Only one in seven switch off their phones during sex

By Chris Williams (
Published Monday 24th July 2006 14:02 GMT

A survey into Brit’s MobileLifestyles™ has revealed a paltry 14 per cent have the courtesy to switch off during sex with their partner, lest they get a txt msg from their m8 asking if they fncy a pnt.

More than one fifth of the 18 to 24 year old category, or the Generation Mobile tribe to give them their approved marketing wonk’s moniker, have ditched someone or been sent to Dumpsville themselves via SMS.

In fact, the study by Carphone Warehouse and the London School of Economics found texting has usurped voice calling as the main thing people use their phones for. The all-conquering rise of the mobile phone is illustrated by the shocking finding that young adults place it above even television as the most revered bit of electrical kit.

According to Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone, mobiles have become “the social glue that connects us”. Unless you’ve had your social glue nicked, that is: overall one in 10 say they’ve had a phone stolen, with the rate among young women almost double that.

We wonder if that statistic is related to another uncovered by the survey though. More than half of young women said they get their phone out to ward off unwanted approaches from men. Although a super-sassy move, it’s an approach unlikely to ward of a mobile phone thief…

“In our fragmented society, mobile phones have become the new garden fence, the new village green,” Dunstone continued, presumably implying the old garden fence has been knocked down by a crack-honking joyrider, and everyone else is ASBO-slapped to within an inch of borstal, so we’re not allowed on the village green any more.

More details for Strategy Boutiques, futurologists, and the unemployed are available at the Flashtastic Mobile Life website here ( Txt u l8r.®

Most worryingly for we at Vulture Central, camera phones are facilitating a rise in would-be citizen journalists, with more than a third of the 16,500 questioned claiming they would be Johnny on the Spot, recording the news if the opportunity presented itself. We got the benefit of this too recently though, when thanks to reader Phil Jones, we got the only picture of lanky pornographer/rapper Snoop Dogg and posse poised to smash the shizzle ( out of Heathrow.

Canadian, U.S. mayors demand delays in border passport law

Last Updated Thu, 20 Jul 2006 18:49:23 EDT
CBC News

Mayors from Canada and the United States have called for delays in a controversial U.S. plan that would require a passport or security card to cross the border.
The mayors and other top government officials held a day-long meeting in Windsor, Ont.
“We want to have a border that is free and open for the economic and cultural vibrancy of both countries,” said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.  
The U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative would require that all Canadians and Americans entering the United States by air and sea to carry a passport or secure identification card by Jan. 1, 2007.
The start date for land crossings is scheduled for one year later.
The initiative was part of tougher border security measures devised after the al-Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Dan Onichuk, the mayor of Fort Frances, Ont., said the passport plan could end the close relationship between his community and International Falls, Minn., just a few hundred metres away across the Rainy River.
“I have six children. For me to get passports to go visit my family, my friends, that’s going to cost me $700,” he said.
“It’s a very scary proposition.”
Other people object as well
The concern over the security measures hasn’t been limited to mayors of cities adjacent to the border. Politicians and business leaders throughout Canada and in several northeastern states have objected that the measures will hurt tourism, slow the flow of people and goods across the border and damage the economy of the border states.
“Our business community is highly integrated with U.S. companies, and our manufacturing sector depends on the efficient cross-border flow of goods,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller.
Approximately 40 per cent of Canadians hold a valid passport, compared to only 23 per cent of Americans.
The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, said while at a business summit in Edmonton earlier in the week that certain types of travel would be exempt from the planned regulations.
“In particular, we will not be, for example, including in this set of regulations a requirement for passports for ferries or private watercraft, recognizing that this is a particular form of transportation that we don’t want to interfere with,” said Chertoff.
“We don’t want to force it into the model we might use, for example, with international jet flights or international sea travel.”
While in Washington to visit President George W. Bush earlier in July, Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged the U.S. Congress to push back the current timetable.
The U.S. Senate seemed to share Harper’s concerns, unanimously passing legislation in June that would delay implementation of the border plan to June 1, 2009.
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said at the time the travel pass plan would be “a train wreck on the horizon” if they proceeded on the current schedule.
The U.S. House of Representatives has yet to vote on the matter.

Comment on Apple’s iPhone after Q2 results call with CFO

Rather than make an iPhone as has been speculated in the media, Apple should add cell phone capabilities to the iPod. The predicted iPod Video’s virtual screen could supply the phone interface, all that would be needed in addition would be the appropriate cell phone chips and a mic on the earphones, or better yet, a bluetooth headset. Then, instead of getting a phone that has useless battery life because you are listening to music on it and thus reducing its usefulness you get an iPod with great battery life that also allows you to make calls and send texts, possibly even more.


