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Posts from October 2007

My interview on PulverTV today...

200710301421Today at Fall VON in Boston, Jeff Pulver hosted a special version of his Pulver TV show where he interviewed a number of people from the conference including me. First up was Jason Calcanis of Mahalo fame. Next was James Tagg, Founder and CEO of TruPhone. I followed and then the show wrapped up with Bob Frankston who is perhaps most widely known as one of the inventors of VisiCalc.

200710301433-1My part of the show starts at 14:30 and goes until 23:24. (When I nicely leave the stage without taking off the lapel mic! Oops! Sorry about that... ) We talked about my presentation at VON (on Thursday), application platforms like Facebook, my new role with Voxeo, social media in general and much more. It was a good bit of fun to do and I have to thank Jeff for giving me the opportunity to participate.

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VON - Innovator's Forum "Unconference" agenda posted

Here at VON in the "Innovator's Forum", we've now bashed out a schedule for the "unconference" portion of today's schedule. For those interested, it is posted on the VONCamp page and is:

  • Social Networking Conversation 1:30 PM - 1:55 PM
  • Residential VoIP - Can it be Sold as a Product? Dennis Peng, Ooma and Jon Arnold, J Arnold & Associates (M) 1:55 PM - 2:20 PM
  • The Ruby Way / Watch a mashup in real time 2:20 PM - 2:45 PM

Should be fun...

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Skype and secure SIP? (Why would I see this message?)

200710261520Whenever I'm using Skype, I have the "Display technical call info" setting enabled so that I see technical stats about the calls I am on. Those windows tend to stay around after a call... and I noticed this one still around with an identity of "securesip". (click on the image for a larger version) I've tried to replicate this with calls that I've recently made to see if I could get the window again, but can't seem to do so. Anyone know why I might be seeing this?

I'm curious...

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Use Skype from anywhere (providing you have GSM coverage) - Skype releases "3Skypephone" and joins the mobile game

200710291210The big news out today in the world of Skype is that Skype and the mobile carrier called "3" have released the "3 Skypephone" that lets Skype users take Skype truly mobile. Skype-to-Skype calls and IMs are "free" provided that you are on "3"'s mobile network. I say "free" in quotes because of course you have to have a wireless plan through 3. There are actually two options in the UK, which is the only country in which it will initially be available:

  • Monthly - With this plan, the 3 Skypephone hardware itself is free and the rates are 12-17 British pounds per month. Apparently you have unlimited data connectivity with this plan, so you can in fact make unlimited numbers of Skype calls or IMs.
  • Pay-As-You-Go - With this plan, you pay 50 pounds for the 3Skypephone phone itself and then keep your account filled with credits. Apparently data usage decrements this account (but it's not clear by how much), so you have to wonder how often people will need to recharge the account. (UPDATE: Julian Bond, who is in the UK and has a 3 Skypephone to experiment with, informs me that there is apparently no charge for data usage on the Pay-As-You-Go, but it is only available for "30 days after your last top-up". So as long as you top up each month you would apparently get the data usage for free.)

These plans also factor into your non-Skype calls, i.e. calls to regular PSTN phone numbers. The phone does work just like a regular cell phone, but calls you make do not go out via SkypeOut but rather through 3's mobile network. So if you are: 1) calling other Skype users; and 2) on 3's wireless network; then all your calls are "free" (subject to your calling plan).

All in all an interesting play. We won't see it in North America for some time (and I probably won't see it in Vermont until the next millenia) but it will be available in the UK on Friday and by the end of the year in Australia, Italy, Hong Kong, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Republic of Ireland.

The phones themselves look quite nice. There are three colors (or two colors with one of the colors having two different color bands):


Luca Filigheddu also notes that the 3 Skypephone has a "Web 2.0" component to it in that you can easily access various social networking services:

I understand from folks who were at the launch event in the UK this morning that 3 Skypephones were made available to reporters and bloggers this morning, so we can expect to see more articles appearing in the hours ahead. In the meantime, here are some links to other sites that have been covering the launch:

Information directly from Skype or 3:

Naturally, YouTube videos are starting to appear. Here's a 9-minute overview from an Italian Cellular Magazine (in English):

Stay tuned for more info in the days ahead.

