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August 2011

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Vlync Pilot - Hosted Microsoft Lync Launches

August 31, 2011

VCOMM, a subsidiary of internet telephony provider Coms Plc, a UK-based company, has launched Vlync Pilot, a hosted version of Microsoft’s Lync. Vlync Pilot is a fully managed and hosted Microsoft Lync service that comes bundled with 5 user licences and 5 Polycom handsets (per bundle) enabing businesseses to pilot Microsoft Lync.

Vlync Pilot brings full unified communications functions to the desktop in a hosted setup. Another similar offering is from Workflow Communications who told me back in February to be the only hosted Lync provider offering direct SIP trunking. Features in this hosted offering include:  Instant Message conferencing, peer-to-peer voice and video, AV and web conferencing, Federation, desktop sharing, Exchange UM, Outlook Web App, Enterprise Voice and integration into Microsoft Office applications.

Skype From Your Home Phone - FINALLY!

August 31, 2011

Skype has finally built a standalone analog telephony adapter (ATA) (via their FREETALK brand) that you can hook up with your home phone line. Called the FREETALK Connect•Me Home Phone Adapter it is a PC-less standalone Skype device. It's a relatively small device that can be plugged directly into a wall outlet. It's sort of an oversized AC adapter with connectors on the bottom, as seen here:

In the picture above you can see the two-prong electric plug and then a white phone wire (to landline), black phone wire (to phone), and a blue network wire.

Windows 8 Explorer Sports Ribbon Interface

August 29, 2011

Microsoft has redesigned the venerable Windows Explorer based on opt-in data they collected. The new UI (image above) to be featured in Windows 8 will sport the "ribbon interface" made famous in Microsoft Office. The Microsoft ribbon is loved or hated with no luke warm fans, so it'll be interesting how Windows fan will react to this. The Windows 8 team explains the new Explorer:

This data is pretty interesting.

Steve Jobs the Man, the Myth, the Legend: How it began.

August 26, 2011

I grew up as a computer geek in the late 70s through the 80s into the 90s admiring Bill Gates much more than Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was just "that other computer guy" whose computers were used by less than 8% of the computing world. Microsoft was #1 and Apple was #2 and I liked a winner. Steve Jobs was an also ran to Bill Gates and Microsoft, especially after Windows 95, which arguably copied much of the Macintosh ideas. Microsoft took over the desktop PC world and Apple was relegated to Apple enthusiasts.

Then a funny thing happened.

China's telecom patent boom - Is China Ready to Enforce IP?

August 25, 2011

China has a reputation for not enforcing other countries' patents and copyrights, including bootleg DVDs that can be found in just about any major Chinese city street corner. It was even alleged that China's telecom giant Huawei stole Cisco's routing software. According to one article:
Bootleg DVDs in China are very slickly produced and packaged. In fact, many have extra features that make them better than those found on legitimate discs.

Skype Launches App Store - Yawn...

August 25, 2011

So today I read that Skype is launching a third-party app directory on their website. Unless, I'm missing something, you can already install add-ons into Skype. Interestingly, within Skype, clicking Tools, Extras is now greyed out/disabled and I cannot install any new add-ons. Does this mean I have to go to the Skype app directory now to install apps/add-ons?

I suppose the ability to comment on apps via the online directory is nice.

Microsoft front-facing cameras, Skype & Lync Mobile client Coming Very Very Soon

August 25, 2011

Microsoft confirmed Mango Windows Phone 7 handsets would sport a front facing camera as well as Skype integration and a mobile Lync client. The confirmation came via the TechEd event in New Zealand, where two Microsoft employees mentioned that Microsoft's Lync VoIP client also be available on other mobile platforms, including iOS, Android and Symbian. But the Lync client would be first available on the soon to be launched Mango Windows Mobile 7 software.

The employees stated that the mobile Lync client would support both voice and video on Android, Apple's iOS and Windows Mobile 7, explaining "it will dependent on the device, but it will be enabled at some point at time." They pointed out that some devices don't have a front-facing camera so having a videoconference via a mobile Lync client wouldn't necessarily make sense.

The Microsoft Lync client for mobile devices is a long time coming. I was actually told by Microsoft in NYC during a live demo of Microsoft Lync that mobile versions of the Lync client would be coming out "very soon".

