Monday, April 27, 2009

Fatwa Issued Answering Cell Phone during Aayat has some revealing information on how mobile phones - ringtones, sms - are intervening with Muslim traditions:


A Muslim organization has issued a fatwa over using verses from the Koran as ringtones, saying that answering the call while the aayat (verses from the Koran) is going on is a sin. It argues that people answer calls midway through the aayat, leave the verse incomplete. TechTree reports via Channel 4.

quotemarksright.jpgThe panel of clerics in Kanpur India, also said that taking a cellphone to the toilet as it rings is a sin because aayat cannot be heard in a toilet. They also condemned the habit that people have of keeping cell phones on vibration mode while attending prayer services.

A fatwa in the Islamic faith is a religious opinion on Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Other cell phone related Fatwas:

-- A Fatwa Against Ringtones - An imam at a Mosque in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa against mobile phones after one rang during prayers on Saturday, playing Arabic pop music.

-- Fatwa: No pictures of the bride by SMS - Cheikh Abd Al-Muhsin Al-’Obikan, a member of Saudi Arabia's Shura Council and advisor to the Ministry of Justice, has issued a fatwa forbidding a fiancĂ© to look at pictures of his fiancĂ©e uploaded online by SMS, for fear that others could see her before their marriage.

Read original post - 'Fatwa Issued Answering Cell Phone during Aayat'


Friday, April 24, 2009

Ringing in the Vote: Mobile Phones in the 2009 Indian Elections

With the Indian elections underway, there is bound to be some 'mobile' news on the events. Here's one such interesting post:

The world's largest democracy, India, is holding its general election this year. The month-long elections to the 15th Lok Sabha, the Indian Parliament, will be held in five phases between April 16th and May 16th when the final results will be announced.

As India's 714 million voters prepare to elect their 543 representatives, they are witnessing a range of digital initiatives from political parties, civil society organizations, media houses and even corporations. In fact, some observers are calling this India's first digital elections.

Leading the packed ballot is 82-year-old Lal Krishna Advani, the prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, who has embarked on an Obama-style new media campaign. Part of the campaign are a blog, a blogger outreach program, one of the most aggressive online ad campaigns ever seen in India, and an ambitious SMS campaign that will reach 250 million of India's 400 million mobile subscribers.

Rajesh Jain's Netcore Solutions, which is running the SMS campaign for BJP, has bought an inventory of 1 billion SMSes for the campaign. Rajesh is also a part of the Friends of BJP group, which is running a social network and an opt-in MyToday-based SMS channel to support BJP's campaign (Indian Express).

Read more on this at 'Ringing in the Vote: Mobile Phones in the 2009 Indian Elections'


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Electric Peapod now available!

Today - April 22nd - is Earth Day...and so the Peapod makes its appearance... tempted?


The long-awaited, often-advertised Peapod will be available for order on Earth Day, April 22. Coincidentally, the 22nd also is Administrative Assistant's Day. We expect to see a lot of greenies and maybe some secretaries tooling around in their $12,500 Peapods at no more than 25 miles an hour.

While the Peapod prototype had clear driver and passenger doors that looked like a Dyson vacuum cleaner, the production version (shown above) of the neighborhood electric vehicle resembles George Jetson's Deux Chevaux. Company director and brand guru Peter E. Arnell, whose initials inspired the company's name, told the car's appearance was inspired by "Japanese bullet trains, storm troopers from the film Star Wars, space helmets and turtles." There's also a very prominent "smile" to the car's grill, but what else would you expect from a man whose firm devised Pepsi's new logo with the Cheshire grin and laughably pretentious backstory?

The feel-good vibe continues with a glance at the in-dash iPod (sold seperately). Edmunds says every trip concludes with a carbon-footprint analysis, while another app tells you exactly how much money you've saved by leaving the family truckster at home.

Read more at 'Smiling EV Debuts on Earth Day'


Monday, April 20, 2009

P.U.M.A. - the Future of Urban Transportation?

Wow - here's the new Segway mobility's their PUMA - “Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility”- and you have to admit, it does look nifty

Is this the car of the future? For more photos, check out this photo gallery by Autoblog. (Image via

Last week, General Motors and Segway unveiled the much-hyped Project P.U.M.A, which stands for “Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility,” an electric two-wheeler prototype vehicle that is supposed to transform the way city-dwellers move around. The 300-pound, lithium-battery-powered, pod-shaped vehicle can go up to 35 miles per hour in a 35-mile range with a 35 cent charge.

The New York Post says it is “a vision of how to combat difficult future urban planning and development as urbanization increases and green technologies becomes more important.” (See a video of PUMA in action, riding around New York City, here.)

Read more over at 'GM, Segway Unveil P.U.M.A. as Future of Urban Transportation'


Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Pew survey on Internet use in US 2008 election

Smartmobs has a post on The new Pew survey which shows that, for the first time, the Internet is the primary source of political news for a majority of Americans during a national election:

It’s not just about getting news — citizens actively debted, blogged, organized online. That’s not news insofar as so many of us suspected this — but the empirical evidence always trumps punditry, whether it is online or not:

Some 74% of internet users–representing 55% of the entire adult population–went online in 2008 to get involved in the political process or to get news and information about the election. This marks the first time that a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey has found that more than half of the voting-age population used the internet to get involved in the political process during an election year.

