Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Virtual Paper's Biz Plan

After all 13 weeks of studying e commerce, I must say I have really learned a LOT!!! Basic Xhtml, Flash, and of course a lot of things behind how e commerce takes place. How Paypal works for example. How RFID tags are shaping things up. How mobile gaming will be the next wave in the e business.

As an output for the 13 weeks of labor, my groupmates and I have drafted up a preliminary e-business prospectus. Hope everyone who reads this like the idea.

Click on the link to view the file: http://mercury.walagata.com/w/bm362oobe3g/dotdotdotsbizplan.doc

Monday, March 28, 2005

Who's keeping an eye on you?

Amazon's data-gathering habits under fire
Privacy advocates say company is crossing the line
The Associated Press


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7295369/

SEATTLE - Amazon.com Inc. has one potentially big advantage over its rival online retailers: It knows things about you that you may not know yourself.
Though plenty of companies have detailed systems for tracking customer habits, critics and boosters alike say Amazon is the trailblazer, having collected information longer and used it more proactively. It even received a patent recently on technology aimed at tracking information about the people for whom its customers buy gifts.
Amazon sees such data-gathering as the best way to keep customers happy and loyal, a relationship-building technique that analysts consider potentially crucial to besting other online competitors.
"In general, we collect as much information as possible such that we can provide you with the best feedback," said Werner Vogels, Amazon's chief technology officer.
But some privacy advocates believe Amazon is getting dangerously close to becoming Big Brother with your credit card number.
"They are constantly finding new ways to exploit personal information," said Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an Amazon nemesis since 2000 after the company changed its privacy policy to allow sharing of personal information with companies it buys or partners with.
For years, Amazon has collected detailed information about what its customers buy, considered buying, browsed for but never bought, recommended to others or even wished someone would buy them.
It has built ever-more sophisticated tools to recommend more purchases, direct your searches toward products it thinks you're most likely to want, or even stop the forgetful among us from buying the same book we purchased five years ago.
For example, a customer who buys the movie "Lost In Translation" might also be prodded to buy "21 Grams" or "Kill Bill _ Vol. 1" because others have made similar purchases. And customers who searched several times for a Laurie R. King mystery novel might find a book by her the next time they visit Amazon's home page.
More recently, the Seattle-based virtual retailer has launched a Web search engine, called A9, that can remember everything you've ever searched for _ and the site reserves the right to share that information with its retailing arm.
Amazon also funds a Web site called 43 Things. It seeks to link people with similar goals, such as getting out of debt.
Technology that can accurately anticipate a customer's greatest desires is going to be crucial in the growing competition with Internet-based upstarts and traditional retailers moving online, said analyst David Garrity with Caris and Co.
"One would argue that this is the basis on which a great relationship with a customer was founded," Garrity said. "If only our significant others were like this."
But Amazon must build that relationship without alienating the customer. As customer tracking gets more detailed, Garrity said Amazon and other companies should start asking customers for permission to gather certain information.


While i sometimes do not mind cookies sitting behind my desktop recording my data on certain websites, this article's focus on Amazon and other companies' data gathering strategy does sound scary. Especially when this data gathering is attached to your ID, i.e. your Credit Card number, it really sounds like a bad dystopian fiction come true where everybody's profile, preferences, and lifestyle are open for those with power to see. When search engines perosnalize, that will be the last straw to online privacy. Who doesn't browse the net more than 80-90% through gateways called search engines??! Imagine a world where hackers and stalkers can easily find out your daily routine because some web sites of long ago has been tracking your surfing pattern, gift recipients, and topic searches. They can easily find out who your close firends, relatives, and family are. Governments and giant corporations will be able to "know" who you are without even knowing you in person. Black market data transfer could fuel abductions and ransom threats to just about anybody who has been actively buying, searching, spending money over the net.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Reading on CellPhones

Next hot trend forcell phones: Reading?
Mobile technology meetsthe novel in Japan
A woman reads a mobile phone screen while awaiting a traffic light to change in downtown Tokyo last week.

