I am no Chicken Little when it comes to technology danger. The jaded part of me chalks up a good consumer health scare as some marketer's slam dunk way of selling "safer" but more expensive products, like super low radiation monitors and "green PCs". Maybe it came from being told not to sit too close to the TV as a child and finding the concept preposterously paranoid. And yet, I do sit in front of a huge monitor all day and stick a cell phone next to my brain a lot. A girl gets to wondering... While the jury is still out on whether or not cell phones cause brain tumors and other scary cancer-related problems, the scientific community has come up with a few logical ways to get an idea of the overall situation. This month, in response to growing consumer concern about cell phone safety, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) will release a set of guidelines on measuring radiation emission levels. (Hint: when a huge organization associated in any way with … [Read more...] about Can cell phones really kill you?
Do not call list cell phone
In an effort to improve communication for the deaf, engineers at the University of Washington are developing software that transmits American Sign Language over cellular networks. I spoke last week with project leader Eve Riskin about how the software works -- and about its implications for the deaf community. How did you go about creating this software? We started working on the project about five years ago. Our plan was to work on software to compress American Sign Language video. Our goal was to do it on PCs or work stations. We figured that would be challenging enough. But in the course of working on a project new ideas pop up. Four years ago, I got a new cell phone that happened to have a video camera on it. We had an 'ah-ha' moment that we could do this on a cell phone. We picked the HTC TyTN II. It was the first phone we found that was Windows Mobile and had the camera on the front. How similar is your software to the iPhone4 Facetime feature? That's exactly the idea. It's … [Read more...] about For the deaf, new software brings sign language to cell phone video
Earlier this week, Nate Ralph and I revived a portion of CNET's long-standing cell phone radiation charts. The two galleries, the cell phones with the highest radiation levels and the cell phones with the lowest radiation levels, were quick to gather reader comments, a few of which I'd like to address here.But first, here's some background. If you aren't familiar, CNET has tracked the Specific Absorption rate, or SAR, of every cell phone that we've reviewed for more than 10 years. In fact, updating the charts was one of my first tasks when I arrived here in 2003. And as other CNET editors like Lynn La dutifully took it over, the list kept growing.Unfortunately, when CNET introduced our awesome new design two months ago, the previous iteration of the chart was broken, rendering it unviewable on the new site. We're working to rebuild the full charts now and hope to repost them soon. In the meantime, though, I invite you to peruse the galleries that I mentioned above.Why we do itIn my … [Read more...] about Why CNET compiles cell phone radiation charts
Viral e-mails urging cell-phone users to hurry up and register with a government "Do Not Call" list to avoid advertising spam are still circulating five years after federal officials first told consumers they could basically ignore the message.The U.S. Federal Trade Commission in July once again issued a consumer alert noting that consumers don't need to register a cell phone or wireless phone number on its Do Not Call Registry despite viral e-mail messages suggesting they do otherwise. The alert notes that consumers may place their cell phone numbers on the registry, but that federal regulations already prohibit most telemarketing targeted to cell phones. Similar information is listed at the top of the FTC's Do Not Call information page .Some telemarketing to cell phones has been conducted in violation of federal regulations, and the FTC Web site includes notices of actions the FTC has taken over the years against violators, who rely on random automated dialers to reach those … [Read more...] about FTC Reminder: Skip Cell Phone Numbers on ‘Do Not Call’ List
Recent TV ads have depicted distracted smartphone users driving their cars into ditches or trees (or worse), and dropping their expensive new devices into the toilet.Real-life smartphone mini-disasters are apparently widespread. They can also be maddening, and often amusing.One fly fisherman found out that even waterproof phones and cases aren't absolute insurance. He related his story to ProtectCELL, a company that provides protection plans for tablets and cell phones, as part of its recent "Share Your Mobile Mishaps" campaign.The fly fisherman, identified only as Ran, said that the floating, waterproof case for his new iPhone 5 wasn't enough when the phone fell into the ice cold current of the Yakima River in Washington state."It hit the current and was out of my sight within seconds," he said.ProtectCELL offers protection plans for cell phones, their data and a user's mobile identity. A spokeswoman said all the stories of mobile mishaps it received were vetted, at least with a phone … [Read more...] about Cell-phone Mishaps and Mysteries From the Masses
VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is a terrible acronym but a great technology. But the industry thinks many people still believe many “myths” about running telephone traffic over the Internet. If Internet telephones don't work in your situation, that's one thing, but don't let old information keep you from leveraging new services and cost savings.One vendor, Speakeasy, sells Internet telephone services called “hosted VoIP” where the only equipment on your premise are the Internet telephones and the Internet connection. The company has anointed itself the “VoIP Myth Buster” and called me up to explain why.CEO Bruce Chatterly says Speakeasy started more than a dozen years ago as an Internet Service Provider for consumers. Over time, it shifted to supplying Internet bandwidth to small businesses with a technology Chatterly calls “Ethernet over copper” that combines telephone connections with support for higher bandwidths.A good bandwidth … [Read more...] about Do Telephone Calls over the Internet Still Confuse You?
