Friday, December 16, 2011

Microsoft To Give Away Windows Mobile Phones To Android RuFraud Malware Recipients

Microsoft is trying to capitalize on Android users who may have been victims of malware on their handsets. It seems has though that our friends in Redmond are being a little juvenile about this delicate matter. They are going to give away 5 phones to those who have the worst malware horror stories. They even went as far to announce this contest on Twitter, on it’s official page none the less, by using the hashtag #droidrage.    

This of course isn’t the first time that Microsoft has given away free phones to try to entice users over to the Windows Mobile platform. I for one used Windows mobile for years, but after owning an Android phone, won’t go back. Microsoft could give me 500 phones, and I would turn them down.

This of course has to do with the 22 apps that Google had to recently remove from the Android market. These apps were labeled with the malware RuFraud. These apps were on the market posing as popular games, such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. The apps were packaged with malware that would send fake messages to premium SMS numbers, costing the user $5 a text.

The RuFraud malware only affected European users. It did not make it to North America. It seems as though that over 3,200 people shared their story on Twitter. Stay tuned to see who the winners of the contest were.


A Smaller iPad?

Rumor has it that Apple is going to release a smaller version of the iPad. This smaller version is said to be available in late 2012. This is to coincide with the release of the iPad 3. This new smaller version will be a 7.85 inch model. Is there a need for a smaller iPad. Will Apple offer this model at a lower price? Apple would have to re-resolution of it’s user interface for this smaller screen. This of course is a rumor. We have heard these rumors before. What do you think? Readers, please feel free to leave any comments that you have. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Google’s Android Goes Head To Head With Appple iPhone’s Siri

It has been reported that Google is working on it’s own version of vocal input software, that is to be included in the Android OS. This software has been under development for quite some time and we could see this software released as early as the end of the year. This software has been given the name “Majel”. Majel was the name of the voice computer from the science fiction T.V. series Star Trek.

According to reports from sources, this project has been under development for over a year now at the Google centre in San Francisco known as Google X. Reports of this also indicate that Google in an attempt to cash in on Siri’s success, acquired Clever Sense, developers of the Alfred assistant smartphone application.

The default interactive voice software that is currently on all Android devices Voice Actions, is not equipped with the capabilities to let the user go beyond the pre set commands. With Majel, the user will have more interaction like capabilities as Siri and the iOS. Majel like Siri will have the capabilities to detect users’ vocal behavior. The initial release of Majel will only have the capabilities of internet search queries, with more features to be added throughout the course of next year.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Can Technology Use In The Classroom Improve Learning?

Is this possible? Here is 10 Innovative Schools that are offering the use of Smartphones and other technology gadgets in the classroom as a means to improve education in the classroom.

Growing up; there was always something that wasn’t allowed in the classroom. It was usually due to distraction, always something that you just got and was really eager to show off as to gain some popularity. Last week I did a story on a really cool teacher, Mr. Daniel Downs of Winchester High School in Winchester, MA. My story mentioned that technology had come a long way as he is teaching a class on Android app development. I have found 10 schools that are allowing smartphones in the classroom.

Cell phones, like all of the other latest gadgets have always been a real no-no in the classroom. It is because of its distraction, that some have even been banned altogether from some school districts? There is however a new trend developing, some schools  are lifting this ban and allowing students to use them as learning tools, even encouraging such use. Some have been very critical to this new trend though; others however have found that it helps students to become interested in learning. This has even resulted in increased performance levels in some students.

As you may know, there is always going to be those who may oppose of this idea. I would however encourage you to read the following examples of these schools that are offering this service.  These schools are leading the way and making examples. For someone as myself who is a technology enthusiast, I found it to both informative and inspiring. After reading this, I hope that someone in the teaching field finds it to be inspiring to them as well.

 Onslow County Schools:  This North Carolina school district found a way to be innovated with the use of smartphones. This enabled them to close the math achievement gap on some of their schools that are economically challenged. With the use of smartphones they have seen an improvement in standardized test scores. These students are participating in a program called Project K-Nect. They use the phones in Algebra, Algebra II, and Geometry. The students have the ability to use the calculators, look up information on the web, watch math videos, and play educational games. These students have said that they feel more confident about their math abilities, were more motivated to take more math courses and some are even considering a career in math.


Cimarron Elementary School   The students in the 5th grade at Cimarron Elementary School are using the phones to do their homework. They have the messaging and calling capabilities disabled, however this hasn’t curtailed learning. They can connect to the internet, schedule assignments, and send emails to their teachers. They are also using the phones to do web quests, scan QR codes linked to vocabulary and reading websites, make excel spreadsheets, create quizzes, and even use them for their science labs. With the use of the phones, there has been an improvement of both math and science from the previous year.

