Big Blue Is Off to the Race(track)s
Once in a while, IBM makes an announcement that reminds people that they're still around and still in the game. In 2008, IBM researches described "racetrack" computer memory, which promised to combine the storage capacity of hard drives with the speed of flash memory. A prototype has been unveiled, with the benefit of being made by standard chip making tools. Hardware geeks may want to send resumes to Big Blue – it looks like storage limits are going to drop when the kinks are ironed out.
A company known as CarrierIQ has made a splash. On the surface, its product seems simple – it monitors wireless network performance in real time using feedback from cell phones. The problem is the type of data captured. A security research determined that the program tracks such details as device manufacture and model, battery life, applications on the device, location of the device, keystrokes, and HTTP header information. If that data is not recorded and never used, no issue, right? Too bad there's people like those working for Rupert Murdoch, who had no problem hacking into the phone of a dead teen.
The ethics of using and abusing new technology need further developing, and could be an area of growth as smartphones become more integrated with daily lives.
Carriers using the software include Sprint (they claim to not look at the contents of messages), AT&T, and T-Mobile (both of whom only look at data to improve service). Companies not using CarrierIQ's software include Apple (after iOS5, so upgrade if you can), Nokia (not installed prior to shipment), and RIM.
Speaking of RIM:
A stampede that injuired dozens in Jakarta, Indonesia, on November 25 was caused by the demand for the release of the Blackberry Bold 9790. As a result, the head of RIM's Indonesia office, among four others, has been charged with negligence causing injury.
Meanwhile, two RIM execs have been let go due to their behaviour on a flight. The two men were drunk and had to be subdued by the entire crew on the flight from Beijing to Toronto. The flight was redirected to Vancouver.
Not sure if this will hurt RIM any further. Definitely not helping, though the demand for the new Blackberry could have been a positive sign if it weren't for the injuries.