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Posts from January 2007

A recent salvo in the battle of the giants.... Google's software installed on Samsung mobile phones

This isn't about VoIP, per se, but I continue to be fascinated by the ongoing battle between Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to be the set of tools through which you work with the Internet.  One of the latest salvos to catch my eye was the announcement that Google's software will be pre-installed on some Samsung handset models.  So now you'll get essentially Google's Desktop product on your mobile phone.  I wouldn't be surprised to see similar announcements from Yahoo and Microsoft.  As a consumer and user of those various services, it's rather interesting to watch the ongoing skirmishes... kind of like watching giant kids in a playground... all circling each other and fighting, while we sit on the side and observe.

We certainly do live in interesting times.

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O'Reilly asking community to help create "Asterisk Cookbook"

I love it when I see the collision of a variety of my interests.  Here O'Reilly combines VoIP, open source and social media (a wiki in this case) all in one effort: Bruce Stewart is looking for people to "Help Create the Asterisk Cookbook".  Here's his request:

We’re looking for two kinds of contributions. First, we’re looking for problems you’d like to see solved in the book. If you need to make Asterisk do something and just can’t figure out how, let us know. We’ll try to solve the problem for you. Second, we’re looking for more advanced Asterisk users to contribute solutions to problems that they’ve faced.

And Bruce has a wiki set up for people to use to contribute.  This is interesting on a couple of different levels.  First, it's a major publisher going out to a community to directly involve them in writing a book. Second, they are using a wiki for all the collaboration. (And yes, other authors have reached out to communities and have used wikis for public collaboration, so this isn't necessarily a new idea.)  And third, the topic being Asterisk, I'm sure they'll wind up getting recipes from a ton of people who have scratched their various itches and solved peculiar problems using Asterisk.  In fact, it will probably could have been titled "The Itch-Scratcher's Guide to VoIP."

I'll be intrigued to see the result, not only of how the collaborative process works for O'Reilly, but also for the actual book.  The fascinating and fun part about Asterisk is that because the code is wide open for anyone to tweak to their heart's content, people can scratch itches and solve problems that are so particular to them that no commercial vendor in their right mind would ever spend the time or resources to address the issue. There's just no real market for it beyond that one company/organization. But that entity can turn to Asterisk and either program it themselves or pay someone to develop the feature or fix for them.  If they make their code public, it might just turn out that there are some others out there who might have the same or a similar itch.  And the itch-scratching continues...

So it will be fun to see what recipes emerge.

So, Ken, how do you *really* feel about Apple's iPhone?

As everyone has been hyping the iPhone, it was entertaining to see that Ken Camp is decidedly not a fan: "iPhone? iThinkNot" After providing links to a number of the VoIP bloggers who wrote about the iPhone, Ken starts tearing apart what he's seen and read.  Here's a taste of the full post:

It will be mediocre at anything, at best. In my words, it will be crap.

The touch screen will be a disaster. The closed interface assures that it's another all your tunes calls stones Apples are belong to us. Apple is the worst offender and not understanding open standards and extensibility on the planet. Worse that Microsoft.

The iPhone is just an iPod. With a jazzier, and doubtless a less functional interface. And yep, it might make phone calls every now and then too. If you're on the right carrier in the coverage area. We'll lock you in to Apple and Cingular proprietariness all with one key.

Limited features, locked in to a single carrier, not open to third  party software. And using the argument that third party software might take the telephone network down? Gimme a break.

So how do you really feel, Ken?  ;-)

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Apple's iPhone as a platform for Skype, Gizmo, Jajah and everyone else...

With the torrent of media hype about Apple's new iPhone, one of the things that has surprised me is the lack of discussion about one of the aspects of the device that I find truly disruptive... it will be running a full version of MacOS X.  Now, granted, with 15 million blogs and countless web sites commenting on the iPhone in the past few days, I'm sure I've missed some where people have discussed this aspect, but to me it's a key element.

Consider this... if you have the full capabilities of MacOS X (which we don't yet know for certain but all of the Apple info seems to indicate it will have full MacOS X) - and you also have WiFi support and/or Cingular EDGE support - why not simply run the Mac version of Skype or Gizmo?   Or Yahoo Messenger or AIM? Or anyone else's softphone that runs on MacOS X?

The phone then becomes an extension of your contact/buddy list and can provide that kind of connectivity wherever you can get a WiFi or EDGE connection.  That to me is one of the fascinating aspects of the whole play.  The phone as an application platform - with a "standard" commercial operating system.

I suppose I should note that first out "announcing their support" for the iPhone was the folks over at Jajah (from where I got the picture), but unless I'm missing something there's not a whole lot for them to do.   You go to a web page, enter in the number you want to call and Jajah calls you!  With that in mind, it could be said that any web-based "click-to-call" service will be "compatible with the iPhone".  I mean... you'll be able to start using Google's click-to-call right away as well.  Now, perhaps there is more to Jajah's "support" than just seizing the moment to ride the coattails of the iPhone announcement (they do, after all have a Jajah Mobile version of some type - I'd try it, but it won't work on my Blackberry from what I can see), but in any event it's a sign of the type of services that I can see being enabled as the iPhone rolls out.

