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



XO's IP VPN services

July 16, 2008

XO Communications is one of the largest Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) in the country. XO provides voice, data and IP services to businesses and other telecommunications companies in 75 metropolitan markets across the United States. XO Communications offers businesses advanced IP and networking solutions to maximize performance and simplify management of their networks. They also offer SIP services, hosted IP-PBX functionality (the XO One iPBX 50 powered by Avaya IP Office), VoIP origination/termination, SIP trunking, and more.

One of their flagship products, the XO IP VPN is a network-based Wide Area Network (WAN) solution delivered over the XO nationwide IP network.

Microsoft Equipt includes Office, OneCare for $69.99/Year

July 2, 2008

Microsoft will start selling its Office programs to consumers on a subscription basis starting in mid-July. According to the news, it's a a bid to reach "thrifty PC buyers" who would otherwise pass on the software.

The software bundle, formerly code-named "Albany" , includes Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, giving them the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Additionally it comes with Microsoft's Live OneCare computer security software, Windows Live tools, such as Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Photo Gallery, and will be sold at Circuit City stores for $69.99 per year.
Bryson Gordon, a group product manager for the Office group, said in an interview that the agreement with Circuit City Stores Inc. is not exclusive, and that the bundle will be available at other retailers and on PCs sold by the likes of Dell Inc. in the future.
The Microsoft Equipt bundle includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, plus OneCare and a handful of existing free Windows Live applications.

Buying those programs the traditional way would cost about $200. Further the news says consumers who want to replace Office 2007 with "Office 14," rumored to be set for a 2009 release, would have to pay full price and not an upgrade price. That should rankle a few feathers if indeed true. Contrast that with the subscription model, where upgrading to a new version is included in the annual cost.

Obviously, with security & anti-virus features built into OneCare, this also puts Equipts squarely in the sights of popular subscription-based security programs such as McAfee and Symantec.

Starbucks closes 600 stores

July 1, 2008

Starbucks, the gourmet coffee retailer said today that it had drastically increased the number of stores it plans to close, citing in part continued weakness in the U.S. economy. Starbucks now plans to close 600 stores in the United States, up from its previous plans to close 100 stores. Additionally, StarBucks said it now plans to open fewer than 200 stores in its coming fiscal year.

Apparently, with high prices for oil, gas, and food, something had to give -- luxury items like $4 cups of coffee were apparently the first to go.

Where does one get a caffeine fix now?

Cocoa bean (chocolate) genome being sequenced

June 26, 2008

The entire cocoa genome (DNA) is being sequenced and analyzed as part of a project to help create stronger, healthier cocoa crops. Cocoa, of course s the key ingredient in chocolate. Through the collaboration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), IBM and the world's largest chocolate company Mars, scientists hope to increase the crop's yield, as well as pest and disease resistance and increased water and nutrient use efficiency.

Windows Live Messenger 8.5 Launches

June 25, 2008

Just got a popup toast icon in my current version of Windows Live Messenger saying that a new version of Windows Live Messenger was out - namely Windows Live Messenger 8.5 which has been in beta.

The previous (non-beta) version was Windows Live Messenger 8.1. In the new version, Messenger now works with Windows Live OneCare Family Safety to help you control who's on your child's list of contacts. It also has an updated look and feel and improved (VoIP) audio for video calls.

And according to Microsoft, here's some of the stuff they've added since MSN Messenger 7.0:
  • Sharing Folders that let you collaborate with friends and share files, pictures, and videos
  • The ability to send messages to contacts even when they're offline (they'll get your message the next time they log in)
  • An easy view of your Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger contacts, all in one place
  • The Roaming Identity feature that lets you log in anywhere you're online and still see your display picture, personal message, and shared folders
  • Redesigned Contact Cards that let you access more data about your friends
  • The ability to send an SMS message to a friend's phone
Go download Windows Live Messenger 8.5 here

Update: A reader points out that v8.5 came out in late 2007 and that Windows Live Messenger v9.0 is currently in private beta.

