USPS won't ship devices with Lithium batteries

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has banned the mailing of any devices containing a lithium or lithium ion battery, whether in the device, in the same package or just the battery itself outside of the United States including to American Forces offices and Diplomatic offices. This is in-line with compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization and Universal Postal Union standards. Within the US, batteries can be posted but limits based on the watt-hour rating of the battery instead of the lithium content will be used. This means that devices such as mobile phones, tablets etc can no longer be shipped using USPS and other international carriers will have to be used such as UPS or Fedex as they have fire suppression systems on their planes which can cope with lithium fires but this may increase the shipping costs. Companies who have employees outside the US will now have to issue phones directly and have them carried as hand-luggage. It may also affect sites such as Ebay where electronics devices are regularly sold.


EU limits data and roaming charges

The EU is putting into effect changes to limit the amount operators can charge for datum calls sent and received and text messages (SMS). The new caps come into force on 1st July 2012 and replace any existing regulations that expire on 30th June 2012.
Current1 July 20121 July 20131 July 2014
Data (per MB)Uncapped70 cents45 cents20 cents
Phone calls made (per minute)35 cents29 cents24 cents19 cents
Phone calls received (per minute)11 cents8 cents7 cents5 cents
Text Message (per SMS)11 cents9 cents8 cents6 cents

Operator wholesale charges will be

Current1 July 20121 July 20131 July 2014
Data (per megabyte)50 cents25 cents15 cents5 cents
Phone calls (per minute)18 cents14 cents10 cents5 cents
Text Message (per SMS)4 cents3 cents2 cents2 cents
So operators will still make large profits as data and message volumes are still on the increase, they just get less per unit.

Peratech creates an Electronic Nose

Peratech has created a fast-acting electronic nose suitable for detecting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). This is achieved by utilising a Quantum Tunnelling Composite (QTC) Material which change their resistance when a force is applied (which occurs in the presence of VOCs). The QTC material is able to detect VOCs at around 10-100ppm and can recover (i.e. when they are no longer present) in a couple of seconds. The material was developed in conduction with the University of Durham and Peratech is now looking for companies to license the technology and develop products suitable for the market.


Date via Spotify

On Thursday 10th May, Spotify launched two apps that allow users to find suitable dates based on their musical taste. The apps are Tastebuds and Fellody.
  • Tastebuds: The app will match you with a potential partner based on the artists you’ve listened to most on Spotify and your collection of playlists. Filter matches by gender, age and location, and message matches in real-time and share playlists with them directly. Add your Songkick details to your profile to share gigs that you are going to on your profile – the perfect setting for an offline meet up!
  • Fellody: Simply drag and drop Spotify playlists into the app to find friends and potential love interests with the highest match rate. Instantly send a ‘flirt’ or browse your matches’ tastes to discover new music. Check out the top artists to see the most popular artists amongst the Fellody community.
Tastebuds (based in the UK out of Cambridge) has acquired around 50,000 users, mainly in the US, UK and Brasil. They have been though the Springboard incubator program. Fellody are Swiss. Today Spotify also announced that it is arranging a 'house party' that anyone using Spotify can join in with. On June 1st 2012 DJ's Sebastian Ingrosso from Swedish House Mafia and Alesso will set-up a special room using the Spotify app Soundrop and they will share their tunes 'live'. Users will be able to vote on what the DJ's play next and chat to them.

O'Reilly Strata conference comes to London

The topic on everyone's mind (well the mind of geeks) is BIG DATA. Recently Big Data Week was held and events took place all over the world including London and San Francisco. Now O'Reilly Media (known for its technology books) is bringing its Strata conference to London this fall (October 1st and 2nd). Registrations will open in June. There's still a couple of days left to submit a proposal for the conference here, though the closing date is May 17th. Strata will be chaired by Kaitlin Thaney and Edd Dumbill and the conference will cover: -
  • Data: Hadoop ecosystem, real-time data processing and analytics, crowdsourcing, data acquisition and cleaning, data distribution and markets, data science best practice, predictive analytics, machine learning, and data security.
  • Business: From research to product, data protection, privacy and policy, becoming a data-driven organization, training, recruitment, management for data, and the changing role of business intelligence.
  • Interfaces: Visualization and design principles, mobile strategy, applications & futures, augmented reality and immersive interfaces, dashboards, sensors, mobile & wireless, physical interfaces, and robotics.
The UK has some pioneering big data companies such as Datasift and it should be a good conference.

Ofcom changes 3G license conditions

On the 9th May 2012 Ofcom the super regulator changed the conditions for 3G license holders and the new conditions must be met by 20th June 2013. The changes are that the licensee must provide an electronic communications networks: - - That is capable of providing mobile telecommunications services to an area within which at least 90% of the population of the UK lives (this has been increased from the previous 80% population coverage obligation). - with a 90% probability that users in outdoor locations within that area can receive the service with a sustained downlink speed of not less than 768 kbps in a lightly loaded cell. Ofcom has worked with the operators on how these obligations can be measured and the methodology is available on-line as a PDF. This will benefit consumers as coverage will be increased.

Apple to intro new MBPs

Apple is expected to bring out new MacBook Pros (MBPs) at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) being held in San Francisco from Jun 11th through 15th. The MBPs will use Intel's new Ivy Bridge range of CPUs and are rumoured to use new 'retina' high resolution displays (which may have some substance as Apple's MacOS X 10.7.3 contained HiDPI UI assets and the latest release MacOS 10.7.4 doubles the icon resolution). The cases will also be thinner to bring them more in-line with the MacBook AIR versions, but they may lose their optical drives (which are becoming less useful anyway with the advent of high capacity USB memory and even external solid state disks (SSDs).