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December 2011

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Newfies-Dialer Offers Super-Scalable Cloud-based Auto-Dialer Using FreeSWITCH

December 29, 2011

I discovered a new, powerful, open source auto-dialer called Newfies-Dialer that is offered by Star2Billing S.L, and is distributed free of charge, with no ongoing licensing costs. Star2Billing also wrote CDR-Stats, a replacement for Asterisk Stat used in FreePBX, as well as A2Billing. Star2Billing S.L., based in Barcelona, was formed in 2009 to provide commercial support to their range of free and open source products specialising in telephony, billing, and telecoms software development. Freeswitch is often compared with Asterisk, though Freeswitch is more scalable, especially the number of concurrent SIP registrations.

Jonathan Roper emailed me to tell me about this new auto-dialer, which works in conjunction with FreeSWITCH.

Winter Wake-up App Wakes You Up Earlier If It Snows

December 29, 2011

Yesterday, I reviewed Zeo Sleep Manager and now today I came across another interesting sleep app created by Boondoggle called "Winter Wake-up", which wakes you up early if it snows giving you time to shovel the snow off your car, de-ice it, and make the slower commute to work due to road conditions. Now you won't have to tell your boss, "Sorry I'm late. I didn't know it was going to snow".

Winter Wake-Up is a smartphone alarm app automatically checks the weather and wakes you up earlier if it snows. You set the number of minutes to be woken earlier for "frost" (a little dusting) and the number of minutes to be woken up earlier if it snows.

Zeo Sleep Manager Review

December 28, 2011

Just about everyone claims at one time or another they don't get enough sleep. Spouses can even argue over who got the least amount of sleep and claim immunity from doing a household chore or offload the task to their spouse due to a lack of sleep. Well, now you can prove you had a bad night sleeping using the Zeo Sleep Manager, which uses a headband to record REM sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, and awake times and gives you a ZQ score. Then you can say to your spouse, "See!

Microsoft Lync 2010, Asterisk & Skype Integration Tutorial

December 28, 2011

I came across an excellent tutorial on installing and integrating Microsoft Lync 2010, Asterisk and Skype. The tutorial covers installing AsteriskNOW within a virtual machine on Windows, so you don't even have to have spare hardware lying around to install Linux + AsteriskNOW on. The tutorial mentions integrating with Skype using Skype for Asterisk (SFA), which unfortunately was killed earlier this year. You can of course use Skype Connect (formerly Skype for SIP) to create SIP trunks, but the integration isn't as "tight".

Gadget Bans On Airplanes Due to Possible Interference is a Lie!

December 28, 2011

Gadget bans on airplanes due to possible interference is complete bull according to New York Times reporter Nick Bilton. I always knew it was a crock due to my engineering background and some basic-level physics. If a tiny mobile phone or tablet can bring down an airplane, then by golly, we are screwed! The FAA claims gadget devices can cause interference with the airplanes equipment, which is designed to handle 100 volts per meter of electrical interference.

Well, the Kindle was tested and it only put out less than 30 microvolts (0.00003 volts) per meter when in use.

Dell Support Website is Down

December 20, 2011

Windows 8 CPU Slow Benchmarks!

December 20, 2011

I tried out Windows 8 developer preview (32-bit) on a Dell E6500 dual core 2.26Ghz laptop and while the new UI is slick, the CPU processor is much SLOWER that the prior Vista 32-bit operating system it was running. Using PerformanceTest v7.0 (popular PassMark benchmark), the CPU benchmark went down from 2000 to 800!  Similarly Windows Experience Index score for the CPU category went from 5.2 to 2.4. That's a 1/2 performance drop!

Skype offering Free WiFi for Christmas Season

December 19, 2011

The Christmas holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year. As such, many of us will be in airports around the country waiting for our flight to depart. This is a perfect time to crack open your laptop, iPad, or other device and IM or talk with your Skype buddies and family members. e.g.