At Fall VON this week... speaking on Thursday

200710291149I'm in Boston this week at Fall VON. I'll be speaking on Thursday at 12:45 on (predictably) " Strategies for Solving Security". If any readers are at VON, feel free to drop a note. I'm always interested in connecting with readers.

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RIM *almost* gets it right with its Facebook app for Blackberries... (but it's missing a good bit)

When I first heard from Jim Courtney and then Alec Saunders that RIM had released an official Blackberry application that let you use Facebook, I naturally went to look at the information and then downloaded the app (which you do on the Blackberry itself after you go to

I was initially extremely excited... and then almost immediately incredibly disappointed...

First, I have to say that I applaud RIM for putting this application out. I think this can be a great tool for those of us who use Facebook. I realize this is its initial deployment, so hopefully feedback like this can help the folks at RIM improve the app so that it is truly useful to us.

Before I get to the main screen, let me address the major source of my disappointment. After you have installed the app, you start getting notifications such as friend requests. Here's the problem:

You MUST act on the friend request (Confirm or Ignore) before you can access the rest of the app!

So when I just wanted to zip into the app to change a status message, I was suddenly confronted by the fact that I had to act on a friend request (click image for larger view):

Now I don't know who Paul Sorge is and I don't typically just confirm a friend request if the name isn't immediately familiar to me. However, there is not a choice offered to defer the action until later. I assumed that I could just hit the "Cancel"/"Escape" key and it would take me back to the main Facebook app menu. It didn't... it took me out of the app entirely back to whatever I was in before. When I went back into the FB app, I was back at this Confirm/Ignore screen. Here are my choices (apologies on the image quality... it turns out to be harder than I expected to take close images with the MacBookPro camera):
So I can poke Paul... write on his wall, send him a message, view his profile or confirm/ignore him. I did go look at his profile which strangely didn't show much at all.... and then I just didn't have time to do more. I wanted to use the app - so I just hit "Ignore" and the screen went away. (Sorry, Paul... if we do know each other and I'm just having a mind blank I will be glad to add you.)

This is to me a fundamental flaw. It assumes that people will act on a friend request immediately, before doing anything else in Facebook. I don't know about you all, but I often don't have time to look at friend requests and so if I don't immediately know the person I let some linger until I have some cycles to investigate further. With the regular Facebook interface (either the main one or the mobile interface), I can let friend requests just sit there until I have the cycles to deal with them. It would be great if the RIM app had some way to cancel out of the friend request and let you just see the main app.

[UPDATE: Some time later I had the main Facebook app screen open and received another friend request. It showed up in the app main screen as one of the new items, so it did NOT lock me into acting on it. However, the moment I entered the friend request I seemed to be locked in again, which surprises me.]

Okay, so once you've confirmed/ignored all queued friend requests, here is the main screen you see:
Going left to right, here are what the icons across the top do:

  • View Status Updates - This screen is genuinely very useful. You see your recent status update, can enter a new one and can also see all your friends' recent status updates.
  • Upload a Photo - Utterly useless for me. I have a BB 8830 because Verizon (my only choice for a carrier) does not support any of the 83xx series that have cameras. So I can't really see any value here.
  • View Friend List - Useful. Shows you a text list of all your friends along with their status msgs. If you click on a friend you see their profile.
  • Invite a Friend - Useless to have on a small screen. How often do any of you actually invite someone new to Facebook? In all the time since I started using Facebook in the Spring I've invited maybe 2 or 3 people because they asked about it. Why take up real estate with this?
  • Poke Someone - Utterly useless to me. I personally don't like Poke and see little point in it. If I want to say hi to someone, I'll send them a message saying Hi! (Call me old-fashioned, I guess...)
  • Write on a Wall - Very occasionally useful. I guess I'm just not a huge fan of writing on walls.
  • Send a Message - Useful way to quickly send messages. Start typing a friend's name and you'll see potential matches.