Katsumi Kasahara / AP
The Associated Press
Updated: 10:31 p.m. ET March 18, 2005

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7232995/

TOKYO - Your eyes probably hurt just thinking about it: Tens of thousands of Japanese cell-phone owners are poring over full-length novels on their tiny screens.
In this technology-enamored nation, the mobile phone has become so widespread as an entertainment and communication device that reading e-mail, news headlines and weather forecasts — rather advanced mobile features by global standards — is routine.

I find this really fascinating yet quite expected. Seeing as how the cellular phone has been constantly on the run to replace PDAs, ebooks is the natural way to go. With the Japanese 3G phones being able to play such advanced network games such as Final Fantasy VII Before Crisis, ebooks, professional cameras and other multimedia are really nothing.

Somehow I can't help but see the cellular phone moving away from its original purpose which is for placing calls. The cellular phone feature has been seen diminishing in value and i think it will continue to go on as cameras become equipped with phones, gaming devices comes equipped with phones.

Until the next generation of "phone device" comes out, there are simply no limits to what a cellular phone can do. Or rather what devices can come equipped with the "call feature." But of course these devices will naturally have to have high value added standards for phone manufacturers to even consider of adding a "call feature" to it. I doubt you will find a cellular phone being put into a low cost pen.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Phone Virus

New virus found in phone messaging
'Commwarrior.A' is a virus designed to spread through multimedia messages and drain phone batteries.
March 8, 2005: 1:36 PM EST
source: http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/08/technology/personaltech/mobile_virus.reut/?cnn=yes

HELSINKI, Finland (Reuters) - A new mobile phone software virus started spreading this week via messages containing photos and sounds, the first of its kind and a threat to cellphones globally, data security firms said Tuesday.
The Commwarrior.A virus tries to replicate itself by sending multimedia messages to people on the phone's contacts list, and also tries to do the same via Bluetooth wireless connections with other devices, eventually draining the battery.
Unlike computer viruses that spread quickly around the world via the Internet, mobile phone viruses have previously been limited by technology.
Cabir, the world's first mobile phone virus "in the wild," has spread to only 16 countries in 6 months using Bluetooth connections.
But Commwarrior.A tries to send variously named multimedia messages (MMS) to phones running the popular Series 60 phone operating software by Symbian, security software maker Symantec said in a statement.


After months of speculations on the possibility of mobile virus, I am finally convinced it is a possibility. About three months ago, I was really highly doubtful when my friend back at home told me her phone got inflicted with a virus that erased all her contacts and caused the phone screen to go blank. I didn't think it could be possible but after the recent news I now highly think it was possible. Even though news reports claim nothing of the sort of memory erasure, I really think the virus can somehow clog up the memory of Symbian-run phones eventually causing the whole system to crash and result in data loss. Furthermore, recently in one of the articles in the IndianTimes, Prashant Pandey, a software engineer working with a leading mobile service providing company says, "The transmission of virus takes place between two phones and not two networks. Even if the cell phone is switched off it can be transmitted, unless you have an in-built preventive mechanism. Once the phone gets infected with a virus then it becomes a big problem, because the virus found in 15 variations till now not only damages the stored data but also drains the battery and makes the phone go blank in between calls." (source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1049465.cms) That statement suffices to scare us all. This virus is not as simple as exploiting Bluetooth loopholes and sending April Fool's scares through Bluejacking. This virus actually follows a script and 3G, 4G technology is very well its pathway to "innovation" and destruction. With the current mass migration to mobile technology there is no doubt more and more people will be writing mobile phone viruses.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Fuel Cells

Nokia drops mobile fuel cell plans
Goal was to replace current rechargeable batteries
The Associated Press
Updated: 5:00 p.m. ET March 3, 2005

