How to Send a Postcard in the 21st Century

Monday, September 6th, 2010 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »


My nephew and I have a long-distance postcard relationship. For a couple of years now he and I manage to see each other rarely but instead send each other postcard dispatches in which I will describe a cool attraction I visited and he will get excited about a local dish or delicacy from a vacation spot around the US. I travel a lot internationally so I have sent him postcards from places like Singapore and Paris, and even more obscure places like rural Massachusetts (the homemade pasta e fagiule soup at Il Forno in Fitchburg = to die for) and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This latter spot was memorable because in the middle of 98-degree summer heat, a woman who was missing a front tooth was selling Siberian Husky pups outside on her pick-up truck bed. $400 in cash and that precious pup could have come home with me in a bag on my flight back to SFO –ah, the things I regret in my travels. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ones and Zeros: Why doesn’t Nokia name its phones?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 | SMASH Pop Culture, SMASH Technology with 2 Comments

[Video: Why Doesn't Nokia Name Its Phones]

What’s in a Name?

Not too terribly much according to the folks in Nokia’s R & D Department.

Or, perhaps the technological mavens at our favorite Finnish phone manufacturer feel that their handsets transcend the pedestrian markings of a common name, and prefer instead to assign a string of ones and zeros to their beloved mobile multimedia devices.

*Update 7-13-09* Nokia is launching the “Surge” Smartphone!!

Nokia Prototype AEON

But for many, a high-end cell or smart phone is an object of desire.  It would be virtually impossible to deny that on the whole, we see devices like these as extensions of ourselves — we customize our ring tones with our favorite songs, substitute our original face plates with ones that offer a bit more pizazz, and install applications that reflect our contrasting lifestyles and personalities, and to top it off, we buy lavish accessories that further increase the appeal and functionality of our devices.

Yes, the stuff of dreams.  But who dreams of numbers? Read the rest of this entry »

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Scan Your Dates Before Speaking to Them: W-41 ShotCodes

Monday, October 20th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

W-41 ShotCode Shirt

The scene: You notice the next love of your life sitting at the bar nursing a mixed martini.  Her eyes scan the room in an obvious attempt to find some companionship and conversation, only to be met by yours in an apparent act of fate.  Confidently you walk over to her and… snap a picture of the code on her shirt.

This is sort of the concept behind the new line of clothing put out by a Netherlands-based online apparel company called W-4. The clothing line features a technology developed by High Energy Magic of Cambridge University called ShotCodes, special 2d barcodes, to link people from offline materials to mobile Internet pages.

How does it work?

If you eye one of these unique logos while you’re on the town, quickly snap a photo of it with your camera phone and a tiny app directs you to the wearer’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or MySpace profile. Based on your findings, you can then decide whether to say hello or press delete. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Phone That Can See Through Walls

Monday, October 6th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

Phone That Can See Through Walls

This past week’s CEATEC technology show just outside Tokyo is home to some of the most bizarre tech you’ll ever come across. One of the most notable devices (in the mobile technology category) is a phone that promises to allow its owners to see through walls.

Better than X-Ray Specs

Thermal ImagingIt’s about time, isn’t it? We’ve seen enough spy flicks featuring FBI or NSA agents sporting heat-sensing, thermal imaging gear that can track a human target from floor to floor from a van parked on the curb.

The fancy software, ‘Real Space See-through Mobile’ comes from KDDI’s R&D laboratory and Tokyo University and is still just a prototype.

Using geomagnetic sensors, accelerometers, and GPS (ouch on the battery life front) the phone is able to determine its position and render its surroundings on the screen in OpenGL, including areas that are currently out of sight. Read the rest of this entry »

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Americans Prefer Texting to Phoning: So KMA

Sunday, September 28th, 2008 | SMASH Pop Culture with No Comments »

Text Message Slang

Sry 2 Say

According to Nielsen Mobile, Americans have become little more than touch-typing androids:  sending 1’s and 0’s to one another as a means of communication.
Text Messages Vs. Calling
As of the fourth quarter of 2007, it turns out that US cell subscribers sent text messages more than they phoned - for the first time ever. And since then, the averages subscriber’s # of text messages has increased 64 percent as the # of actual calls (what are those?) has dropped slightly.

