Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
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January 2006

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Microsoft IE 7 Beta for Those Who Dare

January 31, 2006

For those of you who fear no beta and love to be the first one to get your hands on anything new, Microsoft is making a beta preview of its upcoming web browser, IE 7, available to developers and enthusiasts at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/IE/ie7/default.mspx.

(You may call this product by its full name, Internet Explorer 7, too.)

IE 7 offers dynamic security protection and makes everyday tasks easier with improved platform and manageability (at least according to Microsoft). I'm sure they have listened and learned from all of those error reports they receive daily.

Getting the (Mobile) Edge for Your Digital Photos

January 31, 2006

If you’re like me, you’ve got digital photos stored on all sorts of media – Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Secure Digital and Smart Media. Getting all of those out of a digital camera and onto a PC just isn’t that easy.

Now, with Mobile Edge’s 12-in-1 USB 2.0 Card Reader/Writer, you can read and write to 12 different media – all of those I’ve already mentioned as well as Multi-Media and IBM Micro Drive.

Wallet Flash credit card-sized USB memory

January 31, 2006


Wallet Flash is the world's first wallet friendly credit card sized USB Flash Drive supporting sizes that include 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB. Created by Walletex, the Wallet Flash is made of double laminated unbreakable plastic, it combines the memory in a slim chic body and a durable platform that is even waterproof. It also features a double sided USB connector so it fits hard to reach USB ports and supports UsB 1.1 and 2.0.

Here are the Wallet Flash's list of features from the Walltex website:

* Stylish credit card format - goes conveniently into wallet
* Large storage capabilities – can hold up to 2GB of instantly accessible data
* Double sided USB connector - Makes it quick & easy to connect

Built to last

* Strong and robust – will remain serviceable for years
* Water proof – resistant to spills and other accidents
* Temperature tolerant – unaffected by heat such as being left on dashboard

Nifty and Innovative

* Cutting Edge - reinventing and customizing UFD for your marketing needs
* Ultra slim - Slimmest USB device in the market
* Unique- world's only wallet friendly electronic gadget

High Visibility and Frequent Exposure

* Large double sided branding area – more than any other UFD
* Daily use – your brand is out every time it’s used























Pay for Skype ringtones? Nah, not me.

January 31, 2006

In case you missed it, Skype and Warner Music Group partnered yesterday to offer ringtones for the Skype client. Now I get the fact that ringtones on cellphones are a multi-billion dollar business, but ringtones on Skype? Actually, come to think of it, I don't get how ringtones on cellphones are a multi-billion dollar business. Multi-million maybe, but multi-billion?

Microsoft merges Exchange and Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) Groups to form Unified Communications Group (UCG)

January 30, 2006

Today Microsoft Corp. is merging the Exchange and Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) Groups to form the Unified Communications Group (UCG) to reside in Microsoft’s Business Division led by Jeff Raikes. The combined group will be led by Anoop Gupta, current corporate vice president of the RTC group. Anoop has spoken at several ITEXPO tradeshows and has always maintained the vision of converged communications. The reorganization is part of Microsoft’s commitment to effectively align the company and its three distinct business units.

What Next? SuperBowl Ads on Your Cell Phone

January 30, 2006

Do Record Sales Reports Reflect Reality?

January 30, 2006

Still can’t get over end-of-year reports about how the recording industry is hurting. Album sales reports from the recording industry portray a gloom and doom scenario, with the headline – “Album sales hit nine-year low in 2005.” How about this info: “U.S. music album sales last year slid to their lowest level since 1996, squelching any hopes that the recording industry's long downward spiral may have bottomed out.” Remember the words "album sales" (as in CD).

Hello! Let's make the numbers say what they want ... How about Nielsen SoundScan reports that overall music sales, which include albums, singles, music videos and digital tracks, jumped 22.7% to more than 1 billion units last year.

Razr Blade: Which Came First? Or Who's On First?

January 27, 2006

Moving Music Around the House Just Got Easier

January 27, 2006

The all-in-one home media center in one central location with different media streaming to different rooms in the house is the Holy Grail of home entertainment. The problem has always been that it's just too difficult to do.

Linksys and Yahoo! have developed a new plug-in for the Yahoo! Music Engine that works directly with the Wireless-G Music Bridge (WMB54G), which retails for $99, that enables users to stream music directly to a home stereo with the click of a button on the Yahoo!

Near Simultaneous 'Bubble' Release: Film, TV, DVD

January 26, 2006

Did you hear about Bubble, the new film from Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies, and Videotape), that's opening tomorrow? Seems that it's going to be released in theaters the same day it's available on HDNet, the movie channel started by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (he who knew when to cash in his Internet chips at the right time, speaking of bubble).

Even more interesting is the fact that is will be available on DVD only a few days later, rather then the usual few months (or more) later, when you've forgotten all about the movie -- or can't remember it's name when you're at your local video store.

Will be a good test to see if film or HD viewers go for the DVD too or if viewers just go for the DVD instead.

Grandstream GXV-3000 video phone

January 26, 2006


This is the new Grandstream GXV-3000 H.264 based SIP video phone launched at ITEXPO and which I promised to post a photo. This is the phone I told you about yesterday during my chit-chat with Digium's Mark Spencer. Based on completed interoperability tests conducted by engineers from Grandstream and its partners, GXV-3000 works seamlessly with SIP soft client from Counterpath, IP-PBX or softswitch products from Digium, Netcentrex, and Pingtel.

"With the exciting release of GXV-3000, Grandstream solved 2 critical issues that prevent video communications over public Internet from becoming a mass phenomenon: high cost of hardware terminal and delivery of high quality 2-way real-time video over modest bandwidth," said David Li, Grandstream's CEO.


Internet Telephony Conference - more photos

January 26, 2006

Here are some more photos taken yesterday at ITEXPO ... Amazing attendance at the sessions, the keynotes, and the exhibit hall. Keep in mind yesterday wasn't even the "big day" for the exhibit hall (today is) yet the hall was jammed packed. Yesterday, the exhibit hall was open from 6pm-8pm which included a networking reception (free food + drink) within the exhibit hall.

Sangoma offers new analog cards

January 26, 2006

Sangoma Technologies Corporation announced at ITEXPO that it is now shipping its A200 analog FXO/FXS PCI cards for use in the popular Asterisk open-source IP-PBX..

“There is still a huge demand and need for FXO/FXS technologies in many countries around the world,” says Sangoma Technologies President and CEO David Mandelstam. “Not all telephone systems require the latest VoIP technologies, but still require robust analog capabilities to maintain quality of service. We understand this need and are taking an industry lead by providing a price/performance solution that our competitors will now follow.”

The A200 solution supports any combination of up to 24 FXO or FXS connections. A single PCI slot host connection for all ports ensures common synchronous clocking for all channels.



Photos from Internet Telephony Conference & Expo East 2006

January 25, 2006

CompUSA to offer Covad broadband

January 25, 2006

Covad and CompUSA have announced a deal to offer Covad's broadband in 168 stores nationwide. CompUSA and Covad have created what they are claiming is "a total technology solution for the very small business market". According to Covad, small business specialists will be present in each store to help the customer find the best solution for their needs. Covad will be powering a Digital Services demonstration kiosk in each CompUSA store that will allow the customer to experience the service before purchasing.

Sports Fans Drive HD TV Sales

January 25, 2006

With Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, it’s not surprising to hear about how sports fans are driving HD television sales. According to a new survey "Inside the Mind of the HD Sports Fan" conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Sports Video Group (SVG), these same fans more readily adopt new technologies that quickly deliver sports content than non-sports fans.