That's it. Those are all the features of the application. You can use the icons, the menu, or keyboard shortcuts... but those are the things you can do. However, let's take a look at what is missing:

  • Inbox - This is a rather stunning omission to me. You have no access to your Facebook Inbox! Huh? Given that messages form a significant part of Facebook communication (or seem to at least for me), it seems odd that you can't access your message inbox. Now, you do see messages that have arrived since the time you started using the app (although I haven't tested what happens if I receive a FB msg while the BB app is not running), but there seems to be no way I could figure out to see the messages that are already in there.
  • Your own Profile - It seems odd to me that there is no menu command or other way to easily view your own profile. You can see your profile, but it involves going into View Friend List, going to your name and then doing the menu choice to view the full profile. A number of steps to go through. Given that you might want to see your own wall (if you like writing on walls) or other items you have put on your profile, this seems a strange omission.
  • NewsFeed - No access to your news feed of changes within your circle of friends.
  • Groups - No way to get to your groups.
  • Events - No way to get to events - given that your likely to be using your Blackberry on the road when you might be going to an event, this would be quite useful to have.

Now, granted, this BB app is just RIM's first version of the app, so on one level perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on them. However, there's this one minor detail:

All this functionality is AVAILABLE NOW through!

Given that works well on the Blackberry already, the bar has been set for RIM with their app... and for me this first version fell short.

In fairness to RIM, they seem to have recognized that they don't have all the functionality yet and so they have a "Go to Mobile Site" option in their app menu that takes you over to However, it begs the question... if I need to go to the site to have much of my Facebook interaction, why should I use the RIM app for Facebook?

So kudos to RIM for coming out with an app that shows the promise of making Facebook more useful on the Blackberry... hopefully we'll see more improvements over time that make it truly useful.

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Heading to New York today for Interop... speaking tomorrow on VoIP Security

200710240512In a few hours I'll be boarding a plane back to New York where I'll be attending Interop New York this afternoon and tomorrow. If any of you reading this will be there, please do drop an email. Tomorrow, I'll be on a panel at 2:45pm with Jonathan Rosenberg about "Voice-oriented Attacks". (Side note to Interop: Please make it so that we can link to individual sessions instead of having to link to the entire list of "security"-related sessions!) If you aren't aware of who Jonathan Rosenberg is, he works for Cisco and is a huge contributor to IETF efforts related to SIP and in fact was one of the co-authors of RFC 3261 which is the primary RFC defining SIP. He's also the author of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to SIP" which aims to help guide people through the maze of the many, many documents that now are part of "SIP". More relevant to tomorrow's session, he's also the author of a series of NAT traversal protocols for SIP, namely STUN, TURN and now ICE. Eric Krapf, the moderator of the session, is aiming to make it a more interactive and discussion-focused session (i.e. no slideware-to-death)... we'll see if we can make it fun as well. I've also asked Interop for permission to record it and run it as a Blue Box podcast - we'll see if they give me permission.

Note that if you are a CISSP, the ISC2 is holding a member reception today (Wednesday October 24, 2007) starting at 5:30 PM in Jacob Javits Center Room 1EO2 - LEVEL 1. Assuming that everything works with my flights today, I'll be there.

I'll even have some new business cards to give out... ;-)

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My new employer is..........

So here's the story... after my layoff from Mitel and the corresponding job hunt, I became very convinced that I should go down the consultant/analyst route. I had purchased equipment, started setting up the legal side of things and was in serious discussions with several others about allying (and aligning) myself with their own efforts. All looked good and I was excited to get going.

Then I got this email from a CEO of a company I'd never really heard of who said he'd found my blog posts and that it so happened that they were looking for someone doing essentially the roles that I outlined in one of my posts. As they were growing strongly they were looking to expand their "Office of the CTO" and add to their capabilities. I looked at their website and initially wasn't too sure about what I saw. But as I dug in a bit more I was pretty blown away by what I started to see... and got back in touch.

