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February 2009

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Karaka Bridges XMPP and Skype

February 27, 2009

Vipadia announced the release under the GPLv2 of Karaka, the open-source XMPP-Skype Gateway which connects the XMPP and Skype networks.

Karaka is a scalable distributed XMPP transport that bridges instant messaging and presence between a user's XMPP and Skype accounts. This will for instance enable Skype-to-Google Talk instant messaging. In theory AOL's AIM should work, since I believe they also support XMPP. In addition to full presence and instant messaging exchange, it also supports multi-user chat ("conference rooms").

SHSU Switches Back to Cisco CallManager from Asterisk

February 27, 2009

In 2006, I came across a Network World article, which espoused the fact that Sam Houston State University (SHSU) had switched from the Cisco CallManager IP-PBX to open source Asterisk. I wrote about this news since 6,000 students and faculty were moved off Cisco to the open source Asterisk IP-PBX, which was great news for the open source Asterisk community. This deployment demonstrated that Asterisk could scale and put to rest one of the main complaints against Asterisk.

Well, 3 years have passed, and according to this thread written by Jason Fuermann, who is responsible for SHSU's IP phone system, SHSU has switched back to Cisco from Asterisk. Say what? Hosted CNAM for Enhanced Caller-ID on any IP-PBX Launches

February 25, 2009

EZ Call, Inc. today announced the launch of, a new service that provides enhanced Caller ID, also known as CNAM, for VoIP calls. The hosted CNAM service gives you not just the phone number, but the name of the person calling.

Most SIP trunking providers do not provide the caller's name with Caller ID on inbound calls. solves this issue by simply having you route your inbound calls to their server. They insert the caller's name and send the call back to your IP-PBX.

How's it work?

Sony Kills Go!Messenger VoIP Application

February 25, 2009

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) announced that it plans to shut down Go!Messenger, a VoIP, video chat, and IM application that launched last February. Citing a lack of interest, Go!Messenger was an intriguing PSP app that leveraged the PSP Go!Cam camera for its video chat capabilities.

Sony explained "Although it proved a popular concept, achieving a significant number of registrations, it didn't gain the number of regular users that BT and SCEE were aiming for."

Go!Messenger will end on March 31. But all is not lost. Skype for PSP still works, but it's too bad Skype for PSP doesn't support the Go!Cam for some Skype-to-Skype video chat action.

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ooma Telo vs. magicJack

February 23, 2009

Rich met with ooma recently to see their latest wares and hear about their current business model. Recently, ooma ditched the 'P2P voice network' idea where users actually "share" their home landline with others and instead became a traditional VoIP broadband provider. Apparently, the privacy issues were too much to overcome, since users were concerns about fraudulent activity happening on their home landline by outside ooma users. I had my own reservations about the business model as well, since they claimed it would take 2,000 strategicly placed ooma boxes in all the various local exchanges to get good local call coverage for free P2P calls.

Besides becoming a traditional VoIP broadband provider, ooma is now going to start offering high-end media phones, that according to Rich Tehrani will in the future feature a picture frame, in-house sensors and cameras.

Atlantis found by Google Earth? No way!

February 20, 2009

According to The Sun, aeronautical engineer Bernie Bamford was browsing through Google Ocean when he came upon this formation showing a perfect rectangle the size of Wales lying on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean nearly 3½ miles down. A series of criss-crossing lines that looks like a large city enclosed by the a boundary appears in Google Earth. I launched Google Earth myself to see, entered in the coordinates (N31.381 W24.375) and sure enough, there it is.

Now, it could simply be a series of seams in the topographic scans where areas are being tiled together along with missing scan data that has to be interpolated. However, according to The Sun article, Google responded as follows:
Google today claimed the criss-crossing lines were sonar data collected as boats mapped the ocean floor.

But the internet giant said "blank spots" within the lines could not be explained.

Nearly killed by a school bus this morning - Skype Phone Saves My Life

February 20, 2009

I was driving to work in my Volvo V70 XC (XC=Cross Country) which has all-wheel-drive and Blizzak snow tires when I approached a T intersection where I had to make a right-hand turn. Now normally a Volvo with AWD and Blizzak snow tires can cut through any amount of snow with no problem. I've driven it through blizzards, so I know.

In fact, there was some light snow on the roads in my neighborhood, but once I got to the main roads, they were completely dry. The road I was on is also well-traveled and appeared dry in most places and wet in others.

flaphone Enables Free Web-based SIP-to-Skype calls

February 20, 2009

Today, flaphone (formerly Flashphone) announced that users of their Flash VoIP application can now make a call from flaphone to skype. You simply need to enter sip:skype_username@skype after selecting "none"(global)" for the SIP account. I should mention that flaphone supports multiple SIP credentials, which is a really nice feature. I've been testing flaphone for several weeks now and have been meaning to write up their cool Flash-based VoIP application.