Go Ask Alice: Mushroom Drug Is Studied Anew

July 11, 2006; Page B1

In a study that could revive interest in researching the effects of psychedelic drugs, scientists said a substance in certain mushrooms induced powerful, mind-altering experiences among a group of well-educated, middle-age men and women. Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions researchers conducted the study following carefully controlled, scientifically rigorous procedures. They said that the episodes generally led to positive changes in attitude and behavior among the 36 volunteer participants and that the changes appeared to last at least two months. Participants cited feelings of intense joy, “distance from ordinary reality,” and feelings of peace and harmony after taking the drug. Two-thirds described the effects of the drug, called psilocybin, as among the five most meaningful experiences of their lives.

But in 30% of the cases, the drug provoked harrowing experiences dominated by fear and paranoia. Two participants likened the episodes to being in a war. While these episodes were managed by trained monitors at the sessions where the drugs were taken, researchers cautioned that in less-controlled settings, such responses could trigger panic or other reactions that might put people in danger.
A report on the study, among the first to systematically assess the effects of hallucinogenic substances in 40 years, is being published online today by the journal Psychopharmacology. An accompanying editorial and commentaries from three prominent neuroscientists and a psychiatrist praise the study and argue that further research into such agents has the potential to unlock secrets of consciousness and lead to new therapeutic strategies for depression, addiction and other ailments.
In one of the commentaries, Charles R. Schuster, a neuroscientist and former head of the National Institute for Drug Abuse, called the report a “landmark paper.” He also expressed hope that it “renews interest in a fascinating and potentially useful class of psychotropic agents.”
Still, the research is likely to stir controversy. Though psilocybin mushrooms, which can be found growing wild throughout the world, have been used for centuries in some societies during spiritual rituals, they also were agents, along with such hallucinogens as LSD and mescaline, that fueled the “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” counterculture of the 1960s personified by Timothy Leary.

Researchers acknowledge that the study’s positive findings may encourage inappropriate use of the agents. Roland Griffiths, the Hopkins neuroscientist who headed the research, warned against viewing the results as a green light for consuming the mushrooms. “We don’t know all their dark sides,” he said. “I wouldn’t in any way want to underestimate the potential risks” of indiscriminate use of the drugs.
The National Institute for Drug Abuse, which co-sponsored the study as part of its support for research into drugs of abuse, also warned against eating psilocybin mushrooms. They “act on serotonin receptors in the brain to profoundly distort a person’s perception of reality,” the institute said, possibly triggering psychosis, paranoia and anxiety.

It was widespread abuse in the 1960s that led to hallucinogens becoming illegal, effectively shutting down then-burgeoning corporate and academic research programs that had suggested the agents might be valuable research and therapeutic tools. One of the last influential studies was the Good Friday Experiment in 1962 in which 20 seminary students were given either psilocybin or nicotinic acid during a religious service. The 10 who got psilocybin reported intense spiritual experiences with positive benefits; one follow-up study suggested those effects lasted 25 years.
“It’s remarkable that we have a class of compounds that has sat in the deep freeze for 40 years,” Dr. Griffiths said. “It seemed to me scientifically it was high time to look again” at psychedelic agents.

Known colloquially by such names as magic mushroom or sacred mushroom, psilocybin is considered a Schedule I substance under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. That puts it in the same class as heroin and LSD, drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no known medical use. It isn’t considered addictive. The psilocybin used in the study was synthesized by David E. Nichols, a professor of medicinal chemistry at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., under a special permit.

After getting approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration and an institutional review board at Hopkins, Dr. Griffiths and his colleagues circulated a flier seeking volunteers for a “study of states of consciousness brought about by a naturally occurring psychoactive substance used sacramentally in some cultures.”
From among the 135 people who responded, 36 were eventually selected, based in part on their lack of a history of psychedelic drug use or family history of serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. The 36 — 14 men and 22 women — ranged in age from 24 to 64 years old, with an average age of 46; 97% were college graduates, and 56% had post-graduate degrees. All 36 participated at least occasionally in religious or spiritual activities. (Dr. Griffiths declined to make any participants available for interviews, citing privacy issues.)
Thirty of the participants were randomly assigned to receive either psilocybin or Ritalin (known generically as methylphenidate) as a control for the first eight-hour session; two months later, they were given the other drug in another session. Neither the participants nor the monitors who were present during their sessions knew which agent was being taken. To further reduce chances that participant responses would be affected by expectations they were getting psilocybin, a third group of six participants was randomly assigned to receive Ritalin in both sessions, followed by a third session when they knew they were getting the psychedelic agent. Ritalin was selected as the control agent in part because it can cause mood-changing effects similar to those of psilocybin, researchers said. It also takes effect at about the same time and lasts for about as long.