The survey was unveiled at the first TV Sports Summit held at the 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, as reported by Millimeter’s HD Focus newsletter today. Highlights of the survey include:

  • Nearly 60% of high-definition television owners consider themselves sports fans
  • Nearly 50% of HDTV owners cited HD sports programming as the primary force behind their HDTV purchase
  • Sports fans said their favorite sports to watch in HD include the Super Bowl (78%), World Series (44%) and college football bowl games (41%)
  • 39% of HD sports fans are extremely disappointed when a sports event they want to watch is NOT in high-definition
  • 65% of HDTV sports fans say sound is an important component of their sports viewing experience



Paint Shop Pro Keeps Getting Better and Better

January 25, 2006

While I've always been a fan of Adobe's PhotoShop, it just seems that I've been using Paint Shop Pro more and more to edit, enhance and repair my digital photos.

With Paint Shop Pro 9 (a newer version -- X -- is out now), you can cover up elements -- even backgrounds -- you don't want in your photos (perfect when you don't have time to make sure you see the full frame when you need to get a fast shot off), eliminate the colored glow that can appear in high contrast areas, correct dark shadows and bright backlight as well as add cool effects, like vignettes or halftones, to photos. This has all been pretty easy with 9, but apparently X makes it even easier.

Corel is now offering a special offer with orders for Paint Shop Pro X -- a free copy of Paint Shop Xtras — Creative Editions. This package extends the creative power of Paint Shop Pro with more than 600 artistic resources to choose from you, including 250 Picture Tubes and Frames.

Chit-chat with Mark Spencer

January 25, 2006

I met with Digium's founder, Mark Spencer yesterday to discuss what was happening with Asterisk. Mark told me that they are working very hard on Jingle support, an open set of extensions to the IETF's Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) for use in VoIP, video, and other peer-to-peer multimedia
sessions. This will enable federation with Google Talk and other Jingle supporters. Mark said that Jingle support will be coming very soon.

Performancing for Firefox 1.1 released

January 24, 2006

A new version of Performancing for Firefox has just been released. The most notable new features are the Technorati tagging support and Delicious bookmark integration. Now that I can tag with Performancing for Firefox I'll have to re-evaluate whether or not to switch from my current WYSIWYG blogging software that I use (HTMLArea). Not being able to tag was a stumbling block for me.

(Not So) Trivial Pursuit

January 24, 2006

Cell phones have become indispensable -- can you imagine not having one?

But can you guess how many people around the world now use cell phones? Do you want to even try?

Well, many more cell phones than jelly beans in that jar that we have always been asked to guess at school math night -- 2 billion to be exact, according to The McKinsey Quarterly, the online journal of the business consulting firm. With the world population approaching 6.5 billion (according to world and U.S. population clocks), that 2 billion figure is truly remarkable.

Asterisk and Ranch Networks make Asterisk secure and more scalable

January 24, 2006

Today at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo, Digium and Ranch Networks have announced that they are teaming up to make Asterisk a secure and scalable VoIP solution. I have a meeting with Mark Spencer, Mr. Asterisk himself at 4pm today to discuss this new relationship, but I wanted to share this news before it hit the news wires.

Digium, the original creator of Asterisk and pioneer of open source telephony, and Ranch Networks, the first IP telephony network appliance provider to integrate security and bandwidth control for IP-based applications, today introduced its security code for the Asterisk open source IP telephony platform. When combining Asterisk with Ranch Networks new RN series appliances, the solution provides unprecedented security and scalability to the open source telephony industry. The code is available for download at www.ranchnetworks.com and ftp.digium.com

Ranch Networks solves the problems associated with VoIP implementations through both its MIDCOM integration with the Asterisk platform, and several of its Patent-Pending technologies.



Signate announces SigPRO scalable Asterisk solution

January 24, 2006


Today, at ITEXPO, Signate is announcing SigPRO. SigPRO is a a hosted telephony system for telephone service providers with 5,000 to 500,000 customer extensions that Signate claims "sets a new price/performance standard".

I have heard various issues surrounding scalability issues when it comes to the Linux-based Asterisk IP-PBX solution, so I contacted one of my sources and asked about Signate's scalability claims. My source responded, "Signate is in for a shock when they really try to scale this stuff. They are using GPL'd code from Asterisk, and have not licenced the code.


Zoep VoIP client with Firefox plugin and Jabber support

January 23, 2006

VoIPSter has announced the formation of The OpenZoep Foundation and the release of OpenZoep communications engine. The OpenZoep communication protocol is based on the XMPP Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, an open, XML-based protocol for near-real-time, extensible instant messaging and presence information, which happens to also be supported by Google Talk. It also is the core protocol of the Jabber Instant Messaging and Presence technology used by thousands of Jabber servers.

According to VoIPSter, "OpenZoep will enable the proliferation and rapid development of standards based telephony application throughout the world as VoIP grows and continues to take hold with users and service providers." They added, "OpenZoep wants to become the de facto open source VoIP solution that is embedded in software clients, web browsers, games and other mobile or desktop applications," said founder Sjoerd Hannema, CEO of VoIPSter."With OpenZoep all applications can immediately begin offering free PC-to-PC VoIP calls, instant messaging (IM) and both outbound PSTN and SIP calls to free and premium SIP based telephony providers."

"Building VoIP clients using OpenZoep is very straightforward," said Dirk Griffioen, VoIPSter's Senior VOIP Engineer. "The OpenZoep API offers simple methods to communicate with the OpenZoep client-side VoIP engine and server-side web services."

Further, OpenZoep goal is to create "Open Directories" to help finding others easier.





Mobile DTV Alliance Wants You! (To Watch!)

January 23, 2006

Just the other day I wrote about how the small screens of mobile phones directly affects what viewers want to watch on it – short stuff!

Now, today, a bunch of companies that are household names -- including Intel, Motorola and Texas Instruments – are teaming up in an alliance designed to foster the growth of mobile digital TV and accelerate something called Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld (DVB-H), an open standard for broadcast digital TV reception on mobile devices.  The organization is called the Mobile DTV Alliance.

As mobile video entertainment gains increased awareness and achieves greater availability, the Alliance intends to focus on promoting the best practices and open standards that deliver premium-quality broadcast television to mobile devices for the North American market. The open, industry-supported standard is expected to foster growth throughout the wireless market with more choices and allow mobile DTV handsets and services to reach us faster and at a lower cost.
 
In their scheme, mobile devices capable of decoding DVB-H signals will enable us to receive live TV programming directly on our phones and other mobile devices.

Philips VP5500 WiFi VoIP phone launches

January 23, 2006

The Philips VP5500 WiFi VoIP phone was announced way back in September 2005 and it was finally launched today in the Netherlands of all places. No offense Netherlands, but how come you get first dibs on this cool phone? Anyway, the sleekly styled VP-5500 is powered by Linux and lets users enjoy live video calls using its built-in VGA camera (640x480 resolution) that rotates up to 240 degrees and supports 30 FPS. Video calls are displayed on a 2.2" color LCD supporting 64k colors. The VP5500 features a video out port that lets others watch the video on a TV.

Tello a near term solution?

January 23, 2006


Tello was launched today by Pulver with some help from Craig McCaw, telecom banker Michael Price and former Apple CEO John Sculley. What is Tello? Tello enables enterprise users to see the presence of the person they are trying to reach - whether the users is on a phone, cellphone, etc., regardless of which IM client service they use, i.e. MSN Messenger, AOL/AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, etc.

Internet Telephony check list

January 23, 2006

I leave for Internet Telephony Expo tomorrow and I figured I may as well use my blog here as my checklist for stuff I need to do in preparation for the show. I am going to be crazy busy at this show with several appointments, I'm moderating a session, and I hope to blog all the cool stuff happening at the show.

