Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Twitter - The Beak Speaks And Delivers

Twitter Logo - Image Credit: Twitter

Twitter - The Beak Speaks And Delivers

The beautiful thing about New Media is that it defies control yet exemplifies what can be done in an atmosphere of freedom and creativity.

Take Twitter for example; a free communications service that has just a couple of simple rules framed in a social connection portal designed with very little complexity other than member connection and “hash tag”.

Working the tools provided inside of this atmosphere becomes a little like gold mining with a pan in hand based upon what the desire of the “network initiator” is when one enters into this world of micro-messaging (limit: 140 characters known as "tweets") through answering the truly dynamic question - What are you doing?

Image Credit: Venture Beat

This excerpted and edited from Venture Beat -

Twitter has made Dell $1 million in revenue
MG Siegler, Venture Beat | December 15th, 2008

Everyone loves talking about Twitter’s business model — because there isn’t one yet, and they’ll keep talking about it until there is one. But it’s becoming more clear that while a business model is of course important, Twitter is perhaps the perfect example of a company that can afford to take its time in finding the one that is perfect for it. That’s because other businesses are building so much on top of the micro-messaging service and using it for their own services. If worst came to worst, and Twitter had to sell, there would probably be a bidding war of a magnitude that would make it seem like this country wasn’t in the midst of a recession.

InternetNews has a good rundown of the Twitter/business phenomenon. Buried in it is this gem:
Less altruistically, some businesses have discovered that Twitter is an effective way of communicating with consumers. Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) says Twitter has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts. People who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products are available the company’s Home Outlet Store. They can click over to purchase the product or forward the information to others.
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While a million dollars may not be much to a company like Dell, for some smaller companies that are also using Twitter as a sales/promotional tool, it is no doubt invaluable.

Reference Here>>

Understanding a service like Twitter is probably more of a matter of, again, understanding the nature of that question - What are you doing?

Image Credit: Twitter_Tips

This excerpted and edited from InternetNews -

What Keeps Twitter Chirping Along
By David Miller - December 10, 2008

It's practically impossible to find a story that doesn't darkly point out that the microblogging service Twitter has no revenue model, yet despite that concern, all the complaints about unreliable service, the rants about the exceptionally high noise-to-signal ratio, the outright attacks that accuse the company of "top-to-bottom incompetence," Twitter keeps on tweeting and seems likely to continue doing so into the foreseeable future.
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"We're using Twitter to get info out to the public and the media," said Claire Sale, an interactive media specialist with the Red Cross. "Twitter offers a single stream of information, and it's been most successful in disaster response, like the recent wildfires in California.
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You might check a blog or an RSS feed once a day, but people tend to follow Twitter constantly." The Red Cross has 3,000+ "followers," people who have signed on to view their tweets.
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Dell started experimenting with Twitter in March of 2007 after the South by Southwest conference, an annual tech/music festival in Austin, Texas. Conference attendees could keep tabs on each other via a stream of Twitter messages on 60-inch plasma screens set up in the conference hallways. There are now 65 Twitter groups on Dell.com, with 2,475 followers for the Dell Home Outlet Store.
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Good for customer service: Discount airline Jet Blue also uses Twitter to offer real-time discounts, sometimes even offering tickets or adding flights when large numbers of people are Twittering sadly about the lack of transport options to a conference or festival. JetBlue also monitors Twitter for comments about the company, responding quickly to compliments and complaints, and following its customers.

"Asking when Twitter will end is like saying, ‘When will the cell phone fad end'?" said David Spark, founder of Spark Media Solutions, a storytelling production company. "The value of cell phones can't end, it only can be replaced by something that provides the same value and more. Once we have a capability, we never want it taken away from us."
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Of course not everyone is a fan. Google "I Hate Twitter" and you'll see plenty of gripes, mostly about the banality of tweets and peoples' increasing belief that everyone in the world is their very own '50s sitcom mother, endlessly fascinated by every single one of their thoughts and actions.

"I find Twitter incredibly annoying, both as a user and bystander," said Trisha Creekmore, interactive executive producer for Discovery.com. ''There's nothing more annoying than trying to enjoy an event with a bunch of Twitter geeks and having to stop every five seconds for them to tweet into their mobile device. If you're at an event, BE at the event. Or leave."

Reference Here>>

When communication is more important than control, Twitter’s micro-communications platform delivers a multitude of functional enterprise options upon which any effort might be aided by understanding and using that basic question, “What are you doing?” … operative word - DOING!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Mouse Passes One Billion Sold

Mice, mice, mice - Logitech celebrates the production of it's billionth mouse. Image Credit: Logitech

The Mouse Passes One Billion Sold

This is a campaign that is beginning to rival fast food giant, McDonald’s.

Announced during the same week the invention of the computer mouse turned forty, Logitech passes a milestone with shipment of its billionth mouse.

The billionth mouse production line. Image Credit: Logitech

According to a report by Gartner Consulting, more than a billion people are currently using computers worldwide, with another billion expected to by 2014.

Since the development of the computer mouse in the late 1960s, Logitech has been the leading innovator in mouse technology beginning in the early 1980's.

The one billonth mouse. Image Credit: Logitech

In celebration of its billionth mouse, Logitech is launching a worldwide contest that invites people to follow the travels of this notable mouse, to be chronicled on Logitech's blog,

BLogitech at blog.logitech.com.


The original mouse - Invented by a team of researchers led by Doug Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute in California in 1968, computer’s most dynamic input device, the “mouse”, has entered into its 40's on Monday, December 1, 2008. Image Credit: SRI

So, it all comes down to this … from humble beginnings as a block of wood, a button and movement tracking wheels hooked to a computer, to a blog entry at a mouse manufacturer’s website.

Happy birthday and happy billionth to you … Mouse!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

This Week, The Mouse Turns Forty

Invented by a team of researchers led by Doug Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute in California in 1968, computer’s most dynamic input device, the “mouse”, has entered into its 40's on Monday, December 1, 2008. Image Credit: SRI

This Week, The Mouse Turns Forty

Just when you feel you have this age thing figured out, along comes an event that sets you right back on you heels and makes you feel OLD again!

On Monday, the invention of the computer mouse happened forty years ago. The first mouse was crafted out of wood, had a click-button built into the top and had a dual-wheel tracking movement mechanism on the bottom surface.

The mouse combined with Graphical User Interface (GUI) software ARE the computer to most users of the computer.

Today, the Mouse may incorporate a 2D imaging camera to read printed symbologies for automation, motion sensing gesture control for gaming (as found in the Wii and iPhone), and user identification security.

ELECOM won Good Design Award 2008 in 4 series of products! - Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization announced the award winners for this year’s Good Design Award on October 10, 2008. ELECOM CO., LTD. (Head office: Chuo-ku, Osaka; President: Junji Hada) won the award in 4 series of products (including the EGG MOUSE). /// EGG MOUSE is a simple but expressive shape of mouse with comfort grip. It focuses on only basic functions which are required by most users. It features the natural shape of an egg which is familiar with everyone: sleek and rounded surface. Once you see an EGG MOUSE, your sensory experience appeals to you intuitively and you feel like touching it. Image Credit: ELECOM CO., LTD.

