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January 23, 2013

Stricter Enforcement Against Texting While Driving is Suggested

With the ability to quickly check facebook, text message, play games, surf the web and do countless other things, cell phones are becoming a bigger and bigger distraction to drivers.


The following statistics have come out about texting while driving:

-Texting while driving makes it 23% more likely that the driver will be involved in an accident.
-Answering a text message takes the driver's eyes off the road for approximately 5 seconds.
-Sending a text impairs a driver to the equivalence of having had 4 beers.

In Idaho, legislation already exists that bans everyone from texting while driving. In fact, texting while driving is subject to primary enforcement, meaning that a police officer can use texting for grounds to pull a driver over. Of the 39 states that have laws against text messaging, 35 of them are primary enforcement states.

Recently, AAA of Idaho proposed that further cell phone safety measures be implementing, pitching a ban on all cell phone use by drivers aged 18 and under. Also this week, delegate James Malone of Maryland proposed making all cell phone use a primary offense in the state for all drivers.

The website distraction.gov offers the following statistic from Carnegie Mellon:
"Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%."

Legislators seem to want to crack down on distracted driving related to cell phone use. It will be interesting to hear the upcoming discourse on the topic.

Is it ever okay for drivers to use the phone behind the wheel? Is it okay to text at a stop light? What about using your phone as a GPS?

Feel free to leave a comment to share your opinion on the topic!



January 19, 2013

Smarter Health Care, Or Not?

Would you trust your smartphone with your health?


It seems that some people do, with more and more health-related apps becoming popular. There are now apps available for everything from weight loss to maternity tips. People are using apps like iTriage to check their medical symptoms. There are even apps for sexual health and personal hygiene.

While having an easy app on your smartphone might make it easier to manage what you eat or to track your exercise, it may be going too far to use your smartphone as a substitute for a doctor's visit.

The University of Pittsburgh medical center recently did a study of four smartphone apps that are supposed to help users diagnose melanoma.

Most of these apps work by allowing the user to snap a picture of a mole or skin condition. The app then evaluates the condition and informs the user of whether or not he or she has melanoma. While some apps like these send the picture to a board-certified dermatologist, others do not.

The study found that the accuracy of the apps varied widely, with the worst app providing a correct diagnosis only 6.8% of the time. These apps are not subject to any kind of regulation and usually include the disclaimer that they are for "educational purposes only."

Experts worry that some people may trust their smartphone to the extent that they will put off a regular doctor's visit in favor of a smartphone diagnosis. Because these apps can be unreliable, it could result in the delay of treatment for serious medical conditions.

It is important to note that some amazing smartphone medical technologies are being implemented by medical professionals, including modifications to cell phones that allow them to be used for ultrasounds and as stethoscopes.

However, the average person only has access to apps with potentially dubious diagnostic powers, as many medical apps have not been properly studied or improved upon.

If you suspect that you have a medical condition you should pick up the phone... to call your doctor and set up an old-fashioned doctor's appointment.



January 05, 2013

10 Million Phones to Nigerian Farmers

Africa is currently experiencing a boom in its telecom industry, with Nigeria leading the market. However, many farmers in rural Nigeria still do not have access to mobile phones, which can impede their productivity. Farmers need quick access to information in order to be competitive.


Without this access, they can also be susceptible to corruption. Nigerian farmers experienced corruption related to fertilizer for years before the federal government started using cell phones to reach farmers through a program called Growth Enhancement Support which helped eliminate conniving middlemen.

Recently, the Nigerian government, with support from the Universal Service Provision Fund, announced that they will be launching a new initiative to finance the giving of 10 million cell phones to farmers, with 5 million going to women.

Farming employs 70 percent of the working population of Nigeria, but mostly in small-scale or subsistence operations. Large scale operations have been discouraged, in part, by

low soil fertility in some regions and inefficient practices.

The Nigerian government hopes that giving cell phones to farmers will help them stay competitive and abreast of market opportunities and also to engage younger farmers through the use of technology. The overall goal is to encourage the development of agribusiness.