Mobile and Wireless

Verizon’s Ironic Pop-Up Ad

by Joey deVilla on September 27, 2007

Newspaper articles, pop-up ads and random number generators are a never-ending source of amusement. Consider the screenshot below, in which a Verizon pop-up ad blocks your view of an article about Verizon blocking the New York Times article Verizon Blocks Messages of Abortion Rights Group:

Verizon pop-up ad blocking an article about Verizon’s blocking opt-in SMS messages from the pro-choice group NARAL
Image courtesy of Raypride.

This is out-of-date news now: Verizon has reversed its stance and will now NARAL to use its mobile network to distribute opt-in SMS news alerts to its subscribers.

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BikeBerrying

by Joey deVilla on September 26, 2007

“Bicycle accident” clay figurine.

Say hello — and probably goodbye — to my friend, Globe and Mail writer Jeff Gray, with whom I worked at the Queen’s Journal (a.k.a. “The Urinal”), the official student paper of Crazy Go Nuts University. He BikeBerries — that is, uses his BlackBerry while bicycling:

As a columnist who has suggested that cyclists should wear helmets, and shouldn’t use iPods in downtown traffic, I can’t very well come out in favour of using cellphones and BlackBerrys on the roads. Of course you shouldn’t. And it seems that sensible people have figured this out.

Still, gliding on your bike on a little side street, with no one coming, typing “ok” and pressing send? No harm done.

Dude, it’s even easier to pull over when you’re on a bike. Just do it, or else I’m posting those photos from the Journal staff party. You know, the “tongue” ones.

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Old WWII poster “somebody blabbed” updated to include a gPhone.

Michael Bazely writes that a loose-lipped Google employee at the Apple Store in Emeryville confirmed the existence of the fabled gPhone:

So I’m standing in the Emeryville Apple store today trying to troubleshoot a problem with a sales rep when a young woman bolts up to us saying she wants an iPhone. Like, now. After some back-and-forthing about the particulars, she says she’s a Google employee and she was going to wait for a demo of the gPhone, but it turns out Google’s only letting 30 people test it internally and she’s not one of them. So she’s going with the iPhone instead.

At which point, the Apple rep and I exchange glances and he says “gPhone? So it’s real, huh?” And the Google gal realizes she’s probably said too much and changes the subject.

Take this with a grain of salt. Spreading gPhone rumours at the Apple Store sounds like something that an ambitious viral marketer might try or something I might do if I were much younger and really, really, really bored.

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Wrist mobile phone displaying an image of Joey “Accordion Guy” deVilla playing the accordion.

That’s the answer, courtesy of an Engadget interview with Apple VP Phil Schiller. Strangely enough, some thanks goes to those enemies of fair use, the RIAA:

Well, the RIAA wanted to be able to distribute ringtones of its artists without having to pay them big money to do so (surprised?), and it won a decision last year before the Copyright Office saying that ringtones weren’t “derivative works,” meaning they didn’t infringe on the copyright of the songwriter. It’s a little more complicated than that, but essentially, if the RIAA hadn’t won, ringtones would cost even more, since no one would be able to make them without a license from the songwriter.

Everything has a catch, and ringtones are no exception:

  • If you’re making a ringtone from an MP3 file that you’ve ripped from a CD you’ve purchased, you’re in the clear. Just don’t sell or distribute it.
  • If you’re making a ringtone from a file you purchased from the iTunes Music Store, you’re breaking the law! Here’s Engadget’s explanation:

    Judging from the fact that the iTMS EULA prohibits the use of downloaded files as ringtones, we’d say it’s more than likely because Apple’s contracts with the various labels represented in the iTMS specifically forbid it. We haven’t seen them, but we’d bet that ringtones — and the licenses for using songs as ringtones — have their own lengthy section in Apple’s contracts, and that Apple isn’t allowed to sell files for use as ringtones without coughing up more dough. Steve has said as much, after all. Otherwise the selection would include more than just the 500,000 songs you can get right now.

While we at Global Nerdy stress that you should obey all local laws, who’s going to know if that ringtone you made came from a ripped CD or an iTunes purchased tune?