This excerpted and edited from News:Lite -

Computer mouse is 40 years old today

By:
news:lite - December 1, 2008 3:57 PM

The chances are your hand is on one right now, if so look down and wish your mouse a Happy Birthday.

While the odd device above looks like it would be more at home in a tool shop, this is actually the world's first mouse which was unveiled to the world 40 years ago today.
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The cable which hung from the back [of the wood block] gained it the name 'mouse' from researchers.

Designer, Douglas Engelbart came up with the idea in the early 1960s while exploring the interactions between humans and computers at California’s Stanford Research Institute.

In 1964 his team came up with the first prototype but it was four years later when the mouse was revealed to the world in a 90-minute public multimedia demonstration at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco.
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The first commercial mouse was released in 1981 with the launch of the Xerox Star computer, but it was only in 1984 after Apple acquired the technology, it became popular with the launch of The Apple Macintosh.
Reference Here>>

Monday, December 01, 2008

2D Barcode Boarding Symbology Tested By The TSA

Ones next set of secure ID documents … discarded! Image Credit: upgradetravelbetter.com

2D Barcode Boarding Symbology Tested By The TSA

An automatic identification barcode symbology that has been in use for well over a decade and adopted for use in advertising messages for cellphones is now being tested as a way to speed up and verify boarding procedures.

Photographic image driver’s license numbers, passport and fingerprint image information is captured and digitally encrypted as squares within a square on boarding passes that can be decoded and verified in milliseconds at stations throughout an airport to confirm identity. What has worked for packages being sent and tracked through our nation’s major shipping service companies appears to be a benefit to humans shipping themselves to their desired destination with security and safety within the Transportation Security Administration managed environments.

The TSA is non-committal when it comes to a possible implementation timeframe, however, so be prepared for long lines and repetitive strip searched for now and the foreseeable future.

Datastrip is a leading provider of 2D bar code software, hardware and biometric verification devices. Datastrip’s products include the 2D Superscript Software Developers Kit (SDK), Datastrip 2D (public domain) SDK and the DSVerify 2D card/passport reader with associated DSVerify Win CE SDK. Both 2D Superscript and Datastrip 2D symbologies are ideal for bar code storage of photographs (both color and grayscale), multiple biometrics and text. Image Credit: Datastrip Group Inc.

This excerpted and edited from Security Director News -

TSA tests boarding pass technology
By Leischen Stelter, SECURITY DIRECTOR NEWS - 11.25.2008 - MINNEAPOLIS

An independent testing body for the Transportation Security Administration in late October completed a 45-day test of Laser Data Command's PassPro system, an automated airline passenger boarding system, which encrypts passenger information on boarding passes.
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The system was tested at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport using law enforcement officers as the test group. Officers were issued letters with PassPro barcodes giving them permission to carry weapons aboard commercial airlines. Officers presented the letters to airline security officers who scanned the encrypted barcode and confirmed the officers' identities.
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"We put the system into an operational environment at the Minnesota airport," said Gary Murray, manager of access control and biometrics testing for National Safe Skies Alliance. "We go in and set up the system exactly as it would potentially be set up in airports, and we try out the system to measure how useful it could be in the future."

Miometric Security - Eyes and fingers airport security. "Lufthansa and Siemens has successfully tested a biometric process for check-in and boarding at the Airport [2005]. The system identifies passengers from their fingerprints. After a passenger’s finger is rolled over an optical reader unit, the system converts the fingerprints’ characteristics into a 2D code which the reader prints on the boarding pass. Just before boarding, the fingerprints are again scanned by a reader and compared with the barcode. The data is erased after the passenger checks in. " Caption & Image Credit: wemakemoneynotart.com

The outcome of the testing is confidential, said Murray.

However, John Barclay, president and CEO of Laser Data Command, told Security Director News that he expects to receive a positive report from the TSA when an official report is released at the beginning of next year. "We've been told by the testing principles that all went flawlessly."

Barclay said PassPro is intended not only to increase aviation security and eliminate the possibility of fake boarding passes, but also to speed up passenger travel times. "We see it as a convenience to passengers, but also as a way for security to know about passengers and have done a threat assessment on them," said Barclay.
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"It's entirely up to the TSA now that they've proven its use," he [Barclay] said. "It's quite scalable and has a variety of uses. The outcome of the trial will enable it be QPL (Qualified Product Listing) with the TSA and then it is applicable for anything they want to use it for."
Reference Here>>

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RFID System At UCSD Medical Center Is Its Major Asset


The Awarepoint Real-time Awareness Solution utilizes a patented asset and location tracking technology developed exclusively for healthcare. The RFID “plug and track” network signal sensor pick-ups that plug into any standard wall outlet (bottom right in photo above) are very easy to install and place into the system. Image Credit: Awarepoint Corporation

RFID System At UCSD Medical Center Is Its Major Asset

Knowledge and awareness is everything when one seeks to have an enterprise run effectively. One of the most overlooked areas a business can make great gains in its effectiveness of purpose comes in the area of Asset Management. The ability to know exactly what tools a business has invested in, where the tools are, which tools are being used and how – further, what tools are available now to apply to the task at hand can determine success or failure … profit or loss.

Asset Management to any business enterprise is as critical as Inventory Management to a retail enterprise … if the asset or inventory is not deployed where the need exists; it is as if it never existed in the first place. This leads to lost opportunity and lost profits. In the case of a health care environment … this lack of knowledge of where an asset is and where it is deployed could lead to a loss of life, our most precious gift.

RFID system diagram. Image Credit: Awarepoint Corporation

This excerpted and edited from a Press Release, Awarepoint Corporation -

UCSD Medical Center Adds Hillcrest Campus to its Awarepoint Real-time Location System Deployment

Expansion allows UCSD complete hospital asset tracking oversight throughout its enterprise
SAN DIEGO, October 17, 2008

San Diego-based Awarepoint Corporation today announced that UCSD Medical Center is significantly expanding its Awarepoint Real-time Location System (RTLS) deployment. Following successful implementation and a fully vetted return on investment at the system’s Thornton facility, the Awarepoint relationship has now been expanded to include its Hillcrest campus, which is the primary hospital for the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
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The expansion to UCSD Medical Center - Hillcrest more than doubles the coverage area and triples the number of equipment assets the Medical Center is wirelessly tracking with Awarepoint‘s Active RFID Real-time Location Solution.