Participants were given the drug in individual sessions in a living-room environment with two experienced monitors. They were blindfolded, given headphones to listen to classical music and encouraged to lie down and direct their thoughts inward.
Researchers provided participants with a battery of questionnaires and mysticism scales, some of which were developed based on research from more than four decades ago, to measure their impressions of their experience at the end of the session and again two months later.
A third of the participants said the experience with psilocybin was the single most significant experience of their lives, and an additional 38% rated it among their top five such experiences — akin to, say, the birth of a first child or the death of a parent. Just 8% of the Ritalin episodes were reported to be among the top five meaningful occurrences. Two months after the sessions, 79% of the participants indicated in questionnaires that their sense of well-being and satisfaction increased after the psilocybin episodes, compared with 21% for Ritalin.
Researchers hope the findings will spur other studies that will, for instance, compare the effects of other hallucinogens and use MRIs to observe how such drugs affect the human brain. Other efforts are expected to test the value of psilocybin as a therapy. Charles Grob, a researcher at UCLA, is heading a small study to see if the drug relieves anxiety, depression and pain among patients with advanced cancer.
Dr. Griffiths said another goal is to understand the consequences of spiritual experiences — both drug-induced and spontaneous — and to determine how long they last and whether they lead to personality changes.

Where to draw line when street ads give you a ring

By Thomas Crampton International Herald Tribune

SUNDAY, MAY 7, 2006


Sometime in the next few weeks, French billboards will be able to speak to your mobile phone – but only with your permission.

People with certain kinds of phones who download a special software program and say they want to participate will receive digital advertising when the phone is near the billboards.

It is the latest twist in the budding niche of mobile marketing, wherein the cellphone becomes a conduit not just for communications but also for commerce.

Advertisements most common on mobile phones now are self- promotional text messages sent by phone companies to subscribers, according to Farid Yunus, a telecommunications industry analyst based in Malaysia for Yankee Group, a market research firm.

Under early experiments for more sophisticated marketing, the user has to key in a code to receive a text message that can be used as a discount voucher or some other enticement – or in the case of one garden center advertisement in Germany, to have a billboard squirt water on passersby.

The difference with the new project, said Albert Asseraf, director of strategy, research and marketing at JCDecaux, the outdoor-advertising company behind the project, is that consumers consent to receive alerts about digital advertising as they move through the city.

“We are switching from a one-time active response to the user’s blanket acceptance of many digital messages,” he said. “We will, of course, need to be careful in making certain that users get only advertisements that interest them.”

When participating users are near an active advertisement – it could be part of a billboard or a bus shelter poster – their phones will automatically receive a notice that a digital file can be downloaded. The information could range from a ring tone or short video to a discount voucher.

“With this project, we are really starting to create the personalized digital city,” Asseraf said. “We eventually will see a rich dialogue running between mobile phones and what are now uncommunicative objects.”

Fabien Beckers, chief executive of Kameleon Technologies, a company based in Paris that is using similar mobile phone technology to market ads for movie theaters and retailers, agreed. He forecast – “with a hope and a wish” – that such mobile marketing messages will be nearly mainstream in some urban European areas by the middle of next year.

That may be a step ahead of the normally market-leading technologies in Asia. “Even in South Korea and Japan, the most advanced telecom markets in the world, location-based advertising has not yet arrived on mobile phones,” Yunus said.

Citing a confidentiality agreement intended to maximize the effect of ad campaigns using the technology, Asseraf declined to identify the locations or the brand that would inaugurate it.

JCDecaux, for an undisclosed amount, purchased the exclusive license to the technology, which was developed over the past decade by the government-run French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, known by its French initials Inria.

Jean-Paul Edwards, the London-based head of media futures for Manning Gottlieb OMD, a media buying agency, said the scale and style of the French project pointed to the direction that urban advertising would go.

“Just the involvement alone of a company as large as JCDecaux in such an effort makes this project very interesting,” said Edwards, who has no affiliation with the project. “They are taking permission-based marketing to a level and scale we have not seen before.”

The system is meant for cellphones that have a built-in wireless technology like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, but the system can be configured for less sophisticated phones. It requires users to volunteer demographic and personal information and to specify the sort of advertisements they will accept, he said.

