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An FAA advisory group is expected to recommend users be allowed to leave their devices on during flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to soon receive an official recommendation to allow fliers to keep their tablets and smartphones turned on during takeoffs and landings.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that an advisory group formed to investigate whether or not the FAA should continue to ban the use of electronics during the critical part of the flight is writing a recommendation to allow a broader use of devices.

The official recommendation may not come until September, but the group is reportedly planning to suggest the FAA allow the use of the gadgets in an "airplane mode," which turns off radio signals, during the entire flight, according to the New York Times.

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The FAA hasn't said what the next steps will be after it receives the recommendation, but it said "consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft." Currently, fliers are allowed to use electronic devices on a

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An American Airlines passenger checks his BlackBerry before the flight takes off at Miami International Airport in March 2006.

Airplane passengers might not have to stow away their tablets and smartphones during takeoffs and landings in the near future.

A federal panel is expected to release recommendations Monday saying the use of some electronic devices is safe during takeoffs and landings. The proposal by a committee created in January by the Federal Aviation Administration may ease longtime restrictions that have frustrated airline travelers.

Regardless of what the panel recommends, the use of cellphones to make calls or send messages will still be prohibited under U.S. law.

The 28-member panel must find a balance between the demands of travelers who love tinkering with their electronic devices and flight attendants who worry that passengers will be too engaged with their gadgets to follow instructions.

"Flight attendants have long been concerned about the potential for disruptions to safety and security from the use of portable electronic devices on commercial flights," said Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman

yuppy

As an expat travelling the world and living away from home it can be difficult to catch up with all your TV shows. Every time you call home your little brother ruins your favourite TV show by telling you what happens and it seems like you have no idea what is going on back home. Not to mention you can’t remember the last time you heard someone speaking your language and you may even start to forget it a little. It can get lonely.

Fortunately thanks to technology you can travel with your favourite channels and watch Indian TV live. All you need is a proper internet connection. The internet has now removed former boundaries and you have no excuse to miss your favourite show or not know what is happening back home. You could be in Australia, the Middle East, Singapore, United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom or New Zealand and you will be able to catch up on your favourite shows and the news. You can watch Indian TV Channels live so that you do not miss even one minute.

Do you start to panic if your cellphone isn't nearby?

Does just the thought of losing your phone make your heart pound?

Do you keep an extra phone on hand, just in case your primary phone breaks?

Do you check your phone in the middle of the night?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, than you may suffer from nomophobia (no-mobile-phone-phobia) -- the fear of being without your phone.

The good news is that you are not alone. The better news is that it may be treatable.

Psychologist Elizabeth Waterman has started to address nomophobia in group therapy sessions she holds at the Morningside Recovery Center in California.

"Nomophobic people have a fear of losing connection with the outside world," she said. "So we want them to understand that people won't forget you just because you are not reachable for a few days, and you won't miss out on everything. You can get information later and still live a happy life."

Waterman said there is a variety of reasons why people become attached to their phones. For some the phone is like a security blanket -- it makes them

The U.S. Department of Transportation doesn't want you tweeting on Twitter, poking on Facebook, or giving a "thumbs up" to new music on Pandora when you're behind the wheel -- unless your car is parked.

And to that end, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Thursday the "first-ever federally proposed guidelines to encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk for in-vehicle electronic devices."

Translated, LaHood and the Transportation Department are calling for an end to distractions caused by our in-car infotainment systems, which are increasingly relying on touch screens to operate and bringing navigation, music and even social networking apps into the cabin of our rides.

The proposed guidelines for automakers are Phase I of what will probably end up being a three-phase effort to cut down on distracted driving.

The department said for Phase II it is considering proposals that "might address devices or systems that are not built into the vehicle but are brought into the vehicle and used while driving, including aftermarket and portable personal electronic devices such as navigation systems, smartphones, electronic tablets and pads, and other mobile communications devices."

A third set of proposed guidelines, Phase III, may address "voice-activated

If you get frustrated when flight attendants make you shut down your electronic tablet or digital reading device during takeoff and landing, George Takei has got your back.

The actor who portrayed Sulu in the original "Star Trek" television series and in films is so fed up with having to turn off his gadgets on airplanes that he launched a petition earlier this month on the website Change.org, calling on federal officials to reconsider the policy.

