Tag Archives: SMS

PTJ 90: Court Cases and Fiber Races

El Kaiser has a new toy and he can’t wait to tell you all about it. This week he reviews the Mont Blanc E12 portable headphone amplifier from FiiO.  Let’s face it, ebooks are here to stay. J.D. fills us in on how to make margin notes and highlight our favorite passages on all the popular digital book readers.

In the news the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in  American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo; Lytro unveils a new camera; Rumors circulate that an Amazon smartphone will sport a radical new UI; Comcast reports its subscriber numbers are up; AT&T wants to beat Google in the Fiber Race; the AOL mail site is hacked; and Apple announces it plans to power all of its stores, data centers and offices with renewable energy sources.

PTJ 90 News: Now With More Fiber

The Supreme Court heard the legal arguments in American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo this week, a case that pits traditional over-the-air broadcast television companies against the feisty TV-streaming start-up with the wee antenna farms. Legal eagles and advocacy groups are watching closely and everyone  awaits the Court’s decision, which is expected by June.

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Creative types have some new outlets for expression. Serious photographers are buzzing about the new camera from Lytro and the Blurb service has made it easier for photographers and other visual artists to sell their works directly on Amazon.

And on the subject of Amazon, Bloomberg News is reporting on a study that shows Amazon’s sales numbers are down in states that collect online sales tax. (About 20 states currently tax Amazon purchases.)  Perhaps the company can make up the loss in spectacular smartphone sales. The Boy Genius Report site has more details on what it claims to be Amazon’s upcoming handset, including tilting gestures for control and navigation. (Could the smartphone UI paradigm be tilting — or maybe even shifting — as well?)

Even before its planned merger with Time Warner Cable, Comcast continues to get larger. The company reported that its subscriber numbers were up for the second straight quarter, adding 24,000 new customers.

Comcast’s increasing size is what is driving monopoly fears in some people about the Time Warner Cable acquisition, and Netflix is one of the more recent companies to come out and voice its opposition to the pending deal. In a letter to its shareholders this week, Netflix said that with the decline of DSL in the broadband space, a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have more than 60 percent of the broadband in US households.  Comcast quickly put up a response to Netflix on its website, claiming that “Netflix’s opposition to our Time Warner Cable transaction is based on inaccurate claims and arguments.” (Also mentioned in that Netflix shareholder letter: prices for new subscribers are about to get higher. )

Google has been making noise about bringing superfast Internet fiber to 34 cities in nine major metropolitan areas, but now AT&T is jumping into the game and says it’s considering adding its own fast fiber to 100 cities in 21 major metro areas. Nothing has been built yet, but AT&T is at least talking about it.

Google has other things on its plate besides fast fiber. The company has combined SMS text and Hangout chats into the same conversation so everything’s all in the same place. That’s new with the Hangouts 2.1 app for Android. The Venturebeat site quotes sources at The Goog who say the company is looking into ways to make end-to-end encryption tools like PGP easier to use with Gmail so that users can keep their mail locked up against prying eyes from the government or otherwise.

AOHellIf you abandoned an old AOL mail account for Gmail back in the day — or even if you still use AOL — you may see messages from your old address spewing spam across the Internet this week. The AOL Mail site was hacked over the weekend and spoofed accounts are sending phishing mail to addresses on AOL contacts lists. AOL has confirmed the hacking and said accounts had also been spoofed by spammers.

And finally, it was Earth Day this week, and Apple took the opportunity to announce that it has free recycling for all used Apple products and says it plans to power all of its stores, data centers and offices with renewable energy sources. The company’s redesigned Environmental Responsibility site has a video clip narrated by CEO Tim Cook that outlines Apple’s approach to green living. Critics of Apple’s approach point out that the company video neglects to mention that most of its products are built in China and that many Apple products are difficult to repair, especially for the do-it-yourself crowd who strives to keep old gear functioning and out of landfills. Hopefully, the Mighty Oak of Sustainability will one day grow out of Apple’s Acorn of 2014 Environmental Promises — or at least they’ll start designing gear with long-lasting batteries that are easy to replace and recycle.

