BlackBerry to Buy Secusmart to Beef Up Security Credentials

by Istvan Fekete on July 30, 2014

BlackBerry 10BlackBerry is buying a German firm specialized in voice and data encryption, the company CEO announced on Tuesday, in a bid to enhance its credentials with highly security-conscious clients such as government agencies.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone manufacturer said it has been working with Secusmart since 2009, and they currently have the SecuSUITE for BlackBerry 10. It is a solution used by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security for classified communications between the country’s top officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

By the way, the German government is looking to buy 20,000 BlackBerry 10 phones for its officials in the wake of the US eavesdropping scandal. The government was pleased with the results from the 3000 encrypted cell phone units they originally deployed, dubbed as “espionage-proof” phones that were handed out to federal employees.
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Toronto’s 416 Area Codes Selling for Hundreds of Dollars

by Istvan Fekete on July 29, 2014

You might be from Toronto if: (1) you think silence is terrifying; (2) you don’t use your phone as a flashlight to find things because the light that shines through your window from the street always leaves your room bright enough; (3) you describe distances by way of streets/landmarks; (4) you’ve lived above at least one bar or store; oh, and (5) if your phone number starts with the oldest area code: 416.

By the way, if you are looking for some extra cash, those three numbers – 416 – can bring you a nice lump sum: think in terms of hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Well, if you are lucky enough to own a phone number desired by someone else, and that person is willing to pay the price, you ask for it (via the Star).

Reza Esmaeili, for example, a local residential and commercial real estate broker with Homelife/Victory Realty, purchased his current phone number for $500.

For born-and-bred Torontonians, the city remains synonymous with the 416 area code introduced in 1947. Since then, the CRTC has introduced area codes 647 and 437, but if you want to give the impression of an established Torontonian, you need to have that magical area code.
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Quebecor’s Wireless Plans in The Spotlight – Again

by Istvan Fekete on July 28, 2014

Quebecor’s plans for potential wireless expansion are yet again the focus of attention, as the local carrier will be reporting its second-quarter results on Thursday. Speculation has surfaced that the Montreal-based telecom and media company will emerge as a national player since it spent $233 million on spectrum licenses in key markets in Canada.

About a month ago, the newly installed chief executive officer, Pierre Dion, emphasized that the company is “ready, willing, and able” to offer national services at low rates. However, the announcement also underscored that this will happen only if certain conditions are in place, most importantly the guarantee of what it calls “fair” rates for roaming on its larger competitors’ national networks.

Telecom analysts have been at odds over whether Quebecor will grow as the fourth national player by teaming up with Mobilicity and Wind Mobile.
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Qualcomm Monopoly means Big Trouble in China

by Matt Klassen on July 25, 2014

Qualcomm has a monopoly in China’s chipset market, a Chinese state-run newspaper announced Thursday, and that’s not good news for the American chipmaker. According to the report, the China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s regulatory body for antitrust issues, has determined Qualcomm does indeed have a monopoly, potentially using its dominance in the country’s chipset market to overcharge local licensees.

As a Reuters report explains, the NDRC is “investigating Qualcomm’s local subsidiary after it said in February the U.S. chipmaker was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position in wireless communication standards, allegations which could see it hit with record fines of more than $1 billion.”

For Qualcomm this news serves as a culmination of years of ever-increasing regulatory scrutiny, with the Chinese antitrust regulatory body informing the San Diego-based company last November that it was under investigation for potential antitrust violations. At the time the investigation seemed to both a kneejerk reaction toAmerica’s increasing scrutiny of Chinese companies working there, and an attempt to break America’s ironclad hold on China’s burgeoning 4G mobile market, one that Qualcomm was poised to yet again dominate.

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Amazon Mobile Wallet App Quietly Debuts

by Istvan Fekete on July 25, 2014

If we can believe the most recent PayPal study, Customers in North America are more and more interested in leaving their physical wallets back home, so Amazon is preparing to meet that growing demand. The online retail giant has quietly launch its first attempt at its own mobile wallet application, designed for use at the point-of-sale.

The application runs as “Amazon Wallet” and is in the early stages of development: it doesn’t support mobile payments or the ability to store credit or debit cards, but will allow its users to store and organize gift cards and other store and loyalty cards.

As the app description highlights, using the app you can scan or type in your gift card or membership card’s information so you have less “plastic” in your wallet or purse. The cards then are available within the app as barcode, QR code, text, or images.
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CRTC Challenges Telecom Industry Practice of Charging for Paper Bills

by Istvan Fekete on July 24, 2014

The CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) today announced that it will meet with telecom companies to discuss the practice of charging additional fees to customers who wish to receive paper bills.

Before sitting down for a round-table discussion, the CRTC has looked into the current status of these practices in Canada and other countries. As it turns out, 36 companies have said they have not charged any fees for paper bills since November 2013.

On the other hand, there are a further 27 companies acknowledging that their fees range from $0.99 to $5.95 per month just for issuing paper bills. Some of the companies mentioned here provide exemptions to these charges for customers who do not have Internet access.

What the CRTC plans to address is the lack of consistent practice across the industry.
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Apple Continues to Mistreat Employees (but this time closer to home)

by Matt KlassenJuly 24, 2014

For disgruntled employees along Apple’s supply line in China there aren’t many options; if you don’t like unpaid overtime, unrealistic production quotas, deplorable living conditions, being denied breaks, militaristic management, or inhumane working conditions then you have three choices: leave and cripple your family, stay and live with it, or as some have tragically done [...]

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iPhone Sales Surge and iPad Sales Drop for the Second Consecutive Quarter

by Istvan FeketeJuly 23, 2014

Apple sold 35.2 million iPhones in the quarter ending June 28, beating Wall Street analyst estimations. The third fiscal quarter usually means low sales, since consumers tend to hold off for the next-generation iDevice, due in just a couple of months. iPhone sales were up 12.7% compared to the same quarter last year, driven by [...]

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The True Cost of Facebook and other Free Online Services

by Matt KlassenJuly 23, 2014

It’s really no surprise to hear that big Internet companies, particularly those named Google and Facebook, play fast and loose with users’ information, as privacy scandals have seemingly become the norm for these firms over the past few years. So perhaps that might explain why when news broke earlier this month that Facebook has been [...]

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Forensic Scientist Reveals Suspicious Back Doors Running on iPhones

by Istvan FeketeJuly 22, 2014

Apple designed the iPhone to be “reasonably secure” against a typical attacker but left a back door for itself and the government, forensic scientist and author Jonathan Zdiarski said at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE/X) conference (via ZDNet). Zdiarski is known as the hacker “NerverGas” in the iPhone development community, as he has worked [...]

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