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Podcast - 21st October 2009

This week's edition of The Fonecast includes talk about Motorola's next Android phone, the introduction of '999 roaming' in the UK, quarterly results from Nokia and loads of other industry news stories as well.

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Non-mains chargers could help 485 million mobile customers

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Mobile phones make walking difficult… and clowns invisible

A research team led by Dr Ira E Hyman Jr of Western Washington University has shown that mobile phone users are distracted by their calls much more than they’d probably realise. The results of the study, which are due to be published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, showed that mobile phones were more distracting than music players or walking with a friend.

Researchers arranged for a unicycling clown to ride around the centre of a university campus. Only a quarter of mobile users noticed the clown, whilst over half of non-mobile walkers noticed the unusual event.

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Prepay dongle prices attract box breakers

The recent drop in the price of ‘pay as you go’ 3G mobile broadband dongles has led to an increase in the number of ‘box breakers’. In particular, the low price of O2 dongles is said to be attracting multiple purchases.

Box breaking is a phenomenon that initially affected prepaid mobile phones; some mobile dealers would purchase large quantities of prepay phones, remove the SIM cards, unlock the phones and then sell them on ‘pay monthly’ contract deals or ship them abroad. Network operators would lose out because the purchase price was subsidised to encourage consumers to buy and use the phone, while the original retailer was also likely to lose out because the network might only reward them for selling phones and SIM cards that were activated together.

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Mobiles go meddling in medicine

Mark Bridge writes:

“Okay, Mr Bridge, just relax. This won’t hurt a bit. I just need to… oh, hold on a moment, my phone’s crashed. I’ll just pop the battery out and we can start again.”

Some years ago I read an article in Fast Company magazine. Entitled “They Write the Right Stuff”, it explained how NASA’s software engineers couldn’t afford to make errors because any mistakes were likely to kill their colleagues.

That need to check, double-check and then check again was also one of the reasons the space agency ended up looking on eBay for tried-and-tested obsolete components. But now things seem to be swinging towards the opposite end of the scale.

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