Several online activities rose to prominence in 2008. In particular, Americans were eager to share their views on the race with others and to take part in the online debate on social media sites such as blogs and social networking sites.

Read more at - 'New Pew survey on Internet use in US 2008 election'


Thursday, April 16, 2009

A coming electric car revolution?

It appears that the UK government is 'trying' to make some moves towards promoting electric cars - what took them so long? They announced today that consumers are to be offered incentives of up to £5,000 to purchase an electric car, and that electric cars will be placed in cities across the UK as part of the launch:

The proposals are part of a £250m strategy, seen by the Guardian, spelling out a revolution in Britain's road transport network based on ultra-low carbon vehicles. It will be launched today by Geoff Hoon, the transport secretary, and Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, with the aim of kickstarting the market for cleaner road vehicles and slashing the UK's CO2 emisisons.

Hoon said yesterday that decarbonising road transport had a big role in helping the UK meet its targets of reducing CO2 emissions by 26% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. "Something like 35% of all our carbon emissions are caused by domestic transport," he said. "Of that, 58% of the emissions are caused by motor cars."

The focus of the strategy, in the first instance, would be on urban transport. "Given that 60% of journeys by car are under 25 miles, there's no reason why someone using a car for commuting on a regular basis will not be able to charge up their car at home, take it to work and come home again well within the distance an electric vehicle should be able to travel," Hoon said.

It's a start..yet more needs to be done than just 'tweeking' the fuel...this still does not solve the problem of urban traffic or individualised movement.

Read more at - 'Labour's £5,000 sweetener to launch electric car revolution'


Monday, April 13, 2009

Police using Google Street View-style cars to spy on motorists

Well, the controversy just keeps growing: the issue of mobile surveillance. Now 'google-style' cars are being trialled for spying on motorists bad habits:

Google Street View car: Police using Google Street View-style cars to spy on motorists
A Google Street View car

Officers are trialling new cars with cameras fitted to telescopic poles on their roofs to film drivers using mobile phones, eating or applying make-up while behind the wheel.

The Smart cars, which bear similarity to those used by Google to map the country's streets, are intended to cut the number of fatalities on Britain's roads, police say.

However, the pilot scheme has come under fire from motoring groups who claim that the tactics are an "infringement" of drivers' liberty.

Nigel Humphries, from the Association of British Drivers, said: "They might as well put something in cars to test what drivers are thinking.

"Apart from that it's going to be counterproductive. While the camera is looking into cars, other motorists could be driving erratically and causing a danger on the roads."

The scheme is being pioneered with two of the vehicles in Manchester, where distracted motorists have reportedly been involved in 406 accidents in the past two years.

Read original post - 'Police using Google Street View-style cars to spy on motorists'


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Energy...without hot air

A useful new book titled 'Sustainable energy - without the hot air' by David McKay, Professor of
Natural Philosophy at Cambridge University, is a response to an urgent global challenge: how to make sense of the conflicting claims and information bandied about on all matters eco. The book is filled with insights like this one:

"Leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in is often held up as an example of a behavioural eco-crime. The truth is that the amount of energy saved by switching off a phone charger is exactly the same as the energy used by driving an average car for one second".

Although you can buy a hardcopy, the book is also available as a free download - go here

Friday, April 10, 2009

Transforming Cities into Food Generators

Apparently in 2007 Lord Cameron of Dillington, first head of the UK Countryside Agency, famously remarked that - "Britain was ‘nine meals away from anarchy.’ Britain's food supply is so totally dependent on oil - 95 per cent of the food eaten there is oil-dependent - that if the oil supply to Britain were suddenly to be cut off it would take just three full days before law and order broke down. "We rely on a particularly vulnerable system. Britain needs to invest seriously in agriculture infrastructure if we are to avoid food crisis" said the noble Lord at the time". Here is an interesting post over at Doors of Perception that discusses this further:

I'm not sure that much action has so far followed these remarks, but an exhibition opening in London next month explores what those investments might be. The show looks at different ways that cities might be transformed from consumers of food to generators of agricultural products, and at how food production can be incorporated into the urban environment at both industrial and domestic levels.

A highlight of the London show is a photographic and filmic record of the Dott 07 Urban Farming project in Middlesbrough. Good to see London following so promptly - only three or four years behind the northern town. In Middlesbrough itself, since Dott 07 itself ended, the town's Council is expanding the Urban Farming programme. The Bohm and Viljoen map (below), created for Dott 07, that plots sites of productive potential, is a reference point for a raft of new initiatives. The Council recently won a £4 million (4.3 million euro) grant to run a "cocktail" (their word) of food and health projects, and the plan is to make the Town Meal an annual event to showcase the results of this new work.

