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July 2005

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Digium releases new firmware

July 28, 2005

Digium Inc., the creator of Asterisk and pioneer of open source telephony, recently announced the availability of its second generation firmware for Digium. According to Digium, their new firmware increases quality, performance, and reliability. The new firmware solution relies less on the server's CPU for the operation of the Digium card, therefore reducing CPU overhead and improving performance and increasing channel processing. For example, a dual-processor, 3-GHz 800FSB Intel XEON server with 1MB L2 cache, and a Digium 4-port T1/E1 card, can now convert 120 SIP channels with G.729 compression to the PSTN without Digium's echo cancellation module and 150 channels with G.729 compression with the Digium echo cancellation module.

"This development is significant for Digium's Asterisk customers," said Mark Spencer, president of Digium and creator of Asterisk.

IPFones IP-700m Skype Phone Review

July 28, 2005

Ratings Score Installation Documentation Features Usability Performance Overall Thomas Bui over at IPFones sent me a couple IPFones IP-700m USB World Phones to try out.While there are many USB audio/phone devices on the market, what's unique about the IP-700m is its cool LCD display and its tight integration with Skype.

The product which very similar to a cellphone (though wired not wireless) features CallerID display on the LCD as well as multiple ring tones. One of the first things I noticed right off the bat is that it's small and light. You can fit it in your pants pocket even with the long cord.

Installing the IP-700m was a snap. Simply install the software from the CD and then plug in the device into an available USB port.

TV Commercials Rule!

July 28, 2005

Hey, did you know that TV commercials rule? I mean c'mon who doesn't love TV commercials? Wait a second, are you telling me you don't like commericals? Well, did you know that according to Parks Associates, "Consumers Warming to Emerging Television Advertising Services Survey finds consumers willing to trade viewing information to advertisers for the ability to fast-forward through commercials with a DVR"?

{Butthead}: Uhhhhhhhhhh, no.

Empirix and Digium (Asterisk) Partner

July 28, 2005

Empirix and Digium (of Asterisk fame) have announced that Empirix has been named as "a premier participant in the Digium Partner Program", as well as Digium's sole partner for VoIP testing. Digium, Inc., the leader in open source PBX solutions, utilizes the Empirix Hammer FX and Hammer Call Analyzer to test its current open source products, including the Asterisk Business Edition product.

"We're delighted to have Empirix as our test system partner. Hammer systems are central to the comprehensive test program that ensures Asterisk's reliability, performance, and interoperability with key hardware, software, and protocols, "said Jim Webster, director of software technologies for Digium. "We use Hammer to test Digium hardware for full compatibility with Asterisk Business Edition, as well as several select models of our open source VoIP devices.

ZipZaps Electric Car from Zap!

July 28, 2005

Someone posted a comment to my Electric Car blog entry where I talk about a new electric car that is faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo. In his comment, he mentions a new electric car called the Trio made from a company called "Zap!". I doubt it goes as fast as the electric car I mentioned in my prior blog post, but they don't list the top speed or the 0-60mph times on the website. It's range is 40 miles, so this electric car is certainly designed for more urban areas.

New SIP Softphone from Adoresoft

July 27, 2005

Came across this new softphone client from Adoresoft in a post on the VoIP Forums. The softphone client is creatively called Adoresoftphone. (some places on their site have a space in the name, i.e. Adore softphone, so not sure the precise product name)

According to their website it has the following features:
- Customized skin interfaces
- Call timer
- Display Balance
- Last Number Redial
- Local signaling (Dial tone, busy, ring back, etc.) for user comfort
- Touch Tone
- Address Book
- Micro Phone Volume Control
- Speaker Volume Control
- Small application
- Work with any full-duplex sound card
- USB hand set and headset support
- NAT/Firewall support, stable SIP RTP ports
- Specify NAT IP to be written in SIP messages
- Auto-configuration of settings for easy deployment
- STUN support for NAT detection and classification
- Configuration Wizard
- Uses NEW RFC 3261 compliant stack

Anyone ever hear of them?

Secret Agent outed by Karl Rove?

July 27, 2005

No, this isn't a political post, just some news from Information Security Corporation (ISC) who announced the immediate availability of SecretAgent 5.9, the latest version of its file encryption and digital signature utility. SecretAgent 5.9 adds four significant enhancements: the ability to replace recipients on existing encrypted archives, support for server-mediated decryption using SecretAgent Document Access Servlet (DAS), optional plaintext disposition controls, and support for Entrust profiles.

Widely recognized for its ease of use, scalability, interoperability, and platform independence, SecretAgent ensures the confidentiality and authenticity of sensitive files whether they are stored on a local hard drive or transmitted between systems, with or without a formal PKI. In an enterprise setting, SecretAgent supports centralized security policy and software updating, emergency key recovery, as well as state-of-the-art PKI and LDAP directory support. Support for DAS-mediated decryption allows sensitive documents to be easily shared among the members of one or more Communities of Interest.

“SecretAgent has helped our government and corporate customers protect their most sensitive data for over a decade.” said ISC President Thomas J. Venn.

“SecretAgent 5.9 represents the beginning of a transformation from simple file encryption and digital signature utilities to secure document sharing applications that allows users to seamlessly access data to which they’ve been granted access whether individually or as a member of a group.

