Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
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August 2008

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Roasting AT&T over iPhone Problems

August 29, 2008

"A phone is only as good as the network it's on," said a full-page Verizon Wireless newspaper ad on Thursday, lobbing a shot at AT&T's 3G, or third generation, high-speed network.

(And ain't that the truth -- we know if well where I live!)

Apple sold more than a million iPhone 3G cellphones its first weekend -- with some stores running out -- and two million more since then, analysts say.

But its July debut has been nothing less than a public relations headache for AT&T, with eager buyers complaining about dropped calls and poor network connections.

Some fingers point to Apple, which has tried to deflect the complaints. But many others point to AT&T's cellular network.

Whatever the source of the problems, AT&T's rivals, long irritated by all the attention the iPhone has received, are on the attack and happy to exploit the discontent.

A Verizon executive sent an e-mail to Wall Street analysts last week: "So much for a 'new' way of doing business at the old AT&T -- your father's phone company." 

Get more at the New York Times here.













Remember When Labor Day Meant Noisy Beach Parties???

August 29, 2008

It really wasn't all that long ago when you could bring an AM radio to the beach for Labor Day, tune in Cousin Brucie and rock the sand dunes!

(Remember all of those beach party movies? Can anybody name one?

Now, with all of the anti-fun measures that are posted at the beach (no noise, no ball playing, etc.), it's amazing that you can still go in the water and swim (only between the green flags, please!).

Anyway, looks like the 2008 end-of-summer beach look is an iPod or other MP3 player -- but remember keep the sound down so you don't blow out those eardrums! --  so everyone rocks out in silence.

Ah, the living in the modern world ...







Microsoft OCS 2007 R2 (next release) to be 64-bit Only

August 29, 2008

It was just announced on the Office Communications Server Team blog that the next release of OCS 2007 (rumored to be called OCS 2007 R2) will support 64-bit operating systems only. Customers who are using 32-bit hardware systems to run OCS 2007 will have to upgrade to x64 systems to install and run the next release of OCS.

From Microsoft:
As a part of the broad initiative across Microsoft to support 64 bit versions across many of its product lines, the next release of OCS will support 64-bit operating systems only. This decision will help meet customer demand and is a natural progression of the product that aligns with the same approach taken by the Exchange team (with Exchange 2007) and the SharePoint team (with SharePoint 2007) to support 64 bit operating systems only.

For the next release of OCS, Microsoft will support deployments on 64 bit operating systems - Windows Server 2003 x64 (R2) and Windows Server 2008 x64.


They based their decision to go 100% 64-bit in part based on customer feedback, as they explained here:
Based on customer feedback, Microsoft's goal with the next release of OCS is to simplify deployments by reducing the number of servers needed for deployment. Customers are also telling us they are pushing the limits of existing hardware with their "mission critical" communications solutions.

OCS 2007 Video Call

There was a bit of a backlash from customers when Microsoft announced that Exchange Server 2007 would be 64-bit only, but I think that mentality has eased a bit over the last year.





Happy 5th Birthday Skype!

August 29, 2008


Just want to wish Skype a Happy 5th Birthday. Skype has helped make VoIP a household name and has carried more VoIP minutes than any other VoIP software application out there. Well done Skype.

I hope you continue to innovate, though Andy Abramson writes today Skype is dropping Skypecasts, a nifty feature.


You Can Buy Gadgets Everywhere!

August 28, 2008

A recent study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has found that 25% of people would be willing to buy their gadgets from Starbucks, 30% from Ikea, 40% from Bed, Bath and Beyond and almost 60% from Home Depot.

"Electronics have become so pervasive that consumers are looking to buy these devices wherever they want," said Tim Herbert, CEA research senior director, adding, "No [retailer] is safe. If you don't reinvent yourself, there are retailers looking to capitalize on the vulnerability of CE retailers."

It's easy to see why as lines across the big box retailers blur and they look to capture more dollars from more (or, today, less) shoppers.

And innovative and lower-priced products are also making it easier for these stores to stock them -- a $159 computer keyboard with a built-in scanner from Keyscan, one of the first notebook stands with built-in iPod dock and speakers from Lifeworks and an accessory that adds voice activation to an iPod (with an iPhone version in the works) from Innotek.

And while this is exciting, don't see too many flat-screen TVs moving out of Home Depot, but then again, who would have guessed that Costco could move these big boys in such large numbers?

 









Is Sony Ericsson Headed for Splitsville?

August 28, 2008

According to Reuters, Sony's joint venture with cell phone maker Ericsson must do better.

Asked whether Sony is planning to end its Sony Ericsson joint venture, Sony head honcho Howard Stringer said: "It's certainly been a difficult year but buying out a partner is never an easy thing."

Sony lowered its group net profit forecast for the year to March by 17 percent, citing a slump at Sony Ericsson and weakening prospects for its electronics division amid tough price competition.

"We have to work together again as we did two years ago. Or the joint venture will have to find its own solution," Stringer said.

He added that it was hard for a company to be as nimble as possible when it works in a joint venture.

Are the bells starting to toll?  And will that be the last ring tone from Sony Ericsson?

Lots more here.











What's Wrong with Second-Hand Video Game Sales?

August 28, 2008

Publishing giant Electronic Arts has said that it's currently trying multiple new business models to help battle the critical problem of second-hand videogame sales.

(No problem for me!)

