“2G Tuesdays” Arrives For Facebook Employees.

Facebook is launching a new initiative by the name of 2G Tuesdays, sounds like a tech version of TFI Friday, which will give all employees a taste of a super slow connection to better emphasize the current speeds in countries including the developing market place of India. While this implementation is certainly essential to a better understanding of the parameters for designing and testing the Facebook App in areas that offer atrocious speeds, I can see a text-book example of slow connection rage.

Surely the speeds cannot be that slow, well engineering director Tom Alison remembers the first time he opened Facebook on a phone with a 2G connection, he exclaimed that “It definitely tested my patience — it felt like parts of the product were just broken”. While US citizens are accustomed to a faster 3G or even 4G, millions of people are accessing the World Wide Web with 2G where a single webpage can take around 2 minutes to load, or as western audiences would say $@%$@.

This is why Facebook’s team of “emerging market engineers”, yes, apparently they have a division dedicated to this, have spent an extensive amount of time re working Facebook’s News Feed for slow connections.

So, how will 2G Tuesday work? Well, when a Facebook employee logs into the app on a Tuesday of every week, “they’ll see a prompt at the top of their News Feed asking whether they want to try out the slower connection for an hour”. For that hour their computer experience will be akin to a person residing in India or any other slow connected country.

A better understanding of varying speeds throughout the world has led to some fascinating projects including an Open-Sourced Network Connection Class System, (sounds like a citizen reviewed social class status), that lets Facebook and its app figure out how fast your connection is with the aim of then conveying a different news feed depending on the speed.

Facebook reckons a large proportion of employees will opt into this experiment, what mood they will be in by the end is another matter. On a side note, while many tech employees enjoy the freedom to develop with a comparable connection for their area, they may fall into the mindset that the whole world is the same, by slowing them down it speeds up a unique process with the aim of benefiting consumers who suffer from appalling speeds to the web.

Researchers Hack Air-Gapped Computer Using Nine-Year-Old Motorola Phone

An air-gapped computer is the most secure way of storing sensitive data; a PC that has no internet connection and no removable storage or disk drives cannot be compromised by hackers or government surveillance, in theory. Well, it’s time to say goodbye to that theory, as not only have Israeli researchers managed to remotely hack into an air-gapped computer, but they did it with a nine-year-old mobile phone that has no GPRS, Wi-Fi, or mobile data capabilities.

Researchers warn that their findings should encourage companies attempting to protect data via air-gapped systems to “change their security guidelines and prohibit employees and visitors from bringing devices capable of intercepting RF signals,” so says Yuval Elovici, director of the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Since smartphones are often restricted in areas which house air-gapped computers, so the researchers from the Cyber Security Center chose to use an old mobile phone that could bypass any security restrictions.

“[U]nlike some other recent work in this field, [this attack] exploits components that are virtually guaranteed to be present on any desktop/server computer and cellular phone,” the researchers note in their paper.

The phone used, a Motorola C123, runs on a Calypso baseband chip from Texas Instruments, and supports 2G communication, but has none of the more advanced networking capacities of modern smartphones. Data was grabbed from air-gapped computers, running Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Ubuntu, at a rate of 1-2bps, allowing the researchers to obtain 256-bit encryption keys from the system via radio frequencies.

“This is not a scenario where you can leak out megabytes of documents, but today sensitive data is usually locked down by smaller amounts of data,” Dudu Mimran, CTO of the Cyber Security Research Center, said. “So if you can get the RSA private key, you’re breaking a lot of things.”

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Mobile Phones & Smartphones Info.

EE Unveil Action Camera with Built-In 4G

At a small event this morning in London, the UK’s largest mobile service provider EE unveiled the next stage of their “Connected Vison” plan. The 4GEE action camera.

It is essentially a GoPro camera, but has built-in 3g and 4g connectivity so you can stream your crazy videos direct from your device. You will be able to add it to your monthly plan for £10 per month and will be available from Jue 16th. So what are the specs?

  • 13-megapixel sensor
  • Can record at 1080p @ 30 FPS, 720p @ 60 FPS, 480p @ 120 FPS,
  • Still image capture resolution :(4288×3216).
  • Live streaming is limited to 720p @ 30 FPS.
  • F/2.8 lens
  • 4GB internal memory
  • SD Card Slot
  • 2260mAh internal battery

Streaming of the video will be done via EE’s own video streaming platform, Skeegle. This then uses permission from Facebook to decide who can view your streams. It will ship with several accessories. Once of which will be a Viewfinder Watch (for setting up your shot), an underwater enclosure that’s good at depths up to 60 meters and also an adapter to allow you to mount it on GoPro tripods and other accessories.

