News

Why robocallers can stalk you on your cell phone

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 of $500 per call, but only if a consumer files a lawsuit. Damages can be tripled if the activity was intentional.

But only one lawsuit is filed for every 1,000 complaints lodged with the Federal Trade Commission, and those are costly and hard to prove, said Margot Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center. “If robocalls were a disease, they would be an epidemic,” Saunders added in her remarks for the hearing. “The current structure of the TCPA does provide some protection, but it does not provide enough.”

Even hands-free mobile phones are dangerous for drivers

Don't - seriously, don't - ask your lover over the mobile what they're wearing while you're driving, even if you're hands-free.

The latest study on drivers' use of mobile phones concludes talking on a hands-free phone while driving is just as hazardous as holding the phone in your hands. And the most dangerous kind of conversation is one which sparks your visual imagination. Participants in the study who were distracted by visual imagery reacted half as fast to hazards as those who were not distracted.

It needn't even be something as exciting as a vision of your beloved in lycra. Simply imagining the facial expression of the person you're talking to is enough, said senior psychology lecturer Dr Graham Hole of the University of Sussex, because "the visual imagery competes for processing resources with what the driver sees in front of them on the road."

The experiment required 20 males and 40 females to sit in a car seat behind a steering wheel with pedals representing a brake and an accelerator. They were shown seven minute videos simulating road driving in which they had to respond to unexpected hazards by hitting the brake. One group was not distracted, the other group was distracted by a male voice on a loudspeaker making statements they had to identify as true or false. 

All the distracted drivers had slower response times than those who weren't distracted, but those whose answers required visual thinking - for example, "a ten pound note is bigger than a five pound note, true or false" - had the worst responses. Sentences such as "Leap years have 366 days" were less distracting.



Why humans cannot help fiddling with mobile phones at dinner

Fiddling with a mobile phone while chatting, or dining with friends, is generally considered the height of bad manners.

But a Cambridge psychoanalyst has claimed that tinkering with objects is nothing new and humans need to have something in their hands to feel comfortable during social interactions.

Darian Leader, author of Hands: What do we do with them and why?, says that in the past snuff boxes, gloves and fans were all used as props to help people feel at ease when communicating.

He believes that the objects act as an abstract barrier by which it is possible to avoid coming too close to another person.

“Just as there are an extraordinary number of tablets and phones now, so there have always been a massive number of hand-held objects which have kept people’s hands busy,” Leader told the Hay Festival in Wales.

Research report explores the mobile VoIP market that is expected to grow at 28.47% CAGR to 2020

Global Mobile VoIP Market 2016-2020, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years.

The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

Mobile VoIP allows IP calls over mobile networks (3G/LTE) or fixed networks, such as wireless hotspots, Wi-Fi, and worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX) networks. Mobile VoIP bypasses the originating mobile carrier's telephony network and allows inexpensive calls on mobiles through the Internet providers.

It also offers low-cost international calls, and roaming calls, without the need for extensive infrastructures such as PCs and DSL modems.

The Latest Study Linking Mobile Phones To Cancer Has Big Problems

You may have seen the headlines recently reporting on a new study that’s supposedly found a link between mobile phones and cancer. But all is not quite as it seems. And much of the alarm raised by the study is misplaced.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

First, a bit of background. The study was set up by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) in response to concerns about the potential health effects of radiofrequency (RF) emissions from mobile telecommunications devices. It was set to determine whether chronic RF exposure caused cancer in mice and rats.

This was a large, well-funded study, and as such has been eagerly awaited by RF health scientists and policy makers alike. The issue of whether RF emissions can cause cancer has been hotly debated, and the evidence to date has been unable to settle the matter conclusively.

New Windows 10 Mobile preview brings phone notifications to your PC

Microsoft first brought the feature to Android users, but now folks on Windows 10 Mobile can also get phone notifications synced to their Windows 10 PCs. The new feature was just added as an addition to Cortana in the latest Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview on the fast ring—build 14356.

Cortana can send phone notifications and what Microsoft calls “critical alerts” to your Windows PC with the updated version of Windows 10 Mobile. This includes items that already show up, such as regular text messages and missed call alerts, as well as notifications from other messaging apps (WhatsApp, Line, Telegram, etc.), social media alerts, and other app notifications.