While retailers reap the benefits of selling the same product multiple times, publishers and developers don't see any income once a title hits the second-hand market.

But realizing it's powerless to stop retail from selling second-hand goods, EA is looking to combat the problem by capturing the consumer with online content and services.

"I'd actually make the point that for us second-hand sales is a very critical situation, because people are selling multiple times intellectual property," said Jens Uwe Intat, senior VP and general manager for European publishing at EA, speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz

Today, it seems like you can buy just about anything two or three times ... and what are auction sites like eBay supposed to do?

Course if all games where like Asteroid (above), would we have this problem?











How about a Blu-ray/VHS Combi?

August 27, 2008

IEEE standardizes 801.11r fast Wi-Fi roaming

August 27, 2008

The IEEE has completed 802.11r, a standard that lets Wi-Fi devices roam quickly between wireless access points (WAP) and which improves the performance of VoIP on enterprise LANs.

Traditionally, 801.11 devices can roam from one access point to another, but it takes about 100ms to re-associate, and several seconds to re-establish authenticated connections using 802.1x. Not good for time-critical apps like VoIP.

According to InfoWorld, "the new standard, 802.11r, known as Fast Basic Service Set Transition, allows the network to establish a security and QoS state for the device at the new access point, before it roams between the two, so the transition can take place in less than 50ms - the standard required for voice roaming."

The article explains that vendors have traditionally either used lower security options on Wi-Fi VoIP (i.e. easily crackable WEP encryption) and put VoIP traffic on separate VLANs to protect the rest of the network. Other company have built networks where there is no roaming because all the access points are on the same channel.

The new IEEE 802.11r standard should help improve enterprise Wi-Fi VoIP functionality, in particular larger buildings.

Source: InfoWorld









What's in Your Back-to-School Pack?

August 27, 2008

Is every kid in America (at least at a certain age bracket) heading back to High School (or even Middle School) this week with a cell phone and iPod?

I'm sure there a many other variations of gadgetry in the average back-to-school back pack (or other notebook, pencil, paper, lunch carrying device), but that's got to be the one.

Wait ... Maybe it's just the iPhone without anything else, but that would seem to be more appropriate for a higher demo that what I'm given to thinking. 

Or maybe the real debate is the iPod and a specific model of cell phone in tandem?

Anyway, before I get myself all confused over this burning issue, what do you think? Anybody out there got anything to contribute?







Microsoft develops Vi-Fi (Vehicle Wi-Fi). VoIP while driving baby!

August 27, 2008

A new technology developed by Microsoft in alliance with the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), and the University of Washington has resulted in a new technology called Vi-Fi (Vehicle Wi-Fi). Vi-Fi solves the problem of hopping from one Wi-Fi wireless access point (WAP) to another when signal strength diminishes. According to the article, the goal of Vi-Fi could be to power VoIP calls, Internet, and radio in cars of the future.

Ironically, Andy wrote a controversial blog this week about VoIPing while flying (using Aircell) -- well now you can VoIP while driving too! Of course, I've been using VoIP over EVDO for some time now while driving.

Everything in the World's Going Wireless

August 27, 2008

In Singapore, the Dutch consumer electronics maker Philips is designing a multimedia server to stream audio and video through the air, from the Internet to any device in the home.

In Munich, a former unit of Siemens envisions a cordless phone that would double as a music player, wirelessly drawing music from home computers.

In Japan, members of Sony's global "digital home team" are redesigning 90% of the company's home electronics components to connect wirelessly to the Internet by 2011.

Across the consumer electronics industry, the leading players are revamping their audio and video equipment for a future centered around the Internet, a world in which televisions, stereos, computers -- even kitchen appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators -- can communicate with each other over a wireless home network.

Some industry executives say the new focus on Internet content and wireless networks reflects a fundamental shift in home entertainment. 

Expanded lines of "networked entertainment equipment" took center stage this week at the Internationale Funkausstellung in Berlin, the largest consumer electronics convention in Europe, with 1,200 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors.

Sony is introducing plug-in adapters to enable some of its Bravia television sets to connect to the Internet wirelessly. Philips is demonstrating a line of hard-disc stereo systems that can wirelessly read and play music stored on personal computers or laptops in other rooms, streaming music selectively through the house.

Pioneer, Samsung and Sharp are presenting flat-panel TVs that hook up to the Internet, some with wires, some without. Hewlett Packard's MediaSmart LCD TV will wirelessly stream high-definition video. 

More at the International Herald Tribune.















Woz: The Engineer Behind the Apple

August 26, 2008

At the 2008 Intel Developer Forum, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (right in photo) took the main stage to talk about his love of engineering and science, the process behind developing the Apple II personal computer, and what it's like to be "Employee No. 1" at Apple.

Wozniak also spoke of the impact Steve Jobs (left in photo) still has on Apple and its slew of successful products, from the iPod to the iPhone.

If he had his wish, he would have remained an engineer for life at Hewlett-Packard.

Instead, Steve Jobs encouraged Wozniak to leave the safe confines of HP and venture out into a new company -- Apple -- where the two would work to bring the Apple II personal computer into every household, school and business.

With some reluctance, Wozniak left HP and became--and still remains--"Employee No. 1" at Apple. In his partnership with Jobs, Wozniak would remain the engineer, and Jobs would sell what Wozniak would invent.

