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Ready, Aim, Send: Military Embraces Smartphones

December 18, 2010

It is not as if the US government has slowed spending to keep up with the general economy so it comes as a surprise to me that we haven't been issuing a couple of smartphones apiece to soldiers in the field. Thankfully, the military is getting into the swing of things by ensuring virtually everyone will have 24x7 access to mobile information, videos from unmanned vehicles and tactical information of various sorts.

My only concern? I hope these things are really locked down well so as to make leaks more difficult to pull off. The last thing we need is thousands of soldiers tweeting sensitive information on the battlefield.

Just to be sure, I hope the top brass in the armed services is monitoring the hashtag #topsecret.

Ed Silverstein breaks the story on TMCnet.





MagicTalk and MagicJack Plus Coming Soon

December 14, 2010

I’ve followed the IP communications business for well over a decade and in 1997 my company TMC decided to launch a publication called Internet Telephony to focus on what we believed would be a massive trend towards IP communications. At first we were ridiculed because there was a point in time when the technology was seen as a replacement for Ham radio only. It took some years but the industry caught fire and saw incredible innovation – even a bubble or two grew and exploded on the way to where we are today.

And as amazing as the market has been for 12 years or so, we didn’t see VoIP-on-a-stick become ultra-popular until a few years ago.

Finally Headsets Get Smart

December 10, 2010

You get a call, you pick up the headset and put it on your ear and then turn on the headset to connect the call.

One of these steps is not needed.

The Apple iPhone popularized the motion sensor/accelerometer and Sonos uses this technology to keep its remote control powered down until it is picked up.

Now headsets can join the motion sensing party and the latest one from Plantronics, the Voyager UC Pro which ships early next year will acknowledge the fact you have picked it up by switching the call to the device.

What could be better than a world filled with smarter devices, making our lives easier? Thanks Plantronics... This is a really good idea.

TMC broke the story earlier today for more on this new bluetooth headset.









Gogobeans Wants to Manage Your Digital Life

December 6, 2010

My digital life is a mess and I’m not afraid to admit it. I have videos on a few sites and photos on a few others. I’ve got numerous hard disks with photos and I am not 100% sure they are all synced with the online vendor I use – actually I am pretty sure they aren’t synced.

I am currently not backing up to the cloud but selectively back up important folders and documents.

Google Furthers Android Everywhere Strategy

December 4, 2010

And Then it Hit Me, Open Always Wins

December 2, 2010

We know the history of the PC market - Apple had great products but a closed ecosystem and subsequently the PC - originally based on IBM components and design eventually won the war for the desktop.

In the eighties, I made the choice to move TMC to desktop publishing on a PC instead of Mac because the horsepower per dollar of the PC was so far superior. It turned out the manpower wasted in the short-term based on this decision showed I made the wrong choice. By the mid-nineties however, I was convinced that a single computer platform for our entire organization did make the most sense and as a result in hindsight, I was correct.

Fast forward to today, Apple is designing products which are superior to others but they are generally more expensive and closed. In many cases they are so closed you can't swap a battery or add memory or decide which applications you want without the express approval of Steve Jobs.

This past July, I asked if Apple was making the same mistake from the eighties in the mobile arena because when I saw the Motorola Droid X I realized this device was better than the iPhone in a few important ways.





Rage HD for iPad AND iPhone Impresses

November 30, 2010

I am an ex-video game junkie having spent my youth either working or spending my money on video games. I started with Pong, then Space Invaders and finally Asteroids, Pacman and virtually everything else such as Centipede and Donkey Kong.

Thanks to playing video games I decided to teach myself programming to make my own video games which somehow got me to my present day career of running a media company building communities online, in-print and in-person. Weird, I know.

Since I graduated from college I haven't spent too much time playing games as I just don't have time. I did check out an Asteroids game while testing the capabilities of HTML5 a while back.



Will VocalTec and Skype Merge?

November 22, 2010

One of the major factors that led TMC to decide to launch Internet Telephony magazine back in 1997 was that we saw VocalTec launching products in the space which allowed telephony to travel over IP networks - and just like that the IP communications market was born.

Prior to this point, voice over frame relay was the preferred way to transmit voice over a packeted network.

When we launched Internet Telephony, we invited VocalTec co-founder and CTO Lior Haramaty to write a column in the publication - after all, no one knew more about the technology he helped invent than well, him!

Getting back to present-day Vocal-Tec, the company has merged with magicJack parent Ymax Corp. and recently raised its revenue guidance slightly and is looking to officially launch magicTalk - a PC-based service offering free US calling.

Back in August, TMC ran a piece on magicTalk and now the company says it has 100,000 beta users and 10,000 downloads per day. The magicTalk one-month Alexa rank is 386,430 up from 893,141 (lower numbers correspond to higher rank) and their Alexa chart is certainly improving as the chart below shows.



My two cents are it is tough to compete with Skype and Google in the VoIP space with a new offering but magicTalk has used television advertising to sell VoIP service in a way which turned an unknown company into a household name overnight. They used marketing well and although they have had some controversy surrounding them, I have always considered Ymax to be great promoters.

One of the past issues the company had was when they launched, they made some claims about their technology which were a bit over the top and many industry bloggers went ballistic in response. Moreover, the company has been called out about its inability to provide live voice service calls - but in reality if live support calls cost about $15 per interaction, how can you expect to get these bundled into service which costs about $40/year?

I reached out to the company for more information about what they're up to but they weren't immediately available for comment.















Back from Budapest

November 22, 2010

I just got back from Budapest, Hungary and it was a great trip and I met met lots of great people - many readers thankfully at the Dialogic Connections Conference. Jim Machi at Dialogic was nice enough to write up the conference and include me in his piece.

Apparently the fact I like to talk a lot makes people think I should be in politics  but strangely my wife says I don't talk enough - I'm still trying to figure that one out.

In terms of Budapest and travel there - here is what you need to know:

  • The weather seems similar to New England.
  • There are many gorgeous buildings, statues and castles worth seeing.
  • 99% of people speak English.
  • They are very friendly and many people asked me how I like their country and one person even asked me to bring my business there.
  • The food is good - I ate some sort of mountain animal - a sheep or goat or something called a mouflon which was great.
  • Be sure to go to a restaurant called Spoon - basically a floating establishment in a ship and Golden Dragon in the art district in Szentendre - an hour or so from Budapest by train.
  • There are lots of free and open WiFi APs everywhere and the 3G is pretty fast as well.
  • You can also get hot wine and cider all over the place and a bus tour is a must.
  • Unemployment is around 30% but it seems like a very safe place.
  • The currency is not part of the Euro - they use a Forint which is very inflated and a hotel stay at a top location can cost as low as $150. One dollar is worth over 200 Hungarian Forints BTW.
  • And no, I didn't see Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.

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