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April 2008

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A View of The Palazzo

April 30, 2008

Shoretel Implosion?

April 30, 2008

I have never heard the kind of rumors about a vendor that I am hearing about Shoretel. Reports of unhappiness in the ranks of the workers and management problems persist in the industry.

Some comments I have been hearing is this management team was great for the IPO but can't run the company day to day. This news may have leaked to analysts and would explain the various downgrades I have been seeing on the wires.

I normally hate to talk about rumors without doing more research than this but in my experience this level of negativity is unusual for any company and for it to come out of the blue and unsolicited from multiple sources means there could likely be fire causing the smoke.

Suffice it to say, I will write more if I hear anything.

Early AM Vegas Shots

April 30, 2008

Communications and the Economy

April 30, 2008

Yesterday at Interop I asked exhibitors and analysts what they were hearing about the economy. Most said they think the recovery would be U shaped, not a V but some thought that Q3 would be the start of a recovery.

Interestingly it seems the companies who are marketing aggressively are doing better than the quiet companies who have basically turned out the lights and are hoping for the best.

An example of the former, Interactive Intelligence - a company reporting record profits -- was cited here yesterday.

I have to admit that I believe the housing market is still inflated and has 30-40% to drop. I am no real estate analyst mind you but it seems the run up was too fast and we haven't seen that much air taken out of most of the market.

If I am right -- this drag on the economy could be offset fairly easily. We need an increased focus on public works.

Amazon Web Services Booth

April 29, 2008

Interop Afternoon Shots

April 29, 2008

Google at Interop

April 29, 2008

Some Interop 2008 Shots

April 29, 2008

Interactive Intelligence has Record Quarter

April 29, 2008

Made it to Vegas

April 28, 2008

Interop Bound and Thanks

April 27, 2008

Another year, another Interop. I am off once again across the country to Vegas where I will likely spend more time standing in line than I will sleeping. How amazing is the fact that you can build a city in the middle of nowhere and after fifty years get people from all over the world to come visit your city and spend their precious time waiting. Waiting to gamble; waiting to eat; waiting for a hotel room; waiting, waiting, waiting.

Thankfully I will have all my gadgets and gizmos and will continue to blog and email away while I wait, wait for everything.

Having said all that, although I do despise the cab line that comes with the Vegas airport I do like the fact that the airport is not too far from the strip and moreover, at least Vegas is closer to Connecticut than California is.

How is that for turning my lemons into lemonade?

Half a Million Hacked Websites

April 26, 2008

I don't mean to sound alarmist but half a million hacked websites? is that how many there are? In other words if users hit any of 500,000 sites using IE they will likely be infected? Talk about an electronic pandemic.

PhoneTag, The New Simulscribe

April 25, 2008

Headed Back From Paetec World 2008

April 24, 2008

Of Universities and Technology

April 24, 2008

I head back from Paetec World today and I have had a number of very good meetings so far. I have a busy morning planned but before I head off to the day's festivities it is worth pointing out that yesterday I met with a large university in the Midwest who will soon be deploying VoIP.

One of the directors at the university wanted to deploy Cisco because he liked the the phones. Once the test network was up they learned that the Cisco phone system didn't do many of the things they need.

So now they are looking to other vendors.

I could see that the people I met with wanted to have a Cisco solution because much of their network equipment was made by Cisco and they figured it made sense to use the same vendor for everything.

In my subsequent discussions I did learn that there are many times that universities pick a vendor without a formal RFP process. Especially private institutions.

Paetec World: Live From Union Square

April 23, 2008

Blackberry Voice Search

April 23, 2008

TellMe just launched a new application which allows people to use their Blackberry for voice search. utilizing the TellMe speech recognition engine and Microsoft Live Search, you can have search results automatically localized if you happen to have a GPS-enabled Blackberry.

This is a pretty big deal as it brings voice and local search together and shows where the search business is headed. It also shines light on what the real reason was for Microsoft to purchase Tellme. Not that any of us are surpised of course.

What might be worth discussion however is the fact that Microsoft would support RIM with an application which makes the Blackberry more attractive.

Paetec Group Hug

April 23, 2008

Too Late to Register Googlepoo

April 23, 2008

PAETEC World 2008 Day 2 Kicks Off

April 23, 2008

SimulScribe is Gone. Long Live PhoneTag

April 23, 2008

You've definitely heard me go on about voicemail transcription and just how amazing it is to have your voicemails transcribed and e-mailed to you so you never have to dial into your mailbox again.

One of the companies leading the charge in voicemail to text or voicemail transcription is SimulScribe and they have just changed their name to PhoneTag.

As company founder Jamie Siminoff describes, the new name is much easier to remember.

Will this new name change the company's fortunes? It is unclear but the name certainly is easier to equate to what the company does. Personally I liked the old name -- but then again I also like to blog before the sun rises. Obviously I am not the average target customer.

More PAETEC World 2008 Photos

April 22, 2008

PAETEC World 2008 Shots

April 22, 2008

Virgin America Review

April 22, 2008

As a bonus to my thoughts, opinion and analysis of the communications and technology sectors, today I bring you something a little bit different. After all, who wants to write about these subjects when your laptop is crammed like an Oreo between you and the reclined seat 12 inches in front of your face?

So what is a Virgin America flight like anyway? If you are like me, you hear great things about this new airline… And what’s not to like - new planes, stylish designs and a leading-edge entertainment center that’s yours - all yours.

The first thing that strikes you when you enter the cabin is the purple neon-like lights and the shiny white plastic mixed with that of the purple translucent variety enveloping the first class and rear areas of the plane.

There is a state of the art entertainment center located in the seat backs which handles your TV, radio and food ordering needs. Want a sandwich and a Coke?

On My Virgin America Flight

April 22, 2008

Off To PAETEC World

April 22, 2008

Mobile Banking Heating Up

April 21, 2008

According to IBM, 21 percent of consumers age 18-34 use their cell phone for mobile banking transactions, compared to about 10 percent of the general population.

Like so many new technologies, it is your kids -- or for some of us our kids' kids who jump at the latest technologies first.

A new iPhone, iPod, social networking, twittering, etc are all things the younger generation embrace while often times their parents scratch their heads at it all.

So why should banking be different? Well -- it seems it isn't and since kids seem to be more connected to their mobile phones than they are to anything else, it only makes sense to use these gadgets to send and receive payments and do all the things some of use use to have to visit a teller to do.

