Posts categorized "Squawk Box"

The return of the Squawk Box podcast... today and next Tuesday

squawkbox.jpgAs Alec says, he "missed from the microphone" and so he's brought back the Squawk Box podcast with a show today (also via Facebook) about the new Windows 7 beta and a show next Tuesday (also via Facebook) that will be an interview with Lee Dryburgh, coordinator of the eComm conference.

The Squawk Box calls have been a great amount of fun over the past year or two. We've learned a lot together and shared some great discussions. I enjoyed guest-hosting and wrote here on this site about a number of the calls. I'm glad Alec is bringing them back in at least a limited form.

The conference call today (and most Squawk Box days) is at 11am US Eastern time and is open to anyone who wants to participate. They are made available later as a podcast from Alec's blog at Being a "Mac"-guy these days, I don't expect to have a whole lot to add to the Windows 7 conversation, but I'll be interested to hear the experiences of those like Alec who are already playing with Windows 7. Next Tuesday, I do expect to be on the call with Lee...

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Voxeo's CEO interviewed on SquawkBox...

squawkbox.jpgGiven that I've written here a good bit about Voxeo since joining the company 11 months ago, I thought I'd point to an excellent interview that Voxeo's CEO, Jonathan Taylor, did with host Alec Saunders on Alec's Squawk Box podcast. You can listen to it by either using the audio player on the show web page or alternatively you can download the MP3 file directly and listen to it in iTunes, Windows Media Player or whatever MP3 player you wish.

It was an enjoyable call (I was listening) that went for about 45 minutes. Jonathan spoke about how and why he started the company, about the new release of Prophecy 9, the acquisition of Micromethod, our recent financial results and much more. I think you all will find it a great introduction to what Voxeo is all about.

11 months later, I'm still extremely glad I made the choice to join the company...

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Want to learn more about Voxeo? Join Voxeo CEO Jonathan Taylor appearing on Squawk Box conf call tomorrow

squawkbox.jpgAre you are available tomorrow, Tuesday, August 26th, at 11am US Eastern time? If so, you are invited to join in to Alec Saunders' daily "Squawk Box" conference call / podcast where Alec will be interviewing Voxeo CEO Jonathan Taylor about all the recent news about Voxeo, including:

The call will take place using Alec's company Iotum's "Calliflower" conferencing/collaboration application. To join in to the call, you simply need to go to either of the following links to "join" the call and receive a PIN and call-in number for the call:

  • Calliflower Facebook application - If you are a Facebook user, simply go to:
    You will be prompted to add the Calliflower Facebook application and then will receive the call-in information.

  • site - If you are not a Facebook user or just don't want to add another Facebook application, you can go to the site at this URL:
    You will be prompted to create a free user account if you have not already done so.
Both links are live today so you can go right now and RSVP to attend the call tomorrow. If you do so, you should also receive a reminder about 15 minutes prior to the call tomorrow morning.

When you join the call tomorrow, you can also use the Calliflower web interface through either of the links above to see who else has joined the call and also to participate in the "live chat" area during the call itself. Typically Alec will ask a series of questions of the guest and then open it to others who are participating in the call. If you'd like to learn more about what is up with Voxeo and/or ask questions of our CEO, tomorrow's a great opportunity for you to do so.

It should be a fun time and we're looking forward to the conversation. Please do feel free to join in!

NOTE: If you are not available to join the call, it is being recorded and will be made available through Alec's site sometime later tomorrow. We'll post an update here on this blog site as well.

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Is voicemail dead? Our Squawk Box discussion...

squawkbox.jpgOn yesterday's Squawk Box podcast, we had a lively and enjoyable conversation on the subject of "Is Voicemail Dead?" - building off of Michael Arrington's recent TechCrunch post and Andy Abramson's followup post. It was a fun conversation with different perspectives that definitely highlights that the way in which we are using voice messaging is definitely changing. You can listen to the show from the Saunderslog page or in iTunes. The Calliflower show notes page also has more links and a transcript of the live chat during the call.

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Skype 4.0 beta discussion on Squawk Box podcast now available

skype_logo.pngI realized today that although I wrote that Skype's Mark Bartlett would be joining a Squawk Box conf call back on Friday, June 20th, I never followed up with the link to the show.

That discussion about the Skype 4.0 beta is available from I could not participate in the actual call, but it sounded interesting. I'm still not thrilled by Skype's cross-platform "answer", but it is what it is. Jim Courtney over at Skype Journal has a longer writeup about the call which covers some of the main points of the call.