Episode 27: That New Tablet Smell…

El Kaiser unboxes a new addition to his tablet arsenal, Google (and Samsung’s) Nexus 10, and J.D. gives us her first impressions of Apple’s redesign of their iTunes media player and media library application. In the news, tech companies concerned over International Telecommunications Union’s reworking of a telecom treaty that may negatively impact Internet freedom, thousands of Tumblr accounts are hacked, and the text message is finally out of its awkward teen years.

Episode 27 News: OMG!

As the International Telecommunications Union works to update to update a telecom treaty, representatives from companies like Google and Mozilla are among those voicing objections to the closed-door treaty process—and what more government control might do to Internet freedom around the world. The ITU, however, says it affirms the right to freedom of information online.

Google also found time to launch a new version of its Maps API and update the Gmail app for Android to version 4.2.1. The standalone Gmaill app for iPhone and iPad also got a redesign. Meanwhile, Apple finally delivered iTunes 11.

Also this week, Yahoo acquired a startup company called OnTheAir and Tumblr acquired a nasty worm. Oh, and Nexflix acquired a new deal with Disney.

If you like gaming on the big screen, Valve’s Big Picture mode is out of beta. If you like video on the small screen and used Verizon’s V Cast service…be prepared to say goodbye, as Verizon plans to shut it down. V Cast joins The Daily, News Corp’s designed-for-the-iPad electronic newspaper, in the digital dustbin on December 15th.

In NASA news, the Mars Curiosity rover is down in the dirt, while Voyager 1 is headed out on the magnetic highway— hopefully with the windows rolled down and Steppenwolf  shredding the stereo.

Happy 20th birthday to text messages! The handy short communication form hit the big 2-0 on Monday and will be old enough to buy its own beer next year. And who knew the popular SMS shorthand “OMG” was at least 95 years old and once showed up in an epistolary exchange with Sir Winston Churchill?

Episode 24 News: Cautionary Tales

Who’d have thought Gmail drafts and online privacy would be tangled up in the current US military sex scandal that’s rolling through the news cycle like that big boulder bearing down on Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark? For anyone who still thinks Webmail accounts are a good cover for anonymous online activities, InformationWeek’s “Petraeus Fallout: 5 Gmail Security Facts” is worth a read. The Google Transparency Report, which counts user data requests from courts and government agencies, also adds perspective.

Speaking of courts, a judge in the United Kingdom has found Apple’s apology to Samsung less than sincere and ordered the Cupertino crowd to cough up some bucks for bad behavior. Also shaking things up on the Apple campus: Scott Forstall, who handled the iOS platform over at Apple, is parting ways with the company early next year.

Microsoft has its own personnel changes — Windows and Windows Live president Steve Sinofsky is leaving the company, an announcement made in the same week as the modest sales (so far) of the company’s new Surface tablets and Windows 8 system. Although Apple’s Mountain Lion is clawing
Windows 8
in the upgrade race, some executives still think Windows tablets will eventually outpace Android devices, as the flat system of choice for businessfolk — once they get some apps, that is.

Tablets still continue to be the object of affection for many people, including Linux lovers who have successfully gotten Ubuntu Linux up and running on the Google Nexus 7 tablet. Development is still early, but signs point to the Ubuntu desktop software making a concentrated the jump to mobile devices over the next few years. Ubuntu has appeared on other devices before, including Android smartphones with multi-core processors and a Samsung Chromebook. A TV set-top box version is also in the works. For those keeping track of the animal code names, the next version of the often-updated Ubuntu system, version 13.04, has been dubbed Raring Ringtail.

Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone sold out in less than an hour after it went on sale across the pond — a bit of good news for a company that may be facing a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission for stacking the search-results deck with its own services. (But YouTube is cleaning things up: the the site is weeding out about 60 percent of its channels from last year.)

For those still firmly gripping their BlackBerry phones in hand amidst the onslaught of Android phones, iPhones and Windows Phone handsets, the future is on the way. Research in Motion is planning a January 30th, 2013, launch event for its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

While the BlackBerry platform has gotten shoved aside by those other phones in recent years, many people still hang on to it for the BlackBerry Messenger service, which, like Apple’s iMessage system, has taken a big bite out of text-message volume over the wireless carrier networks. In fact, a new report shows that old-school SMS text messaging in the U.S. is in decline for the first time. But no matter how you direct your text traffic, be sure to do it safely and not in traffic. As a TV sage use to say, “Let’s be careful out there.” Same goes for using Webmail, making apologies and unlocking the bootloader on your Nexus 7 so you can Penguinize your Google tablet.