I still remember a time when ATMs were new and I had to go to someone called a teller if I wanted to deposit or withdraw money. Fast forward a few decades and now kids may not even need ATM machines in the very near future.

The challenge of course will be ensuring these mobile devices are secure. Certainly secure SMS services like those supplied by CellTrust can help

PayPal and Phishing

April 21, 2008

New Skype Unlimited International Plans

April 20, 2008

I recently wrote about how I thought Skype should be sold to Google and in response I received a very well-worded response from Skype PR representative Chaim Haas. Here is an excerpt:

[On] yesterday's eBay Q1 earnings call, where it was announced that Skype earned $126 million in revenue (it's 5th straight profitable quarter) and added another 33 million new registered users in the quarter (there are now 309 million registered Skype users around the world). Keep in mind that, after 4.5 years in business, Skype's entire revenue for 2007 puts it just about where Google was at the same stage of its growth.

In addition, Skype's new CEO is on the job for just over 3 weeks (he started on March 24th), so his vision for the company has not yet been shared publicly.

The point was basically, my comments may be premature. It is very tough to argue with logic like the above so I want to go on record saying I was likely too harsh on Skype and we should give the CEO more time.

Having said that, this past week I did get a chance to speak with Don Albert, VP and GM of Skype North America about a number of new initiatives at the company. In the conversation, I learned a great deal about the company's new initiatives.

In fact, Skype is now offering flat-rate international calling… This announcement marks the first time Skype has offered a single, monthly flat rate subscription for unlimited international calling to 34 countries worldwide.

In case you are wondering - like many other service providers - the word unlimited has a definition as it equates to fair use.

A Slacker Weekend

April 20, 2008

I just started using the Slacker website to stream music and I remain very impressed at how good the service is. You are able to listen to a number of predefined stations or make your own. You can also customized existing stations by banning artists, etc.

The service is ad supported but you can choose to subscribe so that you don't have to deal with the ads. If you do this, you also get to save some songs to your hard disk, get support for slower broadband connections and the ability resize your Slacker window.

In addition you can merge your own MP3s into custom playlists you create on the Slacker service.

There is also an associated portable music player which can synchronize with stations you create on your PC.

I have found myself listening to Sirius and Pandora in the past but now I have added this service to the mix.

Adobe Scene7 Awakens the Web

April 20, 2008

If you are interested to see how the world of ecommerce will merge with virtual worlds, you should check out the Hunter Douglas website as it uses Adobe Scene7 technology to allow some serious visualization. You may be expecting a cartoonish environment but instead you're presented with real looking rooms in a house allowing you to visualize how your blinds will look before you purchase.

Interestingly just last week a friend was telling me she purchased expensive blinds for her house based on a salesperson's promise they would look good. Later she was disappointed when she saw them in her house.

I suppose this sort of technology will increase sales and reduce returns and the percentage of unhappy customers.

Adobe has really done an admirable job of positioning itself in areas of the internet where the static meets the dynamic.

I also think Scene7 technology is worth watching closely as it intersects with virtual worlds to grease the wheels of online commerce.

See also:

Virtual Customer Interactions written last fall by yours truly

Disclaimer: It is worth mentioning the 5-6 times I visited the Hunter Douglas site this weekend, I received an image server error. This could be due to high volumes of users due to the recent publicity of this site.

Podcast: Broadlook Technologies - Co-Founder Broadlook Technologies

April 20, 2008

Are CRM and SFA tools only as good as the data they contain? You bet they are. This is exactly why I invited Dan Hughes the co-founder of Broadlook Technologies on a TMCnet podcast so I could learn more about how the company's innovative technology helps companies benefit the most from their systems.

Hughes says those people who are not satisfied with their CRM systems should consider they may be in a situation similar to buying a nice car and not putting oil and gas in it and expecting it to run.

This is where Broadlook Technologies comes in... As their company's solutions allow you to scour the Internet for information that can help your company be more successful.

And anyone who has ever used a corporate database knows it is always out of date.

CNN Anchor Caught with Drugs

April 19, 2008

Apparently reporting the news is as depressing as watching it. This might explain why CNN News anchor Richard Quest was caught with a small bag of methamphetamine in his pocket.

In case you are curious about this particular drug, Wikipedia has this to say:
Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant which affects neurochemical mechanisms responsible for regulating heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, appetite, attention, mood and responses associated with alertness or alarm conditions. The acute effects of the drug closely resemble the physiological and psychological effects of an epinephrine-provoked fight-or-flight response, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, vasoconstriction (constriction of the arterial walls), bronchodilation, and hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar). Users experience an increase in focus, increased mental alertness, and the elimination of fatigue, as well as a decrease in appetite.

Apparently Quest was loitering as he was walking in New York's Central Park in the early hours of the morning when the park was officially closed.

Google Quote Finder Launched

April 19, 2008

Picture this... You say something and you really didn't mean it. Perhaps it was that you can see see US troops in Iraq for 100 years or that snipers were attacking you in some far away country.

In the past, you could count on "unfriendly" TV news programs to perhaps play these quotes for a few days after you made them. Some quotes have longer lives of course -- things like "Reading lips and no new taxes," and of course "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

But still -- Until now...It was generally TV that repeated these things for a few weeks or more.

Now it seems Google too has gotten into the act.

Antarctic Waters Less Salty

April 19, 2008

Danny Windham Podcast

April 18, 2008

SMS Saves Lives

April 18, 2008

EsnaTech Grows the Google Ecosystem

April 17, 2008

One of the latest trends I have noticed is integrating disparate solutions into Google's suite of applications. Just this month in fact, two companies in the communications and CRM spaces have decided working with Google more closely makes a great deal of sense.

Perhaps the company making the largest splash in the Google Applications partnership space is who just connected it's CRM systems more tightly with Google's applications allowing a completely hosted CRM/office solution.

But it isn't just the CRM companies getting into the act. UC companies too are looking to combine the best of communications with the search leader's hosted office suite of apps.

Case in point is EsnaTech who has integrated their Telephony Office-LinX suite of UC tools with Google to provide seamless interactivity between the hosted and the the communications worlds.

