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December 2010

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China Cracks Down on VoIP, including Skype

December 30, 2010

China is cracking down on VoIP applications such as Skype, which is impacting the profits of state-owned carriers.

"We are carrying out with relevant authorities a campaign to crack down on illegal Voice over Internet Protocol phone services", the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a circular posted online earlier this month.

Skype Video For iPhone!

December 30, 2010

Skype Video for iPhone is here! You can now make video calls from your iPhone with the latest update from the Apple App Store. Rich Tehrani and I tested it this morning on his iPhone 4 with my iPhone 3GS (only rear-facing camera).

The video quality was pretty good. I estimate between 5-12 fps over WiFi. After awhile my 3GS started going black for a few seconds and then would turn back on.

Skype Details the Great 2010 Outage

December 29, 2010

Today, Skype CIO Lars Rabbe detailed what caused the Skype outage:

What was the cause for the failure?

On Wednesday, December 22, a cluster of support servers responsible for offline instant messaging became overloaded. As a result of this overload, some Skype clients received delayed responses from the overloaded servers. In a version of the Skype for Windows client (version 5.0.0152), the delayed responses from the overloaded servers were not properly processed, causing Windows clients running the affected version to crash.

Users running either the latest Skype for Windows (version, older versions of Skype for Windows (4.0 versions), Skype for Mac, Skype for iPhone, Skype on your TV, and Skype Connect or Skype Manager for enterprises were not affected by this initial problem.

However, around 50% of all Skype users globally were running the version of Skype for Windows, and the crashes caused approximately 40% of those clients to fail.

IRS Closes Online Sellers Income Tax Loophole

December 28, 2010

Starting in 2011, all U.S. payment providers including PayPal will be required by the IRS to report sales information about certain merchants to the IRS. Power sellers on eBay and other online selling websites will be impacted by this new tax requirement. Before PayPal did not report your income to the IRS, so online sellers could 'fudge' their revenue reporting.

Apple iOS vs. Google Android

December 28, 2010

There was an interesting discussion of iOS-vs.-Android news that began with this report by Seth Weintraub for Fortune. He explains in the article the downward spiral cost of creating smartphone components and the end product smartphone as well. He also says Apple could be in big trouble as Android activations surpass iPhone because of the lower cost of Android phones. Seth writes:

Cheap smartphones could change the way carriers price contracts here in the U.S.

Skype Down

December 22, 2010

Skype is experiencing a massive worldwide outage today. The last major outage was in 2007, in a story that I broke and it lasted a day. They also had a DNS issue back in 2004. Not exactly good timing with the impending IPO and people wanting to wish each other Merry Christmas in 3 days.

Firefox 4 Back Menu Drop-down Missing - Problem Fixed

December 21, 2010

I'm using Firefox 4 beta and one annoyance was that although I see the back and forward buttons, I don't see the little arrow that opens the drop-down menu allowing you to go back multiple pages in 1-click. Apparently, Firefox has gone with the minimalist approach and removed the drop-down arrow for viewing your back button "history". Same goes for the Forward button. I guess they thought it took up too much valuable screen real estate on the toolbar, but this is one of my favorite features!

Hitachi America Launches CPX9 Portable Series LCD Projector

December 21, 2010

Hitachi America today announced the CPX9 Portable Series LCD projector, useful anywhere a lightweight, high-quality projector is needed. It weighs less than five pounds and measures just 12 x 8.7 x 3 inches. The CPX9 can project images up to 300 inches (diagonal measurement) with XGA resolution, 3,200 lumens brightness and 16.7 million colors.

Net Neutrality Passes, But Is It Necessary?

December 21, 2010

The FCC voted 3-2 in favor of deploying net neutrality rules. I agree with net neutrality in principle, but as always, the devil is always in the details.

I suspect like anything the government does, there will not be an equal application of net neutrality. For instance, hundreds of companies already got waivers from Obamacare.

If the FCC is the determiner of who breaks the rules, don’t forget FCC chair people are political appointees that change. Even this decision was a 3 (Democrat) to 2 (Republican) split, indicating a clear political split.

