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November 2008

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Nimbuzz VoIP app on Apple App Store

November 30, 2008

Nimbuzz is a free app that lets you call (VoIP), chat, message, and send photos, music and video on your iPhone, which was recently made available on the Apple App Store. Using a centralized contact list you can connect with all your buddies on Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, GoogleTalk, AIM, Gadu-Gadu, StudiVZ, Hyves, Jabber and Twitter, plus popular social networks including Facebook and MySpace. It features presence (who's online and where), group calling, chatrooms, and more.

Killing off Vampire Power for Good!

November 28, 2008

It's been called both "vampire power" and "phantom load" -- likened to the power-hungry HAL 9000 computer (at left) in Stanley Kubrick's classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

It's the little unblinking red light on the television set that is silently drawing energy from the grid; studies have shown it can add 10% or more to a household energy bill.

Now Spanish entrepreneurs claim to have invented a way to end the problem that has bedeviled energy regulators, environmentalists and appliance manufacturers. They have patented an algorithm that can detect when an appliance is in standby mode and automatically switch it off completely.

The standby-mode killer has yet to be proven commercially and must contend with other new products designed to tackle the same problem. But, despite some doubters, the Spanish inventors say theirs is the only product able to completely do away with a large, and growing, world-wide problem.

Now how about that!

Get more at the Wall Street Journal.









It's Black Friday! America's Retailers Need You!

November 28, 2008

Making Black Friday Deals Easy

November 28, 2008

Need more Terabytes this Christmas?

November 26, 2008

HTC Touch HD

November 26, 2008


HTC's Touch HD is arguably the best touch-screen Windows Mobile-based phones you can buy. In fact, even before the HTC Touch HD, I always felt HTC mobile phones were the best Windows Mobile phones you could buy. I own an older HTC-based "Apache" XV6700 Windows Mobile with a cooked ROM upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.1 and I'm still pretty happy using it. I still consider my xv6700 one of the top 5 Windows Mobile phones available.

VoxOx 1.0.1 Released

November 26, 2008

VoxOx just released a new version of their "Universal Communicator", which aims to combine VoIP, video, and social networks. VoxOx aims to take on Skype by offering more social networking features. Last year, I wrote an article titled Skype Could Trump Facebook in Social Networking, but Skype still hasn't added social networking functionality.

In any event, today version 1.0.1 was released, less than a month after their initial launch. I was never able to get the Facebook integration to work, but it was a beta release, so I'm hoping they worked out the kinks.

Here are some new features:

New Additions
• Status field set to your auto-response message when away
• Facebook icons link out to friends' profiles so you can write on their wall, private message them, etc
• View Facebook contact photos from their VoxOx Profile
• Text Message window remembers Mobile Numbers
• Chat to Email window remembers emails addresses

Bug Fixes
• Call-Back (Web and SMS) fully functional
• Fixed Crash bug when ending calls
• Added default group for new contacts to be saved
• Login screen text updated to "Login Automatically"
• Web Portal login back online

Some of the major updates they are working on include a new and improved user interface, more efficient memory utilization, smoother and faster SMS functionality, enhanced Facebook integration, MySpace integration, and Outlook & Mac address book integration.



















Sony Phone Home for Gaming Future

November 25, 2008


 For Sony, Home is where the future of gaming is -- or where they would like it to be.

In its battle for the hearts and minds of gamers, Sony is developing a robust social-networking component to its PlayStation 3 console.

The new element, to be called Home, has been in beta testing for weeks and allows users to explore an online world with avatars that can travel from one virtual place to another.

While it's not exactly a world like World of Warcraft or Linden Labs'Second Life, Home is the most ambitious push by any console maker into creating a virtual world for gamers.

It will live or die on whether it's simple, fun, and deep enough for gamers who have plenty of other things they want to do -- like play games. And the price is right: free for those who have a PS3.

The New York Times/VentureBeat.










NFL Goes 3-D

November 25, 2008

Blockbuster Sees Beauty of On-Demand

November 25, 2008

Power Down Those Gaming Consoles!

November 24, 2008

Gamers: Power down consoles when not in use to save cash!

National Resources Defense Council and consulting firm Ecos have found that gamers could save $100 a year if they turn off their consoles when they are not in use.

That means you guys in the photo!

The pair also recommends that game console manufacturers look to include power management features in their next generation of consoles.

The authors said the industry should adopt automatic power-down features and make it easier for consumers to locate these features. Idle machines consume nearly as much energy as when machines are turned on.

The XBox 360, for example, has a power-down feature, but it's turned off by default and is hard to activate because its buried deep in the menus. (For instructions on how to find existing power-down features, click here.)

In terms of energy consumption, the XBox 360 is in the middle of the pack, consuming 119 watts in active mode, more than many desktop PCs.

The Nintendo Wii, meanwhile, consumes just 16 watts -- less than most laptops -- and the Sony PlayStation 3 burns through 150 watts in play mode.













Get Ready for a Really Crazy Black Friday

November 24, 2008

Palm Going the Way of the Dodo?

November 24, 2008

At a moment in time when smart phones are one of the few hot tech products, Palm, the industry's pioneer, appears to be dying.

This morning, Global Crown Capital analyst Pablo Perez-Fernandez cut his rating on the company to Underweight from Neutral, setting a $1.50 price target, well below the current level.

Perez-Fernandez provides a damaging list of factors now facing the company and the stock, all of which add up to a deteriorating position in a market where competition is heating up considerably.

In the debate over whether to buy an Apple iPhone or a Research in Motion BlackBerry Storm or Bold, does Palm's name even come up in conversation? Alas, no. 