VoIP Developer Conference Features Impressive Companies

July 27, 2005

TMC's VoIP Developer Conference features some very impressive company names that are attending this very educational VoIP conference, which I will list in a moment. Unlike any other VoIP conference or tradeshow, including VON or even TMC's own Internet Telephony Conference & Expo, the VoIP Developer show is much more technical.

This is a good thing, because developers are looking for technical education on VoIP and they don't want to sit through another set of boring marketing-speak Powerpoint presentations! The presentations are primarily given by the vendor's product developers and engineers, (not marketing or sales folk) so they can handle technical questions. So if you are a VoIP engineer or VoIP product developer, then you need to be at this show.

I myself am a computer engineer and love to learn about the technical aspects of just about anything, including VoIP.

iConnectHere offers free Linksys PAP2 Router and first month free

July 27, 2005

iConnectHere (powered by Deltathree) is offering a free Linksys PAP2 router, the first month free, and FREE worldwide shipping. I wonder if I lived in Nigeria, the Amazon jungle or Zimbabwe how much that would cost iConnectHere to ship? That would be quite some cost they'd be eating. Anyway, iConnecthere requires a one-year committment (pretty typical these days) and the Linksys PAP2 is "free" via a $55 rebate.

New Telecom Bill

July 27, 2005

Rich Tehrani has an interesting take on pending telecom legislation that will affect broadband data and VoIP competition. Rich does a quick overview of the Senate legislation and includes PDFs of them as well. Check it out

Update: 5 min from post.
For those too busy to read through the long PDF documents, I thought I'd include an extract from the proposed legislation that relates to VoIP.

Section 7—Consumer Access to Content:
(e) ACCESS TO VOIP APPLICATIONS—This subsection provides that there is nothing in subsection (a) that permits a broadband service provider to prevent a customer from using a VOIP application offered by a competitor.

Stupid XML Parser! RSS Feed not working

July 27, 2005

I modified my RSS template a few weeks ago and apparently I didn't include encode_xml="1"$> as part of one of the tags. Didn't realize it was needed at the time and my RSS feed was working just fine until two days ago.

Without this code, words in the blog title with with an ampersand (&) would cause the RSS feed to invalidate. I wrote about AT&T a couple of days ago and it needed to be encoded as AT&T and not AT&T.

Thus, if you haven't been getting my latest RSS feed for the past couple days now you know why.

I guess I need to subscribe to my own RSS feed just to make sure I don't mess anything up.

To quote Apollo Creed, "I'm dangerous..." (when it comes to messing around with my blog's configuration.)

Net-Numbers Worldwide VoIP Directory?

July 27, 2005

I received an email this morning from which claims to help you find your contacts' VoIP number by providing a centralized worldwide phone directory for all of the major VoIP providers, i.e.Vonage, Skype, etc.

Didn't I just discredit phone directories yesterday? Oh wait, that was printed phone books I didn't like -- I was pro-Internet phone directories.

Anyway, Net Numbers is a subscription-based model of about ~US$15 although they are having a 'special' of 6 months free. Looking at the website it didn't appear that it's been live for very long.

So to test a theory I had, I did a simple search on a common name, "Smith" and sure enough nothing came up.


July 26, 2005

FCC Announces e911 Extension

July 26, 2005

Envision Telephony Impressive Quarter

July 26, 2005

Some more interesting revenue numbers, this time from Envision Telephony. I've reviewed Envision Telephony's quality monitoring products in the past which were publishied in one of TMC's publications and I have to say -- I have always been very impressed with their products which focus on the call center. They have an excellent quality monitoring solution, a training solution called Click2Coach, as well as other products.

On Wednesday (tomorrow), Envision will announce record revenues for the second quarter, a 44 percent increase over Q2 2004. Envision also exceeded last years’ first half revenues by 49 percent.

Envision also added 12 new customers during the second quarter and secured two major expansion deals from existing customers.

TV Guide Makeover

July 26, 2005

For more than 50 years TV Guide has been a mainstay on the coffee table in the family living room as the premiere guide to TV listings. After recent years of circulation decline, TV Guide plans a radical change from primarily being a TV listing guide to something more akin to Entertainment Weekly. They also plan on slashing their circulation by a third, dumping most of the magazine's TV listings and replacing them with articles, features, reviews and color photography. Even the format will change to a much larger format.

During TV Guide's heyday, they had more than 22 million subscribers, which as of now is only around 9 million.

Verizon Supportsoft Deal

July 26, 2005

Supportsoft is going to announce a major deal with Verizon aftermarket today in conjunction with the company’s second quarter 2005 earnings. Verizon has nearly 4 million high-speed data subscribers, and they have selected SupportSoft’s SmartAccess software to assist in automating the installation process for new data customers for their DSL and fiber-based high-speed data services.

SmartAccess, is a Web-based technology which automates installation of a high-speed connection by eliminating the need for an installation CD. The software lets Verizon subscribers determine if their computer system qualifies for a high-speed connection and, if so, speeds installation by automating the activation process. Everything needed for a successful installation can be managed online, reducing time-consuming expensive customer calls and truck rolls to the customer premises.

Centrepoint Technologies is now Talkswitch

July 26, 2005

One of my favorite SOHO VoIP companies, Centrepoint Technologies, announced that effective immediately the company will be called TalkSwitch (after the name of their SMB VoIP-capable phone system).

