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Greenpeace deluges Amazon Fire Phone with one-star protest reviews
October 3, 2014 | 5:56 pm

greenpeaceWow, everyone’s piling onto Amazon these days. The latest fight Amazon’s picked with someone (or vice versa) is with, of all organizations, Greenpeace. Seeking Alpha reports that the environmental organization is upset Amazon hasn’t committed to moving to 100% green energy for its data centers the way other big data users like Google, Apple, and Facebook have. Even Yahoo and Microsoft have been making improvements, but Amazon hasn’t seen the need. So, Greenpeace decided to stage a protest. And since Amazon doesn’t have any ships they can row dinghies in front of or send scuba divers to sabotage, they...

Why library e-book posters should go on the walls of check cashing stores
September 22, 2014 | 2:26 pm

What if the walls of check cashing stores and other establishments serving poor people did not just carry the usual commercial ballyhoo? Suppose colorful posters also promoted cell phones as a way for the poor to find books to read themselves---or read to their children....

How cell phone book clubs could help get young people reading and change their lives
September 10, 2014 | 2:25 pm

BertelKingNote: Although David Rothman posted the article, he says the author is really Bertel King, Jr., SF/fantasy novelist and a journalist. Read about Bertel at the end of his cogent essay. Go here to learn how to start your own cell phone book club. Also check out related essays here and here. In 2008, I graduated from Southampton High School, which did an admirable job of preparing me for college. I say “admirable” because at the time I had no idea just how disadvantaged my county was compared to the wealthy suburban schools of Northern Virginia and Richmond that populate most...

Aereo loses, cell phone privacy wins at Supreme Court today
June 25, 2014 | 11:22 am

A pair of important Supreme Court decisions came down today—one disappointing and one critically important to anyone who uses mobile devices. The disappointing one is a 6-3 decision killing Aereo. The service that used dedicated individual miniature antennas to stream broadcast TV service to people’s computers over the Internet has been ruled to appear too much like a cable company, even as it scrupulously followed the letter of existing case law (while nonetheless skirting its spirit). Aereo could try to license content from the networks going forward, but would have to pass the costs on to consumers—and as Gizmodo...

AT&T Mobile Share plus tethering is what I’ve wanted for years
May 16, 2014 | 2:46 pm

at&t mobile shareAbout a month ago, I logged on to my AT&T account to check something, and I noticed advertising for their Mobile Share plan. We have three smartphones on our Family plan, and I've priced shared plans in the past and always been disappointed to see how much extra they cost. I was expecting to be disappointed again, and was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Switching plans has given us unlimited minutes (up from I think 500 or so shared minutes which we never came close to using) and 2GB of shared data. Plus phone tethering. Data usage has never been a...

Smartphones replace entire Radio Shack advertisement worth of gadgets
February 15, 2014 | 1:10 pm

radioshackadJust to show how far we’ve come in the last twenty-three years, a blogger recently came across a full-page Radio Shack newspaper ad from 1991, and noticed that all except two items on the ad have now been superseded by his iPhone. While a few of his comparisons are a little iffy (for example, the iPhone could be said to replace a CB radio inasmuch as you can chat with people on the go, but it doesn’t let you chat on CB radio on the go; and not everyone uses their phone as their full-time computer) most of them...

Kantar data emphasizes Android lead, Apple slide in smartphone sales
January 30, 2014 | 10:15 am

New 4Q 2013 data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech backs up earlier IDC figures for 2013 smartphone sales that suggest Android is continuing to extend its lead across global markets, especially outside the U.S. According to the Kantar analysis, "the three-month period ending December 2013, shows that Android closed out the year strongly across 12 global markets including the United States.  The operating system ended 2013 with a sales share of 50.6 percent, a gain of 4.4 percentage points from the final three months of 2012." Android remained especially strong in Europe, "with 68.6 percent share, while Apple held second place with 18.5 percent."...

Wilson to Introduce Carrier-Approved Wireless Signal Booster at CES
January 7, 2014 | 4:20 pm

signal boosterby Joe Paone If you have problems receiving cell phone calls in your home, beach house, camping site, you name it, you need to be aware of wireless signal boosters. Wilson Electronics is one of the leading purveyors of this technology, which has long drawn the ire of wireless carriers because they believed many signal boosters caused interference on their networks. The company says it has worked closely with carriers to mitigate those problems, and it appears it has. Wilson just dropped us a note about its CES plans: As you may be aware, there has been an ongoing feud between manufacturers of...

Major cell phone companies agree to implement unlocking of paid-off phones
December 12, 2013 | 6:30 pm

Here’s good news for all those who do their e-reading on their smartphones or cellular-enabled tablets. Ars Technica reports that major carriers AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular have “voluntarily” committed to unlocking customers’ phones or tablets so they can be moved to other networks once their contracts have been paid off. (Prepaid phones would be unlocked no later than one year after their original purchase.) In July 2010, we reported that a DMCA exemption for cell phone unlocking and jailbreaking had gone into effect. However, that exemption only lasted for two and a half years, expiring...

As first papal ‘selfie’ goes viral, camera extensions add depth
November 14, 2013 | 12:45 pm

camera With the first papal 'selfie' going viral earlier this year, Pope Francis has upped the  ante, and camera selfies  will never be the same. Not only is the word in the dictionary now, selfies are  getting some help from a likely place: Japan. Yes, leave it to the Japanese and their zest for inventiveness. Once again,  they've taken the ubiquitous cellphone camera craze with its massive online inventory of "selfies" shot by people holding the camera phone too close to their faces and taken the concept one step further -- into some ''outer'' space. Not that outer space, but the outer...

It might be smart to watch Google’s planned smartwatch
October 29, 2013 | 1:49 pm

smartwatchSmartphones already expanded into a bigger form factor with tablets, but shrinking into a smaller form factor has been giving it a little more trouble. While the Pebble e-ink smartwatch did well as a kickstarter and has been garnering good reviews, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear—a twice-as-expensive watch which only syncs with Samsung phones and whose internal battery is not sufficient to operate for even one entire day—has faced a return rate as high as 30% at Best Buy. But perhaps the best smartwatch may be yet to come. Gizmodo reports on the smartwatch that Google is developing, based on designs from a...

Motorola announces modular smartphone system similar to Phonebloks concept
October 29, 2013 | 10:28 am

ara1blogpostRemember that Phonebloks idea I covered last month, in which someone proposed a LEGO-style creation system for smartphones, in which people could build their preferred phones out of just the parts they wanted? The consensus at the time was that it seemed clever and creative on the surface, but wasn’t entirely feasible as suggested. But Motorola seems to have found something useful in the concept. It was apparently working on this idea before the Phonebloks people came along, but they certainly seem to have found some common ground. After taking a truck full of rooted smartphones and 3D...

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