In any event, for my first test call I entered sip:tomkeating@skype and pressed the call button.

Another Free VoIP Calling Web Application

February 19, 2009

Goober Networks, recently launched, which offers web-based free VoIP calls to any landline or mobile phone in the U.S. or Canada. The Web-based offering uses Flash for the audio output & microphone input. As for the business model for "free calls" uses  advertisements on their website that you must watch before the call is initiated.

I decided to test it for myself to see how well it works.

Anonymous Caller with Blocked CallerID? Not Anymore

February 18, 2009

TrapCall offers a new free service that reveals CallerID from those pesky blocked calls from annoying callers that think their anonymity is more important than you knowing who they are. Well the war between being anonymous and knowing "who is calling you" is over - no more blocked CallerID.

It's over, Johnny. It's over!

Nothing is over! Nothing!!

Build your own SIP-to-Skype gateway using Asterisk

February 17, 2009

While we wait for Digium's official SIP-to-Skype gateway, Nerd Vittles today informed me about his very cool recipe that you can use today to build your own free SIP-to-Skype gateway enabling you to use your SIP-based desktop phones connected to Asterisk to make Skype inbound/outbound calls.

Part of the recipe uses SipToSis - SIP to Skype Gateway Bridge Proxy. SipToSis is a piece of software which Nerd Vittles points out "forms the lynchpin of Gizmo's offering and which lets any Asterisk user create much the same gateway at no cost other than the expense of any Skype Out calls you may choose to make."

Nerd Vittles explains in his tutorial:
When we're finished, you'll be able to call any Skype user in the world from any extension on your Asterisk server by entering either a Skype username or any 10-digit telephone number preceded by an 8 to take advantage of SkypeOut calling rates. You'll also be able to receive incoming calls from any Skype user on any extension of your Asterisk system. In short, what you get is a transparent interface to several hundred million Skype users from your Asterisk server.

In summary, with this tutorial you'll be able to dial Skype users, as well as receive incoming calls from any Skype user!

Nokia runs Skype on Wi-Fi and 3G - Suck on that iPhone!

February 17, 2009

Skype and Nokia today announced that Skype will be integrated into Nokia devices, starting with the Nokia Nseries. The Nokia N97 flagship phone will be the first to incorporate Skype in the 3rd quarter of 2009.

Skype will be integrated into the address book of the Nokia N97, allowing you to see when Skype contacts are online and perform instant messaging (IM) or VoIP calls.

But here's the real kicker - the Nokia N97 will be able to use Wi-Fi and 3G to make and receive free Skype-to-Skype voice calls as well as Skype calls to landlines and mobile devices. The Apple iPhone on the other hand, restricts VoIP clients to just Wi-Fi VoIP calls and blocks 3G (data) VoIP calls.

Cisco TelePresence Video Conferencing Enables Fans to Interact with NBA Players

February 13, 2009

This weekend, the NBA and ESPN will utilize Cisco TelePresence technology to create an interactive "in-person" forum to allow athletes and fans to interact using Cisco's videoconferencing / telepresence technology.

According to Cisco, Cisco TelePresence has been deployed on the All-Star Jam Session floor allowing fans to interact "face-to-face" with NBA stars from the convention center's green room and backstage at the arena. On-site Cisco digital signage will provide All-Star programming content and live updates of the NBA Jam Session Trivia contest.

Additionally, ESPN will broadcast exclusive NBA All-Star Weekend reports on the network's popular news shows directly from the Cisco TelePresence system in Phoenix back to ESPN's studios in Bristol, Connecticut.

Here's the full details:

ESPN and NBA Bring Fans Closer to All-Star Game Action With Cisco TelePresence Technology

Cisco TelePresence Technology Will Be Used to Create an Interactive Experience Between Fans and NBA Players and Legends at NBA All-Star Weekend

NBA All-Star Weekend -- The National Basketball Association (NBA) and ESPN today announced that they will utilize Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) TelePresence(TM) technology to create an immersive "in-person" experience that will bring NBA players and legends closer to fans at the NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix this weekend.

