Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
| VoIP & Gadgets blog - Latest news in VoIP & gadgets, wireless, mobile phones, reviews, & opinions

March 2006

You are browsing the archive for March 2006.

Apple Celebrates 30th Anniversary Tomorrow

March 31, 2006

No, this isn't an April Fool's Day joke.

Apple Computer will celebrate its 30th anniversary tomorrow.  Really hard to believe that! But for all of you doubters, take a look at, which offers an exhaustive look at all things Apple. (Yes, there is more to Apple than the iPod.)

Here's an excerpt from the very first entry, looking back 30 years, at the very first product (hard to call it that now), the Apple I:

Yes, Flat-Screens Are the New Standard

March 31, 2006

WWE Coming To Your Mobile Phones -- Splat!

March 30, 2006

If you’re a fan of the World Wrestling Entertainment, then listen up – “The WWE Mobile Alert" package is coming your way ...

(Before that, check out the visual below for some of the good work that the WWE does in the community ...)

For $3.99 per month, WWE fans will be able to stay connected through alerts delivered directly to their mobile phones through SMS.

Vonage reaches 70% E911 compliance

March 30, 2006

Vonage today announced that more than one million subscriber lines now have Enhanced 911 (E911) service, a feature that automatically associates a physical address with the calling party's telephone number. Recently, the FCC gave Vonage, and all Internet-based phone service companies, 120 days to create an E911 system and provide all of its customers, wherever they are in the U.S., with E911 service. According to Vonage they now provides Enhanced 911 Service to 70% of its subscriber lines. This is still a far cry from the FCC mandated 100% coverage, but you won't hear any negativity coming from Vonage.

Microsoft 'Xboy' Coming (Sooner or Later)?

March 30, 2006

Verizon, Dell Offer Pay-As-You-Go Broadband

March 29, 2006

According to, Verizon, Dell plan to offer Pay-As-You-Go Broadband with Verizon's EV-DO technology embedded into select Dell laptops. Teaming up with Dell is a very smart way for Verizon to shore up their marketshare in the high-speed long-distance wireless broadband arena (WiFi is typically short distance). If I have to buy a laptop I certainly would consider one with integrated high-speed WAN wireless. We have a few "shared" Verizon EVDO cards here in the office and I can't tell you how many times these cards have shuffled hands for sales people and editorial going on business trips.

Jobs & Apple Hear the Music (and Let You Make It Lower)

March 29, 2006

Bits Du Jour: Get Your Software Here ...

March 29, 2006

Digium Wildcard TDM2400 24 port analog card launches

March 29, 2006

Digium announced the Digium Wildcard TDM2400 which they claim provides the highest analog density available (24 ports) in a PCI card. Well, are they truly the highest analog density? Sangoma, their main competitor also offers a 24-port analog PCI card. So technically the Wildcard TDM2400P isn't the "highest" - it's equally "high" with the Sangoma card.

Apple vs. Apple: Round 3

March 28, 2006

Like the old Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy, we now have the latest version of Apple vs. Apple

According to Newsfactor, Apple Computer will meet the Beatles' Apple Corps in court this week in London, where a judge will decide if iTunes violates a 1991 agreement between the two companies that supposedly blocked the computer maker from selling music.

Microsoft MSN lowers Internet dial-up price

March 28, 2006

AOL recently announced a price hike in their dial-up Internet service. Microsoft is responding with a new price promotion for their MSN Dial-Up Internet access service aimed at AOL users that don't want to pay AOL's high dial-up costs..

According to Microsoft's represenative, "With the current competitive landscape for dial-up Internet access and the longstanding competitive history in this market, we thought you’d want to know that Microsoft is now offering MSN Dial-Up for -- a reduction in the monthly service fee from $21.95 to $17.95 with no long term contract required and first month of service is free.  The reduced pricing is good for the first year."

They added, "As longstanding AOL dial-up subscribers begin exploring alternatives to a monthly price increase, Microsoft believes that this new competitive offer will give consumers an incentive to switch to MSN Dial-Up for their dial-up provider."

My question is when does dial-up Internet access in the U.S. become a loss-leader?

Bluetooth SIG Selects New Highspeed Bluetooth Standard

March 28, 2006

The Bluetooth SIG today announced its selection of the WiMedia Alliance multiband orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (MB-OFDM) version of ultra-wideband (UWB) for integration with current Bluetooth wireless technology, thus taking the next step in its plan to create a version of the globally popular Bluetooth wireless technology with a high speed/high data rate option. This new version of Bluetooth technology will meet the high-speed demands of synchronizing and transferring large amounts of data as well as enabling high quality video and audio applications for portable devices, multi-media projectors and television sets. At the same time, Bluetooth technology will continue catering to the needs of very low power applications such as mice, keyboards and mono headsets, enabling devices to select the most appropriate physical radio for the application requirements, thereby offering the best of both worlds. VoIP is also a target for this new high-speed Bluetooth.

The Cube Gets Even Cooler: mobiLBU Goes 2 GB!

March 28, 2006

Loved the mobiBLU DAH-1500i Cube MP3 Player when I wrote about it last year. Now. there's a new 2 Gigabyte version, adding to the existing 512MB and 1GB versions.

With its unique cube form factor at less than one-inch on all dimensions, the Cube MP3 Player is the world’s smallest, full featured MP3 player -- and it weighs only 18 grams!