“RFID asset tracking success at UCSD Medical Center ’s Thornton facility prompted expansion to the larger Hillcrest facility, located nearly 14 miles away. The expansion to Hillcrest also provides UCSD Medical Center the ability to see real-time status and have complete oversight of shared assets between both campuses, which are significant challenges for the Medical Center today,” said Kenny Woods, Senior Vice President of Sales for Awarepoint.
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Tom Hamelin, Director of Perioperative Services is responsible for sourcing UCSD Medical Center’s Zigbee-based real-time location solution with a goal to address several persistent problems relating to asset tracking management, including:

• Lowering equipment rental costs
• Reducing staff time spent searching for equipment
• Minimizing equipment theft and loss
• Reducing equipment inventory requirements
• Improving equipment maintenance process
• Improving responsiveness to JCAHO and FDA requirements

“The significant challenge common to all of these is timely, reliable locating of important equipment and assets,” said Tom. Tom chose to install the smaller UCSD Medical Center Thornton campus first to quickly provide a quantifiable return on investment. “With the combination of capital equipment expenditure savings and increased demand for asset visibility among staff after the Thornton installation, it was not difficult to get approval to expand into Hillcrest,” continued Tom.

The Awarepoint Real-time Location System was selected because it offers UCSD Medical Center room level location accuracy on an enterprise-wide basis while providing a 100% wireless, non-disruptive installation. Awarepoint’s business model provided the hospital a low cost to start because there were no construction costs and a fully managed service model that allows easy scalability on a per asset per month basis.
Reference Here>>

Sensor signal pick-ups located throught a facility act as electronic tracking gates for better asset management. Image Credit: Awarepoint Corporation

The most unique aspect of the Awarepoint system are the RFID “plug and track” network signal sensor pick-ups that plug into any standard wall outlet. This innovative signal sensor pick-up antennae allows for a rapid-impact implementation – it needs no hardwiring, fixed infrastructure or additional cables, offers a non-disruptive, dust-free installation – can be deployed even in occupied patient rooms or sterile areas.

Awarepoint Tags can be installed on any type of equipment. Small battery-powered Tags (less than 1.5” squared) are securely attached to equipment. Patient and staff Tags can be attached via belt clip, lanyard, badge or ID bracelet.

Tags broadcast low data rate messages to Awarepoint patented Sensors. Bridge nodes within Awarenet transmit Sensor data to the Awarepoint fully managed Appliance via your wired LAN. With Awarepoint, there’s no need to modify or expand your facility’s existing WiFi infrastructure. Low power radio messages from Tags are detected by the Sensors and routed through the Awarepoint Bridge to the Awarepoint Appliance. This patented architecture results in a rapid-impact implementation, longer battery life and lower cost. The simple Searchpoint™ web interface allows one-click search access to all staff from any networked PC.

All pretty cool stuff to keep track of deployed assets and be able to place them where needed in a timely manner – RFID and its ease in implementation can become any enterprise’s most major asset.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Imagine A World Without Wires – From Milliwatts To Kilowatts

eCoupled Technology is powering at least nine items depicted in this graphic - can you name them (hint - one of the applications is mounted in the celing)? Image Credit: Fulton Innovation

Imagine A World Without Wires – From Milliwatts To Kilowatts

An innovation that has been in development for years is now ready for the general use consumer market – wireless, plugless power for everyone.

Power up anything that requires electricity to run from cellphones, radios, television sets, and even food blenders by just placing a compatible device over an inducer coil and voila … wireless electricity!

The process is called eCoupled technology™ and it is being introduced by Fulton Innovation, LLC. It uses a specially developed and smart inducing coil embedded in a surface as in a kitchen counter or workshop table and transfers electrical power via dynamic resonance.



This excerpted and edited from Fulton Innovation –

What Is eCoupled Technology?

eCoupled technology™ is intelligent wireless power. It changes the way that people and devices interact with power and data.

eCoupled technology enables low-cost, efficient wireless power. It dynamically seeks resonance and optimizes power transfer under multiple, varying load conditions and spatial configurations. It can be utilized essentially anywhere traditional power needs exist. It is a revolutionary advancement in the utility of inductive coupling for consumer and commercial applications, unleashing a new world of creative options - power and data can be efficiently transmitted to virtually any electrical device without traditional constraints.

eCoupled technology includes an inductively coupled power circuit that dynamically seeks resonance, allowing the primary supply circuit to adapt its operation to match the needs of the devices it supplies. It does so by communicating with each device individually in real time, which allows the technology to determine not only power needs, but also factors such as the age of a battery or device and its charging lifecycles, in order to supply the optimal amount of power to keep a device at peak efficiency.

eCoupled technology overcomes the limitations of spatial rigidity, static loads and unacceptable power losses. It intelligently adapts to multiple loads - from milliwatts to kilowatts - and spatial configurations while maximizing energy transfer efficiencies by as much as 98%, making eCoupled technology comparable to hardwired connections in terms of energy costs.

eCoupled technology's smart approach provides one of the safest operating systems in the marketplace. Through its identification protocol, eCoupled technology has the ability to authenticate any eCoupled-enabled device within range. If a device or object is not recognized immediately, the primary coil will NOT turn on and supply power to it, maintaining a
safe operating environment.
Reference Here>>

Image Credit: Fulton Innovation

This may have positive implications in the enterprise mobility applications such as route accounting systems or field communications applications. Printers, computers, cameras, and portable datacollectors can be powered and/or charged directly from the vehicle platform from where the mobile function is carried out.

Image Credit: Work Truck Online

And this excerpted and edited from Work Truck Online -

Leggett & Platt Wins New Product Innovation Award at The Work Truck Show 2008
Work Truck Online - National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Convention

Image Credit: Work Truck Online

Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products has won The Work Truck Show 2008 New Product Innovation Award for its mobile workspace shelving, storage areas, rugged docking stations, and vehicle mounts featuring eCoupled technology. Leggett’s use of eCoupled technology transforms ordinary vehicle work and storage surfaces into wireless charging centers, eliminating the need for portable charging devices and electrical outlets.
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As part of an exclusive partnership with Fulton Innovation, the creators of eCoupled technology, Leggett will integrate the technology into its vehicle interior shelving systems, rugged docking stations, and vehicle mounts. The company’s eCoupled-equipped products debuted at the Work Truck Show 2008 and will hit the market in 2009.

Wireless power uses inductive coupling to transfer energy from Leggett’s commercial charging surfaces to any eCoupled-compatible device. Coils strategically placed in the surface areas adapt eCoupled technology’s operation to match the needs of the devices it powers.
Reference Here>>

So go ahead, its OK to clean-up the enterprise mobility workspace, kitchen, or office of electrical cords and power supplies with a shot of inductive transfer technology from Fulton Innovation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Enterprise Mobility Born Twenty-Five Years Ago

In the 1980s, McKinsey & Co forecast a world maket of 900,000 phones by the year 2000. Today, 900,000 handsets are sold every three days. Image Credit: The Next Web

Enterprise Mobility Born Twenty-Five Years Ago

It's hard to imagine but yesterday, Oct. 13, 2008 marked the 25th anniversary of the first commercial cellphone. Today, more than three billion people worldwide use cellphones, making them the most popular personal electronic device ever.

