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November 2005

You are browsing the archive for November 2005.

What's Up with TiVo?

November 30, 2005

I remember not so long ago when anyone who had TiVo couldn't wait to tell anyone who didn't have TiVo how great the system was -- watch TV when you want to, skip over commercials, record shows easily, blah, blah, blah.

Now TiVo's plans to partner with some the world's largest advertising agencies to offer TiVo users the ability to search for -- and watch -- commercials that they are interested in seeing seemingly turns the TiVo model on its head.  Granted, there must be some way to make people watch commercials.

This reminds me of the old days in Europe when there were certain TV channels that actually showed nothing but commercials.  I never understood why anyone would want to watch them, but given the state of today's TV programming, maybe the commercials are better than the shows?

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) affect your positive Chi man!

November 30, 2005

With so many gadgets and electronics, this site wonders, "Are you exposed to computers, TV, mobile phone, microwave oven and other electronic appliances everyday? In today's lifestyle, you are exposed to man-made electromagnetic fields. The growing demands of ever-changing technologies and changes in social behavior have created more negative electromagnetic fields around you.Electromagnetic fields (EMF) above certain levels can trigger biological effects!"

The site goes onto explain that electromagnetic field sources have become the focus of health concerns and building mass hysteria by exclaiming, "Electromagnetic fields (EMF) is everywhere!" (nevermind the poor grammar).

But never fear, these crackpots have the EMF blocking solution for you!

'Chi' WaveGuard is a health-protector that contains 'chi' technology material. It is the result of a state-of-the-art bio-wave technology that was developed in Japan.





Sensis and eStara launch click to call

November 30, 2005

Sensis, known as "Australia's Google" launched a pay-per-call pilot on its search engine, sensis.com.au, powered by eStara's click to call technology. Users of sensis.com.au can initiate a phone conversation with advertisers with a simple click of the mouse. The partnership was announced at this week's Kelsey Group Interactive Local Media 2005 (ILM:05) conference. This follows the recent news last week on Google entering the click-to-call fray, though in this case I think it's true "VoIP" calling where as Google was a PSTN call between the advertiser and the customer.

Cingular to offer unlimited calling to AT&T

November 30, 2005

TechDirt has an interesting post about how Cingular is testing a program where its customers can make unlimited calls to AT&T landlines for $6 a month. $6 bucks per month just to have unlimited calls to AT&T landlines? That's just crazy talk! If I were to pay for this program using say Vonage's VoIP unlimited plan, the overall phone bill for Cingular/AT&T would be 24% more than Vonage's unlimited plan.

Google's new home page?

November 30, 2005

Anyone notice that if you are logged onto your Google Adsense account, Google Groups account, or Google Gmail account that the Google home page now includes a "Personalized Home" option, "My Account" option, and "Sign Out" option? And if you aren't logged in yet, the Google Home page gives you an option to sign on via a link in the upper-right hand corner. Here's a screenshot of the upper-right hand corner of my browser showing the new options available on Google.


When you go into My Account, I was hoping for some sort of "unified portal" depicting various statistics and information across all of my Google accounts (i.e. unread email, daily Adsense revenue, etc.), but alas, it's simply hyperlinks to the various Google offerings.

I wonder how long has Google's home page has had this feature.




Auvi launches Skype products

November 30, 2005

Auvi Technologies, a designer and developer of digital entertainment hardware and emerging technologies, today announced its development strategy encompassing a complete line of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and Skype-enabled products aimed at residential customers. The product image to the right is "coming soon" according to their website, with no additional feature specs, but it appears to me to be a cordless Skype phone product similar to the Linksys CIT200 I reviewed. Interesting how both the handset and the docking cradle have a keypad. I'd venture a guess that this must mean it has an embedded speakerphone.

According to Auvi, "Ranging from PC-controlled Skype accessories to standalone cordless speakerphones / entertainment hubs, Auvi offers retailers unique turnkey solutions in next generation communication hardware, as well as service.

Volvo technology to prevent falling asleep at the wheel

November 30, 2005

Volvo Cars has developed a system to prevent drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. The system, called 'Driver Alert', gives an audio warning if the car appears to be losing control. A camera installed on the windscreen measures the distance between the car and the markings on the road surface, while the sensors register the car’s movements.

This is probably an exorbitantly priced extra option. Why not just roll down the window for some fresh blowing air and then blast some Journey, Metallica, Guns N' Roses or Barry Manilow?

Israel not blocking VoIP

November 30, 2005

Israel may not be blocking after all. My blog yesterday and Jeff's blog today at 12:13am about Israel blocking VoIP got the attention of Yair Hakak, regulatory economist with the Israel Ministry of Communciations.

Here are portions of the email I received at 1:45am last night. The good news is it appears there was some miscommunication by the Ministy of Communications - how ironic.

Hello,
I am Yair Hakak, regulatory economist with the Israel Ministry of Communciations. Here is a copy of a letter I sent Jeff Pulver about our VOIP regulatory policy.




Xbox 360 As Loss Leader?

November 30, 2005

Hard to believe that Microsoft is selling its new Xbox 360 as a loss leader? 

Yes, that's right.  According to a report published on the NewsFactor Network(http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=39715), the total cost of the Xbox 360 that retails for $399 is $552.27; in other words, the cost of parts and manufacturing  means that Microsoft loses more than $150 on each box if sells (and this figure is even higher if we factor in the wholesale price that retailers actually pay for each unit).

Reminds me of the old joke about the clothing store that loses money on every suit it sells.  How do they stay in business?

Firefox 1.5 released

November 29, 2005

Just received an email from the Mozilla Firefox PR folks to inform me that the final release of Mozilla Firefox 1.5 is now available for download from GetFirefox.com for most major operating systems or from the mirrors.Users of the release candidates should receive the update soon. I just hope they fixed the damn clipboard problem I've been having.

Firefox 1.5 introduces several new features, including an improved software update system, faster Back / Forward page navigation, a new options to clear private browsing data, drag-and-drop reordering of browser tabs, a redesigned Options/Preferences window and more robust popup blocking. Standards support is also improved, with support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), JavaScript 1.6 and additional CSS properties. Accessibility is much improved (including new IBM Contributes DHTML Accessibility Code to Mozilla">DHTML accessibility features), security has been enhanced and Mac OS X support has also been improved.

More details can be found in the 1.5 Release Notes

Update: Some more info from Mozilla:

This next generation browser provides a better and safer user experience including significant performance and usability upgrades, security and privacy enhancements, support for Web standards, and greater customization options.







It Was the Best of Times ... The Worst of Times

November 29, 2005

Everybody knows the Apple iPod and Microsoft's Xbox 360 are in the in-demand products this holiday season, but are they the best products of the year?  (Or perhaps the worst products of the year?)

Well, we want to find out.  So, in the best end-of-year tradition, we are asking readers to submit a list of their best products of 2005.  At the same time, don't be bashful about submitting your list of worst products of the year -- but please let me know what category the product is being submitted for!  And don't be shy about telling me why the product earned top honors (or bottom honors). 

Will be interesting to see how the voting goes.  Look forward to hearing from you ...

Israel blocks VoIP

November 29, 2005

According to Globes Online, Israel's regulatory agency (Ministry of Communications) is planning on ordering ISPs to block international calls carried over VoIP which terminates on the PSTN. P2P VoIP such as Skype-to-Skype calls are exempt from this ruling. According to Globes Online, the article states, "VoIP is taking revenue away from international calls carriers and is pushing down prices." Yup. Uh huh. You betcha!

300GB DVD to challenge Blue-Ray?

November 29, 2005

With the ongoing nasty war between the Blue-Ray and HD-DVD camps, it looks like their is a new entrant entering the ring and joining the fight.

In the Blue-Ray corner we have Blue-Ray founders, Sony Corporation and Royal Philips Electronics along with corner-men 20th Century Fox, Apple,
Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Dell, Electronic Arts, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, Vivendi Universal Games, and Warner Bros. Sony aims to make Blue-ray the standard of choice by including a Blue-ray disc drive in their forthcoming Playstation 3.

And entering into the HD-DVD corner we have founders Toshiba and Hitachi with corner-men Buena Vista Home Entertainment, New Line Cinema, NEC, Microsoft, Paramount Pictures, Sanyo, The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros (in both corners).

And now entering the ring making this a battle royale of Andre the Giant WWE proportions, we have InPhase Technologies, a Lucent spinoff with a 300GB DVD standard that is able to read and write data at 10 times the speed of a normal DVD. It utilizes so-called Tapestry holographic memory technology to store data by interference of light. InPhase's corner-men include Hitachi and Maxell which will manufacture the discs.

InPhase body slams Sony's Blue-Ray technology before it even gets out of the gate. Ut oh, Microsoft, a HD-DVD proponent attacks InPhase from behind knocking InPhase to the ground.








FCC wants ala carte TV channels

November 29, 2005

I heard on WABC talk radio this morning that the FCC wants cable companies to offer TV channels "a la carte" to give consumers more choice. Considering how harsh I was on the FCC's e911 requirements this morning, I have to commend the FCC on this one. I planned on blogging my thoughts on the FCC helping to bring more choice to the consumer, but Rich Tehrani beat me to it. Go check out Rich's blog post on TV channel ala carte.

FCC just doesn't understand your Lingo

November 29, 2005

I was notified by a VoIP affiliate program that they are no longer carrying Lingo within their VoIP affiliate portfolio due to e911 requirements by the FCC. Lingo does not currently conform to e911 requirements and therefore they are restricting their marketing efforts. As you probably were aware, the FCC order specifically prohibits marketing and acquiring new customers for any VoIP provider that is not e911 compliant. So does this mean the end for Lingo or any similar VoIP provider?

SupportSoft and Thomson team up for the Triple Play

November 28, 2005


I'm a huge fan of Triple Play or even Quadruple Play solutions. I mean who doesn't want IP-TV/video-on-demand, broadband, and VoIP all in one cost-savings bundled package? One of the challenges in Triple Play is the provisioning and management of the disparate equipment. One standard, TR-069, ensures that DSL modems can be easily configured, activated and managed from a console in the network, helping service providers to effectively address the costs of deployment and support of their CPE as well as tightly manage broadband service delivery.

iPod on the Brain

November 28, 2005

Online dating in Asia goes VoIP

November 28, 2005

One of the largest online dating sites in Asia has added VoIP (voice chat) and video support for their members. According to Vivox, "Vivox will provide the platform for WFN's half-million English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean online daters to interact using their own voice. By implementing Vivox's technology, WFN becomes the world's first online dating service provider to give its users an integrated Web-voice-video-IM communications platform."

I've actually been wondering why the popular U.S.-based Match.com or Matchmaker.com haven't added VoIP & video support already.