"A lot of times you become what you want to be in life, and I wanted to be an engineer," said Wozniak at the conclusion of the Forum.

"I never wanted to run a company. I didn't want to worry about money. I didn't want to move up the management chain," Wozniak said.











Intel's Third Tablet Ready for Back to School Ride

August 26, 2008

Intel has unveiled the third generation of its low-cost laptop for students, which branches out from the standard clamshell design with a tablet-style option and includes a touch screen.

Introduced at the recent Intel Developer Forum 2008 in San Francisco, the new Classmate PC -- slated for deployment by the end of this year -- is aimed primarily at students worldwide in grades 3-8.

"We spent a lot of time with ethnographers, building this Classmate with students in mind," said Jeff Galinovsky, regional manager for the Classmate PC. "We've been collecting over two years of research to help develop the best PC for students."

Since its initial release in 2007, Intel has developed two prior versions of the Classmate PC: the rugged, camera-equipped, first-generation Classmate, and the Atom processor Classmate introduced in June.

The Atom processor is Intel's smallest chip, built for low power consumption and designed specifically for a new wave of mobile internet devices and simple, low-cost PCs, Intel said.

Like Intel's previous laptops, the new Classmate's design concept will allow for local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to release versions of the computer with different colors or decorations. Examples of these OEM-branded Classmate PCs include the HCL MiLeap (India), Olidata's JumPC (Italy), FTEC's SmartBook (Malaysia), Neo's eXplore (Philippines), and CTL's 2Go PC (United States). 









Opentape Picks Up Where Muxtape Left Off

August 26, 2008

Asterisk GUI 2.0 launches

August 26, 2008

Digium Headquarters Tour

August 26, 2008

During my tour of Digium's headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama I snapped quite a few photos that I thought I'd share. I'll just share a few here, but if you want to see them all, go check out the online photo album I created specifically for Digium:
http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/photos/digium/


Be sure to check my other photo albums as well:
http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/photos/


The new Digium headquarters is very impressive. I couldn't help but be in awe of what Mark Spencer created. Obviously, there is money to be made in open source, and seeing the fruits of Mark's and his team's labor in this state-of-the-art building was proof of that.



Treo 800w: Now Finally We Get Wi-Fi ...

August 25, 2008

The first Treo device with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity is worth a look for companies running a Microsoft back-end infrastructure or for die-hard Treo users. Alas ...

Although the Treo 800w is likely the best Treo smart phone Palm has delivered to date, Palm's late adoption of technology now standard on many competing mobile devices leaves the Treo 800w as a middle-of-the-road option for many casual buyers.

At long last, Palm has added Wi-Fi connectivity to a Treo, as the 800w features an 802.11b/g radio in addition to a new integrated GPS receiver.

Given how astronomically long it has taken Palm to implement Wi-Fi in any of its devices, it is gratifying to see that the company gone the extra mile to improve upon the basic software functionality that comes with Windows Mobile. 

Get more at eWeek.







Apple's Got a Few Blemishes of Late ...

August 25, 2008

So much good news and now so much bad news.

The Apple rumor mill is churning, but this week it's about software fixes instead of new products. News reports are raising expectations of yet another iPhone software fix next month.

Apparently software update 2.0.2 didn't fix connection problems -- in fact, it created new issues for some iPhone users even as others are wrestling with MobileMe foul-ups that make receiving e-mail on the handset sketchy.

The software fix Apple was reportedly related to a chip inside the iPhone. BusinessWeek reported last week that Apple was working on a remedy through a software upgrade. 

But applications are still crashing, crashing, crashing. 

Apple has set itself up for failure because it's vetting all of the applications on its App Store to ensure the software doesn't contain any bad code, according to Mike Disabato, a wireless analyst at the Burton Group.

"I've got three applications on my iPhone right now that don't work. Apple killed the Netshare application. Why did that do that?











Amazon To Re-Kindle Its Popular eBook Reader

August 25, 2008

Amazon will reportedly ship new versions of its Kindle e-book reader before year's end. The original reader launched last November sold out in its first week and had Amazon scrambling to fill holiday orders. While sales have been brisk, estimates vary.

A Seattle newspaper confirmed late last week that Amazon.com is in the late stages of rolling out two new versions of Kindle. Reports unconfirmed by Amazon indicate there will be at least two new devices -- one with a new user interface, but the same dimensions of the original paperback-sized reader, and another the size of an 8-by-11-inch sheet of paper.

fring touchtone DTMF support - uh hello?

August 25, 2008

I've been playing around with fring for awhile now. I like fring which I like to call "the Swiss army knife of mobile VoIP and IM", since it works with Skype, SIP, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, and AIM. Because it supports SIP, I'm able to configure fring to work on Asterisk-based systems to be able to make and receive phone calls.



Receiving calls to my '149' SIP extension (see screenshot) works great on my Windows Mobile 6.1 Verizon XV6700 (Apache) phone.



Digium Asterisk Appliance AA1080 or AA1060?

August 25, 2008

Bill Miller commented I may have seen some yet-unreleased products during my tour. During my tour of Digium's headquarters, I snapped some photos, so I thought perhaps one of my photos might contain some top secret Digium product, so I planned to give them a closer look.

Sure enough two of my photos caught my eye. I zoomed in on the photos and noticed a Digium Asterisk Appliance with a model number printed that says "AA1080" or "AA1060". I can't be sure which model number is correct.

