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January 2010

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Moving a Data Center

January 31, 2010

Moving a data center can be fun. Yes, if you enjoy being up from 6am (Friday) to 2am (Saturday) it's a real blast. And then spending all day Saturday until 10pm screwing in rails, rackmounting servers, installing new KVMs, connecting patch cables, power cords, surge protectors, Gigabit PoE switches, IP phones, etc. Of course, it'll all be worth it in the end since TMC will have much more organized and professional looking data center.

Special thanks to TMC's Vahid Hashemian, Larry Szebeni, and Muhannad Harrim who were immensely helpful in staying late and coming in on the weekend to hook up TMC's entire data center / network infrastructure.

No, Gremlins Didn't Eat TMCNet's Web Servers

January 28, 2010

Starting tomorrow around 7am, TMC will be shutting down its entire data center and moving it to a world-class building about a mile away. So when you see, (several blogs), and various other domains going offline, no worries. Gremlins aren't chewing the wires and we're not under a DDOS attack. We'll be back up soon.

It's a major undertaking with months of planning and tomorrow is that culmination of planning as well as several man-hours building our new data center.

VoIP on iPad - Yes!

January 28, 2010

Yes, it's true - you can do VoIP on the new Apple iPad. The iPad sports WiFi, 3G, speaker, and a microphone - all you need to do VoIP. But the real kicker is that Apple just modified their iPhone/iPad SDK to ALLOW VoIP over 3G. Yes, my friends, now you too can hold a massive 9.7" screen to your head - bulkiness and radiation be damned!

The pertinent part of the SDK is as follows:

3.3. 23 Because some mobile network operators may prohibit or restrict the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) functionality over their network, such as the use of VoIP telephony over a cellular network, and may also impose additional fees, or other charges in connection with VoIP, You agree to inform end-users, prior to purchase, to check the terms of agreement with their operator, for example, by providing such notice in the marketing text that You provide accompanying Your Application on the App Store.

Rock Out to the Asterisk Song

January 26, 2010

GM Voices, creator of professional voice prompts for companies has just released "The Asterisk Song" with patriotic Asterisk lyrics such as "It ain't no punctuation." For true Asterisk patriots, "asterisk" aka "*" can not be used in a sentence unless it has something to do with the open source Asterisk platform. Sure an "asterisk" is used to reference a footnote at the bottom of the page, but it's just a tiny "asterisk" in superscript form. There is only one "big" Asterisk and it looks like this:

Asterisk, the open source platform (as if I had to clarify) has changed the entire lexicon of how this word is used. It has taken over Shift-8 on the keyboard.

Skype Outage Problem Yesterday

January 22, 2010

Truphone Brings Wi-Fi Calling To Nexus One

January 22, 2010

At ITEXPO I learned from Truphone's PR team that they released a new Android application updated to operate on Google's new device.

Here's the news:

Hot on the heels of the release of Truphone's VoIP enabled Truphone for Android application earlier this month, Truphone, the next generation global mobile operator, today announces that it is the first company to provide Wi-Fi calling on the Nexus One device from Google.

Following collaboration with Google, Truphone is pleased to announce that from today, Truphone for Android is compatible with the Nexus One. In addition to compatibility with the Nexus One, the update (version 3.0.2), ensures compatibility with the T-Mobile Pulse, meaning that Truphone is now Wi-Fi compatible with a total of five Android devices.

Karl Good, Director of Applications for Truphone said, "Google has been very helpful in working with the Truphone team to allow us to provide our award-winning solution to the growing number of Nexus One owners. Once again it is a testament to Truphone that we are the first to be able to offer this technology to consumers."

Truphone for Android (version 3.0.2), is available now as a free download in the Android Market

Carrier Peering Federation Enables HD Voice and HD Video

January 21, 2010

One of the more interesting bit of news coming out of ITEXPO is that XConnect is not only offering "High-Definition (HD) Voice Peering Federation", but they're also offering a free one month trial. Their federation service for carrier peering let's you carry both HD voice and HD video by passing codecs across carrier networks.