Read more at - 'London "nine meals away from anarchy"'


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tesla unveils the electric 'family car of the future'

Tesla Motors continues to 'unveil' it's latest car etc..... the company has been promising alot for a long time and little has materialized. This - reported by the Guardian - is their latest offering...yet their product is still for those with money...and in today's world... will they have missed the boat?

Media gather around the new Tesla Model S all-electric sedan car

Media gather around the Tesla Model S at the car's unveiling in Hawthorne, California. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla Motors yesterday unveiled a pair of prototype all-electric cars that the fledgling automaker hopes will be the family friendly, mid-sized car of the future.

"Welcome to Model S," said designer Franz von Holzhausen as he pulled the covers off the cars, which will seat seven people and travel 300 miles (483km) on a single charge.

Tesla hopes to begin producing the flashy, five-door car at a yet-to-be-disclosed location in Southern California by the final quarter of 2011.

Within a year, it wants to turn out as many as 20,000 of the vehicles annually.

Read more at - 'Tesla unveils the electric 'family car of the future''


Monday, April 06, 2009

Communities print own currencies

More movement in the micro-finances; we see a not unexpected rise in communities issuing there own local currencies in an effort to promote localised growth. One report notes that

A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money.

Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses.

The systems generally work like this: Businesses and individuals form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — say, 95 cents for $1 value — and spend the full value at stores that accept the currency.

Workers with dwindling wages are paying for groceries, yoga classes and fuel with Detroit Cheers, Ithaca Hours in New York, Plenty in North Carolina or BerkShares in Massachusetts.

Read more at - 'Communities print own currencies'


Saturday, April 04, 2009

From Soviet-era Ferry to Luxury Yacht

Here's another oddity of conversion. An unnamed Siberian governor decided it would be a good idea to convert a 1970s Soviet high-speed ferry boat into a personal luxury yacht:


The vessel started life in the 1970s as a Metor hydrofoil, the most famous model of passenger ferry to operate behind the Iron Curtain. With legendary reliability and a top speed of 40 mph, numerous other Meteors remain in service in former Eastern-bloc countries. This particular boat was taken off ferry duty and converted for private use in 2005. Before and after floor plans show that the boat's passenger seats and snack bars were replaced with sitting areas, a full kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, and a swimming platform. The only non-cosmetic renovations were new "de Laval" style exhaust nozzles meant to increase the boat's top speed.

Even with that added thrust, this boat can't escape good taste. The public areas are stylish enough for an evil genius in search of a chic hideout, but that's where the design philosophy begins to crumble. Animal skins, white leather couches, and shag carpeting reveal a fantasy of a Soviet teen who, after reading smuggled copies of Playboy, built his boyhood dream of what a Nixon-era American bachelor pad looked like. Judging by that cat-astrophic leopard-print master bedroom, we think the boat's new name of "Faithful" is meant to be ironic.


Read more at - 'Soviet-era Passenger Ferry is One Boat-Ugly Luxury Yacht'


Friday, April 03, 2009

Do we now need ID cards for regional trips?

Another worrying development in the realm of 'restricted mobilities': this time the proposal for needing to track the movements of around 60million domestic UK passengers a year:

Passengers on ferries to the Isle of Wight and Scottish islands such as Mull and Skye will soon have to carry identity papers to comply with new police anti-terror powers.

And travellers flying between British cities or to Northern Ireland face having their personal data logged when booking tickets and checking in.

Until now ferry passengers on most routes in Britain have not been required to produce ID and internal flight passengers only face random police checks.

But under new Government security rules that will come into force next year, personal data, including name, date of birth and home address, will be typed into a computer record for the police by the booking clerk or travel agent.

Passengers will also face further ID checks when boarding their flight or ferry.

I would like to think that this was an April Fool's joke - yet the story was last updated on 29th March '09....

Read original article - 'Now we need ID cards for a trip to the Isle of Wight'


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Car surveillance box to track drivers

Here is something that was discussed in the forthcoming book 'After the Car' - the introduction of 'black boxes' on cars to enable the tracking of the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe. The Guardian reports that

The government is backing a project to install a "communication box" in new cars to track the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe, the Guardian can reveal.

Under the proposals, vehicles will emit a constant "heartbeat" revealing their location, speed and direction of travel. The EU officials behind the plan believe it will significantly reduce road accidents, congestion and carbon emissions. A consortium of manufacturers has indicated that the router device could be installed in all new cars as early as 2013.

However, privacy campaigners warned last night that a European-wide car tracking system would create a system of almost total road surveillance.

Details of the Cooperative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) project, a £36m EU initiative backed by car manufacturers and the telecoms industry, will be unveiled this year.

Also, that

The system uses the same connections as those in mobile telephones, Wi-Fi internet and security tags attached to clothes in shops.

A car will constantly stay in touch via all these methods of communication, stashed in a router behind the dashboard.

Crucially, vehicles beam out a "heartbeat" message, revealing their precise location, speed and direction, to all other cars within a 400m range.

Read - 'Highway Wi-Fi: How the new tracking system works'

Read original article at 'Big Brother is watching: surveillance box to track drivers is backed'

With this and the new e-borders scheme blogged previously, it sounds as if all mobilities will be under near-total surveillance: is this the future?