Digium AsteriskNOW News and more...

August 25, 2008


As I hinted last week, I would have some "interesting" news to tell after my visit to Digium's brand new headquarters along with colleagues Greg Galitzine and Dave Rodriguez. Before I get into the MAJOR news being made by Digium, let me cover what else I learned on my trip. It had been 3 years since I last visited Digium down in Huntville, Alabama.

After getting a grand tour of the new Digium building we sat down in a state-of-art boardroom complete with a high-end Polycom IP conferencing unit, theater lighting, and a projector with motorized retractable screen. The boardroom was named the Mark C. Smith Boardroom to honor Mark Smith, who was the founder and chief executive officer of ADTRAN and Mark Spencer's mentor.


What Gadget Are You Buying This Weekend?

August 22, 2008

Meeting with Digium

August 21, 2008

Moto Looks To Get Its Mojo Back

August 21, 2008

Motorola, the world's third-largest handset maker, has just unveiled two new low-end phones on that allow users to listen to songs and surf the Web.

Facing stiff competition from handsets such as Apple's iPhone and the Nokia line, Motorola has said it would launch 50 new devices this year, including advanced phones, trying to come up with a strong follow-up to its once-lauded Razr phone.

One new handset is a music-enabled camera phone -- the W388 -- that sells for under $100.

The second device is a low-end third-generation (3G) mobile phone -- the VE538 -- which goes for less than $250 and offers one-click mobile social networking, photo uploading and blogging at various websites.

The two new products will be shipped to Asia-Pacific markets first -- before being rolled out globally -- by September. 

More at Reuters.









Presto! Intel Wants To Make Wires Disappear

August 21, 2008

Intel has made progress in a technology that could lead to the wireless recharging of gadgets and the end of the power-cord spaghetti behind electronic devices. 

It says it has increased the efficiency of a technique for wirelessly powering consumer gadgets and computers, a development that could allow a person to place a notebook on a countertop to power it. This could bring the consumer electronics industry a step closer to a world without wires.

The chip maker plans to demonstrate the use of a magnetic field to broadcast up to 60 watts of power two to three feet. It says it can do that losing only 25 percent of the power in transmission.

The presentation is part of the company's Intel Developer Forum, a series of events here that the company uses to showcase new technologies in personal computing and related consumer technologies. 

Read all about it at the International Herald Tribune.











Seinfeld To Battle Mac Guy in Ads

August 21, 2008

Microsoft Debuts Its Surface 30" Interactive Screen at Sheraton

August 20, 2008

Internet Finally Takes Off into the Clouds

August 20, 2008

American Airlines began offering Internet access on long-haul domestic flights today, making American the first U.S. airline to offer full in-flight broadband, according to a Reuters report.

The world's largest airline said its passengers on Boeing 767-200 aircraft can pay $12.95 for Internet access on nonstop flights between New York and San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, and New York and Miami. 

Airlines have been racing to get reliable Internet access on their flights in hopes of gaining a competitive edge in the troubled airline industry. (And making some money since the cost of fuel is sucking the life out of the industry.)

Other carriers like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue have made strides in that direction. (When you charge for everything -- why not?)

Delta said this month it soon will start rolling out broadband Wi-Fi access for its entire domestic mainline fleet of more than 330 planes.

Experts have said they expect in-flight Internet to become common in the industry.

American's mobile broadband service, which is called Gogo, is provided by AirCell.











Oh No! Don't Spoil Our Fun! Wii Gets Slapped with Patent Infringement

August 20, 2008

Hillcrest Labs has apparently filed a complaint for patent infringement with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington, D.C., and a separate patent infringement suit in the U.S. District Court in Maryland, against Nintendo, related to the Wii video game system.

At issue are Hillcrest's U.S. Patent Nos. 7,158,118, 7,262,760, and 7,414,611, which relate to a hand-held 3-D pointing device, and U.S.

Apple's Battery Problems -- Now with iPods!

August 19, 2008

Remember not all that long ago when just about every computer notebook manufacturer was having problems with batteries -- like catching on fire! 

Now we have battery problems with cell phones!  

Apple is blaming a problem its problem with overheating iPods in Japan on faulty batteries.

In response to reports that Japan is investigating incidents of iPod nanos getting hot enough to scorch paper placed nearby, Apple acknowledged that "in very rare cases" first-generation iPod nanos sold between September 2005 and December 2006 can overheat.

Extremely rare, Apple said it has received reports about less than 0.001% of first-generation iPod nano units acting in this way, and has traced the problem to a single battery supplier. Apple did not name the supplier. 

Lots more at Macworld.









Muxtape: The Day the Music Died (Again)

August 19, 2008

The music has stopped at Muxtape.com, the free, online music site that allows users to create a playlist or mixtape of up to 12 songs and share the list with friends. It was temporarily shutdown as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) flexed its copyright protecting musclea.

The Manhattan-based startup has informed users that it "will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA."

The RIAA has been cracking down on illegal sharing of copyrighted music on the Web for the past few years. Muxtape has previously said that it does not violate any copyright infringement laws because it is not an online service that allows consumers to illegally download music. It only allows users to listen to songs on the site.



AC/DC & Wal-Mart? Go Figure ...

August 19, 2008

Who would have figured that Wal-Mart would have become the exclusive retailer for classic rock bands coming back to life?