According to the folks at Nielsen, this is all attributed to spread of the new QWERTY-style kepads on cellphones. QWERTY owners send 54 percent MORE text messages than folks with ordinary keypads.

Additionally, companies are now offering larger text messaging plans (unlimited in many cases) where it actually makes more financial sense to send a few lines of text than to engage in a full-on conversation that could potentially put you over your monthly minute threshold.

By far, the most prolific texters are teenagers ages 13-17, who pump out 1,742 messages a month, according to Nielsen Mobile. Read the rest of this entry »

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Voice to Text: Transcribe Your Voicemails with SpinVox

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with 1 Comment

Spinvox Message

If you use a cellphone, you use voicemail.  And if you use voicemail, you know the unfortunate pitfalls involved in its daily use:   dialing in costs you minutes, it takes time to wade through multiple messages (you’re forced to listen to the messages that are drivel or spam in nature), and you are forced to press your ear to your mobile device or have your bluetooth headset on in order to retrieve your messages with any degree of privacy.

SpinVox has an answer for those of us who dread the daily doldrums of message retrieval.  It’s a voice-to-text program that makes voicemails easier to use.

The service monitors your calls and turns what’s spoken into a text message.  It then Read the rest of this entry »

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Top 10 Symbian Apps: Breathe New Life Into Your Nokia Smartphone

Friday, August 15th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with 5 Comments

Apple’s iPhone, and other subsequent touch-screen clones, have been hogging much of the high-end smartphone spotlight ever since the iPhone’s initial launch - and even more so after the recent media-hyped iPhone 3G release. And with little to no response from Nokia (by way of a competing piece of hardware), it would appear our Finnish friends have been hiding in the wings while the show goes on.

[Note: At the time of this writing, two new Nokia smartphones are set to be announced this coming Monday (August 18th): the N79 and N85 - both phones being touted as possibilities by the mobile community.

In late 2007, information regarding Nokia’s ongoing touchscreen development emerged from the horse’s mouth in the form of a marketing video shown at a London Expo. Nokia Batman Phone Later, filed patent information (and images) demonstrating a “Haptikos Tactile Touchscreen” leaked its way onto many websites virtually confirming Nokia’s intentions to develop not only a touchscreen device, but one that would sort of “touch” you back.

And if that wasn’t enough of a smoking gun, Nokia has $trategically placed a mystery touchscreen device (Nokia Tube?) in the hands of our universally loved, James Bond-esque vigilante superhero in the recent blockbuster, “Dark Knight”.

But while the ordinary citizens of Gotham wait for Nokia’s next jaw-dropper to emerge, third-party application development continues to flourish for our current (and much loved) N and E series Symbian S60 devices.


Below is a “Top 10″ (alphabetical) list of some of the Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Stop the Annoying Speaker Buzz From Your GSM Cell

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008 | SMASH Technology with 9 Comments

Ferrite Beads

The Scenario:

You’re sitting at your desk, listening to some Katy Perry streaming in from your Yahoo! Music. The beat and mood are right, you’re into the groove and you’re making some serious progress on your project. Then you hear:


The GSM signal from your mobile device causes your computer speakers to emit devilish sounds, obliterating your mood as well as your music, sending you into a virtual frenzy in search of your cell so that you can toss it into the waste receptacle.

Ok, not quite that bad but annoying enough.

In scouring the net for a possible preventative measure, it appears this Read the rest of this entry »

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Avoid Chitchat and Actual Conversations With Slydial

Friday, August 1st, 2008 | SMASH Pop Culture, SMASH Technology with No Comments »


Technology has certainly come a long way in bringing us together.

In the past couple of decades, we’ve seen the proliferation of the Internet and e-mail, advanced cell phones and their associated features: MMS picture and sound messaging, SMS text messages, advanced voice mail features, voice calls, Myspace pages, the Twitters of the world, and others.

Although, even with the advent of these readily available technologies, there is still the small percentage of us who enjoy our anonymity, our sense of privacy - our hands-off, unplugged, Zen-like lifestyles.

And for those of us who fit into this latter category, this MobileSphere company would like to provide us with a new tool to Read the rest of this entry »

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There’s No Such Thing As a Free Call…Until Plumble.