The Brick Cell Phone. The first cell phone that most of us remember. Image Credit: Motorola

The first cell phone that most of us remember is the one that’s now called “the block” or “the brick”. The name comes from the fact that it was about the shape and size of a traditional brick. It wasn’t quite as heavy as a brick, of course, although it might feel like it today to those of us that are used to using the thinnest and lightest cell phones available on the market.

These were the phones that were available to people in the 1980’s, the phones that were based on the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X design.

Martin Cooper and the First Cell Phone. You might not recognize Martin Cooper’s name but you’ve probably seen his picture because he was photographed excessively when he made the first call on the world’s first cell phone back in 1973. The phone call was placed to a rival working at Bell who was also attempting to make a mobile phone. It happened on the streets of New York City and people were apparently struck dumb by the site. It’s funny to think about today since you’d be hard pressed to find someone walking New York City’s streets today without a cell phone in their hand or pocket. This phone may be clunky and impossible to use today but it’s the one that set the stage for all that came after it. Image Credit: dialaphone.co.uk

This excerpted and edited from the Technology Expert –

The Cell Phone Celebrates 25 Years
Technology Expert - Tuesday, October 14, 2008

When I watched an old 1988 thriller, "
Miracle Mile," one of the things that struck me was the huge cellular phone used by Denise Crosby. And even that handset was five years newer than the phone used in the first commercial cellular phone call.

That call was made on October 13th, 1983, 25 years ago. Bob Barnett, president of Ameritech Mobile communications, called Alexander Graham Bell's nephew [Martin Cooper] from Chicago's Soldier Field using a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X handset.

That baby was known as the "Brick," based on its heft (2.5 pounds) and shape. 8 hours of standby time and 30 minutes of talk time (woo hoo!). Service plans were a bit pricey, at costing $50 a month for the service, plus 40 cents a minute at peak hours and 24 cents a minute at off-peak times.


Nope, there were no unlimited plans.
Reference Here>>


Monday, October 13, 2008

The QR (Quick Response) Code And You

Image Credit: Ralph Lauren

The QR (Quick Response) Code And You

A cellphone with a camera isn’t a communications device with a way to capture pictures and share them with friends… rather, it’s a web enabled handheld with a display and a scanner which automates the way to reach out, get information and get things done.

In order to have one's phone behave more like a tool than a personalized toy, all one has to do is download a simple program into the cellphone and presto – the camera takes a picture (scans) of a symbol printed on a billboard, flyer, magazine, or display screen then decodes it and has the phone access a “(dot) mobi” webpage on the internet through a series of pre-scripted commands. Quick, Simple, and Easy.

Image Credit: Ralph Lauren

So why hasn’t this form of consumer automation been adopted right here in North America (after all, in large consumer societies found in Europe and Japan, this kind of symbology enabled automation has been used and perfected for years. Fact is, this is why a camera was added to the cellphone in the first place.)? Hard to say, but get ready because the symbology revolution will be vying for your attention at a cellphone or specialty retail store around the corner from where you live, soon.

There will be many codes (symbologies) offered, each with their own strengths and benefits, however, if your phone has limited memory space in which to store the software necessary to decode the symbology, then the one code program the cellphone should contain is the one to decode the QR Code … the best code ever.

Image Credit: Ralph Lauren

This excerpted and edited from Multichannel Merchant Magazine -

R U Ready 4 QR Codes?
By Tim Parry, Multichannel Merchant - Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM

CONSIDERING MOBILE MARKETING? Then you should probably start thinking about quick response (QR) codes. These two-dimensional barcodes can provide a vital link between print media and mobile commerce.
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WHAT ARE THEY? QR codes store information — namely mobile Website URLs — that can be read by devices with cameras, like cell phones. A user with a Web-enabled camera phone equipped with the QR reader software can scan the image of the QR code; decoding software reads the information and prompts the phone's browser to go to a programmed URL.

WHAT'S THE BENEFIT TO YOU? Let's say you have a QR code printed on an advertisement or catalog. A customer could scan it with his cell phone to be directed to your mobile site — and hopefully start buying immediately.

IS ANYBODY USING THEM? Upscale apparel brand Ralph Lauren, for instance, burst onto the mobile commerce scene in August using the technology. The merchant put QR codes on print advertisements, store windows and mailers so that with one wave of a Web-enabled camera phone — with QR reader software — the user is whisked away to a landing page at m.ralphlauren.com.

The mobile site initially launched with a showcase of its limited edition 2008 U.S. Open Collection and other Ralph Lauren classics such as polo shirts, oxfords and chinos. Mobile users could also check out a Ralph Lauren style guide, watch tennis videos, and read articles about the U.S. Open.

“We see mobile as a key channel for marketing, advertising and commerce for all of our brands and retail concepts,” says Miki Berardelli, Ralph Lauren's vice president, global customer strategy and retail marketing. “QR codes are part of the strategy and they serve as a conduit, providing an easy way for people to access the mobile Web.”

Users can download the QR reader application for free from Ralph Lauren; the technology is also available from numerous other sources online.

David Harper, founder/CEO of Website development firm Engagelogic and mobile content management and social networking software company Winksite, hopes the Ralph Lauren launch will encourage others to incorporate QR codes in their mobile commerce campaigns. But the early adaptors like Ralph Lauren may need to do more to educate people about the technology.
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Why aren't more using QR codes? Creating a basic QR code is easy enough: Multichannel Merchant generated the code that appears on this issue's cover in a matter on minutes on Winksite.com. (Test it with your cell phone camera.)

Dave Sikora, CEO of m-commerce provider Digby, blames a lack of consumer awareness of the technology, and the inability of phones to accurately read the codes.
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But Harper contends that adding a QR code reader application to a phone is no harder than downloading software to your personal computer. You can do a search for “QR code reader” on your mobile browser and find a site you want to download it from. Once installed, the reader application will show up in the applications folder, and its icon will appear on the screen.

And the QR reader does not have to point perfectly perpendicular for the QR code to be correctly translated by the mobile device, he adds. Even a wave over the code can bring the user to the correct mobile site.
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Big in Japan

QR codes can be seen everywhere in Japan — no surprise, since Japanese firm Denso-Wave created the technology in 1994. Cell phone users in Japan can click a QR code printed on a poster at a movie theater and view its trailer.

It helps that QR code readers come as a standard feature on cell phones in Japan and Australia. And Harper says they're starting to become standard in certain parts of China, such as Beijing. (The software remains open-source in the U.S., though Nokia did add it to its N95 model.)
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“When a customer scans the barcode with their phone, it launches a mobile-ready product detail and ordering page,” says Nina Matthews, marketing coordinator for CBC America. “This enables the customer to grab the page for follow-up while on the go or for sharing with others.”
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Once consumers embrace the technology, Harper envisions some merchants using QR codes on the covers of their catalogs. Eventually, they may generate individual codes to be used for each product offering.

Technology notwithstanding, Digby's Sikora wonders how some merchants would handle the creative elements of incorporating a QR code into their print advertising and catalogs.
Reference Here>>

Image Credit: Ralph Lauren

FAQ's from Ralph Lauren -

Frequently Asked Questions
What is a mobile site?
A mobile site is simply a normal web site formatted to fit your mobile phone or device.

