FCC launches PLAN emergency alert service for mobile devices

By on May 13, 2011 at 2:05 PM.

FCC launches PLAN emergency alert service for mobile devices

The city of New York has teamed up with the FCC and wireless carriers to unveil a new emergency alert system called PLAN. PLAN can notify mobile users in a specific geographic location of a hazardous or potentially life threatening situations. The new system was announced a few days ago at an event at the still-under-construction World Trade Center site, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg commented:

One of the many lessons that were reinforced on 9/11 is the importance of getting clear and accurate information to the public–that’s why we’ve made improving our emergency public communications a top priority. As part of this effort, we’re harnessing tech in innovative new ways, which is something I found to be effective in both business and government for improving service delivery.

The system taps into the existing Emergency Alert System that notifies the public of an emergency by radio or TV, though PLAN (Personalized Localized Alerting Network), takes emergency alerts into the modern age with a pretty smart system. With a compatible phone, your mobile device will be able to receive an emergency alert based on your geographical location. For instance, if there was an alert about an imminent threat to public safety for New Jersey (nobody likes New Jersey) and you were not in New Jersey at the time, you would not get the alert. PLAN consists of three alerts: those issues by the President, alerts warning of imminent threats, and Amber Alerts. The last two can be blocked by an individual but not an alert from the President. The system will be available in New York and Washington, D.C. by the end of the year, and will roll out nationally by April of 2012. More →

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Comcast, others blocking access to The Pirate Bay [Updated]

By on May 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM.

Comcast, others blocking access to The Pirate Bay [Updated]

Reports have begun sprouting up all over the Internet claiming that Comcast, and a handful of other ISPs, are blocking access to torrent treasure trove, The Pirate Bay. Being a Comcast customer here in Boston, I thought it might be a good time to test the reports. My findings: yup, they’re definitely blocking it. Attempts to navigate to thepiratebay.org result in a timeout error — I even switched DNS servers to make sure it wasn’t a name-server record error causing the behavior. After firing up my trusty VPN client and initiating a session, connectivity to the site was immediately restored. Comcast now has more impetus to bar connections to the torrent index — its merger with NBC Universal means that the ISP owns content that is potentially being shared illegally — but the blocking of sites that do not further a corporation’s interests is a very slippery slope. I’ve reached out to Comcast for comment and will report back with any additional information provided. Anyone else seeing this behavior? If so, drop us a comment and let us know where you are and what ISP you’re using.

UPDATE: Comcast has issued the following statement to BGR: “We’re not blocking PirateBay [The Pirate Bay] and reports online indicate users from several ISPs around the world are affected. We have FAQs about our network management practices available here.” More →

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MobileMe replacement dubbed Castle, evidence found in Lion

By on May 2, 2011 at 7:37 AM.

MobileMe replacement dubbed Castle, evidence found in Lion

French blog Consomac has discovered an interesting bit of intel inside Apple’s latest developer build of Mac OS X Lion. The information insinuates that users of the company’s MobileMe cloud service will be prompted to upgrade to an offering dubbed “Castle” at some point in the future. It is unclear if Castle will be the new name of an expanded cloud-service offering — iCloud? — or rather the name of an update to the current service. The company’s World Wide Developer Conference is set to take place next month, and we’re sure most of the details will be ironed out by then. More →

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Confirmed: Apple now owns icloud.com

By on April 29, 2011 at 7:50 PM.

Confirmed: Apple now owns icloud.com

Following up on a rumor from yesterday, Digital Daily‘s John Paczkowski has confirmed that Apple has purchased the domain name icloud.com — henceforth to be known as iCloud, we’re sure. “Sources in a position to know” confirmed to the publication that Swedish company Xcerion has sold the domain to Apple, although they could not confirm that the Cupertino-based company paid $4.5 million for it as was reported yesterday. Apple is widely expected to launch a cloud-based service in the very near future. More →

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Apple readying 'crowd-sourced traffic' service in 'next couple of years'

By on April 27, 2011 at 12:10 PM.

