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Archive for the ‘smart phones’

Tablets ‘eroding’ children’s digital skills

April 09, 2016 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, data security, Dr Search, Email, internet, Personal Security, Search Clinic, smart phones, Tablets, Uncategorized

Children are learning very different skills via tablets and smartphones, suggests a report.

 

Children’s growing use of mobile devices may hamper their learning of key technology skills, says a report.

An Australian educational body noted a “significant decline” in IT literacy among some students since 2011.

Its report said children learned very different skills on tablets and smartphones to the basic technology skills required for the workplace.

Changes to the way that ICT was being taught in Australian schools could explain some of the decline, it said.

The report added that significant alterations in the types of devices people use could also be behind some of the changes.
Poor performance

The report by Australia’s National Assessment Programme looked at technology literacy among two groups of children – one just leaving primary school and another in its fourth year of secondary school. More than 10,500 students took part.

It compared digital literacy scores from 2011 with those from a survey carried out in late 2014.

“This report shows a significant decline in their ICT literacy performance when compared to previous cycles,” it said.

Both age groups saw a decline in IT proficiencies, it added. Statistics revealed that the average performance of 16-year-olds in the 2014 group was lower than the average in any other year.

In addition it found that the number of children meeting basic ICT literacy standards in these age groups had dropped.

Pupils now made “increased” and “extensive” use of mobile technology and it was possible that this meant they were “practising fewer of the skills that have been associated with ICT literacy,” it said.

Tablets and smartphones were making children competent at using many forms of online communication, it said, at the expense of those other skills emphasised by the curriculum.

It warned against assuming that children who use tablets and other portable devices were more widely competent with technology.

“We cannot expect students to become proficient on important employability and life skills, just by using computing devices for games and social interaction,” it said. “They also need to be taught the relevant knowledge, understanding and skills.”

Eben Upton, who came up with the idea for the bare-bones Raspberry Pi computer, said the Australian research presented some “interesting” conclusions.

“It’s always been my belief that ‘appliance-like’ hardware platforms don’t encourage real computer literacy because there are missing rungs on the ladder between being a consumer and being a producer,” he told the BBC.

“There’s a place for tablets in education, but we need to get away from the idea that knowing how to pinch-zoom makes your toddler the next Bill Gates,” he said.

Google’s mobilegeddon for non responsive websites

April 20, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Google, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, search engines, SEO, smart phones, Uncategorized

Google is launching “mobilegeddon” by making changes to the way its search engines ranks websites.

Google’s mobilegeddon for non responsive websitesGoogle regularly changes its algorithms as it battles with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialists who try to understand the system on behalf of their clients and ongoing technical changes.

But this is a big change – dubbed “mobilegeddon”- which is designed to prioritise websites that are optimised for the mobile internet.

Google gave plenty of warning, telling developers about the change in a blog post in February and providing a simple tool to check whether sites were mobile friendly.

The search firm is trying to reassure website owners that this won’t be an earthquake which turns their businesses upside down but quite a subtle evolution.

But SEO specialists say this looks like the biggest change since 2011 – and for some that will unearth some unpleasant memories.

For any online retailer, appearing on page one of Google’s search results can make all the difference between a profitable business and one heading for the scrapyard

Google’s move to make mobile capabilities more important in search rankings seems eminently sensible as our smart phones and tablets become the key route to finding goods and services online.

But over the next few weeks we can expect cries of pain from those whom the all powerful search algorithm has deemed less worthy.

And, coming just days after the European Commission accused Google of abusing its dominance, it will be another illustration of just how important a role the Californian company plays in every corner of the global economy.

So if you need help with optimising my website then please contact us now either by clicking the contact us button or ring us 01242 521967:contact search clinic

End of Orange Wednesdays

February 26, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Yesterday was the last “Orange Wednesday” when UK cinemas offered 2 for 1 deals.

Yesterday was the last The latest company behind the phone operators EE- announced last year that it was ending the promotion because its customers’ “viewing habits had evolved”.

It promises to have another package to offer soon, but there was speculation that the company couldn’t reach a commercial deal with a cinema chain.

In a statement issued in December, EE said: “Orange Wednesday launched over a decade ago and at its peak was a massive success and an iconic promotion.”