The 2GB Cube is identical to the original players and has the following key features:

  • 2GB Flash Memory Storage – Holds up to 500 songs in MP3 (@ 128kbps bitrate) to 1000 songs in WMA (@ 64kbps bitrate)
  • Sports an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode Display) that provides easy to read, ultra crisp graphics and text on the display screen
  • Supports MP3, WMA, and Protected WMA (Digital Rights Management)
  • Plug-and-Play -- A Universal Mass Storage Device, The Cube shows up as a removable drive when attached to a PC so files can be easily transferred to the player by simple drag-and-drop; non-music files, too
  • Compatible with and synchronizes with Windows Media Player (required for protected WMA files)
  • Outstanding audio quality and features SRS WOW audio enhancement
  • Integrated FM Tuner and FM recording (record FM broadcasts on-the-fly)
  • Voice Recorder (using the Cube’s internal microphone)
  • Clock Function – displays date and time
  • Unique single multifunction connector that handles USB 2.0 connectivity, charging and headphones
  • Comes with a necklace style earbud set that allows the user to hang The Cube around the neck while and listen to music
  • Colors -- Choice of four: Black, Blue, Silver and Pin
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems

Price: $159.99

Dell Buys Alienware: Am I Seeing Correctly?

March 27, 2006

Voice T1 over Coax Cable

March 27, 2006

ARRIS and Telco Systems have announced a product for MSOs to offer T1/E1 Services over HFC Networks. Combining DOCSIS and Advanced pseudo-wire circuit emulation technologies it enables MSOs to target small and medium business customers. Now when I eventually setup my Asterisk@Home at home (pun intended) server I can use my cable company's coax wire to deliver a T1 line to either a Sangoma T1/E1 card or a Digium T1/E1 card. Course I don't know why I would need 24 channels of voice, but it would be fun to test.

Check out the release.

Suwanee, GA - March 27, 2006: ARRIS (Nasdaq: ARRS), a leading provider of Multi System Operator (MSO) broadband access and cable telephony solutions, and Telco Systems, a provider of carrier-class transport and access solutions for public and private IP and TDM networks, today announced that the companies have entered into a reseller agreement.

Andy's got the goods on the Streamcast vs. Skype lawsuit

March 27, 2006

Andy has the scoop on the Streamcast vs. 'Skype' lawsuit. I'm a little late to the party to discuss the lawsuit and its implications since I was working on some other stuff. At first glance, it would appear that this is "sour grapes" on the part of Streamcast looking to cut into the $4 billion pie that Skype got as a result of the eBay deal.

Palm Celebrates 10th Anniversary As Gadget Innovator

March 27, 2006

Call USRobotics Tech Support using Skype

March 27, 2006

Some pretty cool news from USRobotics that lets you use Skype to directly call their Customer Support infrastructure. This saves USRobotics the cost of the toll-free number and it enables customers to get into the support queue much easier. Considering the "newness" factor of web call through, most call centers will assign a higher priority to inbound VoIP calls or IM sessions. So if you are impatient and want to skip lengthy on-hold times, using Skype could be the answer.

It will be interesting to see if/when a big boy like Microsoft offers web call through for their tech support.

Lycos Phone blows away Skype and Yahoo Messenger?

March 26, 2006

Lycos Phone is launching on Monday the Internet's first-ever "virtually" free VoIP integrated communications platform, combining IM, video chat, real-time video on demand streaming content (including IPTV channels), and an MP3 player. That first sentence certainly sounded marketing-speak didn't it? And I said the magic word "free", but "free" is never "free" or at least never totally free. So what's free about the new Lycos VoIP client and is there a catch?

Transatlantic Gamers Go Online in Midair!

March 24, 2006

iTunes 'Free Download of the Week': What a Good Idea!

March 24, 2006

Fedora Core 5 is out

March 24, 2006

I had no idea Fedora Core 5 was out. I downloaded Fedora Core 5 test2 like 3 weeks ago and played around with the beta. Was thinking about living dangerously and using the beta version for the migration of TMC's current MovableType installation (Windows). Well, lo and behold I'm happily surfing the web when I find this post from 4 days ago announcing Fedore Core 5 is out.

Treo 650 Kills the Blackberry (Maybe ...)

March 23, 2006

Network Storage for the Home Is Coming

March 23, 2006

Just like very bit of technology that starts out high-end (expensive) and then gradually comes down in price to reach mass market acceptance (Crossing the Chasm, anyone?), networked storage is no different.

Once only the technology for large enterprises and now much more prevalent in the SMB market (that's most businesses, folks), networked-attached storage (NAS -- in the lingo) is soon to be coming consumers' way.

We're all very used to saving files on internal drives or USB-connected devices, but now we will soon be able to store our files on standalone NAS units that are accessed via our home network.

Look for companies like Seagate, Iomega, Western Digital (storage biggies) as well as other companies like Intel with drives that can store more than a terabyte of data (believe me, that is a lot!). 

Vonage 911 - My house is on Fire! Please hold...

March 23, 2006

According to Consumer Affairs, a Minnesota homeowner claims that Vonage put him on hold when he called 911 to report his house was on fire. Of course, it isn't really Vonage that put him on hold, but the infrastructure than handles the routing of 911 calls made via a VoIP provider is different than 911 calls from traditional PSTN lines. I'm sure the traditional carriers will be all over this one. "Stay with us and get REAL 911." or "Stay with us and choose our inexpensive $39.99/month unlimited VoIP plan and you can be guaranteed true 911 service".