When you're traveling, make sure to know the local laws about mobile phone use and text messaging while driving. Some infractions carry weighty fines and even potential jail time.Many of us want the right to talk and text in our cars, but study after study shows that talking or texting while driving causes accidents. Distracted-driving laws result from battles between legislators, law enforcement, insurance companies, and individuals. Opponents of the laws claim that they're a way for law enforcement to beef up revenue from traffic fines at the expense of individual liberties. Whatever your viewpoint is, this guide should help on your next trip. United StatesThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been calling for a complete ban on talking and texting while driving, even with hands-free devices. While no states have a complete ban on cell phones while driving, there are bans in some states for drivers who operate certain kinds of vehicles, as well as for beginning drivers. … [Read more...] about Cell Phone Driving Bans, State By State: Where You Break the Law
A hoax e-mail circulating the Internet has millions of Americans scurrying to add their cell phones to a national Do Not Call list to avoid telemarketers. The e-mail warns recipients that telemarketers will have new rights to call cell phones beginning Jan. 1, if people don't request anonymity by Wednesday. In the last week, 9.5 million people registered with the Do Not Call list, many as a result of the warning, according to its governing agency the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC typically fields up to 200,000 requests in a week, according to FTC spokeswoman Jen Schwartzman. "People are panicked, and I think the only thing they got right in the e-mail is our Web site registration information," Schwartzman said. The agency hasn't seen such volume since it introduced the service in July 2003. Schwartzman compared the current stampede to a 2002 frenzy that was sparked by an e-mail cautioning that personal financial data would be released to third parties. Like many rumors, the current … [Read more...] about E-mail hoax sparks ‘Do Not Call’ stampede
Once upon a time, workers had to depend on the availability of pay phones to stay in touch with their office, and that resulted in many missed opportunities. Today, cell phones are a business essential for employees in numerous fields. Many businesses recognize this need and either provide their employees with company-issued mobile phones or reimburse those workers for some or all of their cell phone expenses. It makes for a more connected, more accessible, and more efficient workforce, but the expenses can add up. I'll discuss some strategies that can help businesses reap the benefits of cell phone-equipped employees and keep costs down.The consumerization of business IT is a hot topic; it basically involves allowing employees to connect their own devices, particularly mobile devices such as phones and tablets, to the company network. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.Advantages It can save companies money, because the employees buy their own equipment. … [Read more...] about How businesses can cut cell phone costs
WASHINGTON – “Do not call” doesn’t work so well anymore. Telemarketers and scammers are finding ways around the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which sought to protect consumers from unwanted robocalls. At the same time, the act is blocking beneficial robocalls, such as those from health care providers. “TCPA is showing its age,” said Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican and chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, at a recent hearing called to consider updating the 1991 act.The TCPA did, indeed, sharply reduce some types of abusive and disruptive telemarketing practices. Companies are now required to abide by “do-not-call” lists and to make solicitation calls only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.The new problems center around cell phones. Under the law, automated calls or texts to a cell phone generally require the consumer’s consent. A violation can bring statutory damages … [Read more...] about Why robocallers can stalk you on your cell phone