Tom Keating's pre-Internet Telephony Conference & Expo checklist





  • Bring Nokia N90 phone to ITEXPO and do some live video blogging (vlogs) of the show. I only have a 64MB MMC card though. Thought the Nokia N90 used SD. I was going to pick up a 1GB SD card so I can do some large vlogs.

AOL and IBM Sametime IM clients federate

January 23, 2006

Looks like my prediction that in 2006 that IM clients will interoperate is coming true. AOL today announced that it has formed a relationship with IBM to connect their instant messaging communities. The popular enterprise IM client, IBM Lotus Sametime will be able to connect and communicate in real time with users of the AOL, AIM, ICQ and Apple iChat instant messaging services.

With today's announcement of Lotus Sametime 7.5, IBM plans to provide instant messaging customers with federated access to AOL's global instant messaging network as an embedded feature for each user.

Obvious Fact File: Mobile Viewers Like To Watch Shorter Clips

January 20, 2006

From the obvious facts file: A report by Starcom USA released earlier this week (and reported on MediaPost) shows that four out of five early adopters of video iPods and other mobile devices prefer to watch short programs when they are mobile; they are apparently quite happy to watch longer TV programs on (can you believe it!) a television.

Now I don't know how many of you have either watched a full TV show or seen someone watching one on a mobile video device, but I can't image staring at that small screen for 30 minutes, 60 minutes or two hours.  It's no wonder that small portable TVs (those with 3 x 3 screens) never took off big in CE. 

This reminds me of the discussions about how watching TV on your computer was going to be the next big thing.  Seems like the smaller the screen, the less likely anyone wants to watch anything on it for any length of time.

PhoneBoy does his first Gabcast (audio blogging)

January 20, 2006

Spammers hack captcha to post blog spam comments?

January 20, 2006

Either the spammers are either very stupid or they have figured out a way to hack the visual captcha plugin (created by James Seng) I installed in my Movable Type blog (sample image to right). The reason I say this is that my blog has been receiving spam comments over the past several months that are the exact same text and I've seen this exact text on other blogs as well.

The spam text reads:
I totally agree with what you're saying. I wish more people felt this way and took the time to express themselves. Keep up the great work.


Mark Spencer podcast interview

January 19, 2006

Ronald Lewis interviewed Mark Spencer, Asterisk founder/guru this morning. I listened to the podcast while simultaneously trying to read and respond to email, surf the Web, and prepare for Internet Telephony Expo next week. Unfortunately, my multitasking skills aren't what they used to be since I only absorbed probably 30% of the entire interview. I could tell there were some good questions posed by Ronald and interesting answers by Mark making it worth checking out the podcast.

More on Apple's iPod Phone

January 19, 2006

Palm T/X Is Cool

January 19, 2006

I've always been a big fan of Palm's products, and the T/X is everything a handheld organizer (remember those buzzwords?) was meant to be. Big and black, it's a sleek looking unit with a beautiful TFT screen (320x480) that almost fills its entire size! Fast too!

The T/X has got everything you need in a handheld -- except the phone: calendar, contacts, tasks, memos, DataViz Documents To Go Pro for Word, Excel and PowerPoint compatibility, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, VersaMail email, SMS, web browser, Pocket Tunes for MP3 playback, Media for photos and videos and even Solitaire!

5 Days until Internet Telephony Expo plus Asterisk certification

January 19, 2006

I can't believe it's just 5 days till Internet Telephony Expo. While I'm excited to be leaving behind cold Connecticut for warm Ft. Lauderdale, Florida there is so much going on at this next show that I don't know how I'm going to visit with all the vendors I want to on the show floor, moderate my "Managing Your Network for High-Quality Voice" panel, attend a few of the interesting conference sessions, and attend all the pre-briefings I have scheduled. On top of it all, I still haven't replaced my cell phone that I lost in a taxi at the last Internet Telephony Expo, so it will be tough to juggle or change my schedule on the fly. Being the gadget lover that I am I just can't decide whether to get a Treo 650, Treo 700, HP iPAQ hw6515, or some other smart phone. I'm usually pretty decisive about these things, and just buy whatever the hell I want, but with a baby on the way, my gadget shopping-spree days are over.

In any event, I just wanted to let everyone know that the TMC team is continually trying to improve the education that goes on at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo. Even with the show just 5 days away, TMC has added an exciting new educational session to Internet Telephony Conference & Expo. According to Rich Tehrani's blog post, "Asterisk certification" has been added to TMC university.

Wizztones personalized Skype ringtones with TTS

January 18, 2006

Google Talk and VoIP on Sony PSP?

January 18, 2006

SIPThat's popular blogger, Erik Lagerway pondered in a blog post last year if the Sony PSP would one day run a VoIP (Voice over IP) client. In fact, he hinted while working at Xten (now CounterPath) that they could should be able to "hack together" a softphone for VoIP on the PSP handheld gaming console. Erik wrote in May 2005:

Looks like Sony has their crosshairs clearly focused on providing a feature-full portable communications and entertainment system. Since we can browse the web on this thing, and it has a USB port, Wi-Fi and a TCP stack you would think we should be able hack together a softphone for VoIP.

Weekday Update: More 'SNL' on Video iPod

January 18, 2006

Yahoo VoIP survey says people use search engines to find VoIP solutions

January 18, 2006


Just thought I'd share Yahoo's survey on VoIP, which Yahoo! Search Marketing recently commissioned by the National American Testing Organization, to explore how consumers use Internet search in researching and purchasing VoIP service. The findings include helpful insight for service providers in how to drive subscriptions using search advertising techniques that deliver both information and branded value messages to consumers.

Highlights of the VoIP study, summarized in the press release below, include this key statistic: two thirds of the survey respondents said Internet search was "an indispensable research tool." In other words, Yahoo! has VoIP (Yahoo Messenger) and Yahoo is a leading search engine. Hmmm, Yahoo is a leading Search Engine + Yahoo has VoIP = Yahoo becoming leading VoIP service provider?

Actually, they are simply saying using Yahoo can help you find other VoIP service providers.




Gabcast audio blogger service

January 18, 2006

Gabcast is an interesting new service that lets you instantly create podcasts for your blog with integration with your blogging software. While, this in itself is nothing new, AudioBlog has been doing it successfully for awhile, the neat thing about Gabcast is that it supports calling their service both via the PSTN and VoIP. Yep, that's right, just launch your favorite SIP softphone and dial the SIP address: 422@sip.gabcast.com. They also support Pulver's FWD service (dialing FWD #702681). But most "geek of all", they even support calling via an Asterisk IAX trunk line!

Google Talk now federates

January 18, 2006

As of yesterday, Google Talk now federates with other XMPP services. Google announced "open federation" for the Google Talk service allowing people on different IM/VoIP clients to "talk" to each other. Google Talk currently support open federation with any service provider that supports the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) standard. This includes Chikka, Earthlink, Gizmo, Tiscali, MediaRing, as well as universites, corporations and individual users that setup their own XMPP-compliant servers.

Google Talk's Gary Burd "flipped the switch" to connect the Google Talk service to the public XMPP network and gleefully takes pride in the fact that he got to "throw the switch" (good thing he doesn't work for the prison system! ) Gary Burd writes in the Google Talk blog, "I'm proud to have worked on this, and to be the one that got to turn on something that lets Google Talk users talk to millions of other users out there."

The Google Talk blog writes:



I flipped the switch to connect the Google Talk Service to the public XMPP network this morning.

Roboraptor: The Age of Dinosaurs Returns!

January 17, 2006

Dinosaurs are back!!!  Scary, very scary!!!!

Actually, it’s just my son playing with the Roboraptor, an advanced fusion of technology, personality and fear. Wth its advanced artificial intelligence personality, realistic biomorphic motions, direct control and autonomous free-roam modes, the 32-inch long Roboraptor is like a creature from the Earth’s distant past.