Verizon Boosts FiOS Internet Speed

June 19, 2008

According to Verizon, beginning next week, Verizon will make available to more than 10 million homes and businesses the nation's fastest consumer broadband connections, with download speeds up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds up to 20 Mbps over their fiber to the home (FTTH) network.

Verizon had already offered the 50/20 Mbps and 20/20 Mbps services in its FiOS markets in Connecticut (my state), Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. The company is now expanding those offerings to new Verizon FiOS customers in parts of California, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington, replacing existing offerings of 30/15 Mbps and 15/15 Mbps services, respectively.

The mid-tier connection speed in those markets for new customers is being increased from 15/2 Mbps to 20/5 Mbps, and the basic service tier is being increased from 5/2 Mbps to 10/2 Mbps. Existing FiOS Internet customers who are interested in the new speed options can call Verizon for information about the new plans.

Check out these performance benchmarks:

At 50 Mbps, downloading a 5 GB (gigabyte) file, such as a 112-minute, high-definition movie purchased online, takes approximately 13.3 minutes, while a 50 MB (megabyte), or 60-minute, Web video takes 8 seconds, and a 5 MB MP3 music file takes less than eight-tenths of a second.

Using a 20 Mbps upstream broadband connection, a consumer could upload a 250 megabyte (MB) file of 200 photos in about 90 seconds, instead of the roughly 47 minutes it takes over a 768 kilobit-per-second (Kbps) upstream connection.  A 500 MB file, such as 400 digital photos or a medical imaging data file, can be uploaded in less than four minutes, compared with about 90 minutes over a 768 Kbps connection.  A 3 gigabyte (GB) file, such as a one-hour family video shot with a high-definition video camera, can be uploaded in around 20 minutes, compared with more than nine hours with 768 Kbps upstream.

Amazon Down Due to Pricing Error or Metal Gear Bundle?

June 6, 2008

Several bloggers were abuzz with the news of Amazon's website being down today.

One site claims "Some customers reported that traffic caused the site to slow down considerably". The reason? "THOUSANDS of customers were in shopping heaven today when a pricing error on Amazon’s UK website caused online chaos." It adds, "For two hours, the entertainment giant was advertising massive discounts on several DVD box sets including a 44-disc set of hit US drama West Wing for just £17.97." And says, "Sales of Family Guy shot up over 200,000%, according to the Movers & Shakers chart on Amazon." Wow!

here's the full story on the possible cause of Amazon being down:

PS3fanboy claims the Metal Gear bundle killed the website.

Perhaps a combination of the two?

New Jawbone headset is sexy

May 15, 2008

The new Jawbone, made by Aliph, is 50% smaller than the original Jawbone. This Gen 2 Jawbone Bluetooth headset enhances the original Jawbone's claim-to-fame capability - namely its superb ability to suppress background noise.

Here's some more pics of this sexy Bluetooth headset:

The noise reduction feature was originally called "Noise Shield" but is now called "NoiseAssassin". Jawbone's NoiseAssassin technology feels your speech with its patented Voice Activity Sensor (VAS). The Jawbone headset uses the VAS to distinguish the sound of your voice from ambient noise with incredible accuracy and then uses proprietary Digital Signal Processing (DSP) algorithms to subtract the noise so only the sound of your voice comes through.

The NoiseAssassin technology was originally developed by Aliph for DARPA (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), which creates and delivers breakthrough technology for the U.S.

IRS Rebate Checks Crash Major Banks?

April 28, 2008

Today, I was downloading my financial information from various banks and credit cards and had difficulty loggiing on or downloading information from several of them. On Citibank's website I was able to logon, but couldn't successfully download the Quicken Web Connect file containing my 'recent activity'. This has never happened to me in the 8 years I've used Quicken with Citibank. About 15 minutes later I tried again and it worked.

However, I then logged onto Bank of America where I have a few accounts.

AT&T to Lay Off 1.5% of Workforce

April 18, 2008

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