Importantly, there is now a bridge server as part of Asterisk that assists in HD transcoding. So if 3 of us on a call and if only 2 of us have HD voice phones, Asterisk can transcode it so 2 phones that have HD stay on HD, while the 3rd phone goes down to G.711 or another non-HD codec.

FREETALK Connect Alliance Formed at IT EXPO 2010

January 21, 2010

Andy Abramson (aka Mr. Harem of VoIP/Communications clients) told me that the new FREETALK Connect Alliance formed at ITEXPO has received a lot of interest from various companies looking to join in addition to the 14 charter members that have already joined.

Here's the news announcement:

FREETALK Connect Alliance Formed at ITEXPO 2010 with 14 Charter Members;
Open Alliance Members Will Offer Products and Services that Leverage
FREETALK Connect, Voice 2.0 Applications and Cloud-Based Services

Members will offer innovative products and cloud-based services that interoperate with FREETALK Connect via Asterisk, Skype, SIP, Skype for SIP, or PSTN

FREETALK® and 13 other companies today announced the formation of the FREETALK Connect Alliance, an open alliance of companies that will provide innovative applications, products and services to expand the capabilities of the FREETALK Connect communications system. The alliance is open to companies that offer products and services which build on the capabilities of the FREETALK Connect, "Voice 2.0" in concept, and can interoperate with Asterisk, Skype™, SIP, Skype for SIP or the PSTN.

The FREETALK Connect simplifies set up, enabling small business users that are not tech savvy to use it quickly and simply, without formal training. Supported telephones are plugged into the company's network and the FREETALK Connect auto-detects and configures them. An on-screen wizard then guides the customer through a few business-related questions that help configure the company's communication system and enables Skype calling from every supported desktop phone in the office.

FREETALK Partners With Jazinga To Create FREETALK Connect

January 21, 2010

In case you were wondering how FREETALK Connect came about, it's a collaboration effort between Jazinga and FREETALK. Jazinga was launched in September 2008 as an easy 15-minute IP-PBX install that is also easy to manage. FREETALK creates a few Skype-related products including the Everyman Skype headset, which I reviewed.

Here's the news announced at ITEXPO...

FREETALK Partners With Jazinga To Create FREETALK Connect
Companies Collaborate On Skype-enabled Small Business Communication System Featuring Set Up In Less Than 15 Minutes

As the result of a new partnership announced today at ITEXPO East 2010, FREETALK and Jazinga have created the FREETALK® Connect, a full-featured unified communications system that is the first to feature Skype for SIP and Skype for Asterisk functionality.

FREETALK and Jazinga collaborated in designing the FREETALK Connect, featuring a do-it-yourself (DIY) technology approach that can be configured in less than 15 minutes, enabling users who are not tech savvy to use it without formal training.

FREETALK Connect Unveiled at ITEXPO

January 21, 2010

So much news coming out of ITEXPO that I missed some interesting news from yesterday. One bit of news worth sharing is from In Store Solutions which introduced FREETALK Connect, a communications platform that enables Skype calling for SMBs. Using FREETALK Connect, companies can make free Skype-to-Skype calls and can view and manage Skype contact lists using their supported office phones.

Importantly, the system can also receive inbound voice calls from users of Skype around the world. They can also participate in the Skype for SIP open beta, which will enable them to take advantage of Skype's low-cost global calling rates for calls to landline or mobile phones around the world from their desktop phones.

I'm hoping to see a demo of the system with Andy Abramson and Andrew Hansen today. Jim Courtney seemed to be a big fan of FREETALK Connect from my discussions with him in the ITEXPO press room yesterday.

According to In Store Solutions, "The FREETALK Connect simplifies set up, enabling small business users that are not tech savvy to use it quickly and simply, without formal training.