Is it necessary to download anything to shop the mobile site?
No. Just enter m.RalphLauren.com into your mobile phone browser and voila...

Can any phone access the mobile site?
Any phone equipped with a web browser can access m.RalphLauren.com.

Will it cost me on my phone bill to use the mobile site?
This service is free from Ralph Lauren but charges from your carrier may apply. Be sure and double-check your plan.

Is it secure to shop from my phone?
Yes. Shopping via mobile device is just as safe as shopping from your home computer.

What can I buy through m.RalphLauren.com?
Right now, you can purchase anything from our US Open collections and our RL Classics shop as well as our iconic Ricky Bag. In the coming months, more and more products will be available and eventually you will be able to shop a range of Ralph Lauren products from anywhere you take your mobile phone.

What is a QR code?
These are two-dimensional bar codes—just like you’d find at the grocery store—that direct you to a specific website when you scan them with your cell phone. Learn more about QR, how to get it, and what type of device you need to operate it HERE.

Reference Here>>

Friday, September 12, 2008

What Girls Want - The Form Factor Of New Media

Jeff Moriarty, Intel’s Mobility Community Manager (center, left) leads a discussion on mobile internet devices and their form factor/function. Image Credit: Intel

What Girls Want - The Form Factor Of New Media

Cellphone technology and computers are rapidly morphing into each other giving rise and attention to the questions, “what form factor will the next generation of mobile internet device (MID – all-in-one portable for personal use) take and what factors other than just form need to be considered?"

In a recent brainstorm session at Intel, a group of industry professionals began a casual conversation about the iPhone impact on function and form factor, and what else can be put forward to improve a pure touchscreen function and form that would make a MID tool more accomidating and useful.

This video discussion is informative and opens up the discussion along gender lines as to what is more important to a woman in a mobile communications, New Media world.

Video Here (Ctrl-Click to launch) Image Credit: Intel

This excerpted and edited from a corporate blog site at Intel -

Chicks Dig MIDs - What devices do you like and why?
By Jeff Moriarty (Intel) (25 posts) on September 10, 2008 at 1:30 pm

What do women like in their gadgets?

This question came up at IDF as a bunch of gadgeteers sat around comparing some of the existing and newly unveiled devices.
Kiesha Cochrane asked the inevitable question about why anyone would trade in an iPhone for any of the other options available, sparking a debate on the pros and cons of each form factor. It turned out several of the women keyed onto different devices from the men, so we decided to grab a camera and a big pile of devices and film the discussion.

Small form factor PC has intuitive advantages over a MID brick. Image Credit: Intel

What is that special "something" that makes devices like the iPhone so attractive? Is it the same for men and women? What device(s) would you pick for yourself and why?


Kiesha Cochrane, Intel's Consumer and Social Relations Manager points out the inherient problems with a too smart design in a streamlined brick form factor. Image Credit: Intel

The result not only taught me quite a bit about the different way people view these devices, but also ended up rather entertaining. Steve Paine from UMPCPortal was one of the participants, and already has a discussion going about the video.
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Public Relations consultant, Christine Ngo likes the "slide form factor with keyboard and full web capability over Blackberry and iPhone ... "In White". Image Credit: Intel

When we are all done one of the female participants provided the video title, and there you have it.
Reference Here>>

Worthy takeaways are issues that confront us all:

Do we keep cellphones as phones without the smarts? That is, have a smaller but functional internet access device (mini internet PC) and a dedicated phone.

Do we prefer an all-in-one device and have trade offs to deal with such as size, function, and form factor?

Is there really a gender component in all of this ... does small size matter (it's not what you may think - hint ... purses)?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Media Pocket Tool Rated Best Under $200

Kodak Zi6 pocket video camera - Lots of people love the Flip video camera for its smallness and ease-of-use but Kodak looks like they may one-up the Flip with the Zi6. The real attraction of the slightly more expensive Zi6 is that it shoots in 16x9 HD at 720p. Image Credit: Kodak

New Media Pocket Tool Rated Best Under $200

If video posting used to tell a story is the way one likes to do New Media communications, then this review about the Kodak Zi6 from Switched.com may be of interest to you.

Switched.com staffers provided their findings on a handful of camcorders that you can take home for less than 200 bucks. Each reviewer provided a brief introduction about the camera, what they liked and didn't like as well as a final verdict on the product. One of the six cameras in their test drive was Kodak's cool Zi6 Pocket Video Camera.So what was Switched.com's final verdict on the Zi6?

"After testing out the camcorder for a couple weeks, we recommend it as an excellent alternative to the much-hyped Flip, especially if you're looking for HD capability. Actually, size aside, it's quite simply the best of the bunch."

Become an instant celebrity or paparazzo! This sleek pocketable design is built for easy video—there is no lens cap, no dials to turn, or settings to set. Just turn it on and hit record to capture the action, adventure, and all the juicy details in stunning HD! Make your cinematic debut on any HDTV. Or just pop the USB in the nearest PC and you’re ready to share the fun on YouTube™. Image Credit: Kodak

This excerpted and edited from Switched.com -

Best Camcorders Under $200
by Thomas Houston, posted Sep 8th 2008 at 6:02AM

Kodak Zi6What It is:
Kodak's entry into the super affordable USB camcorder market,
the Zi6, comes with the ability to record high definition (HD) video (720p at 60 frames per second). As is standard for this new genre of camcorders, the controls and features are stripped down to the bare minimum, and it's incredibly easy to use, with just three controls. As for getting the footage onto your computer, you have two options. As on a digital camera, you could pop out the SD memory card and throw it into your computer's memory card slot or a card reader. Or, you can click the USB button on the front of the camcorder and a USB-equipped arm will pop out of the side of the case, which you can hook up directly to your computer's USB port.
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What we like:
You're probably wondering how the HD footage in a sub-$200 camcorder looks. Well, although the video may not look as stunning as what you'll get out of a more expensive camcorder, it looks better than the output of the rest of its pocket-sized brethren. In our tests, the color range was well-rounded and bright, the color balance was accurate, and even filming high-speed action didn't result in too much noise.The Zi6 comes with a SDHC (a faster, larger version of the standard SD cards) drive that supports cards up to 32-gigabyte (GB) cards (compared to the 2-gigabyte capacity of most of these budget camcorders). We like the option for swappable memory -- it means we can pop in a new card whenever we've filled up the current one.
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The camcorder uses two AA batteries, so you won't have to worry about lugging around a battery charger (note: it also comes with rechargeable Ni-MH AA batteries, if that's your thing).


3 mega-pixel still image from the Kodak Zi6 - Pictured is Monarch, a former show dog who reigns at Harmony Ridge Lodge, just north of Nevada City. Image Credit: James A. Martin

What we don't like:
The Zi6 comes with a disappointing 120MB of onboard memory, which is even worse when you consider the Zi6 doesn't come with an extra SDHC memory card. Fortunately, SD cards have dropped in price significantly over the past few years, but figure dropping down an extra $20-$30 for a 4-gigabyte SDHC card, and much more for anything approaching 32 gigabytes. It's hard to argue about size when camcorders are smaller than the size of your hand, but for something that is supposed to be pocket-sized, the Zi6 -- which is as big as an average digital point-and-shoot -- feels just a bit large.