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Squawk Box conf call/podcast calls this week - please join us!

squawkbox.jpgWith Alec Saunders away on vacation, I agreed to step in to host our daily "Squawk Box" conference calls this week and next. I'm working on lining up some interesting guests and in the meantime we'll also have our regular tech conversations that have always seemed to go well. (FYI, if you or someone you know would like to be a special guest either this week or next, please do let me know.) I'm particular excited about our show on Tuesday, July 1st, where we'll have author and researcher Jonathan Zittrain on our show. I've started reading his new book, "The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It", and I have to say that so far it strikes at the core of what we've talked about frequently on the show... the move from "walled gardens" to open networks and now the frightening potential re-emergence of walled gardens and proprietary "lock-in" business models. More information about the book - and video of Jonathan Zittrain - can be found on: As has been the practice, here are the URLs for the shows this week - I'm looking forward to seeing many of you on the calls: MONDAY - JUNE 30th - Discussion of Microsoft after Bill Gates and Steve Gillmor's view on the subject, the end of sales of Windows XP, as well as Google's move to help academia move into cloud computing: TUESDAY - JULY 1st - Jonathan Zittrain interview: WEDNESDAY - JULY 2nd: THURSDAY - JULY 3rd: FRIDAY - JULY 4th - There will be no call. I look forward to seeing many of you on the calls this week. NOTE: The calls will be posted over on Alec's although right now I seem to be having problems connecting to the site. Hopefully that is just a temporary issue...

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Is Craigslist blocking VoIP, Prepaid phone numbers in anti-spam effort?

craigslistlogo.jpgIs Craigslist really blocking phone numbers from VoIP service providers or pre-paid cell phones as an anti-spam measure?

Last night over on the VoIPinsider blog, Cory Andrews wrote that Craigslist is apparently blocking VoIP or prepaid cellular numbers as part of their anti-spam measures. Now I'm a huge fan of Craigslist and we've sold lots of items (including, now, our house) via Craigslist. But we've also seen the spam out there and personally been contacted in response to one of our ads by a sleazy individual who was trying to scam us out of money. Techdirt, in fact, says that the battle has been lost and that the spammers are taking over Craigslist. While it wasn't that dreadful in the Vermont Craigslist area, there certainly was some spam and you can understand the folks there wanting to do all they can to block spammers.

But to block VoIP service providers? Just as increasingly large numbers of users move over to VoIP services?


It seems a rather draconian - and misguided - measure. As the VoIP Insider article states:

A few months back, Craiglist instituted a telephone verification process that places an automated outbound call to a user placing a classified ad in certain categories. The call delivers a unique code using text to speech, which is then used by the poster to authenticate the ad they are placing.

This is an effective measure for dealing with spam, and a great thing for legitimizing the Craigslist user experience….but not so great if you are a Craigslist user and you also happen to be a VoIP or prepaid cellular user.

The problem is that Craigslist is categorically blocking legitimate VoIP and Pre-paid cellular users from authenticating themselves.

While I've not encountered the phone verification process in any posting I've done to Craigslist (but have seen CAPTCHA images all the time), I can see how the process would be useful in combatting spammers. The article goes on:

Craig’s uses a 3rd party service, to screen out VoIP and Pre-paid cellular numbers, and will not deliver an automated verification call to a number that is determined to be such. (Since only SPAMMERS use VoIP and Pre-Paid Cellular!!!) What sophisticated algorithm does use to identify VoIP numbers, you ask? They check the DID number to see who owns the NPA NXX X number block, and if the DID number is owned by Level 3 Communications, they classify it as VoIP of course. Whizbang!


My immediate question was whether this is for all VoIP service providers. This forum thread would seem to indicate that "fixed lines", even fixed VoIP lines, would come up as okay. So phone numbers from VoIP services from telephone carriers or cable providers would probably be okay. So it may just be the phone numbers of VoIP service providers who are not tied to a fixed infrastructure (and who provide connectivity to so many of the innovative services out there today!).


There are, though, some fairly obvious problems with this approach to blocking phone calls:

  1. LOCAL NUMBER PORTABILITY - Here in North America, phone numbers are "portable" (to a degree) via "Local Number Portability" (LNP) between carriers. So a phone number that may come up as "fixed" may in fact go to a VoIP service (and possibly to a spammer) due to LNP. Now perhaps the third-party service used by Craigslist is doing LNP database lookups.

  2. FORWARDING SERVICES - There are plenty of services (including one identified in the VoIP Insider article) that will forward calls to another phone number. I could even do this easily with something like Asterisk running on my (fixed) home phone number that then forwarded the call out via SIP.

It seems to me that it would be relatively trivial for any serious spammer to obtain a "fixed" phone number that would defeat this blocking mechanism. Certainly this would block some of the less savvy spammers who are just trying to use disposable phone numbers... but in the meantime it may well block legitimate posters who happen to use telephone numbers from VoIP service providers.


So is Craigslist really blocking VoIP phone numbers? Garrett Smith (from VoIP Insider) indicated in an email that someone there was in touch with Craig and Craig indicated he was not personally aware of the blocking. Obviously, someone within the Craigslist organization has engaged this external company,, in their ongoing efforts to fight spam. The blocking seems to lie in there. What needs to happen now is some conversation with those folks to understand what exactly it is they are doing.

We'll have some conversation, in any event, about this issue on today's Squawk Box at 11am US Eastern Time. Feel free to join us if you would like (you need to login via Facebook).