A benefit of working with a company like EsnaTech is that you get UC, even if your underlying PBX is from any of the following telecom equipment vendors: Mitel, Iwatsu, Nortel, AASTRA, Cisco, Avaya, Toshiba. Please check with the company to see what their latest list of supported phone systems is.

What sorts of features does a Google UC solution contain?

Podcast: Danny Windham, CEO Digium

April 17, 2008

How does a company go from being a leader in the open-source communications space while simultaneously looking to generate revenue? Even open-source purists realize that companies supporting this movement need a way to generate earnings.

Digium, the sponsor and maintainer of Asterisk is actually dealing with both ends of the spectrum as they look to boost their profits and grow. Danny Windham was brought in as CEO about a year ago in fact to ensure the company supports the developer community while simultaneously growing profits.

In a podcast interview, Windham shared many of this thoughts with me about how he runs the company and how Digium looks at the small business market, what sorts of alliances we may see going forward and where he believes open source is on the technology adoption curve.

An special area of interest to me is where Windham and company sees the intersection of open source and Web 2.0. In a mashed-up world the opportunities for developers grow exponentially and allow customers to enjoy breakthrough applications from programmers across the world looking to make communications more effective.

Motorcycle Fears

April 17, 2008

Jamie Siminoff has an interesting post today on his blog where he discusses the dangers of motorcycles and compares the purchase of a motorcycle to investing in a company.

I was a huge motorcycle fan and was ready to buy a Honda hurricane/CBR 1000 when I graduated college. Before I had a chance to do this, a person I knew in the gym hit a stone wall at 70 MPH on his motorcycle and died. The night before his accident we were at the same party and I will never forget the last moment I saw him.

It is not that we were that close but this experience was one of the first times my youth and inexperience intersected with the reality of human mortality.

Since that time, I have decided that a sports car with air bags and anti-lock brakes is the closest I want to get to the experience of being on a two-wheeled machine.

I have had the chance to borrow a friend's bike from time to time and while riding, I find myself thinking more about the potential for an accident than anything else. The last time I rode, I realized as soon as I got off the bike that my forearms ached from holding on so tight.

When I rode in college I just remember the pure enjoyment - with little to no fear.

I suppose I am just past the point where I can enjoy these machines anymore.

Still, I have a deep craving to ride a Ducati at some point.

Why Skype Should be Sold to Google

April 16, 2008

There are now rumors circulating that Google will buy Skype. These rumors are not new -- I wrote about this as recently as November 20 of 2007.

But they did die down for a while and have been renewed. I have heard wild claims like the evaluation of Skype is in the multibillion dollar range, etc.

I should mention that I have tremendous admiration for the people at Skype who developed software that tens of millions of people use. I am frequently blown away when I use the software myself and see over ten million people online at one time.

Having said that, Skype is a poster child for IP communications.

Tour de Force

April 16, 2008

Ortiva Wireless Enables Mobile Streaming

April 16, 2008

Do you remember the past CEO of Cantata, Mark Zionts? He keynoted a past ITEXPO and was head of the company just before it sold to Dialogic. Since then he joined another company which he helped sell and now he is on to a new company called Ortiva Wireless -- where he is CEO.

Ortiva has found an interesting niche in the mobile video streaming market where they focus on optimizing the video experience for end users without requiring them to download anything onto the phone.

Callwave Fuze, Unified Communications Plus

April 16, 2008

In the race to provide the best Unified Communications solution, there are just so many approaches. The various ways to achieve UC are staggering in fact. Companies like Microsoft have partnered with many companies to achieve seamless UC - with special emphasis on Nortel and Aspect. IBM has partnered with virtually all UC players - including Aspect and Nortel while companies like Avaya are thriving by not only offering their own solutions but a bewildering assortment of integration options.

But is it fair for only the largest players to get a seat at the UC table?

Novarra's Better Mobile Browsing Experience

April 16, 2008

A shift has taken place in internet usage and now more than ever it seems people want web access on the go. A single device in fact - the iPhone shows that if we make it easy to surf on the go, people will not only surf, they will pay for the privilege to do so.

Logically, this means service providers need to find ways to get their customers to not only embrace internet on the go but demand it. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure customers can access the net on virtually any device - not just the state of the art gadgets that can cost a month's salary or more in some parts of the world.

A company called Novarra has tackled the difficult task of internet-enabling devices which are not designed to browse the web in a graphically appealing fashion. The way they do this is with a content transformation gateway.

Nick Jensen Kicks Off Day 2

April 16, 2008

Will Social Networks Make Money?

April 16, 2008

I came across this well-researched article on the Brooding Savage discussing the fact that social networks may not ever make significant money.

Why? Well, part of the reason may have to do with the success of these networks... There is actually a glut of eyeballs and pages viewed -- putting supply way out of whack with demand.

Here is a salient excerpt from the article:
Here’s my point, when the Social Networking bubble bursts, analysts will recognize Social Nets for what they are: a communications utility. They are a robust combo of mail, messaging, and personal profiles – innovative, but not earth-shaking.

Caribbean Outsourcing

April 16, 2008

Many people think India when they discuss outsourcing but it is interesting to note that the market for BPO/teleservices is much larger than a single country. Case in point is a company called e-SGI.

I read about them in an article by TMC's Tracey Schelmetic.

e-SGI has 3,000 employees in three different offices in Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, and St. Lucia. Annual billings are in excess of $60 million. The company accesses more than 120,000 calls per day.

Jon Arnold and Marc Robins in the Mitt

April 15, 2008

Heather Howland Speaks

April 15, 2008

Here at the Dialogic Analyst Day at Yankee Stadium we are listening to a presentation by RIM/Ascendent Systems Senior Manager of Marketing Heather Howland.

I have known Heather for years but have never heard her speak to an audience. This is an impressive presentation.

She started by telling us a bit about her company's mobile unified communications solutions and how Dialogic HMP solutions enabled them to deliver their products to market.

She also explained a bit about the Dialogic Media Gateway the DMG 2000 and how this device integrates with the BES to converge voice and data with any PBX.

Howland finished by saying the Dialogic partnership has been great and enabled her company to accomplish a great deal.

I am looking forward to day two of this conference which starts tomorrow morning.

Blogged via wireless handheld

Yankee Stadium Shots

April 15, 2008

New TMCnet Record and New Writer

April 15, 2008

Thanks to our readers -- once again, TMCnet has hit a new record. In this case, we built a Global Online Community in conjunction with Interactive Intelligence and this community generated just under 600,000 page views in one month according to Webtrends, a company which measures web traffic.