“I suspect I'm not alone in feeling put off,” Takei said in his petition letter.

He’s right. The petition has already collected nearly 17,000 signature.

The Federal Aviation Administration is already talking about lifting the ban on the use of personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings. In August, the agency announced that it was forming a committee to study when such devices can be used.

One person who signed the petition commented: “This has been a pet peeve of mine. Let's get this rule changed.”

The departure lounge in any airport terminal tells the story. Dozens of men and women in suits are clasping cellular phones between ears and shoulders, peering at beepers, scanning electronic calendars and tapping on laptop keyboards.

This is personal electronics at its most powerful. But there's just one problem: Some airline safety experts believe the accouterments of the wired, as well as entertainment devices such as CD players and game machines, are jeopardizing air safety by interfering with navigation equipment.

Already, most airlines have banned the use of electronic devices during takeoffs and landings. But questions are still being asked about whether additional restrictions, possibly including a total ban on in-flight electronics use and inspections to ensure compliance, might be necessary.

There is little consensus as to whether a safety problem exists. Airlines, eager to keep their best customers happy, say the current restrictions are adequate, and the Federal Aviation Administration so far agrees. Some business travelers are impatient with even the current restrictions.

"My question is about the probability of such problems occurring," says Christopher McGratty, chairman of McCammon McGratty & Co. of Dallas. "If the probability is quantifiable, then I think people

Microsoft Corp. created a new division to focus on products that combine home entertainment and communications as the company tries to fuel growth by expanding outside the market for personal-computer software.

Microsoft's new eHome division will develop products that combine voice and messaging features with video, music and digital photos, said Mike Toutonghi, eHome vice president. He declined to give details of specific products or when they will be available.

The biggest software maker, which has done poorly with home products such as Web-enabled television services, is trying to combat falling sales of PCs by entering new markets such as networked electronic devices for the home.

Microsoft will face strong competition in an area where there probably won't be much consumer demand in the next several years, analysts said.

Everyone's chatting about the latest iPhones, but the Apple devices are not the only smartphones taking the Internet by storm this week.

The other device would be Phonebloks, a proposed customizable smartphone project that has gone viral on YouTube with more than 4 million views in a little more than two days.

Phonebloks is a new kind of phone that is made out of detachable blocks that can be easily replaced, allowing users to customize their device by picking and choosing the components that matter to them most.

"Lets say this is your phone and you do everything in the cloud, why not replace your storage block for a bigger battery block?" the YouTube video says.

If the project pans out, users could go to a "Blok-Store" to choose the components they want from the companies they prefer, according to the video.

The Phonebloks announcement comes just one month after the release of the Moto X, a smartphone by Motorola that is customizable. When the Moto X was first announced, some consumers assumed that they could customize the phone’s specifications. But when it rolled out, customers found they could only personalize the device’s color scheme.

With

Alert Alec Baldwin. It may one day be OK to use a personal electronic device when your plane takes off.

The Federal Aviation Administration is putting together a group to study mobile electronic device use by passengers. It will be looking at what gadgets passengers can safely use while aboard and when.

But cellphone calls will be off the table. The FAA said the group would not be considering "the airborne use of cellphones for voice communications."

It is possible, however, that this could be an early step toward the agency's revising its ban on using laptops, tablet computers, e-readers and smartphones (for Internet uses) during takeoffs and landings.

At this point the FAA sees the devices, such as iPads and Kindles, as possible dangers to modern jetliners as they ascend or descend, but not at cruising altitudes.

In a news release, the agency cited "widespread consumer use of portable electronic devices" as a reason to reexamine its policies.

"With so many different types of devices available, we recognize that this is an issue of consumer interest," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

"Safety is our highest priority, and

It’s not a cure for cancer or world peace, but airline travelers got an early Christmas present Thursday: The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it “can safely expand passenger use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight.”

This being the government, which has no sense of humor, officials missed the chance to call it “the Alec Baldwin rule.”

But now all the tech-addicted folks who can’t go a single minute without their iPads or iPhones or Kindles or whatever won’t have to.

Great.

It’s not that I don’t think this is progress. I’m sure it’s important to millions that they be able to catch the latest episode of “True Blood” while the plane is taxiing, taking off and landing, as opposed to having to wait the 10 minutes or so until the big silver metal tube is, you know, actually safely in the air or on the ground or at the gate.

