U.S. Cellular rejected Apple and the iPhone 4S

While Sprint, Verizon and AT&T are reporting record sales of the new iPhone 4S, the sixth largest cellular company in the United States decided to go down a different path.

Reported in a third quarter earnings call this week, U.S. Cellular CEO Mary Dillon told investors that the company turned down Apple when approached in regards to offering models of the iPhone to U.S. Cellular customers. While Dillon indicated that the U.S. Cellular network was definitely capable of handling the expanded traffic from sales of a new iPhone, Apple’s offer was rejected due to terms that were “unacceptable from a risk and profitability standpoint.” This indicates that Apple may have wanted a large order placed as well as an upfront payment from the cellular company. Apple may have also stipulated a set of conditions around distribution and in-store placement of the iPhones that was unacceptable to U.S. Cellular.

us-cellularWhile U.S. Cellular currently has about six million customers without access to the iPhone, the company certainly isn’t the largest cellular provider without Apple’s popular device. The 34 million subscribers at T-Mobile also don’t have access yet, specifically because Apple hasn’t developed a version of the phone that’s compatible with T-Mobile’s service. While T-Mobile phones certainly operate at 3G and 4G speeds, the 3G service operates on the AWS frequency band which is incompatible with various models of the iPhone. Apple did sign a new agreement with regional cellular provider C Spire which provides approximately 900,000 subscribers with access to the iPhone 4 and 4S starting next Friday.

In addition to the news about the rejection of Apple’s offer, Dillon mentioned that the launch of the LTE network was being delayed until early 2012. Previously, the company had planned to offer LTE access during the fourth quarter of 2011. The initial launch of the LTE network will take place in states such as North Carolina, Iowa, Oklahoma, Maine, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin. Plans regarding the launch in additional markets will be announced throughout the year.

Airline traveler uses Craigslist to track down laptop thief

With technology becoming smaller and thinner, thieves are finding it easier to swipe fancy electronics. However, one victim of theft turned the tables on the criminal with the help of Craigslist.

When Ambre Boroughs checked her laptop bag before getting on a Southwest flight at the Chicago Midway International Airport, she was likely unaware that many airlines strongly recommend taking the laptop was a carry-on during the flight. Unfortunately, she was missing her brand new HP 9000 laptop after searching an empty laptop bag that came off the conveyor belt in Charleston, South Carolina according to NBC Chicago. After asking a Southwest representative for help, Boroughs was informed that the company wasn’t responsible for the loss of checked computers. A further TSA investigation showed video footage of the laptop still in the case when traveling through the security checkpoint.

hp_9000While somewhat demoralized, Boroughs was determined to track down the laptop thief. After waking up the following morning, Boroughs started searching the Chicago section of Craigslist for the term “HP 9000″ and continued to refresh the search every 30 minutes. After approximately 12 hours, she located a post for a HP 9000 laptop that displayed evidence of her ownership. Boroughs recognized a logo sticker on the laptop for a small punk rock group that’s based out of South Carolina which also happened to be tattooed on her wrist. She texted and called the person that created the post to find out if the laptop was still available and stumbled on the fact that this person had multiple models for sale.

Boroughs immediately alerted the Chicago police about the laptop post. The police went to the location described in the post and arrested three people that had eleven additional stolen laptops in their possession as well as a variety of portable electronics. While the alleged thieves didn’t work for Southwest, at least one of them had access to luggage moving from the Southwest terminal to the airplane. After the police returned the HP 9000 laptop to Boroughs, she discovered that the thief had completely wiped all her personal data from the computer including documents and photos.

CIA actively monitors 5 million tweets every day

The Central Intelligence Agency keeps constant tabs on Twitter and Facebook, and briefs President Obama on top trending topics and events nearly every day, the AP reports.

As if we needed any further confirmation that Big Brother is, in fact, watching, the Associated Press reports today that the Central Intelligence Agency has an entire department devoted to monitoring Twitter and Facebook posts. In addition, the CIA briefs President Obama daily on top tweets and popular Facebook posts and trends.

The arduous task, carried out by a team known as the “Vengeful Librarians,” includes sifting through more than 5 million tweets a day. (In total, Twitter’s 100 million users publish approximately 140 million tweets every day.) Doing so has enabled the CIA to view how events in the US are being received overseas — like, say, the assassination of Osama bin Laden — as well as allowing the agency to keep tabs on international events, like the uprising in Egypt this spring.

The CIA’s social media monitoring, which is carried out by “several hundred” analysts at a facility in McLean, Virginia, and elsewhere around the US, was started on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission as a way to bolster the agency’s counterterrorism and counterproliferation initiatives.

Monitored sources include traditional newspapers and television broadcasts, as well as social media. The focus on Twitter began in 2009 after the micro-blogging platform played a key role in the Iranian Green Revolution.

Because tweets do not always have location data tied to them, the Vengeful Librarians cannot track where exactly the majority of tweets originate. Instead, the intelligence team keeps track of what language tweets are published in. For instance, the team wanted to find out the world reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden. It found that the majority of tweets published in either Urdu (the language of Pakistan), or Chinese were mostly negative. Arabic and Turkic tweets accused Obama of being pro-Isreal. Tweets in Hebrew thought Obama’s speech was too pro-Arab.

The CIA team has also used Twitter to monitor reports of real-time events, and can focus on a few Tweeters who are publishing accurate reports. The team found that, in these situations, other Twitter users actively stamp out erroneous information when it is reported, which proves the usefulness of Twitter as a primary source for breaking news.

So, for those of you out there who forget that what you say online can often be seen by anyone, remember: in some windowless office building in Northeast Virginia, a CIA agent may be watching.