Final verdict:
Size is a minor complaint, though, and we're impressed with the image quality, large and crisp 2.4-inch screen and easy-to-use interface. After testing out the camcorder for a couple weeks, we recommend it as an excellent alternative to the much-hyped Flip, especially if you're looking for HD capability. Actually, size aside, it's quite simply the best of the bunch. The Zi6 will run you around
$180 and is in stores now
Reference Here>>

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Flip Form Factor Comes To Enterprise Mobility

BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 – Image Credit: RIM

Flip Form Factor Comes To Enterprise Mobility

A flat rectangle form factor found on most buy and use cellphones, iPOD’s, iPhone’s, Japan incorporated’s iPhone knock-offs, and etc. is not really the best form factor to use when one is looking for electronic communications tools for business field use. One of the main selling points for Motorola’s NEXTEL/Sprint push-to-talk enabled cellphone over the years was a flip or clamshell form factor largely due to the assumption that it offered greater protection to the touch surfaces like keys and display.

The Blackberry 8220 has now brought the flip phone form factor to a fully featured “smartphone” that would allow a greater argument for enterprise mobility applications in large field force deployments.

16 GB of on-board chip storage, a 2-megapixel camera with flash and zoom are on board, and it's also capable of video recording, an OS capable of running Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Exchange, IMB Lotus, Novell (NSDQ: NOVL) GroupWise, and Web-based e-mails, and comes preloaded with DataViz Documents to Go, allowing users to edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on the handset.

The only hindrance that may remain would be the ability to install specialized programs that are developed and implemented by the business enterprise that would like to utilize all that a smartphone would be able to deliver in a form factor that screams durability. Only T-Mobile and time will tell.

This excerpted and edited from Information Week -

RIM's Blackberry Flip Pearl Sports Clamshell
The company's first BlackBerry flip phone features push e-mail, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and document editing.
By Marin Perez - InformationWeek - September 10, 2008 10:20 AM

After months of speculation, Research In Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) officially announced its first clamshell smartphone.

The BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 still has many of the enterprise-grade features one expects from a BlackBerry, but the new form factor should help RIM bolster its presence in the casual market.

The light-sensing external display enables users to preview incoming e-mails, phone calls, texts, and photos without opening the handset. The company said the internal screen sports a 240 by 320 resolution for crisp detail and contrast.

Like the BlackBerry Pearl, the Flip has a SureType QWERTY keyboard for composing messages, and a trackball for navigation. The handset has integrated access with the BlackBerry wireless services for push corporate e-mail.
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While it lacks 3G network support, customers can use the integrated Wi-Fi and the EDGE connection for Internet browsing, e-mailing, and streaming video from YouTube's mobile site.

The handset works with the BlackBerry Media Sync application to let users sync their iTunes music.
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The smartphone is capable of playing video, has Bluetooth version 2.0, voice activated dialing, and background noise cancellation.
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The device measures in at about 3.9 by 1.9 by .7 inches, and it weighs 3.6 ounces.

T-Mobile will be the exclusive carrier of the handset in the United States, and it will be available this fall for an unspecified price.
Reference Here>>

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Palm Treo Pro #9645 Set To Be Released Soon

Treo Pro 9645 features a QWERTY style keyboard - Image Credit: Palm Infocenter

Palm Treo Pro #9645 Set To Be Released Soon

Palm has pre-unveiled a new mobile device, the Treo Pro smartphone (working model number is expected to be the 9645). The new phone features a one-touch Wi-Fi button, GPS, Windows Mobile 6.1 and a high-resolution flush color touch screen.

Specs are still up in the air -- we're hearing there's a 400MHz processor and 128MB of RAM behind that 320 x 320 screen and original Xbox-looking exterior.

Available video includes the Treo Pro smartphone being put through some of its paces.


Mobility tools have become pedestrian and the Treo Pro is definitely in the mix.

Correct me if I'm wrong, isn't this the first Palm without either the Palm or Linux OS? If so, this represents a change at Palm in OS philosophy and direction.

Another case of - "if you can't lick 'em, join 'em"!

UPDATE, August 21, 2008:

Unlocked Freedom For Enterprise-Wide Applications

In North America, the cellphone/smartphone marketplace had been controlled by the businesses that provided the airwave radio links directly to the manufactured device that the customer carried. In short, all functionality of the phone was tightly controlled by the radio link provider as opposed to the manufacturer and/or the inventive software developer that could make the smartphone do more.

Palm, in a break from tradition and to gain an advantage in the marketing of their new Treo Pro plans to sell the device directly to the customers who want this freedom to have an unlocked (functions dictated by the radiolink operators – companies like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and etc.).

This strategy just might be a case of – “if you can’t join ‘em, lick ‘em”!

This excerpted and edited from Computerworld -

Palm plans to sell Treo Pro without U.S. operator partner
Treo Pro smart phone aimed squarely at enterprise customers

August 20, 2008 - IDG News Service via Computerworld


Palm Inc.'s decision to sell an unlocked Treo Pro, its newest smart phone aimed squarely at enterprise customers, could either be the start of a new trend or a sign that the struggling company may face even harder times to come, one analyst said.
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"It may be the beginning of a trend, but it may also be a bad sign," said Bill Hughes, an analyst at In-Stat. While he said he had no reason to think this is the case, Hughes noted that there is a chance that Palm couldn't find an operator interested in picking it up.
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The Treo Pro, which runs Windows Mobile and includes Wi-Fi and GPS (Global Positioning System) capability, will become available later this year on Palm's online store as well as from other Internet sites, retailers and enterprise resellers.

While some companies might be interested in buying unlocked devices, Palm might struggle to sell the new Treo to individuals without the help of operators.
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But buying unlocked phones can allow an enterprise buyer to better negotiate with mobile operators, Hughes noted. That's because operators typically factor in the cost of handset subsidies when selling airtime to enterprises.

In theory, having unlocked phones could also allow an enterprise to negotiate a better deal from a competitive mobile operator and easily switch to that operator by simply providing users with new SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards to insert into their phones. However, in the U.S. that's not a major benefit because operators use multiple incompatible technologies. The Treo Pro runs on 3G technology used by T-Mobile, an operator not typically favored by enterprise users, and by AT&T Inc.
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The Treo Pro doesn't come cheap: It will cost $549. It's difficult to compare that price with those other popular phones because most, like the iPhone, require a multiyear service contract with an operator in the U.S. In Europe, Vodafone Italia sells the 8GB iPhone 3G without a contract for $734).

The Treo Pro is an attractive device that in some ways resembles the iPhone. It's one of the first phones to come out of Palm since Jon Rubinstein, a former Apple Inc. engineer who contributed to the creation of the iPod, joined the company.