Here’s what the tech/personality/fear fusion is all about: 

  • Fluid bi-pedal motion -- walking, running and predatory gaits
  • Realistic body movements -- turning head and neck; whipping tail actions
  • Three distinct moods -- hunter, cautious and playful
  • Autonomous environmental interaction -- responds with mood specific behaviors and sounds
  • Mood dependent behavior -- aggressive/hunting mood, nervous/cautious mood and friendly/playful mood
  • Multi-sensory -- touch sensors in his tail, chin and mouth; sonic sensors
  • Infra-red vision system detects objects in his path or approaching him
  • "Laser" tracking technology trace a path on the ground and he’ll follow it
  • Powerful jaws that play tug-of war games, bite and pull
  • Oh!

IP Thinking Skype PDA phone

January 17, 2006

I recently learned about a VoIP-capable PDA-like phone from IP Thinking that runs Skype on a Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition "Pocket PC-like" device. Think of this as a phone handset slapped onto a PocketPC. Called the IP-Thinking VoIP phone, it features a PDA-based architecture, which allows it to work seamlessly with all Windows Mobile Edition programs, such as Skype and other VoIP applications. I am told that in addition to Skype it will support other VoIP softphone applications, such as SJLabs.

Now for Something Really Useful: 'SNL' for iPod

January 17, 2006

How much can we write about the iPod!  Lots, because there is simply so much news about Apple's little wonder. Under the "Now Here Is Something Really Useful" category comes news that Apple will sell a limited number of old Saturday Night Live skits through iTunes for $1.99 each. The skits can be viewed on video iPods or PCs.

Couple of funny skits in this limited collection, but let's bring out the really classic classics -- Dan Aykroyd's "Bass-o-Matic," "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" with Steve Martin and "Samurai Deli" with John Belushi (all skit names are approximations, but you know which ones I mean!).

XConnect shares expertise in VoIP Peering at industry conferences

January 16, 2006

With Internet Telephony Conference & Expo next week, the flurry of new product and new service announcements is sure to come. I just wanted to share this piece of news from XConnect since this is more of an educational slant than a new product pitch. XConnect plans on sharing their VoIP peering expertise at several industry conferences over the next few months, including next week's Internet Telephony Conference & Expo. VoIP Peering is a HUGE genre within the VoIP space and growing exponentially, so if you are looking to learn more about VoIP peering, below lists where XConnect will be speaking and educating about the VoIP peering phenomenon. I know a lot of my blog readers have asked me where they can learn more about VoIP and even potential business opportunities with VoIP.

Global IP Sound killer?

January 16, 2006

Rich Tehrani has a very interesting inteview with Andrew Sviridenko of Spirit DSP, where Andrew positions Spirit DSP as a more robust solution than Global IP Sound (GIPS) due to Spirit DSP's better multipoint conferencing support and scalability. The GIPS codec/voice engine is used in Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, and a few other VoIP softphones. Interestingly, Andrew mentions speaking with Microsoft, so if Spirit DSP were to be embedded in a future release of Windows Live Messenger, that would be a huge win for Spirit DSP.

And speaking of Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft's bloggers have been covering the beta of this software and "leaking" some of the really cool features in Windows Live Messenger, including a really neat feature that lets you share your music playlist over the Internet. In fact, one of the Microsoft bloggers, Leah, has an interesting birthday wish:

"For my birthday, I wanted a way to play music on my computer and then invite my buddies to listen with me on his/her computer.



Use iPod Video to fake concert performance

January 13, 2006

Forget singers (Ashley Simpson) faking their singing in concerts by lip-synching their tunes, this release just emailed to me talks about a band using the video features of the iPod to fake the entire performance (voice & video) of a particular band-member that can't make it to the concert. If I read this release correctly, they display the video of the drummer, guitarist, keyboardist or bass player on the Jumbotron. Only thing I don't get is that the iPod has a 320x240 resolution. I would think that'd look pretty crappy on the Jumbotron.

Apple Mobile Me iPod phone

January 13, 2006

According to Yahoo/Reuters, Apple is developing the oft-rumored iPod mobile phone with a recent trademark of the phrase "Mobile Me". Hey, if they are going to marry an MP3 player with a mobile phone, they may as well marry VoIP too, right? I wonder if Apple's Mobile Me will run Skype? That'd be cool.

And speaking of marrying, just came across a CNet article saying two people got married using VoIP and two webcams.

Another One Bites the Dust: Nikon Moving Away from Film Cameras

January 13, 2006

Kodak, Canon and now Nikon have decided that producing conventional film cameras just doesn't make sense in this age of digital imaging -- just seems a bit sad when one of the great names in photography (often the gold standard for professionals and amateurs alike) makes a move like this. Of course, Nikon digital cameras share a similar status.

Of course it's all about economics, so with film camera bodies accounted for less than 5% of Nikon sales, it couldn't have been a hard decision. Nikon will also stop making lenses for those film camera bodies, too.

Cell Calls from Planes On Their Way

January 12, 2006

Remember when airplanes had telephones in seat backs rather than LCD TVs? Expensive to use ($6 a minute seems to ring a bell), they were used sparingly (very sparingly) by most travelers. The ones still in existence are operated by Verizon.

Now the FCC is planning to auction off (everybody loves an auction!) the airwaves reserved for phones embedded in airplane seats -- May 10 looks to be the starting date.

Avaya and Vonage strange bedfellows

January 12, 2006

Today Vonage, along with three other companies, was recognized by Avaya with the new Avaya Intelligent Communications Innovation Award "for their innovative approaches to weave communications into the fabric of their business". Maybe it's just me, but Avaya and Vonage seems like strange bedfellows. Just wait till Vonage finally targets the SMB market and competes with an Avaya IP-PBX, then we'll see if Avaya gives Vonage any future Innovation awards.

Actually, you can get Vonage lines with a business VoIP account using a few standard ATAs, but you still don't get advanced PBX functionality such as 3-digit extension-to-extension dialing and transfers. Although, I suppose an Avaya IP-PBX could use Vonage for the IP-trunking, so maybe they're not competitive after all.

2006 the year of IPTV?

January 12, 2006

Is 2006 the year for IPTV? Certainly seems that way with all the releases I've been getting in email lately, including this one below, which lists broadband data and 400 IPTV channels. 400 channels? 400 CHANNELS!?!?!

PPC (pay-per-click) pixel ads?

January 12, 2006

I've written about pixel ads a few times, including the famous MillionDollarHomePage pixel ad site and I wrote about the interesting SmashMyViper.com pixel ad site. Nowadays, they're certainly a dime-a-dozen. Still, that doesn't stop people from trying to repeat the success of the MillionDollarHomePage which sold its last 1000 pixels on eBay for $38,100. In fact, I was emailed by PixelPPC's owner the following new pixel ad concept - a pay-per-click pixel ad.

Pac-West and Verisign partner on converged solutions

January 12, 2006

Pac-West today announced a partnership with Verisign to deliver converged communications services, that combines IP/data, VoIP, and wireless. I've written about Verisign in the past with regards to VoIP. In fact, Verisign is a huge proponent of ENUM, as am I. Looks like they're going to support e911 as well.

Check out the news...

VeriSign Database and Signaling Services Combined With Pac-West IP and PSTN Expertise to Create Turnkey Convergence Offering for VoIP

Pac-West Telecomm, Inc. (Nasdaq: PACW - News), a leading provider of traditional and next-generation voice communications services, today announced a strategic alliance with VeriSign, Inc. to provide services that enable communications providers to offer converged IP, voice and data communications.

By bundling VeriSign signaling and database services with Pac-West's network, the companies can offer the infrastructure elements needed to interconnect IP-based and traditional public switched telephone networks (PSTN).