Microsoft Vista; Horizon Now Stretches Further ...

March 22, 2006

Much hubbub late yesterday and today about Microsoft delaying its upcoming Vista OS, called "perhaps the biggest technology transition since the Windows operating system arrived more than 10 years ago" in today's Wall Street Journal.

Seems it won't be here until after the New Year (so far away ...), so PC makers are disappointed they won't be able to include it as part of their holiday hardware offerings -- lot easier to sell a new system if it's got a new OS that everyone's excited about!

This may mean some drastic pricing actions (meaning deals for consumers) at holiday time 2006 so that HP, Dell, etc., can clear out the old (OS) to make way for the new.

Wonder what Apple makes of all of this?

Anybody Using Any Blackberry 'Killers'?

March 22, 2006

Now that RIM's Blackberry is back from the dead (no more lawsuit), it will take a true competitor to kill it off, not a patent infringement case.

We have lots of fun with market leaders and wait and see what happens as new products are introduced that challenge their leadership or new trends and technologies steer the market into new and unexpected directions -- directions that these leaders may not have foreseen.

The Blackberry falls into that market leader spot for wireless email devices/cell phones.  Some of the products that compete with it on a feature set basis include the Palm Treo 650, Samsung SGH-d307, Nokia 9300 and the Motorola Q

Anybody care to give some user feedback on these products?

Shaw Communications sued for requiring QoS on VoIP

March 22, 2006

Shaw Communications, which found itself in hot water with Vonage Canada after "hinting" to its subscribers that they must pay $10/month to "guarantee" VoIP QoS - is at it again! This time Zingotel is suing Shaw Communications claiming the cable company refused to air a TV commercial promoting Zingotel's VoIP services. Yet again, one of TMC's own esteemed reporters, Johanne Torres has the scoop! Not to toot TMC's horn, but between Rich Tehrani, Greg Galitzine, myself, and several other TMC journalists, TMC covers VoIP better than anyone else - blogs, portal, tradeshows, etc. I've now been with TMC for 12 proud years and TMC just seems to get better and better along with hiring better talent.

Ok, enough of patting myself, my co-workers, and my company on the back.

Sprint cell phone + Asterisk@Home = unlimited cell phone minutes

March 22, 2006

Nerd Vittles has a nice "dummy proof" tutorial explaining how to use Asterisk@Home in along with Sprint's plan to get unlimited wireless and unlimited wireline (using broadband VoIP) all for around $68/month. His recipe utilizes Asterisk@Home in combination with Sprints PCS unlimited FREE calls between your Sprint cellphone (or multiple PCS phones if you’re on a shared plan) and your residential phone number regardless of the wireline carrier for an additional $5/month. According to Nerd Vittles, "Here’s the math. A basic Sprint cellphone plan: $35.

Game Developers Conference 2006 Opens Tomorrow! Get Your Game On!

March 21, 2006

video games,Game Developers Conference 2006

AsteriskBlog offers Asterisk classes

March 21, 2006

Yahoo Messenger launches U.S. Phone In and Phone Out

March 21, 2006

A new public beta of Yahoo! Messenger with Voice is launching today, which you can download here. Yahoo! launched the international roll-out of Yahoo Phone In and Yahoo Phone Out back in December, and now today they are launching the general availability of Yahoo Phone In and Yahoo Phone Out for the U.S. Calls within the U.S.

RTX's web-enabled PORTALphone cordless VoIP phone available

March 21, 2006

RTX America, today announced U.S. general availability of PORTALphone, a hybrid, web-enabled cordless phone allowing consumers to view customized web content on a color display. It's a pretty cool phone and would love to review it, but alas I still have an RTX DualPhone I haven't tested. Soon though...

Skylook 1.5 Skype software released

March 21, 2006

Skylook has a new version of their popular add-on for Skype that adds Outlook integration. I've been meaning to try it out myself for quite some time. One of the nicest things about Skylook is it will auto-answer your missed calls, record the message, and store it in Outlook. No need to pay Skype a monthly fee for voicemail!

GDS Voice Conferencing Solution for Asterisk

March 21, 2006

Today GDS released GDS Voice Conferencing Solution for the Asterisk platform. GDS Voice Conferencing is a feature-rich enterprise voice conferencing solution built on top of native Asterisk MeetMe application. Amazing how many third-party companies are now developing applications for Asterisk. Indeed, within the VoIP industry we have the Skype Economy, and now we can add the "Asterisk Economy".

Here is a short overview:

  • Multiple conference types (scheduled, recurrence, reservation-less)
  • Intuitive web interface for conference management, personal contact management, user management and system administration
  • Manage conference attributes like announce user leave/join, wait for marked user and associate contacts and its roles within the conference (listen only, admin mode etc.)
  • Monitor live conferences (mute/un-mute participant, kick out participant, lock conference, view on line participants and its attributes etc.)
  • Integrated personal contact management for simple invitation and notification
  • Import existing contacts
  • User roles based privileges
  • Port resources management (TDM and VoIP)
  • Recurrence and conflict conferences management
  • Automatic email notifications and reminders
  • API for integration with third party applications and more

How To Prevent Hearing Loss

March 21, 2006

March Madness Indeed! Stream On Baby!

