'Smart Screens' To Replace Pay Phones

To be honest, we can't remember the last time we consciously noticed a pay phone in the city (that is, save for ones used in the episodes of Felicity we've been watching on Netflix). But the New York Post reports today that 250 phone booths will get high tech updates within the next month. Now-obsolete phones will be replaced by 32-inch "smart screens," which will provide users with neighborhood information and connect them to 311. The screens could indeed eventually sub in for all of the 12,800 outdoor pay phones throughout the city -- their franchise contracts will be done come October 2014.

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Senator Chuck Schumer to AT&T: Invite Us to Your Industry Meeting, Please

Appealing to his iPhone-addicted constituents, Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on AT&T to do something about the steep uptick in smartphone thefts in the city. You might be thinking: "What can this little ole cell phone provider do to fight crime in Gotham?" Well, our senator thinks the company can do quite a bit -- starting with an invitation. We want in!

A week from today, AT&T will participate in a meeting of the (deep breath, it's a mouthful), Global System for Mobile Communications Association's North America Committee on Security and Fraud. Schumer says the company needs to bring the NYPD to the table to discuss the rapidly rising rate of smart phone thefts in the city. But wait, he's more than just an elected who wants some dialogue -- he's a tech guy, too!

In a letter that he sent out to AT&T yesterday, he also urges the company to consider adopting technology that permanently disables phones after they've been stolen.

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Hugh Grant's Middle Name is Actually 'Mungo'

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Not a lot to report here except this: Hugh Grant, lovable blinky British actor and phone hacking victim, is actually named Hugh John Mungo Grant. We discovered this while reading about Grant's testimony in the Leveson inquiry into media ethics by British red-tops in a no less reputable source than the BBC: "Hugh John Mungo Grant, to use the full name he gave the court, was determined to place many newspaper publishers in the dock."

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Prank Caller Has Sent Emergency Services to Inwood Couple's Home Over 150 Times

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Artist's rendering of the prankster's weapon.
The world of pranks can be split into two halves: The funny (e.g. fly-in-the-ice-cube gag) and the the unfunny (e.g. regicide). The Daily News has the story of a series of pranks that fall in the latter category. Since last year, Mamadou and Assetou Sy have had the police, fire department, or ambulatory services called to their Dyckman Houses apartment over 150 times. The mystery person has been sending emergency personnel to the couple's apartment so often, Assetou says, "Every time someone knocks on our door, we say it must be the police." To whoever keeps doing this to the Sys: Please stop.

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Cell Service in Subways Is Here! What Your Service Provider Has to Say About It

Well, the much anticipated (or feared) cell service on subways is here, at least on certain subway platforms around New York City and, some are reporting, even in the friggin' tunnel. As of today, the cell pilot is live at the A, C, E at Eighth Avenue and 14th Street; the L at Eighth Avenue and 14th Street; the C, E at Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street; the 1, 2, 3 at Seventh Avenue and 14th Street; the F, M at Sixth Avenue and 14th Street; and the L at Sixth Avenue and 14th Street. Along with wondering how much this will or will not ruin our lives, we found ourselves thinking, What do our friendly local customer service folks at AT&T and T-Mobile (which offer the service underground) and Verizon and Sprint (which currently do not; they're still in talks with the MTA) think about all this? Are they being deluged with customer requests, accolades, or complaints? We took to the phone to find out!

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Study: Texting's Popularity Didn't Surge This Year Overall

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, texting -- beloved, good old American texting -- is starting to be slightly less new and exciting. The average number of texts per day sent and received by Americans only increased a tiny bit this year, though it's still more than 40. (Forty! For real.) It's no surprise that teenagers are still texting their hearts out and old people still don't know how. Some relatively astonishing figures:

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Reno Air Crash Kills 3; States Oppose AT&T Merger; UAW and GM Reach Agreement

At least three people died yesterday when a plane at an air race in Reno, Nevada crashed near a grandstand. Jimmy Leeward was piloting a P-51 Mustang at the National Championship Air Races and Air Show when he lost control of the aircraft. Witnesses say he managed to pull up before impact, preventing an even worse disaster. More than 50 people are reported to have injuries and 12 are in critical condition. In 2007, a collision between two planes killed both pilots at the same annual Reno event. [CNN]

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CLOO, a Future Startup that May Prevent You Having to Pee Your Pants: Q&A

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Peeing in New York is hard sometimes. You've been drinking, and you figure, "Hell, I can wait till I get home," and then the subway doesn't come for 30 minutes and by the time you reach your apartment it's already too late. Not that that ever happened to us, or anything.

Or you're out running errands and that large iced coffee proves to be a bad idea, and every Starbucks bathroom has a line out the door and you have bags in your hands and it's not dark out so you can't resort to going behind a parked car or Dumpster in an alley somewhere. Again, not that we would ever.

Two Brooklyn women, Deanna McDonald and Hillary Young, have come up with an idea for an iPhone app called CLOO that would allow users to rent out their bathrooms to parties in need around the city. We called Young yesterday for an interview about the proposed startup, which has yet to be developed:

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Verizon Workers Strike In East Village

Esther Zuckerman
You could hear the blaring of car and air horns from two blocks away as Verizon employees continued their strike for a third day on 13th Street and Second Avenue, after the company and workers failed to come to terms on a contract early Sunday morning. The East Village's reception of the strikers has been positive so far, strikers told us early this afternoon: the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary has allowed them to use their bathrooms, stores have given out water and chief union steward Dominic Renda said two food businesses have stopped delivering to the people working inside the building who crossed the picket line.

"Yeah, the people here have been great to us," he said. "The Village has been traditionally left wing, but I've been surprised how we haven't gotten a single person berating us or criticizing us."

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