Watkins Glen School District

 The students at this school district are participating in a program called Learning on the Go. This program has been in use for two years now, and has recently expanded to include netbook usage and all grade levels. This program was started because not everyone has the internet in their homes. With this program they are able to prepare students for an increasingly globalized digital world, enabling them to become familiar with using the web for a wide range of educational tasks.
  St. Mary’s City School 

This school in Ohio is leading the way with innovation in the classroom. In 2009, they provided more than 2,300 third, fourth, and fifth graders with their own PDA’s for use in school and at home. These devices have been pre loaded with educational programs that allow students to anything from write an essay to study math with flash cards. Educators at this school have embraced the idea of using mobile devices as learning tools. These students have become very enthusiastic about receiving their own mobile device for learning.
Edmonton School

Most of the schools on the list are providing with their own mobile devices, however Edmonton has taken a different approach. They aren’t providing their students with phones or any other device, but encourages the student to bring their own. They are allowing the student to use everything from a smartphone to an iPad for class use. Students have the ability to use their devices as calculators, dictionaries, planners and even sketchbooks. They have employed a technology coach, who works with teachers to employ technology use into their curriculum. Students enjoy the ability to be able to bring their favorite tech device to class.
Crosby-Iron High School 

Teacher Bob Kuschel is different from most teachers. He allows students to use their smartphones in his classroom. He says that they are effective learning tools. He has allowed such use for the past three years now. They are allowed to use smartphones while working on labs or class assignments, but doesn’t allow use during lectures. Kuschel says that it’s important for the student to easily access information. He has not only seen improved grades, but improved interest in their class work as well. Southwest High School
 This is another North Carolina school that is participating in the Project K-Nect program. This program is sponsored by Qualcomm, who are providing Smartphones for a few trial classes, with the hopes of expansion in coming years. School administrators are hoping that smartphone usage will not only improve scores, but help the student learn using new technology. Students with phones have performed 25% better than those who did not.Mounds View High School

 This school located in the Twin Cities gave students the opportunity to bring their technology to class starting this fall. They are able to use Smartphones, PDA’s, and tablets. Some have been critical of this, while other are encouraging the educational opportunities. This school is leading the way as another Minneapolis school in the region just approved of bringing technology in the classroom.Lincoln Middle School

 Sixth grade students at this school are participating in a trial program and have been given phones by donation from Sprint. Calling and texting features on these phones have been disabled and internet usage is limited and closely monitored. Students are using these phones in science classes to graph, write essays and look up information on the web. A study of phone usage at this school showed an increased level of of engagement and students were more motivated to complete assignments. Teachers even say that they would like to see the program expand.

Byron High School

The students at this school no longer have to hide their technology use. They are now allowed to use phones, MP3 players, laptops, and iPads in the classroom, upon the teachers approval. This program has been in use for five months now. They haven’t noticed any increase in students cheating or misusing the technology. There is hopes of expanding this program. This has helped to reduce the cost of maintaining a computer lab and made it easier for students to learn as well.

I know that there are more schools out there who are participating in technology use. Where do we go from here? What do you think? 

More information for this article can be found here:

or here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Did You Celebrate With Angry Birds On Their 2nd Birthday?

Yesterday marked the anniversary or birthday of one of the most popular games ever made, Angry Birds. People of all ages love this game. No one received cake and ice cream though, instead players were the recipients of presents, as in new levels of your favorite game to enjoy. Players had the pleasure of enjoying a free upgrade
on the iOS, and 15 new levels.

Remember that it’s only a game, so it didn’t matter how good you are or not. It didn’t matter if you can’t climb up each level, because all of the episodes on the original game were unlocked for your enjoyment. Retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Toys R Us to name a few, got in on the fun as well and gave away prizes.

The makers of Angry Birds, Rovio, value the company at more than $1 billion. As of last month, fans had played 266 billion levels of the game, shot 400 billion birds and collected 44 billion stars. According to Rovio, people play Angry Birds for a combined total of 1.825 billion hours a month. Angry Birds have taken over the world.   


Are You Ready For The Next Generation Of Smartphones & The LTE Network?

Do you remember your first phone? I remember mine. No color screen other than the ugly green in the background on top of the black. They had maybe a few menial games, and I don’t think SMS or text was available yet. We have certainly have come a long way. We have smartphones as they are called with processors that have speeds of 1 GHz and some exceed this. We even have some phones with dual core processors, but can you imagine a quad processor smartphone?