And that makes me sad as a long time Palm user -- back when the Palm Pilot was as hot as the iPhone ...

Read more of this sad story about an industry pioneer at Barron's.









Alan Colmes Leaves Hannity & Colmes

November 24, 2008

FOX News Channels' Alan Colmes is leaving Hannity & Colmes (H&C) at the end of this year. Well there goes my 9 o'clock nightly timeslot. What the heck am I going to watch now? Reality TV?

Toktumi Now Offered on Dell VoIP Website

November 24, 2008

Toktumi recently announced a partnership with Dell to distribute its small business VoIP service through a co-branded site on Dell.com (www.dell.com/voip), which also features Fonality, Nortel, and Bandwidth.com. So what's so special about Toktumi, (a word play on 'talk to me') and it's USB-based plug-in device? Well, Toktumi is very similar to the popular Magicjack, which also uses a USB connector for connecting an analog phone. However, Magicjack is only $19.99/year (first year is $39.95) for unlimited U.S.

Single Texting Addicts - Meet Speed SMS Dating

November 24, 2008

Texting (SMS) is certainly popular, especially amongst the younger crowd. In fact, one teenaged girl sends more than 600 text messages in a day -- almost double what an average American sends/receives in a month. A 29-year-old man travelled from San Francisco to Green Bay to meet a woman he met via text message. It was love at first texting.

NatGeo Gets into the Gaming Mood

November 21, 2008


  National Geographic Ventures is working with video game makers on branded games for PCs, consoles and handhelds, with such forthcoming titles as National Geographic: Panda for the Nintendo DS and Sony will have National Geographic: Africa.

For the Panda title, look what you will be able to do!
  • Interact with pandas - play with, help, teach and nurture your very own cute panda bear
  • Learn about pandas - view pictures and read stories about real-life pandas from the National Geographic archives
  • Nurture your panda - your panda's habits change with how you treat and play with it
  • More pandas - as your panda develops, new baby pandas will join him in Panda Park
  • Play in real time - graphics and sounds change according to the time of day
  • Fun playground toys - have fun playing with familiar playground equipment like a tire swing, a see-saw, slides, and more
  • Advanced shopping features - let your daily allowance grow and go on a shopping spree, buy panda food and toys immediately or order items by mail via Panda Delivery
  • Simple UI - interact with your panda with a single touch of the stylus pen, simple controls allows you to focus on interacting with your panda
Almost like Panda Tycoon!

More at Bandai Namco Games.
  • Interact with pandas - play with, help, teach and nurture your very own cute panda bear
  • Learn about pandas - view pictures and read stories about real-life pandas from the National Geographic archives
  • Nurture your panda - your panda's habits change with how you treat and play with it
  • More pandas - as your panda develops, new baby pandas will join him in Panda Park
  • Play in real time - graphics and sounds change according to the time of day
  • Fun playground toys  - have fun playing with familiar playground equipment like a tire swing, a see-saw, slides, and more
  • Advanced shopping features - let your daily allowance grow and go on a shopping spree, buy panda food and toys immediately or order items by mail via Panda Delivery
  • Simple UI - interact with your panda with a single touch of the stylus pen, simple controls allows you to focus on interacting with your pandaInteract with pandas - play with, help, teach and nurture your very own cute panda bear
  • Learn about pandas - view pictures and read stories about real-life pandas from the National Geographic archives
  • Nurture your panda - your panda's habits change with how you treat and play with it
  • More pandas - as your panda develops, new baby pandas will join him in Panda Park
  • Play in real time - graphics and sounds change according to the time of day
  • Fun playground toys - have fun playing with familiar playground equipment like a tire swing, a see-saw, slides, and more
  • Advanced shopping features - let your daily allowance grow and go on a shopping spree, buy panda food and toys immediately or order items by mail via Panda Delivery
  • Simple UI - interact with your panda with a single touch of the stylus pen, simple controls allows you to focus on interacting with your panda

The Washington Post/The Associated Press (11/18)  







BlackBerry Storm Launch Crashes Verizon Network

November 21, 2008

I was on the phone with TMC's Verizon representative to discuss changing our mobile phone plans. The Verizon rep told me it was bad timing since their entire intranet ordering system had completely crashed as a result of the Blackberry Storm launch. TMC's business Verizon rep couldn't even make changes to our account as a result. Well, it certainly looks like the Storm is having a tremendously successful launch.

Netflix's 'Napoleon Dynamite' Problem: Worth Solving!

November 21, 2008

The Napoleon Dynamite problem is driving Len Bertoni crazy.

Bertoni is a 51-year-old "semiretired" computer scientist who lives an hour outside Pittsburgh. In the spring of 2007, his sister-in-law e-mailed him an intriguing bit of news: Netflix, the Web-based DVD-rental company, was holding a contest to try to improve Cinematch, its "recommendation engine." The prize: $1 million. 

Cinematch is the bit of software embedded in the Netflix Web site that analyzes each customer's movie-viewing habits and recommends other movies that the customer might enjoy.

Did you like the legal thriller The Firm?





Broadband-enabled Game Consoles: Bye-Bye Pay TV?

November 21, 2008

A report from research consultancy TDG predicts that portals like Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's PlayStation Network will soon become formidable competitors to incumbent Pay TV services.

Leveraging broadband-enabled game consoles as the next-generation video platforms -- and bypassing cable and satellite TV operators, these companies will offer a compelling alternative to traditional TV programming by providing a more immersive, interactive video experience.

The launch of Microsoft's Experience and the Xbox Live Netflix streaming video service is a perfect example of how potent these services will soon become. There is little doubt these services are finally ready for prime time.

