Gunkerty Jeb writes "Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is demanding answers to questions about the U.S. Department of Justice practice of gathering data from wireless providers in order to monitor individuals' movements using mobile phone location data. In a letter (PDF) to Attorney General Eric Holder, Franken said, 'I was further concerned to learn that in many cases, these agencies appear to be obtaining precise records of individuals' past and current movements from carriers without first obtaining a warrant for this information. I think that these actions may violate the spirit if not the letter of the Jones decision.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Alt-kun writes "This past week has seen a couple of interesting articles about Research In Motion's strategic plans for BlackBerry 10. The Globe and Mail thinks that by pushing HTML5 for app development, they want to make mobile applications platform-neutral, which would let them sell devices purely on the strength of the hardware and OS, rather than on the ecosystem. And the Guelph Mercury notes that they also plan to push BB10 as the basis for a whole range of mobile and embedded devices, not just phones and tablets. One example shown off at the recent developer conference was a Porsche with a BlackBerry entertainment system."
An anonymous reader writes "In a welcome move, Apple has agreed to help share initial costs with Foxconn in improving the factories being used to manufacture iDevices. From the article: 'Foxconn chief Terry Gou did not give a figure for the costs, but the group has been spending heavily to fight a perception its vast plants in China are sweatshops with poor conditions for its million-strong labor force. It regards the criticism as unfair. "We've discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength," Gou told reporters on Thursday after the ground-breaking ceremony for a new China headquarters in Shanghai. "I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs."'"
Trailrunner7 writes, quoting Threat Post: "Carrier IQ, a startup heavily bruised last fall by harsh criticism of its handset diagnostic software, today announced it's hired a high-profile lawyer as its Chief Privacy Officer. Magnolia Mansourkia Mobley, a CIPP and former Verizon executive, will be tasked with quickly broadening the company's focus on consumer privacy. She also was named the company's General Counsel. The company became the flashpoint in a heated controversy after initial reports its analytics software, embedded in some 150 mobile phones, was capable of gathering a great deal of personal data without the customer's consent."
angry tapir writes "One Laptop Per Child Australia had a win in the recent Australian budget, receiving federal government funding for the first time. OLPC Australia will benefit from $11.7 million of funding, which will be used to purchase 50,000 laptops to distribute to students. The organization recently launched a new initiative that builds an educational ecosystem around the laptops, to help integrate them into the learning process."
Fluffeh writes "Around nine months ago, BART Police asked to have wireless communications disabled (PDF) between Trans Bay Tube Portal and the Balboa Park Station. That was because they knew a public protest was to take place there — and the service to the underground communication system was disabled. This affected not only cellphone signals, but also the radio systems of Police, Fire and Ambulance crews (PDF) within the underground. This led to an even larger protest at a BART station and many folks filed complaints along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation. The FCC responded by launching a probe into the incident. The results were a mixed bag of 'To protect citizens!' and 'Only in extreme cases,' not to mention the classic 'Terrorists use wireless communications!' But even if the probe doesn't lead to a full proceeding and formal order, the findings may well be used as a guide for many years to come."
udas writes "Two thirds of the world's population, 4 billion people, use cell phones today, and all of them have access to SMS. Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM), set up in 1982, created the GSM standard, leading to a unified, open, standard-based mobile network. SMS, up to 160 7-bit character messages sent over control channels (when they aren't busy), was part of the original GSM specification itself. The first GSM handsts were approved for sale in May 1992. But it was not until 1996, when pay-as-you-go SIM cards showed up, and the kids got their hands on it, that SMS gained popularity."
An anonymous reader writes "IEEE announced the publication of IEEE 802.11-2012, which defines the technology for the world's premier wireless LAN products. The new IEEE 802.11-2012 revision has been expanded significantly by supporting devices and networks that are faster and more secure, while offering improved Quality of Service and improved cellular network hand-off. The standard's relevance continues to expand with the emergence of new applications, such as the smart grid, which augments the facility for electricity generation, distribution, delivery and consumption with a two-way, end-to-end network for communications and control."
symbolset writes "The first Aakash tablet proposed for India schools has failed. Datawind managed to deliver the $45 Android tablet as reported here previously, but suffering a breach in faith by both their contract manufacturer and the accepting agency in India had to put the project on hold. Facing a loss in revenue it's turning into a disaster for the small Canadian company as they are now proving unable to deliver both the Aakash tablet and the parallel retail product. Senior executives have begun to flee. The company has presold a great many tablets, and delivery failure reports are beginning to mount. Is this the Phantom console of this decade?"
Hugh Pickens writes "Sascha Segan writes that although Verizon adamantly denies steering customers away from Apple's iPhones in favor of 4G LTE-enabled Android devices, he is convinced that Verizon has a strong reason to push buyers away from the iPhone. 'Here's the problem,' writes Segan. 'Verizon has spent millions of dollars rolling out its massive LTE network' but the carrier can't easily add capacity on its old 3G network. Since the iPhone isn't a 4G phone, sales of Verizon iPhones just crowd up their already busy 3G network while their 4G network has plenty of space. 'The iPhone is a great device. But it's making a crowded network more crowded. Until the LTE iPhone comes along, to rebalance its network, Verizon may quietly push Android phones.'"
MatthewVD writes "A new, user interface-enabled generation of electronics that you wear under your skin could be used for convenience, or even pleasure, rather than medical reasons. Scientists at Autodesk Research in Toronto have implanted electronics with user buttons, pressure sensors and LEDs under the skin of a cadaver's arm and wrapped in artificial skin. The electronics could buzz you when you have an appointment, carry memory cards with data, or connect you in a social network with others wearing electronics."
bonch writes "Apple has quietly replaced the iPad 2's A5 with a smaller 32nm die that increases battery life by 15 to 30%. It's theorized that Apple is using the iPad 2 as a test bed for the new hardware platform, which shrinks the surface area of the A5 to 57% of the previous size."
aesoteric writes "The combustion of an Apple iPhone 4 after a regional flight in Australia was likely caused by a botched repair of the handset by an unauthorized repairer, according to air safety investigators in the U.S. and Australia. A small metal screw had been misplaced in the battery bay of the handset. The screw punctured the battery casing and caused an internal short circuit, making the iPhone emit dense smoke (PDF)."
nk497 writes "Nokia has been hit with a class-action suit, with the claimant accusing the company of making 'false and misleading' statements about the ability of its deal with Microsoft to revive the struggling mobile maker. 'The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, defendants told investors that Nokia's conversion to a Windows platform would halt its deteriorating position in the smartphone market,' read a statement (PDF) from the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman and Dowd. 'It did not.'"
MrSeb writes "Back in the olden days, when WiFi and Bluetooth were just a glimmer in the eye of IEEE, another short-range wireless communications technology ruled supreme: Infrared Data Association, or IrDA for short. IrDA was awful; early versions were only capable of kilobit-per-second speeds, and only over a distance of a few feet. Trying to get my laptop and mobile phone to link up via IrDA was, to date, one of the worst tech experiences I've ever had. There's a lot to be said for light-based communications, though. For a start, visible (and invisible) light has a frequency of between 400 and 800THz (800 and 375nm), which is unlicensed spectrum worldwide. Second, in cases where you really don't want radio interference, such as hospitals, airplanes, and other sensitive environments, visible light communication (VLC), or free-space optical communication, is really rather desirable. Now researchers at the National Taipei University of Technology in Taiwan have transmitted data using lasers — not high-powered, laboratory-dwelling lasers; handheld, AAA-battery laser pointers. A red and green laser pointer were used, each transmitting a stream of data at 500Mbps, which is then multiplexed at the receiver for a grand total of 1Gbps."