Mobile Tech

Mobile Tech19 Jul 2008 12:09 pm

Message boards are buzzing with angry iPhone 3G owners (myself included) who have discovered that many iPhone 1.0-compatible products are not fully compatible with the iPhone 2.0. Specifically, many third-party devices, and a good number of Apple-created devices as well, will access the data stored on the device, but does not recharge its battery.

Given the terrible battery life I’m experiencing on the new 3G phone, it’s all the more critical that I be able to charge my phone at every opportunity. But I’ve come to find that the three most important places in which I would normally recharge my phone will not do it: the dock I use for my phone and iPod at my desk, the iPhone adapter in my car (which both BMW and Apple promoted as a great new feature of that model year), and the great (and expensive) Bose speakers/docking station on my bedside table.

Folks posting to various message boards have said the snafu is a hardware problem, having to do with the rearrangement of some wiring in the connector port as a consequence of shifting from Firewire to USB 2.0.

Rumor has it that Apple is working on some kind of adapter, but that’s going to be impractical for some devices, and just downright awkward for others. (Oh, and you can be sure that Apple will charge through the nose for it too.) In any event, this is something that should have been spotted during QA at Apple, if not much earlier.

And whichever twit at Apple didn’t spot this as a potential issue, or decided that it wasn’t such a big deal, needs to be horsewhipped with all the charging cables that are now useless.

Mobile Tech & News & Culture27 Sep 2005 02:12 am

According to the AP, actor and comedian Don Adams — famous for starring as the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart — is dead at age 82.

His television series, “Get Smart”, debuted in September 1965. A spoof on the wildly popular James Bond films of the same era, the show won two Emmys for best comedy series and three Emmys for Adams as comedy actor.

As the inept Agent 86 of the super-secret federal agency CONTROL, Adams captured TV viewers with his antics in combatting the evil agents of KAOS. When his explanations failed to convince the villains or his boss, he tried another tack: “Would you believe … ?”

In doing a little searching, I found that his famous Shoe Phone is in the CIA’s museum along with this priceless bit of dialogue:

Operator: “What number are you calling?”
Smart: “I’m calling Control, Operator!”
Operator: “You have dialed incorrectly. Give me your name and address and your dime will be refunded.”
Smart: “Operator, I’m calling from my shoe!”
Operator: “What is the number of your shoe?”
Smart: “It’s an unlisted shoe, Operator!”

And for a privacy guy like me, who can forget the Cone of Silence… where you could hear everything on the outside perfectly, but couldn’t hear each other. :)

Cone of Silence

The Washington Post also had a wonderful appreciation of Maxwell Smart’s impact on American language… including “Would you believe…?”, “Sorry about that,chief!”, and “… and loving it!”

RIP, Agent 86!

Law & Mobile Tech & Spam26 Sep 2005 09:12 pm

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for spammers in courts around the U.S.

On September 20, an Arizona appeals court upheld a lower court decision which found that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 does indeed apply to Short Message Service (SMS) spam sent to mobile phones.

The case, Joffe v. Acacia Mortgage Corp., is another victory for Rodney Joffe, my friend and a fellow co-conspirator in

According to the AP:

Acacia argued that it had only sent a message and did not “call” Joffe, but the Court of Appeals said that was an incomplete description of what the company did when it used e-mail to indirectly connect to Joffe’s cell phone and place a text message.

“Even though Acacia used an attenuated method to dial a cell phone telephone number, it nevertheless did so,” Judge Patricia K. Norris wrote for the panel.

Then, on September 22, we learned in late word from Oklahoma that one of today’s most prolific spammers, Robert Soloway, was ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $10 Million in statutory damages and has been permanently ordered to stop his spamming ways. Failure to heed the judge’s order can result in arrest, extradition to Oklahoma, and jail for contempt of court.

Careful readers of PrivacyClue will remember that Robert Soloway recently got on my bad side by sending out the text of a column I wrote, making it appear as if I had sent the spam. As a result of the court’s injunction, if Soloway sends any more spam in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, he’s looking at jail time.

I’m sure his Mom is so proud!

Mobile Tech & Privacy22 Sep 2005 11:31 am

There seems to, finally, be a shift in coverage of Google towards the skeptical! No longer merely reprinting Google’s press releases about how wonderful and privacy-friendly every new service offering is, some analysts are finally seeing the bigger picture. Today’s case-in-point: Google’s new Wi-Fi offering dubbed Google Secure Access.

The concept is simple: Google plans to offer a free wireless Internet service in numerous major cities. They call it “secure” because you must first download a Virtual Private Network application which encrypts your signal guarding against having your data packets sniffed out of mid-air by hackers, the NSA, and other ne’er-do-wells. Your secured data then travels to and from the sites you visit, whizzing right past the gaping maw of Google’s massive data-mining infrastructure.. which stands by slack-jawed, leaving your private information alone.