Even before the launch of Experience, Microsoft's Xbox Live had amassed some 15,000 movies (1,000 of which are HD) and some 13,000 TV shows for download-to-own. The Netflix partnership adds 12,000 movies and TV programs to the mix, all for free streaming to Netflix subscribers.





How about a Waterproof TV for You?

November 20, 2008

Converter Coupon Expired?

November 20, 2008

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Robert McDowell recently fielded questions from the public about the DTV transition in Philadelphia, including this one:

"I thought I lost my converter coupons I received in the mail, but later found them in my desk drawer at work, the coupons had expired and I was told I could not get replacement, even though I told them I could send back the coupons I received. Is there a way to receive another coupon or am I just out of luck? Thanks for your help."

McDowell: "Great question. Congress mandated that the coupons expire within 90 days. So your best recourse is to find a friend, neighbor or relative who does not need a coupon to order one for you and give it to you.



More Proof That Gadgets Are Good for You

November 20, 2008

See -- as if we needed confirmation -- gadgetry is good for you.
Well, maybe I'm taking a small step here, but a new study from the MacArthur Foundation has found that all those hours that teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing.

(And how to they get access to the Internet? Gadgets, of course!)

"It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it's on MySpace or sending instant messages," said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, Living and Learning With New Media. "But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They're learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page." 

See?

More at the New York Times or go directly to the MacArthur Foundation.












Vudu Does HD VOD Big Time

November 19, 2008

Vudu, a startup that sells and rents movies via its Internet-connected set-top box, has boosted High-Definition library to 1,100 on-demand titles -- for now, outdistancing any cable operator's HD video-on-demand service.

To build what it claimed is the largest library of HD content available to consumers, Vudu added on average of 150 HD titles per week in October.

The service requires a minimum 4-Mbps connection for instant playback of HD titles.

Vudu is attempting to sell its $300 set-top to home-theater buffs by emphasizing the service's broad content selection and navigation features. Movies on the service are available for 24-hour rental for between 99 cents and $3.99, and $9.99 to $19.99 for download-to-own.

As part of its strategy to target high-end consumers, Vudu last month began offering 65 feature movie titles for rental in 1080p high-definition video format, the highest HD format currently defined. 

More at Multichannel News.









HP Debuts First Multi-touch Notebook -- Yes HP, Not Apple (Now That's a Surprise!!!)

November 19, 2008

From the first time Steve Jobs demonstrated "the pinch" -- the two-finger gesture used to zoom in and out of photos and Web pages on the iPhone -- some Apple observers assumed it was just a matter of time before a multitouch-enabled screen showed up on the Mac.

That hasn't happened yet. But now Hewlett-Packard has beaten Apple to the punch, announcing the first multitouch-enabled notebook PC, the tx2.

We are all wondering -- aren't we -- why Apple couldn't get this out to market first?

The tx2 is a convertible notebook, meaning its screen can pivot 180 degrees to show someone else what's on it or lie flat and act like a tablet PC.

The first convertible notebook aimed directly at consumers, the tx2 sports HP's version of multitouch technology, which lets you use two fingers at once to manipulate images on the screen or make on-screen gestures that signify specific commands.







PC Magazine Stops the Presses - Online Only

November 19, 2008

I grew up reading PC Magazine and I looked forward each couple weeks to picking up my copy of PC Magazine at the local grocery store. But today, Ziff Davis has announced that the legendary PC Magazine print publication is shutting down its print publication and focusing exclusively on online content. This is truly a sad day... Hold on while I grab some tissues...

PC Magazine started the whole in-depth comparative reviews of PCs and Microsoft software.

Anybody Like the New Xbox Live?

November 19, 2008

Bluetooth Home Automation with a Twist

November 18, 2008

The new BK-UNV01 module from startup BlueKey Wireless can turn most Bluetooth-enabled phones into home controllers.

Despite the prevalence of Bluetooth solutions on the market, the company believes this product is unique because of the company's robust on-screen programming interface.

The module and companion software debuted at the Electronic House Expo Fall 2008 in Long Beach, Calif.

The BK-UNV01 receives Bluetooth commands from compatible phones and other devices -- up to 300 feet away for Class 1 Bluetooth products -- and can trigger virtually any low-voltage device via seven onboard programmable relays.

The unit also has a serial interface for controlling more advanced control systems (one-way). Out of the box, it supports the Powerlinc serial-to-powerline module for controlling Insteon and X10 devices over the home's existing AC wiring.

Up to 16 mobile devices can be tied into the system.

BlueKey's Java-based application software loads onto a Bluetooth phone like any other application. It allows users to configure (with delays, if desired) each relay and label each command (up to 82) via an onscreen wizard.

Optional cellular and landline interfaces enable the BK-UNV01 to deliver status reports to the customer's phone when out of range.













HP Going Wild with Asia Stores

November 18, 2008

Xbox 360 as Internet-to-TV Portal

November 18, 2008

PIKA WARP Appliance Adds FreePBX Support

November 18, 2008


When I met with PIKA Technologies  at ITEXPO they told me support for FreePBX was coming. Well today, PIKA Technologies announced that PIKA WARP the Appliance is now compatible with the Asterisk-based FreePBX GUI (Graphical User Interface) application. I reviewed the PIKA Appliance recently and was pretty impressed with it. Having FreePBX support is a huge milestone for the PIKA Appliance. FreePBX is a popular user-friendly web application  that makes it easy to setup and configure Asterisk.

According to PIKA, "While customers often develop their own GUIs, many have told PIKA that if WARP were compatible with industry-standard GUIs like FreePBX, they would be much more inclined to adopt the portfolio.