Apple readying 'crowd-sourced traffic' service in 'next couple of years'

Included in Apple’s “Q&A on Location Data” press release this morning was a rare and concrete statement that pointed to a future project the company is working on. “Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years,” reads the release. Currently, iOS offers its users traffic-data through the bundled Google Maps application. It is unclear whether Apple is collecting this information to supplement the aforementioned offering, or — as rumors suggest — to build a new application that is less reliant on Google. Either way, it is an unusual statement from the Cupertino-based company about a future service. More →

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Apple looking for record industry approval of cloud music service [Updated]

By on April 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM.

Apple looking for record industry approval of cloud music service [Updated]

According to Peter Kafka over at All Things D, Apple’s presumed cloud-based music service will not be all that dissimilar from Amazon’s. The report details that Apple, like Amazon, will allow iTunes users to store newly purchased tracks and already-owned digital music in an online locker. Unlike Amazon, however, the Cupertino company is looking for deals with major record labels.“They’ve been very aggressive and thoughtful about it,” said an industry executive speaking with Kafka. “It feels like they want to go pretty soon.” The report also notes that the industry buy-in and licensing will allow Apple to store a single, master copy of a digital music file on its services and share that file with authorized users — making the company’s storage schema much more streamlined. Amazon’s Cloud Drive implementation is based on its S3 storage service and functions more like a cloud-based hard drive — every time a user buys a track it’s uploaded to that specific users online locker. “Sources tell me that Apple has already procured deals from at least two of the big four labels (Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony and EMI) within the last two months,” writes Kafka. “One source tells me Apple content boss Eddy Cue will be in New York tomorrow to try to finalize remaining deals.” Apple has some experience with cloud-based services as it has offered its MobileMe service — formerly iTools and .Mac — since early 2000.

UPDATE: CNET is now reporting that Apple and Warner Music Group reached a deal this afternoon: “Apple has an agreement with Warner Music Group to offer the record label’s tracks on iTunes’ upcoming cloud-music service.” More →

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Reuters: Apple to beat Google to market with cloud music service

By on April 21, 2011 at 4:03 PM.

Reuters: Apple to beat Google to market with cloud music service

According to a report filed by Reuters, Apple will edge out Google in the race to provide users with a cloud music service. “Apple’s plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection,” writes Reuters, citing two people familiar with Apple’s plans. The article goes on to cite a source familiar with Google’s cloud music plans, simply saying that the venture has stalled. “Apple has not told its music partners of when it intends to introduce its music locker,” the report continues. It has been widely rumored that Apple’s new North Carolina data center will be the bit-locker and heart of this new music venture. Apple declined Reuters request for comment. More →

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Best Buy Connect 4G option now available

By on March 29, 2011 at 5:00 AM.

Best Buy Connect 4G option now available

Best Buy Connect — Best Buy’s mobile broadband arm — on Monday announced that customers can now sign up for 4G service.  The 4G data service, which was launched through a wholesale agreement with Clearwire, is an option for customers purchasing one of Best Buy’s 23 supported laptop models from Asus, Samsung, Dell, HP, Sony and Toshiba, and Best Buy Connect provides all the service and support. Unlimited access to the 4G WiMAX network will set you back $45 each month with a two-year contract or on a month-to-month basis. If you sign up for a two-year contract, however, Best Buy Connect will waive the $35 activation fee, and Best Buy will knock $150 off the price of “select hardware devices.” Best Buy says that users can sign up for the 4G service nationwide, however access to the 4G WiMAX network is only available in the 70 U.S. markets where Clearwire offers it. Just last week Best Buy announced a new agreement to sell LightSquared’s 4G LTE service under its Best Buy Connect brand, although it’s unclear when that network will be offered. Hit the jump for the full release. More →

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Netflix issues apology, service credit for Instant downtime

By on March 24, 2011 at 7:57 AM.