Users may, for example, say they want only video ads about new cars and ads with discounts on fashion accessories. It is critical to the system, he added, that users can adjust the settings on their mobile phones at any time.

A cautious and permission-based approach is vital when using technologies that touch consumers so directly, Edwards said.

“When you bridge the gap between something so public as a street poster and something so private as a mobile phone, there are inherent dangers,” Edwards said. “It is extremely powerful to get into somebody’s pocket, but you also take the risk of annoying them.”

The potential shortcomings would be apparent in any large public space that might have many digitally enabled posters close to one another.

“You can imagine a nightmare scenario where someone’s mobile phone fills up with half a dozen advertising messages each day as they walk across Waterloo Station,” Edwards said. “The most powerful way to use this technology will be offering people something of value that they really want.”

Examples of valuable items could be a free track of music from a favorite artist, a movie trailer or a discount coupon.

The original concept for the shoebox-size transmission units that JCDecaux will mount inside billboards came from the French computing institute’s efforts to help handicapped people.

“We started with the idea that objects themselves could become an intelligence system that helps people navigate around the city,” said Michel Banâtre, head of the team that developed the technology at Inria.

The first project was the Ubibus system, never actually deployed, to help blind people take the bus.

While working with JCDecaux, the research institute broadened the concept to embrace public service announcements, tourist information and advertising.

“Once you know about someone’s interests and their exact location, you know a lot about the kind of information they might want,” Banâtre said. “Also, when you can constantly update tourist information like a historic marker, it becomes possible to say what nearby museums are open right now or a restaurant that is now offering a discount.”

Banâtre’s team has developed other concepts based on identifying mobile phones within a small area.

He said they also were developing airport signs, called UbiBoards, that will show information in the language spoken by a majority of the people nearby.

“If mobile phones near a sign say that the majority of people are Chinese, the sign will show information in Chinese,” Banâtre said, adding that such a system would require registrations much like the ad system. “Those who do not speak Chinese will receive the same information in their phone via SMS message in their own language.”

Another application, called UbiQ, is being developed to allow people in a location like a bank, cinema or fast- food restaurant to give information by cellphone about what they want before getting to the front of the line.

“Think about it and you realize how much time is spent giving the same start-up information for a transaction,” Banâtre said, citing the time it takes for a teller to enter banking details. “The intention with UbiQ is to speed up the exchange of information through mobile phones.”

Because of the widespread availability of phones with short-range wireless standards like Bluetooth, Beckers of Kameleon said, “this is no longer a technology play – it is a marketing play.” Others in the business of “proximity content distribution” include Hypertag in London and Wideray in San Francisco.

The most likely Bluetooth users, Beckers said, are 15 to 34 years old, a group attractive to retailers and entertainment companies.

For them, “the means to interact with the world will be your mobile phone,” he said.

In terms of practical applications, however, Asseraf of JCDecaux said the principle of letting the consumer decide was foremost.

“If we abuse this system, it simply will not work, and people will turn off the function,” Asseraf said. “It is a question of personal liberty that people should decide what they receive on their mobile phone.”

Victoria Shannon contributed reporting for this article.

Active Building Envelope (ABE)

Boffins chill out with solar-powered beer bottles
The best invention ever … probably

Robert Jaques, 12 Jul 2006

Beer bottles that use solar power to keep their precious contents cool in the height of summer could be a welcome fringe benefit of thin-film technology currently under development.

The material being developed by researchers at the US Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute sticks solar cells and heat pumps onto surfaces, and could ultimately turn walls, windows and even beer bottles into climate control systems.

Rensselaer researcher Steven Van Dessel and his colleagues have been working on the sci-fi technology for the past four years before recently unveiling their prototype Active Building Envelope (ABE) system.

Comprised of solar panels, solid-state thermoelectric heat pumps and a storage device to provide energy on rainy days, the system accomplishes the jobs of cooling and heating, yet operates silently and with no moving parts.

Van Dessel said that thin-film advances could lead to functional thermal coatings composed of transparent ABE systems. Such systems might vastly improve the efficiency of temperature-control systems.

“The ease of application would make it possible to seamlessly attach the system to various building surfaces, possibly rendering conventional air conditioning and heating equipment obsolete,” he said.

Van Dessel hopes that a thin-film version of the ABE system will see applications in a range of industries, from advanced thermal control systems in future space missions, to the automotive sector where it could be applied to windshields and sun roofs to heat or cool a car’s interior.

“It may also be possible to use the ABE system to create packaging materials for thermal control, which could lead to things like self-cooling soda bottles, ” said Van Dessel.