VeriSign will supply Pac-West with back office and database services including Calling Party Name (CNAM), Local Number Portability (LNP), SS7 and provisioning services. Pac-West will contribute voice and data network services such as trunking, switching and IP transport.

The result will be a VoIP service bureau that features LNP, E911, directory listings, customer ordering and service interfaces with near real- time notifications combined with IP and PSTN bearer and signaling networks for near real-time service activation.

"Working with Pac-West allows us to speed the introduction of VoIP and next-generation services," said Bill Wolfe, senior vice president, VeriSign Communications Services.









Intel Inside, I Mean Leap Ahead

January 12, 2006

It's been a little more than week since Intel launched a new branding campaign to replace the famous and very effective "Intel Inside" campaign that positioned a lowly computer chip as one of the key items consumers should think about when buying a computer.

Yes, it's been a week and I still can't get used to the new "Intel. Leap Ahead" company tagline.  Just doesn't have that succinct message of the "Intel Inside" tagline.The "Leap Ahead" makes me think of anything but technology, which makes sense (I guess) since Intel is moving into the living room with its new Viiv concept -- and the living room is where you live with technology transparently (hopefully), rather than dealing with technology like we have come to learn from so many computer glitches and headaches over the years. (Hey, they are not all Intel's fault, and I'm certainly not blaming them.)

Mashup of Internet Telephony and Google Maps

January 12, 2006

TMC's Internet Telephony Conference & Expo is in just a couple of weeks and I am anticipating this being the best VoIP show ever with over 200% growth from last year. I'm actually speaking at this show - well technically moderating a session, but I'll probably provide some of my own insights for the "Managing Your Network for High-Quality Voice" session.

TMC has many firsts to its name, including launching the first VoIP magazine and launching the first contact center magazine. Well, TMC now has another "first" to add to its repertoire, namely a mashup of Google Maps with TMC's Internet Telephony Conference & Expo attendees! There are attendees from all over the country attending this VoIP conference. In fact, this map doesn't do ITEXPO justice since we have a huge international audience attending ITEXPO but it was more difficult to figure out latitude/longitude information for our international attendees.

Google Video - We're sorry, but this video is not available in your country

January 12, 2006

It looks like Google Video is using geolocation to determine what county you live in and then displaying this message: "We're sorry, but this video is not available in your country." if you are in a "disallowed" country. The reason? Well, many non-U.S. countries are 6 months behind on U.S.-based TV episodes, if not longer.

Engadget "borrows" my image, but it's all good

January 12, 2006

I was one of the first to write about the NETGEAR Skype phone, a PC-less Skype phone and I'm almost positive I was the first to acquire an image and post it online. I love the Engadget site and often submit some of my interesting stories to them. I know they picked up at least one of them, namely my Linksys CIT200 Skype phone review.

Anyway, I decided to submit my NETGEAR Skype phone blog post to Engadget and a few other sites, which included my exclusive photo of the NETGEAR Skype phone. But before doing so, I altered the image slightly so I could track to see if anyone used my image and didn't reference my website.

Search Me: Now Video Search Goes Mainstream

January 12, 2006

Video search -- just what we needed!

Not too surprising to find the big players in search (Google, Yahoo!) now looking at video; makes sense with all of the video and visual programming and files we now have crammed into our computers, mobile phones, handhelds (and the list goes on).

AOL doesn't want to be left out of the party, so it's recent purchase of Truveo, which now makes AOL a leader in video and search services (apparently). Seems this will help AOLers shift through its recently launched video service, which offers thousands of hours of old television shows for free.  Ads, like in the good old days of B&W TV, will foot the bill.

Fans of classic programs as Welcome Back Kotter, Babylon 5, Lois & Clark, La Femme Nikita and Growing Pains rejoice!

Of Course! Poker on Mobile Phones

January 11, 2006

As if we don't have enough time to play poker (or watch all kinds of poker on TV -- even the Travel Channel!), now I hear how Harrah's (one of the oldest, not glitzy-est) gambling companies will offer the "World Series of Poker" on mobile phones.

Through the agreement with Glu Mobile, mobile phoners will not be able to bet or gamble, but will have access to special ringtones, wallpaper and other goodies. Any bets that betting will soon be coming -- can't see how such as friendly state as Nevada won't soon allow it.

Next we'll have to have multi-screen phones like the ones on the Nintendo DS or adapt picture-in-picture TV tech for the phone to keep up with all the stuff that we'll be able to watch on it; right?

Google Adsense for Feeds gets picked up by splogs

January 11, 2006

Before Google launched their Google Adsense for Feeds advertising program (ads within RSS feeds), an "enterprising lad" couldn't wait for the Google Adsense for Feeds to be launched, so he decided to hack his own Adsense ads and add them to his RSS feed. This was a big No No in the eyes of Google, violating Google's TOS, which resulted in his site being banned from Adsense. The site Pentago, writes:

Ok I knew it wouldn't last, my Google AdSense account has been revoked. I was experimenting with ads in rss feeds.

Numark iDJ iPod DJ Mixer

January 11, 2006

The Smartphones Show online streaming video program

January 11, 2006

Steve Litchfield emailed me to tell me about his online video program, called the The Smartphones Show, which he positions as a new online 'TV' series looking specifically at smartphones. The show covers all software platforms and is currently free to download. I've actually come across Steve's past reviews of smartphones, GPS software (Tom Tom), and other technology-related stuff and his articles & reviews are usually pretty detailed..

Each 20 minute program is distributed as a Quicktime video (at quarter VGA resolution) that's been designed and encoded to have as wide an audience as possible, including all Windows PCs, all Macs, video iPods and even the most recent smartphones themselves.

According to Steve, programs will include introductions to various aspects of the smartphone scene, plus hardware reviews and 'how to' material, covering Symbian OS, Windows Mobile and Palm OS-based phones.



The Twain Shall Meet: First Intel-Based Mac

January 10, 2006

Panasonic KX-THA16 Cordless Bluetooth video phone

January 10, 2006


I was perusing the FCC site looking at some old FCC applications when I came across one from Panasonic for a videophone product called the Panasonic KX-THA16 Home Communication System (2.4 GHz Expandable Cordless Unit) that was registered with the FCC back in August 2005. Curious, I dug deeper and found the manual with a listing of the features for this cordless videophone.

First, I should mention that you can expand the system by adding handsets (monochrome display handsets and color display handset), wireless camera unit, USB wireless adaptor, and repeater. Using these accessories, you can have a video call, video monitor a room where the color display handset or wireless camera is located and take pictures. Up to 8 handsets (KX-THA11/KX-THA12/KX-THA16) and up to 10 other Bluetooth featured units (KX-THA13/KX-THA14) and a maximum of 5 cellular phones can be registered to a single base unit.


The KX-THA16 features a 3.6" color LCD screen, built-in camera, Bluetooth support, and a USB port.





SEO contest

January 10, 2006

Just thought I'd share this interesting SEO (Search Engine Optimization) contest created by v7n.com that is creating some buzz on the blogosphere. Essentially, this contest is similar to the famous “Nigritude Ultramarine” SEO contest of 2003 to get it to a #1 Google ranking. And of course there's the famous "miserable failure" Google-gaming which points to President Bush's biography on whitehouse.gov as the #1 Google search result followed right behind by Michael Moore in the #2 spot.

This time there's even an anti-SEO contest to break the rules of the original contest with its own grand prize offering which resulted in supporters of the original contest to up the ante and add more money and an iPod to the prizes. May the luck of the Irish be with you if you participate in the Google SEO gaming contest!