As you might imagine, this is a staggering number of pages to be viewed in a month and after TMCnet, this number represents the most page views in a month out of all competitive sites worldwide. This is according to third party web measurement sites like Quantcast.

In other words a single community built on TMCnet outproduced any other single competitive site in total.

As I have promised before, as we grow we will ensure the quantity and quality of TMCnet articles and as such we recently added Rick Bye as a columnist. He wrote his first piece last week in fact.

Bye is a senior segment marketing manager with Zarlink and is responsible for leading the company’s residential gateway and consumer voice products development.

Dialogic Analyst/Media Day

April 15, 2008

iPhone Denial of Service Vulnerability

April 15, 2008

Radware today discovered the iPhone Safari browser is vulnerable to denial of service attack. The specific model being tested was the Apple iPhone1.1.4.

In order to experience this problem a user must browse to a website containing malicious Javascript code. Once there, the code can trip up the browser and iPhone -- making it crash.

According to Radware, the Apple iPhone Safari browser is vulnerable to DoS attacks due to a design flaw that may be triggered by a series of memory allocation operations on the dynamic memory pool, which in turn triggers a bug in the garbage collector. The security hole is currently unpatched, leaving iPhone owners vulnerable to potential attacks until Apple issues a security update.

Assuming virus writers decide to exploit such security holes we may run into a situation where handheld device makers will have to ensure their devices have enough memory to handle endless security patches.

Fonality Trixbox 2.0 Launches

April 15, 2008

According to Chris Lyman, the Founder and CEO of Fonality, the brand new Trixbox 2.0 is the "look mom, no hands, reseller version."

In fact, the company is doing its best to make sure resellers have to touch these phone systems less and less. Lyman tells me the beta of 2.0 has been out for a few weeks and this release signifies the company's renewed focus on the reseller market.

Lyman tells me candidly that resellers are their future and they are thrilled to have their margins double by selling software systems like those supplied by Fonality.

Some added features in this release are sophisticated, presence-enabled find-me, follow-me, with remote features such as call control and record.

In addition there is E1 and BRI autodetect. Think of this as the wizard-based approach to open-source communications.

So how do you upgrade? As Lyman explains, the data center gets the new version of the software and you get it the next time you log in.

Openwave Turns Service Providers into Internet Companies

April 14, 2008

For years, service providers could see their competitors coming head on. For example CLECs and VoIP providers are pretty easy to spot and entrenched telecom providers worldwide have adopted different strategies to battle these new entrants.

But that was the easy part of the game. After all, playing in your home stadium is often easier than playing on the road.

But this "on the road" analogy is perfectly accurate in describing what service providers will be dealing with as they enter new markets and come up against companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google.

Recently I had a chance to see a demo of technology from Openwave Systems which helps service providers compete more effectively with the traditional web-based competitors.

I must say that I was beyond impressed with the demo I saw of a product named Openwave Mobile Client Suite, a set of products which help turn service providers into internet companies.

I also had a chance to see some of the company's network-based technology, the Openwave Rich Mail Solution, which does what Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook clients do for the typical enterprise. The application is based on AJAX which means response times are more like software than web pages.

The look of the UI is impressive and not something you might expect your typical service provider to code themselves.

For example there are contextual menus which pop on a right-click, e-mail preview, drag-and-drop, voicemail/VoIP integration and more.

Ceragon Boosts Wireless Backhaul Throughput

April 14, 2008

As wireless service providers seem to be battling to see who can provide the lowest cost unlimited voice and data plans, a problem is emerging that needs to be dealt with quickly. The issue is simply, how to cost-effectively upgrade network capacity to keep up with all the growth in voice and data capacity.

Invariably much of the challenge carriers face is in wireless backhaul as so many base stations are not located near fiber loops.

Enter Ceragon Networks and the company's newest wireless mobile backhaul solutions, the IP-10 family. In a conversation with the company's CMO Aviv Ronai and Director of Communication, Yoel Knoll the pair explained to me how this new product line offers unparalleled capacity - up to 500 mbps over a single radio carrier using a single RF carrier in fact.

Ronai had this to say about the company's latest solution, "FibeAir IP-10 enables risk-free migration to IP/Ethernet while providing the highest possible capacities at any given radio-link budget. This is achieved without any need to replace infrastructure or change the size or quantity of licensed frequency channels.

Target Service Provider Marketing by Pontis

April 14, 2008

At the recent CTIA show in Las Vegas, much of the talk centered around how service providers need to focus on generating revenue from advertising as companies like Google will be giving away many of the services they hope to charge for.

A good example of such a service is Google Maps which utilizes cellular tower triangulation to approximate GPS. It doesn't stop there of course… With Google Gears for Mobile, Google is in the enviable position of allowing mobile devices to utilize hosted applications whether or not there is a live internet connection.

It isn't news that Google has a head start in delivering services and advertising… Now carriers need to catch up.

But service providers are terrible at getting into new business areas and they have little experience in advertising. You know, that reads a bit harsh. Allow me to rephrase… Let's say instead, that if wireless carriers learned to sell advertising as well as they spend money on their own ads, they will be in great shape.

What is the first step in becoming a better advertising company?

Google and SalesForce Enhance Relationship

April 14, 2008

It was over a year and a half ago when I had a chance to listen to Marc Benioff talk about how his company's software would be integrating with Google to provide a mashup allowing companies to better track their Google advertising. Using the services together, companies would be able to utilize the CRM portion of the software to track where customers came from... Which ad, which keyword, which landing page, etc.

The matter was so important I made the article a High Priority column in Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine.

The two companies have decided to take the collaboration one step further and as a result, you will now be able to purchase Google Applications via and there will be tighter integration between the two companies.

For example, e-mails sent to customers via Google's mail application will be connected to customer records in

While this collaboration is great, there are still companies who worry about how to maintain security when their vital corporate data is stored on the servers of another company.

Perhaps this move will manage to make customers more comfortable with the hosted approach as Google has a strong reputation and helps boost's credibility -- not that the company really needed it but having such a large partner would help anyone.

In my opinion, there are many companies who don't want to worry about having idle employees if their broadband provider or router fails.

I have to say that I really appreciate Marc Benioff as a spokesperson for because he calls them as he sees them. No longer having Tom Siebel to go after, Benioff has resorted to blasting Microsoft.