Microsoft says it’s also working on muting notifications on a per-app basis, but that functionality is not ready yet. You can, however, turn off phone notifications globally if you don’t want to fill up Action Center on your PC with phone alerts. Your Windows 10 PC will need to also be enrolled in the Windows Insider preview program to see these new mobile alerts.

The impact on you at home: If you want to check out the improvements to Cortana you’ll need to be on the latest version of the Windows Insider fast ring for both Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 for PCs. Otherwise, the new features are expected to roll out as part of the Anniversary Update this summer.

Banks Have Many Reasons to Build Their Own Mobile Wallets

How can banks benefit from a spurt of mobile payments innovation that is enabling faster checkouts with the advantage of greater security for customers?

Given the steady increase in smartphones and the number of merchants accepting mobile payments, it has become imperative to have a virtual wallet strategy.

As previously discussed, tokens are critical to mobile payments. In turn, the provisioning of tokens is dependent on the type of wallet used. Essentially, there are two types of wallets: the first is on the device itself and the other is in the cloud.

The device wallet has either a hardware secure element or a software secure element. Tokens are stored on the device itself. Here, the wallet is controlled by either the device manufacturer or the network operator.

The emergence of Host Card Emulation (HCE) protocol has given rise to cloud-based mobile wallets. With HCE, card information is stored on cloud servers and tokens are provisioned to the device on request or at the time of transaction. This enhances security several times over.

The cloud wallet can be either a full cloud solution or a partial cloud solution. In a full cloud solution, no payment information is stored in the device—the card is emulated by the cloud. In this scenario, the device has to connect to the cloud for every transaction.

A partial cloud solution is an alternative in times of limited or absent connectivity. In this solution, the phone application stores tokens pushed to it from the cloud at periodic intervals.

Madden: The collision of cable and mobile

Astronomers report that when galaxies collide, they can see the dramatic explosion of energy. But in reality, when the two galaxies make first contact, there's not much visible impact. The initial "collision" is really two dispersed objects that overlap with each other, occupying a shared space without significant direct conflict.

The mobile market has started to collide with the cable market. Like a gravitational pull, they're both drawn into the same space as a next wave of growth will come from convergence of networks and services. We see companies in each area starting to anticipate the coming competition between fixed and wireless. Examples include

  • Cablevision launched a "Freewheel" smartphone service based on Wi-Fi first
  • To a lesser degree, Google's Project Fi uses Wi-Fi networks to replicate a smartphone service (but using Sprint and T-Mobile as backup networks)
  • Comcast, among other cable operators, will be bidding in the 600 MHz auction
  • AT&T acquired DirecTV and then offered "unlimited" data to customers that subscribed to both mobile and video services
  • Verizon launched its Go90 service with interesting content from some of the most popular YouTube channels and the NBA

Microsoft is no longer ‘mobile first’

Despite claiming to be a “mobile first” corporation, last week Microsoft made two independent moves that pushed it even further away from the phone manufacturer it had become with the ill-fated Nokia acquisition, which closed in April 2014.

By selling the company’s feature phone operation and cutting over a thousand jobs in its smartphone division, Microsoft simultaneously finished off the remnants of Nokia, while signaling that the company had essentially abandoned its long-held goal of being a viable alternative to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

For a brief period, it appeared that Microsoft would have the same tight vertical integration over its mobile ecosystem that Apple does, both producing the hardware and developing the software that powers it. But now it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the company to position itself as a mobile-first competitor, when its offerings look so underwhelming compared to the competition.

While it’s true that Microsoft continues to limp along with Windows 10 Mobile development, the operating system now accounts for less than 1 percent of new smartphones sold worldwide. It also develops a significant amount of mobile software — much of which is deployed on its competitors’ platforms.

Apple Isn’t Going To Become A Mobile Carrier After All

Last year, Apple denied reports that it was testing mobile phone service, planning to become a mobile virtual network operator, or re-seller of service from a major carrier’s network. By doing that, Apple could sell phones and service to customers directly all over the world, cutting out customers’ direct relationships with carriers.

Apple has at least been considering this idea since 2011, but what brought the idea closer to reality was the iPad Pro, which has an embedded SIM (e-SIM) that can switch between multiple carriers, instead of inserting a different SIM to switch your mobile carrier.

Whether they were testing the mobile network idea or not, you won’t be able to get Apple service when you rent your iPhone directly from Apple: CEO Tim Cook says that the company simply doesn’t have the expertise to do that, even leasing network capacity from the major carriers in each country.