It's an interesting question - in the era when people can obtain cheap (even free) "disposable" phone numbers, how do you balance providing access to legitimate users while blocking using those numbers as a way to spam or perform other malicious actions?

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Jajah to provide PSTN connectivity for Yahoo!Voice!

jajahlogo.jpg Yahoo! announced today that they are outsourcing all PSTN connectivity services for Yahoo!Messenger over to the startup Jajah. This is a huge win for Jajah who also announced today that it has hit over 10 million users in two years. Congrats to the Jajah team for the win!

Two parts of the release explain a bit about what is going on:

The "Phone In" and "Phone Out" service will enable consumers to make high-quality, low-cost PC-to-phone and phone-to-PC voice calls over the JAJAH network to more than 200 countries using Yahoo! Messenger, the leading instant messenger application in the United States with nearly 97 million users worldwide (comScore, February 2008).


Since 2006, Yahoo! Messenger users have been able to use "Phone In" and "Phone Out" to make and receive voice calls on their PC to and from landline and mobile phones. With low rates and premium voice quality, users can talk for hours and save on their phone bill. This deal means JAJAH will take over the provision of the telephony infrastructure, payment processing, and customer care for Yahoo!'s premium voice users who make and receive voice calls through Yahoo! Messenger.

yahoovoice.jpgSo essentially Yahoo is centralizing all the PSTN interconnection for Yahoo!Voice with Jajah. I don't know what their infrastructure was previously. If I had to guess I would say it was probably a series of SIP gateways connected out to various SIP service providers who provided the PSTN connectivity. In today's environment that would seem to be the logical way to set it up. Now, though, Yahoo appears to be simply outsourcing the entire PSTN-interconnect side of operations over to Jajah.

What will be interesting to see is how this might work for existing Jajah customers. Will Yahoo!Voice customers be able to call Jajah customers at no (or low) charge? And vice versa? Will Jajah's various web integrations such as "click-to-call" now be able to work with Yahoo!Voice customers? There are some interesting integration ideas that could happen here. We'll see what emerges.

Given that Jajah just announced today it's managed service offering, having a brand like Yahoo as their first customer is a huge win! On today's Squawk Box podcast (recorded at 11am Eastern US time), we're going to talk to Jajah co-founder Roman Scharf about what this all means. In advance of the call, Alec Saunders has posted these charts from Jajah that show their platform:

and their VoiP backend:

Between that and the information in their news release, it sounds like quite an interesting set of services.

The reality is that as much as many of us want to completely bypass the PSTN and have an all-IP network, we're going to have this beast known as the PSTN around for quite a long time and companies will be needed who can provide the best possible interconnection between the two and manage the integration as the evolution toward IP continues. Jajah clearly aims to be a player in bridging those worlds.

If you'd like to discuss this more - or simply listen in to the discussion - please do join us on today's Squawk Box. It's a live call-in conference call recorded at 11am Eastern US time. It's controlled through Iotum's "FREE Conference Calls" Facebook application which the link to the show provides information about how to install. It should be a fun discussion!

[Full disclosure: My employer, Voxeo, does provide hosting (including PSTN connectivity) for voice applications which may or may not compete with pieces of Jajah's vision (I don't know yet).]

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Squawk Box: Is the Mobile Web Dead?

squawkbox.jpgYesterday we had a fascinating conversation on Alec Saunders' Squawk Box podcast/conf call about "Is the Mobile Web Dead?" This all came about because of Russell Beattie's piece (and the resulting conversation) about shutting down Mowser and declaring that "the mobile web" is dead in light of new phones like the iPhone that allow users to see the web through a "regular" browser. Mowser was a company that existed to help companies make their websites work better on mobile devices/phones and he ultimately found that the market never really appeared.

The discussion was a good one although I think the truth is that we are all violently in agreement that at the end of the day there is just "the Web" these days and there is no need for a separate "mobile" web as the devices we use continue to evolve. We also spent a chunk of time talking about the iPhone SDK, fring and the long-term prospects for apps that use the Jailbreak installer.

All in all I think you'll find it an enjoyable conversation - give it a listen! And note that you are always welcome to join into the calls that happen most weekday mornings at 11am Eastern US time. Watch Alec's blog for more info. P.S. By the way, Russell is looking for work.

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Today's Squawk Box podcast - A conversation with Jeff Pulver about VON.x

squawkbox.jpgFor some time now, I've been participating in the daily "Squawk Box" podcast hosted by Alec Saunders. These calls take place using Iotum's Facebook app - "Free Conference Calling" - and they are, in fact, free outside of your normal costs to connect to the calls. I haven't made it there every day, but I've tried to get there when I can. I know Alec well and the calls also include many familiar faces like Jim Courtney, Ken Camp and more.

Anyway, the call today (March 6) was with Jeff Pulver about his upcoming VON.x show. It was a fun conversation and VON should definitely be a great show again this year. (Even if I'll be on the other coast at VoiceCon!)

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