March 20, 2006

If You Think CDs Are Expensive Here ...

March 20, 2006

Forget Web 2.0 and VoIP 2.0

March 20, 2006

Just forget about Web 2.0, or even VoIP 2.0 - we now have 3.0! Ok, a bad metaphor, but I wanted to share this bit of news from, one of the leading suppliers of VoIP equipment - and they're really great guys to boot. I've met several of their staff at past Internet Telephony Conference & Expo shows and they certainly know their VoIP stuff. Whether you need some "handholding" to figure out your VoIP needs or you know exactly what you want, will certainly fulfill your VoIP needs. In any event, VoIP Supply recently announced the launch of Version 3, new version of their website that features advanced functionality for online customers.

NCAA March Madness = Lower Productivity

March 17, 2006

It's March Madness which means office pools, periodically getting the NCAA basketball tournament scores on the radio or the Internet during the work day. However, this year CBS Sportsline is offering free video streaming of the 56 basketball games in the first three rounds making it even more tempting to be a slacker while at work. I checked it out yesterday (yes while at work) and the video quality was pretty good. When you first pick a game to stream you go into a waiting queue and it tells you where you are in line.

A Gadget-Filled Spring?

March 17, 2006

Skype wishes you a Happy St. Patricks Day!

March 17, 2006

Check out this news from Skype and their celebration of St. Patrick's Day. Is it me or is Skype discounting on just about every holiday? Just recently they had a Valentine's Day special. Oh well. I can't complain any time I can discounted SkypeOut credits, I'm a happy man.

Music Sites: Price Fixing?

March 16, 2006

So it's not just me that thinks that it's more than coincidence that so many music download sites charge 99 cents for a song.

Apparently both the U.S. Department of Justice and New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer think so, too. Both are investigating potential price-fixing by online music sites -- at the core of it is whether the major record labels, such as Sony BMG Music, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and EMI Group, colluded to determine and set the price of music song downloads. (Napster anyone?)

March Madness -- Starts Today!!!

March 16, 2006

V Chip Returns as v.gis

March 15, 2006

MBNA call center agent training - what not to do

March 14, 2006

I was playing my voice messages and apparently an MBNA call center agent was trying to "upsell" me on my MBNA account. I know this because the call center agent didn't realize my voicemail picked up, she forgot to hang up, and she started talking to her fellow agents about "call sales". I recorded it here, take a listen.

She asked her fellow agents if they knew what "call sales are" and then explained it by saying "Call sales means they are already a MBNA customer or have been before. The first thing you want to do on a call sale is thank them for being a customer and let them know how much MBNA values them as a customer.

CompUSA to carry Xandros Linux PCs

March 14, 2006

Microsoft BetaPlace outage and Exchange ActiveSync MSFP problem

March 14, 2006

I was just on Microsoft BetaPlace downloading the Microsoft Device Emulator 1.0 Community Preview to test Windows Mobile 5.0 with Exchange ActiveSync and the download timed-out at 98%. 2% remaining? Such a tease... I then tried accessing from and it too timed-out.

Fonality HUD call management application launches

March 14, 2006

Fonality HUD softphone call managment application launched today, a userfriendly softphone call management application with presence information for specified extensions giving every user attendant console-type capabilities. Chris Lyman, Fonality CEO actually gave me a heads-up on HUD (Heads Up Display) - pun-intended several weeks ago. I played around with the beta version but wasn't able to get it entirely to work due to some firewall and configuration issues and I didn't have time to troubleshoot. In any event, here's the news in all its glory and a pretty screenshot to boot...

Fonality, the leader in affordable IP-PBX phone systems for small businesses and the world’s largest distributed deployment of Asterisk, today announced HUD, a new call management application that provides businesses with real-time, easy-to-use call control and management features.

Norton NIS 2006: Internet Security for Us All

March 14, 2006

Isn't Internet security all about feeling secure? But it seems that just when you think you're secure, another virus, worm or other cyber-nasty announces itself either on the web or in an email from a friend.

I've always put great faith in Norton products to supply the utilities needed to make my computer run fast and smooth. Well, Norton Internet Security 2006 does just that. (I'm not alone in that faith -- Symantec -- Norton's "parent" -- protects more than 370 million computer or email accounts worldwide.)

Here's what the 2006 model has to offer:

eyeBeam 1.5 launches

March 14, 2006

CounterPath launched their latest version of their SIP softphone with video capabilities. I interviewed them last week to find out the scoop on the new features and recorded the call to pull some quotes, but alas I came down with a nasty cold the end of last week, and didn't have time over the weekend to replay the interview. You may have noticed my blogging was a tad light over the weekend and yesterday. I will point out that Yahoo! Messenger embeds CounterPath's audio technology within their softphone client.

Global IP Sound launches Developer Community and free download of their API

March 14, 2006

The GIPS Developer Community was launched today by Global IP Sound to enable developers to build Voice over IP applications. According to GIPS, "The goal of the Community is to easily allow developers to utilize Global IP Sound’s ground-breaking technology to develop exciting applications and innovative ways of communicating. By making its software available to anyone, GIPS is helping to break down boundaries and encourage innovation and expression."

GIPS is making available as a free download, GIPS VoiceEngine Lite, which provides an easy to use, flexible API that includes voice processing capabilities such as GIPS patented jitter buffer/error concealment module NetEQ, GIPS codecs, and the tools to create VoIP applications. GIPS VoiceEngine Lite is a light version of GIPS VoiceEngine Standard.