Calliflower Adds Skype Calling

January 21, 2010

At ITEXPO Iotum announced their Calliflower hosted conferencing and collaboration platform added support for Skype calling. Calliflower, a web-based conferencing and collaboration platform can now be reached from any Skype-enabled PC or phone as well as from traditional PSTN phones. I spoke with Alec Saunders, CEO of Iotum in the ITEXPO press room and asked him how he was connecting to the Skype cloud. He told me they were leveraging Skype for SIP.

Yahoo's Challenges Deploying Asterisk Corporate-wide

January 20, 2010

At TMC's ITEXPO, Yahoo's Jeremy Wadhams revealed not only that Yahoo! has deployed Asterisk corporate-wide, but the challenges he faced in adopting Asterisk throughout the organization, including several Yahoo! branch offices , several acquisitions of other companies, including Dialpad & Overture, as well as the usual corporate culture and politics to contend with,

Jeremy demonstrated Yahoo!'s interesting custom web application which integrates their flavor of Asterisk with web-based email & voicemail, corporate directory, as well as the ability for users to reset their voicemail PINs themselves - the bane of every IT administrator's existence.

One interesting tidbit was that it he figured after reaching 25% penetration, the last 75% would be a cakewalk. It didn't turn out that way.

Rich Tehrani kicks off the keynotes at ITEXPO

January 20, 2010

Use of WiMAX in Smart Grid Networks

January 20, 2010

Truphone Local Anywhere - All Calls Now a Local Call

January 20, 2010

More great news coming out of ITEXPO. Truphone today announced the launch of its Truphone Local Anywhere™ service - a full GSM solution that makes it easier and more convenient for international travelers to stay in touch while saving more than 90 percent on their mobile phone bills. The new global mobile phone service provides consumers with local numbers and access to local rates for calls, texts and data in multiple countries on a single SIM card. Essentially, it leverages a smart, multi-country SIM card that eliminates roaming charges and provides local voice, data and text rates

The service launches today for the United States and the U.K., and the company plans to rapidly roll out Truphone Local Anywhere to a number of key business and leisure destinations in 2010, both across Europe and in longer haul destinations such as Australia, Hong Kong and South Africa.

Truphone Local Anywhere offers customers four main benefits:

·     Local calling rates in Truphone countries: With Truphone Local Anywhere, international travellers enjoy rates that are a fraction of standard roaming fees.

How Aerospace Research Is Helping Energy and the Smart Grid

January 20, 2010

Jon Arnold gives an introduction to an ITEXPO session titled 'A Systems Approach to Energy / Grid Security', which you can see in the video below. As he points out and asks me for confirmation, this is the 11th year for ITEXPO. The session continued to fill-up until it was standing room only in the back of the room.

Ron Sega was the primary speaker. He is the Woodward Professor of Systems Engineering for Colorado State University (CSU).

Ifbyphone Acquires Cloudvox - Offers Flexible Cloud Telephony

January 20, 2010

At ITEXPO, Ifbyphone announced that have acquired Cloudvox, a company that offers "open" hosted Asterisk telephony applications. I spoke with Irv Shapiro, CEO of Ifbyphone by phone just after he passed through Chicago Ohare's airport security on his way down to ITEXPO in Miami. Irv explained that the marriage of Ifbyphone and Cloudvox brings the best of "proprietary" telephony apps by Ifbyphone and "open" Asterisk AGI and AMI applications that developers can build on Cloudvox.

Irv explained that with the Cloudvox acquisition they now offer 3 scenarios for applications:
- Own the application(s)
- Rent the application(s)
- Have developers integrate or build application(s) from scratch

Essentially, you can use the pre-built apps offered by Ifbyphone or you can do
Asterisk AGI or AMI in the cloud. AGI and AMI are part of Asterisk's core API allowing you to develop applications for the popular open source Asterisk platform.

Today's NY Times Headline Misses Scott Brown Victory?