A Google search engine optimization contest organized by respected SEO industry commentator John Scott has created a storm within Internet marketing circles that has competing search engine optimization professionals in a rush to jump aboard the bandwagon.



Panasonic DVD-LX97 portable DVD player

January 10, 2006


Panasonic will soon has launched a new portable DVD player called the Panasonic Model DVD-LX97. The Panasonic DVD-LX97 features a wide 9" screen, two headphone jacks, an FM transmitter (to transmit the audio to your car's speakers), 48.5 kHz maximum (Stereo), 21.1 kHz maximum (Mono), DC IN 12V Port (car cigarette adaptor), MP3 and WMA compatible, SD Card compatibility (JPEG/MPEG4), Dolby Digital and DTS Decoder, car mountable bracket for headrests, and more. It has a 9" screen supporting up to 300 lines of resolution. No word on the battery life, but the battery pack looks huge, so here's to hoping the Panasonic DVD-LX97 supports >3 hours of DVD play time so you can watch Lord of the Rings without running out of juice.

Pentium Computer in a Dodge Viper?

January 9, 2006

Whoa! A computer inside a Viper? Yep, you read that right. An actual Pentium 4 computer inside a Viper. No big deal you say?

Macworld 2006: Apple's Annual Festival Opens Today

January 9, 2006

Open mouth, insert foot and Nokia N90 to the 911 rescue

January 9, 2006

A few weeks ago I was leaving church when my wife and I were sidewiped by an out-of-stater, who apparently thought the left lane was clear and tried to make a left hand turn right into our Taurus's passenger doors. Damn New Yorkers! So we pull to the side of the road and after confirming my wife was ok, I calmly get out and ask the driver if he's OK. I know in the past I've gotten hit and I was really ticked off, but for some reason I was at peace.

Does Anybody Love a Format War?

January 9, 2006

War! What is it good for! Absolutely nothing!

Great song (great cover by Bruce Springsteen; brilliant original by Edwin Starr) and a great idea -- and very appropriate in CE for what's going on with the next generation of DVD.

Sony & Samsung: An Unlikely Team, But Could This Be the Start of a Beautiful Relationship?

January 7, 2006

Is used to be that Japanese companies only made alliances with each other -- while at the same time fighting tooth and nail for competitive advantage.  But now we have a Japanese company -- Sony, no less -- that has gone outside of "the family" with its alliance with South Korea's Samsung over flat-panel display technology.  (It's also funny how Samsung has passed Sony as a favored consumer brand -- something unheard of just a few short years ago.)

Seems both companies are looking at the bright side of this alliance -- better technology for Sony, better marketing and branding for Samsung.

Ultimately who will be the winner?  Maybe both companies, but ultimately us consumers who will enjoy the fruits of their joint labors, some of which is on display the CES in Las Vegas this week.

Google vs. Yahoo! Search Engines Going Wireless

January 6, 2006

The Deal's Tech Confidential today nicely sums up Google and Yahoo's plays into the mobile phone space.  Search on a cell phone would be a good thing -- as long as you can do it easily and the service is fast.  Would be nice to know the next good hotel when you're tooling down I-95 and you need to find a place to rest.

Seems Yahoo! has  a better model that Google with its ability to search the web without opening a browser; Google will just have its click-able icon on a phone.  That may change with implementation.

Can't wait to try both of these.  Now we need GPS built in so we can just mount the phone on the dashboard for anything we need, including music downloads ...

What's Up with Windows Media Center: Is This the Year?

January 6, 2006

Is this the year Windows Media Center is going to happen?  Interesting article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about how Microsoft ("the technology industry's perennial late-to-the-game player") is now taking a leadership position  in home entertainment software with its Windows Media Center.  Apparently the decision to relax a requirement for a TV tuner has gotten PC makers really interested in supporting the product -- and hence sell more of their own products, too ("you scratch my back, I'll scratch your back).

Of course, Media Center's incorporation into the next generation of Windows, called Vista, is expected to add even more momentum.

Adding to all of this fun, PC World Magazine just reported today that Microsoft's still-in-beta Windows Live Messenger will link to the Media Center OS to give users more access to content of their Media Center PCs.  This would include the ability to remotely record TV shows, find programming information and share news about all of this with their Messenger buddies.

Anybody try the Live.com site yet?

VoIP Calls Recorder software

January 6, 2006

Panasonic integrates Bluetooth cellular and home phone line

January 6, 2006

Panasonic released at CES a new line up of devices developed by DSP Group. The HCS (Home communication system) provides the end user with voice, data and video conferencing connectivity in the residence while the KX-T111S and KX-T112S combine the best of both worlds by letting consumers still have the benefits of wireless calling, while still using their regular home phone line. The new models let you "link" up to five BlueTooth-enabled cellular devices with your home phone service. According to a DSP Group representative, "Result: the ability to take advantage of cost-saving "Free Nights and Weekends" rates offered by your wireless calling plan, while enjoying the drift-free reception offered by a standard phone line."

"Wireless calling lets you stay in touch anytime, anywhere, while a standard phone line
may afford the user better reception," says Frank Lasorsa, merchandising vice president
for Panasonic's Communications/Home Office Products Division.



Extreme Blog Makeover

January 6, 2006

So I'm just minding my own business, surfing my own blog yesterday when I noticed I received some Google click-throughs (referrals) directly to a blog post I just wrote yesterday, ironically about Google that apparently was picked up by Google just hours after I posted it. I was curious how the heck Google was picking up my blog post titled "New Google Adsense Graphical Ads" so quickly, so naturally I Googled "new google adsense graphical ads" the blog title - nothing. Hmmm, that's odd. Why is Google giving me referral links directly to such a new blog post?

New Skype version for Mac

January 5, 2006


Skype today released their new version for the Macintosh operating system. Their site lists it as, "Official release. Version: 1.4.0.35. Release date: January 5, 2006". The new features include:




  • Forward calls to other Skype accounts or regular phones
  • Pause iTunes automatically when you get a call

  • Express yourself with mood messages
  • Simply drag and drop contacts to add them to chats and calls
  • Support for enhanced notifications with Growl
  • Auto-pause/auto-resume iTunes for in-bound and out-bound voice calls
  • Fast call set-up — drag and drop contacts to add them to chats and calls.
  • The Mac OS X version is now available in Japanese
  • Notifications - Skype notifies users of new messages and when users come on- and off-line, along with an overview of available Skype services.


If you wish to download the new version, click here.

Gates Does Windows Again and Again (New Vista Unveiled at CES)

January 5, 2006

 

There's plenty of action now that CES in Las Vegas has opened, but much of the big news and buzz today centers around Bill Gates' keynote speech and the formal introduction of the next generation of the Windows operating system -- Vista.

I'll leave it to others to go into all the nifty features of the Microsoft OS -- many of them directly influenced (or more) by Apple's Macintosh OS X -- but I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing for better, not newer. How about less flash in the features and more reliability under the hood? And wouldn't it be nice if Vista ran smoothly on all of our existing computers?

Photo of Creative Skype phone

January 5, 2006

New Google Adsense graphical ads?

January 5, 2006

Maybe my eyes have been tuning out Google Adsense advertisements lately, but a new skyscraper graphical Google ad is displaying on my blog today that does NOT look like your typical "graphical" (not text) Google Adsense ad.

In fact, I had no idea it was a Google ad other than that I knew that position in my blog was for Google ads. I took a snapshot of the image ad in question from my home page. I left a portion of my blog text there as a reference point along with a portion of my Vonage ad located just below Google ads. The ad in question is for a company called Essential Telecommunications Corp.

