Download our latest podcast here.

Verizon employees snoop Obama’s phone records

Verizon Wireless has suspended several employees who accessed account information for a phone formerly used by President-elect Barack Obama, the company said Thursday.

The phone used by Obama was not designed for e-mail or data services and had been inactive for several months, Verizon Wireless said. Recently, Obama has been frequently seen using a BlackBerry. Verizon Wireless is investigating those workers who accessed the account. The employees are on paid leave. Those who have “accessed the account improperly and without legitimate business justification will face appropriate disciplinary action, Verizon Wireless said.

Dell’s revenue dropped 3 per cent and net income fell 5 per cent in the third quarter but there was some good news amongst the gloom. Dell’s revenue grew 11 per cent in Asia in the third quarter, while unit sales grew 29 per cent. Profits more than doubled compared to the same time last year.

Encouraged by the growth in the region, the company is planning more investments in call centers in India, and research and development in China. The extent to which it will invest, however, will depend on how the global economic climate shapes up.

The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas normally means more than just the latest gadgets. It also involves long taxi lines and high rates for hotel that you have to book months in advance. Well, perhaps not in 2009. While a cavalcade of high-tech toys is almost assured, many of the biggest hotels in Las Vegas still have open rooms for CES week and some are even reducing prices.

On Thursday the show organizers e-mailed some registered attendees informing them that more than 10 hotels have “slashed” their room rates for CES, which will take place from Jan. 8 to 11. And just about every other well-known hotel in the city has rooms available.

Astronauts living onboard the International Space Station next month will install what could be a life-saving gadget — an electronic nose. The Enose will be unpacked and installed on the space station on Dec. 9. Its job is to sniff out dangerous chemicals, like ammonia, mercury, methanol and formaldehyde that could escape into the air in the space station. It has an array of 32 sensors and will have a six-month test run.

There have been past air quality problems in the space station, the space shuttle and the Russian Space Station Mir. The problems largely went undetected until after crew members were exposed to the contaminants. The sensors, which will run autonomously, are designed to detect the leaks as they happen, allowing astronauts to quickly protect themselves.

And those are the top stories from the IDG Global IT News Update, brought to you by the IDG News Service. I’m Martyn Williams in Tokyo. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology.”

Share on LinkedIn Share with Google+