Free iPod Nano for Internet Telephony Conferees

November 28, 2005

Are the Days of a Single Cable Coming?

November 28, 2005

The Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) Technology and Standards' Mobile Electronics Committee recently announced a working group to develop an industry standard for a common portable device connector.

This standard would create an electrical and mechanical specification for a standard docking connector suitable for portable devices that need to be cradled and controlled in both cars and at home. Until now, the portable device industry has far invented a variety of proprietary docking connectors that are not generally interoperable.  An open, industry-wide standard for docking connectors will give consumers greater access to the digital entertainment they have stored on devices whether at home or on the road.

FCC e911 Zero Hour

November 28, 2005

AOL’s Internet Indie Video Programming

November 26, 2005

Gadgets Will Drive Online Holiday Shopping

November 25, 2005

Now that the holiday shopping season is officially opened, Forrester Research predicts that the consumer electronics, toys and apparel categories will see the strongest growth during this holiday shopping season. 

In its “U.S. Online Holiday Sales Bring Good Tidings to Retailers” report, Forrester forecasts that U.S. online retail sales this holiday season will hit $18 billion, up 25% from last year, with 2.5 million new households expected to begin shopping online this year.   The full report can be found at www.forrester.com

WITI: Gadget Girls Rule!

November 24, 2005

Women in Technology International (WITI) recently conducted a survey that revealed that that passion for technology transcends gender.

Survey respondents at DigitalLife 2005 in New York were shown nine different high-tech products that will be on sale this holiday season and asked to rank their favorites.  The respondents were asked to rate each product along five categories, including price, wow factor, and usefulness.

Technology wish lists appear to be consistent across the sexes.  The Syntax Olivia flat panel TV crossed the gender lines in its appeal, while the Samsung Digimax camera followed in a close second place, again favored by both men and women.

Other items respondents could choose from included a portable media device, a cell phone, a music player, a digital picture frame and a music player embedded in a headset.

Gametap Taps Classic Video Games

November 23, 2005

Two paddles, one ball -- the game that launched a  thousand quarters and a billion dollar industry in 1972 – Pong from Atari – is just one of 300 of the greatest arcade, console and PC games available at www.gametap.com. The first-of-its-kind broadband entertainment network from Turner Broadcasting System, Gametap offers all-you-can-play gaming-on-demand plus original programming via a broadband connected PC for $14.95 per month (no contract required). New games will be added monthly.

Original programming will feature an exclusive mix of magazine, reality and lifestyle shows (including Space Ghost), interviews with the who’s who of gaming, celebrity features and all-new “game trailers.” This new service was one the highlights at the DigitalLife 2005 show in New York a while back.

Digital Camera Shopping Tip: Go with the Leaders

November 23, 2005

With Friday marking the official start of the holiday shopping season (all those 5:00 AM store openings and early bird specials!), digital cameras still look to be a very popular item on many gift lists.  With that in mind, it’s a good idea to take a look at the leading digital camera companies in the U.S. market.

For the fourth straight quarter, Kodak has maintained its lead over Canon and Sony (both tied for second place) as its market share rose to 21.3% from 19.8%.  Canon and Sony had a 17.7% market share (Sony losing share and Canon gaining.)

Fuji rose to fourth place from seventh (8.6% market share), while Olympus fell to a tie with Nikon for fifth place.  HP was next with 6.7% percent.

CallinSearch software lets you click-to-call from Google, MSN, Yahoo

November 23, 2005

One of the CallinSearch employees posted a comment on my Google click-to-call post pointing to their technology which is currently in beta. By the way, the Google "click to call" news certainly flew under the radar. I don't see Click-to-Call listed on Google Labs even, where Google often trials new features.

In any event, CallinSearch has interesting browser-specific plug-ins that work with most browsers to enable click-to-call access within search engine search results. According to CallinSearch, "Why a separate Podcast directory, phone directory or even yellow pages?

What's missing from the XBox 360?

November 23, 2005

By all early indications, the Microsoft XBox 360 is a resounding success despite some stories of some XBox 360 muggings and even an Electronic Boutique store held at gunpoint until two XBoxs were handed over. My wife told me a story about her co-worker that witnessed two men "cut the line" to receive a ticket voucher for an XBox 360 resulting in some people in the line getting a baseball bat and beating them up. The police arrived and cordoned off the parking lot entrance preventing any other naive XBox 360 wannabees from entering and hoping beyond hope that they might get one.

In any event, Microsoft has been trying desperately to get a foothold in the living room, which has made the cable companies a bit nervous as Microsoft is trying to get more market share in the increasingly important home-entertainment market to compete with Apple, Sony, and others. In fact, last week's announcement between Microsoft and CableLabs to allow Microsoft
and PC manufacturers to bring to market digital-cable-ready (including
HD) content to Windows Media Center-based PCs and XBox's bypassing a cable set-top box could be another "foot in the door" to your living room by Microsoft.



Google Click to Call

November 23, 2005

Google is testing click-to-call based on the search results. I wrote about this possibility of Google Click-to-call back in January - I even Photoshopped some phone icons next to search results. Anyway, on Google, do a search, click the icon, enter your phone number and Google will connect both legs of the call. Best of all, Google foots the bill - it's on their dime! Very cool! I tried some searches myself but can't seem to get any Google click-to-call search results to appear.

Hoiday Shopping Wish List

November 22, 2005

Go Google Shopping this Holiday season

November 22, 2005

Finepoint's VoIP auto-provisioning secret sauce

November 22, 2005

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Linksys One, their new SMB IP-PBX that aims to leverage the VAR channel and the service provider channel - often competitors - at the same time. I interviewed Marthin De Beer, Linksys VP/GM of the Linksys Small Business Systems Business Unit who provided some interesting insights into this major Linksys product launch.

I asked Marthin, "Is there a TFTP server in the box? Is that how you are configuring the devices?" and Marthin said, "Ah , this is where my team has spent most of their time over the last 18 months.

XBox 360 causes record sick days?

November 22, 2005

I noticed traffic was noticeably lighter this morning and it got me thinking if all the lucky new XBox 360 owners stayed up all night long playing with their Xbox 360s and therefore decided to call in sick due to 'tiredness'. Ahh yes, "all-night gaming" - I miss those days, but alas I'm too old to pull all-nighters.

I think we need to commission In-Stat, the Yankee Group or Gartner to do some research to determine if November 22nd was a record "sick day" world-wide. I also read some stories this morning about people in lines telling the reporters that they planned on staying up all night long to play XBox. I think I'll go around TMC's offices and do a head count to see if anyone isn't here. There might be a good possibility at least one of them stood in line and got an XBox 360.

Asia VoIP Service to Grow $1 Billion Per Year till 2009

November 22, 2005

Some VoIP market numbers from Instat... The market for VoIP services in Asia continues to show strong growth, as total revenue is expected to rise from nearly US$5.5 billion in 2004 to over US$10 billion by 2009, reports In-Stat. Currently, long distance calls, initiated from either traditional PSTN terminals or full IP local loops but carried over IP backbones to recipients' local networks, create the bulk of VoIP business in Asia, providing for 85.4% of total revenue in 2004, the high-tech market research firm says.

"By contrast, adoption of local VoIP services is slow due to regulatory barriers in many countries and the dominance of incumbent players," says Victor Liu, In-Stat analyst. "In Japan, however, competitive service providers such as Yahoo!

VoIP, PSTN, Web conferencing solution for service providers

November 21, 2005

There are several web conferencing solutions that let you collaborate, including WebEx, Interwise, and Raindance. Some of them feature both PSTN dial-in and VoIP capabilities and some don't. Some conferencing providers have video and some don't. Regardless, many service providers are looking to provide their own conferencing solution to their customers without having to re-sell or OEM the aforementioned vendors' technology where they may only receive a small piece of the recurring monthly revenue pie..

Buy the Software, Get the Digital Camera Kit Free

November 21, 2005

New AT&T logo

November 21, 2005

Midnight XBox Madness

November 21, 2005

Hologram technology with 1.6 TB storage space & 120 MBPs transfer speed

November 21, 2005

Wow, Maxell and InPhase Technologies have developed holographic optical media that features uncompressed storage capacities achieving 1.6 TeraBytes per disk and data rates as high as 120 MBPs. Optical media also is advantageous due to its long archival (50+ year) life.

The media is expected to have the lowest cost per gigabyte of any commercial quality removable storage. Of course, I've been hearing about large storage technology, including holograms for over 10 years it seems, so I hope this product isn't simply vaporware. When I can get my hands on it from CDW or Amazon I'll believe it.

"Holographic media makes it possible for millions of pages of information and high definition images to be held on one small, relatively inexpensive disc," said Steven Pofcher, senior marketing manager at Maxell. "Imagine having a person's entire medical history, complete with MRI images, or storing a broadcast network's entire HD Library on a single disc.



XBox 360 Final Countdown

November 21, 2005

The final countdown for the Microsoft XBox 360 launch has begun. Several retailers will be opening their doors at 12:01am to get your hands on the hottest thing for Christmas this year. Not sure how many Xbox 360's your local Best Buy will have available? Well, this site uses Google Maps to locate how many XBox 360's your local Best Buy has and it even breaks it down by premium vs.

Skype goes retail - sold at Radio Shack

November 18, 2005

CNet is reporting that Skype will be sold at retail stores, starting with Radio Shack.

The Luxembourg-based Net telephony company, founded by the people behind the Kazaa peer-to-peer service, is expected to announce on Monday that it has struck a partnership with consumer electronics chain RadioShack.

I just met with Nero last week and I asked what exactly their model was when selling Nero SIPPS Connect, a SIP-based softphone client in retail stores. He had a decent answer, but I can't for the life of me remember it know. I actually have a copy and have been meaning to test it out and blog it. So I guess this makes this the 2nd VoIP softphone to be sold on retail shelves.

NENA 911 System Reference Guide

November 18, 2005

Just received this email from NENA. Still digesting what exactly this email means, but at first glace, this doesn't go nearly far enough in my opinion to "assist" assist my ass! VoIP service providers in reaching the FCC's mandated e911 compliance by the November 28th deadline (see bold).

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) today announced the release of a comprehensive, single source of record for Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) and 9-1-1 Selective Router (9-1-1 SR) administrative data.

ZyXel Finds the HotSpots

November 18, 2005

Remote wireless connectivity can be pain, but the new (get ready for this name) ZyXel AG-225H Digital Wireless Wi-Fi Finder and USB Adapter can save you a lot of time and effort.  With this thumb drive-sized device, you can easily find out what networks (802.11 a/b/g) are available without powering up your laptop.