According to Talkswitch, "The name has been changed to reflect the success, recognition and prominence of the TalkSwitch brand in the marketplace"

“We’re proud of the hard work and effort that has gone into building a truly remarkable product and a valuable brand name,” said Jan Scheeren, President and CEO, TalkSwitch. “The TalkSwitch brand has been so well received in the marketplace that most of our resellers and customers already identify us by that name. This was a logical evolution for our company, and we’re very confident going into the future under the TalkSwitch name.”

Telecommunications solutions from TalkSwitch are ideal for small and multi-location businesses with up to 32 telephone users per office. Each TalkSwitch telephone system comes loaded with a host of features including multi-level Auto Attendants, Call Cascade options, Voicemail and much more.

FCC Task Force e911

July 26, 2005

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the creation of a task force made up of federal and state officials that will help enforce 911 requirements for VoIP providers.

According to the FCC report, FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin created an FCC-NARUC Task Force on VoIP Enhanced 911 (E911) to ensure enforcement. Staff from both the FCC and State Public Utility Commissions will serve as members, working closely with representatives from the public safety community, including the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). No word in the report as to potential fines for failing to meet the e911 guidelines.

The Task Force was created to facilitate the timely and effective enforcement of the Commission’s VoIP E911 rules. Working together, the federal and state Task Force members will look at developing educational materials to ensure that consumers understand their rights and the requirements of the FCC’s VoIP E911 Order and rules and how best to expedite compliance and facilitate enforcement, where necessary.

Motorola VT2442 & Vonage

July 26, 2005

I was reading which reported the Motorola VT2442 & Vonage deal. The Motorola VT2442 is an all-in-one device that powers up to two lines of telephone service and supports call waiting, call forwarding and caller ID. It also supports a fully-featured home network router, four Ethernet ports, and a firewall for Internet security. It also features the Texas Instruments' TNETV1060 VoIP gateway chipset for voice quality enhancement.

What is notably absent from the news release is any mention of wireless capability.

Tellabs Financials

July 26, 2005

I usually stray away from financial analysis on my blog (yesterday's AT&T 2nd quarter earning blog entry not withstanding), so I was a bit surprised myself when my interest was piqued to read Tellabs financial earnings from this quarter and also blog about it.

Tellabs today reported second-quarter 2005 revenue of $463 million, up 52% from $304 million in the second quarter of 2004.

Tellabs earned $41 million or 9 cents per share in the second quarter of 2005 on a GAAP basis. On a non-GAAP basis, Tellabs had net income of $58 million or 13 cents per share, up from $26 million or 6 cents a share in the first quarter of 2005.

"Strong customer demand across multiple product lines fueled Tellabs' best revenue quarter since 2001," said Krish A. Prabhu, Tellabs president and chief executive officer. "Our solid progress with the AFC and Vinci integrations is reflected in our improved margins and lower operating expenses."

Now here's the "meat" followed by a quick observation of mine:
Transport -- Revenue from transport systems totaled $159 million, down 4% from $165 million in the second quarter of 2004 and in line with $158 million in the first quarter of 2005.
Access -- Revenue from access products totaled $144 million, up 23% from AFC's $117 million in the second quarter of 2004.

Cisco buys Sheer Networks

July 26, 2005

Sensory Speech Recognition on a Chip

July 25, 2005

With minitiarized speech-recognition capability squeezed onto a single chip, it won't be long know before you can speak to your TV and command it to record a TV show, speak to your car and have it follow your commands (ala Knight Rider). Actually, I was recently in a Mercedes that featured speech-recognition for phone dialing. In any case, there are lots of possibilities for speech-recognition in smaller devices, which requires a lot of horsepower in a single chip..

Sensory, Inc., a leader in embedded speech technologies, today released the VR Stamp module, providing easy integration of voice recognition (VR) into consumer, industrial, automotive and medical electronics. The heart of the VR Stamp module is the RSC-4128 integrated circuit, the latest member of Sensory's RSC Family of mixed signal processors that provide speech recognition, synthesis and system control on a single chip.

AT&T 2nd Quarter Financials

July 25, 2005

AT&T announced their financials for Q2 and I'm not impressed. For the AT&T Consumer section, revenue was $1.6 billion, a decline of 20.8 percent versus the prior-year second quarter. According to AT&T, this was "largely driven by a decline in standalone long distance revenue due to volume declines associated with competitive customer losses and the continued impact of wireless and Internet substitution, partially offset by targeted price increases. Decreased bundled revenue also contributed to the revenue decline."

AT&T, let me ask you something...

RAD Data Communications TDMoIP technology

July 25, 2005

With all the buzz about VoIP, newfandangled IP-PBXs, SIP phones, etc. we shouldn't forget large legacy infrastructures in place that cannot afford to rip out their existing phone system and replace it with a new IP-capable one. But there are still cost savings to be had by transmitting voice over IP/Ethernet networks which is then converted back to TDM for connecting to legacy PBXs. TDM isn't dead just yet ya know!

For that reason, I thought I'd share this bit of news from RAD Data Communications and UCSF Medical Center, which deployed RAD Data Communications TDMoIP technology.

UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco has opted to deploy an evolutionary technology to link all its sites – which include three hospitals as well as 75 offices and clinical locations distributed across three main campuses – onto a single broadband network.

Designed to improve the collaboration and communication among clinical, academic and research programs throughout the medical center and School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, this ambitious “Unified Network project” relies on a Gigabit Ethernet metropolitan area network (MAN) to carry heavy data traffic such as medical imaging files.