If an ISP wants to get away with bending the rules a little all they have to do is fund an election campaign for some high-powered politician(s) in either party to get a “favor”.

HP G72-C55DX Review

December 21, 2010

The HP G72-C55DX is one of the best bang-for-the-buck laptops you can buy. The HP G72-C55DX sports a huge 17.3" LED (1600 x 900) backlit display and the latest Intel Pentium P6100 processor. You don't break the bank with this laptop since the HP G72-C55DX is available on sale at Best Buy for $449.99! My family and I were looking for a laptop to purchase for my mother-in-law as a gift for Christmas and this laptop certainly fit the bill.

ProtoSphere 3D Virtual World Combines Microsoft Lync, VoIP, Collaboration, & Social Media

December 20, 2010

ProtonMedia's ProtoSphere combines Microsoft Lync, VoIP, collaboration, & social media features to bring a 3D virtual world to life, enabling the enterprise to more easily interact and collaborate. One of their competitors is Avaya's (formerly Nortel's) Web Alive, which I wrote about back in 2008. Both products feature a 3D virtual world targeting the enterprise. Think Second Life virtual world meets business world.

I interviewed Ron Burns, CEO of ProtonMedia to learn more about their fascinating solution.

Tom: Talk a bit about what your solution does.

Ron: In our 3D environment you're in the room and you're moving the data around with other people.

Skype for Android Update - Supports Samsung Galaxy S & SD Card

December 16, 2010

Skype is on an update roll. Last week they released an update for Nokia/Symbian phones. Now they just released an update for Android devices that allows you to move the Skype app to external storage to free up precious local storage on the phone. This release also adds compatibility with the Samsung Galaxy S. Only catch is that you'll need Android 2.2.

Skype may be on an update roll, but there is NO truth to the rumor that they are releasing a video-enabled Skype app for iPhone or Android for some video chat action.

magicTalk vs. magicJack

December 15, 2010

Fellow TMCer, Rich Tehrani and I took magicTalk (makers of the popular magicJack) for a test drive yesterday. Rich told me about this new softphone app called magicTalk which is taking aim at Skype. Rich Tehrani asked me to install the app and be his guinea pig to test the sound quality. Interestingly, whenever I called Rich's magicTalk number, I kept getting a message "You have reached the WiMAX communications test number.

Microsoft Lync Unified Communications "14" Training Kit

December 15, 2010

Microsoft Lync has launched, so now what? How can you as a developer get in on the action? Well, Microsoft just released a training kit that provides deep technical training on all aspects of the Lync Server 2010 and Exchange Server 2010 SDKs to give developers the skills they need to be productive developing communications driven business processes.

Called the Unified Communications “14” Training Kit you can go grab yourself a copy right here. TMC's ITEXPO, a leading telecom/VoIP tradeshow has offered OCS 2007 training in the past. Personally, I'd like to see Microsoft employees or Microsoft Lync experts offer some Lync training including some in-depth developer training at the next ITEXPO, which takes place February 2-4, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

Now grab the download, start developing some apps and let me know if you create anything really cool.

Hitachi Launches Three Terabytes (3TB) Drives

December 15, 2010

2TB not enough hard drive space? Looking for 3TB? Well, Hitachi GST today has launched a trio of three terabytes (3TB) hard drives.

First up, the new 3TB Hitachi Deskstar Internal Hard Drive Kit breaks the 2.2TB capacity limit on 32-bit Windows XP systems with no extra hardware required, i.e. special SATA card.

FREETALK Connect Review

December 15, 2010

FREETALK Connect might be an easy to install IP-PBX, but it doesn't skimp on features, packing quite a punch in advanced features, including Skype for Asterisk & Skype Connect support, paging, conference bridges, PSTN failover, custom CallerIDs per user, find me/follow me, and more. I took a FREETALK Connect system for a test drive and was pretty impressed with how easy it was to setup and configure, but was also impressed with its tight integration with Skype.

First, I should mention that FREETALK Connect runs with Asterisk in its core. Currently running Asterisk v1.4, the box relies on a Web portal for all administrative (add users, configure auto-attendant, etc.) and user interaction (voicemail, call forward settings, etc.). You don't get console access to the Linux kernel.