The dual-band tri-mode USB adapter has a small, but high contrast LCD screen and a built-in rechargeable LiON battery (powered by your USB port).  Power, scan and scroll controls are small but easy to use, enabling you to identify a network’s name and type, whether the hotspot is WEP or WPA and what channel it uses.  This little wizard also serves as a wireless USB 2.0 adapter.  www.zyxel.com
 
Price: $99.99 on the ZyXel web site; available for less at various retailers, including CompUSA, PC Mall and Amazon.com.

Trader Joe's goes VoIP

November 18, 2005



Trader Joe's is a popular specialty grocery store with some interesting if not downright exotic foods. They aren't "big" yet, but they are growing pretty fast with several locations, including one just 2 miles from where I work in Norwalk and another one just 5 miles away in Danbury. I get flyers from them all the time in the mail even though I've never shopped there.

A PR person sent me a case study brief on Trader Joe's problems with their current telephone system and how they migrated to VoIP. I thought it might be interesting to share.



Cisco acquires Scientic Atlanta set-top box company

November 18, 2005

According to BusinessWire, Cisco Systems, Inc. has acquired Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. Scientific-Atlanta is a global provider of
set-top boxes, end-to-end video distribution networks and video system integration. According to the release, "The combined entity creates a world class, end-to-end triple play solution for carrier networks and the digital home. In addition, upon closure, the market opportunities represented by this acquisition will become part of Cisco's Advanced Technology portfolio."

With Cisco playing "nice" with Microsoft using ICE, this is an interesting acquisition by Cisco. For instance, Microsoft designs the software for SBC's cable set-top box called Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software.


Microsoft XBox 360 vs. Sony Playstation 3 - Game over man!

November 18, 2005

With the impending launch of Microsoft's XBox 360, inevitably comparisons will be made to Sony's Playstation 3 due out next year. But the battle has already been won by Microsoft without firing a single shot - without a single needle from the Needler gun (Halo) pricking Sony and without a single Covenant Energy Blade (Halo) slicing and dicing up the Sony competition. No, the reason is not because XBox 360 is launching this year before the "all important" holiday season, although that certainly gives Microsoft a huge advantage.

"So you're saying the XBox 360 has better graphics than the Playstation 3, right?"

Nope, I ain't saying that either.

"Ok, so you're saying the processing horsepower on the XBox 360 is better than the Playstation?"

Nope, try again.

"Better features? more multimedia capabilities?









Cisco Bets on Set-Top Boxes

November 18, 2005

And Now for Something Completely Different: Google Goes Wi-Fi

November 17, 2005

Clark, I Mean DISH, Texas

November 17, 2005

In a classic publicity stunt, EchoStar Communications has persuaded the town of Clark, Texas, to legally change its name to DISH.  In return, every household household within the city limits will receive DISH Network's satellite TV service for free, including America’s Top 60 programming package for 10 years, free standard installation and a free digital video recorder satellite TV receiver.

Clark Town Commissioners voted to rename the town Tuesday evening at a packed town hall meeting.  Clark, first incorporated as a town in 2000, is located 25 miles north of Ft. Worth and has a population of 125 (avid TV viewers I would image).  Town signs will be changed to reflect the town’s new identity, including the signs at the town hall, the town entrance and all of the city limit signs.

DISH is the first city to agree to the "DISH City Makeover," part of recent re-branding efforts and a new advertising campaign trumpeting “Better TV for All.” from DISH Networks.

Top XBox 360 Games to Buy for Christmas

November 17, 2005

Wondering what XBox 360 games to buy your kid(s) for the Christmas holiday season? (ditto for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) Well, IGN Entertainment's GamerMetrics has pulled consumer data from three leading video game sites (IGN.com, GameSpy.com and TeamXBox.com) to rank the most anticipated XBox 360 launch titles. GamerMetrics tracks the awareness and activity of over 25 million gamers across IGN Entertainment's network of video game news and information sites, with the largest audience of video gamers online. Check out the Top 18 XBox gaming titles list below.

Xbox 360 Is Coming to Town Next Week

November 17, 2005

We’ve got “Harry Potter” opening tomorrow, but the news around our house is the Xbox 360 launch next Tuesday (11/22/05).  Launches in Europe (12/2/05) and Japan (12/10/05) will follow.  According to Microsoft, this is the first time a game console will be launched in three territories in the same time frame.  Am sure these launch dates are planned to get this goodie into as many stores as possible in time for the all-important holiday shopping season.

Promising to be more than a game box, with the Xbox 360 and the Xbox Live service players can play online, connect with friends for voice and video chat and download new content.

Xbox 360 is also being called “the ultimate amplifier” for music, movies and photos stored on MP3 players, digital cameras and Windows® XP-based PCs.  The systems comes with a 20GB detachable Xbox 360 Hard Drive for storing music, video and games, an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, an Xbox 360 Media Remote control, an Xbox 360 Headset, a Component HD-AV Cable for connecting to component and composite television inputs, an Ethernet cable and batteries.

The recent Tokyo Game Show marked the first time that consumers were able to experience the Xbox 360 firsthand.  While more than 200 games are currently in development, games on display in the Microsoft booth included:

  • Bomberman — Act Zero
  • Call of Duty® 2
  • CHROMEHOUNDS
  • Dead Rising
  • Dynasty Warriors 5 Special
  • Everyparty
  • Far East of Eden
  • FINAL FANTASY XI
  • Frame City Killer™
  • Gears of War™
  • Kameo™: Elements of Power™
  • Need for Speed Most Wanted
  • NINETY-NINE NIGHTS
  • The Outfit™
  • Project Gotham Racing® 3
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Ridge Racer 6
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Saint's Row™
  • Test Drive Unlimited
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter™
  • Wrestle Kingdom

Will it look good under the tree?

Live TV on Motorola RAZR V3c

November 17, 2005


Alltel
, operator of one of the nation's largest wireless networks, and MobiTV, Inc., an up-and-coming provider in mobile television and digital radio services, will now offer live television broadcasts andmade-for-mobile content to wireless customers starting Monday. Customers can view the broadcasts initially on the new Motorola RAZR V3c, and the service will be available on additional handsets next month. <more...>

I previously wrote about MobiTV and how a friend of mine uses MobiTV to stream to his Treo 650. I'm in the market for a new phone, but will go going the low-end route <sigh> due to some other expenses coming up.

Keep Universal Service Fund Fair Coalition criticizes the FCC

November 17, 2005

This news on the FCC and the USF (Universal Service Fund) definitely merits sharing. Seems like the FCC is more embattled than President Bush these days. Ok, maybe not quite as much as Bush, but Kevin Martin certainly isn't making any friends in the telecom & VoIP sector lately.

A controversial plan backed by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin would result in higher federal phone taxes (or forced phone bill hikes) of as much as $707 million for 43 million low-volume long-distance user households in the United States, according to a new report by the Keep Universal Service Fund (USF) Fair Coalition. Of greatest concern within the group of harmed consumers: the most vulnerable of Americans – 16 million households of primarily low-income and elderly individuals – who currently can afford few or no long-distance phone calls, but would have to pay up to $383 million in higher USF taxes under the Martin scheme.

Entitled “Losing Numbers: How America’s Most Vulnerable Consumers Could Suffer Under Universal Service Fund (USF) ‘Reform,’” the report notes: “The currently consumer-friendly ‘pay for what you use’ approach to funding the Universal Service Fund would be replaced under the Martin plan with a regressive, flat-fee arrangement of $1-$2 or more per phone line – regardless of whether or not consumers even make a long-distance call.

AOL Pictures launches

November 17, 2005


America Online announces the launch of AOL Pictures, a comprehensive digital photo solution for consumers who want an easy way to view, share, store, print and protect all of their favorite images. The free photo sharing website offers consumers unlimited online digital photo storage in original resolution, tools that make it easier to create photo albums, and much more. According to a new AOL survey, Americans expect to take more than 137,000 photos in their lifetime with three-quarters sending photos to friends and family over the holidays. So as a special holiday promotion, AOL Pictures is offering consumers 100, FREE 4x6 glossy or matte prints.

GAIM 2.0 coming

November 16, 2005

Microsoft, cable companies, and some popcorn

November 16, 2005

Microsoft Corp. and Cable Television Laboratories Inc. (CableLabs) today announced they have reached an agreement that will allow Microsoft and PC manufacturers to bring to market digital-cable-ready (including HD) Windows Media Center-based PCs by the holiday 2006 time frame.

These Media Center PCs, capable of supporting a CableCARD module, will allow consumers to enjoy one-way cable programming, including premium high-definition cable content, on their personal computer and throughout the home on compliant network-connected devices, such as Xbox 360, while protecting cable operators' investments in high-value content in a digital environment. Digital HDTV provided by the cable companies to a Microsoft XBox 360 console or Windows MCE PC? Break out the popcorn - it doesn't get any better than this!

Google Base integrated with Google Maps

November 16, 2005

I just went to Google Base and tried a search for a Dodge Viper within 45 miles of zipcode 06854 and Google Base displayed the search result with a small icon of the item for sale as well as a Google Map displaying where the Dodge Viper was located. (click image below for full-size) Cool stuff! This type of integration could have Craigslist and eBay watching their back. If they add in Google Talk integration so you can "call" the seller that would be killer dude! (ok, I know, I know, that type of slang just doesn't work for me.)


Right now Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, etc.


Google Base impresses

November 16, 2005

Googe Base has just launched and already I see 491,058 results for the keyword "car" (click my Google Base search screenshot below). I'm impressed. Geez, this thing literally just launched and it already has 491,058 search results - how is this possible? Is 'Google Base' "seeding" these classifieds from some other database or third-party partner?

Lost cell phone? Build your own!

November 16, 2005

I lost my cell phone in a cab at Internet Telephony Conference and Expo so I've been meaning to "shop around" for a new one. But with some recent home repairs, a baby on the way (plus purchasing all the baby amenities), have to buy an SUV, etc. etc. I've decided I shouldn't blow $700 on a HP iPAQ hw6515 (left image).

Goldmine 7.0

November 16, 2005

GoldMine 7.0 has just been released by FrontRange.

Of note, GoldMine 7.0 is more tightly integrated with the VoIP software that FrontRange now offers, for call center operations. TMC uses Goldmine 6.7 for its internal sales database, guess it's time to upgrade!

FrontRange Solutions Releases GoldMine 7.0 Corporate Edition

Latest version of FrontRange award-winning software delivers broader integration with external systems, enhanced workflow tools and higher performance
DUBLIN, CA (November 15, 2005)GoldMine 7.0 Corporate Edition - the latest version of FrontRange Solutions award-winning customer relationship management (CRM) software - delivers broader integration with external systems, enhanced workflow tools and higher performance to help small- to medium-size enterprise (SME) users raise the personal productivity of their sales and marketing teams and, therefore, increase their organization's profitability.

