Tech Roundup Israel's Mobile Users Go Greek

Kangaroo court online; the merits of cheap cellular service; and money rains on big-data weather forecaster.

It's all Greek to Israel's mobile users: Quite a lot of Israelis returned from their Rosh Hashanah holiday all tanned and stuffed, only to discover they were an hour late for work. And how did this come about? Did hackers disrupt the nation's clocks? Did a higher power muck with the sun? Not exactly. What happened is the perfect storm created by impulsive politicians colliding with technology-addicted constituents. Israel's parliamentarians suddenly decided to extend daylight savings' time by a month, to comply with the norm elsewhere in the world. Now: smartphone-addicted Israelis trust their phones to automatically update the time. This became a problem because the phones robotically went ahead with the original time update – unless the users had obeyed a frantic text message from their operator, and adjusted their phones to run on Athens time. Yes, Athens, not Jerusalem. The time in Greece is (stay with Tech Roundup here) the same as the time in Jerusalem, but the software systems know that the Greeks didn't terminate daylight savings yet. Any users who didn't change their phones to think they were in Athens wound up late for work and thousands of them, it turns out, called their mobile operators to complain. The operators are peeved.

The moral of the story here – there is one – is: If your mobile operator sends you a text message, read it.

Somebody cut you off and gave you the bird to boot? Rat here: Social networks have turned into a giant kangaroo courtroom and now along comes CarCar, the site for snitchers with a beef against a driver. CarCar is essentially a social network where anybody can enter a violation (by somebody else, presumably) with the car license plate number of the offender. Note that the poster doesn't have to provide his own details, but the posted information is available to all, with whatever degree of veracity. The app is available on android and coming soon, on iOS as well.

The cellular reform worked: Usually saying that a reform "worked," or "flopped," or whatever is a judgment call. But sometimes naked figures can tell a story all by themselves. To wit: Since Israel's cellular reform began two years ago, slashing the cost of mobile communications to a fraction of former heights, a million Israelis have joined five upstart mobile companies (Rami Levy, Golan Telecom, HOT Mobile, YouPhone and Home Cellular). More stats: Israel's population numbers about 8 million people. The Israeli cellular market has 10 million users. You wonder exactly how 8 million people, from the youngest to oldest, amount to 10 million mobile customers? Wonder no more: not a few Israelis have more than one mobile phone; some of the accounts counted there are dormant; some are pre-paid; some are data only, and so on. Now you know and admit it, you'd love to have a phone for each ear and one for the dog.

Meteo-Logic raises money: The startup, which crunches big data to come up with more reliable weather forecasts, says it has completed a $3 million financing round led by Horizon Ventures, a fund run by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing. This isn't about whether or not to take galoshes to work: The three-year old startup has its eye on selling services to renewable-energy companies, to make their work more efficient. Presently Meteo-Logic has three solutions on the market: one for farmers, one for solar-power companies and lately it launched a system to predict wind direction.

Bonus group allying with MIT: Bonus Cellora, the U.S. subsidiary of the Israeli tissue-grower Bonus BioGroup, has signed a research collaboration agreement with MIT, aiming to create a product used to regenerate human tissue. The collaboration involves two technologies – tissue engineering and materials engineering, Bonus says. Bonus Cellora will handle commercialization and will pay royalties to MIT. The Bonus group in general engages in generating usable human tissues, such as bone or other "spare parts," in the lab, for regenerative medicine. For those of our readers who follow these things, Bonus BioGroup was built on the shell of Oceania Advanced Industries.

Bezeq bond trustees back dividend payout: The trustees for Bezeq bonds stated on Sunday that opinions they commissioned support allowing the phone company to pay dividends. In other words, the payout isn't expected to affect the company's ability to honor debt, they explained. Private bondholders, less charitable to the idea, have been trying to block the NIS 1.5 million in dividends to shareholders (all told); they claim the dividends are designed to help the controlling shareholder return loans taken to buy Bezeq in the first place.

With reporting by Amitai Ziv and Shelly Appelberg