Tru Rates Now Available in Australia

December 14, 2010

Some news I wanted to share from Tru (also known as Truphone)... Tru, (dba Truphone), has expanded its local rates and local number proposition to Australia. Starting today, both business and pre-pay customers of Tru’s GSM service in the UK and US will benefit from paying only local rates instead of roaming rates for all calls and texts to and within Australia, as well as local data rates when roaming within the country.

In an industry first, Tru’s network now offers customers the option to have three local mobile numbers for the UK, US and Australia on one SIM card, allowing friends and business contacts based in those countries to reach them wherever they are without paying the cost of an international call. 

Obihai Mashes Up Mobile, Landline, VoIP & Social Networking

December 10, 2010

Obihai Technology released their OBiON application for the iPhone. In some ways Obihai is very similar to the very hyped Ooma product, which Rich Tehrani likes, but I was initially not a fan of until they changed their business model. Obihai was started by the founders of the creators of the very first analog telephony adapters, the Komodo Fone 300, which was used by VOnage.  A Little VoIP History: I got one of the earliest prototypes of the Komodo Fone 300 ATA device, which I reviewed for Internet Telephony Magazine back in 2000.

Digium|Asterisk World Returns to ITEXPO

December 10, 2010

TMC and Digium, the Asterisk Company, today announced that Digium|Asterisk World is returning to ITEXPO, February 2-4, at the Miami Beach Convention Center.  Asterisk is the world’s most widely used open source communications software, and the Digium|Asterisk World event helps the entire Asterisk community learn how to create more flexible and powerful telephony solutions.

Open Source Communications solutions currently account for more new phone lines than any single conventional PBX or key system manufacturer.  While Open Source communications software can be free of charge, it creates significant revenue opportunities for businesses that install Open Source PBXs, and provide GUIs, PBX appliances, gateways, and other related services.

Skype Updates Nokia App

December 8, 2010

Plantronics InstantMeeting - New Conferencing Mobile App

December 8, 2010

Plantronics tomorrow officially launches their InstantMeeting mobile conferencing dialer app. The app automatically recognizes upcoming conference calls in your calendar and then when the time comes it can automatically dial the conference phone number and enter in the conference ID and PIN - essentially "one touch" conference bridge dialing. There is a free trial version that provides 20 free calls, and a premium version that costs $2.99 for unlimited calls.

Certainly useful if your a supreme multi-tasker who works until the last possible second before dialing the conference bridge - perhaps even dialing late. This app can shave off some seconds and reduce the stress.

Western Digital WD Elements 2 TB External Hard Drive

December 6, 2010

I was looking to buy a new cheap 2 TB (terabyte) external hard drive on Black Friday to try and get the best deal. Target had a special on the Western Digital WD Elements 2 TB USB 2.0 Desktop external hard drive (model - WDBAAU0020HBK-NESN) for just $69.00! A sweet deal for 2TB! However, when I went to pick one up they were gone and a Target employee told me they sold out in less than 15 minutes.

Doodle-Track Car Fun!

December 6, 2010

Every kid remembers playing with race cars with click-together race car tracks. But these race car tracks were typically boring oval or figure 8s with no hairpin turns or S curves. Well imagine you could design your own track using the Doodle Track kit to create the ultimate racing toy set.

Simply using a marker you draw the track and the race car will follow it automatically.

fring Update for iPhone

December 5, 2010

Social CRM Expo Expands at ITEXPO

December 3, 2010

Some TMC news worth sharing involving ITEXPO co-located with Social CRM Expo and which is just a short 2 months away. With the holidays approaching, it'll probably go by even quicker, so make sure to reserve a hotel room now before they all book up! Not to mention February in Miami? You know Miami is popular in the winter.

Viber - Another VoIP Mobile App Launches on iPhone

December 2, 2010

Viber, a mobile VoIP app for the iPhone launched today. There are plenty of mobile VoIP apps for the iPhone, but each has its weakness, including Skype, which is a battery hog. Viber's claim to fame is that it doesn't use buddy lists or require registration. Instead, your phone number is your username.
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