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Posts from October 2012

Were You Prepared?

8x8 #latergram8x8 #latergram (Photo credit: qthrul)

I was really impressed with what one of my agency's client's did when it came to communicating with their customer base surround Hurricane Sandy. Cloud communications leader, 8x8 sent out an email pointing to a web page that had a Disaster Planning document, all geared around the concept of maintaining communications using their platform.

Good disaster planning starts before the situation arises, so with a service like 8x8's Virtual Office Online, the ability to work around Hurricane Sandy can occur, with some advance work or the next time someone can log on. 

This type of functionality is not unique to 8x8 as others like, OnSip and RingCentral, to name a few, have the web based portal management to enable customer adminsitration so should disaster strike, business and communications can continue.

In addition to the web page, 8x8 smartly posted tips for staying connected on Facebook and Twitter before the storm hit. Equally smart thinking was sending out a special email ONLY to all of their east coast customers with the same information. This elevliated telling unaffected customers what was needed to be done with the primary information being the tips on how to easily route business calls to other locations or cell phones.

This happens because cloud communications companies can more easily be redundant and shift their network services from one place to another when disaster strikes. That's called being PREPARED.

Turn iPod touch Into a Mobile Phone

freedompopfreedompop (Photo credit: sam_churchill)

Data MVNO FreedomPop, the carrier that rides on top of Clearwire's mobile WiMax network has released their $99 sleeve that works the iPod touch 4th Generation. 

Basically, the sleeve lets you turn the iPod touch into an iPhone, so calls can be made over the FreedomPop network using softphones like CounterPath's Bria or Skype. Of course, with Bria you'll need an ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Provider) like or OnSip. You can also use the client from 8x8 that lets customers talk and connect to their Virtual Office Mobile  which is found in the App Store.

Having used the Clearwire network extensively in the past, the speeds are fast, but what's really impressive is the low latency which means not only VoIP will work, but so will video, making neutral carriers like Vidtel an awesome bridge service for those using just the iPod touch.

Getting Data in Spain for Your iPad

Vodafone LogoVodafone Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

YoigoYoigo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



I've been coming to Spain for the last half dozen or so years, and have long been a fan of Yoigo, the Telia - Sonera backed mobile operator, who is fourth behind Movistar, Orange and Vodafone, and feels heat from upstart MVNO MasMovil. Given the competitive market here, I've tried them all and find Vodafone's 29 Euro for 1 GB over three months to be the best plan available.

Yoigo though is best for your smartphone, with Movistar having the best coverage if you leave the major cities.

Mas Movil takes USA credit cards, but you need to go through some hoops to set up that, but once you do, you're golden. As an MVNO they use both Voda and Orange networks at last peek, and their service is rock solid.

All of this said, using services like Skype and VoIP are not usually allowed on Yoigo, and they have a daily cap on your consumption.

TokBox Acquired by Telefonica Digital

TokBox was acquired by Telefonica Digital. TokBox, which offered a Flash based video platform, has been toiling around the social video space for half a dozen years. Without going into their history, the move is a very interesting one for Telefonica as it puts them at odds long term with Microsoft, which counts on the telcos to help push services like Microsoft Lync to the enterprise, and Skype to the consumers.

Think of this as an over the top video play, much like Skype is an OTT voice and video play. Given some of the other activities Telefonica Digital is taking on, and initiating, while the rest of their business is slowing down, means they have out of market aspirations by going over the top.

GPS, Location Information and Map Wars

I'm an Apple iPhone,iPad user, who also carries a BlackBerry and Android devices. Honestly, being outside of the USA for a month, and I'm going through directional withdrawl, having become addicetd to Google Maps on all my devices until Apple turned the tables on arch rival Google with their own maps.

Everyone admits that Apple's current maps are not really that great, and being outside the USA the last two weeks or so, it really shows. Sure you can go to Google Maps as a web app, but they're not as good.

For GPS work my Android Galaxy Note 1 and Google Nexus will serve as wonderful GPS devices, with their big screens, and CoPilot Live's maps and directions, but where I'm feeling a bit lost is the local information that Google gave me. Sure I can find it in the web browser, but it's not a natural behavior, hence the withdrawl feeling.

What should happen? Charge me Google. Create an app, put it in the Apple App store and give Apple their 30 percent of the sales and be done with it. Oh, and when they want Pages, Numbers and Keynote on Android devices, do the same thing to them. Let's not get into whose hardware what software runs on, lets really think about the customers for a change.

Let's stop the fighting, and do what's really best for the customers. 

Craig Walker Hits The Blogosphere

Image representing Craig Walker as depicted in...Image via CrunchBase

Uber-startup, turnaround artist and good friend, Craig Walker who now has UberConference launched --with more greatstuff to come, and likely best known for being the co-founder of Grand Central, a former client company and one of our 26+ exits which I actually made real money on, has finally joined the blogosphere. And, in Craig's humble style, as well as demonstrating his legal background--yes, he's a reformed attorney or lapsed lawyer-take you pick-  he's laid out his first post like a legal brief, setting the stage for what's to come. And come it shall.........

So I'm glad he's here. My first exposure to Craig came on a panel I moderated at some TMCnet IT Expo conference many years ago. Craig was witty, outspoken and made his points eloquently. We became friends, he and Vincent Paquet sold Dialpad to Yahoo, then he started GrandCentral, which is now Google Voice, we helped make it big and the rest is history. Along the way I have been suggesting he blog. Well, many years later he is all part of what he's doing with his own VC fund, Firespotter Labs and his latest venture, UberConference. So Nosh on, it like I will be, because Mr. Walker will likely do more than just fiddling about technology, all on ..spottingfire. 