January 20, 2010

I was looking forward to reading the post-election analysis from my copy of the NY Times left outside my Miami hotel room. But alas, the headline reads "A Supermajority in the Balance - Massachusetts voters went to the polls Tuesday to select a successor to Edward M. Kennedy, in a race that could deprive Democrats of a 60th Senate vote. Page A12. Results at"


Massachusetts election knocks CNN Offline

January 19, 2010

Apparently there is huge interest in the Mass election. I'm watching live precinct reports on CNN and their website went down. No doubt lots of other news sites are seeign a huge spike in traffic.  (I'm sure tomorrow we'll see articles about the traffic spike worldwide - or at least in the U.S.)   This was the message I got on (note it came up about a minute later)
    Server Maintenance

Your server is going through a few minutes of routine maintenance. Please don't touch your browser for a few minutes.

Fonality Names New CEO. Where's Chris Lyman in All This?

January 19, 2010

Interesting news. Fonality today announced that it has appointed Dean Mansfield to serve as the company's chief executive officer. Mansfield succeeds Chris Lyman, the company's founding CEO. Lyman will remain as chairman of the board.

VON RIP Again - Breaking

January 19, 2010

Arrived at ITEXPO - nice beachfront view!

January 19, 2010

Massachusetts Miracle in the Making

January 15, 2010

Came across a patriotic video that will have your patriotic heart soaring - at least for the first 42 seconds. After that, how you view this video depends on how you view the current Obama administration. The premise of the video is how on April, 19, 1775 Americans first fought the British in 'the shot heart round the world'. The battle took place in Massachusetts and marked the start of the Revolutionary War to throw off the British monarchy and tyranny.

Well, fast forward to today, and once again Massachusetts is at the center of the battle between more government control (national healthcare) and less government control.

Packet8 Service Down

January 12, 2010

Almost exactly one year ago 8X8's Packet8 VoIP service suffered a major outage due to DNS issues. It now appears that both their domains and are down. But more importantly their VoIP phone service is down. Stay tuned while I try and find out more...

Update #1: from Joan Citelli Director, Corporate Communications

I don't have a lot of information at the moment, but apparently there was a data problem with one of our underlying carriers.

PocketMac Rescues Smartphones from the Toilet

January 12, 2010

Admit it, you've come close to doing the unthinkable - you text on your phone and surf the web while in the bathroom and when you get up to flush, your beloved phone slips out of your hand, your shirt pocket, or pants pocket and heads toward the toilet. You see your phone falling through the air in slow motion, as though gravity has a sick sense of humor toying with you and making you think you have a fighting chance of saving your $300 smartphone.

Yes, gravity that great mysterious universal force is toying with you to see if you can react quickly enough to catch your phone in mid-flight. But alas, according to Gizmodo, 855,000 mobile phones are dropped in the toilet every year in just the UK. Now that the phone has reached the bottom of the toilet you have a decision to make.

Fonality Serves up 1 Billion Cloud VoIP Calls?

January 8, 2010

Today, Fonality announced it has served up its 1 billionth cloud call on their hosted VoIP platform called UNBOUND. UNBOUND is Fonality's fully hosted cloud phone system and VoIP service solution and starts at $24.99/mo. Of course, Fonality also offers fully premise-based IP-PBX solutions as well.

I like Fonality and the Fonality team, including Chris Lyman, Samy Kamkar, etc. but I can't help but be a little skeptical over 1 billion calls.

Cell Phones Do a Body (& Mind) Good

January 7, 2010

Well, well well - it appears that cell phone radiation isn't all that bad; brain cancer be damned! You see, a recent study showed that electromagnetic radiation exposed to mice actually reversed Alzheimer's disease and improved cognitive capabilities. So you see, you are smarter the more you use your smartphone.