Skype Click to Call Add-on Now Supports Firefox 5 & 6

August 24, 2011

If you're a fan of Skype's Click to Call browser plugins for Windows, you probably know back in January Mozilla "soft" blocked this toolbar because "Skype Toolbar is one of the top crashers of Mozilla Firefox 3.6.13, and was involved in almost 40,000 crashes of Firefox last week." The Skype Click to Call add-on/plugin auto-detects phone numbers on web pages and lets you dial them via Skype. Personally, I see this as a bit of an esoteric feature of Skype, but perhaps a lot of people do use it?

In any event, Skype just released new updates to the Skype Click to Call as part of release build,

• Support for Firefox 5 and Firefox 6 on Windows
• Minor improvements to Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox on PC

Here's to hoping they resolved the crashing and performance issues.

Sporadic Cell phone outages due to 5.9 Earthquake

August 23, 2011

There are reports of sporadic cell phone and perhaps even landline outages after an unusual 5.9 earthquake hit Virginia at 01:51:03 pm, with the epicenter located 41 miles northwest from Richmond and 83 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

A few co-workers and I were unable to get through to some phone numbers. According some reports the carriers are experiencing peak usage related outages. Could be people checking in on loved ones similar to the 9/11 related phone outages.

I felt the earthquake in my office located in Norwalk, CT and have read friends' reports on Facebook that states as far away as Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio felt it. There are also unconfirmed reports that the Washington Monument is leaning.

Physicists build first single-photon router - Positronic brain next?

August 23, 2011

Cool - the first photon router! From
By demonstrating that an artificial atom embedded in a transmission line can route a single photon from an input port to one of two output ports, physicists have built the first router working at the single-photon level. The single-photon router could one day serve as a quantum node in a quantum information network, in which it could provide basic processing and routing of data.
As the scientists explain, controlling and directing photons is more difficult than controlling and directing electrons, which are used in most of today’s routers.

Well done physicists! This is one more step in the Star Trek timeline when Dr. Noonien Soong will be able to create Data's Positronic brain, which features a storage capacity of 100 Pb (800 quadrillion bits) and a total linear computational speed of 60 THz (60 trillion operations per second)!

Skype (Microsoft) Blows $85 Million on GroupMe

August 22, 2011

Skype was in talks with GroupMe to acquire them before Microsoft's (pending approval) bought Skype. With Microsoft purchasing Skype you would have thought Microsoft would have squashed any pending purchases by Skype or at least approve them. The fact that Microsoft didn't stop Skype means Microsoft must agree with the GroupMe acquisition. I'm honestly not sure why though.

GroupMe is simply a group SMS platform that enables you to create group messages leveraging SMS.

Home Surveillance using Dropbox Catches Possible Thief in the Act

August 20, 2011

I've been meaning to test out my home surveillance recipe which combines a standard webcam, Dropbox (hosted backup solution), iPhone & iPad mobile Dropbox app, and the free Yet Another Webcam Software (Yawcam). I went to Cape Cod last week and hired a pet sitter to watch our family's dog (Jessie) and cat (Boaz), which offered a perfect opportunity to test out my "poor man's home surveillance" setup. What I found happening in my house while on my vacation shocked me!

But first, my home surveillance recipe:
  1. Setup and install Dropbox (comes with 2GB free).

The Demise of the HP TouchPad Plus "The Value of VoIP"

August 19, 2011

I wrote this morning about HP's surrender to Apple in the PC, laptop, and tablet space. Ironically, I just happened to glance at a CDW catalog sitting on my desk and saw this:

                                                                 Click for larger view

A now defunct HP TouchPad 16GB model is prominently displayed on the back cover of the CDW catalog. The front and back cover are "prime" positions that in the publishing world command a higher premium in advertising rates. This is also sometimes true of catalogs.

The Apple Downgrade Kills HP

August 19, 2011

We all know about the S&P downgrade caused by the rating agency's view of U.S.'s debt and debt ceiling. S&P saw the writing on the wall that U.S. is on the road to insolvency and default on the debt. Well, apparently the Apple iPad tablet has had a similar downgrade affect on HP's PC, laptop, and tablet business.

BT Kills the Rabbit, err Ribbit

August 10, 2011

Cloud VoIP For Dummies book announced

August 9, 2011

We already know VoIP has gone mainstream, but "cloud VoIP"? There's a new Cloud VoIP For Dummies book, so apparently VoIP has really gone mega-mainstream due to sub-classifications! VoIP must be a pretty important and diverse topic to require a book about a specific niche within VoIP. I'm sure Broadband VoIP for Dummies, Softphone VoIP for Dummies, and other bestsellers are just around the corner.