XO Communications VoIP Business Solution

July 25, 2005

XO Communications, Inc. (OTCBB: XOCM.OB) today announced the launch of its Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services bundle, XOptions Flex, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

XOptions Flex is an integrated VoIP services solution that gives business customers enhanced features, functionality and value for their voice and Internet services, all in one simple package. It is the industry’s first VoIP services bundle for businesses that combines unlimited local and long distance calling, dedicated Internet access and web hosting services for a flat monthly price.

I interviewed XO to ask them more about their solution...
Q: Is this XO’s network? Or terminating to Level3, Deltathree, etc for the voice? I know you guys own your own high-speed networks, but not sure if still need to peer with outside networks or partner, etc.

DMA Makes a Buck on Dead People

July 25, 2005

The DMA wouldn't try and make a buck off of dead people, would they?
Well, according to MSNBC, DMA, the nation's largest direct marketing group set up a deceased Do Not Call List registry Thursday to remove dead people from its telemarketing, e-mail and direct mail lists — for $1 (aka a "buck").

Now granted the DMA claims this $1 fee is to prevent fraud - that is friends or family signing up other people to the deceased Do-No-Call List - thus they charge a credit card $1 to ensure a valid phone number is being added.

What I don't get is why you can't simply add your name to the National Do Not Call List for FREE?

Besides this $1 fee doesn't prevent fraud. What if I use each of my 13 credit cards to add 13 phone numbers of all my friends and family? That'll be the best $13 I ever spent on them — and the best Christmas gift I could give!

PC Magazine Reports on FCC e911 deadline

July 22, 2005

Kiss me Cisco!

July 22, 2005

According to CNet, Cisco announced that its Linksys division will acquire Kiss Technology of Denmark, for $61 million. As you probably know, Cisco bought Sipura Technology, an ATA manufacturer for its Linksys division.

As CNet points out, "Cisco has built a portfolio of products around the Linksys brand, which includes voice over IP and wireless and networking equipment for home and small-office users. But this is the first purchase of a true consumer electronics company".

I actually considered buying one of Kiss's products. Kiss makes networked DVD players, media players, recorders, and plasma monitors.

New Targus Peripherals for your notebook

July 21, 2005

Some interesting new peripherals from Targus that I thought I'd share...

Targus Inc., maker of the world’s best-selling notebook cases and accessories, today introduced the Rechargeable Stow-No-Go Wireless Optical Mouse, Wireless Stow-N-Go Keypad, 40GB Ultra Slim Pocket Hard Drive and Super Mini USB 2.0 4-Port Hub for notebook computers. Targus’ new portable devices are designed to save desk space and conveniently fit into notebook carrying cases for business commuters and students.

“Business travelers no longer need to search through their notebook cases or worry about lost wireless receivers with Targus’ new innovative stow-n-go products,” said Steven Robert, Targus general manager. “These products further fulfill Targus’ mission to supply executives on-the-go with convenient and affordable computing solutions.”

These new easy-to-use accessories maximize the notebook’s capabilities by adding peripherals that extend the computer’s functionality. Notebook users can simply plug in a wireless receiver to use the mouse or keypad, plug in the pocket drive to increase hard drive space, or use the mini hub to allow for extra components to be plugged into their computer.

The four new accessories are compact to save valuable desk space or for easy transport while traveling. The products also contain power-saving features such as automatic shut-off and rechargeable batteries,. These small products are designed to work as well and as comfortably as their full-sized, non-portable counterparts.

Rechargeable Stow-N-Go Wireless Optical Mouse

Targus’ Rechargeable Stow-No-Go Wireless Optical Mouse is a notebook mouse featuring rechargeable batteries that can be charged via a USB cable or while in-use. One of the unique features of this mouse is the wireless USB receiver can easily be stowed in the built-in compartment under the mouse, so users know where to find it when they’re ready to use it. The power automatically turns off when the USB receiver is stowed in the compartment, prolonging the battery life. With 2.4 GHz radio frequency (RF) technology and 16 channels, the Stow-N-Go Mouse provides minimum interference and increased operating range. The model number is AMW07US and the suggested retail price: $49.99.

Wireless Stow-N-Go Keypad

The Wireless Stow-N-Go Keypad also provides a built-in storage compartment for the receiver, making this the perfect keypad for the traveler. Ideal for financial applications at home, at school and on the road, this wireless keypad provides a clean, uncluttered workspace. Full-size keycaps allow for convenient, fast and accurate data input. To use, consumers simply remove the receiver from the storage compartment and plug it into the USB slot of their notebook computer. The keypad comes with a USB receiver, USB extension cable, one AA battery, carrying pouch and a user’s guide. With plug-and-play connectivity, the keypad is easy to install and does not require drivers.

Down Range : Navy SEALs in the War on Terrorism Book

July 21, 2005

Regardless of your political beliefs, whether you support the War on Terror, the war in Iraq, or the war in Afghanistan, I think all Americans can agree to support our men and women who serve in the U.S. military - many of wihch battle each day to stay alive.

First, hat tip to Instapundit for pointing out a new book titled " written by Dick Couch, himself a former Navy SEAL and CIA case officer. This book talks about the secret covert war fought by the Navy SEALS to stop and kill terrorists.

An Amazon review reads, "An intimate account of the deadly work of the U.S. Navy SEALs. We associate the Navy's special forces with maritime operations, but in the war against terrorists they have been almost everywhere--from the high mountains of Afghanistan blowing up Taliban ordnance to the streets of Mosul hunting down former Baathists and al-Qaedists.