•    ESPN will broadcast exclusive NBA All-Star Weekend reports on the network's news and information shows, such as "SportsCenter," directly from the Cisco TelePresence system in Phoenix back to ESPN's studio in Bristol, Conn.
•    With the implementation of TelePresence in ESPN broadcast operations, the sports network will be able to deliver a higher level of interactive sports broadcasting for major events happening across the globe.
•    During NBA All-Star, Cisco will deploy two Cisco TelePresence units at the Phoenix Convention Center and one at U.S.

Want to Make Some <em>Sick</em> Money in VoIP?

February 13, 2009

Garrett Smith over at VoIP Supply has an interesting post titled 'Sick of not making money on VoIP hardware?' He's seeing the glass half empty. I see it half-full, which is why my article is titled 'Want to Make Some Sick Money in VoIP?'

Garrett writes:

Remember the good 'ole days? When you actually made fat margins on the VoIP hardware products you sold.

It was great.

31 Million IP Phones shipped by Mayan 2012 Doomsday, the Media Phone, & Slow Consumer Adoption

February 13, 2009

According to In-stat, nearly 31 Million Business IP Phones will ship in 2012. That's if the Mayan 2012 Doomsday Prophecy doesn't come to pass. You know, the one where the Mayan calendar ends on December 21st, 2012 - the same date as the Winter Solstice and when the Earth will be in galactic alignment with the massive black hole at the center of our galaxy, as well as our sun, resulting in a planetary shift. The date 12-21-12 reads as, A-B-B-A-A-B.

Free turn-by-turn GPS directions comes to the iPhone

February 11, 2009

Turn-by-turn navigation has come to the iPhone via xGPS. You'll of course have to jailbreak your iPhone for this, but this might be the one app that might entice you to risk bricking your iPhone - or at least drawing the wrath of Steve Jobs. It actually leverages downloaded Google Maps for the GPS coordinates and just recently added a voice engine to "speak" the directions. It also apparently works on the iPod touch, though you'll need an external GPS receiver.

Check out the video demo of turn-by-turn GPS directions on the iPhone:
What's new in the latest version of xGPS?
  • Wireless Transfer of your map files.

Google Adds Current Location to Gmail

February 11, 2009

Want to tell someone your location simply by adding location info to your email signature? Well, Google has been on a location kick of late, with the latest location feature adding a new "Append your location to the signature" option that appends your current location (determined by your public IP address) to your email.

If you want more accurate location detection install Gears that supports the location module. Gears leverages Wi-Fi access point signals for a more accurate location reading.

Just be careful when checking the location box. You don't want to be telling your wife you're in one place when really your not.

OpenSky enables SIP-to-Skype Calls

February 10, 2009

Michael Robertson, CEO of Gizmo5 has done it again! He has launched a cool new service called OpenSky, a service that enables SIP-to-Skype calling. It's not the first time someone has broken the Great Wall of Skype to enable SIP-to-Skype calling, but it's always great to have a new method of accessing the popular Skype network using the standard SIP protocol.

Gizmo5's free Skype gateway called OpenSky is open to all users enabling any SIP-based VoIP software or SIP-based phone system to make calls to Skype users. What they've done is to create a SIP alias for every Skype user.

IPEVO Wi-Fi Phone for Skype

February 9, 2009

ITEXPO East 2009 Attendance and Demographic numbers

February 6, 2009

Philadelphia City Council approves a Verizon FiOS franchise agreement

February 6, 2009

The Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to approve a Verizon FiOS franchise agreement that will allow Verizon to offer fiber-based digital TV, voice, and Internet to Philly's 600,000 residents. Verizon will spend $1 billion to build out the network which will offer HDTV channels, voice, and high-speed Internet.

City Council members said the deal was "not perfect" and they tried to push for more minority contractor involvement. Now how is it that a City Council has the right to demand who a company hires? There are already state and federal anti-discrimination laws on the books, so why the hell do companies have to answer to some local city council mafia?

TANDBERG PrecisionHD USB Camera Sports 720p HD Video

February 6, 2009

Star Trek VoIP Communicator Helps you save on Intergalactic phone calls

February 6, 2009

Cisco Unified MeetingPlace 7.0 with WebEx integration Review

February 5, 2009

Here is a preview of the TMC Labs review of Cisco Unified MeetingPlace 7.0, which is scheduled to be published in the March issue of Internet Telephony Magazine. Enjoy!

