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July 2007

Posts from June 2007

Happy iPhone Day! (Unless, of course, you live in Vermont, Alaska, Maine or other rural places...)

imageUnless you have been living under a rock for the past six months, you would know that today is the day that the Apple iPhone becomes available.  Actually, it is not until 6pm local time today, which seems a bit odd but it does provide a way to hype things all day as there will undoubtedly be endless news reports about the people standing in line to get an iPhone.  The hype is almost endless, it would seem.  Quite frankly, I don't see how the iPhone will even remotely live up to all the expectations that have been placed on it.  It slices. It dices.  It solves world hunger and cures cancer!  Well, okay, maybe not... but the hype would almost bring it to that level.  I have to expect that over the next few days the blog posts will naturally turn to peoples' reviews of the product and the inevitable let-downs.

I, of course, won't have a chance to experience an iPhone anytime soon.  As I wrote previously, those of us who live in states without AT&T coverage are just out-of-luck. (Also noted by a local Apple retailer.)  I guess the good news is that by the time we finally do get the coverage, whatever year that is, we should have a good idea about how well the iPhone does or does not work! :-)

In the meantime, for all of you out there who get one today and are standing in line now... well... have fun!

(Thus endeth my obligatory iPhone posting!)

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Returning from Mitel Forum...

It's been an absolutely exhausting week out in Las Vegas for Mitel Forum. Presentations, meetings and events basically from dawn until late in the evening both Tuesday and Wednesday... travel all day yesterday...  I'm tired. Very tired.  But... I do have to say that it was an absolutely outstanding event.  Great meetings with our resellers/solutions providers.  Excellent sessions with analysts.  Great exhibits showing the work of many of our partners - many cool things to write about here in the days ahead!  There was such a level of excitement there at the event... it's definitely a great time to be part of Mitel.

Hopefully we will be able to follow some of the analysts' blog postings as they get home and start writing... right now, though, a Technorati search on Mitel is just a wee bit preoccupied with other recent news releases. :-)

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VoIP Apps for Facebook - Two new ones: "VoIPUser" SIP Presence and "Skype Me"

image Although I could not earlier find many Facebook apps that I considered true "VoIP apps" that linked out to the PSTN or larger VoIP world, we are seeing more apps emerging.  Two notable new entrants:

1. VoIP User Presence by Dean Elwood

Dean's a friend who runs (and provides the SIP voicemail box for Blue Box comments) and he's been experimenting with the Facebook API.  This is the first of what he says will be a series of Facebook apps.  Dean says this one is "SIP meets Presence meets Google Maps" and provides this on the Facebook apps page for a description:

"This application shows within your profile if you have a SIP device currently logged into the VoIP User server and are available to take calls. The application page also shows a Google Maps mashup page showing your current location."

There is also a thread going on in the forums about the application with more info, screenshots, etc.  It will definitely be interesting to see what else Dean cooks up.

More feedback on this one once I have a chance to actually use it.

2. Skype Me by Nabil Naghdy

This one does the rather obvious and lets you see the Skype presence of your other Facebook friends (provided they have installed the application). With a tagline of "skype meet facebook.  facebook meet skype." the developer says on the FAQ:

"SkypeMe is a Facebook application that links with your Skype account and lets you make calls right from inside Facebook. You can see which friends are online, make calls, and even buy SkypeOut credit from Facebook."

It appears to work primarily by getting the web presence of each of your friends and making that available to you, which means, naturally, that you need to enable Skype web presence inside the options of your Skype client.

image image There's actually two parts to it.  On your public profile page visible to everyone else, there is a box like the image shown on the left that lets another Skype user initiate a call to you.  On the internal page inside of my Facebook account for the applications I have installed, there is a page with a screen like the graphic on the right that shows all the Facebook friends I have who have also installed the SkypeMe Facebook application.

This Facebook app was announced in the Skype Mashup public chat.  Actually, I think it was really the first I saw announced (but then again, I wasn't really watching the chat last week while I was off).

Speaking of the Skype mashup contest, it was officially announced last Friday.  It will be very interesting to see what developers come up with!

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Wow! Quite the week to take off!

Wow!  As I've been scanning my email and notes from the last week, it seems like it was quite a heck of a week to take off!  Lots going on... and much to write about.  We'll see  how much writing I get done.  As mentioned previously, I'm now at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas for "Mitel Forum", our annual event for solution providers, consultants, the Mitel User Group and analysts.  Should be a very good - and involved - event!

Light blogging ahead... offline until Monday, June 25th

Don't expect to see much from me here for the next bit.  In a few minutes I'm shutting down my systems and heading offline on vacation for the next week.  I'll be back online Monday, June 25th, although I'll be travelling to a Mitel conference in Las Vegas for most of that week.

We're not planning to go anywhere extravagent... maybe some day trips around Vermont... some camping... work around the house... all in all just a pleasant way to spend some time before the heat of summer hits.