Regardless, the iPhone will definitely be interesting as it allows Mac-based VoIP to be extended out to wherever the phone can have data coverage, be it WiFi or EDGE.

P.S. I'd definitely take one to try it out... oh, wait... that's right... Cingular doesn't offer service (or at least numbers) in Vermont!  I'll just have to live vicariously through others (or suck it up and get a number elsewhere and constantly be explaining to people in VT why I have a phone with a NY area code).

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Is the Skype- and webcam-equipped R2D2 for real? (with a light saber as a phone?)

After seeing this post at Engadget, I, too, have to truly wonder whether this is for real or some sort of very elaborate hoax.  The Nikko Home Electronics website has more info...  well... actually it has a big Flash object that obviously took some time to create. 

It appears there are two models: 1) The "C.S." or "Communication System" and 2) the "M.E.S." or "Mobile Entertainment System".  Gizmodo has a video of the MES from the floor of CES this week out in Las Vegas, proving that there is at least one working model of that system.

I have to say that the light saber as a phone is certainly amusing and destined to warm the heart of any Star Wars fan.

I don't know if it is actually for real, but hey, it would be amusing if it really is.  (And if Nikko wants to send one my way for review, my shipping address is....  ;-)


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The Cisco - Apple "iPhone" naming clash (and now lawsuit)

You would think that Apple, being as big as they are, would certainly have taken care of the right to use the name "iPhone" before they launched, wouldn't you?  The fact that Apple went ahead and launched anyway really astounds me in light of Cisco's ownership of the trademark.  Instead there is first news of ongoing negotiations and then today's news of a Cisco suit against Apple.  It boggles the mind a bit... I mean, obviously Apple had a very hard deadline of MacWorld, and I could imagine someone at Cisco playing hardball knowing that Apple had to sign before MacWorld and holding out for the best deal. 

But now what?  I mean, now that the product is announced and everyone is all excited about it, what kind of bargaining position is Apple in?  You could easily see someone at Cisco now saying "Well, since the product is going to be so popular, let's add a few more zeros to that licensing agreement price."    Is Apple perhaps counting on public opinion to paint Cisco in a bad light enough that Cisco will relent?  Hard to see that happening, especially given Cisco's own "product launch" of the iPhone name a few weeks ago.  Is Apple thinking that they can always fall back on calling it "applephone" or something like that if Cisco won't give way?

Very strange indeed... it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

UPDATE: CANOE Money has an article up with more detailed information.


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Cisco's web conferencing to support Jabber clients

As the IM protocol wars continue with AOL, MSN/WLM, Yahoo, etc. all just now starting to actually allow interconnection between their competing IM systems, I have to confess to always having been a personal fan of Jabber and it's XMPP protocol.  Maybe it's the fact that it's got an open source side to it.  Maybe that it's XML based.  Maybe it's just that I liked that anyone could set up a server and start using it. In any event, I've always been a huge fan (and generally have Psi running with a Jabber ID of

So with that in mind I was pleased to see the announcement yesterday that Cisco's Unified MeetingPlace will now support Jabber clients through the Jabber XCP framework.  From what I can see of the announcement, Jabber clients will now be able to interoperate with Cisco's collaboration server.   What I'm naturally curious about is to wonder whether this is limited to Jabber's commercial Jabber Messenger product (through some means) or is XMPP support being baked into Cisco's product natively, in which case conceiveably any XMPP client could connect to the server.  There, are, naturally, many Jabber clients out there (including, interestingly, Google's GoogleTalk...).

Interesting news, in any event, and congrats to both companies.

Rich Tehrani learns the passionate power of Sir Terry Matthews

Rich Tehrani now understands why I and many others continue to work for Mitel.    Rich's post does indeed capture some of the infectious enthusiasm and passion that spreads from Terry Matthews on down into the organization - as well as into the other sister companies.   The telcom revolution is well underway... and it's definitely fun to be a part of an organization that has that vision.

P.S. Rich also wrote about Terry's other investments in real estate and, yes, Rich, I can understand why you liked the Brookstreet Hotel.  When I up visiting Ottawa I often stay there and yes, it is definitely a very nice place to stay.


Special "Still Secure" podcast episode offers 2006 review and 2007 predictions

Right before the holidays I had sent in to Alan Shimel a contribution for a special episode 26 of his "Still Secure After All These Years" podcast.  In this episode, he asked a number of us in security field to give their thoughts on major issues of 2006 and predictions for 2007.  Mine were predictably about VoIP....  but many others ran across the whole field of information security.

Kudos to Alan for pulling it all together and producing the episode.  Makes for interesting listening.


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Testing a post from Windows Live Writer

As I continue the evolution of this blog, I'm experimenting with other offline editors... and so this is posted from Microsoft's Windows Live Writer.

So far it seems to be an interesting interface.  The Web preview capability is interesting because it actually gives a better preview of what it would look like than either LiveJournal directly or Semagic can give.  Fascinating.

Any comments about use of Windows Live Writer are certainly welcome.  I'm down to WLW or ecto for offline editing... I was leaning toward ecto but I've had a few funky issues with switching to HTML mode there, so I'm therefore checking out WLW.