Jaxtr, a Silicon Valley startup that lets users bypass a carrier’s international phone charges via the Web, said on Wednesday it is offering free mobile phone text messages between 38 countries. Jaxtr members can use a simple Web form to send a text message to a mobile phone in any of the supported countries, which include the United States, Brazil and Britain as well as Kenya, Slovenia and Ukraine.
Source: Reuters, April 16, 2008
When Tim Collins of Natick wants to know where his friends are and what they are doing, all he has to do is glance at his phone. Collins and a handful of his friends use Buddy Beacon, a friend-finding service for mobile phones that allows them to keep tabs on one another throughout the day. Collins said he joined for the entertainment value, but suspects the service may actually be useful.
Source: Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Boston Globe, April 14, 2008 (Free registration)
Sudden crowds are part of the Internet: a blog post gets popular, and people flood in, sometimes straining servers to the breaking point. Online virtual worlds are subject to the same phenomenon, and unlike with a blog site, visitors to virtual worlds can’t be spread across different servers arbitrarily, to balance the load. Friends need to be kept together, so that they can interact. Now VastPark, an Australian company that provides foundations for virtual worlds, is planning to use new technology from National ICT Australia (NICTA), a research institute, to solve this problem.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, April 16, 2008
There’s safety (and security) in numbers — especially when those numbers are random. That’s the lesson learned from a DHS-sponsored research project out of the University of Southern California (USC). The research is already helping to beef up security at LAX airport in Los Angeles, and it could soon be used across the country to predict and minimize risk.
Source: US Department of Homeland Security news release, April 17, 2008
The U.S. government will soon begin collecting DNA samples from all citizens arrested in connection with any federal crime and from many immigrants detained by federal authorities, adding genetic identifiers from more than 1 million individuals a year to the swiftly growing federal law enforcement DNA database. The policy will substantially expand the current practice of routinely collecting DNA samples from only those convicted of federal crimes, and it will build on a growing policy among states to collect DNA from many people who are arrested. Thirteen states do so now and turn their data over to the federal government.
Source: Ellen Nakashima and Spencer Hsu, The Washington Post, April 17, 2008 (Free registration)
The Greater Manchester Police force is looking for friends — on Facebook. It has created a Facebook application to collect leads for investigations, marking the first use of the social networking site by U.K. law enforcement. The application delivers a real-time feed of police news and appeals for information. Next to that content is a feature to share a particular story with other friends in a person’s network, as well as post comments.
Source: Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service, April 18, 2008
Encyclopedia Britannica is used in often case studies as a definitive example of how new technology can disrupt a business. [...] You can purchase the 32 volume Britannica, which has 65,000 articles and 44 million words, for just $1,400. Or you can access it on the web for $70 per year. And now, you can get access to the online version for free through a new program called Britannica Webshare – provided that you are a ‘web publisher.’
Source: Michael Arrington, TechCrunch, April 18, 2008
Seeking to make money from mistyped website names, some of the United States’ largest ISPs instead created a massive security hole that allowed hackers to use web addresses owned by eBay, PayPal, Google and Yahoo, and virtually any other large site. The vulnerability was a dream scenario for phishers and cyber attackers looking for convincing platforms to distribute fake websites or malicious code. The hole was quickly and quietly patched Friday after IOActive security researcher Dan Kaminsky reported the issue to Earthlink and its technology partner, a British ad company called Barefruit. Earthlink users, and some Comcast subscribers, were at risk.
Source: Ryan Singel, Wired News’s Threat Level Blog, April 19, 2008