Episode 13 News: Mobile. Gaming.

Microsoft’s Windows Upgrade Offer site is now taking registrations so if you’ve purchased a new Windows 7 PC since this past June 2, sign up to get Windows 8 Pro for $15. You’ll likely see Windows 8 before RIM’s BlackBerry 10 OS arrives, and we may soon see the Windows Phone platform slipping past BlackBerry in U.S. smartphone market share, if StatCounter’s extrapolated numbers hold up. Windows Phone 8 models are expected to be popping up this fall, and Nokia undoubtedly hopes to increase its customer base here in the States to match its Windows Phone domination worldwide.

If you’re worried about smishing (SMS phishing) after that iOS security researcher figured out a way to spoof SMS messages on the iPhone, check out PC World’s article for a good backgrounder on the topic. While Apple’s initial suggestion was to just stick to its iMessage service to protect yourself from phishers, maybe they could add a little code to iOS 6 to zip up that security flaw since not everyone has an iOS device.

Speaking of iOS 6 and its new features, those wanting to stay chatty in with FaceTime over an AT&T cellular connection must switch to one of the new Mobile Share data plans — a requirement some advocacy groups are questioning on legal grounds. For those who prefer the multiplatform Skype app for VoIP and video chats, the new Skype iOS apps now allow photo sharing.

Gamers should have plenty to look forward to this fall. Nintendo’s preview announcement for its new Wii U game console on September 13th. Rovio, the folks behind the insanely popular Angry Birds game, has teamed up for a new 10-level version of the game with the punk-pop band Green Day—who happens to have three new albums in the works. To give you a little taste of the action, the game trailer features a bit of the new Green Day single, “Oh Love.” And if you’re into games and trailers, check out the one for Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary, an upcoming film about how table-top roleplaying games changed the world. The movie isn’t supposed to be out until 2014 and its creators are doin’ the Kickstarter thing now, but for those who can’t wait, there’s a book called Of Dice and Men on the history of the game due out next spring.

Like a set of dice, the Mars rover, Curiosity, is rollin’…around Mars this week.  Curiosity has its own Twitter feed if you feel like following, and there’s also the unofficial parody account, @SarcasticRover, if you like your robots with a little sass.

Tech Term of the Week: Cramming

Let me be perfectly clear from the outset, I am not condoning illegal activity nor am I suggesting that those folks who make a parasitic living by cheating hardworking people out of their money should be admired or presented as role models in any way. Furthermore, I am certainly not looking to be controversial with this particularly embarrassing admission: I’ve always had a grudging respect for scammers.

Connivers, tricksters, you know the type. The sociopaths that dedicate their lives to finding new and inventive ways to sell suckers a box full of rocks. I can’t help but be impressed by their complete lack of scruples. I guess that speaks volumes about me but hey, I’m just keeping it real.

This week’s Tech Term is cramming and from my introduction it’s pretty clear that this doesn’t mean studying for an exam at the very last minute. According to the FCC cramming is the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading or deceptive charges on your telephone bill. Crammers rely on confusing telephone bills in an attempt to trick consumers into paying for services they did not authorize or receive, or that cost more than the consumer was led to believe.

Ooooohhh, rascally!

The charges are often for non-basic services such as Caller ID or Voice Mail but more recently text message cramming has become popular on mobile devices. Slick SMS services will text you with an offer for their product but buried in the message will be an opt-out option. You will be billed for the service unless you respond to the text.

Tricksy, very tricksy

You know, crammers really do give con-men a bad name. Where’s the artistry? This scam shows no creativity at all. No need to lay on the charm, no elaborate rouse to gain the trust of a mark. Crammers simply rely on the majority of us that rarely, if ever, analyze our phone bills and just pay. According to The New York Times a U.S. Senate committee investigation into land-line cramming put the dollar amount at $2 billion a year. That’s BILLION, with a B.

Obviously an excellent way to protect yourself from getting crammed is by going over your phone bills every month and immediately disputing any suspicious charges. If you’ve been the victim of cramming you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission or the Federal Trade Commission if you see suspect non-telephone services on your telephone bill.

Cramming, your Pop Tech Jam tech term of the week.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 06