Image Sync'ing All Your Gadgets?

November 17, 2008

Pioneer Stores Coming to a Mall Near You

November 17, 2008

Xbox Live Getting a Makeover

November 17, 2008

Ribbit Launches out of Beta

November 17, 2008

Ribbit, which was recently acquired by BT, today rolled out its developer platform out of beta at the Adobe Max conference. Ribbits extensive APIs allow you to integrate voice communications into business applications such as Salesforce.com, CRM systems, call center applications, and even social networks.


Ribbit launched its programming platform for developers today at the Adobe Max conference. Ribbit likes to call themselves "Silicon Valley's First Phone Company".


How Old Is Your Computer?

November 14, 2008

It used to be that every three years, workers would get brand new computers from their businesses' tech departments. But for many those days are over.

Many workers haven't been issued a new computer in years. 

The reason: Delaying computer upgrades is one of the easiest ways for a tech department to cut its budget. How about you working with a four-year-old ThinkPad with its maddeningly slow response times and out-of-date software ...

Now that the economy has taken a pronounced turn for the worse, more businesses are deciding to delay their regularly scheduled PC buying. In fact, 46% of businesses have either already or plan to postpone purchasing new computers, according to a survey of information-technology execs by CIO Magazine.


That's part of the reason that U.S.






One Laptop Per European Plan?

November 14, 2008

Bandwidth.com invests in FreePBX

November 14, 2008

Bandwidth.com has just made an investment in FreePBX, the popular front-end interface to Asterisk-based distros. I discussed this news with Philippe Lindheimer just a couple hours ago. One of the questions I asked was if Bandwidth.com would get "preferred treatment" within the FreePBX interface, since Bandwidth.com offers SIP trunking. Obviously, if FreePBX gives Bandwidth.com a prominent position in the GUI or they make it "easier" to configure FreePBX (i.e.

Multi Wi-Fi Wireless Internet on the Go

November 14, 2008

Wi-Fi wireless Internet connectivity has become nearly ubiquitous.

Whether you're at home, in a coffee shop or even on some commercial airliners, you can get online with a Wi-Fi-equipped laptop, smart phone or portable game machine.

Now, Wi-Fi is making its way into your car.

A small California company, Autonet Mobile, has teamed up with Chrysler and others to sell a service that floods any brand or model of car or truck with Wi-Fi Internet connectivity that can be used by multiple passengers and devices simultaneously.

It's a dealer-installed option on Chrysler vehicles, but Chrysler dealers, and some independent auto electronic shops, will install it on any brand of car for a fee.

Does this make Chrysler more appealing to GM?

More at the Wall Street Journal.











Calling All Bloggers! Free Blogging on TMCnet.com

November 14, 2008

This is a call out to all bloggers out there - Rich Tehrani, my boss has extended an open invitation to bloggers interested in blogging for TMCnet.com, a leading communications/telecom site according to Alexa, Quantcast, and others.

Today, TMC launches its Blog Aid program to help people out of work stay in the public eye - in order to improve their hiring prospects in a tough economy. In the last few months, many good marketers, PR people, engineers and others who have been laid off. These potential Blog Aid bloggers have a good deal of quality commentary and information to share which could be very useful to the TMC community of online readers.

TMC is offering these new bloggers - especially those working in the communications and technology industries, a venue to voice their thoughts on the spaces where they have expertise so as to allow them access to the 2-3 million global visitors who come to TMCnet on a monthly basis.
So if you enjoy writing about communications, telecom, VoIP, wireless, unified communications, mobile, etc.

Callpod Drone VoIP Bluetooth Headset

November 14, 2008


Callpod's new Drone USB Bluetooth adapter turns your mobile phone's Bluetooth headset into a headset/mic for your PC or Mac allowing you to receive Skype or other VoIP calls using your high-end Bluetooth headset (Plantronics, Jawbone, etc.). Just connect the Drone into the USB port of your computer, and it will immediately connect with your Bluetooth headset or headphones to provide streaming music and voice over a 100 meter (328ft) range. When a Skype call comes in, Drone switches over to the call automatically. It supports the A2DP (Stereo) Bluetooth profile.

Of course, many PCs and laptops come with Bluetooth built-in, making this device unnecessary.


Mojo Mobility Charges Gadgets Wirelessly

November 14, 2008

High quality YouTube Video Hack

November 14, 2008

Sick and tired of cr**py YouTube video quality? Well, check out kottke.org's tips on how to enable HQ video on YouTube. It's not HD quality, but much better than the default.

The specs for the Youtube HQ video is mp4 encoded using H.264 and stereo AAC sound at 480x360 resolution.

Also you need to do to link to a high quality video on your blog is simply append &fmt=18 onto the end of the YouTube URL, i.e.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuqiGrWBRqE&fmt=18

And if you want to embed the code on your blog/site you add &ap=%2526fmt%3D18, i.e.:

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/MuqiGrWBRqE&hl=en&fs=1 &ap=%2526fmt%3D18"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/MuqiGrWBRqE&hl=en&fs=1&ap=%2526fmt%3D18" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Now head on over to Kottke to see the before and after video quality comparisons. Good stuff!











Life Got You Down? Buy a Video Game Console

November 13, 2008

Despite a worsening economy, all three current-generation video game consoles had better U.S. sales in October than they did a year ago, according to the latest figures from The NPD Group.

And both Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii sold more units in October, a four-week reporting period, than in September, a five-week period. Wowwee!

Also the worst of the economic bad news had yet to hit in September.

Sony, however, saw month-over-month PlayStation 3 sales decline, while sales of its previous generation (and less expensive) PlayStation 2 remained strong.