In the latest news in this area, the king of retailers revealed that the new AC/DC album, Black Ice, will be sold exclusively in Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores starting in late October.

The deal is part of a wider strategy for the world's biggest retailer to get exclusive deals to sell CDs. It is the latest album to be sold under such an arrangement, as Wal-Mart got exclusive rights to sell albums by the Eagles and Journey in recent months.

(And don't forget that AC/DC has one of the all-time top selling albums -- can you believe it? Back in Black sold more than 22 million copies!)

The AC/DC deal was made in conjunction with Columbia Records.

The album is the band's first containing all-new material in eight years. It will cost $11.88. The CD will also be available online at the Sam's Club and AC/DC Web sites. 









VoSKY Exchange Pro VISIP-EX SIP PBX-to-Skype gateway

August 19, 2008


VoSKY
just announced the VoSKY Exchange Pro VISIP-EX, a SIP-to-Skype gateway product that bridges the Skype network with SIP-based IP-PBXs and SIP gateways. The VoSKY Exchange Pro VISIP-EX enables companies with SIP-enabled PBXs to add Skype trunks for inexpensive calling. This isn't the first SIP-to-Skype gateway, I've written about others here, here, here, and here, however, this is the first "Skype-certified", enterprise-grade PBX-to-Skype gateway for SIP networks.

The new VoSKY Exchange Pro VISIP-EX is based on the company's enterprise-grade Linux platform and connects an IP-PBX to Skype to dramatically reduce telecom costs up to 90% over traditional telco trunks according to VoSKY.
 
The VoSKY Exchange Pro VISIP-EX integrates with any existing IP-PBX through SIP trunk ports and adds up to 30 lines of Skype.



Digium AA50 1.2 Software Released

August 19, 2008


Yesterday, Digium released version 1.2 for the Digium Asterisk Appliance 50 (AA50). It's been awhile since I've heard any news about the AA50, so I'm glad to see Digium is still developing for the AA50 even with their new Switchvox-based AA60 appliance offering and their even newer AA300 & AA350 offerings. Actually, I discussed whether Digium's AA60, AA300, and AA350 would compete against their original AA50 Asterisk appliance, which might be worth a read. In a nutshell, I stated that they target different sized businesses.

You Be the Judge! At CES!

August 18, 2008

If you're a member of the press, an independent designer or an engineer, we want you!

(Actually, the International Consumer Electronics Show -- CES -- wants you. And that is some show! This is one that draws hundreds of thousands of people so that the Las Vegas Convention Center -- and some other LV venues -- is filled to overflowing.)

Here's what you need to know for now:
  • Are you able to volunteer a little of your time to judge one of the most prestigious awards programs in the consumer electronics industry?
  • Do you consider yourself a knowledgeable consumer electronics design professional, with expertise in any of the 34 Innovations 2009 awards categories?
  • Do you have at least five years of experience in the CE industry through the media or as an industry analyst or professional?
The Innovations Design and Engineering Awards program recognizes the most innovative consumer electronics products in 34 categories and has become a hallmark for the best-designed products in consumer technology.

Download the awards category guide that includes examples of eligible products within a category to assist you in selecting the categories you feel most qualified to judge.






Amazon's Special MP3 Deals -- Indeed!

August 18, 2008

What Economy? TV Sales Surge Anyway

August 18, 2008

TV shipments for North America hit record growth levels in the second quarter, despite a weaker U.S. economy.

According to research firm DisplaySearch, TV shipments rose 28% compared to the same quarter last year to more than 9.3 million units, marking the strongest quarterly results since the research firm began tracking TV shipments in 2004.  

(No money to go out, so let's spend more time on the couch ...)

Samsung was the leading brand for the quarter, with a record share of approximately 19% of all TV unit shipments in North America, and Sony took the No. 2 spot. Vizio also saw strong gains in PDP market share, ranking it the No. 3 supplier in total TV shipments.

LCD and plasma TV technologies both had strong sequential gains over the first quarter this year of 30% and 35%, respectively, with PDP growth influenced by strong initial shipments of Vizio's 32-inch HD PDPs and LCD growth also very strong at 32 inches (that's one of them above).

LCD TV shipments rose a stronger-than-expected 52% over the second quarter last year, to nearly 7.5 million units.









AT&T CallVantage One Step Closer to Oblivion

August 15, 2008

As I predicted on July 3rd, AT&T would soon be dropping its CallVantage broadband VoIP service since they dropped their affiliate marketing channel.

Well, today I learned that AT&T is no longer accepting ANY new orders from ANY source - affiliate or otherwise. The slow death of CallVantage is a bit sad, but it isn't particularly surprising, not only because they dropped the affiliate channel last month but as I have previously indicated, AT&T is heavily promoting their U-Verse fiber-to-copper hybrid service that combines IPTV, data, and U-Verse Voice (in select areas).

It seems a little early to cut the cord on acquiring new Callvantage customers since neither U-Verse or U-Verse Voice are available in most of the country - including my neighborhood where it was promised for this summer. I would think they would want to acquire these customers on CallVantage and then easily port them over to U-Verse when it becomes available in their area. It is much easier and less expensive to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one.



Jaybird Does Bluetooth (Headsets/Headphones) Nice

August 13, 2008

Anybody Still Playing RuneScape?

August 13, 2008

Krusell's Getting the Picture: Camera Cases Coming

August 13, 2008

LCD Still Moving, but Is a Slowdown Ahead?