GoldMine 7.0 was released for general availability late last month and is being distributed through FrontRange Solutions Partners worldwide for upgrades and new installations.
"This latest release of GoldMine makes one of the world's best CRM software even better," said Kevin J. Smith, Vice President of Products for FrontRange Solutions."GoldMine 7.0's broader integration, enhanced workflow and higher performance continue our tradition of delivering enterprise-class functionality at a low total cost of ownership for small- to medium-size businesses."
"No other CRM product offers the robust functionality of GoldMine at its price point," said Bob Ritter, President of First Direct, a top FrontRange Partner whose organization beta tested the software."We expect upgrading to version 7.0 will increase the productivity and collaboration of our sales & marketing teams, which in turn will help us increase the company's profitability.Our investments in GoldMine always yield high returns."

GoldMine 7.0 provides more integration capabilities that enable viewing external sources of data, "plug-ins" for existing enterprise systems and tight integrations to other powerful FrontRange Solutions products.The latest version also offers more workflow tools that simplify and accelerate common tasks related to contact records, such as scheduling appointments and activities.In addition, release 7.0 features a new database architecture that provides greater stability and faster processing for remote users, which has become a critical performance factor for today's increasingly mobile and distributed workforce.

New benefits and features of GoldMine 7.0 include:
" Broader Integration with External Systems such as other databases, back-office systems, web sites, and the FrontRange IP Contact Center.
" Enhanced Workflow Tools for increased productivity without sacrificed ease of use.
" Higher Performance from the new Active X Data Object architecture, a state-of-the-art technology that empowers remote users.
The new version of GoldMine follows many accolades collected in 2005.


















New SMC Turbo Powerline networking products

November 16, 2005

Today, SMC Networks announced the shipment of the newest additions to its family of HomePlug 1.0-compatible products, making SMC the first major networking vendor to ship 85Mbps Powerline networking products. Powerline network products let you use your electrical outlets for tranmitting data - perfect for those homes that are too large for good wireless/WiFi networking coverage or for the truly "security conscious" that don't want their home data traffic "sniffed out" by nosy neighbors!

I'm still waiting for SMC networks to follow suit after Linksys and D-Link made SMB IP-PBX annoucements thiis week.

In any event, SMC told me, "SMC is enhancing and adding to its Powerline networking family by introducing Turbo Powerline for higher-speed connections, and by integrating 802.11g wireless with Powerline to add further flexibility in mixed networks. Ideal for building easy, high-performance Powerline networks, or for extending existing networks, SMC EZ Connect Powerline products provide ample bandwidth and allow for overall simplicity by using existing electrical wiring and outlets as connection points to a network."

The new SMC EZ Connect 85Mbps Turbo Powerline to Ethernet Adapter (SMCHT-ETH) is available now at an MSRP of $89.99. The SMC EZ Connect Turbo Powerline 802.11g 54Mbps Access Point (SMCHTAP-G) will ship in December, and available at an MSRP of $129.99.

Here's the full release if interested:







SMC Ships Industry's First Turbo Powerline and Turbo Powerline/802.11g Combo Devices

New Turbo Powerline-to-Ethernet Adapters and Turbo Powerline 802.11g Wireless Access Points create high-performance, home networks effortlessly without running CAT-5 cabling

IRVINE, CA November 16, 2005 SMC Networks (www.smc.com) today
reinforced its commitment to fast, easy-to-install home networking by announcing the shipment of the newest additions to its family of HomePlug(r) 1.0-compatible products, making SMC the first major networking vendor to ship 85Mbps Powerline networking products.




Asterisk 1.2 released

November 16, 2005

Some quick news to share from Digium, makers of the popular Asterisk IP-PBX platform...

Digium Inc., the creator of Asterisk® and pioneer of open source telephony, announced Asterisk 1.2, today at the IP.4.IT conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Asterisk 1.2 is the first major revision to Asterisk since the release of Asterisk 1.0 in September 2004, and includes over 3,000 feature additions and improvements to the overall performance and efficiency of memory usage. Asterisk, the world's first open source PBX, offers a strategic, highly cost-effective approach to voice and data transport over TDM, IP and other architectures.

"We have been working very hard with the support of the Asterisk community to release version 1.2 of Asterisk," said Mark Spencer, president of Digium and creator of Asterisk.



VoIP Guru Declares 2006 the Year of VoIP for Small and Medium Business

November 16, 2005

A VoIP "guru" is claiming 2006 as the year of VoIP for the SMB market. Yeah, tell me something I didn't know already.

VoIP Guru Declares 2006 the Year of VoIP for Small and Medium Business

Increased use of VoIP in the Small and Medium Business arena and the new inovations that make it practical and cost effective.

(PRWEB) November 16, 2005 -- Something exciting is happening in the small business arena and we thought you should know about it.

Twelve percent of businesses are already using the Internet for phone calls. Seventy percent will be doing that within four years according Craig Spiegelberg, president of Vancouver, WA based LogiTel, a VoIP equipment for small business manufacturer.

The big numbers in this mass migration to VoIP are in the small to mid sized business category and here's why: cost savings and finally, the quality and functionality required for a business are ready.









RealNetworks Helix streaming server

November 16, 2005

I don't hear too much from RealNetworks these days, so I was surprised to read that RealNetworks today unveiled its next generation enterprise solution, the Helix Server Unlimited, for wired and now wireless devices. This latest version of the Helix server provides Real's enterprise customers the ability to deliver 3GPP content to a wide variety of multi-media enabled mobile handsets. According to RealNetworks, "Mobile content on the handset have traditionally been focused on entertainment, but for the enterprise market such as corporations, higher education institutions and local governments it is also a valuable informational and educational tool."

I give it 6 months before Microsoft comes out with a similar solution. Perhaps Windows Media Services 10 Series?

Motorola CDMA 1xEV-DO Rev. A

November 16, 2005

Interesting news from Motorola. Motorola demonstrated simultaneous video telephony calls using Motorola’s Ojo Personal Video Phone, VoIP, and video downloads from a media server using test modems from Qualcomm to provide the CDMA 1xEV-DO Rev.A.

check it out...


Motorola Inc. (NYSE:MOT) unveiled its prototype CDMA 1xEV-DO Rev. A solution at 3G World Congress and Exhibition 2005, demonstrating some of the advanced multimedia wireless broadband services that will be possible with this next generation technology. With downlink speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps and uplink speeds of up to 1.8 Mbps, CDMA 1xEV-DO Rev. A provides new capability for operators to offer enhanced services such as simultaneous video, voice and data applications.

Motorola ColorNotes Voice MMS

November 16, 2005

Motorola, Inc. today announced at 3G World Congress & Exhibition 2005 their Motorola ColorNotes Solution which "transforms traditional messaging by allowing mobile subscribers to express their emotions". According to Motorola, "The innovative messaging service developed for CDMA and GSM networks converts traditional voice or short messages (SMS) to multimedia messages (MMS) that incorporate animated graphics and audio. Motorola ColorNotes also enables users to receive broadcast messages, such as news clips, stock quotes, horoscopes, jokes and more delivered by their favorite animated character."

With Motorola ColorNotes, animated characters take the words right out of consumers’ mouths. Subscribers are able to choose from a library of characters, including celebrities, cartoon characters and animated objects offered by the operator to deliver their messages. Motorola ColorNotes subscribers also have the ability to select from nine different emotions that the character will portray when delivering the message.

U.S. ICANN and U.N. CAN'T

November 16, 2005

The highly anticipate battle between the U.S. and the U.N. was over before the bell even rung. The U.N. threw in the towel and the U.S.

Democrats want nationwide broadband policy

November 15, 2005

Below is the text of Leader Pelosi's speech this morning to the National Press Club. Statements are included from industry and academic leaders regarding the Innovation Agenda which addresses America's nationwide broadband policy and even mentions voice over IP.

I highlighted some important quotes that directly pertain to broadband and VoIP in case you're too busy to read the whole thing. Oh, and I have to say, considering the common complaint amongst Republicans is that Democrats simply whine and complain without providing any solutions or offering a "plan" - that I am impressed that the Democrats are proposing a nationwide broadband "plan". It's about time! Anyway, check out the quotes followed by the whole draft I was sent by a Democrat assistant.

"Third, we recognize that the nationwide deployment of high speed, always-on broadband and Internet and mobile communications will fuel the development of millions of new jobs IN the United States.Our agenda guarantees that every American will have affordable access to broadband within five years.Universal broadband will propel advanced Internet applications, such as distance learning, health IT, video-on-demand, and Voice over IP.

AOL Goes To the Pods

November 15, 2005

It seems like if you blink, you miss another deal between online and content providers.  Not wanting to miss the bandwagon, AOL has announced a deal with Time Warner to offer "vintage" shows, such as "Wonder Woman" and "Kung Fu," over the Internet for free.  Just like the good old days of TV, when advertising paid the way and we could watch for free (what a concept!).

While "free" is always compelling, I don't know how many people really want to watch TV on their computer monitors (sounds like a good concept, but is one that just never gained traction); wait, what about podcasts!.  Plus, while these shows might have been cool on "TV Land" rerun heaven, they just might not be cool enough today.

Another case of wait and see ...

 

SMC MIMO enabled wireless routers

November 15, 2005

Well, it's not an SMC Networks "IP-PBX announcment" like I joked about earlier today in my D-Link SMB IP-PBX post, but SMC Networks has some news about MIMO (multiple input, multiple-output) technology I thought I'd share.

SMC Networks (www.smc.com) announced today a new line of 802.11g wireless networking products that leverage MIMO. MIMO (multiple input, multiple-output) technology speeds data transmission, improves reliability and increases range of wireless networks by using multiple transmitter and receiver 'smart' antennas that send and receive multiple data streams simultaneously. SMC's staged roll-out of MIMO-enabled products will begin in December with three MIMO-enabled wireless networking products built on the Ralink chipset that can build speedy, long-range, secure wireless networks or extend existing 802.11g or b networks with increased performance: the Barricade(TM)g 802.11g MIMO Wireless Cable/DSL Broadband Router (SMCWBR14-GM), the EZ Connect(TM) g 802.11g MIMO Wireless Cardbus Adapter (SMCWCB-GM), and the EZ Connect(TM) g 802.11g MIMO Wireless PCI Adapter (SMCWPCI-GM).

"The advantages of MIMO are significant," said SMC Networks product manager, Zsolt Mahunka.



eStara hires new CEO

November 15, 2005

eStara is one of those "best kept secrets", but they have some good technology and have been around for quite some time. Their VoIP products, including their click-to-call technology, have a strong presence in the government sector. probably because they're located in Virgina, just a hop-skip-away from Washington, D.C. In any event, they announced a new CEO today.

