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November 2006
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Posts from December 2006

Truphone's holiday greetings sent out via YouTube...

One of the things I love about startups is the fact that they don't have any real constraints around what they can do for marketing, promotion, etc., etc. Witness this collision between VoIP and social media... Truphone's seasons greetings message sent out via YouTube:

I love it... even if I can't understand all of it! Just the kind of fun, cheeky kind of thing that you can do as a startup... kudos to you all, Truphone... and do keep it up, it's fun to see!

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Round phones and other glimpses of the ITU fair in Hong Kong from Jan in Malaysia...

If you don't follow Jan Geirnaert's weblog, which he is now branding as, it's worth checking out. He's a Belgian living in Malaysia and he mixes in commentary on Skype and VoIP hardware along with interesting notes about Malaysia, Hong Kong and that whole part of the world. Living on almost the other side of the globe from him, I find many of those posts quite interesting.

And he's often finding interesting news out about Skype... and pointing us to interesting gadgets. Take today's post on the "Cat-iq" phone from the ITU fair/trade show he's attending in Hong Kong. He has this picture and another, both of which you can click to see larger views. He doesn't yet provide more details or links... but it's interesting to see a glimpse into some of what people are coming up with over there. (And I'm guessing from the fact that it says "Wahlen" that this is perhaps from a German manufacturer.)

Anyway, do check out Jan's blog as he's often got interesting information.

Blue Box Podcast #47 is now live... VoIP security hype, governments blocking Skype, SANS and VoIP training, more...

Blue Box Podcast #47 is now available for download. In this show, Jonathan and I talk about some of the recent articles and reports hyping VoIP security, recent comments from SANS about the need for better VoIP security training, moves by the Indian government to block Skype and other VoIP services and much, much more. Tons of listener comments in this show... probably the most we've ever had. See the show notes for all the links and info.

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Kishkish and the lie detector for Skype

Back on Sunday, Dustin Trammell wrote about the "lie detector for Skype" over on the Voice of VOIPSA blog, and I have to say that this certainly is a curious use of the Skype API. Real Geek has another writeup along with the picture to the right. Blogs, of course, have been writing about it. Naturally, Gizmodo and Engadget weighed in. However, even though it is theoretically available from the Skype Extras Gallery, I'm not seeing people actually writing about using it. In the comments area of that page on Skype's site, I mostly see people expressing their frustration with trying to install it. It's strange, I was able to get to the kishkish website the other day, but not today. Perhaps they are a victim of their own success. I did notice that they had cute marketing with their use of a snippet of video of former US President Bill Clinton talking about Monica Lewinsky. It's unclear about pricing, though... it seems to be free from the Skype Extras page but the Gizmodo article references a $49.95 annual fee. Hmmmm....

Call me skeptical... voice stress analysis has been around for a long time and, well, just consider me skeptical. Oh, sure, I'll give it a try, but I don't hold out any great hope. Of course, right now when I tried to download it I can't seem to get it to run. (Which also seems to be a problem others are having.) However, I may have a larger issue in that the "Do More" link in my Skype 3.0 is greyed out, so perhaps I messed something up in my tinkering with it a couple of weeks ago (although I've since upgraded to the released version of 3.0).

In any event, regardless of whether this works or not, it certainly is a fun little example of what can potentially be done by developers given access to an API...

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Alec Saunders: "New Presence and the Voice 2.0 Manifesto" - how do we move to the next level of presence awareness?

Given that I view "presence" as one of the more potentially disruptive elements of IP telephony, I was pleased to see that over on his blog Alec wrote a very lengthy and insightful piece entitled "'New Presence' and the Voice 2.0 Manifesto". I always enjoy Alec's writing and this time it's no different... it's great when someone can make the time to write a thoughtful piece like this. Since the piece came out, I've wanted to write more about it, but I have to suck it up and admit that with everything else I'm trying to close off before the end-of-year tomorrow, a lengthy reply is just not going to happen.

However, some others have offered replies and they, too, are well worth a read:

All are well worth a read. Thanks again, Alec, for starting a worthy conversation.... hopefully I'll find the time to chime in soon.

