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

December 2009

You are browsing the archive for December 2009.

AT&T Wants to Kill The PSTN

December 31, 2009

TMCnet contributor Gary Kim has an excellent article about AT&T asking the Federal Communications Commission to create a timetable to shutdown the analog PSTN phone system in the United States. AT&T explains that maintaining two networks - IP and PSTN is retarding the deployment of the newer broadband IP network.

Ok, I'll grant you that one AT&T. It doesn't make much sense for you to have to maintain IP networks and PSTN networks - especially when voice competitors like Vonage and Packet8 leverage your IP infrastructure to offer broadband VoIP with no cost to them. Doesn't seem fair does it?

Google Voice VoIP in 2010?

December 30, 2009

eWeek has an interesting interview with Google's Vice President of Product Management Bradley Horowitz where Bradley said he was very enthusiastic about Google's acquisition of Gizmo5, a company that unlike Skype adopted the industry SIP standard. Gizmo5 brings technological know-how to Google in the areas of VoIP, SIP, and termination. Further, Gizmo5 has a software client that makes Google Talk pale in comparison. I wouldn't be surprised to see Google Talk phased out in favor of the Gizmo5 client.

Amazon Should Collect Taxes? Over my Dead Gadget-Loving Body!

December 28, 2009

The NY Times must be smoking the weed again. They have an article posted the day after Christmas arguing that Amazon should charge customers state taxes to help fill the state's tax coffers.

The NY Times writes, "Competitors aren't the only ones hurt by Amazon's stance on sales taxes: it also means the loss of considerable revenue to states and localities that badly need it." So because the states "badly need it", the NY Times argues Amazon should give up some of their capital wealth and spread it around to all 50 states? Last I checked, we still live in a capitalist republic not a socialist state. Let me explain the Constitution to ya NY Times, so you understand why charging intrastate taxes is unconstitutional.

First, let me cite Article IV of the Articles of Confederation, which was the first constitution of the United States and formed the core basis for the adoption of the final Constitution.

The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people of each State shall free ingress and regress to and from any other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively, provided that such restrictions shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property imported into any State, to any other State, of which the owner is an inhabitant; provided also that no imposition, duties or restriction shall be laid by any State, on the property of the United States, or either of them.

In order words, it was critical that states not pass legislation which punished other states via taxes or levies, which could be used to try and gain an unfair competitive advantage.

Further, the final Constitution in Article I Section 10 (Powers prohibited of States) states:

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress.

Therefore, the Constitution specifically prohibits interstate taxes and this forms the core heart of American federalism.

StarTech KVM Console to USB 2.0 Portable Laptop Adapter Review

December 23, 2009

If you are an IT or network manager you know how frustrating it can be to try and troubleshoot a rackmounted server that doesn't have a monitor or keyboard hooked up to it. After all, LCD rackmount console can be pretty expensive.

Often referred to as "headless servers", in many cases you can use Windows Remote Desktop over an IP connection to access the machine and troubleshoot. However, if you have a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), the network card dies, you have an IP address conflict, or you need to get into the BIOS, you can't use Remote Desktop or other remote desktop software.

Well,'s USB 2.0 Laptop KVM Adapter turns your notebook or netbook into a portable server crashcart, eliminating the need to carry a large, heavy video monitor, keyboard, and mouse. This device will turn any laptop into a portable console for headless servers, PCs, ATMs, kiosks etc.

How does it work?

'VoIP' Named Industry of the Decade

December 23, 2009

According to IBISWorld, VoIP was named "Industry Of The Decade" besting even the search engine industry? Surely, you jest. You mean to tell me the VoIP industry beat Google's, Yahoo's, and MSN's (now Bing's) billions? VoIP even beat online dating.

Well, it's true.

How Facebook Squeezes Maximum Performance

December 17, 2009

Facebook has more than 350 million active users. Digest that for a second. Can you imagine how many servers would be required working in a distributed fashion with redundancy to handle 350 million users? Well to answer my own question, Facebook has more than 30,000 servers and adds about 10,000 new servers every 18 months.

Positron Telecommunication's Innovative Asterisk-on-a-Card

December 17, 2009

In the January issue of Internet Telephony Magazine is a TMC Labs review of Positron Telecommunication Systems V114 analog PCI "Asterisk-on-a-card". They also have an ISDN version and a E1/T1 version. I thought I would share the review here since this is a very innovative product. It is pretty cool to have Asterisk running on a PCI card with some very interesting benefits.

But I won't steal my own review's thunder...

Dragon Dictation for iPhone Addresses Privacy Concerns

December 16, 2009

There was a bit of controversy surrounding the cool Dragon Dictation speech-recognition app for the Apple iPhone. Namely, some privacy advocates weren't happy that the app would upload their entire iPhone contact list to Dragon Dictation's servers. The purpose was merely to improve name recognition and no personally identifiable information such as phone number or email address was uploaded. Nevertheless, it caused a bit of a firestorm among privacy advocates.

Got Old VoIP Equipment? Check out this VoIP Buyback Program

December 15, 2009

Got some old VoIP phones lying around and want to upgrade to some newfandangled executive phone sporting a color LCD and video playback? Or how bout an upgrade to an HD IP phone? Well, VoIP Supply has your back with their buyback program. tomorrow they are launching their Reclaim VoIP equipment buyback program.

Nuance Dragon Dictation for iPhone Rocks!

