Lost Packets: Networking news and trivia

Yahoo helps Chinese identify dissident

Shi Tao, a 37-year-old journalist with Contemporary Business News in China’s Hunan province can thank Yahoo Inc. for helping Chinese authorities identify him and send him to to jail for 10 years. Tao supposedly divulged state secrets. Reporters Without Borders claimed Yahoo was responsible for putting Tao behind bars by providing the Chinese government access to e-mails sent from his personal Web account. The freedom organization said Yahoo was acting as censor and police informant at the same time. The incriminating e-mail, sent April 20, 2004, contained information regarding a Chinese government warning for its commissars, urging them to be vigilant ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and to watch out for dissident activity. A Yahoo spokesperson defended the firm’s actions saying its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country where they are based.

Finland abandons payphones for cellphones

The next time you visit Finland, something noticeably different will be missing on its cities’ streets: payphones. TeliaSonera Corp., Finland’s largest telecom operator said last month it will be abandoning its payphone business. The company will phase out its remaining 2,000 public phones by April 30, 2006. The move is due to low demand, high maintenance and outdated equipment. Finland, the home of mobile phone maker Nokia, has a population of over 5 million with just as many mobile phone subscriptions. Government officials expected this to happen and said very few people need public phones since almost everyone has a cellphone. However, Elisa Corp. the country’s second largest telecom company has no plans to pull its 1,000 public phones off the streets.

It is now safe to turn on your cellphone

It used to be airline passengers had to keep their cellphones off for fear of interfering with airplane equipment. Two European airlines are hoping by late next year that will no longer be the case. TAP Air Portugal and British carrier bmi are going to test OnAir, a Geneva-based technology company’s voice and text service in separate three-month trials for flights within Western Europe. When the plane has reached a height of 10,000 feet users of cellphones and other handheld wireless devices with roaming capability will be able to make and receive calls using a base station within the airplane. The surcharge for mobile phone use will be competitive with international roaming rates, at about US$2.30 to US$2.50 a minute. A text message is expected to cost about 50 cents to send or receive. A general release of this service is expected in 2007 everywhere in the world except North America.

Pet peeves of office e-mail

Leave large files out of inboxes says a new survey. The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service, used an indepedent research firm to solicit 250 responses from advertising and senior executives on their thoughts about office e-mail. Twenty-nine per cent of those polled cited receiving unsolicited large files as the most annoying e-mail faux pas. Other pet peeves include being unnecessarily copied on “reply all” messages, messages that are too long and having to scroll down for information. To help better manage your e-mail, Creative Group suggests sending links to large files like photos and PowerPoint presentations. Also, before hitting the reply-all button, remove those who will not benefit from the information in the e-mail. As well, be specific in the subject lines so recipients immediately know the topic of communication. 058433