Netflix issues apology, service credit for Instant downtime

In the wake of Tuesday’s Netflix Instant outage, the company has issued a mea culpa and service credit to affected users. “We are sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused,” reads an email from Netflix. “If you attempted and were unable to instantly watch TV episodes or movies yesterday, click on this account specific link in the next 7 days to apply your 3% credit to your next billing statement for your Watch Instantly Unlimited plan.” The note does not explain why the service when down, rather it references “technical issues.” The full text of the letter is after the break.
More →

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The Grey Lady builds a pay wall; New York Times to charge for online content after March 28th

By on March 17, 2011 at 12:05 PM.

The Grey Lady builds a pay wall; New York Times to charge for online content after March 28th

In a post on the publication’s web site today, The New York Times announced its intentions to move to a paid subscription model — often referred to as a “pay wall” — for access its online content beginning on March 28th. Currently being tested in Canadian markets, the paper plans to provide users with a small sampling of Times content each month for free, after which readers must pay for access. “On NYTimes.com, you can view 20 articles each month at no charge (including slide shows, videos and other features),” writes Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the site’s publisher. “After 20 articles, we will ask you to become a digital subscriber, with full access to our site.” The company’s mobile application users will still be able to access all articles in the “Top News” section free of charge, but access to other content will require a subscription. “If you are a home delivery subscriber of The New York Times, you will continue to have full and free access to our news, information, opinion and the rest of our rich offerings on your computer, smartphone and tablet,” continues Sulzberger. The subscription plans will range from $15 to $35. The move may be an attempt to push digital consumers back towards the traditional print medium. Home delivery of The New York Times is roughly $8 per week, making a four week subscription ($32) — which includes free access to all digital Times mediums — slightly cheaper than the digital-only “All Digital Access” offering ($35). The announcement did not specify if those paying for digital content would still be subjected to online advertising. More →

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Why I switched back to an AT&T iPhone

By on March 16, 2011 at 12:15 PM.

Why I switched back to an AT&T iPhone

Look, I have been dreaming about a Verizon iPhone since the original announcement was made in 2007. I’ve always admired Verizon’s insanely solid and reliable wireless network, even before it was Verizon (someone tell James Earl Jones I said what’s up). I had the first digital phone Verizon Wireless offered (following countless analog phones prior to that), and I’ve had many more since then. But I switched away from Verizon Wireless as soon as I saw that the handsets available in Europe were becoming more advanced, because these new phones typically didn’t become available from Verizon for months or even years later, if at all. As soon as I saw that I could switch my SIM card from phone to phone myself, I was on a tear — first on T-Mobile, then AT&T when I realized how much better AT&T’s coverage was in my area, even five years ago. More →

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Sprint offers $150, $50 to wireless defectors

By on March 12, 2011 at 10:12 AM.

Sprint offers $150, $50 to wireless defectors

U.S. wireless carrier Sprint has launched a new promotion that aims to ease the financial pain of cellular defectors. Through April 16th, the company will offer a $125 service credit to users that port their number to Sprint from another carrier and sign a two-year smartphone contract. If a smartphone is not in your future, Sprint will offer a $50 service credit to those users porting to a non-smartphone plan. After moving your number over, apply for the credit, and 60 days later an service credit will appear on your wireless statement. The offer is available to those that migrate a line of service from another carrier via Sprint’s online store, phone sales team, or retail locations. More →

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T-Mobile to eliminate FlexPay plans

By on February 28, 2011 at 2:43 PM.

T-Mobile to eliminate FlexPay plans

We don’t have too much information to share on this one, but here’s the meat of it: T-Mobile USA is going to be getting rid of its FlexPay plans. Our tipster said that T-Mobile should soon announce, or at least communicate internally what, if anything, will replace the FlexPay option for customers.

Thanks, justfinethankyou!

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