How Much Is That HDTV in the Window?

November 13, 2008

New consumer research has found that 34% of U.S. households have at least one HDTV set, double the percentage of households that had such TVs two years ago.

The growth of HDTV sets has largely been driven by on-going consumer purchasing of TV sets coupled with a dwindling supply of lower-end non-HDTV sets being sold, according to the Leichtman Research Group.

Overall, 22% of all households purchased a new TV set in the past 12 months, with 43% of this group spending more than $1,000 on a new TV.

These findings are based on a survey of 1,302 households throughout the United States.

Now if we could just get the other two-thirds to pick up a HDTV set we'd be all better off ... would that help the global economy or what?

More at Multichannel News.









Gadgets Going Green

November 13, 2008

Green indeed!

We can now trade our used electronics in exchange for Amazon.com gift cards through third-party Gazelle.com.

This is both a convenience and additional way to save money this season. It's also a very handy option to trade in unwanted items for Amazon.com gift cards.

Gazelle, which recycles or resells the used devices depending on their condition, also provides users with the option to receive their payments in the form of a check or PayPal deposit -- or to have it donated to charity.

The company said that its customers earn an average of about $115 when selling their electronic devices -- but doesn't say how many gadgets that is.

Sears.com recently unveiled a similar offer through Venjuvo.com.

Thanks to TWICE

(And thanks to HowStuffWorkscom for the image.)

















Yahoo Mail - Defer this! %#$^@$

November 13, 2008

I'm getting mighty ticked off with Yahoo! Mail lately. I have industry contacts, family, and friends that use yahoo.com email accounts and I've been getting this "defer" messages lately. Yahoo is using an anti-spam tactic where they "defer" the message from your SMTP server. It's also known as "greylisting".

TMC Launches NGN (Next Generation Networks) Magazine

November 13, 2008

Today, TMC announced the launch of NGN Magazine focused on next generation networks and how service providers and carriers can build these networks and what they will need to know to maximize savings and ARPU (average revenue per user).

"We're in an interesting time," says TMC President and Group Publisher, Rich Tehrani. No, he's not referring to the American political scene or the chaotic American economy. Rich is referring to Next Generation Networks, which Rich believes will be critical to the future of service providers and carriers.

Microsoft and IBM Announce Sametime and Microsoft OCS integration

November 13, 2008

As one of my sources told me a few days ago, IBM and Microsoft planned on offering Sametime and OCS 2007 integration to be announced at VoiceCon. Three days ago I wrote:
Rumor has it that Microsoft and/or IBM will announce integration between Office Communications Server 2007 and IBM's Lotus Sametime "Unified Telephony" platform at this week's VoiceCon show. If true, this would combine approximately 20 million Sametime users with Microsoft's fast growing OCS 2007 user base creating the largest unified communications user base.

Well, it just hit the newswires. At Voicecon, IBM and Microsoft announced that IBM Sametime and OCS will offer Interdomain Federation in Q4 of 2008, using SIP/SIMPLE.

The support will require an update to the Sametime Gateway 8.0.2. It will support OCS 2007 and OCE 2007 R2.


Comcast Best in VoIP Quality, AT&T Best in VoIP Reliability

November 13, 2008

Keynote Systems released their latest VoIP quality report with some interesting findings. For one, Comcast, a cable company dominated the voice quality rankings beating the closest competitor by nearly 300 points. As for reliability, to no surprise AT&T won this category, no doubt to their decades of experience in building reliable voice and data networks.

Keynote Systems measures VoIP quality (MOS scores), call completion, etc. by automatically placing calls from corporate apartments using residential VoIP services and network services just like a typical residential customer would.  Service Reliability scores are based on the key performance metrics of Service Availability, Average Answer Time and Number of Dropped Calls.

Let's See How Crazy Black Friday Gets This Year!

November 12, 2008

Crazy Eddie take note!
 
The Friday immediately following Thanksgiving has long been known as "Black Friday" because it represents the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season, or the day when retailers hold massive sales in hopes of steering their (red) losses into (black) profits.

And from what I've been reading about holiday shopping this year, gadgets may be one of the few bright spots ... 

Among the most heavily discounted electronics items poised to dominate this year's sales are low cost notebooks, according to sources, who note that Dell plans to offer $299 linux model via its website, while Wal-Mart markets a $299 Compaq and Best Buy a $299 eMachines portable.

And do yo think Apple will be sitting quietly ...

... Didn't think so; so check out AppleInsider.

And thanks to blogs.phillynews.com for the image.

Hopefully, these prices are insane!!!!!













Notice Less Spam Today?

November 12, 2008

Sony Reader PRS-700 -- Great, But for One Thing ...

November 12, 2008

Yes, there was a commuter this morning waiting for the 7:17 reading his Kindle.

And that's all I needed to start thinking about ebooks and ebook readers and how maybe someday all printed material will be digital and there will be no more newspapers or magazines.

Wait! I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

Do find the whole thing pretty cool so was intrigued by this piece of writing today.  

So all you ever wanted to know about the Sony Reader PRS-700 is here at Mobile Tech Review. A very positive review, but there is something amiss ...

What's the catch?









VoIPshield Finds Security Flaws in Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Office Communicator and Windows Live Messenger

November 12, 2008

I'm always a bit skeptical of VoIP security vulnerabilities discovered by firms which sell security products. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth sharing this bit of news.

Update: Microsoft responded that VoIPShield's test is "on a non-secure implementation of OCS, which you would have to disable as we are secure with a default installation."

See, that's why I was "a bit skeptical"!