“After 10 great years our brand has changed and our customers’ viewing habits have also evolved so it’s time to move on.”

2013’s box office attendance was the lowest in 20 years, according to Rentrak.

Cinemas in the UK and Ireland saw box office takings drop 2.9%, or around £34 million, from 2013 – the most significant change since 1991.

Blame, in part, was being directed at a lack of Hollywood blockbusters on screens that year, but it was also put down to the increasing cost of a ticket and people downloading films and box sets at home on a tablet, TV or phone.

But Stephen Fry says it’s not as simple as people being turned off film and brands the decline as “sad”.

“I don’t know whether one can factor in the figures for those who wait in order to watch Netflix, iTunes and other such downloads. Because I think that’s really on the up enormously and the passion for cinema and for movies is the greatest I think that it’s ever been.”

“So the fact that it’s not reflected in box office returns is sad, because I think filmmakers and everyone like to see their movies watched in proper, big, big cinemas. “

“Indeed Imax and funnily enough, you get things like Game of Thrones being shown in Imax cinemas. It’s disappointing but actually that’s bound to happen but over a longer period I think. I think you’ll find that cinema attendance is still pretty good.”

And he’s not wrong. 2014 did mark the fifth consecutive year that the film industry exceeded the £1.1 billion mark.

Which makes Search Clinic conclude that as the brand name has changed since the promotion’s inception, the brand value to EE was no longer cost effective.

Black market for stolen smartphones grows

April 22, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

A black market of shops and traders willing to deal in stolen smartphones has been exposed.

Black market for stolen smartphones growsMore than 30,000 phones have been stolen in London alone in 2014.

They were then all blocked or reported stolen to the networks

All the phones used had ‘find-my-phone’ style blocks activated, and in theory their IMEI numbers mean they are not useable once reported stolen.

But it is simple it was to get around such features – using only a laptop.

By giving a device a new IMEI number – effectively changing the phone’s fingerprint – it means that the phone could be used as normal again.

And restoring the phone’s default software removes “find-my-phone” protection.

In just a few mouse clicks and the phone is turned from a paperweight back to a useable device again.

Over the past 12 months:

  • 30,430 phones taken in thefts – down 12% on previous year
  • 13,724 phones taken in robberies
  • Equivalent to 80 phones a day being taken
  • More than half of all the thefts on the Tube are of mobile phones

Source: Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police

A phone stolen this morning could be back on the streets by this afternoon, packaged up as a second hand legitimate phone.

A fundamental redesign of smartphones to place the IMEI number on a ‘read-only’ part of the device would prevent this. But Mr Roughley said manufacturers have been reluctant to do this.

So beware you so called smart phone- isn’t that clever if it is lost or stolen.

Dangers of constantly on wifi smartphone apps

March 28, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Cyber Security, data security, Hackers, mobile phones, Personal Security, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

The dangers of constantly keeping your smartphone’s always on has been revealed.

Dangers of constantly on wifi smartphone appsMany smartphone users leave the wireless option constantly turned on on their smartphone. That means the phones are constantly looking for a network to join – including previously used networks.

Once the user has joined a disguised wifi network, the rogue operator can then steal any information that the user enters while on that network – including email passwords, Facebook account information, and even banking details.

This is also why smartphones and other devices that use wireless technology – such as Oyster cards using RFID (radio frequency identification) or bank cards with chips – can betray their users.

Mr Wilkinson – who began developing the Snoopy software three years ago as a side-project – gave the BBC a preview of the technology ahead of its release.

Pulling out a laptop from his bag, Mr Wilkinson opened the Snoopy programme – and immediately pulled up the smartphone information of hundreds of Black Hat conference attendees.

With just a few keystrokes, he showed that an attendee sitting in the back right corner of the keynote speech probably lived in a specific neighbourhood in Singapore. The software even provided a streetview photo of the smartphone user’s presumed address.
DJI phantom SensePost has used the Snoopy software attached to cheap commercial drones like DJI’s Phantom

Drones- not just flying cameras:

  •     Drones are controlled either autonomously by on-board computers, or by remote control
  •     They are used in situations where manned flight is considered too dangerous or difficult
  •     Also increasingly used for policing and fire-fighting, security work, and for filming

For instance, the Snoopy software has been ground-based until now, operating primarily on computers, smartphones with Linux installed on them, and on open-source small computers like the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black.