Data Consumption Comparison: Microsoft Lync vs. Communicator Mobile for Windows Mobile

December 16, 2011

Sprint Nextel Throws Out 489 PBXs - Switches 100% to Microsoft Lync

December 16, 2011

Sprint Nextel thew out 489 PBXs and switched over their 39,000 employees to using Microsoft Lync, a unified commutations solution gaining in popularity. Sprint Nextel said their goal was to "reduce its environmental impact, improve employee productivity, and reduce costs and administration for its cumbersome telephony systems". Whether they truly "threw out" the 489 PBXs and they're sitting in a landfill somewhere or they sold off the PBXs is unknown, but I'm hoping for the latter or it would defeat Sprint Nextel's purpose of "reduced environmental impact".

Here's what their Lync deployment / voice infrastructure looks like now:

Sprint Nextel claims that switching to Microsoft Lync has saved them nearly $13 million annually by reducing the TCO of maintaining hundreds of hardware-based PBXs, on-site maintenance fees, and annual upgrades. It went with Microsoft's software approach and leveraged Sprint's Global MPLS network and SIP trunking to connect their 39,000 employees together seamlessly allowing them to retire 489 PBXs scattered across the country.

Lync for Android Launches!

December 14, 2011

Today, Microsoft released Lync for Android. In an interesting twist, it appears Microsoft released Lync for Android before Apple iOS. It seems more and more these days that Android is getting the app love before the popular iOS platform.

Impressive SkyDrive App for iPhone & Windows Phone Released

December 14, 2011

The SkyDrive app is now available both for the iPhone and Windows Phone users running the Mango update. This is a kick ass app that might make me switch from using Dropbox. You may recall I use Dropbox in my home surveillance recipe, which helped catch someone in the act of messing with my home theater.

The SkyDrive app isn't simply for viewing & uploading files or photos. Using either the iOS app or the Windows Phone app, you can upload photos, files, documents and manage your SkyDrive folders right from your mobile device.

Skype 2.6 for Android Sports Image and Video Sharing

December 13, 2011

Skype just released Skype 2.6 for Android, with a new feature that lets you send photos and videos to your Skype buddies. I haven't tested this yet, but I'm going to assume there isn't a size limit and no compression being performed on your images or video. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, i.e. longer transmission times, but better image quality.

Digium TE820 8-port T1/E1 Card Released

December 13, 2011

According to Digium, they just released their 8-port T1/E1 card designed for high density Asterisk deployments. The TE820 includes eight independently software-selectable digital telephony interfaces, supporting up to 192 channels (in T1/J1 mode) or 240 channels (in E1 mode).

In a Digium email announcement, Digium claims this is the highest single-card port density available for use with Asterisk - though Sangoma's A108 Octal 8-port T1/E1 card might have something to say about that.

Features/Specs of the TE820:
  • 8 T1 / E1 Spans using 4 RJ45 connectors (each supporting 2 circuits). Break out dongles included.
  • Up to to 192 (T1/J1) or 240 (E1) concurrent calls per card
  • PCI Express form factor / half-length, full-height card
  • Interfaces are software selectable (T1, E1, or J1 Mode)
  • Optional 128ms hardware echo cancellation module
The TE820 card supports industry standard telephony protocols, including multiple variants of Primary Rate ISDN.

Microsoft Lync Profiles Utility

December 12, 2011

So you want to switch Lync profiles but are tired of having to logout and type in the other credentials (username + password), eh? Well, I came across a cool new utility for Microsoft Lync that saves your various usernames, passwords, and both the internal & external URLs. Called Profiles for Lync (or P4L for short), the developer explains, "This app fills what has been to date an annoying gap in the feature offer, especially for partners/integrators: with P4L it’s as easy as clicking a button to logout of Lync and log back in with another set of credentials – and even into another system!"