Microsoft to remove Sony copy protection malware

November 15, 2005

Microsoft said it would remove controversial copy-protection software that CDs from music publisher Sony BMG install on personal computers, deeming it a security risk to PCs running on Windows. This is but another salvo shot fired between Microsoft and Sony. Not that I'm a fan of Sony's copy-protection scheme, but I think there is much more to this story than Microsoft trying to help remove the Sony malware (form of spyware) from their PCs. With the impending launch of Microsoft XBox 360 which is the arch-rival of the Sony Playstation, Microsoft has Sony squarely in its sights.

The XCP program, developed by First4Internet in Britain and used on music CDs by Sony BMG to restrict copying and sharing, has generated concern amongst computer users, because it acts like virus software and hides deep inside a computer where it leaves the backdoor open for other viruses.

"We have analyzed this software and have determined that in order to help protect our customers, we will add a detection and removal signature for the rootkit component of the XCP software to the Windows AntiSpyware beta, which is currently used by millions of users," Jason Garms, group program manager of the Anti-Malware Technology Team, said on Microsoft's Technet blog.

The original XBox was running a modified version of the Windows 2000 kernel. I'm not sure the operating system on the XBox 360, but as gaming consoles become more like PCs with more PC-type functionality, Microsoft has a decidely more competitive edge over Sony in providing integration between it's Windows XP (& Vista) operating systems and its current and future gaming platforms.

So to hear Microsoft removing a Sony technology doesn't bode well for Sony's future. Could this mean Microsoft could "disable" some sort of future Playstation integration with a PC?







D-Link enters SMB IP-PBX market

November 15, 2005

Didn't I warn you D-Link to announce an SMB IP-PBX before Linksys? Did I not say, "Now that I have made this prediction (Linksys developing SMB IP-PBX) watch competitors D-Link or SMC Networks scramble to beat Linksys to the punch. If this happens, and my blog gave D-Link or SMC Networks the idea for a SOHO IP-PBX, you can send me my $5000 flat-rate consulting fee or 1% of all future SOHO IP-PBX revenue." back in June? <sigh>

Well, I guess maybe my Linksys One interview from last week and posted around midnight on Sunday finally got your attention (or your PR) since not even a day later D-Link announced their foray into the SMB IP-PBX market called the D-Link xStack IP Telephony solutions.

Google Talk plugin enables music P2P sharing

November 15, 2005

Ut oh, another P2P music sharing application - this time using Google Talk. "Mercora is bringing music to Google Talk users. The innovative Music Search engine gives people the ability to search, find and listen to music instantly from the largest and most diverse network; they can also browse friend's collections. The experience is immersive, contagious, social and a natural extension to instant messaging."

You can download and try the new integrated Google Talk application today from http://www.mercora.com/gtalk/. And, to simply perform a google-like search, visit search.mercora.com.

Xingtone: Ring Tones Were Meant To Be Free

November 14, 2005


Why should you pay $2.99 for a 20-second clip of music that isn’t your first choice or from a song you already own as the ring tone for your cell phone?  Xingtone’s Ringtone Maker 4.1 enables cell phone users to make their own personal ring tone for free from their own favorite audio files.
 
Unlike ring tones from wireless carriers, Xingtone enables cell phone users to create and install their own custom ring tones from their personal MP3, CD or WAV collections.  The software allows ring tones to be edited or customized to suit personal tastes; exact portion of songs can be sampled.  Users can even sample their own voices and use it on their phones!


A simple software interface allows audio clips to be chosen, trimmed, adjusted, previewed and then sent to their mobile phone via the company’s patent-pending over-the-air transmission method. 

The software works with a wide variety of mobile phones and most networks, including AT&T, Cingular, T-Mobile and Sprint (Verizon is in the works).  Mobile subscribers must have a plan that includes text messaging and Internet connectivity.

Price: Free (for a single ring tone) or $19.95 (includes coupons good for $20 worth of exclusive ring tone content from the company’s partners, including comedian John Cleese, Grammy winner Toots & the Maytals and many independent artists.
www.xingtone.com


Risk on Google Maps

November 14, 2005


LiewCF has a post that mentions Liew writes, "If you play Risk (board game), then you may want to try out Risk on Google Map". Liew also points out that the Risk game was developed using the Google Maps API. Liew points out that he doesn't know how to play Risk, while I on the other hand am a huge Risk fan.

I grew up playing the board game and have played Risk as recently as a few months ago with some friends both on the computer and the traditional game board. One time when we got bored with playing Risk until the wee hours, we took a Scrabble board, and a Monopoly board connected them all together and played ScrabbMonopoRisk. We invented some rules such as a ability to "kill" a Monopoly hotel from Risk - that is if you knocked a player out of controlling a continent you could then roll the die and if you beat the player he had to remove the Monopoly hotel.

We had some other inter-game rules that let you "attack" across the three games and we devised a point system for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for each game and then tallied the scores.




PalmSource joins Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum

November 14, 2005

Some news from PalmSource, about them joining a forum that is trying to "standardize" Linux components and APIs that run on mobile phone devices. The reason why Microsoft has been making such strong in-roads in the mobile phone market arena is because they have strict requirements and they provide a baseline operating system that makes it easier for developers to cross-develop applications for different, often competing Windows Mobile devices running Windows Mobile 5.0 (or earlier generations). Here's the release from their website.

PalmSource, Inc., provider of Palm OS, a leading operating system powering next generation phones and mobile devices, today announced that it is a founding member of the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum.

FCC launches e911 taskforce

November 14, 2005


The ongoing saga with the FCC and e911 continues with the launch of a joint task force on e911. The best part of the new website is the graphic on the website which shows a guy with his head being held by his hands (image to the right). I bet he's thinking, "Damn it, the callerID says they're in Kalamazoo, Michigan, but the e911 service provider says he's located in Los Angeles, California. It's those damn kids again doing VoIP callerID spoofing.

Expedition Everest - new Disney attraction

November 14, 2005

Disney World has a new attraction called Disney’s Expedition Everest which is a "themed roller coaster" attraction located in Animal Kingdom. This makes this the 4th Disney World "mountain" - Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and now Expedition Everest - though they didn't append the word "mountain" like the others. Though it is Mount Everest of course.

I saw Expedition Everest from a distance on my last visit to Disney World and took some photos of it, which unfortunately are on my home PC. So this Expedition Everest photo below is from Google images.

Nickelodean and Cartoon Network download shows

November 14, 2005

What's with all the TV and movie downloading announcements today from major broadcast media and Internet media companies? Seriously... Today, I wrote about AOL offering classic TV episodes for free download, and now cable television channels Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network will offer the online sale of several half-hour programs for $2.99 per download to a Hasbro Inc.device, VuGo portable media player (pictured below).

Did all the Hollywood cronies get together in a big boardroom and say "Ok, fellas, we can't stick with the old model and we can't stop kids from downloading our copyrighted material on P2P networks. We have to do something.

Google Analytics now free

November 14, 2005

Watch classic episodes on AOL's In2TV

November 14, 2005

Well, AOL may not be making movies available for download like I just ranted about 10 minutes ago, but thousands of TV episodes from some of the most popular television series of all time will make a comeback exclusively on AOL.com in early 2006, thanks to a pioneering collaboration between AOL and Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution to form a new broadband network. The network– called In2TV – will showcase full-length episodes from favorite series such as Welcome Back Kotter, Sisters, Beetlejuice, Lois & Clark, La Femme Nikita and Growing Pains free and on-demand on the Web. I googled "In2TV" and only a MSN Groups link appeared. Wonder if there will be a lawsuit over the name?

I wonder what TVLand, the "classic TV station" has to say about this AOL news offering "free" classic TV episodes? Also, woefully neglected from this free download list is Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, Star Trek, the A-Team, and all other cool TV series. Of course, Star Trek still is being succesfully re-run on the Sci-Fi channel so they no doubt pay licensing rights, which eventually ends up in Captain Kirk's pocket (as well as the other actors/actresses).

RF Isolation enclosure for accurate testing of Wi-Fi,cellular,Bluetooth,WiMAX

November 14, 2005

It seems like every day there is a new Bluetooth device, a new WiFi product or some other wireless device. With so many wireless standards, engineers need tools to accurately test the products they develop to ensure there is no interference, test the range, and other performance benchmarks. When you consider that many devices nowadays - especially mobile phones - have embedded WiFi, Bluetooth, and 2.5G/3G - sometimes using the same antenna and sometimes with multiple antennas - engineers have to make sure all the wireless specs can get along. That's why I thought I'd share this news release from Azimuth Systems where they are introducing their MIMO-ready radioproof enclosures.

RF Isolation Enclosures Facilitate Accurate Testing of Wi-Fi, Cellular, Bluetooth, WiMAX and Other Wireless Technology Products

ACTON, MA - November 14, 2005 - Azimuth Systems, Inc., the leading provider of Wi-Fi engineering test equipment, today announced the availability of new RF isolation enclosures that will facilitate the accurate testing of 4 x 4 multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) systems, as well as devices based on other wireless technologies.

AOL Hi-Q DVD video format downloads

November 14, 2005

Nearly half of online consumers are watching video online, according to Forrester Research, and AOL.com is the first portal to introduce a trial for a new “AOL Hi-Q” high quality video format. The AOL.com trial will initially offer more than 100 "DVD quality" videos, providing a new way for consumers to enjoy video online. Content available in Hi-Q format will be free and on-demand at http://www.aol.com/video, and will include movie trailers, music videos, video game trailers, original
content and more. When I can download Raiders of the Lost Ark or the Star Wars Trilogy at $2.99 per movie, then I'll get more excited about this news.

Linksys One

November 13, 2005

On June 15, I made a bold prediction about Linksys. I predicted, "I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction that Linksys will sell a turnkey, "plug and play" SOHO IP-PBX in 2006 ". I received some nasty emails telling me I was crazy to suggest that Linksys would launch a product that would be competitive to their parent company, namely Cisco who sells CallManager. Well, today, Linksys launched Linksys One, their IP-PBX communications system for the SMB.

IPTV set to skyrocket according to Infonetics

November 11, 2005

IPTV is going to be huge, no doubt about it. This report from Infonetics says IPTV is set to skyrocket: to 53.7M Subscribers, $44B in Service Revenue by 2009. I want my Triple Play, damn it! Why do the major cities always get first dibs on cool stuff such as IPTV?

ActionTec VoSKY Chatterbox for Skype

November 11, 2005


The ActionTec VoSKY Chatterbox was launched on Thursday and I intended to blog it, but I had 16 blog posts on Thursday, so I couldn't cover all the VoIP news in one day! The VoSKY Chatterbox is a hands-free USB-based speakerphone designed specifically with Skype in mind, though there is no reason why this USB-based audio device wouldn't work with other VoIP apps. I reviewed a similar product - the Phoenix Technologies Duet, which had good audio quality but was a bit on the pricey side. Though it did have some unique features like the ability to conference PSTN and VoIP calls (i.e.

