Tag Archives mobile

Paranoia and Mobile Phones

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Some friends have started to demand that before any conversation takes place, even when the chat is really about nothing but mundane and insignificant things, that all our mobile phones are not only switched off, but have their batteries removed too. Some go further by demanding that the offending instruments be placed outside of the vicinity of their gathering.

The claim, of course, is that someone somewhere could remotely activate a mobile phone’s microphone and listen in to a conversation without any outward sign that this is actually happening. I thought that this was a wee bit over the top and a James Bond gone completely mad syndrome. Or maybe, it’s the sign of the times in Bahrain, where trust seems to have been completely and utterly eradicated and people are reportedly afraid of being fingered, owing to the continuous arrests and perceived witch hunts taking place. Unfortunately, people are said to have become afraid of voicing even harmless comments, or get terrified due to unfortunate verbal outbursts said even in privacy when sometimes one’s passion overcomes reason. Hence the insistence on disabling mobile phones before any conversation could take place.

I decided to find out if there was any merit to those claims.

I am absolutely shocked to have found out that that this has been going on for some time and the fears of remotely activating various features of mobile phones quite substantiated. The first article I came across set the tone quite adequately:

FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool

The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone’s microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.

The technique is called a “roving bug,” and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.

Read more on cnet News

Damn! And this has happened in the States six years ago! Can you imagine the state of that technology now with the huge advances in modern and relatively cheaply available mobile phones like the iPhone and the Blackberry? I bet the tools available now will not only be stealthy that one would never know that they’re actually installed on handsets, but also be able to transmit the full gamut of the phone’s features, including address books, text messages, installed apps stored data, audio, location information and even video too!

I decided to see how available such applications are. Another quick search resulted in quite a number of readily available applications. These include apps which turn your phone to a mobile and undetectable security camera while another much more pernicious and invasive application which turns your phone into a remote and an undetectable microphone as well as enable call logging, call interception, email relay amongst many other functions limited only by the actual capabilities of the mobile phone.

Are you scared yet?

You should be.

There are ways in which you can probably detect that your phone has been tampered with or monitored, but it will probably take an expert in the field to really find out if it has. It apparently only takes minutes to install an app if it’s off the shelf, but that’s not the only way to ingest such code though. Home brewed applications from the hacking world have many more methods to invade your phone without you ever clicking on to your own culpability in helping such an invasion to happen. One can’t be too careful, really. So, until you have access to an expert to go over and test your phone for an infection, here are some tell-tale signs that your phone might have been bugged:

    1. You have noticed strange sounds or volume changes on your phone lines.
    2. You have noticed static, popping, or scratching on your phone lines.
    3. Sounds are coming from your phone’s handset when it’s hung up.
    4. Your phone often rings and nobody is there, or a very faint tone, or high pitched squeal or beep is heard for a fraction of a second.

Click here for more.

Maybe a good piece of advice might be to stick to an old brick of a phone with minimum functionality if one really wants security; however, even then one can be pin-pointed to within five meters of their location by the telco using simple triangulation methods.

There is really no escape…

But I’m offering my iPhone 4 for immediate sale… any takers?

Update [email protected] The plot thickens, the Guardian has an article detailing how the iPhone on iOS4 records locations in a secret little file and someone’s written an application to not only extract that file, but show you directly where you have been with your nice little iPhone on a world map with dates too. The iPhone (and other smart phones) are God’s gift to security agencies the world over!


iPhone 3Gs – got it

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It’s cool being in Italy not just because it is truly the most beautiful country on Earth, but it’s laws also prohibit the likes of Apple to dictate their terms on and in their country. It is therefore one of the few countries on Earth that you can legally pick up an unlocked iPhone without a contract any time you like…


And that is exactly what I did on the 2nd day of being here. I purchased two, one for my son and the other for me; 2x 32 sweeties! And after almost a week of using it, I can tell you the experience is worth it; twice the speed or even faster compared to the old one, and a host of features which I’m not going to go through at the moment as Apple’s own site as well as many others could furnish that information much better than I could. Suffice it to say that the Compass feature is bloody good especially when trying to navigate the narrow and utterly confusing Roman streets. The camera IS much better and helloooo video, at last! I finally can do video after more than a year with the predecessor. Oh how I missed thou!