Who wouldn't like the ability to switch Lync profiles quickly without having to remember usernames and passwords? Although, unless you sport some secret identity like a superhero, you likely maintain a single, non-anonymous user identity for your corporate-based Lync client. So really this utility is only useful for IT/MIS personnel testing and troubleshooting Lync, as well as VARs and resellers that deploy Lync at customer locations.

Dilbert is a Skype Fan. Who knew?

December 12, 2011

Microsoft Lync Mobile available now!

December 11, 2011

Looks like the December 12th launch date I wrote about on Friday was correct.  It's already available for download for Windows Phone 7. Nothing yet on Apple's App Store.

Screenshot I took in the Windows Marketplace:

Ironically I took this screenshot from my iPad. Below is the text from the Windows Marketplace. The iPad is a little wonky with the clipboard.

Microsoft Lync Mobile Client Launches in 3 Days!

December 9, 2011

Back in August I told you Microsoft informed me that the Microsoft Lync mobile client was coming "very very soon". Microsoft told me 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.

Well, at the Lync mobile "partner-only" virtual event some more details about the long awaited mobile Lync client has been released. First, the launch date. According to this tweet, Lync Mobile clients will be on the market / launched on December 12th.

Only 15 Christmas Shopping Days Left!

December 9, 2011

Where has the month of December gone? There is only 15 shopping days left till Christmas Day and I haven't even started shopping yet. I have no idea what to get for my wife and two kids -- nor what gadgets to ask for myself. Already own an iPad and an iPhone 4S.

Apple's Ridiculous Patent Claims Against Samsung Destroyed!

December 9, 2011

Just had an awesome read on the Samsung vs. Apple patent battles and the ridiculousness of it all. For instance, the following is a list of alternative design options that Apple thought Samsung should have considered to not infringe on their patents. First off, the smartphone list that Apple provided, with my comments italicized:
  • Front surface that isn't black.

Funny Fortune Cookie Only a Techie Nerd Could Love

December 8, 2011

Every once in awhile I get a funny fortune cookie with my Chinese food, but this one takes the cake. I've yet to see a fortune cookie poke fun at technology. It's usually about the future, your health, your job, or mundane daily life stuff. But not today...

Skype Releases Click-to-Call Update

December 8, 2011

Today, Skype released an update to Skype Click to Call for Windows which includes support for Firefox 9 and Chrome 16, as well as performance improvements in Internet Explorer and Chrome. It used to slow my PC browser down years ago, so I've gotten in the happen of disabling it after each Skype install. Maybe it's better now.

Still, personally I hate the Skype click-to-call feature, which automatically changes numbers in websites into clickable Skype links with (typically) an American flag next to it. I find it annoying since I often need to copy/paste something from the website and it grabs all the underlying Skype HTML gobbledygook code that I then have to clean up.

Jabra PRO 900 Series Unveiled

December 6, 2011

Today, Jabra launched the Jabra PRO 900 series, which includes two headset models - the Jabra PRO 920 (base unit wired to desk phone + headset is wireless) and the Jabra PRO 930 (base unit wired to PC [USB] + wireless headset). Jabra stated these are entry-level wireless headsets with a retail price of $199 is aimed at companies that cannot afford typically expensive wireless headsets, so they designed these headsets for this market.

I'm not sure $199 is exactly inexpensive, but I'd have to see how much competing products from Plantronics and others cost. In any event, they are targeting the Jabra PRO 930 for companies implementing Unified Communications and leveraging PC-based telephony, i.e. a SIP softphone, Cisco softphone, etc. 

Microsoft upgrades Xbox Live But Rumored Skype Integration is False

December 5, 2011

The upcoming Metro update to Microsoft’s Xbox, will start to be pushed down to your Xbox console some time this week, but alas it doesn't appear to contain the rumored Skype integration, which several rumors hinted at a Fall release. Well it's winter and the latest release doesn't appear to contain Skype integration with Xbox live. At least that is my assumption from reading the various news articles on the latest Xbox Dashboard, including Microsoft's official announcement, which make no mention of any Skype integration.

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