Satellite TV signal behind trees

November 11, 2005

Someone emailed me about his satellite TV problem not being able to penetrate some trees. He writes, "I have a line of trees behind my house and the sky engineer says its not poss for me to ever get satellite. ...surely this isn't the case? Do you know of a product I can purchase to solve my problem?"

I'm not sure I know myself the solution to satellite signal issues when the satellite dish is behind a line of trees, however I know I have seen houses with satellite dishes that were partially and even completely obstructed by trees.

That Was The Week That Was 11.11.05

November 11, 2005

Don’t know how many of you remember the great TV show “That Was The Week That Was” (also known as “TW3”).  Born on the BBC more than 40 years ago on November 24, 1962 (see www.bbc.co.uk for the whole story), the U.S. version ran from January 10, 1964, to May 1965.  David Frost arrived from England as host in late 1964, and the regular cast included such other not-yet-famous people as Alan Alda, Buck Henry, Phyllis Newman and Henry Morgan.

I Want My TV

What does this have to do with this blog?  Well, while TV viewing options have changed since then, a flock of business deals announced this week promise to offer viewers even more options for watching their favorite shows – all based on the pay model.  This week CBS and NBC announced that many of their prime time shows will be available for anytime viewing, such as “Lost,” for 99 cents each.  Last week, Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications announced their own deal that would enable viewers to access unique content like streaming television programming, music, video clips, games and pre-recorded DVR programs on their wireless phones.  And earlier this month, Apple and Walt Disney announced that Apple’s new video iPod would be able to download episodes of such popular shows as “Desperate Housewives” and “That’s So Raven,” for $1.99 each.

FCC amends Emergency Alert System rules

November 10, 2005

In addition to FCC requirements for e911 for supposedly "protecting the consumer", the FCC today also moved to amend the Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules to include Digital Media Technologies and seeks further comments on EAS System. You know the drill - "<tone><tone>This is test... This is only a test. If this were a real emergency you would..."

Essentially, with digital IPTV, satellite radio, satellite TV, etc.

Nancy Pelosi will kick the FCC's ass and ask questions later

November 10, 2005

House Democratic Leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi will deliver a speech at the National Press Club on Tuesday unveiling the Democrats' new "Innovation Agenda: A Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep America #1." Her speech fits right in with my recent blog posts here, here, and here where I rail against the FCC and what I consider poor rulings by the FCC that will stifle the VoIP industry and even the broadband industry as a whole.

According to a source, after convening regional roundtables with business, technology, and academic leaders across the nation, House Democrats are launching an Innovation Agenda, a commitment to guarantee America's competitive edge in the world. The Innovation Agenda will create a new generation of innovators, spur innovation through research and development, guarantee broadband access for all Americans within five years, achieve energy independence in 10 years and create a competitive small business environment. It's taking place Tuesday, November 15 at 10:00 a.m. at the National Press Club, Holeman Lounge, 13th Floor 529 14th St. NW in Washington, D.C.

Full XML Feeds

November 10, 2005

Salesforce.com calls out Microsoft's Bill Gates

November 10, 2005

I was forwarded a memo that Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com chairman and CEO, sent to his employees yesterday evening regarding the MSFT news. Even though the email looks legit and even says "To: All Salesforce.com" (indicating it was sent to all Salesforce.com employees), it's obviously a marketing ploy by their PR firm which forwarded me the memo. I'm sure the email was sent to all Salesforce.com employees, but with the intention of also then forwarding the email "memo" to the press. Still, I thought it was kind of funny, especially the "Microsoft Dead" pun on "Microsoft Live", so although I feel slightly used I will include the "memo" here in my blog.
_____________________________________
From: Marc Benioff
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2005 8:58 PM
To: All Salesforce.com
Subject: The Business Web

Today, I woke up to read on the front page of the Wall Street Journal how Microsoft is reorganizing to take on companies like Google and salesforce.com - building a new generation of products called Microsoft Live.

And just last week, Bill Gates gave a speech about the end of software that could have been a page out of our play book.








Xbox 360 launch party

November 10, 2005

Breaking news on the XBox 360 launch! Check out this email I just got that is an invitation to play XBox 360 games at a secret undisclosed location in the Mojave Desert!

  • Hundreds of gaming stations fully tricked out with hi-def monitors and digital sound
  • Play the full Xbox 360 launch lineup
  • First opportunity to play a 32-player match of Perfect Dark Zero™ on Xbox Live®
  • Highly anticipated games that will ship this year and into 2006, from 2K Games, 2K Sports, Activision, Bethesda Softworks, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios, Namco Hometek, SEGA®, Square Enix, Tecmo®, THQ®, and Ubisoft
  • Full access to all Xbox Live Arcade titles
  • Demos and sneak peeks, including an exclusive look at upcoming Gears of War™
  • Round-the-clock refreshment stations
  • Live entertainment and music, including a genuine "Kaiju Big Battel" and rock band Louis XIV
  • Exclusive schwag, such as Zero Hour Xbox 360 faceplates
  • Onsite Best Buy store where partygoers can purchase their Xbox 360 consoles, games, and accessories

Where Is It? It's at an undisclosed location in the Mojave Desert. Top secret. When Is It? We'll play Xbox 360 games from sundown on November 20 through launch on November 22. What Do I Do? At an various times on November 10, signup forms will appear on various participating sites letting you enter to win! What Else Do I Need To Know?

You have to be at least 18 years of age to win. If you win the tickets you
will be responsible for your own transportation, lodging, etc.



XBox requires e911?

November 10, 2005

This morning I wrote about the congressional hearing discussing a draft of legislation to create a statutory framework for Internet Protocol and Broadband Services.

I didn't have time to listen to the entire hearing and comment on all of it, so I've been keeping my eye out for other news sources on this important piece of legislation. According to ZDNet, "In a joint letter, representatives from Google, Amazon, eBay and InterActiveCorp voiced opposition for the draft's failure to impose "Net neutrality" requirements equally on all three categories of services".

In addition, I learned that Microsoft's Paul Mitchell, senior director and general manager of Microsoft's TV division wasn't happy either. Mitchell complained about two provisions in the current draft.



Dolby's Via Licensing adds 802.11e

November 10, 2005

Via Licensing (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dolby), today announced the addition of IEEE 802.11e to Via’s ongoing patent licensing program, critical to the implementation of the IEEE 802.11 standard.

The IEEE just finalized the 802.11e standard, which aims to add quality-of-service (QoS) features and multimedia support to the existing IEEE 802.11b and IEEE 802.11a wireless standards. According to Via, "Enhancing QoS and multimedia support are critical to wireless home networks. 802.11e is an essential ingredient to delivering better performance for voice over IP and multimedia applications".

More importantly, when is Dolby going to throw its support behind a 7.1 surround sound VoIP application?

Via also informed me, "Joint licensing programs provide the market with a convenient and cost-effective way to obtain licenses to the patents essential to practice of the standard.





Skype spam

November 10, 2005

Nuvio files emergency stay on FCC e911 deadline and rules

November 10, 2005

A Reply Brief in support of Emergency Motion for Partial Stay was filed today by Nuvio and other appellants with the U.S. Court of Appeals DC Circuit to prevent the FCC e911 rules to go into effect on November 28th. I have a copy of the filing and haven't entirely digested it all, but here are some excerpts taken directly from the filed brief.

In this case, Movants challenge the FCC’s adoption of rules that require all “interconnected VoIP providers” (“IVPs”) to implement nationwide E-911 service capabilities within an arbitrary 120-day period, and prohibit them from serving any customers where these capabilities do not exist. Respondents, not surprisingly, focus on the public interest in having emergency services available, and wax eloquent about the importance of public safety, while remaining vague about the feasibility of compliance with the 120-day mandate.

Movants share the FCC’s concern for public safety, but cannot perform the impossible.



Firm urges banning Skype in the enterprise

November 10, 2005

Well, this industry analysy firm's stance on Skype blocking will certainly irk a few Skype fans. Technology industry analyst firm Info-Tech Research Group is telling enterprises to ban Skype - the freely-available Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service - from their organizations. "Companies that are already banning peer-to-peer applications, such as instant messaging, should add Skype to its list of unsanctioned software programs," says Info-Tech analyst Ross Armstrong.

"Approximately 17 million registered Skype users are using the service for business purposes," says Armstrong.

Legislation for a statutory framework for IP and Broadband Services

November 10, 2005

Yesterday, I listened to a congressional hearing discussing a draft of legislation to create a statutory framework for Internet Protocol and Broadband Services. I actually streamed the audio/video, but only recorded the audio from the hearing. It featured several witnesses, including Mr. James D. Ellis, Senior Executive Vice President for SBC, Mr. Paul Mitchell, Senior Director and General Manager for Microsoft TV Division, Mr. Edward A. Salas Staff Vice President Network Planning for Verizon, Mr. Wayne M. Rehberger, Chief Operating Officer for XO Communications, Mr. Christopher Putala, Executive Vice President and more.

At stake is the future of broadband access, port blocking issues, competition in the broadband space (including equal access), and other issues that affect not just data but voice, video, and other future IP communications. The hearing even mentioned the infamous Brand X decision passed down by the Supreme Court, which ruled cable firms don't have to share their networks and will no doubt hurt broadband competition in my opinion.

Much of the discussion centered around 'net neutrality' and the best way to achieve this goal.



Sunrocket SunSpots offers cheap international rates

November 10, 2005

SunRocket just emailed me with an interesting release. The PR firm representing Sunrocket said to me, "I wanted to share the following announcement with you because there seems to be a transition happening with international calling rates. With new VoIP prices, like the ones below, people are able to place calls internationally for the same price as, or less than, long distance calls within their country. It will be interesting to see how traditional phone companies respond to this disruptive new pricing model."

They announced the creation of SunRocket SunSpots, a group of 31 countries plus an additional 10 major foreign cities that qualify for SunRocket’s international calling rate of three cents per minute.

Nero, Microsoft, Linksys - what a busy day!

November 10, 2005

Yesterday, was an extemely busy day for me as I had conference calls with both Microsoft and Linksys. Two huge big shots in the computing and networking worlds. I also an in-person meeting with one of my favorite software applications of all time, namely the good folks from Nero, who develop the popular Nero 7 Ultra Edition CD/DVD-burning software application.

Nero stopped by TMC to talk about their VoIP softphone application called SIPPS Connect. As far as I know, I was the first to discover Nero was offering a VoIP softphone application when I wrote about Nero back in October 2004.

AOL IM and VoIP Survey

November 10, 2005

Some interesting survey stats to share from AOL's IM survey that also includes some VoIP statistics. Interestingly, 20 percent say they currently enjoy, or would like to try, making live voice calls to other computers, landlines and cell phones directly from their IM service. Another 12 percent say they would be interested in an IM-based VoIP service that could replace their primary household phone line. These 12% are certainly on the bleeding edge.