To those wavering on the decision to get one, waver no more. Just plunge in and thank me later.


Blackberry Bold

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Blackberry Bold in my mitts!I was in my friend Omar Shaheen’s office earlier this afternoon, and as he is now a big wig magazine publisher and owner of FACT, he was given a new toy by Zain to check out.

Omar was kind enough to allow me to have a shooftie for a few minutes. Unfortunately, he wasn’t that keen on letting me walk away with it, even though I promised I would write a comparison article with the iPhone for FACT. Bummer.

I should have curbed my enthusiasm and downplayed it a bit. Maybe then he would have let me have it for a few days! It’s a problem when you wear your emotions on your sleeve and publicly salivate at technological devices!

Anyway, I fondled it for a few minutes and briefly investigated its features which are very impressive and very practical indeed. It looks that it will resolutely kick Apple’s ass when it generally becomes available in a few weeks time. It – to me at least – looks like a much better value for money and I will probably shall be fighting to get to the top of the queue to get me one.

At least it is unlocked and you won’t have to beg, borrow and steal to get one and get locked in with a long term contract for the privilege of owning something that will generally become obsolete just a few weeks after you have purchased it.


Bought a Phone

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Notice that the word “Phone” does not have an “i” in front of it? If you did then well done, because I just came back from Geant where I bought the new Sony Ericsson C902i, thank you very much!

Reason? It’s unlocked and I’m not beholden to anyone. It’s got some nice features, the most important of which is a good quality camera which is supposed to be 5 mega pixels, but I don’t believe that it’s that good by comparing a few pictures I have already snapped with it.

My new acquisition to celebrate 888... well, that\'s my excuse and I\'m sticking to it!
My new acquisition to celebrate 888... well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!
It being new, iSync didn’t like it, so I had to pay UK£1.50 to buy a plugin to enable iSynch from feisar.com and a few minutes later it was up and running while singing and all dancing. I do find that the addressbook and responsiveness of the phone generally after syncing my calendar and addressbook a bit slow, which too is disappointing.

The form factor of the phone (more than half the thickness of my older K800i) is a pleasure, but as my mitts are not so used to it yet, it did almost drop out of them a couple of times. Another gripe is the oddly shaped buttons, chopped and sloping downward which makes the contact a bit awry.

Yes there are quite a number of gripes so far, true, but still much better than the iPhone by miles simply because it is sold everywhere without having to disclose your most intimate details together with convert to another religion to be able to own one!

Happy 888!


iPhone 3G available in Bahrain

iPhone 3G available in Bahrain

I was starving after the gym this morning so I stopped over at a nearby supermarket to get a sandwich. On the way out, I noticed this on their noticeboard:

This person is selling them for really hefty prices:

  • The 8GB black is for BD 420 (US$ 1,111 – it’s $199 originally but with a contract)
  • The 16GB black is for BD 465 (US$ 1,230 – it’s $299 originally “)
  • The 16GB white is for BD 480 (US$ 1,270 – it’s $299 originally “)

They go on to explain why the prices they are charges might appear high with this:

Why does the price APPEAR high? …. What you don’t know is that to own an iPhone 3G in from Apple, Worldwide, you MUST (in addition to initial iPhone price & being a resident in that country):

  • Sign and entire 2 YEAR contract with AT&T, and add $30 to every monthly bill.
  • Pay Taxes.
  • If you wish to cancel contract you must pay $170+, if otherwise cancelled you MUST RETURN the device.
  • many more hassles.

Well, for those prices, Apple can keep their phone. I would rather have this one instead.


Now I’ll buy it!

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Introducing iPhone 3G. With fast 3G wireless technology, GPS mapping, support for enterprise features like Microsoft Exchange, and the new App Store, iPhone 3G puts even more features at your fingertips. And like the original iPhone, it combines three products in one — a revolutionary phone, a widescreen iPod, and a breakthrough Internet device with rich HTML email and a desktop-class web browser. iPhone 3G. It redefines what a mobile phone can do — again.

mmmmmmmm… yummy!