August 12, 2008

LCD TV sales grew 25% quarter-to-quarter in Q2, according to Quixel Research in its LCD TV Market Review. The growth was attributed to the availability of more screen sizes with less emphasis on 1080p models.

While unit sales for the 32-inch and 40- to 42-inch screen size segments were up 22% and 26%, respectively, the new 19W and 22W models launched in the second quarter showed the most dramatic growth. Unit sales for the 19W segment increased 121% quarter-to-quarter, while the 22W segment was up 262% for the same time period.

More sales equals more revenue to the tune of $5.5 billion in Q2 compared to $4.9 billion in Q1, according to the review.

Sales of small- and mid-sized LCDs increased 30% for 720p models, while sales of 1080p models were up 33%.

But can these strong sales figures be maintained as the economy sucks the once extra dollars out of consumers' pockets into staples like food, shelter and transportation?

(Thanks to the ole Wikipedia for the image.)









LG: #2 in Mobile and Trying Harder

August 12, 2008

Mac Clone Maker in Trouble -- Did You Even Know about Mac Clones?

August 12, 2008

Gaming Console Sales -- Who's on Top?

August 11, 2008

The Apple Is Never Dull ...

August 11, 2008

Airport Gadget Kiosks from Best Buy

August 11, 2008

GTA IV for PC To Feature Expanded Multiplayer System

August 8, 2008

Gamers will see the release of Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV) for their platform of choice this fall. Game developer Rockstar Games and parent company Take-Two have announced that the popular title will hit store shelves on Nov. 18.

Naturally, gameplay in GTA IV will be a little different on the PC than it is on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, principally because gamers often use keyboards and mice instead of specialized controllers.

However, Rockstar is adding what it calls a newly expanded multiplayer system just for the PC.

One of the big draws for PC gaming is multiplayer, so if they can create a unique PC-oriented multiplayer experience, it could pull more people in. If it's something substantially different, and it's great, it could even convince some of the people who bought the console version to buy the PC version just for the multiplayer.

Wait and see ...

Check out more at eCommerce Times here.









NanoLite's Got It Right!

August 8, 2008

We've all been there before -- trying to fit our key into a pitch black keyhole. Pick car or house, it's still a pain fumbling in the dark to get that darn key in there!

NanoLite to the rescue!

The world's smallest adhesive light (0.56" X 0.7" and 0.2" thick),  it easily adhers to keys or any other flat surface and can be activated simply by pressing a small recessed button, which radiates a small but bright light.

No tools or assembly are required. Just pull off the adhesive protector and stick it on the key ...





Text-To-VoIP Plug-in for MorphVOX Pro

August 8, 2008


Found a cool Text-To-VoIP Plug-In for MorphVOX Pro that allows you to speak over the Internet or soft-phone using customizable text-to-speech voices. Essentially it lets you type phrases/words, it converts the text-to-speech, and then plays it over your PC's audio connection.

This plug-in allows you to type text messages to your friends over voice clients such as Ventrilo, MSN, Skype, softphones, World of Warcraft Voice Chat, Counter-Strike and other VoIP-enabled games. They claim the plug-in is helpful for people who cannot speak with their own voice or who would like a text alternative to communicating with voice.


The iPhone Kill Switch -- Something for Austin Powers?

August 8, 2008

Apple's iPhone "kill switch" has prompted much hand-wringing, despite the fact that no one knows exactly what it does. But the thing is, we just don't know.

Until Apple explains why it has included this function, or an application appears on the blacklist and is wiped from someone's phone, it's all just the usual leaping to conclusions on a sleepy Friday in August, as reported on CNET.

An independent iPhone developer and author recently discovered a URL while poking around inside the iPhone 2.0 software that downloads a list of "malicious" applications every so often to the iPhone.
Several outlets quickly seized on this detail as proof that Apple is poised to remotely disable any application running on the iPhone that it finds unpalatable.

Before we get into the ways in which Apple might use the blacklist, let's remember that we don't know a damn thing about how this actually works.

There are several explanations for what Apple might be up to.

If you want to know more, head over to CNET.




















Monster iCarPlay Wireless 200 -- Yes, Indeed!

August 7, 2008


Stop fumbling with CDs or going without your favorite tunes, and start playing your iPod wirelessly through your car's FM radio. Monster iCarPlay Wireless 200 lets you enjoy all your music and keep your iPod charged up at the same time.

With other FM transmitters, finding an FM frequency clear enough for use with your iPod can be time consuming and distracting -- especially while driving.

The 200 incorporates exclusive Monster AutoScan technology that automatically seeks out and tunes in the clearest FM frequency available (excluding 87.7 and 87.9MHz).




$100 Billion Worth of Gadgets

August 7, 2008

PlayStation Home Beta Up for Grabs

August 7, 2008

JAJAH Babel and JAJAH Concierge Launch

August 7, 2008

JAJAH today launched two brand new JAJAH services called JAJAH Babel and JAJAH Concierge.

JAJAH Babel is a speech-to-speech translation service. Currently, it only translates English-to-Chinese (Mandarin) and Chinese-to-English. Perfect timing for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Summer Games, but I wish JAJAH also launched with English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English. My wife and I hire the Maids Home Services on occasion to help clean up our house and inevitably my wife or I ask them to clean a specific area and they don't understand what we're saying since they only speak Spanish.