New FCC commissioners appointed

November 10, 2005

Late yesterday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin J. Martin applauded President Bush’s announcement of intention to nominate Deborah T. Tate and Michael J. Copps to be Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission. President Bush nominated a Republican and a Democrat to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, which will preserve the two parties' balance of power on the FCC. Wow, Bush picking a Democrat? Who says Bush only picks cronies and right wingers?

Of the announcements, Chairman Martin said, "If confirmed, Debi Tate will be an excellent addition to the Commission.

Microsoft and Cisco think ICE is cool stuff!

November 10, 2005



Microsoft and Cisco Think ICE Is Cool Stuff!

By ROBERT LIU and TOM KEATING
TMCnet Editors

One of the biggest technological challenges confronting the voice over IP (VoIP) industry has always been the firewall. That’s because stray voice signaling and media packets originating from outside of the firewall or Network Address Translation (NAT) routers are exactly the type of thing they were designed to terminate.

Session border controllers (SBC) help to reduce the potential of lost or misdirected IP packets by establishing a proxy to send and receive incoming calls – essentially like creating a post office box to get your mail.

But Microsoft and Cisco Systems have come up with their own solution for NAT Traversal, as it is often referred to in the networking realm. On Thursday, the two technology giants plan to announce their endorsement of Interactive Connectivity Establishment (ICE) – a draft standard under consideration by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to enable media traversal of NAT /firewalls. Both Cisco and Microsoft claim that this move is aimed at making universal Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and integrated communications more accessible for more customers, Starting next year, Microsoft will ship ICE as a client feature in its products like the flagship Microsoft Office 12.

ICE isn’t a new protocol.












Terayon inserts ads into MPEG-4 IPTV streams

November 9, 2005

Terayon Communication Systems, Inc. a provider of digital video networking applications and home access solutions, today announced what they claim is the industry's first 'telco-optimized' solution that allows telecommunication service providers to create new advertising revenue streams to support their ambitious rollout of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) services.

At its booth at the TelcoTV Conference & Expo, Terayon demonstrated how its new DM 6400-IPTV Network CherryPicker enables telecommunication carriers to seamlessly insert local advertisements into MPEG-4/AVC encoded digital video, the format most carriers have selected for their digital video service offerings. U.S. cable operators alone earned more than $4.3 billion in local advertising revenues in 2004 according to Kagan Associates.

In addition to advertising, telco carriers can also use the DM 6400-IPTV for other important digital video applications. These include the aggregation of programming content from multiple sources, grooming customized channel line-ups by 'cherry picking' programs from multiple programming sources, supporting payload-aware program redundancy and emergency alert system (EAS) messaging.

Yes, but more importantly can I TiVo past these commercials?





Streaming live sports to mobile devices

November 9, 2005

Are you a sports addict? Wish you could view your favorite sports team on your mobile device? Well, SmartVideo Technologies and CSTV/College Sports Television have signed an agreement to deliver video and audio programming to mobile devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, etc.

Relatedly, I should mention that CBS announced on Nov. 3 the acquisition of CSTV Networks, Inc. I wonder if the CBS acquisition will have any impact on any sort of mobile TV streaming of any live CBS sporting events? You'd think a traditional broadcast company such as CBS would not support live Internet TV streaming or that they'd at least delay the Internet stream 20 minutes or so just so their traditional broadcast has a competitive advantage.

Technology lowers car cabin noise level

November 9, 2005

Experts say a quiet cabin is important because it allows drivers to hear their music, cell phone or other passengers more easily. Engineers at Buick used a digital recording device called Aachen (Ah-Kin) Head to improve the sound in their latest model, the Lucerne.

The technology was not only used to lower the vehicle’s noise level, it was also used to improve the sound quality of several components – including the power windows, doors and even the glove box.

No word on whether they've added sound-proofing materials to the back seats to block the noise of children playing with their GameBoys, Nintendo DS, or Sony PSP, as well as any loud sibling quarrels. "Mom, he's touching me." "Well John touched me first" "No I didn't!" "Yes you did!" "I don't care who touched who first. Now be quiet or I'm going to make you both walk home!" Sound familiar?



ADTRAN new SMB VoIP integrated access device

November 9, 2005


I interviewed ADTRAN on late Tuesday regarding their new Total Access 900 series that will be launched today. It's an interesting "all-in-one", soup-to-nuts, integrated access device with a very impressive price-point ($1025 for 4 analog ports plus a full PRI) that will certainly create some waves in the VoIP SMB market. The ADTRAN 900 series IADs are designed for customers looking for a hybrid TDM/IP solution that leverages their existing PBX while allowing them tomigrate to VoIP at their own pace simply by adding IP phones that interface to the existing PBX via the ADTRAN IAD.

I spoke with ADTRAN's Chris Thompson, product manager for ADTRAN Integrated Access Devices.Chris Thompson stated, "We've been the leader in the integrated access device market over the past 4-5 years. Leading market share in both TDM and VoIP integrated access devices.


CE Brand Loyalty? Dead or Just Slowly Dieing?

November 8, 2005

In what must come as no surprise to most consumers and manufacturers, brand loyalty isn't what it used to be.  With the CE marketplace supersaturated with ever-cheaper products from unknown manufacturers, consumers face an overwhelming number of choices.  Product life spans -- even from vendors that are household names -- have grown absurdly short; just take a look at home many digital cameras are introduced each year and how that has changed since the analog days.  When SLR meant a state-of-the-art camera, product introductions were annual (or just slightly more often). 

Today, when products break, the repair costs often exceed the cost of simply buying a new replacement product.  In this type of marketplace, it's no surprise that both savvy and jaded consumers increasingly buy on price and features alone.

The net net for manufacturers: How to leverage brand recognition to retain customers when commodity goods are everywhere you look?

According to ABI Research in its recent “Residential Entertainment Technologies Research Service” (available by subscription), neither technology nor brand is a differentiator any more, and vendors treat long-time customers exactly the same as new ones.  Locking customers in with proprietary formats may work in a new market, but it won't fly in an established market.

Windows Defender

November 8, 2005

In case you hadn't heard the news, Microsoft changed the name of their anti-spyware software from Microsoft AntiSpyware to Windows Defender. Windows Defender will come included with Windows Vista.

According to a Microsoft blogger which broke the news, "As part of this engineering milestone, we've also started to prime the Windows Update software distribution channels with signatures for Windows Defender. This is important so the signatures are available when we ship the next beta. So, for enterprise and corporate customers that are using Windows Server Update Services, you will start seeing "Windows Defender" in the product category dialog as well as a new classification called "Definition Updates".

FCC screws the VoIP industry AGAIN!

November 8, 2005

After the recent Senate action forcing the FCC to back down from cutting off access to VoIP subscribers, it appears the FCC has found a new hoop for the VoIP service providers to jump through, which I will explain in a bit. The FCC decided to back down from forcing VoIP service providers to cut off callers who can't dial into the enhanced 911 network by the Nov. 28 deadline. In killing the e911 cutoff requirement, the FCC decided instead to require VoIP providers to file a letter detailing how much of their subscriber base can receive E911 service.

But in a move that seems like a response to the FCC's bruised ego, the FCC appears to be responding to the Senate ruling by coming up with a new impossible requirement for the VoIP service providers.

China blocking Skype here we go again

November 8, 2005

I just blogged this morning about how China was going to have 210.11 billion minutes with revenues of RMB 52.53 billion Yuan by 2007 but then commented, "So ummm China blocks Skype, one of the leading VoIP players and China is still going to reach an astounding 210.11 billion VoIP minutes?" I had no idea that today Verso announced some news regarding providing technology to China for blocking Skype. Well, not the whole country of China, but a Tier-One carrier based in China, so it's still huge news.

A fellow TMCnet journalist has the scoop on Verso providing technology to Tier-One carrier based in China to filter Skype traffic.

Update: Looks like Loose Wire had this story as well and he provides some insightful analysis on Skype blocking.



Profit from IM and VoIP?

November 8, 2005

FaceBridge Research announced a plug-and-play solution for IM/VoIP networks and portals to profit from IM/VoIP service. According to FaceBridge, "What's been missing is the ability of any individual user to bill for their time while communicating with one or more other users over a standard IM/VoIP network. In other words, if I'm a lawyer or a "life coach" or a psychic or an "adult entertainer" or anything else, I should have the option to charge by the minute for my time communicating with other users."

An interesting concept indeed. Instead of pay-per-minute 1-900 psychic & sex phone numbers they aim to bring that model to IM and VoIP.

A peek inside Vonage headquarters

November 8, 2005

China loves VoIP or hates VoIP?

November 8, 2005

Came across the news release below which claims that in China "it's estimated that by 2007 VOIP calls will amount to 210.11 billion minutes with revenues of RMB 52.53 billion Yuan." So ummm China blocks Skype, one of the leading VoIP players and China is still going to reach an astounding 210.11 billion VoIP minutes? Interesting. China's telecom market is notoriously regulated so my guess is the majority of the VoIP minutes are simply carried by the carriers themselves not young VoIP upstarts equivalent to the U.S.'s Vonage or Packet8 corporations. In any case, thought you might find this bit of China VoIP stats interesting...

SMS@ctive Technologies Corp. is pleased to announce that it will soon start integration of T-Bar with its Chinese partner's VOIP platform.
In China, broadband IP phone (VOIP) has become a new major avenue for operators to share in the voice market especially in the long distance call market.

Motorola Razr V3i launches

November 8, 2005

Leveraging the world-wide success of the Motorola RAZR, Motorola revealed two new colors and two new versions of the popular handset. The Motorola RAZR V3i, RAZR in pink and blue and RAZR for the CDMA network with EV-DO are expected to be available in various regions in Q4 2005. These new updates to the popular RAZR were widely expected but there is no mention of any features added to the Motorola V3i such as having iTunes support. No doubt Verizon and Cingular will be selling these puppies very soon.

Grokster Goes ByeBye

November 7, 2005

TiVo Says Yahoo! Is Anybody Watching?

November 7, 2005

In the latest attempt to merge the two great entertainment spheres -- TV and the Internet --TiVo and Yahoo announced earlier today a new service that enables TiVo users to remotely program their digital video recorders using Yahoo's TV information web sites.  (We hope this does better than other previous ideas, like Microsoft's WebTV (now MSNTV) and America Online's AOLTV).

The service would also offer other Yahoo! services like photos, traffic and weather.  TiVo is hoping it can keep new subscribers and win over more by increasing its offerings and making the service more convenient for users. 