VoIPshield Laboratories, the research division of VoIPshield Systems Inc., is making its first-ever announcement in a new category of research related to security vulnerabilities in VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) systems. These vulnerabilities affect applications that use media stream protocols like RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol), a popular standardized packet format for delivering audio and instant messaging over the Internet.

The Microsoft products affected are Office Communications Server 2007, Office Communicator and Windows Live Messenger.







Internet Explorer 6 Mobile Browser Coming

November 12, 2008

Internet Explorer 6 Mobile browser is close to release, with the Windows Mobile Team Blog announcing the availability of emulator images of Windows Mobile 6.1.4 containing the updated browser. Even though Microsoft is finalizing IE 8 for PCs, it's only up to version IE 6 for its mobile platform, though IE8's javascript engine is backported to IE6 Mobile.

Check out the features in Pocket Internet Explorer 6 Mobile (PIE6):

  • Improved fidelity (support for full fidelity desktop rendering)
  • Layout fixes to accommodate a mobile screen (text wrap)
  • Enhanced Script and AJAX support (Jscript v5.7 from Internet Explorer 8)
  • Improved multimedia experience (Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 for Adobe Flash content)
  • Deeper integration with search
  • Enhanced cursor navigation model
  • Touch and gesture support - pan support
  • Multiple zoom levels
  • Easy switching between mobile / desktop versions of sites by specifying UA strings.
The question is, is this too little, too late? Several browsers have surpassed Pocket Internet Explorer to become the mobile browser of choice, including Opera Mini, which just released Opera Mini 4.2 yesterday, but also Opera Mobile 9.5, and Skyfire, which handles video streaming Flash sites such Youtube.

Cisco ASR 9000 High-end Router Launches

November 11, 2008

Cisco Systems unveiled a supercharged router called the ASR 9000, which is capable of moving 6.4 terabytes per second of traffic. The router is aimed at service providers with next-generation networks which plan to run bandwidth heavy services such as video, IPTV, mobile broadband, and more. With the explosion of Youtube videos, and other bandwidth-hungry apps, service providers are looking to stay ahead of the bandwidth demand curve. The ASR 9000 hopes to address that need with the ability to support the future "Zettabyte era".

Opera Mini 4.2 beta mini-review

November 11, 2008

Opera Mini 4.2 beta just launched today. Opera Mini is one of my favorite mobile phone Internet browsers. It's a tough call between Opera Mini and Skyfire. Skyfire supports Flash and video, so it's better at multimedia, however, I find Opera Mini better suited to regular web pages with just graphics and text.

snom 820 Comes to North America

November 11, 2008

Rosy Future for Wireless -- Both Audio and Video

November 10, 2008

Wal-Mart Getting Jump on Black Friday Deals

November 10, 2008

An upcoming Wal-Mart sale will offer Black Friday-like deals, including a notebook for $298 and 46-inch 1080p LCD HDTV for $798.

Just as it did last year with a sale that lured shoppers into its maze of fluorescent lighting for $350 laptops, Wal-Mart will once again begin its holiday sales early with a one-day shopping event to precede Black Friday.

The company's sale will include several high-profile deals, including a laptop for $298, a 46-inch Sanyo LCD HDTV for $798, and a PS3 that comes with a $100 gift card.

Specifications on the $298 laptop, a Compaq CQ50-139WM, have moved up significantly from the models offered as last year's doorbusters. Though it will still get a single-core Intel Celeron M processor clocked at 2GHz, the CQ50 also gets 2GB of DDR2 RAM a 160GB hard drive, and Intel's 4500MHD media accelerator. 

More at DigitalTrends.







Circuit City's Lights Get Even Dimmer

November 10, 2008

Circuit City, the No. 2 U.S. consumer electronics retailer, has filed for bankruptcy -- just weeks before the start of the holiday shopping season.

(A sad day for the gadgets world ...) 

CC is the largest retailer to file for Chapter 11 since Kmart in 2002. (Seems even longer ago than that!)

Circuit City fell victim to tighter credit terms from vendors, a dwindling cash position and decreased consumer spending amid a deepening economic crisis.

The filing comes one week after the 59-year-old retailer said it would close 155 U.S. stores, or more than one-fifth of its retail base, and cut 17% of its U.S.







Sametime and Microsoft OCS integration

November 10, 2008

Nortel cuts jobs and lowers forecast

November 10, 2008

Nortel plans a major restructuring and another round of job cuts.

From Fortune:

The Toronto networking equipment giant said Monday it would trim 1,300 jobs on top 1,200 cuts previously announced. Nortel had 32,550 employees at the end of 2007.

The company also said four top executives, including its head of sales and its chief technology officer, would leave at year-end.

The news comes as Nortel posted third quarter earnings that met lowered targets. The company warned, however, that 2008 sales would fall 4% -- at the lower end of its previous guidance of 2% to 4%.





It's too bad Nortel is a Canadian company or they could have been added to the $700+ billion U.S. bailout package.


NetQoS Unified Communications Monitor 2.0 Launches

November 10, 2008

NetQoS today launched its first unified communications focused management tool called NetQoS Unified Communications (UC) Monitor. NetQoS is broadening the focus of its formerly named VoIP Monitor product to reflect the growing role and functionality of unified communications. NetQoS UC Monitor 2.0 supports voice and video quality metrics in a Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) environment as well as enhanced diagnostics and reporting for Cisco IP telephony environments.

In my conversation with NetQoS I asked them what the upgrade/migration path was for current customers, and they said existing customers would be upgraded to NetQoS UC Monitor 2.0 free of charge.

Closed Captioning for Deaf Comes to Radio


November 7, 2008

Sony Introduces New Format for Audio CDs

November 7, 2008

MacBook Mini on Its Way?