But when attached to a drone, it can quickly cover large areas.

“You can also fly out of audio-visual range – so you can’t see or hear it, meaning you can bypass physical security – men with guns, that sort of thing,” he says.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which an authoritarian regime could fly the drone over an anti-government protest and collect the smartphone data of every protester and use the data to figure out the identities of everyone in attendance.

Mr Wilkinson says that this is why he has become fascinated with our “digital terrestrial footprint” – and the way our devices can betray us.

He says he wants to “talk about this to bring awareness” of the security risks posed by such simple technologies to users.

His advice? Turn off the wireless network on your phone until you absolutely need to use it.

Microsoft and Google clash over smartphone apps

April 18, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Customer Service, Google, Microsoft, Mobile Marketing, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has accused Google of pushing Android handset makers to use its apps like YouTube and Maps.
Microsoft and Google clash over smartphone apps
Along with Oracle, Nokia and 14 other tech firms, Microsoft has filed a complaint with the European Commission.

The group, known as FairSearch, argues that Google is abusing its dominance of the mobile market.

“We are asking the commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel for FairSearch.

“Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system,” he added.

Android is now the dominant mobile operating system, accounting for 70% of the market, according to research firm Gartner.

The complaint describes Google’s Android operating system as a “trojan horse”, offered to device makers for free. In return they are “required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone,” the complaint reads.

Google is also under fire for its common user privacy policy which groups 60 sets of rules into one and allows the company to track users more closely.

Last week six European data protection agencies, including the UK and France, threatened legal action if Google did not make changes to its policy.

In October a European Commission working party said its privacy policy did not meet Commission standards on data protection.

It gave Google four months to comply with its recommendation. Google maintains that the new policy “respects European law”.

Microsoft itself is no stranger to EC criticism- in March it was fined £484 million for failing to promote a range of web browsers in its Windows 7 operating system.

Blackberry sells million Z10 smartphones

April 09, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: BlackBerry, Dr Search, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

 Blackberry says it has sold one million of its new Z10 smartphones in the first three months of 2013.
Blackberry sells million Z10 smartphonesThe company reported profits of £65 million ($98 million) for the quarter, after posting a big loss for the same period last year.

The Z10 handset is seen as crucial to the future of Blackberry, which has struggled to keep up with new Apple and Android phones.

It has been on sale for a month in the UK, Canada and other markets.

It went on sale with little fanfare a week ago in the United States, Blackberry’s most important market. The latest figures do not include US sales.

Blackberry was previously called Research In Motion (RIM), but changed its name last year.

Analysts greeted the results cautiously, saying that it was too early to judge the success of the Z10 and its sister device the Q10.

Earlier in the week, Blackberry shares were hit when two major US brokerages expressed disappointment with the US launch of the Z10.

The Blackberry results also showed the company lost three million users over the year. Its handsets are now used by 76 million people, down from 79 million 12 months ago.

In total, Blackberry said it had shipped a total of about six million handsets in the three months to early March.

Mobile position data present anonymity risk

April 02, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: data security, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Personal Security, smart phones, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Scientists say it is remarkably easy to identify a mobile phone user from just a few pieces of location positioning information.Mobile position data present anonymity riskWhenever a phone is switched on, its connection to the network means its position and movement can be plotted.

This data is given anonymously to third parties, both to drive services for the user and to target advertisements.

But a study Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility in Scientific Reports warns that human mobility patterns are so predictable it is possible to identify a user from only four data points.

The growing ubiquity of mobile phones and smartphone applications has ushered in an era in which tremendous amounts of user data have become available to the companies that operate and distribute them – sometimes released publicly as “anonymised” or aggregated data sets.

These data are of extraordinary value to advertisers and service providers, but also for example to those who plan shopping centres, allocate emergency services, and a new generation of social scientists.

Yet the spread and development of “location services” has outpaced the development of a clear understanding of how location data impact users’ privacy and anonymity.

