As announced a few months ago, the iPhone has officially made landfall in China. But even with such an enormous potential market, Apple may still have some problems selling the device. Apparently, due to issues with Chinese carriers, iPhones in China have no support for Wi-Fi. To add insult to injury among Chinese users, the price of the iPhone comes in at 4,999 yuan, or $730. If you buy the smartphone without a contract it comes in at a whopping $1,024, according to the Wall Street Journal. Fortunately, a ban on Wi-Fi by one Chinese carrier has been … Read more
Oracle is determined to keep MySQL if it acquires Sun, but the reason likely has little to do with open source and everything to do with Microsoft. Oracle doesn't compete with open source. Not really. Open source is simply a means to an end, and in the case of MySQL, a means to denting Microsoft's rising strength in emerging markets where Oracle's expensive database technology doesn't resonate.Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has said that he has no intention of spinning off MySQL to win EU approval of Oracle's bid for Sun. This isn't because … Read more
Australia's firefighters are apparently a bit worried about the future of emergency services, after rescuing two girls trapped in a storm drain who turned only to Facebook to ask for help.
According to southern Australia's Metropolitan Fire Service, it received a "Triple Zero" emergency call on Sunday. (That's Australia's equivalent to 911.)
The person who called said that two girls, ages 10 and 12, were trapped in a drain in Adelaide. The girls had a mobile phone with them, but opted to ask for help through their Facebook profiles, rather than dial Triple Zero.… Read more
Microsoft on Monday announced plans for mobile software that aims to allow people in emerging markets to access various Internet programs using lower-end feature phones.
The software, known as OneApp, is due out later this year and should allow people in emerging markets to access services like Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger using the kinds of inexpensive phones most often sold for $20 or $30. Microsoft said Blue Label Telecoms in South Africa will be the first to use OneApp and will use it to offer phones that ship with a dozen mobile applications, including a mobile … Read more
You're obviously incredibly fortunate if you are helped in a life-or-death situation, but being on the giving end of such emergencies is very satisfying, too. Now, with Pocket First Aid & CPR, you can make sure to be ready the next time you are called upon to save someone.
It's is a 65MB application (so make sure you install it via iTunes or a Wi-Fi connection) that features hundreds of pages of text and illustrations, with topics ranging from CPR and … Read more
Microsoft Vine looks like an odd social experiment. It's designed to help users send notifications to the people they need to reach in emergencies. I tried the product and found it very un-Microsoft-like. It's useless as a single-user app, and it's also oddly specific in its functionality. From Microsoft, I expect broad platforms and wide-open productivity tools. Vine is neither.
Or is it? I took my questions to Microsoft, and was routed to a person whose title made it clear that there's more going on with Vine than the product initially reveals. I ended up talking with Tammy Savage, general manager of the Microsoft Public Safety Initiative.
At its core, Vine is based on a new Microsoft platform for routing communications between different systems. The platform is built to know the various ways there are to reach anyone using it, and it tries multiple methods until it gets its message through.
For example, some emergency messages might go to users' e-mail accounts or be sent as text messages. Some may go to regular telephones, and will get converted from text to speech if necessary. If one communication method goes down (if calls can't go through after a big disaster, for instance) the platform routes messages over another until they reach enough people to satisfy the requirements of the message.
Rules dictate to whom a message goes. An emergency message to check on a child when a parent is unable to after an earthquake, for example, might only require one person who gets the message to reply to it in the affirmative to satisfy the rule. A note about a kids' soccer game being canceled due to a muddy field would keep bouncing through the system until all the parents got it.
To keep the product in front of users, so they don't forget about when they need it, Vine also lets you track local news, and it can be used it to "check in" when you're traveling, even if you're not in the middle of an emergency. (See Meet Vine for more.)
When I was a wee lad my family used to drive an hour north of the San Francisco Bay Area to visit my grandparents in Santa Rosa, Calif. My sister and I were at the age where we needed something to keep us busy at all times, so my grandparents often had to come up with things for us to do once the toys we brought along no longer held our interest. In one room of my grandparent's place, my grandfather had set up a recliner chair right next to a table with an emergency scanner on it. He … Read more
With a new product called Vine, Microsoft is tackling the issue that, in the Digital Age, contact management is no longer static--where you are and what you're doing at a given moment can matter just as much as what your cell phone number is. But instead of focusing on roving business travelers, Vine's slant is community management and emergency preparedness. It's in a private beta test right now.
Here's how it works. You download a "dashboard" application, and then you log in with your Windows Live account. Its interface takes the form of a … Read more
By now you've heard of "ICE," right? The idea is to add an "In Case of Emergency" entry to your phone's address book and fill it with emergency contacts, important medical info, and the like. That's so rescue workers have an easier time helping you should the unfortunate need arise.
ICE Lite is ICE in app form. It contains just two screens: one with personal info (name, address, phone number, etc.), and one with emergency-contact info.
There's room for your emergency contact person's name, relation, and phone number, along with separate … Read more
It won't grab headlines like the newest version of the iPhone operating system, but a Palo Alto, Calif., nonprofit today announced a suite of open-source applications that aids in communications and collaboration for humanitarian workers dealing with diseases and disasters.
InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters) has released three applications to empower aid workers to use inexpensive, off-the-shelf mobile phones to better detect and respond to disasters, diseases, and economic catastrophes.
The organization currently runs projects in Southeast Asia, including the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance project and the Phnom Penh Innovation Lab.
One of the new programs, … Read more