Nero Joins AllPlay3 to Integrate Triple Play into SIPPS

July 21, 2005

If you recall, I wrote about Nero and VoIP back in Oct 04 and how I was confused that my favorite CD/DVD burning software was putting out a new release claiming that they support VoIP. I pondered, "What's that? Nero has VoIP? Maybe Nero lets you burn VoIP conversation on-the-fly.

Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis use Packet8 VideoPhone

July 21, 2005

Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, two science fiction shows are featuring the Packet8 VideoPhone on the set. According to the news release, in addition to featuring the Packet8 VideoPhone during upcoming episodes, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis will be the center of a national consumer sweepstakes that gives fans an opportunity to win a trip to the Stargate sets along with Packet8 VideoPhones and Freedom Unlimited residential service plans.

This follows the Packet8 Videophone being used on other popular TV shows, including Alias, 24 – The Series, King of Queens, Law & Order SVU, Will & Grace, Medical Investigation, Eyes, and Navy NCIS. I believe they also recently sent out a release on military personnel using the Packet8 Videophone in the field, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

You have to hand it to Packet8 - they sure are doing a great job of product placement in popular television shows. Is this enough to counteract the Vonage marketing juggernaut?

Vonage e911 Warning Message

July 20, 2005

I promised in my "Vonage e-911 Warning" blog entry that I would try to post a voice message from Vonage regarding their "requirement" to acknowledge their e911 rules/limitation/notice. So here it is in MP3 format. Take a listen.

I'm just surprised the mainstream media or even the technology media has not caught onto the July 29th deadline set by the FCC for the VoIP providers to advise their customers of e911 limitations and get acknowledgement from their customers.

As I have stated both today and nearly two weeks ago, the FCC mandate could result in a massive "forced" VoIP outage by the VoIP providers in order to comply with the FCC ruling. The reason?

Google Earth Install Error

July 20, 2005

I was installing Google Earth at the behest of Robert/Vahid Hashemian (aka "Means Everything to Me", "Looks Good", and "Huh? What?" <TMC inside joke>) when I got this error code -5009: 0x80040806

This is my first "bad" experience with any Google product. Of course, it could be my PC to blame, considering I install lots of VoIP and call center applications on my PC. But I try and keep it clean by uninstalling old applications and cleaning the Registry by hand.

Voxilla You're Killing Me!

July 20, 2005

C'mon Voxilla, we're friends, aren't we? I've met your CEO at a VoIP tradeshow and we got along famously. But now this is the second time you've run with an idea of mine to run a news story in the SAME DAY! On April 20th, I has a scoop on NextAlarm and a few hours later Voxilla had an eerily similar article.

Vonage e-911 Warning

July 20, 2005

I received a voice message from Vonage last night stating I needed to go to their website and acknowledge the e-911 rules or else I would be disconnected from the Vonage service. I didn't play the message - my wife did - so I don't have the exact details. This follows a recent email I received from Packet8 stating I needed to acknowledge their email or else I would lose my Packet8 service. (I have a Packet8 videophone)

I meant to copy the Vonage voicemessage on the home answering machine to my home PC and then attach it (.MP3 file) to an e-911 Vonage blog entry so you could listen to it.

Ah well.

Star Trek's Scotty Beams Up to Heaven

July 20, 2005

Download Movies at the Movies!

July 20, 2005

Looks like while your standing in line getting your popcorn and candy you can now download content, including movie trailers via Bluetooth. Hmmm, at the movies downloading movies? As a programmer, I can't help but think of recursion.

Twentieth Century Fox and Loews Theatres will be offering free content from Fox’s summer blockbusters, in select Loews theatres. Fox and Loews are utilizing WideRay's technology, a provider of on-location content distribution platforms, to provide the technology that will power the fast, free and simple in-theatre download stations and back-end content management system.

Vonage offers VTech IP-8100-2 Cordless Phone

July 20, 2005

Looks like another cordless VoIP phone solution being offered by a major broadband VoIP provider. Could the end of the standalone ATA be far behind? Today, Vonage and VTech, a supplier of corded and cordless phones in North America announced that the IP-8100-2, cordless broadband phone system configured with Vonage's flat-rate full-featured phone service will be available at over 8,000 retailers July 24, 2005. This product, configured with the Texas Instruments (TI) TNETV1060 VoIP chipset, has a Retail Price of $149.99, and offers $50 mail in rebate after sixty days of service.

Google Maps Beats a Ticket

July 19, 2005

Google Maps came to the rescue of this guy in court and helped him beat the rap for “disobeying a steady red”, a.k.a. running a red light. The officer who issued the ticket told the judge that Edwin was driving down a one way street when he supposedly ran a red light. Edwin told the judge that this was incorrect - that it was in fact a two-way street.

Lacie Biggest S2S 2.5TB

July 19, 2005

LaCie unveiled its Biggest S2S 2.5TB SATA II RAID Tower, which is a whopping 2.5GB five-bay RAID tower capable of reaching interface speeds of 3Gb/s with next generation serial ATA (SATA) technology. You want storage for all your digital media files? This baby's got it. You want speed?

CompUSA is High on VoIP

July 19, 2005

According to the Dallas Morning News, Brian Woods, executive vice president of merchandising for the Dallas-based CompUSA, stated that VoIP will be the hottest sales category in the 2005 holiday season. I guess this CompUSA representative forgot that Microsoft is releasing the Xbox 360 this holiday season.