December 11, 2009

Nuance Dragon Dictation for iPhone is the most amazing text-to-speech application you will find on the iPhone. Employing a client-server architecture along with the iPhone's superb high-quality microphone means near dead-on accuracy. When you click the record button your voice is temporarily stored locally on the iPhone. When you are finished recording or reach the 30s maximum time, the recording is uploaded to Nuance's servers.

Cool Skype for SIP Upgrades, Enhanced Inbound Routing and more

December 9, 2009

Some important news for Skype for SIP beta "open" users I thought I'd share. Just last week Skype announced going from closed "beta" to "open" to the public, and now today they're adding some cool new Skype for SIP features.

Once the upgrades are complete there will be cool new features, such as direct inward dialing (DID) calling over the Skype network to a specific IP-PBX extension. Similarly, if someone calls your Skype business account name, i.e. tkeatingtmc, Skype will prefix the extension number into the SIP header so that the call will be routed directly to that person's extension.

Tandberg Enhances Movi, But Will Cisco Slam the Video Interoperability Door?

December 8, 2009

Videoconferencing is becoming more critical to businesses, especially with many enterprises employing remote teleworkers. As such, having high-quality HD video has become a requirement, as is the ability to simultaneously collaborate within the videoconferencing session.

Well, today, TANDBERG announced new advanced capabilities for Movi, its business-quality PC video solution. Movi offers the ability to share content, HD video, we well as full audio capabilities and centralized management. Movi's key new feature is the ability to share PC content with other session participants.

I'll just reiterate my concerns about Cisco recently acquiring Tandberg, where I thought perhaps Cisco could take Tandberg's various industry standards-solutions and make them closed/proprietary solutions.

Nimbuzz for Blackberry Launches

December 3, 2009

Nimbuzz today launched their social networking, IM, and VoIP app for the Blackberry. Although it doesn't support VoIP. It works on multiple IM networks including Skype IM as well as online chat support for MSN, GoogleTalk, Yahoo!, Facebook & MySpace.

Running as a native application it allows Nimbuzz to run constantly in the background, have alert notifications 'pushed' to the home screen and integrate notifications with sound profiles, ensuring you don't miss a message.

Nimbuzz claims this is "the most comprehensive mobile social messaging application available for the Blackberry."

The application is available free to download now from and BlackBerry App World.

Yahoo! Messenger for iPhone 1.3 Released

December 3, 2009

Yahoo! released an update to Yahoo! Messenger for iPhone (version 1.3) today. The new version adds some of the most frequently requested features for the app including:

  • Allowing users to update their display image within the iPhone application

  • Sending iPhone stored photos and videos through IM

  • Offering the option to ignore messages from people not on a users' Yahoo!

Rebtel Adds Skype Calling

December 3, 2009

D2 Technologies, Beceem & ECS Extend VoIP over WiMAX to Android Smartphones and MIDs

December 2, 2009

Interesting news from D2 Technologies I thought I'd share. They are announcing a partnership with Beceem and ECS to offer a turnkey solution for developing and delivering VoIP over WiMAX smartphones to market running the Android platform.

Full news release after the jump...

Google Voice + magicJack = $1.66/month Phone Bill

December 2, 2009

What do you get when you combine Google Voice + MagicJack? Well, you get $1.66/month phone service, of course.

First, you need a MagicJack which costs $39.99 for the first year and includes the USB device. Subsequent years are $19.99/year or $1.66/month.

Second, you need to get Google Voice, which is free, but you need an invite to get in.

Lastly, you point your Google Voice number to your magicJack phone number.

Skype for SIP Beta Now Open!

December 2, 2009

Skype today announced that their Skype for SIP beta program is now "open" to everyone. I was invited to their private beta to test it and have been pleased with the results so far. Though if you read my article you will see I do have some price concerns.

Check out the news...

LUXEMBOURG, 2 December 2009 -- Skype is opening up the Skype for SIP beta program to allow businesses of all sizes to utilize Skype for SIP with their existing SIP-based PBX or Unified Communications (UC) systems. By using Skype for SIP, companies can save money on calls around the world, while also changing how customers globally reach them.

A company's IT administrator just creates and registers a Skype Business Control Panel (BCP) for the organization and then follows the instructions to configure Skype for SIP to work with its existing SIP-enabled communications system.

Bolo, Another VoIP Player, Enters Unlimited Global Calling Arena

December 1, 2009

Bolo from contacted me about their VoIP offering. Bolo explained, "We offer unlimited global calling for $38/month. That is unlimited calling to landlines and cellphones around the world. That is $38.00.

fring Brings Video calls to iPhone and iPod touch

December 1, 2009

fring has done it again! A few weeks ago they brought video calls to the Google Android. Then last week they brought video calls to Nokia phones with promises that the Apple iPhone was coming soon.

Well, that day has arrived! You can now have video calls on your iPhone I installed fring on my iPhone and am about to test it.

Digium|Asterisk World Expands At ITEXPO

December 1, 2009

and Digium announced that all exhibit space sold out at their expanded Digium|Asterisk World, scheduled to take place Jan. 20-22, 2010 as part of ITEXPO East in Miami, Florida. Recently, TMC was forced to expand the Digium|Asterisk World exhibit showcase since all 16 spaces originally allocated had been sold. There are now 21 companies participating. Just goes to show you that the open source Asterisk movement is still growing strong even with current economic conditions.

I'll never forget my November 2001 column where I went "In Search Of A Linux-Based PBX" and when I first discovered Asterisk and was smitten by the prospects of an open source PBX.

Featured Events