For example, sat-nav manufacturers have long been using location data from both mobile phones and sat-navs themselves to improve traffic reporting, by calculating how fast users are moving on a given stretch of road.

The data used in such calculations are “anonymised” – no actual mobile numbers or personal details are associated with the data.

But there are some glaring examples of how nominally anonymous data can be linked back to individuals, the most striking of which occurred with a tranche of data deliberately released by AOL in 2006, outlining 20 million anonymised web searches.

Recent work has increasingly shown that humans’ patterns of movement, however random and unpredictable they seem to be, are actually very limited in scope and can in fact act as a kind of fingerprint for who is doing the moving.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Catholic University of Louvain studied 15 months’ worth of anonymised mobile phone records for 1.5 million individuals.

They found from the “mobility traces” – the evident paths of each mobile phone – that only four locations and times were enough to identify a particular user.

“In the 1980s, it was shown that you need 12 points to uniquely identify and characterise a fingerprint,” said the study’s lead author Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye of MIT.

“What we did here is the exact same thing but with mobility traces. The way we move and the behaviour is so unique that four points are enough to identify 95% of people.”

“We think this data is more available than people think. When you think about, for instance wi-fi or any application you start on your phone, we call up the same kind of mobility data.

“When you share information, you look around you and feel like there are lots of people around – in the shopping centre or a tourist place – so you feel this isn’t sensitive information.”

Sam Smith of Privacy International said: “Our mobile phones report location and contextual data to multiple organisations with varying privacy policies.”

“Any benefits we receive from such services are far outweighed by the threat that these trends pose to our privacy, and although we are told that we have a choice about how much information we give over, in reality individuals have no choice whatsoever.” 

Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone launched

March 19, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, mobile phones, Samsung, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Samsung has launched a new smartphone- Galaxy S4 which allows users to control its 5in screen using only their eyes.Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone launchedThe Galaxy S4 follows on from last year’s S3, a product that sold over 40 million units worldwide.

Analysts widely regard Samsung to be the biggest challenger to Apple’s dominance of mobile products as the Galaxy S4 will be rolled out globally at the end of April.

The company’s head of mobile communications, JK Shin said 327 mobile operators in 155 countries will carry the handset.

In the UK, Vodafone, Three, Orange, T-Mobile and EE have all announced plans to offer the device on their networks.

Through a series of role-playing scenes, the South Korean firm demonstrated the phone’s key features.

Much was made of the device’s ability to be controlled without touching it- using “Smart pause”, the user can pause a video by looking away from the screen.

Additionally, the “Smart Scroll” software analyses the user’s eyes and wrist to scroll through emails and other content.

In another scene, depicting a backpacker in Shanghai, the phone was shown to translate English text into Chinese speech – before translating Chinese speech back into English text.

The dual camera feature makes use of the device’s front and rear cameras simultaneously, blending the pictures together to make sure the picture taker is not “left out”.

The rear has a 13 megapixel camera, while the user-facing camera captures pictures at 2 megapixels.

The phone weighs 130g, and is 7.9mm thick – making it slightly lighter and thinner than the S3.

The device uses Samsung’s HD AMOLED technology, giving the S4’s screen – which is marginally bigger than the S3’s – a resolution of 441 pixels-per-inch.

As predicted by several industry experts before the event, most of the presentation focused on the phone’s software rather than hardware.

As well as the “touchless” technology, the company also introduced the Samsung Hub – a multimedia storage facility that can be shared across multiple Samsung devices.

Mobile phone insurance complaints hit record numbers

March 12, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

A record number of complaints are being made about mobile phone insurance.Mobile phone insurance complaints hit record numbersThe Financial Ombudsman Service says it dealt with around 600 between April 2011 and 2012 and upheld 69%.

But it is expecting a 25% increase on that figure when the numbers for the current financial year are gathered at the end of this month.

However, it says those complaints are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people unhappy with their insurance provider.

Martyn James form the Financial Ombudsman Service said: “We uphold more complaints about mobile phone insurance than virtually any other product we look at.”

“It’s round about three-quarters of all the cases we see.”

The Association of British Insurers says the complaints only represent a tiny percentage of people who have mobile phone insurance and that it’s working hard to bring that number down.