Reference Here>>

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Biometric ID Data Bases Lead To Terror Connections

FBI agent Paul Shannon led a team sent to Afghanistan in 2001 to fingerprint and interview foreign fighters for a database of known or suspected terrorists. Here, he takes Saddam Hussein's prints after his capture in 2003. Image Credit: FBI

Biometric ID Data Bases Lead To Terror Connections

Since September 11, 2001, the increase in the attention to detail of fingerprint ID procedures combined with the connection of data base information has lead to some surprising information results.

It turns out that more times than not, terror suspects that are fingerprinted in faraway hazardous territories, have been arrested in the United States and sport provable criminal records.

If our military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of the world where Islamic bred terrorism were to cease, this information and its depth of connection would be sorely missed and our freedoms would be hampered in this, and other countries that are potential targets of this brand of terrorism.

This excerpted from the Washington Post –

Post-9/11 Dragnet Turns Up Surprises
Biometrics Link Foreign Detainees To Arrests in U.S.
By Ellen Nakashima - Washington Post Staff Writer (with contributions from Staff researcher, Richard Drezen) - Sunday, July 6, 2008; Page A01

In the six-and-a-half years that the U.S. government has been fingerprinting insurgents, detainees and ordinary people in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, hundreds have turned out to share an unexpected background, FBI and military officials said. They have criminal arrest records in the United States.

There was the suspected militant fleeing Somalia who had been arrested on a drug charge in New Jersey. And the man stopped at a checkpoint in Tikrit who claimed to be a dirt farmer but had 11 felony charges in the United States, including assault with a deadly weapon.

The records suggest that potential enemies abroad know a great deal about the United States because many of them have lived here, officials said. The matches also reflect the power of sharing data across agencies and even countries, data that links an identity to a distinguishing human characteristic such as a fingerprint.

"I found the number stunning," said Frances Fragos Townsend, a security consultant and former assistant to the president for homeland security. "It suggested to me that this was going to give us far greater insight into the relationships between individuals fighting against U.S. forces in the theater and potential U.S. cells or support networks here in the United States."
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The effort is being boosted by a presidential directive signed June 5, which gave the U.S. attorney general and other cabinet officials 90 days to come up with a plan to expand the use of biometrics by, among other things, recommending categories of people to be screened beyond "known or suspected" terrorists.
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Civil libertarians have raised concerns about whether people on the watch lists have been appropriately determined to be terrorists, a process that senior government officials acknowledge is an art, not a science.

Large-scale identity systems "can raise serious privacy concerns, if not singly, then jointly and severally," said a 2007 study by the Defense Science Board Task Force on Defense Biometrics. The ability "to cross reference and draw new, previously unimagined, inferences," is a boon for the government and the bane of privacy advocates, it said.
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An FBI Mission
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"The bottom line is we're locking people up," said Thomas E. Bush III, FBI assistant director of the Criminal Justice Information Services division. "Stopping people coming into this country. Identifying IED-makers in a way never done before. That's the beauty of this whole data-sharing effort. We're pushing our borders back."
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As they analyzed the results, they were surprised to learn that one out of every 100 detainees was already in the FBI's database for arrests. Many arrests were for drunken driving, passing bad checks and traffic violations, FBI officials said.

"Frankly I was surprised that we were getting those kind of hits at all," recalled Townsend, who left government in January. They identified "a potential vulnerability" to national security the government had not fully appreciated, she said.
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One of the first men fingerprinted by the FBI team was a fighter who claimed he was in Afghanistan to learn the ancient art of falconry. But a fingerprint check showed that in August 2001 he had been turned away from Orlando International Airport by an immigration official who thought he might overstay his visa. Mohamed al Kahtani would later be named by the Sept. 11 Commission as someone who allegedly had sought to participate in hijackings. He currently is in custody at Guantanamo Bay.

Similarly, in 2004, an FBI team choppered to a remote desert camp on the Iraq-Iran border, home to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), whose aim is to overthrow the Iranian government. The MEK lead an austere lifestyle in which men are segregated from women and material goods are renounced. The U.S. State Department considers the organization to be a terrorist group.

The FBI team fingerprinted 3,800 fighters. More than 40, Shannon said, had previous criminal records in the agency's database.
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Errors in matching, though rare, have occurred. In a noted 2004 case, Oregon lawyer Brandon Mayfield was erroneously named as a suspect in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people. FBI lab analysts matched a print lifted from a plastic bag at the crime scene to his fingerprints that were stored in the FBI's criminal database because of a 1985 arrest for auto burglary when he was a teenager. The charge had been dismissed. After a critical Justice Department Inspector General audit, the FBI made fixes in its system. A recent inspector general report found the FBI fingerprint matching to be generally accurate.
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Civil libertarians, however, worry that the systems are not transparent enough for outsiders to tell how the government decides who belongs on a watch list and how that information is handled.

"The day when the federal government can tell people the basis they've been put on the watch list is the day we can have more confidence in biometric identification," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Vetting the data is the job of analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center, an office park-like complex in McLean run by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Analysts there scour intelligence reports to create the master international terrorist watch list.
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For example, a roadside bomb may explode and a patrol may fingerprint bystanders because insurgents have been known to remain at the scene to observe the results of their work. Prints also can be lifted off tiny fragments of exploded bombs, said military officials and contractors involved in the work.

Analysts are not just trying to identify the prints on the bomb. They want to find out who the bomb-carrier associates with. Who he calls. Who calls him. That could lead to the higher-level operatives who planned and financed attacks.

Already, fingerprints lifted off a bomb fragment have been linked to people trying to enter the United States, they said.

In a separate data-sharing program, 365 Iraqis who have applied to the Department of Homeland Security for refugee status have been denied because their fingerprints turned up in the Defense Department's database of known or suspected terrorists, Richardson said.

If Iraq and Afghanistan were a proving ground of sorts for biometric watch-listing, the U.S. government is moving quickly to try to build a domestic version.
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Steve Nixon, a director at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the effort is key to national security.

"When we look at the road and the challenges, globalization and the spread of technology has empowered small groups of individuals, bad guys, to be more powerful than at any other time in history," he said. "We have to know who these people are when we encounter them. A lot of what we're doing in intelligence now is trying to identify a person. Biometrics is a key element of that."

Reference Here>>

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Software Option Doors Thrown Open By Cellphone Hardware Giant

Smartphones as represented by the Nokia "N" series pictured here, are getting a software structural boost with the formation of an "open-source" foundation based on the Symbian OS software platform. Image Credit: Nokia via BusinessWeek

Software Option Doors Thrown Open By Cellphone Hardware Giant

In a move that will become the sea change for an industry that had been largely controlled here in North America by consumer level distributors, the world’s largest cellphone handset manufacturer buys the software operating system and plans to make the code available to developers.
By releasing the operating system to other developers, any manufacturer of a cellphone handset could adopt the software for use on its hardware platform and thereby “spread the wealth” of the development of programs that people use to get more function out of there daily mobility devices.