If you want a more specific example of what I mean, consider the memo put out by Benioff in November of 2005 where he had the following to say:

Last month, our number one competitor surrendered, and decided to take its place beside several former competitors at software's Shady Pines Rest Home, also known as Oracle.

GrandCentral Outage

April 13, 2008

Why Mac Users Pay More for OS X

April 13, 2008

There is no question Microsoft could charge more for its OS if it worked as well as products from Apple. This is the feeling of ZDnet's Robin Harris and it is difficult to agree with the many lucid points made in his article.

Still, it should be noted Microsoft now has to deal with many products which they don't necessarily control. Apple has kept a much tighter reign on the products you could get working with a Mac.

For example, Apple makes the computers that work with their OS while Microsoft does not. When you consider all the manufacturers and various types of hardware challenges, BIOS revisions, etc you see Microsoft has become a victim of its own success.

Of course all of this is known and has been happening for years.

The reason things have changed as of late is that Apple is actually the market-share leader at something again which makes people more comfortable switching over to the Cupertino-based company's products and services.

In addition, the cool factor of Apple and the look of the company's product has only improved over the years.

No company seems to be able to match Apple in design except perhaps Bang and Olufsen.

Oh yeah...

The Economy Will Improve Your Next Flight

April 13, 2008

NY to Tax Amazon Purchases

April 13, 2008

There is just something so mind-boggling about our nation's tax collection system. I was reading this MSNBC article about how New York State is looking to and likely will tax purchases and it goes on about how New Yorkers are supposed to be paying sales tax on these purchases already.

In fact most states require you to pay sales tax on your out-of-state purchases today.

Obviously most people do not do this and the article further describes just how confusing it would be to figure out what you owe.

In case you aren't aware, currently if a company does not have operations in your state, they generally do not charge you sales tax. It is interesting to note that if a company exhibits at a trade show in a state, the state feels the company should subsequently pay sales tax there.

In one instance, my company TMC actually had an idea to get a major internet retailer involved in a  really interesting promotional idea that our ITEXPO attendees would have really benefited from. Guess what...

TiVo On the Offensive

April 13, 2008

Dragnet 2.0

April 12, 2008

Next iPhone to Have Bluetooth Stereo, GPS, Nike Integration

April 12, 2008

What's on your wish list for the iPhone? The obvious addition is a keyboard and faster connection (well that is my personal wish list anyway.) But certainly stereo bluetooth and GPS are on my short list as well.

According to Gizomodo -- who weaved a story from numerous far-flung sites, the next iPhone will have GPS, stereo bluetooth, better security against those pesky hackers looking to unlock the device and integration with the world's leading sneaker company.

There is also talk of the phone acting as a remote control. For what you may ask? It is unclear but perhaps it could be Apple TV?

Personally, I am waiting for full sneaker remote control integration so I can just press a button that says "run" and have the sneakers do the work.

Qwest Outage

April 12, 2008

Qwest is investigating an internet outage which took place yesterday. Apparently internet and VoIP service was interrupted for a number of customers yesterday afternoon.

Perhaps not coincidentally, some ISPs were also knocked offline which in turn took TMCnet down for about an hour last night.

Whether the incidents are related is not known to me at the moment but there seems to be a slim chance that numerous outages around the same time are unrelated.

To show you just how interconnected the nation's communications networks are, Verizon Wireless said 24 cell towers in western Colorado were off the air for more than an hour yesterday.

One would surmise Verizon is using Qwest fiber for backhaul from its cell tower sites.

[Rocky Mountain News]

IPTV Growth

April 12, 2008

Unlimited Plans = Unlimited Trouble?

April 11, 2008

Are unlimited voice and data plans causing unlimited headaches for carriers? More than one person told me at CTIA they think Sprint is going to be in real trouble as a result of the unlimited plan they are selling to customers.

Where does the trouble lie? In three places really. First of all, many of the enhanced services which used to generate revenue have now gone away.

Google Android Running

April 11, 2008

Here is the good news. You can get Google's Android running on current hardware. In fact the AT&T Tilt is the Guinea Pig of choice for this particular endeavor in the following example.

It is a bit early to jump for joy of course and perhaps the bad news is I am not sure what Android does for you yet. At least this demo is not so impressive.

As a pure technical accomplishment however, perhaps this is a bigger news than the credit I assign to it.

Second Life Meets the Call Center

April 11, 2008

You have heard me discuss how contact centers could connect with virtual worlds and moreover how virtual worlds could connect with e-commerce. One of my most recent posts is titled Virtual Customer Interactions and in this post I give an example of how you could shop in a virtual "Sachs 5th Avenue" for a tie.

In case you aren't aware, there are web sites which sell glasses and the way they do so is quite novel. You upload a photo of yourself and then virtually try on various frames. You do this until you find a pair you think looks good on you.

This same concept extends into virtual worlds where you are able to try on clothing, glasses, accessories and anything else you may think appropriate.

Sending out an SMS

April 11, 2008

Dimdim is to WebEx like Asterisk is to Avaya

April 11, 2008

Open source web conferencing company Dimdim is looking to attack the conferencing market in the same way Asterisk "attacked" the PBX space. Although the concept of open source is not new this sort of product just shows how virtually every corner of the software market has to deal with the issue of competing with free or very cheap software supported by a community of developers who work for the "fun of it".

One way to compete with such challenges is to focus more on consulting and systems integration. Another is to focus on building your development community up as a way to add value to your core offerings.

These are things Avaya has done masterfully and it remains to be seen how companies in the conferencing space will deal with the increased pressure from open source conferencing providers such as Dimdim.


Digium's New Deal

April 11, 2008

Plantronics HW251N-USB Wideband Headset

April 10, 2008

Correction... Despite my best efforts to be perfect this device is called the HW251N-USB not the HW351N-USB. Sorry if this caused you any problems.

If you are like me you look for ways to ensure your entire team is as productive and efficient as possible. You look for ways to increase productivity and if possible costs at the same time.

As communications solutions have evolved and Moore's law has lent it some speed, we have all benefited from a  slew of faster and faster solutions that can do more for less money.

This coupled with the power of IP communications has led us to a world where communications is becoming truly unified.