November 7, 2008

One of my favorite analysts, Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital, has raised an interesting point about a pretty obvious gap in the Apple product line-up.

Reitzes has asserted that it "makes complete sense" for the company to introduce an ultra-portable device to fill the price gap between the $399 high-end iPod Touch and the $999 MacBook.

"This $600 gap needs to be filled and we think it can be with a premium ultra-portable device using multi-touch technology," he writes. "We believe an ultra-portable can be done right by Apple and do not believe the company wants to follow the netbook model, trying to pack full PC functionality into a something small and cheap. Apple, in our view, would only introduce a premium product that doesn't dilute its brand." 

More on this at Barron's Tech Trader Daily.





Top HDTVs under $1000

November 7, 2008

VoIP Plays Role in the Elections

November 7, 2008

VoIP played an important role in this year's Presidential elections. Even notorious robocalls leveraged VoIP to blast out calls using inexpensive calling rates.

Michael Dinan has an interesting article on how the Republican National Committee (RNC) leveraged Grandstream phones for pollsters across the U.S. The photo to the right is John McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain using a Grandstream GXP2020 phone. Obviously, John McCain had to pinch pennies where he could to counteract Barrack Obama's mind-blowing $700+ million campaign funds raised - some of it via controversial credit card donations.

Well, savings from VoIP calls certainly didn't save the McCain campaign, so I guess he'll just have to continue to be a maverick in the Senate.



Future Mobile Phone Features 20 Megapixels, 100Mbps, HD Video - in other words it'll kick ass

November 7, 2008

Belkin GoStudio Turns iPod into Recording Studio!

November 6, 2008

Now you can turn your iPod into your own mini, hand-sized recording studio with Belkin's GoStudio.  It can record stereo audo directly to an iPod Classic, Nano or Video with its two built-in microphones, a mono speaker and four external microphone inputs.


The iPod slips into a holster-like setup and a recording menu appears.  Neat features include built-in gain and recording level controls as well as monitor controls so you can listen to your recording while you are doing it.

Recordings can be uploaded immediately to iTunes when your iPod is connected to your computer. You can then add that audio to your blog, web site, Facebook or MySpace pages. 


Pretty cool!  Can some pro audio recording studios be jealous of your work   

MSRP: $119.99
  Availability: Now.
  www.belkin.com




Wii Remote Goes Big

November 6, 2008

File Under: Trends We Don't Like

November 6, 2008

Increasingly, Internet providers across the country are placing limits on the amount of data users can download each month as a way to curb a small number of "bandwidth hogs" who use a lot of the network capacity.

For example, 5% of AT&T's subscribers take up 50% of the capacity, according to AT&T. AT&T will initially apply the limits in Reno, Nev., and see about extending the practice elsewhere.

Comcast, the nation's second-largest Internet service provider and AT&T's competitor in Reno, last month officially began a nationwide traffic limit of 250 gigabytes per subscriber. Comcast doesn't charge people extra for going over the limit, but will cancel service after repeated warnings. Previously, it had a secret limit. (Very mysterious!)

Two other ISP's, Time Warner and FairPoint Communications, are planning or testing traffic limits as low as 5 gigabytes per month, which is easily exceeded by watchers of DVD-quality online video.

Among the largest ISPs, Verizon Communications is a holdout, and has said it does not plan to limit downloads.







AudioCodes enters IP Phone arena with 300HD Series

November 5, 2008

AudioCodes has now entered the IP phone arena with a phone that supports wideband codecs (HD) for superior sound quality. Seems a bit odd for a company that makes VoIP PCI and cPCI communication boards and VoIP media gateway modules (PMC form factor) and Analog Media Gateways (2/4/8/24 ports) to be entering the crowded VoIP arena, but enterprise IP phone market is expected to quadruple, from $2.1 billion in 2007 to $8.4 billion in 2001, with some 63 million endpoints being shipped by that time, according the Synergy Research Group. So there is a pretty big pie to go after. Traditional network hardware vendor Adtran has also recently entered the IP phone arena with their Adtran IP700 series (see Adtran IP706 review).

The AudioCodes 300HD Series includes three models: The 310 HD entry level phone with a basic display and interface; the 320HD premium endpoint with a larger screen, and the 350HD executive phone with a color LCD screen.

Roku Streaming HD from Roku -- Before Year End

November 4, 2008

Roku representatives have responded to rumors on its online forum board regarding when it will launch streaming HD services and announced, earlier than they'd like, that it will team up with Netflix to bring HD content to its subscribers.

Compared to the recently announced Xbox and Netflix tie-up that will also see streaming HD content to the Xbox, Roku will use different Advanced Profile encoding to deliver the HD content at significantly lower bit-rates. 

In related news, CNet reports that Netflix has decided to stop selling used DVDs to its customer base, instead deciding to focus its attention on its rental by mail and Watch Instantly services.

"As you know, our core business is delivering great movie rentals to you on DVD by mail and instantly to the computer and TV, so we've decided it makes sense for us to focus exclusively on that," the company stated in a Netflix blog post.

More on the streaming from Electronista (and thanks for the photo).







WB Goes for Legal Movie Downloads -- In China Only

November 4, 2008

Some interesting TMCnet videos on 4G, wireless, and more

November 4, 2008


Greg Galitzine has an interesting interview with Carl Ford (formerly with VON) about the future of wireless, including 4G and the pending 4GWE (4G Wireless Evolution) event co-located with ITEXPO. Carl discusses gadgets, smart phones, the Amazon Kindle, and more as the future growth factors in an saturated wireless phone market. He also discusses the challenges of 3G, femtocells, and more.
Go check it out:
http://www.tmcnet.com/tmc/videos/default.aspx?vid=657

Another interesting video is Carl Ford and Greg Galitzine discussing how TMCnet is able to have such a visible presence on the web via TMCnet's plethora of technology news coverage. They also cover 4G and Carl has an inside track on what is on the carrier's minds since he has excellent sources and friends in the carrier space.