According to the ABC News article, "A similar (electromagnetic radiation) exposure in normal mice -- for two hours a day over seven to nine months -- improved their cognitive abilities compared with controls, Arendash and colleagues said in the January issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, which is the research journal of the Alzheimer's Association."

Hey, if radiation can give Spiderman super-strength and "spider sense" that lets him sense danger, then it makes sense that low-levels of radiation can make us smarter.

Asterisk's Growth Shines at ITEXPO

January 7, 2010

Asterisk just may be the #1 transforming VoIP company for the now past '00s "aughts" decade, which is quite appropriate when you consider Asterisk in many respects costs $0 dollars due to being open source. Of course, nothing is truly free in this world. If you download and install Asterisk yourself for your company you still have to pay for the hardware. Further, if something goes wrong and your Asterisk "game" is only rudimentary, you might have to pay for technical support.

Truphone Comes to Android - But no VoIP over 3G

January 7, 2010

Truphone fans will be happy to hear that the popular VoIP application now works on Android mobile handsets, though support for the new Google Nexus One is coming soon. Truphone's new Android application enables free calls to other Truphone, Skype and Google Talk users  - though only over Wi-Fi and not 3G. 

I don't get why Truphone only works over WiFi. AT&T for example recently announced they were allowing VoIP over 3G applications on the iPhone , including Skype. While running VoIP over AT&T's 3G data connection can have sketchy quality sometimes, it's still nice to have the option. Is Google not allowing VoIP over 3G on their Android devices or has Truphone just not enabled that feature?

Avaya Reveals Roadmap for Nortel Enterprise Assets at ITEXPO

January 6, 2010

Rich Tehrani and I are both excited to hear the future roadmap Avaya has in store for Nortel's enterprise assets that Avaya recently acquired. Will Avaya slowly phase out these Nortel enterprise products, continue the product line with the Avaya brand, integrate best-of-breed technologies from Avaya and Nortel and offer new SMB products? The questions are endless. IT managers, CTOs, MIS managers, etc.

Talkbox Offers $10/month Unlimited U.S. and $20/month Unlimited World

January 6, 2010

Well, we have yet another played in the broadband VoIP space named Talkbox. They're based in the Los Angeles area and acquire new customers primarily via mall outlets in the L.A. area. One of their representatives told me, "Our growth has been viral, mostly word of mouth and Vonage refugees.

Skype Brings 720p to HDTVs and PCs

January 5, 2010

Skype today introduced a high-definition (HD) video calling service that will work on computers and televisions. The newest version Skype 4.2 Beta for Windows, supports 720p video calling in a 1280x720 pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. The latest version of Skype will come pre-installed on some LG Electronics Inc. and Panasonic Corp. television sets by June, according to Skype. Panasonic will support the technology via its VIERA Cast televisions and LG will support it with its NetCast Entertainment Access and both will offer HD webcams as accessories.

The new HDTVs will deliver familiar Skype features including:
  • Free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls
  • Calls to landline or mobile phones at Skype's low rates
  • The option to receive inbound calls via a user's online Skype number
  • Skype voicemail, if it is set up
  • Being invited to participate in voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties
  • Support for up to 720p HD video calls, depending on the availability of high-speed broadband and a HD webcam
I have a relatively new (late 2009) Panasonic 54" TV with VIERA Cast, so it'll be interesting to see if my TV will be on the list to support it.

Boy Saved from Cougar by Golden Retriever

January 5, 2010

Yet another reason why dogs are the greatest - a Canadian boy named Austin was stalked by a cougar and when the cougar charged, Austin's golden retriever, aptly named Angel sprang into action and leapt between them. The cougar and Golden Retriever wrestled while the boy ran inside so upset he was unable to communicate to his mother what was happening. Finally, he was able to say, "there's a cougar eating Angel."

She then called 911 for help and a nearby officer was able to quickly come and shoot the cougar, which had Angel's head and neck in its mouth. The cougar was shot dead on top of Angel and Angel wasn't moving.

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