In their privacy statement, they promise that your privacy is completely protected, unless they think you’re a bad guy — or were told you were a bad guy by law enforcement — whereupon they’ll capture everything. In this way Google is no different than any ISP who can, if needs be, capture every packet that comes to and from your computer.

But the real difference here is that Google’s model, thus far, has been to provide free services supported by targeted advertising. During this ‘beta’ phase, where the Google service is being tested in a number of major market cities around the globe, the service is free. Ask any analyst and, unless they’re too deeply pickled in Google’s Kool-Aid, they’ll tell you that Google is desperately seeking alternative revenue sources. Not that they’re hurting for cash… but they just don’t want to be a one-trick pony.

The bottom line remains the Bottom Line: Google will have to pay for Google Secure Access somehow. And that will be through charging a fee, or by doing what Google does best — shove data into the gaping maw and serve advertisements.

And just when you thought I was the lone nut in the wilderness, somebody else expresses reservations:

“[I want to] ask an uncomfortable question: How much of your life do you want to put at Google’s disposal? I’ve already noted several times that Google primarily offers all this really cool free stuff in order to mine your hard drive for information and use it to sell ads. That’s why Google’s ‘Secure Access’ program — the first bit of the WiFi strategy to hit the street — is such a spooky irony. It encrypts your WiFi data streams and filters your net experience through Google’s “secure” servers. Basically, Google is saying, ‘Use our encryption servers so no one will snoop on your data — except us.'”

Just another reason to look closely at the fine print in Google’s Privacy Policy, and to make a choice about how comfortable you are with the vague promises therein, especially as revenue pressures mount.

[Note: If you find the title of this posting odd, click here.]

Mobile Tech & News & Culture & Privacy30 Aug 2005 10:05 am

In an amusing story this past week, a New York City subway passenger was surprised and disgusted when she found a creepy guy flashing her and masturbating on a lonely subway car last week.

Thinking quickly, she snapped a cellphone picture of the guy, which caused him to panic and flee. Turning the photo over to the authorities, and publishing it on and in a Flickr photo album, the story — and the picture — were soon on the front page of the New York Daily News.

Not surprisingly, the flasher was recognized by one of his previous victims and he was subsequently identified and arrested by police.

These stories are becoming more frequent, and as one who is often annoyed by the cellphone antics of rude and unthinking people, it is interesting to see cellphones being used for more positive social change. But this comes with some privacy concerns too.

For example, in a Washington Post story a few weeks ago, Subway Fracas Escalates Into Test Of the Internet’s Power to Shame, a woman whose dog relieved itself on a subway train in South Korea, was asked by fellow subway passengers to clean up the mess. She refused.

When she became belligerent, one of her fellow passengers snapped some camera-phone pictures of her and published them on the web. Others identified her, posted personal information about her, and she became the target of anger and ridicule. The woman eventually had to quit her university due to the amount of harassment she was getting.

Certainly this kind of social pressure can be taken too far, and I’m not sure someone should be hounded out of school for failure to pick up dog poop. But perhaps this will be a lesson to some people that common courtesy sometimes isn’t the highest price you can pay.

Mobile Tech17 Apr 2005 04:30 pm

I just finished reading a breathtakingly arrogant interview with Ivan Seidenberg, the CEO of Verizon, the nation’s largest telephone company. And the philosophy of “we don’t have to care, we’re the phone company!” is laid bare time and again through the interview. (more…)

Mobile Tech & Podcast11 Apr 2005 02:40 pm

My friend David Lawrence has written a really interesting blog entry about the phenomenon of Podcasting, and why it’s not really all that new, as well as why it faces some pretty substantial challenges before it becomes the “end” of radio as we know it.

Friends & Family & Mobile Tech & Sillycon Valley Biz07 Apr 2005 02:22 pm

CNET reporter Paul Festa mentioned in his blog entry for today about Justin’s appearance today at the Flashforward 2005 conference.

Mobile Tech & News & Culture06 Apr 2005 02:15 pm

Over the past week or so, I’ve noticed while listening to my XM Satellite Radio, that there have been ads noting that when radio “shock-jocks” Opie & Anthony come back from vacation later this month, their show will no longer be a Premium service. When they first appeared on XM a few months ago, you had to pay an extra $2.99 (I think). (more…)

Mobile Tech & Sillycon Valley Biz04 Apr 2005 10:07 pm

SonyEricsson P910aThis is a follow-on to my April 2, 2005, posting about my new mobile phone and why I hate PalmOne (nee Palm). This weekend I spent a while playing with my new SonyEricsson P910a.

My general impression so far is that it’s a great little device. Lightweight, but with a substantial feel, I was worried that the keypad “flip” would be flimsy but it’s not at all. The screen is bright, and the overall navigation is pretty intuitive. I would have changed some of the menu and button names, but they’re still relatively intuitive. I’ve also enjoyed trying out the many interesting applications for Symbian Series 60 phones which are available at They even have a nifty widget that lets you browse, download, install, and uninstall software demos. (more…)

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