UPDATE: Andy Abramson has also joined in... The Doctor is In: New Presence 2.0 by Alec

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The "iPhone" is out this week.... from Cisco?

So the news floating around the VoIP part of the blogosphere is that the long-awaited and long-debated "iPhone" was released yesterday... but it turns out NOT to be from Apple! Instead, as noted by Gizmodo, the trademark for "iPhone" belongs to, of all people, Cisco! ( Tip of the hat to Tom Keating, where I first read it and saw this graphic.)

On one level, the Linksys press release seems to be mostly a re-branding exercise for their existing "CIT" Cordless Internet Telephone series but as noted over on the Skype Gear blog, there actually is some real product news mixed in with all the fixation on the name.

The CIT400 is a DECT-based cordless phone that does not require a PC to run Skype. That apparently is the function of the grey box "base station" in the picture. You plug it into your network and your phone is off and running. It can apparently also plug into your landline to give you true "dual-mode" operation. Very much like the Dualphone 3088 and other similar products.

On the other hand, the WIP320 is a true WiFi handset that again does not require a PC. So it joins the other phones like Netgear SPH101 (which, interestingly, looks very similar) and the Belkin WiFi phone, both of which also don't need a PC to run Skype.

Now, while the WIP320 seems like it might be something nice for the home office (although I like the ergonomic of the Dualphones better, I have to confess), it doesn't strike me as being as useful (and disruptive) as it could be. Why not? Because you can't use it at hotspots that require authentication!

I took a quick scan at the User Guide, and while you can use it with WPA and WEP encryption, it doesn't have a web browser so you can't take it to a WiFi hotspot and authenticate with the hot spot provider. Obviously, if you take it somewhere where someone can just give you a WPA key, you're okay... but that's not the real world of public hotspots. Per Cisco's product family page, the web browser is only in their SIP handset, the WIP330. Perhaps next go-around they'll give that to Skype users.

All in all I would expect Cisco to get a lot of press out of the name "iPhone", if for no other reason than the fact that Apple can't use that name anymore. Beyond that, unless I'm really missing something, the announcement itself really just shows that Cisco/Linksys is now catching up with its competitors.

Other coverage:

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Welcome to Disruptive Telephony!

Welcome to Disruptive Telephony!  For a number of years, I have been blogging about VoIP as part of my personal blog, "".  However, I'm now in the process of splitting out some parts of my writing into separate blogs.  This is one of those blogs.  Right now... I'm just setting it up, so don't expect to see much here.  Stay tuned, though... much will be happening soon.

Note to Siemens: Need better fact-checking: your OpenStage phones are NOT the first IP phones w/WLAN

(Originally posted to

Now I realize that often in sales and marketing, some folks tend to exaggerate claims... or split hairs to make various claims... or (more often) don't do enough fact-checking to verify their claims... but it rather annoys me when I see someone making claims that are just wrong - especially when the claims overlook products made by my own employer! As readers know, I don't really tout Mitel products here all that much, but in this case, I feel compelled to write a bit about one. In the recent announcements by Siemens of their new OpenStage SIP phones, which Ken Camp covered so well here, Siemens makes the claim in their PowerPoint presentation (available from Ken's post):