In any event, he said that he expects sales of products offering VoIP service to jump from from 3,500/month to 18,000/month - 25,000/month in November and December.
"It is the fastest-growing category at CompUSA. Why? In consumer lingo it is extremely cheap," Mr. Woods told attendees at a Metroplex Technology Business Council luncheon in Richardson.

Some more positive VoIP numbers...

AIMFight Takes Flight

July 18, 2005

Even wonder how popular you really are? That is, how do you compare number-wise for the number of buddies you have on your AOL Buddy list vs. another person?

Well, AOL decided to let you know just how popular you are. Personally, I find this capability a bit intrusive.

University of California Berkeley selects Interactive Intelligence

July 18, 2005

University of California, Berkeley has chosen a unified communications software from Interactive Intelligence, namely Communité to replace their aging voicemail system. I have just one question about this press release. Why did UC of Berkeley only replace their voicemail and not their entire PBX infrastructure with Interactive Intelligence's powerful IP-based PBX?

Just think of the millions of dollars saved each year if they utilized Interactive Intelligence's VoIP features -- which UC of Berkeley could have then used to fund anti-war protests, prove that Bush stole the 2004 election, that the CIA is pushing crack conspiracy, invite and pay for controvesial speakers such as Professor Ward Churchill that stated that the World Trade Center workers were "little Eichmanns" and other outlandish claims.

Can you tell I'm a huge UC of Berkeley fan?

PhoneGnome Enables BYOVP

July 18, 2005

David Beckemeyer, former CTO and co-founder of Earthlink (who runs Mr. Blog) has an interesting new SIP-based ATA device that marries the traditional PSTN with VoIP. Essentially you plug in both your PSTN connection and your Ethernet connection to the the ATA device. What's really cool about this device is that you can BYOVP (Bring Your Own VoIP Provider) that supports the SIP protocol - no monthly fees, no subscription costs, and no activation fee. Thus, you pay $120 for the PhoneGnome and that's it.

Cisco Call Manager Security Flaw

July 15, 2005

According to TechWeb, flaws in Cisco's Call Manager software could allow an attacker to bring down the software resulting in a DoS (denial of service) attack that will knock your VoIP-based phone system offline.

According to Internet Security Systems' (ISS) X-Force research team, Cisco's CallManager has a pair of bugs that could be exploited by hackers. Cisco has released an advisory on this bug.

In addition to a potential denial-of-service style crash, ISS explains a possible scenarion where the attacker "could redirect calls at will or even eavesdrop on conversations". Yikes!

Expect to see lots of mainsteam news outlets quoting analysts who say "This is why VoIP is not ready for prime-time." or "VoIP is suitable for residential deployments, ala Vonage, CallVantage, etc. but businesses where phone service is critical should carefully consider the implications of using VoIP."

Oh no, the sky is falling!

Vonage Voicemail problems

July 15, 2005

An update to the Vonage website two days ago prevented users from accessing their voicemail accounts via the web interface. Vonage users were greeted with the message, "No voice mail boxes found for your account."

The voicemail problem which started on Wednesday continued through early Thursday morning. According to Vonage, users could still access their voicemail via the telephone interface and they reported that the problem was resolved as of today.

Outage "potential" is one reason why I don't use Vonage's voicemail on my home Vonage line - instead I use a home answering machine for my voicemail.

Dial-Up VoIP Adaptor and Vonage Rumor

July 14, 2005

Skibare pointed me to a Yahoo news release about a dial-up VoIP adaptor from Nomad International. According to their numbers, over 80% of U.S. Internet subscribers are still on dial-up. I'm still not convinced that dial-up VoIP will have any market traction due to voice quality concerns.

Build Super 7 Expressway (Route 7) Now!

July 13, 2005

An accident caused by an SUV turning onto Route 7 from a side street caused a tanker-truck to crash and explode in Ridgefield, Connecticut yesterday. This resulted in a fiery explosion, the death of a truck driver, and the closing of Route 7. "It looks like a napalm attack or a jungle scene from Vietnam," First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. Flames were estimated to reach 600 feet into the air.

Microsoft and Global IP Sound Partner

July 13, 2005

Global IP Sound (GIPS), which makes some of the best damn wideband codecs in use today - used by the likes of Skype, Teleo, and more, just signed a deal with Microsoft to use their solution in MSN Messenger and Microsoft's Office Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) solutions.

The MSN Messenger Service, which has more than 165 million active users each month, supports not only text instant messaging but also PC-to-PC voice and video services. MSN will use GIPS VoiceEngine, while RTC will take advantage of GIPS AEC (Acoustic Echo Cancellation) and GIPS AGC (Auto Gain Control) solutions to support those services for users that require high quality VoIP functionality.

“Microsoft's adoption of GIPS technology for MSN and RTC is a major validation of our solutions and their ability to provide the best possible voice quality over the Internet,” said Gary P. Hermansen, President and CEO of GIPS. “There are over 200 million downloads of our software currently in market today, and the addition of Microsoft users further enforces our leadership as a provider of high quality VoIP software.”

GIPS VoiceEngine is a comprehensive, packaged VoIP solution created specifically for PC or PDA applications.

Fonality reaches 4 million Asterisk calls

July 12, 2005

Quick news release to share from Fonality. It follows the McDonald's & Skype marketing model of listing benchmark numbers - in this case 4 million calls on the popular open-source Asterisk PBX. The open-source Asterisk platform continues to make remarkable strides...