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7079976/

LONDON - Nokia Corp. has dropped plans to develop mobile phones with fuel cells for at least the next few years, a spokesman for the Finnish company said Thursday.
The world's largest cell-phone maker, which only eight months ago signaled its commitment to fuel cells, said the technology isn't yet mature.
However, Nokia's Matti Naskali left the door open for future use of the technology. "Fuel-cell technology is promising and Nokia continues to follow it closely," he said.
In a cell phone, a fuel cell would remove the need for a rechargeable battery, instead allowing a user to recharge it the same way a cigarette lighter is refilled when it runs out of butane.
A fuel cell would also allow longer talk and standby times and increased stamina for power-hungry applications such as television.
In June 2004, Tero Ojanpera, head of Nokia's research center, showed off a headset that was powered by a small amount of methanol. The fuel cell combined the methanol with air to produce power.
At that time, Ojanpera said the technology was "reasonably mature," and predicted that it would take less than two years to commercialize it.
But Naskali said several issues with the technology had dented Nokia's enthusiasm, including logistical problems.
Current air transportation regulations prohibit the carrying of methanol, which is flammable, on an aircraft without special packaging.
Naskali said that methanol supply chain details have also yet to be decided.
Companies including Motorola Inc., Toshiba Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., NEC Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. are also researching fuel-cells for mobile phones and portable computers.


I just thought that this article is quite relevant to what had just been discussed in class last week on mobile terminals, fuel cells specifically. I guess the fear of having these things blow up somewhere high in altitude or just blow up because of a leak is really scary. I cannot even begin to imagine having a fuel cell strapped to my laptop. With the heat my laptop is generating and the instability of methanol I would choose to plug my laptop somewhere instead of risking blowing up all my data to bits! I would burn myself in the process as well. As much as fuel cells appear to be promising in terms of lengthening battery life, I would say, "Thanks but no thanks." Who in their right minds would harbor tanks of flammable methanol in their house to recharge their fuel cell battery packs anyway?

Monday, February 28, 2005

Cell phones you can't have ... yet
In Japan and South Korea, future is already here
By Thomas Jackson
Updated: 3:57 p.m. ET Feb. 25, 2005
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7032033/

Take Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo's new 901i series. These wireless hot rods are capable of four-way videoconferencing and high-speed mobile Internet surfing (up to 384 kilobytes per second). The 901is can send e-mail with attachments as large as 500 kilobytes. They can act as TV remote controls and have 3-D screens with up to 262,144 colors.
Each model has at least a two-megapixel camera and miniature "3-D sound" speakers. One even has a biometric fingerprint sensor to ensure that no one can use the phone but its owner, and three of the five models come with a nifty function called FeliCa, which enables the 901i to serve as a digital wallet. You download cash into the phone's guts, then simply swipe it over a FeliCa reader at the local mini-mart.
Almost anything else you might place in your wallet -- a gym membership ID, video-store card or tickets to a concert -- can be digitized on a FeliCa-enabled handset. Some apartment buildings in Tokyo are even making their locks compatible. Now that's convergence.


I didn't even think these phone technology existed! It's really amazing how fast Korea and Japan's phone biz is going. I always thought the things mentioned were still in the drawing board - a thing of science fiction not due at least 5 years from now. I am simply amazed at how much 3G is really capable of and how 3G is going to be a thing of the past for the Japs once 3G reaches the rest of the world. They'll be using 4G by then! Amazing how different technology is geographically even when we are on the same planet at this globalized standardized time.

Monday, February 14, 2005

COOL LOOKING SHADES

Sunglasses that sound as great as they look
Oakley's THUMP combines MP3 player on sport frames

By Gary Krakow
Columnist
MSNBC
Updated: 6:50 p.m. ET Feb. 10, 2005

source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6947008/

IPods may be cool, but designed for skiing or other sports, they're not. As sunglass manufacturer Oakley says in its marketing material: If your eyes are on your head, why should your music system hang on your waist?

Good question. Oakley's answer is a hot-looking pair of sport sunglasses with an MP3 player built right into the frames. They call it THUMP.

They're really cool looking shades, don't you agree? I have always had a thing for music players that don't have lengthy cords running down your neck, down your spine and into your pocket or waist. I mean, why would anyone want a long cord tying them up??? You even run a big risk that you might get strangled somewhere unsafe. These pair of shades are really cool. Next cool, practical music player to an FM receiver i recently bought - the Philips SBC HR160. Although my FM receiver isn't really designed to be as great looking as these pair of shades, it's still quite handy.

Now if only someone will design a pair of shades with cool add-ons that people with eyeglasses can wear. That would be awesome.