The GIPS developer community website consists of the needed software libraries and components to develop VoIP applications.

VCast Update: Let the People Speak

March 14, 2006

TIME Magazine Hottest Gadgets for 2006

March 14, 2006

Lights red or blue depending on water temperature. Never scald yourself again!

Sanyo Xacti Hi-Def (high definition) tape-less camcorder

Mercedes Benz S550 Radar assisted Night Vision

WowWee SCOTY robot is a camera and Wi-Fi equipped butler who sits in your living room, obeying voice commands to play specific music, read new e-mail and even report intruders.

Intel Tray Table laptop design lets you pull the screen forward from behind the keyboard and even raise the screen to eye level.

iPod Blues: Where Have All the Colors Gone?

March 13, 2006

Digium adds hardware cancellation to boards

March 13, 2006

One of the knocks against the Digium line of boards for the Asterisk open-source IP-PBX was its lack of hardware echo cancellation. This required you to do echo cancellation in software which is processor/resource intensive and limits scalability. Sangoma has been using Octasic's echo cancellation software embedded onto Sangoma's hardware boards which enables hardware echo cancellation. I met with Sangoma a few weeks ago and did a test drive on their hardware.

The Asterisk community has been clamoring for hardware echo cancellation for quite some time now.

A Gadgets Hall of Fame -- Hey, Why Not?

March 13, 2006

Vatata P2P streaming

March 12, 2006

Vatata is a new end-to-end large-scale P2P streaming solution for publishing, delivering, and receiving streaming content. According to Vatatam "This platform is an open system completely based on the Internet. Its grid and P2P technology provide low-cost and clear delivery of content to millions of Internet users. Users can easily build their individual Internet radio stations or TV stations through Vatata."

The screenshot above is busier than New York's Hudson River Parkway on a Friday - during a rainstorn, soI'm guessing the author combined both English and Chinese words to demonstrate its features to both Chinese and Engliah web visitors.

Just How Do Those Gadgets Show Up in Movies?

March 10, 2006

Did you ever wonder how gadgets wind up in your favorite movie or TV show. Well, this "product placement" is not as innocent an occurrence as you might think. This from George Simkowski, vice president of SportsLoop, writing on

"I’m generally recognized for being one of the originators of product placement. In 1960 I was the Advertising Manager of Webcor, a Chicago Company manufacturing tape recorders and phonographs.

Streaming March Madness

March 9, 2006

TomTom tracks other TomTom GPS users

March 9, 2006

TomTom unveiled a "buddy list" GPS tracking system. Too bad it doesn't encorporate my P2P GPS traffic monitoring idea, which uses a peer-to-peer network of GPS users to track traffic patterns and alert you if there is traffic jam and automatically re-route. This TomTom GPS news simply says you can track other users, IM each other, exchange POIs. In any event, check out the news from Stuff:

TomTom’s just unveiled a bunch of new and updated features for its iconic GO sat-navs, including an intriguing friend-tracking mode.

Called TomTom Buddies, the feature lets you track your mates wherever you go – and in return, they get to track you too.

All you do is invite other TomTom users – you’ll have to shun your Garmin and Navman chums - to be your authorised ‘buddy’. The idea is that the Buddies service will be like an exclusive club through which you can send each other text messages and locations you think are interesting.

If you feel like being a loner for a bit you can select the privacy option which lets you hide your location.

Skype vs. Vonage

March 9, 2006

CNet has an interesting Skype vs. Vonage comparison article. The graphic above is a six round battle between Skype and Vonage. Apparently, Vonage wins the battle. Personally, I think Skype and Vonage are two different animals with vastly different target audiences.

NASA Cassini spacecraft discovers water on Saturn's moon Enceladus

March 9, 2006

Never thought I'd be linking to a political blog, but Drudge has a very interesting news story on NASA's Cassini spacecraft discovering water - and by implication "life" on a Saturn moon. Wow, life in our own little solar system? Here it is in Drudge's glorious font size. My blog feels and looks like the Drudge Report already.

Sprint gets into SIP Trunking game with Sprint IP Voice Connect

March 9, 2006

Sprint today launched a new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution for enterprises - essentially a SIP trunking (IP Centrex) solution. This is big news considering another big telecom player, Level3 gave up on enterprise VoIP trunking months ago when they killed 3Tone. As I said in my AGN Communications post from a few days ago, maybe SIP trunking has come of age and Level3 was just a little bit ahead of the market demand? According to Sprint, "Sprint IP Voice Connect combines voice and data communications on a single IP network while securely supporting integrated and next generation applications."

Sprint IP Voice Connect is a network-based hosted telephony product offering local and long distance services as well as PBX and traditional Centrex features over Sprint's Dedicated IP or Global MPLS network. Sprint's secure carrier-grade service is enabled by Lucent Technologies' Hosted VoIP Solution for Enterprises through its Global Network Operations Centers.

Samsung B600 10-Megapixel camera phone

March 9, 2006

Samsung B600 10 Megapixel phone launched at CeBIT. The Samsung B600 is an amazing piece of technology. It has more mexapixels than many high-end single-purpose digital cameras and it doubles as a cell phone. Convergence at its best!

Lots of Gadgets on eBay! (But Can You Guess How Many?)

March 9, 2006

Plantronics new headsets - Voyager 510s, Plantronics CS70, Plantronics SupraPlus

March 8, 2006

Plantronics CS70 Executive Headset

Plantronics Voyager 510s

Plantronics SupraPlus Wireless Telephony Pro

Corded headsets are by far the predominant type of headset installed in call centers and corporate offices, however Plantronics aims to make "wireless" headsets the predominant headset of choice in the very near future. Plantronics ACG (Audio Communications Group) hit record revenues of $161.5m in Q3. The revenue growth was driven by wireless office headsets which represented 25% of total ACG revenues. Confirming this trend is Frost and Sullivan, which stated in a March 2005 report claims that by 2009, 75% of office headset sales will be wireless.

iPod nanoTune launches

March 8, 2006

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO), today introduced the DLO nanoTune for iPod nano. It combines an FM Transmitter, FM Radio and Headphone Amplifier into one unit. The nanoTune’s FM Transmitter allows owners to play their iPod nano’s music in the car, at home, anywhere there’s a stereo. It also adds an FM radio to the iPod nano for on-the-go news, sports and weather updates.Other unique features include a headphone amplifier, an integrated protective case that doubles as a desktop stand, and a 30-pin iPod connector for use with all existing iPod car chargers and most iPod docks.

'The Mossberg Solution': The Right Stuff

March 8, 2006

A couple (or more) blogs ago, I waxed philosophic about one of the great consumer electronics journalists, David Pogue of the New York Times. Now I may have been putting the cart before the horse, because the dean (if there is such a thing) of CE journalists is Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal.

Now I know many of you can't picture the staid Journal, the nation's voice of all things financial, as being a bastion of CE coverage, but it is. Every week, Mossberg tells it truly like it is in "The Mossberg Solution," a column that he writes with Katherine Boehret. It's part of the "Personal Journal" section that includes personal finance (of course), gadgets, health, cars and arts & leisure.

This week's column covers MovieBeam, a new company with a box that attaches to your TV and comes preloaded with 100 movies, which can be rented for as little as $1.99 each.The pros and cons?

TiVo Mobile - what's the point?

March 8, 2006

TiVo added another remote programming option called TiVo Mobile - a partnership between TiVo and Verizon Wireless that allows subscribers to remotely schedule DVR recordings from their mobile phones. What's the point?

Seriously. TiVo already lets you schedule recordings from your computer with Internet access if you forget to record something. Internet access is pretty ubiquitous, so do you really need the ability to schedule a recording from your cell phone?

Back from the Gloom: V Chip Resurrection

March 8, 2006

A decade ago, one of the hottest topics in CE was the V Chip, a little device that enabled televisions to filter content. There was much debate about the benefit, legality and ultimate cost of this device that enabled consumers to determine what content they would watch on TV.

Ultimately, the little chip that could was incorporated into the 1996 Telecommunications Act, with the result that as of January 1, 2000, all analog televisions sold in the U.S. had to include a V Chip. Taking the next step, now digital televisions (DTV) and other products with embedded digital receivers will be required to include V Chip capabilities, together with a new programmable interface.

In one week, on March 15, all new products with digital television receivers – including TVs, video recorders and set-top boxes – must incorporate parental control capabilities with a new "open" version of the V Chip that can be reprogrammed to adapt to changing standards.

Yahoo and Sony VoIP deal?

March 7, 2006

I just got this email at 10pm EST:

I wanted to touch base with you on some news Yahoo! is announcing around our voice efforts, and see if you are interested in receiving the details under embargo today. We are extending our VoIP platform beyond the PC and have a new relationship with a strong global consumer electronics brand.

Let me know if you are interested in receiving the details under embargo, which lifts at 2:00 a.m. Pacific Time tonight.

Skype is a real mover and shaker

March 7, 2006

Wow, Alexa's home page has a nice graph of Skype's soaring Alexa rankings as part of their Web Discovery special. Not sure if it will be there tomorrow, so let me copy some excerpts. Check out this quote: "Once again Skype has broken into Alexa's Movers and Shakers. Their growth over the last 8 months has been phenomenal, going from a reach per million of 2000 to well over 6000."

And look at this quote with graph comparing Skype with Vonage:

Where was I?

Apple's iPod Hi-Fi: Why?

March 7, 2006

Oops! Google GDrive To Offer Online Storage

March 7, 2006

Microsoft's New Portable Computer?

March 7, 2006

According to a report yesterday in UK-based, Microsoft is expected to unveil a portable computer that is in between a mobile telephone and a laptop. This is the latest move and counter-move in the battle to define leadership in growing area of develop devices that allow users to personalize and carry with them web search and media services.

The competition? The usual suspects and some others. Sony has launched a line of small wi-fi tablet computers the size of a paperback book, while Nokia has launched a small, Linux-powered tablet device.

Not to be outdone -- and with plenty of cash to invest, Google is reported to have talked to electronics companies about devices to make its services more widely available than on PCs.

PSP: Wow!

March 6, 2006

If my memory serves me well, wasn't Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP), the two most desired holiday gifts of the 2005 season?

Having moved up through the various Nintendo home and portable boxes (GameBoy, GameBoy Color, GameBoy SP, Nintendo, Nintendo 64) and shut out of the Xbox frenzy a few months ago, we opted for the PSP over the weekend.

At first blush, all I can say is wow! -- from the large, brilliant screen to the features -- music, photos, video, Internet and (of course) games, this is an incredible product that may cost a bit ($250 retail), but packs a wallop! The only thing missing from this gadget is a cell phone ...

Rich Tehrani quoted by The New York Times

March 6, 2006

Double-Dipping on the Internet

March 6, 2006

Counterpath and Intel partner - AMD in the cold?

March 6, 2006

AT&T/BellSouth: Will Cingular Get Any Better?

March 6, 2006

Much hubbub yesterday and of course this morning about the AT&T deal to buy BellSouth.

And while these deals are great for the deal brokers and company executives, they have mixed results when it comes to making the winning company any better (let's take HP and Compaq deal, for example).

At the bottom of the pile is the lowly customer, left to wonder if this is going to cost him or her more or less. Or how about making life easier?

AGN Networks launches SIP trunking service

March 6, 2006

AGN Networks, today launched their OnDemand SIP trunking service that enables you to connect your communications system (PBX, IP-PBX) to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) using SIP trunks instead of analog, PRI, or E1/T1 trunk lines. Hopefully, AGN Networks will fair better than Level 3's 3Tone SIP trunking service which was discontinued. Perhaps now the market is ready for SIP trunking?

"Businesses are increasingly adopting Internet protocol (IP) telephony, but to date the powerful new capabilities the technology enables have started and ended with their own private network," said Michael Hartley, AGN Networks spokesperson. "Most organizations still use a fixed land line to connect to a carrier network, just as they did decades ago.

AOL Open AIM to enable plugins and mashups

March 6, 2006

Holy moly! AOL is opening up their AIM client! Wow... It's about frickin' time is alll I have to say. While they are enabling developers to tie into their AIM client, it's unclear if this will enable interoperability with other third-party IM clients such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, GAIM, etc.

Cisco Unified Communications Changes Everything?

March 5, 2006

Cisco at 12am March 6th will launch their new Unified Communications System ( aimed at streamlining business processes, and helping to drive productivity. Unified Communications (UC) will feature new presence, desktop tools, mobile integration and network intelligence to improve business agility and customer interaction, but just as importantly as I will indicate later, Cisco is fully embracing the SIP standard on their desktop phones. I interviewed Cisco last week and they told me that I was the first journalist or analyst to have a "first look" at this major announcement.

Cisco IP phone & the new IP Communicator softclient

Perhaps I misread the tone of the Cisco representatives during my call, but they initially seemed to downplay the significance of Cisco's embracing of SIP in favor of focusing on the entire Unified Communications platform. But in my opinion, Cisco embracing SIP is just as big news as their Unified Communications system, but more on that later.

Essentially, Cisco Systems, unveiled the Cisco Unified Communications system, which is a new suite of voice, data and video products and applications specifically designed to help organizations of all sizes to communicate more effectively.

Adtran NetVanta 7100 launches

March 5, 2006

The Adtran NetVanta 7100 "all in one" converged IP-PBX launches Monday targetting the SMB market with a maximum of up to 50 IP phones supported. The Adtran NetVanta 7100 is a 24-port 10/100 PoE switch (802.3af), with 802.1Q VLANs and 802.1p Class of Service system, featuring built-in IP-PBX functionality, voicemail (CompactFlash memory), SIP gateway, IP router, Gigabit uplinks, Power of Ethernet (PoE) ports, Firewall, VPN, and DSU/CSU.

Without a doubt the Adran NetVanta 7100 is the most converged "one box" IP-PBX solution I have come across with its ability to simply "plop" the unit into a business office, terminate the T1 voice trunk lines, terminate the IP extensions, and perform all the voice & data routing with full security..The NetVantage 7100 is aimed at the SMB market and addresses Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and ease of use that plagues other IP-PBX deployments.

The NetVanta 7100 was built on the same Adtran operating system that enabled the NetVanta 1224R series to combine switch, router, firewall, VPN, POE capabilities on a single platform. Essentially, Adtran added a SIP-based IP-PBX with voicemail, autoattendant and SIP gateway to the NetVanta 1224R to create the 7100.

Citrix and Cisco Collaborate to Unify Communications and Business Applications

March 5, 2006

Last week was quite hectic for me wiith Cisco, Citrix, and Adtran telling me some interesting news they were coming out with the following Monday (today). I did extensive interviews with all three companies and spent a good deal of the end of last week and this weekend writing up these major announcments. Both Cisco and Adtran had some in-depth analysis on my part, leaving me to write up Citrix. Alas, I have run out of time with Citrix NDA expiring in just 2 minutes, so I'm just going to include their press release, which ironically is a joint annoucement with Cisco.

AT&T buys BellSouth for $67 billion

March 5, 2006

Blackberry: Stayin' Alive

March 3, 2006

Sangoma Asterisk cards test drive

March 3, 2006

Sangoma Technologies, a publicly traded on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV:STC ), has been designing WAN and telecom/telephony hardware for over 20 years. While Sangoma is well-known as a world leader in support of ATM, Frame Relay, SS7, X.25, PPP, BiSync, HDLC, and SDLC, all popular WAN-related protocols, Sangoma has been quietly making some inroads in providing analog and T1/E1 hardware to open-source PBX solutions such as Asterisk, Yate, and FreeSwitch. They manufacture a range of PCI based cards with T3/E3, T1/E1 TDM, Analog voice and data, ADSL and serial interfaces. Used as a TDM voice gateway, wanpipe router or with their APIs, their cards can turn a server into voice or data gateway.