After all, if you’re flying to New York from L.A., you only have five hours or so to kill, so every minute counts. (Oh, and never mind the issue of whether watching what was once labeled porn within eyesight of

A documentary purportedly on how electronic devices have driven us all to distraction, "Dsknectd" is itself a sensory assault. A one-stop shop for technology-borne maladies such as multitasking, virtual gaming, sexting, catfishing and Internet commentating, it is a series of free-associating non sequiturs underscored by nonillustrative graphics and an intrusive soundtrack.

"Dsknectd" crosscuts interviews, reenactments and its own unscientific quasi-research — such as soliciting responses with a fake personal ad and subjecting a random woman to 24 hours without cellphone and Internet. The film cites press releases alongside academic studies, while giving equal weight to authoritative experts, men and women on the street and actors reading testimonials as in TV infomercials, only without proper disclaimers.

RELATED: More movie reviews by The Times

The film gets into ethically murky territory when it references the real-life case of two South Korean parents so immersed in Internet gaming that their 3-month-old died of malnutrition. Novice filmmaker Dominic H. White scripted the commentary of parent Kim Yun-jeong — which actress Kelly Tran performed in stereotypically broken English — and masqueraded it as an interview.

When its dramatizations become too pervasive for viewers to discern, the film voids the unwritten contract between documentarian and audience.

NEW YORK — In the metaphor-mad world of technology, there's a new phrase making the rounds, one that experts believe describes the direction that personal computers are taking.

After 20 years as an independent box, the PC is evolving into a control center that ties together the phone, TV, thermostat and other electronic devices in every room in the house.

An information furnace, they call it.

"It's equivalent to central heating," said Avram Miller, Intel's vice president of corporate business development. "This analogy with power is very good. If you look at electricity, electricity was designed to do only one thing--lighting. Clearly, there's a lot more to it than that now."

Like a furnace, the PC of the future could be hidden from view, in the basement, a closet or drawer. The devices it links would take different shapes depending on their use and location. A unit in the den might have a keyboard and screen while one in the living room might be a big screen with stereo speakers and a player for programs on compact disc.

The incorporation of telephone-answering machines into consumer PCs last summer was an early example of this trend, which

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced plans to ease restrictions on the use of portable electronic devices to play games, read or listen to music during takeoffs and landings of commercial planes.

But federal officials have not lifted restrictions on making cellphone calls from a plane.

Before the changes take effect, the new rules announced Thursday in Washington require airlines to prove that using electronic devices such as electronic readers and tablets on "airplane mode" is safe for their aircraft.

Larger devices, such as laptops, must be stowed during takeoffs and landings to keep them from flying around the cabin during turbulence.

Industry officials warn that the policy, once adopted, could vary from airline to airline. The FAA predicted that most airlines will allow the use of electronic devices by the end of the year.

The change in policy comes in response to recommendations made in early October by a committee that included representatives from the airline and electronics industries, plus pilots and flight attendants.

The new rules were welcomed Thursday by travel industry leaders who said more Americans are likely to fly if the experience is more enjoyable.

“The travel community is grateful, because what’s good for

Parents of small children may be cheering the loudest over news that five of the nation’s largest carriers have been cleared to let passengers use portable electronic devices throughout commercial flights.

A new survey of air travelers found that the most important aspect of the new policy is that it will make it easier to keep kids entertained.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Oct. 31 that it will let passengers use e-readers, tablets, music players and other handheld devices throughout a flight as long as the gadgets are switched to “airplane mode” and are emitting no signal.

In the past, the FAA required that passengers turn off and stow away all electronic devices during takeoffs and landings. The new rule still requires that passengers put away heavier devices, such as laptops, that could tumble free during turbulence.

Cellphone calls are still banned.

In an online survey of 744 adults by satellite television company Dish Network Corp., respondents said the most important aspect of the rule change is that the electronic devices will keep kids entertained (26%) and enable fliers to catch up on email (24%) and read books (17%).

A week

Scientists at Boston University say they have made significant headway toward developing a new generation of high-fidelity instruments through what they call "biologically inspired electronics."

Physicist Douglas Mar, one of the leaders of an interdisciplinary team of about 50 people working on the project, said they didn't have to look far for the biological model they want to replicate in electronic circuits: the human brain.