More on the NETGEAR Skype phone and thoughts on the Skype economy

January 5, 2006

I found out more details on the specs for the NETGEAR Skype phone I blogged yesterday and I have some thoughts on the "Skype economy". First, the NETGEAR phone supports both 802.11b and 802.11g supporting wireless connectivity of 1, 2, 5.5, 6, 11, 12, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps. Though I doubt you'll ever need 54 Mbps throughput on this NETGEAR Skype phone. In fact, I doubt the processor on the NETGEAR phone can even handle 2Mbps of actual packet data - nor does it need to since Skype packet data uses much less than that.

In any event, here are the other specs followed by my thoughts on all these Skype products being announced at CES:

Security:
Hardware-based Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) 40/64-bit & 128-bit
encryption

Physical Specifications:
Dimensions (HxWxD): 108 x 42 x 19 mm (4 1/4 x 1 5/8 x 3/4 in)
Weight: 0.09kg (3.2 oz.)

Battery Life:
Talk Time up to 3 hours
Standby Time up to 50 hours

Although, this NETGEAR phone and the similar Creative 'Skype' phone and Philips 'Skype' phone also launched at CES are interesting, but I'm still frustrated by the lack of standardization and interoperability, as I'm sure other early adopters of these VoIP products are. We'd all like to buy something today and be sure it will work tomorrow and the next day with any other future VoIP products.

Heck, you can even still use rotary phones in many areas of the U.S.

















Chitter Chatter GPS tracking phone for kids

January 5, 2006

Hop-on, Inc. today launched a GPS tracking phone for children that kids wear like a wristwatch. Called the Chitter Chatter phone, they claim it is the world’s smallest GSM / Enhanced Location-Based-Services(LBS) Locator Phone. The Chitter Chatter phone will cost less than $50 and it will simply use the Internet or any phone with SMS capabilities to quickly identify the location of the device within 300+ feet, in approximately 1 minute.

The ChitterChatter Phone allows kids to stay in touch with close family and friends, or send their location by pressing the one-touch star button, while letting parents manage costs.

Creative Fatal1ty 2020 Mouse

January 5, 2006

Creative today announced the Fatal1ty 2020 and the Fatal1ty 1010 Mouse (mice). Does Fatal1ty look familiar? If you're a hardcore gamer, it should. The gaming mouse was co-developed for competitive PC gaming with professional gamer Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, considered to be the "premiere" and most well-known professional gamer.

Creative now offers a PC-less Skype phone

January 5, 2006


Just yesterday, NETGEAR was first to launch a PC-less Skype phone, I still haven't figured out if Philips' Skype phone is also PC-less. Now Creative, most popular for their sound cards also now offers a PC-less Skype phone. Amazing what Skype was wrought - a whole Skype economy of third-party products!

Check out the news:


Creative (NASDAQ: CREAF), a worldwide leader in digital entertainment products, today announced the Skype Internet PhonePLUS, a phone for the home or office that enables users to connect directly to a router to make free Skype calls. The Creative Skype Internet PhonePLUS functions just like a traditional phone and provides a new way to experience Skype without requiring a PC.

mobiBLU Says Let's Get (MP3) Small

January 5, 2006

Wanted to get this in before CES opens today … At truly only 1 inch in size (and 1 ounce in weight), mobiBLU’s Cube DAH-1500i is the world's smallest, full-featured digital audio player.  Smaller than a ping-pong ball, the Cube combines storage for hundreds of songs (250 in MP3 format or 500 in WMA) with a voice recorder, clock, calendar and sleep timer.  Max storage capacity is 1 GB!

The Cube offers a single multi-function mini jack that allows USB 2.0 connectivity for faster music downloads along with stereo audio output, battery charging and headphone/ear bud/antenna connection.  Playing time is an amazing 8-10 hours on a single charge.  No extra battery or external charger is required; it can be easily recharged by connecting into the USB port of your computer.

Both PC and Mac-compatible, it supports MP3, WMA, WMA and DRM digital audio formats.  Audio includes five preset EQ modes -- Normal/Rock/Jazz/Pop/Classic; you can also create customize equalization to suit your taste, while the SRS WOW 3D Surround Sound and Bass enhances your listening experience.  A necklace headphone is included if you like to wear your MP3 player around your neck as jewelry (and why not?).

Available in red, silver, black, blue, orange and pink, the blue OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display provides superior sharpness in a bright, easy-to-read display.  The FM Radio Receiver and Recorder lets you listen to and record FM programming, and the USB 2.0 Flash Drive can be used as storage for other types of files if needed.  A built-in, high-quality microphone allows you to record notes on the go.

Linksys targets really small VoIP IP-PBX Market

January 4, 2006

I had word a few weeks ago about Linksys targetting the really small business market (1-4 users, with expansion to 16 users) with an IP-PBX called the SPA9000 that uses VoIP trunking via a service provider. I had to keep it under wraps though. Their Linksys One product that I wrote about recently targets the larger SMB market (more users). According to Karen Sohl, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications for Linksys, "This new line is just voice not Data and voice like Linksys One. The new line of voice products are for the 1-4 user with room to grow to 16 environment.

Adobe's Acrobat 7.0 Knows All the Tricks

January 4, 2006

I can’t say enough good things about Adobe’s Acrobat 7.0 Professional.  While Adobe’s Reader software is invaluable for anyone looking at company literature (particularly PDF product files) on the web, Acrobat 7.0 Professional opens up the review, markup and approval process by enabling enhanced capabilities in Adobe Reader. 

Not to be outdone, in addition to the ability to reliably view and print Adobe PDF files, Adobe Reader 7.0 now offers more powerful capabilities.  Users can participate in document reviews, have Yahoo! Search capabilities at their fingertips and can interact with 3D objects placed in PDF. 

Adobe has distributed more than half-a-billion copies of Adobe Reader since its 1993 introduction.  If you’re not one of those half-a-billion, the free download is available at www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html.

GlobalTouch Telecom partnering with Auvi Technologies

January 4, 2006


GlobalTouch Telecom, Inc. announced today it is partnering with Auvi Technologies, who makes a really cool VoIP phone, the Auvi PHIP100 that features a camera and built-in speakerphone (image to right). From the CES newswire:

The strategic partnership enables Auvi to offer a compelling turnkey solution in the VoIP arena with a leading service provider, while GlobalTouch Telecom expands its retail distribution reach for its SIPTalk(TM) service on
Auvi's VoIP-enabled hardware. The partnership furthermore signals the increasing recognition of VoIP in the mainstream consumer voice market.

"The Auvi partnership gets us an in with end users in a crowded VoIP market with a package that comprises Auvi's innovatively designed
VoIP-enabled devices and our SIPTalk(TM) VoIP service, starting at $4.95 per month," says Greg O. Welch, CEO of GlobalTouch Telecom, Inc. "If you have a boring, utilitarian handset fronting your VoIP platform, you can bet you will be passed up for the more attractive one, no matter how good the service might be. This agreement makes this problem go away."

GlobalTouch Telecom's SIPTalk(TM) VoIP solution behind the service offers Auvi customers a comprehensive array of communications features within monthly service plans, ranging from as little as $4.95 to $19.95 per month.





GPS for Nokia Symbian phones

January 4, 2006

Destinator Technologies, a provider of personalized navigation software, announced today at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, the general availability of Destinator SP (Smart Phone), GPS-based navigation software for Nokia Symbian Smartphones, such as the popular Nokia 6600 series phones, in North America. It is compatible with Nokia models 3260, 6260, 6600, 6630, 6670, 6680 and 6681.

The Nokia LD-3W Wireless GPS Module is a good add-on GPS for Nokia phones.

I should point out that Destinator SP has already been available for Windows Mobile phones and that they did already have a version of Destinator SP running on Nokia phones - but only with European maps. I've used Destinator's GPS software before. In fact, Destinator 3.0 was my primary GPS running on an iPaq PocketPC until the serial connector on the iPaq started getting flaky.