The first time an enterprise desktop phone has been able to connect to both wired and wireless infrastructures.
Um... no. You see, Mitel has been shipping this little product called the "Mitel WLAN Stand" since July of this year (2006) which just clips onto the back of any of our enterprise desk phones and allows that phone to connect to a 802.11 network. I've got one here in my home office... I'd be glad to show anyone if they'd like. In fact, our product has a few advantages over what Siemens announced:
  1. It is available and shipping today.
  2. It works with existing Mitel sets. You don't need to purchase new sets... just use your existing (52xx/53xx) sets and order some WLAN stands to make them wireless.
  3. It works across our full range of sets, not just the top two most expensive sets.
  4. A PC can be plugged into the PC port on the back of the IP phone and use the wireless connection (in fairness, I don't know from the info provided thus far in the announcements whether the OpenStage phones would support this... but ours can).
  5. A Mitel set with a WLAN stand can be either a 802.11 client or a 802.11 access point.
Think about this last point for a moment if you have a rapid deployment you want to make. Say you want to drop a team of auditors into a client company location for a few weeks. You have Internet access at the location, but you want the employees to have extensions off of your main office wherever that may be and you want them to securely be able to talk back to your main office. So you ship to the location a bunch of Mitel sets with WLAN stands - all configured as Teleworker sets that will connect back to your Teleworker server on the edge of your corporate network. One of those sets gets a connection to the local wired network and has its WLAN stand configured in AP mode. All the other sets have their WLAN stands configured in client mode... and previously all the appropriate WPA/WPA2 keys were set up so that all communication between the sets is secured. Ta da... beautiful little rapidly-deployed "branch office"... all secure... wireless... and to make it even more convenient, through our "hot desking" the auditors can login with the same extension that they use at the main office. Powerful stuff... and it works today.

On the more mundane level, I have a WLAN Stand here in my home office which gives me the flexibility to move my IP phone to wherever I want to plug it in. So if I wanted to work out on the back patio (a wee bit too chilly right now), I just run an extension cord out there, plug in the phone, and I'm operational. (Next summer I'll have to get some pics sitting in our hammock...) In an corporate office environment, these stands could be used to locate phones in areas that are not served by LAN connectivity... or where you don't want the various cables running across the floor or tables (of course, you still need power).

So the net is that someone there at Siemens needed to do a wee bit more fact-checking, I'd say. Perhaps someone junior was assigned the task. Perhaps they just simply missed it. I know a good number of folks there at Siemens and I have great respect for what they do... so I'm certainly inclined to think this was just a fact-checking mistake.

Now, I'll grant them that their OpenStage USB key is definitely a neat solution. Smaller form factor and very easy to distribute updates when you want to support a new 802.11 variant. (Of course, the security guy in me also thinks... "very easy for someone to steal or misplace".) So if they want to make the claim:
The first time an enterprise desktop phone has been able to connect to both wired and wireless infrastructures using a USB WLAN adapter.
Well, okay... they are probably right on that one. It's that last clause that's the important part.


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Ken Camp: "I've been Blueboxed"

(Originally posted at

Finally getting caught up on content recorded for Blue Box, I finished up on Monday night the interview I did with Ken Camp out at Internet Telephony in San Diego and posted the interview today. Ken responded with his post: "I've been Blueboxed", which gave me a laugh because I don't think I've ever seen the show name used as a verb before!


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(Originally posted at

Tom Cross over at dropped a note to let me know that his team had released a 'fastcast' on the topic of "SIP Essentials". Not having a clue what a "fastcast" was, I found the answer in Tom's news release:

Fastcasts are fast-track audio/video animated 10-60 second advertorials for web, webseminar, PC and iPod formats.
Not sure how much traction the word will really get, but there you have it. Tom's SIP tutorial looked quite interesting in the bit that I explored, with sections on:
  • SIP Basics
  • SIP Trunking
  • SIP QoS
  • SIP Firewalls and Security
  • SIP Applications
  • SIP TCO-Total Cost of Ownership
  • Integrated/Converged Access
  • Key VoIP Options – IAS, Hosted, Managed
  • SIP Total Tutorial with Future Outlook
(Gee, any guesses as to which one I chose first?) Clicking each link takes you to a flash-based tutorial with audio and animation. The ones I looked at were quite good. A nice contribution to the education around SIP... and definitely good for folks trying to figure out what SIP is all about.

Tom's making it available at no cost right now so I'd recommend people check it out.

Just one note of caution... once you enter one of the tutorials, you do need to listen to all of the audio for a page before pressing "Next". If you simply press the Next button to move through the slides, you suddenly find yourself with multiple streams of audio all mashing on top of each other! (And yes, this is the voice of experience writing this...) Kind of neat if you need the effect of people talking over each other, but not terribly helpful otherwise. Outside of that issue, otherwise I found the sessions quite useful. (At least, the ones I went through... I did not go through them all yet.)

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