Fonality, the leader in affordable IP-PBX systems for small businesses, today announced that 4 million calls have been placed by users of its PBXtra phone system since it became available in October, 2004. PBXtra is now deployed by hundreds of small businesses, with thousands of lines, in the United States and beyond.

Thinking in your own voice

July 12, 2005

I came across story think that states that most imaginary voices are male (even for females that hear imaginary voices). This reminded me of something I pondered a few years ago when I asked my then fiancee and friends if they "think in their own voice". That is to say when you silently think your thoughts, do you hear your own voice? I also asked if they could think in other voices, such as John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, or Mr. T.

VoIP Rankings

July 12, 2005

Interesting VoIP report from Keynote Systems I thought I'd share. It states Vonage ranks first in reliability while AT&T CallVantage ranks #1 for best audio quality. Some other interesting insights as well - check it out...

Today Keynote issued the results of the first of its kind study of the service quality of top providers of Internet telephone service.

Where Is the Dial Tone?

Skype and Boingo Wireless deal

July 12, 2005

Boingo Wireless, one of the leading Wi-Fi hotspot aggregators, and Skype, today announced Skype Zones - Powered by Boingo service, offering global Wi-Fi access to Skype customers.

Skype Zones enables Skype's users to access Skype's Internet telephony calling features via Boingo's network of 18,000 Wi-Fi hot spots worldwide using a custom Skype version of the Boingo Software. Unlimited Wi-Fi access for Skype Internet telephony calls is available for $7.95 per month. Skype Zones is currently a beta service, and terms and availability may change.

This deal essentially adds another pricing model for Boingo allowing users to pop into a hotspot and make a quick Skype call. You will be limited however to making Skype calls and not be able to perform data downloads, surf the Web, etc.

The War on Spam

July 11, 2005

The war on spam is a battle that no doubt will be fought for years to come. As the spammers continue to send viruses packed with email zombie programs and terrorize unsuspecting victims who open their attachments, we have to wonder when the spamming wars will ever end. Make no mistake, it is a form of terrorism.

There are countless victims of identity fraud that are a result of keystroke loggers and other forms of viruses that send your personal information to the virus writer (aka terrorist). Even if their identity isn't stolen, just think of the panic and terror that victims feel when they open the attachment and their PC starts acting strange.

VoIP Testing Company, Empirix Lands COX

July 11, 2005

One of my favorite VoIP testing companies, Empirix Inc., has announced a huge deal with Cox Communications, a cable and broadband communications company with approximately 6.7 million total customers whereby Cox will utilize the Hammer XMS next-generation VoIP monitoring system for use across its national network. According to the news release, "The decision follows extensive evaluations and field trials conducted by Cox Communications. Cox will utilize the Hammer XMS to monitor both its Nortel DMS/CS2K and Cisco BTS network switch installations."

The Hammer XMS combines high-performance, non-intrusive probes with a highly scalable architecture capable of tracking tens of thousands of simultaneous calls. The carrier-class system provides network diagnostics and service optimization statistics on VoIP and TDM protocol performance, as well as media quality, in real time for every call.

Surrender to E911 or lose your VoIP calling Privileges

July 10, 2005

I just received another email from Packet8 that is a bit disturbing and could have MAJOR implications for the VoIP industry. Here's an excerpt:

Please review the content of this email in its entirety and, when you have finished, click on the link below to let us know you have read and understand the features and limitations of Packet8 E911 service. This is a requirement by the FCC and, without your acknowledgement, we will no longer be able to offer you Packet8 internet phone service.

If I am reading this correctly, Packet8 is saying that due to the e911 regulations, you MUST click on the link within the Packet8 email and INDICATE you have read and understood Packet8's email regarding e911.

Internet Telephony Conference Brochure

July 8, 2005

Internet Telephony Conference & Expo Fall 2005 has its brochure now available online in PDF format for download.

The first PDF shows the awesome conference schedule that the Internet Telephony Magazine editorial staff have put together. It's a 2-page grid table showing the "conference at a glance" displaying the various conference session topics, including "An introduction to SIP", "The State of VoIP Peering", and many other great topics.

The 2nd PDF is the full-fledged Internet Telephony Conference & Expo Fall 2005 brochure.

If you undecided about attending the event, go check out the brochures to see if the educational conferences are what you are looking for. I'll be there covering the latest VoIP news and product launches happening on the exhibit floor. I hope to see you at the show!

Pharos EZ Road Pocket GPS Navigator Review

July 8, 2005

Ratings Score Installation Documentation Features Usability Performance Overall The Pharos GPS PEZ120 EZ 32 MB Road Pocket Navigator is a lightweight, portable (pocketable), GPS navigation system (click for full image) with an integrated GPS antenna and a color LCD touch screen display. Pharos sent me one of their EZ-Road Pocket Navigators for review. The Pharos EZ Road Pocket GPS Navigator comes with a cigarette lightor adaptor for keeping the Pharos EZ Road Pocket GPS Navigator charged as well as a USB adaptor for charging via the USB port modular connector for charging in your vehicle.

Pharos was nice enough to pre-load the Connecticut map, thus upon turning on the device for the first time, I was able to quickly lock onto a few GPS satellites and get a fix on my current location - took only about 45 seconds. The color screen was vibrant, bright, and easy to read, surprisingly even under direct sunlight.

Packet8 Firmware Causes Outage?