I wants…. I need… I must have!


Crying babies are no longer the only thing to screw your flight

Mobile phones will too.

I travel quite regularly and can tell you that no matter how short the flight is, a screaming baby must be the thing that judges should excuse people for going on an air born killing spree.

Now travellers will not just have to contend with that, with mobile phone calls gradually being allowed aloft, the relative peace and escape you so far enjoyed for that short period of time is being shattered. Thanks to “innovative” companies convincing the air transport authorities that mobile phones no longer pose a danger of subverting the aircraft navigational systems.

Zain’s agreement with AeroMobile includes International Roaming Services for all Zain in Jordan’s customers through which they can now enjoy using voice calls as well as SMS services on board. GPRS, Black Berry Services and Push Mail will be also available to customers in the near future.

Brilliant. Can you hear the various stupid ring and message tones in full volume and 27.1 surround sound?


For appropriate use of mobile phones on board, all airlines will be providing a list of guidelines, which will include a request for passengers to switch their mobile phones to ‘silent’ mode during the flight. Furthermore, the cabin crew will be able to monitor as well as handle full control of how the system will be used throughout the trip. Passengers wanting to use the service during the trip will receive a text message welcoming them to the AeroMobile system as soon as they switch their mobile phones on.

Yeah sure. Just as people do so in movie theatres, concerts and even places of worship.

AeroMobile’s Chief Executive Bjorn-Taale Sandberg said: ‘We are delighted to deliver a genuine world first technology through Zain’s network, a mobile operator that is amongst the first in the world to provide such a unique innovative service to its customers. We believe that the ability to communicate efficiently, easily and safely when on board flights will become an every-day feature for business and leisure travelers soon.’ [AMEinfo]

Why thank you Mr. Sandberg. It was bound to happen, of course, but appreciating the relative serenity of screaming babies, I shudder to think what this inevitable invention of yours is going to do to my and other travellers’ already frayed nerves.


Vlog 35: The Frangipani Patch

A vlog, finally!

Arif and I attacked the frangipani patch where all the parakeets and the birds come to feed. That has always been the most difficult patch to grow things in I think because it is the windiest and coldest part of the garden. The frangipani survives, but it certainly does not thrive as the one in the front garden. This is probably because the poor old lady was transported from the old house and the old gardener chopped it’s roots very close to the trunk.

Anyway, that’s not the story here, it is that I wanted to clean up the patch as it was getting full of bird seed, shells, date stones and other rubbish the birds leave behind once they’ve fed. I wanted to find a way to make that particular spot easier to maintain and clean as well as make that area the focal point that is very much needed there. That and re-design the space, it was a sore area to my eyes and I think it was high time I actually did something about it.

Apart from that, I wanted to transpose some cactii from shallow pots, to the ground, I think they were almost pot-bound and needed the freedom to grow. I hope they will.

I hope you enjoy the vlog, it was shot on my mobile phone and edited with iMovie.


Public Calligraphy & Eid Mubarak

Public Calligraphy

Public Calligraphy, originally uploaded by malyousif.

I visited the village of Bilad Al-Qadeem this morning to pay my respects to a friend whose father just passed away. Although my own father’s house is very close to that village, I’ve never taken it upon myself to go in and investigate. Today, I am happy that I did, and I personally think that if you don’t go and visit one of these villages then you can’t really say that you have seen Bahrain.

This kind of calligraphy was everywhere on several buildings and done very well indeed. It is obvious the people of this village are both artistic and religious as these works of art represent some Ayahs of the Quran or other religious texts.

The village itself is much like a rabbit warren. I got lost trying to find he condolence location and had to call a guy in there to rescue me and show me where the ma’atem actually was!

I fully recommend you go and spend some time in these villages. There is no danger at all, and the people are friendly and helpful.

Have a wonderful Friday my friends and let me also wish you Eid Mubarak.