Starting today, subscribers with a TiVo Series2 box and a standard Yahoo ID can log onto any  computer and use the Yahoo site to set TiVo to record TV programs and events.  Yahoo TV offers show times, program descriptions and cast photographs as well as exclusive content like information from the Entertainment Tonight TV program and Mark Burnett Productions, which produces The Apprentice.

Is the Telephone 'The Single Gadget'?

This deal is the latest development as companies increasing see the telephone as the key gadget that consumers favor to manage their digital lifestyle (see early "The Single Gadget" blog entry).  However, most people have no desire to watch TV on mobile phones, according to a survey of 1,500 British consumers by Entertainment Media Research.  Although 65% of those surveyed named the mobile phone their most desired gadget, 70% said they did not want to watch TV on their phones.

ITStarcom CDM-180 and Verizon

November 7, 2005

UTStarcom Personal Communications announced today the availability of the CDM-180 mobile cellular phone through Verizon Wireless. It's reasonably price at $69.99 (with two-year contract) has a unique landscape-formatted 1.8" TFT main display, camera, large keypads, and other features.

"It's Not Fat...It's Full-Featured" boast the advertisements for the latest wireless handset from UTStarcom Personal Communications, the CDM-180, this unique cellphone features a wider but shorter size and landscape oriented screen that they claim is easy-to-read.

"From TVs to computer screens, consumers are accustomed to a landscape view, and we think they'll quickly take to this new handset," said Philip Christopher, president of UTStarcom Personal Communications Division. "While as compact as traditional clamshell phones, the wider form factor feels great in your hand, is easy to dial and the horizontal screen is superb for text display and mobile gaming."

The CDM-180 is an all-digital CDMA, mobile web enabled handset that is compatible with Verizon Wireless' "GET IT NOW" services.





Xbox 360 has a camera?

November 7, 2005

Microsoft's XBox 360 has a camera? According to this article the Xbox 360 does indeed come with a camera. I wonder if it will feature the ability to display the video of the person speaking in an unobtrustive window in the lower-right hand corner? This would help with multi-player gaming and specifically multi-player "team" type games such as Halo2 or the impending Halo3.

If you can see the face of the person speaking it could help identify who is talking.

Microsoft's Singularity

November 7, 2005

Microsoft announced their Singularity operating system this week. Call me a geek, but I can't help think of several Star Trek episodes where a quantum singularity played a role in the plotline. If I recall my Star Trek, a quantum singularity could distort time. In fact, a singularity lies at the center of a black hole, where matter is crushed to infinite density and the pull of gravity is infinitely strong.

The fracturing of the Internet Part II

November 7, 2005

Last month I griped about the fracturing of the Internet and how the U.N. - specifically countries like China, Cuba, and Iran - wanted to wrestle control from the U.S. from overseeing the Internet. Well, a U.S.

Cablevision High Speed Internet upgrade

November 7, 2005

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) today announced that it is leveraging the capacity of its fiber network to introduce two new Optimum Online premium tiers that will increase the speed of its Internet products to up to 50 Mbps. Cablevision is also increasing the speed of its Optimum Online service to all customers, from its current speeds of 10 megabits-per-second (Mbps) downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to 15 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps up at no additional cost.

According to Cablevision, "The introduction of these new speed tiers completes the continuum between Cablevision's cornerstone Optimum Online consumer service and the Metro Ethernet services offered to large businesses by the company's Optimum Lightpath division, allowing Cablevision to offer a full range of data and Internet services that meet any possible level of need in the home or at work."

Cablevision will begin to deploy the new speeds and service levels immediately, with the accelerated Optimum Online service and Optimum Online Boost available across the company's entire service area by the middle of 2006. Optimum Online Ultra is already available across the company's entire service area. Customers will be updated directly regarding availability in their specific areas.

Damn, and I used to have Cablevision service when I lived in Norwalk, but I moved and now I have Charter, which gives me a decent 3Mbps downstream but until recently only 128Kbps upstream (it's now 256Kbps). Heck, my Vonage line uses about 90kbps when in use leaving only 38kbps left for any VPN access, uploading files to work, P2P usage, etc.





Apricorn Makes Back-ups EZ

November 4, 2005

They don’t call it easy for nothing!  Apricorn’s EZ Bus Mini is a wonderfully small portable hard drive and backup system that makes it fast and simple to back-up your computer or reinstall your data.  It’s also handy for storing digital photographs and music and video files (e-mails too if you need to adhere to Sarbanes-Oxley).  Mini does mean mini; the drive fits in your palm of your hand (its dimensions are 4 in. x 3 in. x .60 in.) and weighs only a little more than 4 oz.

I tested the 60 GB version, which came with everything I needed, including USB cable and backup software.  By simply plugging the EZ Bus into any USB port on my Dell desktop using the EZ’s built-in fold-up cable, I was ready to go.  It’s totally USB-powered so no power source is necessary. 

Share USB devices over IP network

November 4, 2005

Ever want to share a USB device on your local area network or even across the Internet? With the proliferation of USB devices such as USB flash drives, scanners, cameras, USB HIDs, printers, etc. being able to "network-enable" these devices is a nice capability to have.

Sure, Silex and Keyspan offer hardware-based solutions to share your USB devices, but what if you're looking for a software-based USB-sharing solution? Well, look no further than IntelliDriver's USB@nywhere software solution.

Microsoft's Bill Gates take on Google

November 4, 2005

I received my Entireweb Newsletter this morning and it had a couple of interesting quotes from Bill Gates taken from a Computing article.

First, check out this jab Bill Gates throws at Google:

"Which Google products are you talking about? Seriously? Other than search, which are you talking about? Google Talk?

Guiding Light Lite Podcast

November 3, 2005

Senate trumps the FCC on e911 rules

November 3, 2005

The Senate has put the FCC deadline on hold with a piece of legislation passed late yesterday. Boy, with Democrats calling for an unusual closed session to talk about investigating pre-war intelligence, and all the partisan bickering, it's a wonder to me any legislation gets passed. In any event, the new law redraws the VoIP E911 guidelines the FCC has set giving more flexbile options to VoIP providers.

Importantly, the bill gives VoIP service providers access to the same Emergency 911 services as wireless service providers and also scolds the FCC for setting unreasonable compliance conditions (i.e. cutting service to cuistomers that do not acknowledge 911 limitations)

The IP-Enabled Voice Communications and Public Safety Act of 2005 was passed unanimously and sets new guidelines for the FCC.



“The Single Gadget Theory”: Consortium Pushes Convergence

November 2, 2005

A major consortium of cable and telecom announced today that they are banding together to accelerate the convergence of video entertainment, wired and wireless data and communications products and services, including the development of “converged next generation products for consumers.” 

Starting next year, Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Advance/Newhouse Communications plan to develop and introduce products that combine the best of cable's core products and interactive features with wireless technology to deliver services anywhere, any time, all on a single device.  They are calling this “a wireless ‘third screen’ beyond the TV and computer screens."

This announcement comes only days after Bill Gates predicted that single handheld devices will be introduced to meet all our audio/video/communication needs
(http://blog.tmcnet.com/gadgets/gadgets/gates-on-gadgets.asp).

These co-branded products and services will be offered to customers through a combination of 1,600 Sprint retail stores, cable retail outlets and other third-party distributors, including thousands of Radio Shack stores.

May the Force Be with You – Twice!

November 1, 2005

Star Wars fans rejoice!  Star Wars fans have twice the reason to celebrate today with the simultaneous release of the Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith DVD and Star Wars Battlefront II™, the sequel to the best-selling Star Wars video game of all time.

     The two-disc Sith set includes a brand-new, full-length documentary produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. and two new featurettes – one exploring the prophecy of Anakin Skywalker as the Chosen One, the other providing an in-depth look at the movie’s stunts.

Star Wars Battlefront II adds all-new space combat, playable Jedi characters and never-before-seen environments straight out of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Fans of the original Star Wars Battlefront will also enjoy an all-new single-player experience that takes players through an epic, story-based saga centering on Darth Vader’s elite 501st Legion of Storm Troopers where every action the player takes impacts the battlefront and, ultimately, the fate of the galaxy.

Bluetooth GPS problems solved?

November 1, 2005

I don't own a BlueTooth GPS receiver, so I cannot attest to the complexity or issues involved with maintaining a good connection between the Bluetooth GPS receiver and an end-user device, but this bit of news below seems to suggest it is harrier than trying to diffuse a nuclear bomb blindfolded. Nevertheless, I thought this bit of news merited sharing since I'm a huge fan of GPS technology and you might find it useful.

Socket Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCKT), an innovative provider of mobile productivity products, today announced enhancements to its GPS Nav Kit including: Socket's patent pending Connect!Agent software, new application features, updated North American and Western European map data and Windows Mobile 5.0 support. With the updated GPS Nav Kit, Socket now provides the best experience possible to users looking to add a complete, no-hassle cordless GPS navigation solution to their mobile device.

"The average Bluetooth user experience is full of complicated device and software setups, along with compatibility and security issues," said Donnie Wong, GPS product marketing manager at Socket Communications. "Our breakthrough Connect!Agent software greatly simplifies cordless connectivity and eliminates the hassles of managing multiple Bluetooth devices for a mobile user.

Newspapers are a dying breed

November 1, 2005

Newspapers are continuing their downward spiral of advertising revenue due to increasing pressure from online news sources, including blogs, according to MediaPost which quotes a WallStreet report.

IT'S OFFICIAL: 2005 WILL BE the newspaper industry's worst year since the last ad industry recession. And things aren't looking much better for next year either, according to a top Wall Street firm's report on newspaper publishing. "Sadly, 2005 is shaping up as the industry's worst year from a revenue growth perspective since the recession impacted 2001-2002 period," says the report from Goldman Sachs, adding a warning that meaningful growth in 2006 is "very unlikely." more...



Newspapers are the least visually pleasing of any news media since there is little if any color and they aren't interactive. The days of Al Bundy carrying his trusty newspaper to the "john" are over my friend -- and I say this a good thing.

Click to call continues to grow

November 1, 2005

With companies such as Ingenio and eStara promoting click-to-call technology and ecommerce sites looking to add click-to-call to help close sales, "click-to-call VoIP" (click on a web link and initiate a VoIP call) continues to make strides. Google, eBay, Yahoo and other major Web players have click-to-call directory assistance "on their radar", as well as what I like to call "click-to-close" (the sale) utilizing Web-initiated VoIP calls to aid in closing sales. Continuing that trend towards click-to-call is ThomasNet, which launched a VoIP-based call tracking service powered by eStara.

ThomasNet claims to be the world's largest industrial search engine and they plan to provide free-call tracking numbers to its clients including manufacturers, distributors and industrial service providers. ThomasNet plans on introducing the service to a select number of customers as a value-added feature.

"We know that more than 9 out of 10 industrial buyers go online first when looking for products and services.



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