Cisco Systems, Inc.
Web site:

40 concurrent user licenses (750 users), audio conferencing, includes application server software and media server hardware for voice conferencing - $79,999 ($2000/concurrent user)

100 concurrent user licenses (2000 users), audio conferencing, includes application server software and media server hardware for voice conferencing - $127,999 ($1280/concurrent user)

In both sample pricing scenarios, it also includes 6 concurrent web and 6 concurrent video licenses (customer needs to purchase video blade to use video licenses)

Note: As seen by the two example prices the concurrent user price comes down quickly as the system size grows.
Additionally, the customer would also need to purchase a $12,000 Cisco Media Convergence Servers, which is a standard server running Linux

Installation: 5
Documentation: Not tested
Features: 5
GUI: 5
Overall: A

Unified communications is all the rage these days, especially when businesses are looking to optimize productivity and reduce costs. But what really is "unified communications"? You might be surprised at the different answers you'd get from various people.

ITEXPO says "Slumping economy? What slumping economy?" - VoIP tradeshow thrives

February 5, 2009

Many people I talked to at ITEXPO before the exhibit floor opened had muted expectations about the attendance, because of the slumping economy. But I knew better... I talked to Rich Tehrani and he told me a week before the show opened that the pre-registration numbers were up from last year. VoIP when properly deployed and with the right product has an extremely fast ROI and can result in cost savings in just a short period of time.

Clicksaya offers free Click-to-Calls

February 5, 2009

Clicksaya is a new VoIP offering just launched in beta that offers click me web buttons. While click-to-call web buttons are not news, the nice thing about Clicksaya's C2C buttons is it currently connects users for free between 5 countries including Canada, USA, Hong Kong, China, Singapore. Jajah offers click-to-call as well, but they charge to terminate the call.

So how does Clicksaya work?

Bootable Flash Drive creates 15-Minute Turnkey Asterisk Installs on Atom-based processors

February 4, 2009

How'd you like a bootable USB flash drive which can create turnkey, full-featured Asterisk PBX systems in 15 minutes or less? Nerd Vittles has a recipe specially designed for the new Atom-based motherboards found in most netbooks. Nerd says it also works just fine with Dell's PowerEdge T100 servers.

He writes how this is perfect for on-site demos:

For those that demo systems for a living, no one will touch this presentation. Just show up at a customer site with a $300 Acer Aspire One NetBook and an Aastra 57i business phone.

ContactQ Enhances Asterisk's Call Center Functionality

February 4, 2009

ContactQ is a new call center application server created by Braxtel Communications designed to run on Asterisk that brings advanced call center functionality to the Asterisk platform. Their aim is to handle any sort of contact method and put it into their advanced multi-media queue. For instance, they plan on queuing video calls, text messages, web callbacks, and of course regular calls. ContactQ is a fully featured multi-media skills based routing ACD.

Skype Launches 4.0 with Super <strike>Duper Weenie</strike> Wideband Codec

February 3, 2009

According to Skype Journal, Skype has released Skype 4.0 to Gold. The new version sports not "wideband audio" but a "Super Wideband audio codec" or what I like to call the Super Duper Weenie Wideband codec after one of my favorite hot dog joints in Fairfield, CT. Course I haven't had a hot dog since TMC's Biggest Loser contest started. (I'm in 1st place by the way with over 7% weight lost)

The Skype Garage post explains:

Starting from this version we've included the new Super Wideband Audio codec. This is our second in-house built audio codec especially designed for calls over the internet with superb quality.

Minuteman Aims for UPS Comeback in 2009

February 3, 2009

I met with Bill Allen, Director of Marketing for Para Systems, Inc. at ITEXPO and he was very high on the prospects for Minuteman UPS products for 2009. Although Minuteman isn't as large as APC, they make very good products. He mentioned that Minuteman UPS products have new extended run-time battery packs that are "battery packs on steroids." He pointed out that competitors offer extended run-time battery packs, but they didn't seem to focusing on them and he said Minuteman's extended battery packs have longer runtimes.

He also boasted that Minuteman battery packs and the UPS itself both some with a 3 year warranty. No other UPS manufacturer offers a 3 year warranty on their batteries and always had the longest warranty.

Cost is also an important consideration when choosing a UPS.

OCS 2007 R2 Online Labs

February 3, 2009

A new website aims to offer a hosted OCS 2007 R2 lab environment for online training and learning. According to Tom Cross, CEO of, "OCS-Office Communications Server R2-Release 2 Labs are intended to provide specific "personal training" on specific OCS topics and allow users to test concepts, ideas and strategies in a non-production environment."

Tom told me he plans on adding SIP gateways to the hosted environment to enable PSTN termination for a more realistic testing lab environment.

Tom Cross runs the popular OCS 2007 training classes at ITEXPO. He told me the Miami ITEXPO classes are larger than the previous show in Los Angeles, demonstrating increased interest in OCS 2007 training.

