Mobile phone users sending text messages to large groups of people at one time may lose their SMS (short message service) for up to 24 hours; a policy intended to prevent spam but took ordinary users by surprise when they sent group messages over the New Year holiday.
Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening News reported the policy Sunday after the paper's hotline received complaints from readers whose mobile text message service became dysfunctional after sending group messages.
A China Mobile user surnamed Liu told the paper that he sent a "Happy New Year" message to 60 people over the holiday, and discovered his SMS was blocked afterwards.
The customer service center told him that the service has been blocked due to "too frequent message sending" and that restoration of service would take up to 24 hours.
According to the customer centers of three major telecom operators in China, a computerized monitoring system has been installed to reduce commercial spam messages.
Germany spent more than 30 times as much collecting taxes on coffee beans ordered online from abroad than it received in the tax revenues, the accounting office said on Tuesday.
Some 4,000 Germans who bought coffee over the Internet from other EU countries but failed to pay the coffee tax have been charged between a few cents to 10 euros ($14.81) in taxes and fees, said Dieter Engels, head of Germany's Federal Accounting Office.
Tax collectors ended up with just 25,000 euros, way below the 800,000 euros in the costs of staff charged with collecting the payments, Engels said.
Elections in Uzbekistan may be unfair but they certainly stand out in terms of technology. The Russian news agency Itar-Tass reports that all mobile operators in the country would be "asked" to send SMS reminders to all their customers. I won't be surprised if those who do not vote as the government expects to would then receive a second round of messages, asking them to return to the booth and tick off the right name!
Tatar groups on Vkontakte have a clear networking function. By joining, Tatars from different regions of Russia get an opportunity to meet and establish connections with co-ethnics from other parts of the country and from their own city or region. Ethnic affiliation in this case becomes an important tool for building or widening networks and acquiring social capi-tal. Vkontakte facilitates this process since the Internet makes communication easier and faster. The results of these online interactions in Tatar groups in offline contexts can be quite fruitful and are yet to be studied.
At the same time, there is another important aspect of the activity of these groups. Young people use them not only to meet other people but also to consume products of ethnonational culture (music, photos, and videos), and acquire and share information about Tatar history and culture, discuss issues related to Tatars, and the internal politics of Tatarstan. People find a certain ethno-national environment which may be lacking in their “real” offline contexts. Tatar groups can function as places where young people can practice or even learn Tatar language from their peers. To a certain degree, these groups become a locus of identity politics where certain representations of Tatar ethnic group are being created, circulated and consumed. These Tatar groups assemble symbolic resources (in the form of images, music, videos, texts) on which people draw when imagining their ethnic community. Thus, this participation influences the processes of identity construction of young people, accentuating their feelings of ethnic belonging.
In Google.org's prototype software, environmental authorities or NGOs interested in monitoring forests start with satellite images of their area and track how the size and shape of the tree cover has changed over time. The software can processes the images to extract useful scientific and tracking information about how much the forests have changed.
For the analysis, the Google.org team worked with Greg Asner of Carnegie Institution for Science and Carlos Souza of Imazon. Technology developed by Asner and Souza is used in Latin America to track changes in forest cover – but mainstream use of the models has been slow due to lack of access to high-quality satellite images and the computer power needed to carry out the analysis.
Google.org's solution is to enhance the Asner and Souza models using its own computing power. "What if we could gather together all of the earth's raw satellite imagery data – petabytes of historical, present and future data – and make it easily available on this platform? We decided to find out, by working with Greg and Carlos to re-implement their software online, on top of a prototype platform we've built that gives them easy access to terabytes of satellite imagery and thousands of computers in our data centres," it wrote.
Moscow-based users of the Yota provider have been unable to access web sites such as Garry Kasparov’s Kasparov.ru, Solidarity’s Rusolidarnost.ru and the banned National Bolshevik Party’s Nazbol.ru over the past few weeks, bloggers and the sites’ editors said.
Access also was patchy until Sunday to the site of opposition magazine The New Times, its web editor Ilya Barabanov said Monday.
Yota denied that it was blocking those sites. But Denis Sverdlov, chief executive of WiMax operator Skartel, which runs the Yota brand, did acknowledge that Yota blocks access to sites that are classified as extremist by the Justice Ministry. Because of that, Yota users cannot open the Chechen rebel web site Kavkazcenter.com.
...Bloggers, meanwhile, are rattled by an audio file posted online Sunday in which a female voice — purportedly of a Yota support representative — says Kasparov’s and Solidarity’s sites are blocked because they are on that list.
I am excited by the future of all things in mobile in Brazil. First, we saw the government urging mobile companies to give free phones to those who couldn't afford them, presenting it as part of a more ambitious plan by the government to guarantee access to telecommunications to all Brazilians.
Now we hear the head of the Brazilian unit of America Movil - a company controlled by the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim - predicting that Brazil will have as many mobile phones as people by the end of 2010 (this, of course, won't mean that every Brazilian will have a mobile phone, as some people carry several devices at the same time). Nevertheless, it's been an exciting decade for mobile communications in Brazil, with wireless lines growing more than 10-fold.
...And yet another addition to my growing list of examples of how the Internet can be used for propaganda. WSJ on the new types of provocations occuring on the Iranian Internet:
A video posted Monday morning on foreign events blog enduringamerica.com, hosted by a University of Birmingham professor, showed someone burning a poster of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's supreme leader, before a crowd of cheering people. Several readers thought the image was suspicious, in part because it didn't show the burning poster and the crowd in the same shot.
It also didn't appear to match other video taken at the university, said Scott Lucas, a professor of foreign policy at the university who started the blog.
"We consulted several people when the doubts arose," said Mr. Lucas, who added that it is possible backers of the regime make such videos to discredit the opposition. "We pulled it after it was up for about two hours."
Other Web sites showed video of protesters and the burning photos in the same frame.
Evgeny Morozov, originally from Belarus, is a visiting scholar at Stanford and a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation.