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Tom Keating
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July 2007

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Simicomm a covert Asterisk player?

July 31, 2007

Ok, just got this press release emailed to me about Simicomm releasing their beta 15 minute VoIP system which automatically installs via a bootable CD. Sounds familiar? It should. Both AsteriskNOW and trixbox offer bootable plug-and-play easy-to-use Asterisk-based solutions.

Asterisk + Talking Plants, Say what?

July 31, 2007

From the wild and wacky files, has developed an interesting application that leverages Asterisk to have plants call their plant caretakers if they are thirsty or hot or cold. For instance, when a plant gets thirsty it initiates a call over the Asterisk system and plays a message.

In the demonstration video the ivy plant calls the "scientist" and says, "Hi this is the ivy, I'm desperately in need of a drink. Do you think you can find it in your heart to maybe water me a little?"

You can even call your plant to show how much you care and the plant will tell you its status and a little bit about itself. Boy, people already have unhealthy relationships by spending way too much time with their gardens and plants.

Levitating Objects for your Desk

July 31, 2007

Harry Potter would be proud to witness you levitating objects on your desk. Potter calls it magic, I call it a strong magnetic field producing equal magnetic forces in opposite directions causing metallic objects to be perfectly suspended in the center. Of course Harry would counter he uses magic to generate magnetic fields  (ala Magneto from X-Men) to move objects.

But whether you believe in magic, supernatural forces, magnetism, or all of the above, this is one cool little trinket to add to your desk, making you the envy of all your co-workers! You can purchase and float various objects in the IFO 3000, including a color changing night light, a picture frame, a globe, a mini cooper, or even an LCD Alarm Clock that displays the date and temperature.

Outlook 2007 Sucks

July 30, 2007

Microsoft Outlook 2007 sucks. Or at least it sucks in how it handles its Junk E-mail functionality. Microsoft's brilliant decision is to prevent users from Replying to any email that lands in your "special" Junk E-mail folder. Microsoft Outlook 2007, part of the Office 2007 suite, displays the following dialog box popup when I click Reply to an email in the Junk E-mail folder:

"To help protect your personal information, this message has been converted to plain text.

SunRocket 10 Day Countdown

July 27, 2007

I received word that SunRocket will be completely disconnected 10 days from now. Some SunRocket customers are still unaware of SunRocket going under since their phone service still works via SunRocket's temporary saviour - Teleblend. However, Teleblend is only temporarily keeping SunRocket customers connectiions alive (at cost to them) while customers switch to another phone service provider. I wonder how many SunRocket customers will be in shock when their phone line goes dead in 10 days.

Below is the latest email from SunRocket.

Packet8 Outage Sunday

July 26, 2007

Looks like Packet8 has scheduled maintenance which may cause intermittent outages this Sunday. Funny how the regular phone company doesn't tell you they might be offline for a few hours. Probably because regular phone companies rarely are offline. They invented that whole 5 9's (99.999%) of reliability thing.

Rich Tehrani's take on Microsoft in Communications, VoIP, etc.

July 25, 2007

bOK, a Mobile VoIP Company, offers Free U.S. Calls

July 24, 2007

bOX is a fairly new mobile VoIP company that is offering free U.S. and Canada calling. It's similar to Jajah in that it doesn't require a software download to your mobile device. In fact, you simply text a message to bOK containing the number of the person you want to call.

SunRocket Saviors

July 20, 2007

A college friend of mine, Robert Traphan, was caught up in the SunRocket going down fiasco, so he was asking my advice as to a good replacement for SunRocket. He just received an email from SunRocket which explains different options available to SunRocket customers and which he forwarded to me. Interestingly enough, they negotiated with two providers and are recommending Packet8 and TeleBlend but not the big boy - Vonage. I'm surprised Vonage didn't want to work directly with SunRocket in acquiring their customers. 

Ooma Goes Booma?

July 19, 2007

The buzz around Ooma is deafening and I certainly jumped in as well. I mean what's not to love about Ooma? It's using P2P, it gives you free domestic calling, and it even has some Hollywood glitz with Ashton Kutcher behind it. But now that I've had some time to think about it, I have some reservations I'd like to share.

First, I should point out that Ooma works by sharing your PSTN analog phone line with other Ooma users.

Ooma Free Phone Calls

July 19, 2007

Ooma, a new VoIP provider, hopes to bring voice calling everywhere closer to "free". In fact, Ooma offers 100% free domestic U.S. calling using your standard analog/cordless phone to any domestic destination. (They charge for international) I'm sure Vonage, Packet8, and other broadband VoIP players aren't too thrilled with this.

With Ooma you shell out mad money - $399 - which gets you a sleek Ooma Hub with lifetime free local and long distance service.

Follow Me on the iPhone using Bluetooth and trixbox

July 18, 2007

Nerd Vittles has a cool recipe for making your Apple iPhone have follow me functionality using a pinch of Bluetooth, a dash of trixbox (an Asterisk-based system), a smidgen of the Linux Bluetooth software toolkit , a dash of a dLink DBT120 Bluetooth Adapter, and oh just pinch me now, this is just so friggin' cool!

The idea is that if you have a business PBX (trixbox), the trixbox system will automatically "sense" when you are in the office and send calls to your usual extension. However, when you leave the office (with your trusty iPhone of course), the system detects (via Blutooth) that you aren't in the office and then trixbox automatically forwards your business calls to your iPhone. Sweet!

Vittles explains it best:
If impressing your friends happens to be your thing, then you'll enjoy watching them all wet their pants today after you show them this little trick.

SunRocket ceases, Vonage fights for the scraps

July 17, 2007

To no one's surprise, SunRocket has ceased operations. Vonage certainly didn't waste any time in putting on their vulture cap to pick at the carcass of SunRocket. While I think it is smart marketing for Vonage to go after SunRocket's customers, I can't help but have this "icky" feeling. It's like going to a funeral and a family member starts telling you about this great business opportunity he wants you to join.

Truphone wins court injunction against T-Mobile blocking tactics

July 16, 2007

You recall T-Mobile blocking Truphone, right? T-Mobile is notorious for not only blocking Truephone, but also blocking VoIP and third-party text messaging as well. Well, today a judge has instructed T-Mobile (UK) to stop blocking calls to Truphone.  The judge granted a mandatory injunction forcing T-Mobile (UK) Ltd to interconnect with Truphone, which provides a low-cost internet telephony service on mobile phones.

James Tagg, Truphone's chief executive officer, said:
• "The injunction is good news not only for Truphone but for every company trying to develop internet-era services and for every consumer wanting freedom of choice and lower prices.

Jajah on iPhone = Free phone calls

July 16, 2007

Online Web Conferencing via iPhone

July 16, 2007

Today, Genesys will announce the first web conferencing and online meeting application for the Apple iPhone combining conferencing, the ability to view online presentations, application sharing and sending chat messages. It has a slick interface and so far, Genesys is the only compatible conferencing provider to run on the iPhone due to its standards-based AJAX platform. If my mentioning AJAX on the iPhone sounds familiar, it should, since last week I wrote about SoonR, an AJAX application, which enables Skype to run on the Apple iPhone.

In fact, that article caught the attention of Genesys's PR representative since they also happened to previously represent SoonR. The Genesys rep emailed me about the pending Genesys Meeting Center 4.0 announcement, and explained how it brings multimedia "virtual meetings" to the iPhone allowing users to easily join a voice and web meeting using the iPhone's Safari browser.

"Genesys' strategy is always to provide ubiquitous access to virtual meetings regardless of the platform, browser or device you're using," said Denise Persson, EVP Global Marketing of Genesys.

DigitalLife Is the Life

July 13, 2007

Michigan VoIP

July 13, 2007

I was demonstrating Overture's keyword suggestion tool to some coworkers, used the keyword "voip", and was surprised by one of the suggested results ("michigan voip"). Check out the screenshot to the right of the Top 20 results listing the rankings of the top VoIP-related keywords (by traffic) according to Overture. #20 is "michigan voip". Why the heck is "michigan voip" ranked 20th?

AT&T Delaying Deployment of Competitors' fiber lines?

July 11, 2007

Connecticut's Public Utiltiy Control could impose rewards or penalties that level the playing field for telecom and cable providers of voice and broadband service who say the owners of utility poles have been unfairly delaying utility pole connections for fiber-optic cable. One of those targetted by this is AT&T. According to, "Several companies, including Thames Valley Communications in Groton and Fiber Technology Networks LLC, complained that AT&T and other owners are obstructing competition by delaying hookups, a charge the owners have denied."

AT&T owns the utility poles where fiber-optic cable is attached to facilitate the connections jointly with electric companies, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating. As you probably know, AT&T has their own hybrid fiber/copper solution called U-verse which competes with other service providers offering voice,video, and data over fiber, making delays mighty suspicious. 

iSoftPhone VoIP App for the iPhone?

July 11, 2007

Ah yes, the hype surrounding the Apple iPhone continues unabated, including my posting about Skype on the iPhone, which was picked up by both Engadget and Gizmodo, topping my referral traffic charts yesterday.

Now it seems XNet wishes to leverage the iPhone hype with their latest iSoftPhone release, which at first glance looks eerily similar to the Apple iPhone. In fact, it looks like it's a VoIP application running on the iPhone. Great Scott! First I discover Skype on the iPhone and now another VoIP app?

Digium Acquires Astricon

July 11, 2007

Rich has the skinny on Digium acquiring Sokol & Associates. Sokol & Associates runs the popular Astricon tradeshow and Asterisk IP-PBX training programs. Interesting how Digium, an open-source hardware and software company is now technically a tradeshow company and an Asterisk training company.

Rich's analysis is, "By purchasing a well-known training company in the Asterisk space, Digium should be able to grow revenue nicely. This move positions Digium as a major training powerhouse." While I agree with Rich, Digium just has to be careful not to "eat its own" partners by becoming a competitor to them.

Body Hacks: Improve your vision with your fist

July 11, 2007

I knew about this vision trick from high school science class and have used it on occasion. Except I find it easier to pinch my thumb and forefinger of both hands and then put the four fingers together to form a tiny hole in the middle. I recall the tiny hole forces your eye muscles to tighten more and improve your eye focus.

Try it with some small text on paper about 5 feet away and you should see a difference even if you have 20/20 vision.

Quote via Hacker Zen:

Make your hand into a fist and look through it, as if you were looking through an invisible telescope....

Search text in multiple files using Windows Grep

July 10, 2007

Windows Grep searches user-defined files and folders with for text or regular expressions, giving you powerful and fast search results. I use Linux all the time and the "grep" command is one of the most powerful Linux commands, so I was excited to hear about Windows Grep.

According to LifeHacker, "Windows Grep's search is quick and far more powerful than a simple Google Desktop or Windows Explorer folder search, with lightning fast results and an option for previewing the matching text and optionally the lines surrounding the text to give you an idea of context." Windows Grep search works on plain text files, binary files and can even search within zip archives. Windows Grep can also perform a find and replace on the text. Windows Grep is free to download (it asks for a registration after 30 days but never requires one). Get it here: WinGrep [via Mike Duncan]

Source: LifeHacker

TiVo's new Buy on TV for Amazon Unbox

July 10, 2007

Talkety on iPhone

July 9, 2007

Since I just blogged about Skype on the iPhone using SoonR Talk in my previous post, I would be remiss if I didn't mention another VoIP solution for the Apple iPhone - namely Talkety.

With Talkety, you can have conference calls with up to 50 people, make long distance calls and sync your iPhone’s address book with your Talkety account. Technically, it isn't VoIP to the iPhone. Rather, just like the SoonR Skype workaround, it forwards calls to your iPhone, but leverage's Talkety's voice termination network (VoIP) for inexpensive calls.

Also, unlike SoonR Talk, Talkety doesn't require a PC to be turned on all the time with a special application installed. It simply uses your mobile phone's web browser and PSTN connection.

Skype on iPhone

July 9, 2007

I recently wrote Skype on the iPhone was not possible. Well, there is a workaround that will enable you to use Skype on the Apple iPhone. Technically, the Skype client still is NOT running on the iPhone, but instead uses a workaround to enable many of the Skype features on the iPhone.

[update: I found another awesome Skype solution besides SoonR, so keep reading!]

4/1/09 - Skype officially launched their own native app, but I'm keeping all the available "Skype options" in this article.

Also, check out this VERY HOT related story which enables Skype over 3G
Skype over 3G on iPhone

Essentially, the workaround is to install SoonR Talk, a AJAX-enabled application. SoonR's AJAX-enabled interface is available now for any mobile phone that can run the Opera Mobile browser version 8.6 and above, as well as Safari, which includes the Apple iPhone.

Cape Cod vacation

July 9, 2007

Well, I'm back from Cape Cod where I spent the Fourth of July holiday. I did periodically check email via EVDO, but only at our house rental and not the beach. I thought about blogging on the beach and considered snapping a few photos of the ocean and beach to post to the blog, but I decided it was better to just take a mental break from blogging. Hence, you may have noticed an entire week went by without a single blog entry - a record that I believe goes back to when I started blogging in 2004!

In any event, I'm back now.

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