Podcast: Ken Lamneck - President The Americas, Tech Data

April 10, 2008

Ken Lamneck
The Americas
Tech Data

Distribution companies are in a great position to tell us what trends to look for in the market. What is hot? What is not and more. It is for this reason I was very interested in speaking with Ken Lamneck - President The Americas at Tech Data.

In our discussion we had a chance to embrace the concepts of virtualization, unified communications, NAS, how selling services is becoming a great business for VARs and more.

We also had a chance to discuss how VARs that do not provide complete solutions will lose business to others and will subsequently put their product sales in jeopardy.

Lamneck stresses that Tech Data wants to provide the best choices for their customers instead of pushing companies down a certain path.

There is much more but to hear it you have to listen to the podcast.

Podcast: Dieter Thompson, TAG

April 10, 2008

Dieter Thompson
I had a chance to have a podcast interview with Dieter Thompson the CEO of TAG, an Alcatel-Lucent company specializing in telecom procurement, contract negotiation and vendor management solutions.

Thompson shares many things in this interview -- one important point is that many local telecom services are going up in price. is the FCC to blame? Is there really enough competition? Dieter goes into these areas and discusses why carriers in some cases won't even bid on contracts.

is WiMAX the answer?

Yahoo's Alternate Plans

April 9, 2008

Mobile Unified Communications from Verizon

April 9, 2008

FTTH is Needed Soon

April 8, 2008

I agree with Gary Kim that FTTH is needed, if not today, at least very soon. Unless a service provider is looking to sell out this year or next, they should be considering doing what rural Smithville Telephone did and deploy fiber to the home or FTTH.

This is one of those investments where Wall Street may be out of touch with Main Street as one day we will wake up and customers will want bandwidth which can only be achieved with massive amounts of photons traveling on glass strands.

When this transition will take place is impossible to know for sure.

What we can all be sure of however is that it will happen.

The question is, who will be left standing with thousands of miles of obsolete copper and cable when the music stops?

Communications Developer Call for Papers

April 8, 2008

Bob Emmerson: TMC's European Editor

April 8, 2008

Bob Emmerson joins TMC as out European Editor. We are truly proud to have Bob join the team as he is a communications and technology veteran.

Previously, Emmerson was a designer of digital control systems, a journalist, and a copywriter.

For a number of years he ran his own advertising/pr agency in Brussels.

Messy Skype Presence Solution

April 8, 2008

Its funny, I spend so much time writing about solutions for service providers and enterprise customers that when I come across a do it yourself (DIY) solution allowing you to keep tabs on your Skype friends without the use of a computer, I turn up my nose.

Is that bad? I am not sure. But what I know for certain is that this new idea is really great if not a bit messy. By having a picture frame with multiple photos in it you can watch each of your friends and see what they are up to.

TMCnet Podcast Library

April 8, 2008

Red Hat Takes Anti-Patent Stance

April 8, 2008

Red Hat, a leader in the open source software market is taking a major stance against the current patent system. An important case referred to as the Biliski Case is now being decided by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and it has to do with patenting business processes.

Red Hat has taken the stance that virtually all open source software must in some way infringe on software patents as these patents are virtually impossible to interpret objectively.

In a public statement on its site the company had this to say:

Open source software is one of the most dynamic, innovative sectors of the U.S. economy, but the U.S. patent system is a costly hindrance to open source innovation.

TMCnet Gets a Redesign

April 8, 2008

Brand Marketing Position in Telecom

April 8, 2008

Recycle That Cell Phone

April 8, 2008

ScanSource Wants its MTV

April 8, 2008 Satisfaction Ratings

April 8, 2008

I was just reading an article from TMCnet's David Sims where he talks about satisfaction ratings and I was blown away. Why? the company recently surveyed over 4,000 of their users and 94% said they definitely or probably will continue to use the company's products.

The survey also found that of the 1,192 executive-level respondents in the sample, 90 percent had improved customer data quality and data management, 78 percent had reduced sales, service, marketing or other operational costs and 70 percent had increased sales revenue.

There is more to the article and it seems the company's users are truly happy.

Live Communications Webinars

April 7, 2008

How do you stay up to date on the latest in communications and technology without leaving your desk? One of the best ways is with a webinar which allows you to sit comfortably in your office while you learn from industry experts.

In today's mobile work environment I should emphasize you really don't need to be at a desk. You could in fact be on a train or anywhere else as you learn everything you wanted to know about important issues such as secure SIP trunking, SBCs, communications enabled business services and how VoIP will coexist with IPV6.

Here is a complete list of upcoming webinars:

Thanks for reading and as a disclaimer I should mention these webinars all take place with TMC representation... A TMC editor and potentially an analyst will be on every one.

In addition, you should know a webinar is one of the few places online where you can learn something and have your questions answered by experts in real-time.

Google Becoming Evil?

April 7, 2008

Sprint Pays Klausner

April 7, 2008

Sprint recently signed a deal with Klausner Technologies to enable them to use visual voicemail without the fear of being sued. This news is interesting as Sprint is one of the companies coming after VoIP providers who the company claims is infringing on their patents. It seems more than coincidental that Sprint decided to go after so many VoIP companies around the same time they were in negotiations with Klausner.

Sprint Nextel is the seventh company to date to license the Klausner visual voicemail patents. Other licensees include ISP’s such as Time Warner’s AOL, VoIP providers such as Vonage and the visual voicemail/voicemail transcription company, Simulscribe.

See also:

EU Authorizes Fist Fights on Planes

April 7, 2008

OK I may be a bit over the top with this headline but allowing a plane full of passengers the ability to talk on the phone -- all in different languages... What is the EU thinking?

According to TMCnet's Mae Kowalke, we will have the ability to talk in the air very, very soon. Sure, there are challenges like how will you deal with the fact that rows and rows of people will be talking at the same time while you are trying to nap?

The answer is unclear to me but riding on the trains in New York it seems like yelling at the telephone screamer seems to get them to quiet down a bit.

How do you invest to take advantage of such a change in policy.

Mind CTI Interview: Monica Eisinger

April 7, 2008

In the past few years there has been tremendous interest paid to VoIP and the underlying internet protocol which allows IP communications to take place. For those people who started to pay attention to the communications space in the last few years, you may not be aware that over a decade ago the CTI market heralded the first time telephones and computers communicated with one another.