That's a tall order, because the brain is an extremely complex organism that is still not well understood. Scientists at Caltech have pioneered in the effort to translate human biological systems into electronic devices. They call it "neuromorphic engineering."

Boston University got into the act when Robert Adams, manager of audio development at Analog Devices Inc. of Norwood, Mass., came to the scientists with an idea.

"Bob is a guru in the audio electronics community, and he had this weird idea that maybe neurons [in the brain] used this special technique called 'noise shaping,' " Mar said. It's used in compact disc players to give "very high resolution with fairly crummy parts," and Adams thought that perhaps the brain does the same thing.

It may have seemed weird at the

TECHNOLOGY

Presentation

Angel Castellanos will look at traveling with today's electronic devices.

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Distant Lands, 20 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (626) 449-3220.

YOSEMITE

Presentation

Jared Vagy will share his experience climbing the Nose of El Capitan and other big walls in Yosemite. The presentation will include an introduction to styles of climbing, a review of equipment and a slide show of the climb.

When, where: 7 p.m. Thursday at the REI store in Santa Monica, 402 Santa Monica Blvd.

Admission, info: Free. (310) 458-4370.

JOSHUA TREE

Field class

Students will learn to recognize and identify common flowering plants in Joshua Tree National Park. Classroom instruction Friday evening is followed by two days in the park studying plants.

When, where: Friday through next Sunday, Hi-Desert Nature Museum, Yucca Valley.

Admission, info: $135. (760) 367-5535.

If you are itching to switch on your iPad or Kindle reader while your plane taxis for takeoff, you are going to have to wait at least a little longer.

A panel assembled by the Federal Aviation Administration to consider relaxing the rules on using portable electronic devices on airplanes has asked for more time to come up with its recommendations.

The panel -- made up of representatives from airlines, aircraft builders and electronics firms, as well as pilots, flight attendants and others -- was scheduled to produce a recommendation by Wednesday. Instead, it has asked to continue deliberations until Sept. 30.

If the panel is having trouble reaching a consensus, that wouldn't be surprising. The comments submitted to the group show that Americans are also split on the subject.

Rich Santoriello of Raleigh, N.C., commented in favor of easing the rules that prohibit using electronic devices during takeoffs and landings.

“I would like to use my iPad during takeoff and landing while it is in airplane mode and not emitting any signals,” he wrote. “I'm sorry, I just do not see the harm in these devices especially with the

The Federal Aviation Administration has announced plans to ease restrictions on the use of portable electronic devices to play games, read or listen to music during takeoffs and landings of commercial planes.

But federal officials have not lifted restrictions on making cellphone calls from a plane.

Before the changes take effect, the new rules announced Thursday in Washington require airlines to prove that using electronic devices such as electronic readers and tablets on "airplane mode" is safe for their aircraft.

Larger devices, such as laptops, must be stowed during takeoffs and landings to keep them from flying around the cabin during turbulence.

Industry officials warn that the policy, once adopted, could vary from airline to airline. The FAA predicted that most airlines will allow the use of electronic devices by the end of the year.

The change in policy comes in response to recommendations made in early October by a committee that included representatives from the airline and electronics industries, plus pilots and flight attendants.

The new rules were welcomed Thursday by travel industry leaders who said more Americans are likely to fly if the experience is more enjoyable.

“The travel community

Calling it a potential health risk and a gateway to tobacco use, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to regulate the sales of e-cigarettes and other "vaping" devices.

The new law puts electronic smoking devices in the same category as tobacco products, subjecting their sales to the same restrictions. It bans sales from street kiosks, ice cream trucks and self-service displays, and requires retailers to obtain a license before selling the products.

Parallel legislation under city consideration would ban the use of e-cigarettes in the same places that tobacco is prohibited, including restaurants and parks. Sales of e-cigarettes to minors are already banned under state law, and 59 California counties and cities, including Glendale and Burbank, require a license to sell e-cigarettes.

"It's important to protect young people from this deadly habit and to protect people from second-hand smoke," said Councilman Paul Koretz, who pushed the ordinance.

The battery-operated devices look like cigarettes and use heat to vaporize a liquid, some containing nicotine and fruit and candy flavorings. Users inhale the vapors and expel them, much the same as smoking tobacco.

Retail sales of the devices are