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June 26, 2015

A year ago, I didn't have WeChat or WhatsApp on my phone. Now, I can't manage without them.

Mobile phones are invaluable but intrusive. Instant-messaging clients and SMS have been around for years, and naturally I use them for communication.

But I've always felt that these comms are like "walkie-talkies": for essential information, perhaps the occasional snarky comment. You don't hog the channel because...it's a walkie-talkie – makes sense?

Now we have these OTT services. At first, I resisted. They seemed too demanding – all that staring at the screen and furious... MORE

June 18, 2015

Baseball – the evolution of UK sports like cricket and rounders mixed with early US sports like townball – is played professionally in northeast Asian countries like Japan and Korea, but remains most popular in North and Central America.

Most baseball statistics are public record. But now one US baseball club, the venerable St Louis Cardinals (who began professional life as the Brown Stockings in 1881), stands accused of pillaging the website of another—the distinctly less storied Houston Astros.

Big data "hit by pitch"
A less savory part of the game: when a pitcher... MORE

June 12, 2015

ITEM: "Hackers stole personnel data and Social Security numbers for every federal employee...the hackers are now in possession of all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to one million former federal employees."

Hardly a week goes by without a dramatic announcement of data intrusion. A firm's attacked, a government website's defaced by hacktivists, a new malware package for Android phones is discovered "in the wild."

We've become frankly bored by news of cyberwrongs. The strategies change: the breach of US-based retailer Target (remember... MORE

April 10, 2015

In Luc Besson's latest film—Lucy—Scarlett Johanssen plays a woman who finds herself able to use 100% of her brain's thinking power. The film's premise is based on the oft-repeated slogan that we only use 10-15% of our brain's potential. If we could somehow "unlock" that unused potential, we'd be covering blackboards with chalky text explaining the origins of the universe.

Sometimes I think the power of massed smartphones is parked in the 10-15% range. Most of own a device packed with more number-crunching power than the entire US space program had in the 1960s. Yet some use them... MORE

March 26, 2015

The term "Radio Shack" doesn't fit among Asian electronics retailers, but old-school geeks from North America know it well. "The Shack" was often the first (and sometimes the only) place to go for electronic supplies and products including personal computers. Whether you wanted batteries, a breadboard for your microprocessor-synth project, or a shortwave radio antenna (for the radio setup in your backyard shack, thus the name), they'd probably have it in stock.

Even in the dotcom/mobile era, some Radio Shack outlets served as hubs for North America's DIY enthusiasts, as outlined in... MORE

March 10, 2015

Telecom Asia contributor and raconteur Tony Poulos sits on a chair atop a table at a tapas bar in Barcelona. "Anyone NOT here for Mobile World Congress?" Poulos asks the crowd, rhetorically.

With a reported 93,000 attendees, MWC2015 bulged at the seams. Devices pinged with incessant press releases as vendors and operators pushed out press releases and invites. After spending the day barraged by technology, Poulos's monologue – an irreverent and very funny take on MWC – was a welcome respite. His format hasn't changed in centuries: a storyteller entertaining a group of like-minded... MORE

February 26, 2015

"In Greek mythology, Narcissus was ... known for his beauty [and] proud, in that he disdained those who loved him," says Wikipedia. "Nemesis (the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris) noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned."

Narcissus would have loved the selfie-stick. You can't drown in a smartphone-image, but that doesn't mean the now-popular vehicle of self-... MORE

February 17, 2015

There are days in Hong Kong when it's hard to think of smartphones as something more than toys. MTR carriages house solitary commuters absorbed in crushing brightly colored candy-shaped icons. Others flip through electronic photo albums with multiple images of someone else's lunch.

Yet today's smartphones contain raw computing power that would stagger an electronic engineer from an earlier era. And of course, many use the computing and communicative abilities in their handhelds to read news, send/receive essential emails or other communication, edit photos or videos or other tasks... MORE

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