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iPod Touch: This Thing is Going to Be Huge!

by Joey deVilla on September 5, 2007

The phone functionality of the iPhone has been the least interesting thing to me, especially given:

  • The “not-yet” availability of iPhone service here in Canada
  • The ridiculously high cost mobile data rates here in Canada
  • The fact that I have a perfectly good phone — a rather nice Motorola KRZR that I got only earlier this year

I care even less about its built-in camera. I’m one of those guys who carries a half-decent point-and-shoot digicam wherever I go, and until phone cameras get better, I’m going to stick with my Lumix.

For me, the really interesting things about the iPhone have been the functions that are currently performed by my trusty Powerbook and iPod nano:

  • Its PDA-like features
  • Audio and video playback
  • WiFi and Safari

The web browser has been of particular interest to me. In the age of Web 2.0/Ajax/web applications/whatever you want to call it, having net access and a browser as fully-featured and good-looking as Safari makes the iPhone the mobile computing platform that tablet computers wish they were.

If only the iPhone didn’t come saddled with the phone (and the commensurate cost)…

iPod Touch on the big screen at the “Beat Goes On” Apple keynote
Photo courtesy of Gizmodo Live.

My wish has been granted! At the “The Beat Goes On” event held today, Steve Jobs announced the iPod Touch, which for all intents and purposes is the iPhone minus the phone and camera. There are two models:

  • An 8GB model selling for US$299
  • A 16GB model selling for US$399

I’m sure you’re going to see lists of its features all over the Web, so I’ll skip that part. Instead, I’ll simply list some thoughts on this nifty new gadget:

  • That pre-emptive Zune price drop looks pretty pathetic now. I’m reminded of Sean Connery’s line from The Untouchables: Microsoft just brought a knife to a gun fight.
  • Early iPhone adopters who got the 4GB might get that IIvx’d feeling. The Mac IIvx is a special computer in Mac lore in that it was a machine that was undone by cost-saving shortcuts and getting discontinued a mere 4 months after its release. People who shelled out US$600 for the 8GB iPhone might be annoyed that a mere 2 months later, the price has been dropped to $399. However, that very special IIvx feeling is for people who bought the 4GB model, which I assume will be discontinued.
  • Remember what Steve Yegge wrote about JavaScript? To referesh your memory:
    “JavaScript is probably the most important language in the world today. Funny, huh? You’d think it would be Java or C++ or something. But I think it just might be JavaScript.”

    Given that the iPod Touch is a very portable Ajax platform and likely to influence the design of other mobile browsers, if JavaScript wasn’t the most important programming language in the world when Steve said so, it is now.

  • Remember the promise of tablet computers? It just got much closer to being fulfilled, if in an unexpected way.
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I Want to Know What the Other 1 Out of 10 are Thinking

by Joey deVilla on August 7, 2007

Texting while driving.

According to a Harris Interactive Survey, 9 out of 10 Americans say that texting while driving should be banned. What I want to know is what the other 1 out of 10 are thinking.

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iPhone + Travel = Expensive

by Joey deVilla on July 31, 2007

iPhone + travel = expensive

Here’s a story contributed by Dave Stolte who wrote in to BoingBoing:

I have a caveat emptor to top them all. I purchased an iPhone on opening day to use in lieu of a cumbersome laptop while traveling in Ireland and England for two weeks in early July. AT&T promises “easy, affordable, and convenient plans” in their advertising… turns out I got two out of three.

On the way to the airport, I activated the per-use international roaming data plan – the only one offered to me. The rep quoted me $.005 per KB but did not disclose what that would translate to in layman’s language (i.e., X amount per e-mail, X amount per web page, etc.). I’m a web developer as part of my career and I couldn’t even tell you how many KB the average web page is, no less a text message to my son, an e-mail with a photo to my mother, or a quick check of Google Maps. That’s part one of the trap. However, I now pay $40 per month for unlimited data usage on the iPhone, so really — how much could it be? $100 at the most, right?

Keep reading.

As we know, the iPhone can’t be unlocked to use a European provider’s SIM card for more reasonable rates while traveling. There’s part two of the trap.

To be safe, I went online to My Account at AT&T a couple days into the trip and again a week later and was told “usage data is currently unavailable”… and that’s part three. I had no way of knowing specific usage data until I received my bill over the last weekend.

A bill for $3000.

There’s more — click here for the full story.

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