All this 4g streaming talk makes me wonder about data usage and caps. One hour of streaming will use around 1GB of data, EE charge roughly £30 for 5GB of data per month. You could buy the camera outright (£400) and then you get 2gb of data per month, for the year. You’ll also be able to get the camera on contract, with a £50 one off charge, then £15 per month after for 2GB of data allowance. Pretty tight eh?!

Thank you to ArsTechnia for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of ArsTechnica

Nokia 215 Gives You The Web in Your Pocket for $29

For most of you reading this, a 2G feature phone with a QVGA display and 0.3 megapixel camera isn’t going to be enough to satisfy your mobile computing needs. But for a number of you and for many others, the idea of being able to access Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms for just $29 is going to be more than enough.

That’s pretty much what the Nokia 215 is. It’s a small feature phone with a basic display and camera, alongside a 2G antenna, FM Radio, Bluetooth, a torch and pretty long battery life (29 days of standby). The phone runs apps like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Bing Search, MSN Weather and Opera Mini giving those who aren’t looking to spend $100+ on a smartphone access to basic networking features.

The phone is due to come out later this year, starting in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Source: Engadget

Samsung Rolls Out its Exynos ModAP SoC with Integrated LTE

South Korean smartphone manufacturer, Samsung, has just announced its latest SoC addition, the ModAP chip, which features an integrated 4G LTE radio. While the company was mostly focusing on their handsets in the past, it looks like it now wants a big piece of the SoC market as well.

The processor itself is said to boast only a Quad-Core processor on a 28 nm HKMG process architecture, compared to its Exynos 5 chips which boast Octa-Core processors. Looking at the SoC market, the only manufacturer available to produce LTE-enabled SoCs was Qualcomm, having Samsung’s flashgrips powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon chips. However, Samsung seems to want to stop depending on Qualcomm’s SoC and start making their own hardware for their handsets, with the possibility of making their SoC available to other smartphone manufacturers as well.

It is said that the Exynos ModAP SoCs have the ability to support the 4G LTE Release 9 of 3GPP and Cat 4, FDD and TDD, as well as legacy 2G and 3G mobile interface support. Although Samsung did come a long way with its SoCs, it is still behind Qualcomm and its Cat 6 LTE-enabled chips, capable of speeds up to 300 Mbps. Even so, Samsung states that thanks to the Exynos ModAP SoC, handsets will be able to boast high-resolution cameras and offer features such as video recording in high quality or playing back graphics in higher quality.

Thank you The Times of India for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Daily Tech

EE to Offer Voice Calls, Text Messaging via Wi-Fi

UK wireless carrier EE is launching a program for subscribers to make voice calls and send text messages over Wi-Fi, promising sound quality better than what’s provided by Skype.

The company has invested upwards of £275 million to try to eliminate white spots throughout the UK. Many customers living and working in parts of the UK with poor phone coverage complained about the inability to receive calls and text messages.

The Wi-Fi calling is scheduled to launch this call, EE confirmed in a press statement. In addition, here is what Fotis Karonis, EE Chief Technology Officer, said:

“Our Wi-Fi calling capability will let customers make calls where they have access to Wi-Fi but not to the mobile network. The customer experience is seamless because it’s the same as making a network call and uses the normal call interface of the handset. This is a major part of our strategy to invest in giving customers the ability to make a call wherever they are, and we’re confident that this service can make a big difference to people in homes and large offices across the country, especially in the most rural areas, that don’t have mobile coverage.”

It’s a clever offering from EE, understanding that clients living in areas with poor 2G, 3G or 4G network coverage still should have the ability to make and receive dependable phone calls.

Thank you to EE for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Bristol Bulletin

Nokia Lumia 1520 Full Specifications And Pricing Revealed

Some fresh reports from NokiaPowerUser have revealed the specifications and pricing for the upcoming Nokia Lumia 1520 handset, pictured above. The key specifications can be seen below:

  • Display: 6 inch AMOLED PureMotion HD+ display at 1920 x 1080 which is 367~ PPI
  • CPU: 2GHz MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 quad core processor
  • GPU: Adreno 330 graphics
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Operating System: Windows Phone 8
  • Internal storage: 32GB or 64GB
  • Cameras: 20.7 megapixel rear with Zeiss Optics (panorama compatible)
  • Connectivity: MicroSD and Nano-SIM
  • Network support: 4G (LTE), 3G (HSDPA) and 2G (GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 all versions)
  • Dimensions:  152 x 81 x 8.7mm
  • Weight: 176/185 grams (AT&T/Global versions)
  • Battery:  3400 mAh with inbuilt wireless charging for the global variant
  • Colours: Black, White, Yellow and Red

The handset is expected to launch on October 22nd and will be made available first on AT&T on November 2nd. On contract the device will cost $299 while SIM-free and off-contract it costs $699. Global availability is expected for December.

See more details on the Nokia Lumia 1520 here.

Image courtesy of EVLeaks