With the move from 3 & 4G to the LTE (Long Term Evolution), 2012 will bring about the smartphone with the quad core processor and high screen resolution. These handsets will have much improved battery performance, thanks to the much needed and improved energy-efficient chipsets and the arrival of the first VoLTE, (Voice over LTE) handsets.

Today, all of the handsets that are equipped with LTE are based on or run Google’s Android OS. Although it is expected that with the release of the iPhone 5, it will have LTE included in it as well. We are then sure to see phones With the Windows mobile platform and Blackberry OS to follow. As of now LTE is only available in the U.S.

Large screens were very popular with handsets in 2011, including the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note with it’s massive 5.3 inch screen. There were also numerous other phones for consumers to choose from that had screens that were between 4.5 and 4.7 inches. The screen size has been maxed out to say the least. Numerous manufactures are now offering their handsets with a  screen resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels, with more to follow. The iPhone has a lot of pixels to offer, but has stayed at the 3.5 inch screen. With the release of the iPhone 5, rumors have it, that the screen size will be larger.

Along with larger screens, vendors will release handsets with quad core processors. ARM’s Cortex-A9 will be included in a lot of the newer handsets. That should be enough to entice the consumer to buy a new phone. Upon the upgrade from either a single core or dual core to a quad core, the user will experience an improvement in the quality of video playback as well as speed performance on the new LTE network.

Not only will the newer handsets offer quad core processors, that will increase the handsets performance, but will be equipped with a GPU (graphics processing unit) as well. Be sure to keep an eye out for the newest display of handsets to be offered. We will get to see a preview of those handsets next month in Las Vegas at the Consumers Electronic Show. I know that I for one am anticipating the newest releases, as I am due for an upgrade in May. What do you think?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Google Doodle

With special events we get to look forward to a great Google Doodle. I have come to enjoy these over the years. The team that designs these have really done a great job over the last few years. With today’s Doodle we are celebrating the 84th birthday of Robert Noyce. Who is Robert Noyce?

Robert Norton Noyce was the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. He is also credited, along with Jack Kilby with the invention of the integrated circuit or some may say the microchip, which in turn gave way to the personal computer revolution. This in turn spurned what has become known as Silicon Valley.

With a long history in semi-conductors, the microchip and Intel was born. The best micro processors in the world. I would like to refer you to read the great article about how Steve Jobs idolized Mr. Noyce. That article can be found here:

For those of you who love the Google Doodles as much as I do, also refer to this other great article regarding Google Doodles that you will never see. What do you think?

Are You Ready to Rumble? Judgment Day For Apple & HTC In U.S. Courts

For the last couple of years now Apple Inc. has had numerous court battles with numerous smartphone manufacturers who run Google Inc.’s Android OS. Apple and HTC are approaching their first big day in court this week on Wednesday. Apple claims that the Android OS copies it’s iOS platform. Therefore Apple believes that some manufacturers are violating copyright infringement.  

On Wednesday the International Trade Commission in Washington D.C. is expected to rule whether smartphones made by HTC, particularly those running the Android OS are in violation of Apple’s patents. If Apple has their way, this could lead to a ban on smartphones made by the Taiwanese company HTC (which by the way for those who don’t know, HTC stands for High Tech Company). It is in my belief that HTC makes some of the best phones in the world. I have owned different ones with different OS over the years, have just upgraded of course.

HTC surely isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer who has had it’s fair share of run ins with Apple. Apple has also had numerous court proceedings with Samsung and Motorola, who manufacture smartphones with the Android OS as well. I understand Apple’s complaints somewhat, but how does it help with the advancement of technology with all of these petty copyright infringements?

The smartphone market is growing at an alarming rate. According to a new report from research firm Gartner Inc., more than 645 million smartphones will be sold world-wide next year. That’s up 40% from this year, whereas sales of the personal computer are expected to grow 4.5%, or about 370 million units. We are spending more time with our smartphones, because of the PC like ability that we are able to enjoy with them.

Google’s Android, which is distributed freely has become an obvious target for it’s alarming rate of popularity. Apple is not the only one who is seeking to sue Google, Oracle Corp. alleges that Android violates it’s patents and copyrights also. We of course can’t leave Microsoft out, who is suing Motorola Mobility (just acquired by Google) over violating it’s copyright patents. Of course one company counter sues the other one.

Will Apple win on this Wednesday? They already have an advantage, as a judge this past summer ruled in their favor, ruling that HTC infringed two of Apple’s patents. This is just one step in the process that will likely be in the courts for years to come. If not Apple VS. HTC, it will be Apple VS. Samsung, Motorola or some other smartphone manufacturer.

Will there be a ban on HTC phones here in the states? Will Apple play nice and make peace like they did with Nokia? I will ask this again, How does this help the advancement of technology? What do you think?      


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