See you in a week!

Heading out to Mitel Forum June 25-27 in Las Vegas...

imageFYI, while I don't usually write a whole lot about Mitel here, I do in fact work for Mitel and after I return from a week of vacation I'll be heading down to Las Vegas on Monday, June 25th, to speak at our Mitel Forum event for resellers, consultants and analysts.  If any of you who read this weblog will be down there, I'll look forward to seeing you there (and please say hello).  You'll find me giving presentations on... gee.... "VoIP Security" and "Business Continuity"!  (Surprise, surprise...)  Should be a very good event.

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Why did I wind up in Burlington, VT? Martyn Davies interviews me for his "Bending The Needle" podcasts

image Ever wonder why I wound up in Burlington, VT, after living in Ottawa, Ontario, for most of 5 years?  Well, maybe you haven't... but that and other items about me are now available in an interview that Martyn Davies has posted as part of his new "Bending the Needle" podcast series.  When Martyn was over here and visited me back in the winter, he recorded this brief interview sitting in my home studio.  He just recorded it on his handy little Zoom H4 portable recorder which worked quite well.  He also took this picture to the right, which remains among my favorite as far as pictures of me go.

Martyn had told me that he was teaming up with Dean Elwood from to do a podcast series and this "Bending the Needle" seems to be their work.  The subtitle is "Interviews with the Leading Edge Personalities in the VoIP Space" and so it's an honor to be among the first interviewees he has up there.  I'll subscribe and will be interested to see their other interviews.

Skype Journal offers more on Skype over Blackberry... and I *still* want to know where the PC is making the conf call!

Over at Skype Journal, Jim Courtney continues his exploration of the IM+ client that allows you to use Skype on the Blackberry.  As I mentioned yesterday, one of my main questions is - where is the PC making the conference call?   As Jim noted, he called me today using the client and I snapped the screenshot he uses in his post.  You can see in the image on the right that we are in a conference call.  The call is hosted by Jim's Skype client and then brings in his mobile phone and then my Skype account.

But where is that version of Skype running as Jim?  It's not on his PC.  It's not on his Blackberry.

So where is it?

Now, the IM+ client has Jim's username and password... and so I am guessing there must be a server back at Shape Services, the maker of IM+, that is running instances of Skype for each person using it.  Is that how they do it?  I would wonder how easily it would scale if this is, in fact, the case.

This all is a concern to me because it does come down to a matter of trust.  Where is that PC that is hosting the system?  How much of my info are they seeing?  If they can login as me (since I've given them my username and password) they can see all my contacts and, on a normal Skype client, all my chats as well, plus my voicemail, call logs, etc.  As the person commenting on my article yesterday noted, someone with my username/password may also have access to my PayPal account... which could ultimately lead to my bank account.  So who and where is it?

Methinks perhaps I need to go and explore the IM+ Terms of Service in finer detail...

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Have Skype and Global IP Solutions (GIPS) parted ways?

image Ever since Skype first launched, they have really been one of the showcases for Global IP Solutions' (GIPS - formerly "Global IP Sound") codecs, particularly the wideband iSAC codec which you could argue is largely what has accounted for the great audio quality you can often get on Skype calls.  Now, of course GIPS has many other customers - in fact their customer/partner list reads like a veritable "Who's Who" of companies within the VoIP industry.  Skype, though, has always been one of the great examples to point to.

It would seem, though, that Skype and GIPS have had a parting of the ways.  Back in March, there was discussion of new codecs in the Skype 3.2 beta and the possibility that this was as a result of an acquisition Skype had made.  Yesterday, though, there was a post to the main Skype blog that included this (my emphasis in bold):

And because we’ve replaced our audio engine in our most recent releases — it’s now fully built in-house — it’s worth bearing in mind that you may run into some bumps when a call is placed from an older version of Skype to newer versions.

So "it's now fully built in-house", eh?  That would seem to pretty clearly confirm that the GIPS engine is no longer inside of Skype.  We can speculate as to why... did the contract with GIPS come up for renewal and GIPS wanted more $$$?  Did Skype just want more control?  Politics?  Personalities?  Some other reason?

In any event, it will be interesting to see Skype's evolution as they work out the issues of the migration, particularly because there are undoubtedly a great number of people out there running an older version who have no clue that they should upgrade.  (Earlier versions had no notification that a new version was available.)

FBI's "Operation Bot Roast" cracks down on botnets...

Since I've been writing about botnets (here and here), I just had to mention that the FBI announced yesterday some arrests of botherders as part of "Operation Bot Roast" (what a great name, eh?).  More coverage is available on ZDNet's Government blog and also the Washington Post's Security Fix blog.  It's interesting (but not surprising) to note that one of the three arrests is of Robert Soloway, the "spam king" currently in jail awaiting trial related to sending spam.  The botnet saga continues...

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