My long-time readers know that about two decades ago the birth of CTI systems were a result of a collaboration between IBM and Rockwell and if you had a mainframe and a Rockwell ACD lying around and a few hundred thousand dollars to spend on connecting it all together, you could be among the first in the world to take advantage of computer telephony integration or CTI. The first application of such integration? Screen pops or the ability to see the customer record of who is calling.

But for most companies it was the nineties when they could first afford CTI systems based on operating systems from Microsoft and Novell.

The IP communications market was really born from the building blocks of CTI as gateways which allowed the PSTN and VoIP to interconnect were based on boards from leaders in CTI like NMS and Dialogic.

TMCnet Hits 100 Sponsored Community Milestone

April 6, 2008

All I can say is thank you to our loyal readers who visit TMCnet frequently and our sponsors who have launched communities and channels in partnership with TMC on TMCnet.

Furthermore, thanks for your loyalty and the nice testimonials many of you have provided -- comments like working with TMC via our community program has been partly responsible for lifting your stock price (Sangoma, Interactive Intelligence).

Due to your tremendous support, TMCnet has now hit the triple-digit mark in live, sponsored communities online.

We launched our first ever online community back in 2000 and over the years we have developed sophisticated and proprietary technology allowing our channels and communities to contain the most appropriate content at all times.

This is probably why some TMCnet communities have more traffic than other competitive media sites.

Sure, trade shows are great and those of you attending ITEXPO know that these shows are doing amazingly well.

We believe that for all other times during the year you need to work with an experienced third-party media company to build content-specific communities in order to give your potential customers the best parts of the trade show experience 24 hours every day.

And once again, as TMCnet communities are content driven -- the high quality news and analysis TMC provides on a specific subject makes them worth bookmarking and visiting often.

Some samples of our community program are Open Source PBX, IPTV, Mobile VoIP, Hosted Communications, HD VoiceCall Recording, IP Telephony, VoIP Services , Business VoIP, and Contact Center Research.

Thanks to the positive reaction from our many community partners, we have been able to provide the absolute best quality content while covering virtually all news of significance.

As always, you have our promise that our commitment to quality and our customer service levels will continue to be first-rate as we expand.

If this is ever not the case, I invite you to e-mail me directly.

We thank you once again for the opportunity to serve you.


Starface Looks for US IP-PBX Growth

April 6, 2008

I recently came across a software-based IP-PBX company from Germany that I have never written about before. Vertico Software GmBH makes a product called Starface which comes in a variety of flavors, from software to an appliance or hosted solution.

The company supports SIP trunking and one of the latest news items Vertico Software released in fact is a partnership with Broadvox, one of the leaders in the SIP trunking space.

The communications software company focuses on low-priced, fully-functional solutions which seem like they have all the bells and whistles a growing small to medium needs.

There is extended backup, different music-on-hold based on individual users or groups, an installation GUI for beginners, an XML menu available on SNOM hardware and a client which allows things like screen pops, call deflection, ad-hoc conferencing and more.

There are other advanced features like rules-based call forwarding, LDAP connectivity, virtual conference rooms with PIN-based access, visual conference participant control, presence detection and dissemination, and connectivity with CRM systems.

One thing setting this system apart from many others on the market is support for many languages (6 in total).

The German company is looking to expand in the US so if you are a reseller or small to medium business looking for a flexible and reasonably-priced solution with built-in international support, check out the company's website.

Mossberg: 3G iPhone in 60 Days

April 6, 2008

Who am I to doubt Walt Mossberg the Wall Street Journal tech reviewer who gets his hands on gadgets before most others. According to Mossberg, we will have an iPhone capable of 3G speeds in less than 2 months.

This news would potentially confirm the wild rumors which have circulated as a result of these devices being sold out as of late.

This is great news for those who have been waiting for the iPhone to surf at speeds they can tolerate.

Of course one of the reasons this device didn't arrive sooner was due to battery life. One would imagine (and hope) faster and more consolidated processors will help this phone be similar in battery consumption to the model it replaces.


Men Swindled More Often Online

April 6, 2008

It is a shame the concept of Internet fraud exists at all but since it does, it seems natural that people would try to figure out who gets taken in by online fraud the most.

Now that the results are in, it seems that men get taken in more often than women -- or at least they seem to report it more often.

Specifically, data compiled from more than 206,000 complaints received last year by the U.S. Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) shows that men lost US$1.67 to every $1lost by women in online fraud.

Some of the explanations for why there is a discrepancy has to do with propensity of men to fall for investment schemes and those having to do with purchasing electronics.

[PC World]

Browser Wars

April 6, 2008

I recently downloaded and tested Apple's Safari browser on my Windows-based computer and wow is it fast. Frankly I was the last person I expected to switch to Safari, but I just did. Graphically speaking, it is the nicest browser on the market but it is far from perfect.

There is no Alexa toolbar for Safari yet and no Google toolbar (for the PC version). Still, the browser does have a Google search box located in the upper right hand corner.

What I like most about the Apple-based browser is the speed and the gorgeous design of the the browser software.

Deep Packet Inspection Concerns

April 6, 2008

The Bright Side of the R Word

April 6, 2008

iTunes Tops Others

April 5, 2008

Westport VoIP

April 5, 2008

Although this may not be earth-shattering news, I find it personally satisfying to see that after about ten years of publishing Internet Telephony Magazine and holding Internet Telephony Conference & Expo, that the town of Westport, CT has decided they will go VoIP.

The city will spend $1.25 million dollars in fact to VoIP-enable the town, the Board of Education and the Westport Public Library. Some of the concerns raised about this install are what happens if the power goes out.

I should mention that Westport is the neighboring town to Norwalk, CT where TMC headquarters are located. A tidbit which may eventually help you win Trivial Pursuit is that occasionally you will find TMC team members heading to Westport for lunch to have sushi.

Westport is also fairly affluent as cities in Connecticut go. Darien, Greenwich and New Canaan are a few other cities in Connecticut which also have high levels of wealth.

Now the question is, who will win the bid as price will likely not be an object.

Yahoo's Voice Search Ambitions

April 4, 2008

Yahoo has just invested $20 million in vlingo a voice recognition company specializing in the mobile market. Yahoo!, leveraging this relationship, announced the launch of a voice-enabled version of Yahoo! oneSearch, a new mobile search client that supports unstructured, open-ended voice searches that allows the consumer to speak their query as they would type it into the search box.

