Cell Phones

Last week I was at the BookExpo trade show and a couple of dubious characters manning an outlying booth tried to sell me an ugly looking sticky thing to place on my iPhone and supposedly cut down harmful radiation. They measured the radiation coming from the iPhone on some sort of scanner and of course the needle jumped off the scale. But their device, whatever it was, made my iPhone ugly so I didn’t buy it.

I might have to track them down in the wake of what seems like a convincing study that the radiation from cell phones really is hazardous for humans. Labeling them as “possibly carcinogenic,’’ a panel of 31 WHO scientists deems them to be in the same category of harm as certain dry cleaning chemicals and pesticides.


Trying to cultivate a traveler-from-another-era aesthetic but concerned that the look is ruined every time you pull out your Blackberry? Designer Ivan Mavrovic has a line of frightening steampunk cellphones to help…








traffic_1An impressive slice of outlaw ingenuity: criminals have discovered that SIM cards used in high-tech traffic lights can be harvested and used in mobile phones to make free, untraceable, unlimited calls. Via the Guardian:

Hundreds of lights have been damaged by thieves targeting the machines’ SIM cards, which are then used to make mobile phone calls worth millions of South African rand.

More than two-thirds of 600 hi-tech lights have been affected over the past two months, according to the Johannesburg Roads Agency, causing traffic jams, accidents and frustration for motorists.

The traffic lights use sim cards, modem and use GPRS to send and receive information, a system intended to save time and manpower by alerting the road agency’s head office when any lights malfunction. According to Thulani Makhubela, a spokesman for the agency, the robberies have been “systematic and co-ordinated”, possibly by a syndicate. An internal investigation has now been launched.




Jet Blue flight attendant, Steven Slater, received time in the spotlight aboard a flight for quitting his job and exiting on an inflatable slide. However, his fifteen minutes of fame didn’t seem to be enough. In a country where fifteen minutes can be stretched into 3 seasons worth of fame, he has now decided to become a rapper. Line 2, a cell phone app that provides in-flight texting ability on airplanes that have Wi-Fi, has formed a contract with Slater. Steven Slater’s rap single, “I’m A Rapper Bitches”:



With the DVD release of Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 film The Circus, people have noticed a puzzling detail: a woman passing through the background of this scene appears to be speaking on a cellphone. Could she be a time traveler? The whole thing is even more unsettling than Chaplin’s toothbrush mustache.




Alan Mascarenhas writes on Newsweek:

It takes a lot to snap people out of apathy about Africa’s problems. But in the wake of Live Aid and Save Darfur, a new cause stands on the cusp of going mainstream. It’s the push to make major electronics companies (manufacturers of cell phones, laptops, portable music players, and cameras) disclose whether they use “conflict minerals” — the rare metals that finance civil wars and militia atrocities, most notably in Congo.

The issue of ethical sourcing has long galvanized human-rights groups. In Liberia, Angola, and Sierra Leone, the notorious trade in “blood diamonds” helped fund rebel insurgencies. In Guinea, bauxite sustains a repressive military junta. And fair-labor groups have spent decades documenting the foreign sweatshops that sometimes supply American clothing stores. Yet Congo raises especially disturbing issues for famous tech brand names that fancy themselves responsible corporate citizens.

A key mover behind the Congo campaign is the anti-genocide Enough Project: witness its clever spoof of the famous Apple commercial.


No Cell Phones!Rosa Golijan writes on Gizmodo:

We’ve discussed the legality of recording on-duty police officers in the past, but that was in the context of public streets. What if the officer you’re photographing followed you into your home — without just cause?

A man named Francisco Olvera found out what happens when he was arrested for “illegal photography” by an officer in Sealy, Texas:

Olvera says the trouble started when Alderete responded to a complaint of loud music coming from his home. In front of the home, Alderete asked Olvera to show identification and as Olvera walked into his house to get it, Alderete followed him in.

“Olvera did not believe that Alderete had the authority to enter Olvera’s residence and, therefore, took a picture of Alderete using his cell phone,” the complaint states.

Olvera claims that Alderete saw a can of beer on a kitchen counter, next to Olvera’s wallet, and immediately handcuffed him.


Via h+ magazine:

A new “Augmented Reality” app uses facial recognition software to instantly match faces viewed through an Android smartphone camera to that person’s social network profiles.

“Point your phone’s camera at someone nearby, and Recognizr measures facial features, builds a 3-D model, and sends the resulting signature to a server. If your subject has uploaded their photo and profile information, you’ll see their name and icons that link to their profiles on Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo!, Twitter, Flickr, etc., all floating around their face!”


From Reuters:

Tens of millions of Mexicans could find their cellphones disconnected this weekend if the government goes ahead with a new law meant to fight crime by forcing people to register their identities.

Advertisements on government radio and television have been urging Mexicans for weeks to register their cellphones by sending their personal details as a text message, but on Thursday 30 million lines remained unregistered as the Saturday deadline neared.

Analysts said that any related losses for Mexico’s largest wireless operator, America Movil, would be tiny relative to the company’s overall sales.

Still, America Movil, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, is urging senators to extend the deadline for implementing the law, passed a year ago to try to stop criminals from using cellphones for extortion and to negotiate ransoms in kidnappings.


Facebook FailGlad to see Facebook is on top of protecting their users’ privacy. Iljitsch van Beijnum writes on ars technica:

This past week, several users reported visiting Facebook, and, well, seeing the wrong face. Without any action on their part, a number of AT&T smartphone users found themselves logged into the popular social networking site under user accounts other than their own.

The problem was quickly attributed to “misrouting,” a term that suggests that information took a wrong turn somewhere in the network. It’s not completely impossible for individual packets flying across the network to be misdelivered — although there are multiple checksums protecting against that — but misdelivered packets will be uninvited guests at the destination computer, and thus thrown away. What apparently happened here was an unfortunate interaction of some kind between Facebook’s user authentication system and the way AT&T runs its mobile data network.


Via Magda Havas, BSc., PhD’s website:

It begins as a lump or mass on the side of the face in front of the ear, at or above the jawbone. If the growth is slow and the lump is painless it is likely to be benign (80% of cases). If the area is painful or numb (nerve paralysis) it may be malignant (20% of cases) and the prognosis is poor with average survival of 2.7 years and a 10-year survival of 14–26%. It affects between 1 to 3 people per 100,000 each year in the Western world. What I am referring to is a parotid gland tumor (PGT), also known as salivary gland tumor (SGT).

Parotid tumors have not received much attention until recently.