Fab Four Heading to Rock Band; Can iTunes Be Far Behind?

November 4, 2008

In an auspicious time for the music business, we may have the first big hint that the Beatles may finally be on the way to Apple's iTunes.

That's a big leap of faith but hear me out: The Beatles' label Apple Corps will join MTV to unveil plans to bring the Beatles' catalog to the wildly popular Rock Band video game. These two groups have been trying to hammer out details for months, and it appears they've finally come together (yes, pun intended.)

The reason this is so much bigger than merely MTV scoring the world's most valuable music catalogue is that it signals a monumental shift by Apple Corps to begin to embrace digital distribution. And that could mean a new opening for more discussions with Apple and its iTunes music service -- where the Beatles are still so conspicuously absent.

(And its is the world's most popular music store.)

Maybe AC/DC and Aersomith taught them something???

More at CNBC.com.









Watching TV & Surfing Internet Go Hand in Hand

November 3, 2008

Nielsen's new TV/Internet Convergence Panel, which electronically measures both television and Internet usage in the same homes, has found that television viewing and online video streaming are complementary activities.

Gosh!

According to the convergence panel, the heaviest users of the Internet are also among the heaviest viewers of television: the top fifth of Internet users spend more than 250 minutes per day watching television, compared to 220 minutes of television viewing by people who do not use the Internet at all.

Nielsen found that the reverse is true as well -- the lowest consumers of television have the lowest usage levels for the Internet.

(And what else could they be doing?)

Nielsen also found that 31% of in-home Internet activity takes place while the user is watching television, demonstrating that there is a significant amount of simultaneous Internet and television usage. Conversely, 4% of television viewing occurs when the consumer is also using the Internet. 

Now I watch TV while on the Internet, my kids watch TV on the Internet while on the Internet and my wife is either on one or the other -- and never both.

Is this a crazy multi-tasking world or what?  

Get more at Nielsen.com.















Circuit City Dimming Its Lights

November 3, 2008

Circuit City will close 155 stores and lay off 7,200 employees, or 17% of its workforce, as it continues to restructure its business. These closings represent more than 20% of U.S. stores and includes the exiting of 12 markets.

The store closings will shrink the number of locations the chain operates in the U.S. to 566. 

The chain also faces credit issues with its vendors. Circuit City said certain vendors have changed payment terms, including demanding cash for inventory before shipping merchandise, as the all-important holiday shopping season approaches.



AT&T Trials Tiered Broadband in Nevada

November 3, 2008

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas ...? Is that the same for Reno?

Following in the footsteps of Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications and several UK Internet service providers, AT&T has unveiled a tiered broadband service in Nevada.

According to a Friday filing with the Federal Communication Commission, AT&T executives met with the legal adviser to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to discuss "usage-based pricing" as a form of network management.

AT&T has hinted that this was coming for the last few months. From the filing:
In particular, AT&T plans to initiate a broadband Internet access usage trial in Reno, Nev., beginning in November.






SkyStone Video Enables Video Skype Gateway

November 3, 2008


Stonevoice has created SkyStone Video, a unique Skype-gateway product that allows video communications between enterprise video solutions from vendors such as Cisco, Sony, and Polycom and the popular Skype software. There are several voice over ip-to-Skype gateways, but this marks the first time someone has created a Video-to-Skype gateway that "bridges" the gap between high quality enterprise video conferencing solutions and Skype.

"Video has become a fundamental need in the day-by-day communications. The technology is now ready to handle video calls and conference calls; however, one fundamental element was missing to take it to the next level: simplicity - says Christian Bongiovanni, CEO of StoneVoice - today, ahead of competition, Stonevoice, has demonstrated its technical excellence and strategic thinking by releasing a unique product worldwide: SkyStone Video that allows standard based video solution interfacing with the Skype world, bringing excellent quality, rich and mobile communications, with extreme simplicity!"

With Skystone Video, Stonevoice has eliminated the Business-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business barriers.




VoxOx Skype killer?

November 3, 2008

VoxOx is a new unified communications client launched by San Diego based startup TelCentris. Think of it as Skype on steroids since it not only support VoIP, IM, and video conferencing, but it also supports social media, such as Facebook, SMS, fax, e-mail, and content sharing all in one unified desktop application.

VoxOx creates a "meta address book" of contacts from all of a user's disparate communications networks into a single user interface, accessible from any device. To ramp up they are providing a free phone number, along with two initial hours of free talk time. TelCentris' CEO Bryan Hertz is making their API open source in hopes of duplication what Skype has done with Skype Extras and their developer community.

Features include:
  • Full inbound/outbound calling capabilities
  • Voicemail and interactive voice response "personal assistant"
  • Two-way texting
  • Call forwarding and "one-number-follow-me service"
  • Inbound faxing and fax-to-e-mail
  • Landline replacement option
  • Interconnects users to major instant messaging networks (MSN, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk and others), allowing members from different IMs to chat and video conference with each other from one service
  • Integrates with all major social networks, including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and others
  • Enables flexibility for integrating existing and future applications via its open standards platform

It currently supports Windows and Mac, with Linux support coming soon.

One interesting feature is Call-Back, which is similar to Jajah and a feature lacking in Skype.






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