Take Home a Concert on Your Wrist

August 6, 2008

Now we finally have a really useful application for USB drives -- besides just for backing up or taking yhour files with you on your rambles.

The Aderra Audio System allows a single technician to record an event and duplicate up to 1,000 USB flash drives within 15 minutes after the event has ended. 

They record live events, duplicate them on the spot and sell them to attendees as they are leaving the venue, usually on a wristband that has the USB flashdrive embedded. It's really easy to use for either Mac or PC -- so get ready to rock!

In the case of a live concert, they include auto-play videos, links to artist websites, charities in which they are involved, special bonus tracks and more.

It's a cool, green-friendly unit that allows you to relive the live experience immediately as well as hold onto a keepsake as a reminder of that concert for years to come.

www.aderra.net













Free Those Trapped Cell Phone Photos!

August 6, 2008

Getting your great candid pictures off your camera phone is no easy matter -- it should be so simple!

CNET gives us a couple of ways to do it. One of them has got to work!

The least labor-intensive way to rescue your pictures from being trapped on your phone is to send them to an e-mail address in a multimedia message. But as you know, this costs money, so you'll be pleased to hear there are alternatives.

If your phone accepts a memory card, you can save your pictures to the card, then use the card to transfer the images. Most cell phones use smaller memory cards in a Micro SD or Mini SD card format, so if you don't have an adapter, the cards won't fit in most readers.

If you don't have a memory card slot, you can use Bluetooth or an infrared port to send shots to another capable device.







Why Pay Twice as Much for a Mac?

August 6, 2008

Is Windows really that bad, you may ask?

Well, Apple Watch asked that very same question and came up with some very interesting statistics.

Last weekend, they got to wondering about Mac versus Windows PC pricing after seeing two HP notebooks on sale at the local Target. One of them, a 14-inch model, the HP DV2946NR (pictured at left), sold for $699.99 and packed 4GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive. Capacity for both features is twice that of the $1,299 MacBook -- and shared graphics is 356MB compared with a meager 144MB for the MacBook.

I wondered: If Vista notebooks are selling for so little and packing so much, how does this compare with Mac desktops and notebooks? 

You must read more and come to your own conclusion!







Free World Dialup (FWD) No Longer Free

August 6, 2008

Saw this news on http://www.freeworlddialup.com/ stating that Free World Dialup, often referred to as FWD is now no longer "free" but now has a $30 annual "fee". Well, at least they get to keep the FWD acronym since both have the letter 'f', but the domain name is no longer accurate.

Anyway, FWD was one of the first free SIP-to-SIP calling services using their SIP registrar (fwd.pulver.com:5060). It seems to me that FWD has had its loyal but small fanbase, but honestly I think it's outlived its usefulness. I can setup a FREE account here on FreeCall.com and not only get SIP-to-SIP calls for free, I can also get free calls to many PSTN destinations around the world!

Teaching an Old Blockbuster a New Trick

August 5, 2008

Blockbuster to roll out DVD rental kiosks!  Yes, in another tactical shift, Blockbuster will begin testing 50 DVD rental kiosks to compete with Redbox, which rents DVDs for $1 per night.

According to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, Blockbuster plans to roll out 10,000 kiosks over the next 18 months. The kiosks are designed for DVD rentals, but could include digital downloads and sales of movies in the future.

In related news, Netflix is reportedly testing charging a premium for Blu-ray movies. This service would allow users to order Hi-Def movies from its Blu-ray library for a premium.



Nintendo Goes Holographic! Wow Wii!

August 5, 2008

Nintendo, the maker of the market-leading Wii videogame console, has reportedly co-signed for a patent on holographic storage and may be gearing up for development of this ultra high-capacity storage concept.

Nintendo signed the patent with Inphase Technologies, but bringing holographic storage to market won't be easy. (Inphase has been at this a looong time.)

Nintendo, one of the world's top three videogame console and handheld device makers, apparently is preparing to invest some big money into developing holographic storage.

A patent for holographic storage was recently co-signed by the Japanese entertainment hardware and software company, which is a clear indication that the console manufacturer is investigating new methods of data storage for future projects. (And that a leap in storage capacity!)

Holographic storage is a sector of the solid-state disk market with interesting potential, but development appears to have come to a plateau; only a couple of companies have been working on trying to bring it to market.







Cheap Broadband is the Oil of the Modern Economy -- Shouldn't This Have a Greener Hook?

August 5, 2008

How much data does fring consume?

August 5, 2008

Xbox Prices Going Lower?

August 4, 2008

Enter the Netbook

August 4, 2008

Lenovo today announced it is entering the "netbook" PC market with the new IdeaPad S10 netbook PC.

Lenovo designed the super-slim, super-small IdeaPad S10 to complement a customer's primary PC or as a first-time, introductory PC purchase.

The IdeaPad S10 allows users to perform simple activities such as surf the Internet, check and write emails, listen to music and run basic applications. Lenovo also plans to introduce netbook models designed specifically for students and educators. Now is this too simple an appliance like the computer in every kitchen from a few years back?

Approximately one-inch thin with models weighing just over two pounds, the IdeaPad S10 netbook typifies thin and light design.

Maybe too light? And in this day and age, pricing is even more important than ever.

MSRP: Starting at $399 (available in early October).









Seeing a Windows-less Future ...