July 8, 2005

I just received an email newsletter from Packet8 regarding firmware upgrades. Let me paste an excerpt:

8x8 is constantly working to improve the Packet8 service, and frequently pushes out new firmware to upgrade Packet8 communication devices (adapters, VideoPhones, and the Uniden UIP1868P). Sometimes these upgrades will take a few moments to upload the latest firmware. While this process occurs, your phone service will be unavailable.

Sandisk rescues valuable data

July 7, 2005

Memory cards, whether they're Secure Digital (SD), Compact Flash (CF), or another format have become an important part of most of our lives. Everything from digital camera to MP3 players use these memory cards. The thought of losing precious digital photos is not a pleasant thought. It happened to me once, although in my case it wasn't data corruption, but a stolen digital camera - with my wedding photos on it no less.

Two SOHO VoIP Companies Partner

July 7, 2005

I'm a big fan of SOHO VoIP products, so I was delighted to learn that two of my favorite SOHO VoIP companies whose products I have tested and reviewed in TMC Labs - giving each high marks - are now partnering together. The two companies are Centrepoint Technologies and Mediatrix.

Centrepoint Technologies, a company specializing in the design and manufacture of innovative telephone systems for businesses with 1 to 32 phone users per location, confirmed SIP interoperability between the TalkSwitch telephone system and Mediatrix 1102, 1104 and 2102-20 gateways in November 2004. Since that time, hundreds of units have been deployed and customers are delighted with the joint solution. As a result, Centrepoint has announced it is adding the 2102-10 and 2102-21 gateways to the suite of Mediatrix products it carries, and has made the solution even more affordable by reducing prices on all Mediatrix products available from Centrepoint.

France Telecom and Microsoft team up

July 7, 2005

According to Reuters, Microsoft and France Telecom are teaming up to offer various communication services, including VoIP.

Microsoft Corp. and France Telecom said on Wednesday the first product from their multimedia partnership was likely to be ready within a year and that they were confident of success in the venture.

The world's largest software maker and France Telecom (Research) held a joint news conference in Paris to highlight that the partnership would initially focus on mobile phones using wireless technology and on bringing together voice, video and data over networks.

"The first product could be available within a year," Microsoft (Research) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told reporters in Paris.

"We have an extremely buoyant vision of the future," added France Telecom Chairman and Chief Executive Didier Lombard. Lombard said the two companies were likely to explore working on other projects in this area.

Last week, France Telecom said its LivePhone product, which it is developing with Microsoft, would be ready by the fourth quarter of 2005. The LivePhone product uses wireless technology and is connected to the Internet.

The software-based LivePhone, for example, will permit France Telecom customers to make Internet phone calls over wireless networks using SlP, a common VoIP standard that "holds everything together," said Will Stofega, VoIP analyst at IDC.

VoIP Focus Groups

July 6, 2005

Normally, I would not accept a request for a free advertisement on my VoIP/Gadget Blog. However, they're paying IT Professionals who are considering deploying VoIP an impressive $200 to take part in this focus group. I know I have lots of IT professionals and VoIP aficionados with an IT background that read my blog and could use the $200 bucks. So, this is my good deed of the week. Let me know what you buy with the $200, especially if it's a cool gadget.

AOL and Plaxo

July 6, 2005

AOL and Plaxo are joining forces to make it easier to find your contacts. I personally get annoyed by all the Plaxo emails I get asking me to update my contact information. I get at least one or two a week from pubilic relations firms. It just seems a bit intrusive if you ask me.

XBOX 360 Dashboard Sneek Peaks

July 5, 2005

Ray Gun Protects Nuclear Power Plants

July 5, 2005

U.S. scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are working to develop a Star Trek-style ray gun that will keep the bad guys (aka terrorists) out of nuclear sites by inducing extreme pain on anyone caught in the beam's path.

A multi-organizational team is adapting for DOE use a technology that can help keep security adversaries out of DOE sites that contain nuclear assets.

The DOE Office of Security and Safety Performance Assurance (SSA) is exploring the potential to use directed energy weapons technology sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD), named Active Denial Technology (ADT), to help protect DOE nuclear assets.

SSA is sponsoring Sandia National Laboratories, a National Nuclear Security Administration lab, to investigate how the technology can be used on adversaries by developing a new small-sized Active Denial System (ADS) to meet the unique and rapidly evolving security needs of DOE.

Swithvox adds IAX Protocol Support

July 5, 2005

Switchvox, an Asterisk-based IP-PBX has announced support for the open-source IAX protocol. Here's the news...

Switchvox, a leading provider of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capable PBX phone systems for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), today announced enhanced functionality for its flagship IP PBX phone system. Adding support for the Inter-Asterisk exchange (IAX) protocol, the Switchvox system now offers customers more bandwidth savings than traditional protocols, as well as ease of interoperability with additional VoIP providers.

The Switchvox system enables SMBs to easily and affordably create and manage their phone system, using traditional analog lines, as well as VoIP services.

Leading IP-PBX Manufacturer in The World

July 5, 2005

A few months ago I wrote a blog titled "IP-PBX Leader Europe">Alcatel IP-PBX Leader in Europe". In this blog entry, Frost & Sullivan claims that Alcatel lead in IP-PBX shipments in 2003 - more than Cisco, Avaya, etc. I then wondered who was the "#1 IP-PBX manufacturer in the world". I even guessed it would be Cisco, but I was wrong.

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