If you're interesting in playing with OCS 2007 R2, but don't want to spend the time installing and and configuring the various server components, heads on over to

VoiceGear SkyBridge at ITEXPO

February 3, 2009

IndustryDynamics' VoiceGear SkyBridge is a Skype-to-PBX product that works with analog and VoIP PBX systems and connects them with the Skype network. I stopped by their booth at ITEXPO to learn more. They told me that SkyBridge supports up to 60 Skype accounts and up to 4 simultaneous Skype channels. They demonstrated the web interface used to provision Skype accounts and other settings.

Plantronics .Audio 1100M USB phone for Office Communicator 2007

February 3, 2009

Plantronics today unveiled a phone handset optimized for Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. The new wideband .Audio 1100M USB phone handset features a standard, 10-key dial pad combined with call-answer and call-end keys, a visual ring indicator, a speakerphone activation key and ringer volume control. A headset jack is also available on the handset for users who want a hands-free option.

The Plantronics MCD 100 USB speakerphone, also announced today, is an option for those conducting group conference calls via Office Communicator 2007.

D2 Technologies Demos reference design for WiMAX mobile phones at ITEXPO

February 2, 2009

D2 Technologies is demonstrating a complete reference design for WiMAX mobile phones at ITEXPO. D2's mCUE communications user interface claims to be the industry's first turnkey software solution for quickly delivering mobile WiMAX devices to market

D2 Technologies, a market leader in embedded IP communications software platforms, today announced that private demonstrations of the industry's first complete reference design for the creation of WiMAX mobile phones are available at ITEXPO East 2009 in Miami, Florida from February 2-4, 2009.

Built around the company's breakthrough mCUE converged communications client, the reference design provides manufacturers with a powerful turnkey software solution for quickly developing and delivering WiMAX handsets and similar portable devices to market. The reference software implementation is running on a dual-mode mobile platform running Linux on a Texas Instruments OMAP-based processor; this version is available immediately, with additional implementations on the Google Android and Microsoft® Windows® CE/Mobile platforms coming in the second quarter of 2009.

ITEXPO attendees as well as those attending the 4G Wireless Evolution Conference collocated with ITEXPO East, can arrange for a first look at the WiMAX mobile phone reference design utilizing D2's mCUE by contacting the company during the show.

"The industry is pouring tremendous resources into the creation and delivery of a WiMAX infrastructure, and manufacturers will need a fast and cost-effective way to develop mobile devices that take advantage of the greater bandwidth, range and other benefits of this technology," said Doug Makishima, vice president of marketing and sales at D2 Technologies.

VoIP using Microsoft Silverlight

February 2, 2009

VoIP using Microsoft Silverlight has just been accomplished for the very first time. I'm pretty busy at ITEXPO so I don't have time to test this, but wanted to share an email that Founder & CEO of TringMe, Yusuf Motiwala sent me. Apparently, he had to utilize a workaround to get around the lack of mic support in Silverlight.

Email from Yusaf:

Just wanted to let you know about a first ever demonstration of VoIP/Telephony over Microsoft Silverlight platform at:

It demonstrates the ability to make a call directly from the Microsoft Silverlight applications. To try it out, just enter a phone number and click on "Call Now" button.

U.S. Social Security Blows $300 Million on Nortel VoIP system

February 2, 2009

According to CNN:
Nortel Government Solutions, a U.S. company wholly owned by Nortel completed the core network for the massive new U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) VoIP system within 180 days of initial purchase orders, an aggressive requirement of the 10-year, US $300 million Telephone Systems Replacement Project (TSRP) award.

Now I'm all for Social Security upgrading their phone systems and going VoIP, but $300 million? $300 million?

Switchvox SMB 4.0 launches at ITEXPO

February 2, 2009

I just got into Miami for ITEXPO headed to the convention center around 12pm and I've already learned some exciting news launching at the show. Digium has released Switchvox SMB 4.0 with some new Unified Communications features. Matthew Nickasch, a writer for Considering Convergence on covers the news extensively in his ITExpo East Kicks Off with Big Switchvox News article.

Off the bat I noticed the video phone support with support for H.263 and H.264 codecs. Another interesting new feature is XMPP support for a private chat server.

Microsoft Response Point SP2 launches + review

February 2, 2009

At ITEXPO in Miami, Florida, Microsoft has just launched Response Point SP2, the latest version of their IP-PBX. Microsoft sent me a sneak peek of the SP2 beta code in January to check out. I've reviewed the Microsoft Response Point system in the past and have been impressed with how easy it is to setup and install and I like the speech-recognition functionality that is built-in. With SP1 Microsoft added some sorely needed features.
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