August 4, 2008

Hard to image (but many have thought about it, I'm sure), but Microsoft has kicked off a research project to create software that will take over when it retires Windows.

Called Midori, the cut-down operating system is radically different from Microsoft's older programs, being Internet-centric rather than depending on being tied to a single PC.

Although Midori has been heard about before now, more details have now been published by Software Development Times after viewing internal Microsoft documents describing the technology.

Midori is believed to be under development because Windows is unlikely to be able to cope with the pace of change in future technology and the way people use it.

Windows worked well in an age when most people used one machine to do all their work. The operating system acted as the holder for the common elements Windows programs needed to call on. It's lot different now!

When asked about Midori by BBC News, Microsoft issued a statement that said: "Midori is one of many incubation projects underway at Microsoft. It's simply a matter of being too early in the incubation to talk about it."













Well there goes VoIP's 5 nines (99.999) of reliability!

August 4, 2008

Check out this alert on the University of Buffalo's website:

UBIT Alert
Campus Wide Services Impacted
VoIP System Maintenance

Effective: 8/6/2008 Expires: 8/6/2008 Posted: 2008-08-04

On Wednesday, 8/6, between 6:00 - 7:00 AM system maintenance will be performed on the VoIP server infrastructure. Technical staff will be updating web security certificates.

During the system maintenance window, users will experience a momentary interruption of approximately 5 minutes during which user configurable features will not be available for modification.

Should a situation exist where this might seriously restrict your ability to conduct business, please contact us so that we can reschedule this work.

For more information contact oss-unix (oss-unix@buffalo.edu), 645-5367













I just hope there isn't a campus shooting or something like that. How would campus personnel be able to broadcast emergency messages to your VoIP phone in your dorm room? There's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

OpenSIPS Forks OpenSER

August 4, 2008

Came across an announcement that OpenSIPS is forking from the popular open source OpenSER solution. OpenSIPS (Open SIP Server) became active today, with its first release (OpenSIPS 1.4.0). I found it a bit surprising that someone is forking OpenSER, since it's a very powerful SIP routing platform. I recently mentioned how OpenSER can be used to bridge Asterisk with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007.

Using Asterisk to Scam Credit Cards

August 4, 2008

Received a news tip that fraudsters are using Asterisk as a "collection tool" for their credit card scam. While that's nothing new by itself, since there are plenty of scammers leveraging Asterisk, I found it fascinating to be able to actually call into the scammer's system.

Asterisk has become hacker's tool of choice because it's free, flexible, and feature-rich. Just install Asterisk on an inexpensive PC and you have yourslf a powerful PBX that can war dial hundreds of phone numbers while forging the outbound CallerID. Often referred to as "vhishing" or voice phishing, a vishing attack is easy to do using Asterisk.

You can war dial and leave a recorded message to hundreds of people, telling them that their credit card number has been stolen and that they need to call a specific phone number to resolve the issue.

Anyway, a reader told me today he just received an email "from" Capital One asking to call (866) 473-0719 for fraud verification.





The IP-PBX Energy Wars...

August 4, 2008


So today I get a new report from the Tolly Group stating that the ShoreTel Unified Communications system is significantly more energy efficient than the Cisco Unified Communications Manager. ShoreTel apparently topped Cisco in using less energy to drive VoIP communications in specific large, medium and small enterprise-class scenarios.

This energy usage comparison reminded me of Nortel's "The 'Nortel' Tax Relief Plan", which aims to "stop paying the 'Cisco Energy Tax' and save up to 40%". Tony Rybczynski who works for Nortel and writes a TMCNet blog called The HyperConnected Enterprise sparked some controversy with some of his blog posts promoting the fact that Nortel is more efficient than Cisco. He even cites one customer that put a stop order on a $2 million dollar Cisco order once they did the energy efficiency calculations.

Is that what it's come down to?




New Controllers Coming for Guitar Hero + Music Studio!

August 1, 2008

Software publisher Activision and peripheral maker Logitech have announced a joint venture to make premium controllers shaped like instruments for Guitar Hero World Tour.

The game is expected to debut this fall, and will be available for the all the popular gaming consoles, including Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlaytStaion 3 and Nintendo Wii.

The new game will use new controllers, including a more responsive and freshly designed guitar along with a new microphone. The major difference from the current controllers uses will be an all-new electronic drum set, which will include three drum pads, two raised cymbals and a bass kick pedal.

Apart from the new controllers, the game will feature a Music Studio function, where players can compose, record and share their own music, as well an eight-player "Battle of the Bands" mode.





Kindle Moving & Grooving

August 1, 2008

Apple Stays Exclusive with AT&T -- Boo!

August 1, 2008

According to USA Today, AT&T and Apple have agreed to extend their exclusivity relationship through 2009, meaning the next iPhone will be made specifically for AT&T service.

The report claims that Apple originally signed the deal with AT&T through 2008 and next year would start selling iPhones on other carrier services. But after AT&T offered a $300 subsidy on each iPhone instead of the revenue-sharing model that became such a hot issue last year, Apple decided it was in its best interests to stay on with AT&T for one more year and take the subsidy.

Undoubtedly some will say that AT&T may have made the best deal in quite some time and I tend to agree. But still others will say that Apple did the right thing in taking the money and although it's forced to sign up for another year with AT&T, it's still the right move.

Those people are dead wrong. 

And The Digital Home got that right -- read on!







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