links:

Square Home Page: https://squareup.com/

http://mashable.com/tag/square/

http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/03/square-ipad/

http://gigaom.com/apple/square-goes-mainstream-with-apple-store-availability/

https://twitter.com/#!/Square

Bi-Coastal iPhone Thieves

There is a rash of iPhone thieves on the streets (and subways) of New York City and Los Angeles.  In the WSJ NYC blog, Metropolis, there is this report on a 17.8% increase in subway larcenies due largely to iPhone thefts.

Meanwhile, the pseudonymous Bob Cringely, had his iPhone snatched from his belt while in Los Angeles.  Even though he had his Where is my iPhone? app, it was not to be found.  Cringely explains:

The moment it was grabbed from my belt the thief handed it to an accomplice. Within a minute the phone was powered-off and untraceable. They didn’t want my data, just my iPhone.

An iPhone 4 can go for $300 in China. They replace the SIM card, spoof the MAC address or sell it for use on a network that doesn’t care. The street price in L. A. for my phone is $100. An industrious criminal can grab several phones per day.

Good thing I have a Droid, I suppose.

Symbian Closes Its Source Code

Nokia seemed to be making the right move when it opened the source code to the Symbian operating system, which runs on a large number of cell phones and handheld devices.  So when they announced that they were closing their code, the natural question was: Why?

Nokia never reaped the benefits that they wanted from their Open Source strategy.  Nokia was hoping that by opening up the code, other hardware manufacturers and the user community would do the heavy lifting of porting the software to new hardware.

But to get other people to contribute their work, you need an advantage for them as well. What can this advantage be? For Eclipse, most of the companies developing their own integrated development environment (IDE) found it economically sensible to drop their own work and contribute to Eclipse instead. It allowed them to quickly reduce their maintenance and development costs while increasing their quality as well. The Symbian foundation should have done the same thing, but apparently missed the mark, despite having a large number of partners and members. Why?

The reason is time and focus. The Eclipse foundation had, for quite some time, basically used only IBM resources to provide support and development. In a similar way, it took WebKit (which is not quite a foundation, but follows the same basic model) more than two years before it started receiving substantial contributions[.]

(Carlo Daffara)

Also compare Symbian’s Open Source history to that of Mozilla.  After Netscape launched the Mozilla foundation it took years of effort for the critical mass to arise.  Evidently, Nokia had no interest in putting in this same level of effort.

Additionally, Symbian had a disadvantage when compared to some of these other projects. Android is open, mobile, relatively easy to port to new hardware, and increasingly ubiquitous.  Large hardware manufacturers have dumped Symbian in favor of Android.  Google understood the importance of the Open Source community and embraced it.

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