One can imagine many applications of voice search such as the integration of GPS/mapping or SMS communications while driving.

Of course this information is not lost on Microsoft as they picked up the leader in this space, TellMe a while back. To be fair, TellMe uses speech recognition in the cloud meaning it is not hosted on devices.

Microsoft already has a speech recognition application for Windows Mobile devices but to date it has not integrated this technology into search.

See vlingo Secures $20 Million Financing Led by Yahoo! by TMCnet's Anil Sharma.

HD Voice goes Hosted

April 4, 2008

I have long mentioned there is an opportunity to start using stereophonic, surround sound quality in IP communications as the quality of phones today is just atrocious.Thankfully, Polycom, Skype, Microsoft and others have embraced this concept with their wideband codecs. Polycom dubs their solution HD Voice and I am happy to report that service providers are beginning to support this new standard in their hosted solutions

According to TMCnet's Tim Gray, IP 5280 is rolling out a hosted solution which supports Polycom devices which specifically support HD Voice.

Of course HD Voice only works if both (or all) parties in a conversation use it. So for now, within the company, call quality will be great. People connected via SIP trunks will also experience this better call quality which transmits 2 or more times the frequencies of traditional toll grade calls.

The next step is to ensure we have transcoding gateways that allow Microsoft's codecs, Skype and any other high quality codecs to be seamlessly connected with one another.

Once this begins to happen, we can have truly high-quality sound on virtually all of our phones.

Of course the one challenge we face as an industry is the devices...

Packet8 Links With

April 3, 2008

In the race to differentiate IP communications services, a natural area  for service providers in the business market to look is the CRM space. Integration with customer relationship management systems is common in large enterprises and even medium companies have embraced the concept.

Now, small business customers utilizing a hosted solution can take advantage of one of the cream of the crop hosted CRM packages -- You see, Packet8 service will now seamlessly integrate with Mark Benioff's creation.

What does this mean for the market? Simple...

Vegas in the Morning

April 3, 2008

CellTrust: Providing Secure SMS

April 2, 2008

While SMS is a fantastic technology for consumers, there is a roadblock to SMS use in companies due to the security problems inherent in this unencrypted communications medium. Business users such as financial institutions and those in e-commerce would use SMS more broadly as a communications medium if it were more secure.

One way to increase the security level is to add encryption and a company called CellTrust is doing just that. The Arizona-based company has developed a product called the SecureSMS Gateway which encrypts SMS messages and moreover adds a wealth of new features to which in some ways rivals what a Blackberry Enterprise Server can do.

For example, the service can determine if an SMS was received and if it was opened. If a handset is lost it is further able to remotely wipe the handset.

The Coming Mobile WiMAX Revolution

April 2, 2008

Over the past fifteen years the world has become smaller as a result of the internet and more recently broadband connectivity allowing IP communications consisting of voice and video to flourish. As connectivity has improved, entire industries were transformed. For example, emerging markets began to harness the internet as a way to provide outsourced services to more developed parts of the world.

It is fair to say the entire world has improved as a result of the net… Just a single example is the hoards of ambitious people worldwide who have leveraged the internet to do things like start businesses where they sell myriad products on eBay or their own websites.

Yet for all the progress we have made over the years, the potential is far greater. In a recent conversation with Lars Johnsson, the VP of Business Development at Beecem I was able to learn how his company - a four year old fabless semiconductor chipset company has been improving mobile WiMAX.

If companies like Intel are responsible for the computing revolution and the benefits we enjoy from microprocessor improvements, then companies like Beceem will be responsible for the coming mobility revolution.

You see, Beceem (pronounced "beseem" which means "without wires" in Farsi) has just released its BCSM250 mobile WiMAX chipset whose surface area is about the size of a stick of gum.

Google Docs Gets Gears

April 1, 2008

For all the benefits of cloud computing otherwise known as ASP-based service, on-demand, hosted and software as a service or SaaS there is a major drawback. Some applications are needed on the go... And the cloud doesn't follow you everywhere you go.

To solve this problem, Google came up with a program called Google Gears some time back with the goal being to allow programs that are hosted to function when there is no Internet connection.

One of the applications to first take advantage of this software program was the Google Reader, a software package which downloads RSS feeds from various sources and presents them in a single, plain user interface.

It is obvious that the program that really needs Gears is Google Docs. After all, when you are on a plane and you want to see that document that is on the network, you are just out of luck.

So the good news is that today -- and this is no April Fool's Joke, Google Gears will work with Google Docs allowing you some of the functionality of Microsoft Office.

At the moment, spreadsheets and presentations are not accessible offline but Docs, Calendar and Gmail are.

Personally, I have not been a fan of Google Docs but many people are and those who were waiting for the service to have better offline functionality, will likely adopt this hosted service in exchange for their Microsoft licenses.

Is this a death blow to Microsoft Office?

Plantronics Discovery 925: is it Jewelry?

April 1, 2008

If you have a doubt that your bluetooth headset is becoming more and more like jewelry, take a look at the new Discovery 925 line by Plantronics. The new headset reminds more of an earing than a headset and one wonders if the company is targeting the female consumer more heavily with this product.

The answer to this question could be best summed up with the fact that the headset comes in numerous colors which have super-fancy names such as Onyx Black, Alchemy Gold and Cerise Pink.

The device is not short on function either... You get five hours of talk time and days of standby time.

So welcome to your new future... One in which you not only have to match your belt color to your shoe color (yes, my fellow engineers, this is a fashion rule ) but now your headset needs to match as well.

Jabra BT 4010

April 1, 2008

Let's face it… Morse Code was great when there was no telephones around but why would anyone use this century-old communications mechanism today? The simple answer is that anyone with a bluetooth headset today generally has to interpret flashing lights which resemble Morse Code.

How much battery do you have? Let's see… I have two red lights, a green and lavender… Is that 50% or 15%?

I must admit that I have never learned how to read the battery level on my various bluetooth headsets and I welcome the change that the Jabra 4010 brings to the table.

You see, for the first time I can look at my bluetooth headset and see the battery and signal strength and call status by looking at an LCD screen located in the center of the headset.

The headset comes with a mini USB connector for charging and if I had to give room for improvement it would be that I would like the headset to vibrate when a call comes in and display the phone number as well.

If these features are added, one wonders if anyone would even need to take their cell phones out of their pockets anymore.

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