This move is 180 degrees from the way the recent development and release of Apple’s popular iPhone. All hardware and software comes from and can only be approved for use in the iPhone by Apple and its willing marketing partner, AT&T.

With Nokia’s ownership of the Symbian operating system software, and the decision to release the ability to use this operating system on any other manufacturers’ hardware, will naturally lead to the development of programs that can be used on many types of phones anyone purchases.

This ability for the software to work on many manufacturers’ phones will increase the competition for the more popular software applications that will get things done better, faster, and at a lower cost. An explosion of development will ensue to meet the demand for an application starved marketplace based upon the improved intelligence of the new generation of handsets.

Apple, however, will remain Apple.

Vodafone to offer 10 3G handsets including two megapixel camera phone. The headsets to be offered are: Sharp 802, Sharp 902, Motorola E1000, Motorola C980, Motorola V980, EC's Vodafone 802N, Sony Ericsson V800, Nokia 6630, Samsung Z110V and Samsung Z107V. Image Credit: wirelessmoment.com

This excerpted and edited from BusinessWeek -

Nokia Throws Open Mobile Software
Buying Symbian and making its mobile operating-system software open source should keep the likes of Apple and Microsoft on their toes
by Jennifer L. Schenker (With Mark Scott in London) – BusinessWeek,Technology (Paris) - June 24, 2008, 2:16PM EST

Few companies have the heft to take on Apple (
AAPL), Google (GOOG), and Microsoft (MSFT)—much less all three at the same time. But Nokia (NOK), the world's largest handset maker, made it clear on June 24 that it does not intend to cede its ground in mobile-phone software to gate-crashing U.S. tech giants.

The Finnish company announced a plan to buy the 52.1% of shares it doesn't already own in London-based
Symbian, the leading maker of operating system software for advanced mobile phones. In an industry-shifting move, Nokia will merge the company with parts of its own organization and then create an open-source foundation that will give away the resulting software for free to other handset makers.

Until now, Symbian has been owned by a consortium of rivals including Nokia, Sony (
SNE), Ericsson (ERIC), Panasonic (MC), Siemens (SI), and Samsung. The company was set up a decade ago to develop an independent software platform for smartphones. And indeed, Symbian software is now used in more than half of all such devices, relegating rivals such as Microsoft's pint-size Windows Mobile to a thin slice of the market.

But in the past year, the complexion of the industry has shifted as a new crop of rivals, most using open-source Linux software, have barged in. Nokia and the newcomers are now locked in a high-stakes battle whose outcome could shape the future of mobile communication—and by extension, of the Internet, as a growing number of consumers around the world
access the Web from handheld devices (BusinessWeek.com, 2/12/08).
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But there's more to it than that. In an era of emerging wireless applications, a platform is merely the jumping-off point. The real focus in the industry is shifting from what's inside the phone to the snazzy online stuff a handset can access over the air—from mobile music and photo sharing to GPS and location-based services.
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Before Nokia can convert millions of customers to wireless Web services, though, it has to give many more phones the capability found in its high-end N-Series models or the trendsetting Apple iPhone. That's where Symbian comes in: Today it's used mostly for top-of-the-line devices, but Nokia and others want to see it move down into mass-market products (known in industry jargon as "feature phones").

Today, such phones tend to use inflexible, homegrown software that's nightmarishly hard for handset makers and mobile operators to modify, limiting the opportunity for economies of scale possible if phones from many makers shared common software. Closed systems also make life more difficult for operators and suppliers of mobile software and services.
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Can the new Symbian Foundation really be open and independent when Nokia has such a vested interest in its software? That's one reason so many big players in the mobile and tech industries continue to spread their bets.
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In the end, it's unlikely any one operating system will prevail in handsets, as happened with Windows on personal computers. And for all its efforts to remain in the lead, Symbian could stumble if the rival initiatives do a better job of recruiting handset makers, independent software developers, service providers—and end users.

"This is a difficult industry," says Colly Myers, a former CEO of Symbian. "Part of it is technology; part of it is fashion; and part of it is consumer." As with anything tied to trends, he notes, "today's hero is tomorrow's fallen idol."

Reference Here>>

The big question here is will Symbian software development begin to tackle business development and mobility applications just as PALM attempted to do in its relationship with Motorola (Symbol Technologies) and JANAM ... or will this application segment become a backwater development eddy as it had for both of these business efforts ... who are left with a graduating path to the more capable linux OS for the future?

At the very least, consumers will win through a broader access to applications for use on a greater choice of devices that will provide full computer functionality, aided with access to the internet via WiFi or cell tower on an anytime, anywhere basis.

Welcome to the new emerging and open world of personal computer/phone mobility!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Proximity Payment Systems Get An Olympian Effort

Artist Conception - Olympic Stadium, London. Image Credit: Evening Standard (UK)

Proximity Payment Systems Get An Olympian Effort

From cellphones, credit/debit cards, to kiosk pay systems … the 2012 Olympic Games hosted by England will be run as a cashless, contactless payment affaire.

London already boasts more than 5,000 retailers from quick transaction food to specialty retail working with the new systems that feature the use of a special Visa “wave and pay” card that goes by the name Oyster.

The larger plan for the Olympic venues is to have all that attend, carry absolutely NO CASH and be able to go from venue to venue in a utopian, controlled instant and/or pre-paid environment.

Contactless payment systems known as "wave and pay". Image Credit: The Retail Factory (UK)

This from the Evening Standard (UK) -

The plastic Olympics: visitors to 2012 told 'no cash is needed'
Mark Prigg, Science Correspondent - 19.06.08

Visa is already using the technology and has distributed more than 100,000 "wave and pay" cards to its customers in London. More than 5,000 retailers, including McDonald's, Krispy Kreme and Eat have signed up to the scheme.
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From today, the cards can also be used to pay for an Evening Standard simply by tapping them over electronic readers at vendors' kiosks. This uses GPRS-based technology developed in conjunction with Lloyds TSB Cardnet. Guido Mangiagalli of Visa said: "By the end of the year we hope to have over 13,000 retailers signed up but we see the 2012 Games as being our chance to really showcase this technology. Every Olympic venue will have contactless readers in retailers and we aim to make the Games entirely cash-free for visitors."
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For visitors to the Olympics who do not own a credit card, prepay cards will be sold. Payments with the cards will be limited to £10 and Visa hopes they will be used for smaller purchases.
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Mr Mangiagalli said: "We knew there would need to be a significant cultural shift for consumers and retailers to fully embrace the concept of using cards to make low-value payments - traditionally the preserve of cash.
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"In retail environments, such as coffee shops, express grocery stores and newsagents, where purchases are lowvalue and speed of service is essential, Visa payWave offers a secure, convenient and quick alternative to cash and it is revolutionising how consumers pay for items in London and across Europe."

Mobile phone firm O2 has also been testing the technology with a mobile that acts as a credit card and Oyster card. Users simply swipe the back of the phone over a reader to make payments.

Reference Here>>