It turns out that there's this company based in Orlando, Florida, whose VoIP application platform is used by one of the world's largest telecom vendors, two of the worlds largest software vendors, and the five largest cable TV networks. They have a community of over 26,000 registered developers with something around 55,000 applications created on their platform. They are some of the technology behind innovative startups like Jangl (more here) and Jott. The company was named by Gartner as one of the "Cool Vendors in Enterprise Communication, 2007". The technology can be hosted in the company's secure, redundant data centers or located on a customer's premise (or OEM'd). They focus on providing extremely high levels of customer service and by default give a 100% uptime Service Level Agreement (i.e. they pay you if there's any downtime). They are focused entirely on open standards and support a very wide range of APIs, including Web 2.0 APIs like JSON and e4x as well as SOAP, REST, etc. They support all sorts of security standards, including some like PCI which are newer. They are all about being an application platform.

And... they've been around since 1999, been profitable for several years and are growing based on profit (versus VC infusions). And they give away a ton of information and functionality through their developer site, including inbound and outbound telephone connections. (Yes, the absorb the cost of allocating phone numbers and outbound dialing in order to encourage developers to use their platform... and 26,000+ developers have taken out accounts.)

And probably most all of us have never heard of them!

It didn't take long for me to reconsider my decision to go down the consultant route. I built a couple of sample applications on their platform and saw how trivial it was to do. I traveled to Orlando and came away incredibly impressed by the company, the technology and perhaps most of all the people.

200710231604So yesterday I was delighted to start working for the CTO of Voxeo Corporation! My technical title is the nicely vague "Director of Emerging Communication Technology" and my role will include: analyzing emerging technology and communicating that information internally, participating in IETF standards work, assisting with VoIP security analysis/communication... and customer/product evangelism through speaking at conferences/customers and developing appropriate blogs and podcasts (and other social media) for both internal and external audiences. Basically somewhat similar to my previous role only this time with an explicit focus on social media, which is exciting because I get the chance to put into action many of the ideas I've talked about here, over on Disruptive Conversations and also in my reports into FIR. And, in a company of <100 people, it's just a wee bit easier to get things done (example, I'm in Day 2 and a server is already being allocated to host blogs, etc.). So yes, I'm winding up getting paid to spend part of my time blogging and podcasting!

Basically I get to help tell Voxeo's story. Particularly, part of what I will be doing is talking about everything else Voxeo can do beyond what you might initially think. If you go to it is all about creating IVR applications using VoiceXML which is interesting to one segment of the population out there... but if you look at the page about their VoIP platforms and services you get a glimpse of the much larger picture. Voxeo has an incredibly powerful SIP-based application platform that can be deployed in either a hosted, on-premise or hybrid model. They chose to focus on the IVR application side because it was an avenue where they could earn revenue. Now they are looking to promote the other aspects of what you can do with their platform beyond IVR apps. There's voicemail... conferencing... call recording... a zillion other things all accessible through open, standards-based APIs. I get to help tell that story.

In the end, Voxeo's aim is to be the platform for people who want to develop next-generation communication applications. Easily. Securely. Reliably.

Not a bad place to be. (And we're hiring!) Don't take my word for it though... join the Evolution community site and create your own hosted application, complete with inbound phone numbers, Skype connections and SIP URIs. There are a ton of tutorials and other information there. Or download the free Prophecy server software, which essentially gives you the same capabilities as the hosted environment. (In fact, you can develop apps on Prophecy and then move them to Evolution for deployment.)

Or wait for me and others to start telling the story in more detail. Your choice.

So that's the story of what's next for me... obviously I'm rather excited and looking forward to it! Thanks again to all the many, many people who were so helpful and supportive over the past few weeks.

And now, I can return to the regular blogging I've been doing here...

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So I should stop teasing about my new job, eh?

So I should stop teasing about what I'm doing and just blog about it, eh? I will... today. I had every intention of doing so last night but what appeared to be the onset of a severe migraine headache sent me back to my hotel room early to try and escape it. Thankfully, the migraine never materialized and the symptoms gradually went away... but in the meantime I was out of writing commission and my post is only half done.

I do have to admit that it is tempting to continue teasing when a friend says she is thinking of calling every VoIP company in Florida (I've given that info away via Twitter) asking receptionists if she can speak to "Dan York"... that would be mildly entertaining, especially if there was another Dan York out there at another company.

However, I have a whole queue of articles I want to write and I need to get this major one out first, so I will.

Soon. Today.