Monday, July 21st, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

Plumble Free Calling

You’ve heard the old adage on “no such thing as a free lunch”, but it seems California-based Plumble is trying to tear down that old way of thinking by offering its users FREE calling – with only a couple of strings attached.

Plumble offers free calling (up to two-and-a-half-minutes) to its registered users. All you have to do is listen to two twenty-two second ads. And your reward for listening is a free call anywhere in the U.S. or Canada on the company’s dime.

The current rendition of the service is Read the rest of this entry »

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A Phone By Any Other Name…Would Have One

Friday, July 18th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with 2 Comments

Baton-Style Phone

Is that a pack of Rolos in your pocket or…

Apparently the boring ol’ flat, rectangular bar-shaped handsets have driven designer Marc Schömann to the edges of insanity. And this baton-style, buttonless, screenless talkstick is the brainchild of his madness.

You turn the _______ on (yes, it’s nameless) by twisting one of its many sections. If you want to make a call, prepare yourself for a brain teaser and start Read the rest of this entry »

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Korean Cell Phone Repels Mosquitoes

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with 1 Comment

Mosquito Repelling Phone

A South Korean mobile phone operator (SK Telecom Company) is now offering users a new service for their hand-held devices.

Forget the higher camera mega-pixel count, or the DVD-quality video. How about a mosquito repelling audio device that will keep those buggers away for up to one yard?

Get this: the phone emits a sound similar to the buzz of a male mosquito – apparently a sound that the female blood-suckers just can’t stand (sound familiar?)

The service will cost $2.5 and can be activated by Read the rest of this entry »

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But He’s Just Chillin’

Sunday, July 13th, 2008 | SMASH Pop Culture with No Comments »

Having been in Delhi and personally taken my life into my own hands with various drivers in this chaotic city, I admit I was not all that surprised to see this.

We are so busy trying to pass laws around the world about how we can’t use our phones while we drive. Even in California, where such a law just went into effect this month. Yeah, yeah, whatever…..boring! Check out this genius, reclining on his motorbike and sending text messages whilst still somehow maneuvering his bike with his Read the rest of this entry »

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Nab Open Parking Spots With Your Smartphone (San Francisco Only)

Sunday, July 13th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

Smartphone Parking San Francisco

I love to see truly innovative and useful applications of modern technology, especially when the technology makes the world a better place to live – and park.

Coming this Fall, San Francisco is going to implement a city-wide wireless alert system to some 6,000 of its 24,000 metered spots that will whisper sweet nothings to your cell phone and lovingly tell you when a spot has opened up.

For those without hi-end mobile devices, a more pedestrian “street sign” version will also display the information. Smarphone users may also be able to pay for parking using their devices once the system gets ironed out.

The system used by the city was created by a small tech company called Streetline, who are able to monitor up-to-date parking stats.

[Via The New York Times]

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Four Top Techniques to Conquer Automated Customer Service

Friday, July 11th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

Angry at Customer Service

Unless you’ve been living in the wild for the past 5 years or have given up all of your modern conveniences - your: phone service, Internet provider, credit cards - you have had to contact one of these types of companies. And in all probability, you are more than familiar with the new generation of Automated Customer Service (ACS) systems in use by ALL of these corporate giants

You know the ones. Gone are the days when a simple “1” or “2” would navigate the depths of the system and eventually land a conversation with a living, breathing human being. Modern-day systems accept and process more information than ever, and buttons are no longer the sole means of “entering” requested information. Enter the world of advanced speech recognition.

Over the years, and through much frustration, I’ve developed four effective techniques to Read the rest of this entry »

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Brit Racks Up £31,000 Phone Bill on Vakay: Welcome Home!

Monday, July 7th, 2008 | SMASH Pop Culture with No Comments »

Carrying British Phone Booth

Ian Dobsyn of Salford, Greater Manchester returned home from his vacation in Portugal to find a £31,500 cell bill awaiting him with open arms.

Dobsyn had used the broadband connection on his mobile while away to, of all things, watch some of his favorite television programming (Sky’s Prison Break) but was unaware of the sky-high data plan fees.

Luckily for Dobsyn, Yes Telecom has arranged to reduce the charge to Read the rest of this entry »

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