MobileEdge Express Backpack: Clear Edge over the Competition

March 3, 2006

It seems like I'm always looking for the perfect bag for my laptop.  Yes, the Coach business look works fine in the right setting, but it is not always the right setting. (Who wants to carry a briefcase if they don't have to?)

While many are called, few are chosen, and MobileEdge Express Backpack has been getting the call when I need to mobile. (It's also doubled as a school backpack for my non-computer carrying child -- but that easy to get to, dedicated exterior media pocket for MP3 or CD player comes in handy -- the headphone pass-through port is brilliant so the device stays in the bag, while the 'phones go in the ear.

Of course, there's plenty of room in the protective computer sleeve for notebooks with screens up to 15.4 inches.

Blackberry Woes Lead to Treo Nod

March 3, 2006

Yesterday, I wrote about Blackberry's woes (and the pending woes of all of its many users) based on its unsettled lawsuit of its parent, Research in Motion, with NTP.

Well, that situation made it clear to me that the way to go with my next phone was the Treo 650 from Palm, rather than a Blackberry (it was one of those back-and-forth decision-making processes). It also made it easier since I've used a Treo 600 for the past two years. (I really do like having all of my gadgets in an all-in-one device.)

Fusion's intriguing P2P SIP solution

March 3, 2006

Fusion Telecommunications International, Inc
. announced on Tuesday that it had acquired "proprietary intellectual property" that will allow Directed Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Internet phone connections between Session Initiated Protocol (SIP)-enabled devices without the need to route the calls through a network of third-party computers, as typically occurs in a peer-to-peer environment. P2P SIP? Very interesting.

Hotmail founder launches VoiFi VoIP application

March 3, 2006

Sabeer Bhatia, the founder
of HotMail, has launched VoiFi a P2P VoIP application. I checked out the website and the features and all I can say is ho-hum. I don't even see PSTN termination capabilities listed. I would have expected more from Sabeer, who is a dotcom legend, getting paid millions for Hotmail by Microsoft.

Here, see the features below for youself, which just about every VoIP client has been there, done that.

Doing the Blackberry Limbo

March 2, 2006

Unless you don't hear or read any news at all, you've heard about the lawsuit between Research in Motion (RIM), better known as the maker of the Blackberry, and NTP (which you probably never heard of).

NTP is suing RIM for infringing its patents (an all-too frequent computer company situation it seems), but this time the suit has a very real effect.  Unless the companies can come to an agreement, non-government Blackberry use will be forced to shut down (unless RIM develops a work-around -- and pretty darn quick).

U.S. District Court Judge James Spender has stated that there is "no escaping that RIM has been found to be infringing NTP's patents," but he has yet to issue a decision in this case.  The net effect that Blackberry users are in a netherworld until then, and anyone considering the buying a Blackberry as a mobile phone/PDA, is in limbo.

APC Back-UPS ES 750 Has Got Your Back-up Covered

March 2, 2006

When I was a kid, the only time we had power failures was during hurricanes. Today, with our electrical grid stretched to capacity, power failures – brown outs, black outs and related mayhem – seem to happen without rhythm or reason. Or how about surges that love to travel through my data lines looking to create chaos at any time?

Well, after suffering countless data losses when the power flickers on, then off, then on and then really off, I know have found the answer to all of my woes -- American Power Conversion’s Back-UPS ES 750.

A Really Useful Digital Camera Evaluation Guide

March 1, 2006

With the annual shindig for camera dealers, Photo Marketing Association (PMA) trade show, wrapping up in Orlando today, what could be more fitting than a really useful guide to evaluating digital cameras?

When I worked on Fujifilm's digital cameras (and Ricoh and Sony earlier), pixel count was king -- the more megapixels the better. It was sort of an arms race, but with a much less world-threatening outcome. Another rating system was the tried-and-true star system -- you know, five is great, one is awful, in between is in between ...

Can' t we do any better and get some kind of guide that would be much more detailed so that camera buyers would know what they're getting for the money?

Vonage reaches 1.5 million lines mark

March 1, 2006

Vonage announced today that it has reached the 1.5 million line mark. I'll reiterate my blog post from September 2005 when Vonage claimed to hit the 1 million line mark and I said:

"This is a vague choice of words. When I link of "lines" I think of trunk lines or at least physical lines and not customers. It's doubtful Vonage truly has 1 million physical "lines" into their facility.

Ether enables pay per advice service leveraging VoIP

March 1, 2006

Back in November 2005 I wrote about FaceBridge and their "profit from IM/VoIP" model. which enables lawyers, technical people, and other professions to "charge" for their time using their favorite IM or VoIP client. Yesterday, I mentioned how someone was enabling Skype users to "pay" to talk to entertainers such as Penelope Cruz.

And now today (midnight PST, 3am EST my time), a new company called Ether, a new division of Ingenio, is launching their technology that enables the sale of services over the Internet by bloggers, technical people, entertainers, lawyers, etc.. According to Ether, "Ether allows anyone with something valuable to say – traditional service providers like accountants, therapists and legal professionals, as well as other experts and enthusiasts – to earn money by talking on the phone with their audience."

Ingenio is the company behind powering Yahoo Yellow Pages click-to-call service, AOL Yellow Pages click-to-call services, and others.

Featured Events