Skype releases Skype 5.3 for Mac OS X

August 8, 2011

Bob Metcalfe Keynotes StartupCamp, Communications Edition, collocated with ITEXPO

August 8, 2011

Bob Metcalfe is a living technology legend who invented Ethernet in 1973 while at Xerox PARC and he also founded 3Com. Without Ethernet, where would local area networks, WANs and the Internet be? We owe Bob a great deal of gratitude for his contribution to computer networking. Metcalfe is also known for his 1995 prediction that the internet would suffer a catastrophic collapse the next year and he'd eat his words if it did not. Well, he was wrong on that, but everyone loves or loves to hate an opinionated pundit, whether its someone like David Pogue at the NY Times, Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal, or a fiery political pundits like Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olbermann.

So I am ecstatic to announce that Bob Metcalfe will keynote TMC's fourth installment of StartupCamp, Communications Edition, collocated with ITEXPO West, on September 14 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

DirecTV Website Outage

August 4, 2011

DirecTV's website is down. Isn't that just the luck? I have a DirecTV installer here today installing my service and they accidentally signed me up for Spanish TV. While I took 3 years of High School Spanish, I think I'll pass on the Spanish TV.

Number Portability Still Sucking After All these Years...

August 4, 2011

I decided to drop Charter's triple play package because they raised the monthly bill from $166 to $222 per month -- only to find out that the curse of number portability still exists in 2011. Flashback: Back in 2006 I griped that my phone number I owned for 10 years couldn't be ported from Vonage to Charter.

Recently, I decided I would drop Vonage in favor of a triple play offering from Charter, which would give me cable TV, high-speed Internet, and "voice over cable" - all at a very reasonable price. My wife and I encountered too many network or Vonage QoS issues which affected our phone service. It was time to port the number to Charter, which advertised that they could port customer's numbers in a mailer we received.

Vonage Time to Call iPhone App Makes Cheap International Calls

August 3, 2011

Vonage today launched Time to Call for the iPhone, a new mobile VoIP app that aims to deliver low-cost international calling. Vonage claims Time to Call is the first downloadable app that allows pay-per-call international dialing to more than 190 countries.  The app, designed for iPhones, lets consumers make 15-minute international calls and it features payment directly through iTunes, which will no doubt improve the adoption rate.

For a limited time, Vonage will provide a free international call, up to 15 minutes, to 100 countries. 

Panasonic Launches Line of Desktop SIP Phones

August 3, 2011

Today, Panasonic launched a line of new desktop SIP phones pitting them against Aastra, Cisco, Polycom, snom, and other SIP desktop phone vendors. I spoke with Panasonic to learn more about their new offering. First, it's worth pointing out that Panasonic already has a desktop phone called the KX-TGP550, which also supports DECT, allowing up to 6 DECT phones to register to the desktop phone. Panasonic mentioned this particular product is useful in small businesses and gave the example of a salon which needs a desktop phone at the receptionist desk, but the hair stylists and salon owner can have a DECT phone on their belt clip and freely roam, while still taking calls.

Delta Airlines TV FAIL! Plus my Streaming TV over Internet Workaround

August 2, 2011

I was on a Delta Airlines flight a few months ago and was excited to see each seat has a TV on the back of each seat. Jetblue was the first airline to carry live TV on all their flights and I've loved flying Jetblue ever since. It makes the droning hours pass by much quicker if you can watch TV. So in any case, I was pretty excited to see my Delta flight had TV.

After we took off, I pressed the touch-screen to see what channels were available.

My only choices were On-Air 1, On-Air 2, Movie Trailers, and Dish Network.

Skype for iPad Released then Pulled

August 2, 2011

Skype for iPad was released but then pulled. But not before Rich Tehrani snagged a copy and tested it. Works great! Though the resolution of the iPad 2 camera could be better.

As for the reason it was pulled, according to Skype's Twitter account, "To ensure your best Skype experience, we’ve temporarily removed Skype for iPad which went live prematurely today.” They also tweeted, "We know you’ve been eagerly awaiting Skype for iPad and apologize for the inconvenience."

If you cannot wait for Skype to put it back on the App Store, you can always try my workaround to make Skype iPad video calls.

It's back on the App Store!

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