Philips VoIP321 Skype phone

January 4, 2006


Philips is also launching a Skype phone at CES. I don't have a photo or more information (yet) - just the news release. But wanted to share this news ASAP and then update this post when I find out more. Sounds more similar to the Linksys CIT200 (requires USB connectivity to a PC) than the launch today of the NETGEAR standalone Skype phone I blogged today.Though, I'm not sure. I read somewhere that the Philips Skype phone is PC-less but cannot confirm.

Netgear offers PC-less Skype product

January 4, 2006


According to NETGEAR, this is the first mobile WiFi internet calling phone announced on the market - unlike other Internet calling devices, you do not need to connect to a PC. In fact, unlike the Linksys CIT 200 Skype phone that I reviewed which connects to the PC's USB port, the NETGEAR phone simply needs Internet access. Apparently, they've embedded the Skype software into the phone itself.

NETGEAR, a worldwide provider of technologically advanced, branded networking products, and Skype, the global Internet communications company, today announced they are working on a family of innovative new products, including the world's first Skype wireless mobile telephone and a router equipped to optimize Skype.

The NETGEAR WiFi phone will make mobile Internet telephony a reality for Skype users.




CES 2006: Annual CE Clambake Kicks Off Tomorrow

January 4, 2006

Just like New Year's Day follows New Year's Eve, the giant annual consumer electronics clambake in the desert known as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off a few days after New Year's -- in this case tomorrow -- in Las Vegas. With more than 2,500 exhibitors, the show (always huge) has grown even larger as the computer and consumer electronics industries move ever closer together.

In fact, CES is the largest trade show in the U.S. and Canada, according to Tradeshow Week Magazine.  Last year, more than 140,000 people from 115 countries attended the CES.

Microsoft buys Yahoo?

January 4, 2006

In my 2006 Predictions, I predicted that Microsoft would buy Level3. It was more of a "should" than "would" prediction. I intertwined some "should" predictions into my "would" predictions. In any event, the rumor mill is churning around a Microsoft buyout of Yahoo for $80 billion.

Beer and VoIP a great combination

January 4, 2006

Beer and VoIP go hand-in-hand like New York Yankee championships in October.

Bob McKenzie: "No way, hoser. You mean Red Sox."

Doug McKenzie: "Take off, eh. Aaron Boone walk off home run against the Red Sox. That was beauty, eh!"

Bob McKenzie: "You hoser, that was 3 years ago. 2004 was beauty, eh.





Seagate Buys Maxtor: Storage Market Grows, Players Shrink

January 3, 2006

A few years ago (2002), the big news in computer storage was Hitachi buying IBM's disk drive business to become a major player in the computer storage market. Now, as the storage market continues to expand at the enterprise, SMB and consumer levels, industry leader Seagate has announced that it is buying its long-time rival, Maxtor.

With a major competitor out of the way, look for Seagate to grow -- and invest in -- all facets of its business; it's a major player across all of the storage sectors. In fact, the consumer area may be a renewed area of focus.

Rich the VoIP prognosticator?

January 3, 2006

Motorola Residential Seamless Mobility Gateway (RSG) enables VoIP-to-mobile roaming

January 3, 2006

Motorola, claims that it "broke down the barrier between traditional home and wireless phone service." They are speaking of their new innovative Motorola Residential Seamless Mobility Gateway (RSG) lets consumers use the same mobile device -- and the same number -- as they roam in and out of their homes. The real takeway from this announcement is that this product takes WiFi-to-cellular handover control out of the hands of the carrier and into the hands of the consumer. TMCnet writer Robert Liu has some interesting insights on this news as well. One tidbit is he writes, "The announcement could breathe new life to dual-mode handsets market, which has been greatly hampered by the control that cellular network operators have exerted over the handover exchange process."

Here's the release Motorola put out today.

Creating an Innovative Home Communications Experience

The Motorola RSG family of products packs powerful communication features for your home.





Slingbox works with Mobile Devices

January 3, 2006

Slingbox plans on adding a software client to complement their popular Slingbox streaming video content hardware device. According to IP Democracy:

Place-shifting pioneer SlingBox is slated to announce
at CES this week a new software client that allows any Windows Media-capable device to serve as a viewing platform for a customers' multichannel video or PVR service. This is a phenomenal development given that SlingBox is cutting across the top-line business priorities of motion picture studios, TV program producers, cable operators, wireless phone providers and even Apple Computer, which hopes to build a business on mobile video.

IP Democracy hits the nail on the head when it states, "So far, not a peep from the litigious studios, or even a threatened lawsuit from cable or satellite operators. I suspect that it's difficult to come up with a legal rationale against what Sling is doing -- this is not unauthorized copying or transmission of content.

Symbol MC9094 & MC9097 takes on Blackberry

January 3, 2006

BREAKING! Symbol has two new ruggedized mobile devices coming out called the MC9094 and the MC9097, running Windows Mobile 5.0 with cellular/mobile phone access, a touch-screen, and a full-sized keyboard + dialpad that aims to dethrone the Blackberry. (Update: See my updated thoughts on the MC9097/MC9094 analogy with the Blackberry below) The difference between the two mobile devices is that the MC9094 supports the GSM cellular standard and the MC9097 supports OFDM and the IDEN two-way paging cellular standard created by Motorola. Both devices will support SMS and Bluetooth.

Used Jeep Grand Cherokee

January 3, 2006

This past weekend my wife and I picked up a used (2000) Jeep Grand Cherokee. We hadn't planned on buying a Jeep for at least a couple months, however when our Ford Taurus was side-swiped smashing in both passenger doors and my 3000GT's clutch died in the same week, our plans changed. The ironic thing is that we planned on trading in the 1999 Ford Taurus until we learned it was probably worth only $500 due to its 150,000 miles. While I am never a fan of getting into an accident, "Providence" must have been on our side since the car that side swiped the Taurus was at fault resulting in $2700 in damage to the Taurus.

WiFi and GPS to solve e911 issue

January 3, 2006

A few companies are leveraging both WiFi and GPS to pinpoint a location during an emergency, such as an e911 emergency phone call. How does WiFi wireless help pinpoint a location, you ask? Simple, it uses a similar concept to GPS - it uses a known set of WiFi Access Point (AP) fixed locations and triangulation of signal strength of several APs to determine a location. I should point out that Russell Shaw has been harping on using GPS to solve the e911 dilemma, especially on mobile phones, which IMO is only a partial solution at best.

Windows Blackberry device

January 3, 2006


A new PDA product from Symbol Technologies called the MC70 (MC-70?) is launching that is a "ruggedized" Blackberry-like device running Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0. Symbol told me, "This is going to be your 'extreme Blackberry' which targets workers that need a device that won't break. It can go into puddles, you can run over the unit with a Humvee, can get trampled on. It targets nurses, UPS drivers, retail salesforce, anyone in transportation & logistics.

IPEVO launches two new Skype products

January 3, 2006

Pixel Ads for blogs

January 3, 2006

Another pixel ad site recently launched called BlogBillboard.com to try and copy the success of The Million Dollar Home Page. Ironically, Vahid Hashemian, TMC's webmaster forwarded me an email about the The Million Dollar Home Page auctioning off the last 1,000 pixels on eBay to "own a piece of history" - in this case the "last" 1,000 pixels of the site that made pixel ads famous. I recently wrote about one copy-cat site called SmashMyViper that is selling pixel ads to key, smash, and otherwise destroy a beautiful Dodge Viper.

Anyway, a few days ago the BlogBillboard's Scott (Sed) King emailed me with the following:

Dear
Blogger,

Happy New Year!
I will be brief in my email. I researched your email because your weblogs are among the top rated on the internet.







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