Carrier IQ, Phone Rootkit, Seriously?

I’ve been hearing about Carrier IQ everywhere the past couple of days, and rightly so. If what folks are saying is true, the carriers or handset manufacturers have been snooping on everything users have been doing on their phone. Carriers actually already know everything that’s done over their network, but Carrier IQ appears to log everything that’s done off their network and any key presses as well. So in theory all passwords used to access anything on the phone is logged and sent to whoever Carrier IQ is set to phone home to. It’s like having someone looking at the keyboard as you type in your bank password, it’s a very serious breach of security and trust.

It’s still a developing story, but several manufacturers have released statements that they do not include the Carrier IQ software with their phones. And HTC (whose phone was demoed in a video that the Carrier IQ software tracks more than they claim) have gone as far as to say that it’s the carrier’s fault since they require Carrier IQ to be installed on all phones running on their network. Without naming any names, of course.

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Funny Personalized Video eCards

eCards have come a long way. I remember back in the day when an eCard is pretty much just a webpage with a graphic and some custom text. The real fancy ones have animation and some background music.

The web have come a long way, now a days, eCards can be as fancy as personalized videos. I found a service called JibJab that allows you to paste faces into the characters in the video and have the faces sing and dance. I took 5 minutes to crop out a few faces and the site generated a very funny Christmas video eCards. The video itself isn’t all that funny or interesting, but having faces that you know in the video makes a very big difference. I must have watched it 15 times and laugh every time I watch it.

Give it a try, they have a bunch and some premium ones as well.

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Google Music Goes Gold, Disappoints

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Google Music went gold today, it’s no longer an invite only beta, anyone can get in on the music storing and buying action. Unfortunately, it’s not very exciting news. I’ve been on the Google Music Beta since the beginning, and I must admit, other than using it for an hour or so after I signed up I never signed back in. There’s just no point in another music service. I have my MP3s and Pandora, why do I need a music storage locker? Plus, I can’t imagine uploading gigs of MP3s. And Google didn’t exactly make anything earth shattering or exciting, Amazon’s had this exact service going for a while.

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Adobe Gives Up On Flash

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It’s official, Flash is dead. Well, not really, but it’s pretty much dead to anyone who has a tablet or smartphone. Adobe just confirmed that they are giving up on Flash mobile, and instead focusing on HTML5. They will still do maintenance releases, but they will no longer be developing it. Steve Jobs was right, Flash doesn’t belong on mobile devices, even Adobe thinks so now.

HTML5 is another story, it’s still not official but everyone seems to be using it. I guess it’s alright since it’s mostly the same as HTML4, just with some new functionality. What I really don’t understand are those who want to redo something that works and replace it with hacks so that it’s “Web 2.0”, or is it “Web 3.0” now?

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Cheap Unlimited Mobile Phone?

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I came across a link today to republic wireless, it’s a new mobile phone company with a $19/month unlimited everything plan. Yes, $19 mobile plan with unlimited talk, text, and data. According to the site, it just launched today and it’s currently in beta. There’s no other company that offers a plan even close to this.

And the catch? The site would have you believe that there’s no catch, but there is a very big catch. This is more or less a Wi-Fi calling plan with a cellular network fallback. If you use the cellular network too much, they’ll warn you and eventually kick you off. It isn’t really a problem for those who have Wi-Fi at home and at work, but this isn’t for everyone. This service is definitely geared toward more tech savvy consumers who know their Wi-Fi.

There’s another drawback, they currently only have one phone available, and it cost $199. I don’t mind the phone since it’s a Gingerbread based LG Optimus. But I’m not about to put $199 down on an experimental service that I might get kicked off of. Maybe when they are out of beta and hopefully still $19/month.

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HP Is Going To Keep PC Business

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It’s official, HP is going to keep their profitable PC business instead of selling or spinning it off. A good decision by new CEO Meg Whitman, keep it up. How about making a decision on what to do with WebOS next?

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CyanogenMod For TouchPad Alpha 2, Very Good For An Alpha

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The alpha build of CyanogenMod for the TouchPad have been out for a few weeks, and I’ve been running the alpha 2 build for a week. So far so good, it’s pretty stable. A few force closes, ad hoc wifi networks, and camera issues, but nothing big. Most of the apps and games that I’ve downloaded works fine. The only app that didn’t work right for me was the Amazon Kindle app, it launches, but never connects. Many users reported a sleep of death issue with their android install, but I don’t seem to have the problem at all. Definitely looking forward to more releases, hopefully they’ll work on putting Ice Cream Sandwich on the TouchPad too, that would rock.

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Hey, I Was A Social Media Pioneer Too!

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It just occurred to me that I was a social media pioneer! Way back in 2003 I got the first camera phone in the US market with an always on Internet connection on Sprint. A little after that I setup the “Mini Weblog” and “PhoneCam” modules on my site where I can post short text updates and photos directly from my phone. Twitter and Instagram didn’t exist back then, so I had to set up my own system. Yep, I was trailblazing, baby!

Could have, should have, done something with it. But hind sight is always 20/20, back then web access on phones were so slow and limited it was a real pain to use. If anyone needs prior art, here you go.

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webOS Back From The Dead?

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webOS is back from the dead, HP just released version 3.0.4 of their abandoned mobile operating system. It can be had on TouchPads everywhere via an over-the-air update. I just installed it on my TouchPad, and I must say, this is the update we’ve all been waiting for. It fixes many bugs and it’s a major performance boost. I say 3.0.4 runs about the same, if not smoother than when I was overclocked to 1.5Ghz on version 3.0.2. Flash seems to work better on the browser as well, at least on the video streaming site I was on.

It’s a good hold over until the stable release of Android for TouchPad, which is making steady progress. Personally, I wouldn’t take this as a sign that webOS is back, especially since HP already fired most of their webOS developers. This release is probably what they were working on before HP dropped the project, so don’t expect anymore. But still, I don’t complain when an update makes my device more functional.

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iOS 5 Is Out

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iOS 5 is out today, as promised. I read from the tech blogs that Apple is being hammered right now, so you may want to wait a couple of days before trying to upgrade. There’s already a tethered jailbreak for it. But if your like me and only like to have untethered jailbreaks, you’ll have to wait.

Here’s a highlight of some of the new features.

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