The Perks of Travel

Some say life on the road isn't glamorous. Well they're right it isn't always, but if you do things right, you can make it into more than it could be. I've been blessed to become a Royal Ambassador-Priority Club Platinum with the InterContinental Hotel Group and the perks, added by my friendship with the amazing team at the San Francisco InterContinental Hotel has led to really being treated well. Upgrades are the standard, but it's also the personal hand holding that makes these hotels so great. Where else do the GM's and Hotel Manager's walk up to you, address you by name, welcome you back and hand you their business card, offering to help make your stay even better. 

Another program I enjoy is LeClub Accor, from the Accor hotel group out of France. Their points to real money for use on stays is awesome, but being a Platinum level member also helps. This weekend I had a heating problem in the brand new Novatel Confluence. The status, and the travel agency status I've held for over 20 years worked to my advantage. Basically, in the room is a card that guarantees guests a great stay or it's free. Well one night the heat didn't work and the staff didn't engineer it to work, They just turned the system off in my room, while the hallway was a good ten degrees warmer. The next morning the engineer fixed it, and I had an amazing sleep my second night. At check out I invoked the "sorry, you didn't fix the problem" clause. After some haggling, and verification of my status, the manager agreed, and I got one night off my bill.

In Hong Kong both InterContinentals were fabulous to stay in. Service, and the kind of laundry service one dreams of. Forget fluff and fold. They hand washed, air dried, cold pressed my shirts, and brought everything back so neatly folded....great food at the Harbouside Restaurant, and really prompt room service in both IC's there.

In London the new South Place Hotel has become my favorite hotel in London by a mile. So much that I've booked two more stays in it between now and the end of the year. But be warned about London. A new VAT tax on hotel stays are driving the prices up for no reason. My retort. Hello Paris. Between the fast Eurostar and better pricing in Paris, plus food, I'll spend what time I need to in London, and then head under the Channel and enjoy seeing friends at Willi's Wine Bar, Juveniles, Verjus, Fish, Semilla, A la Margueritte and elsewhere....and that will be December at the Intercontinental Avenue Marceau, not the Grand, which is in major need of a facelift..

Flying---EasyJet continues to impress me. Two flights this trip so far (Gatwick to Lyon and Lyon to Madrid) with more coming up. Okay, so it's not Cathay Pacific First Class--which is AH-MAYZING!!!! but the cabin crew has Virgin America like attitude and friendliness, the planes are new enough and with Speedy Boarding Plus, getting a GREAT seat isn't difficult. Signing up for the Plus program is worth it if you are in Europe as much as I am. You get free Speedy Boarding....

Taxi's--why are the taxi drivers in the UK, France and Spain natives? Gosh does it make for a more interesting ride than what we get in the USA.

Well..back to work....


Observations from a Coffee Filled Morning

So I've been off hitting cafe's this morning in Madrid, a city that understand coffee, maybe more than even Paris or Vienna. As I sit at Cafe Commercial, an establishment that dates back to the 1800s I can't help but notice that I'm the only person with an iPad to read the morning news.

Next to me people pour through the morning papers, and the week's worth of magazines. Couples sit with one another, but each is nosed into their morning paper. Waiters deftly move and maneuver their servings around the papers, but are challenged by what to do with the iPad. It draws looks, but is clearly not something they haven't seen before.

The place is lively, and yet, above the din of the customers is a rhythm that keeps the waiters moving from table to table.

As for being connected, my iPad and I love the unlimited Vodafone service I bought a few trips back, but didn't use. I popped the SIM in and voila, it worked. I do plan on topping it up, so when I'm back in Spain in February it works. As for the iPhone, well, the YOIGO SIM's all still work and I mean, all three. I'll top up each and use each at least once simply to keep the credit on them, but being connected in Spain is once again, EASY. It was the same in France. My SFR SIM's worked as did the one from Orange. Trick is to be here enough and to buy the Top-Ups and keep them at my disposal. As I'll be back in France in December, I used the three month's Top-Up that was about to expire on Orange on the Android Galaxy Note 1. The SFR process is the service I prefer though as their 24 Euro for 20 days of use, both voice and data suits me fine...all I need to do though is find a Nano SIM next trip.

Navigation though with Apple Maps has me longing for Google Maps, so the Android is useful there, but at the end of the day, my iPhone's win.

So back to the I turn back to Zite, Flipboard and papers for me....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Calle de Fuencarral,Madrid,Spain

Voxeo Labs Makes a PaaS

Voxeo Labs, the skunkworks dev team inside telecom empowering Voxeo, has rolled out Ameche, a platform as a service play (PaaS) that is promising apps inside the call. I have to say, I'm very impressed with both the concept and the approach.

While others are muddling around in the space, seeking to be meta-mediaries, exchanges or brokers, Voxeo has taken the call path and put services inside the call, not around the call. That's like PR vs. Advertsing. Do you want to be outside of the news, or inside the news? Well Ameche combines both OTT and UTF (under the floor) approaches, but instead, by working inside the call, makes their approach carrier friendly.

One of the reasons I'm also bullish on this, is that Voxeo stuff just works so the approach here from the labs has to live up to that brand promise, and knowing the folks there including Jonathan and Jason, I feel confident it will be the app inside be working on a VoIP or PSTN call, because to Ameche, that won't really matter.

Skype For Windows 8 Demystified

Jim Courtney loves to use Windows PCs, something I've pretty much moved away from, as I'm at a point where simplicity and form win out over lower cost. I simply don't need the hassles of Micorosft Windows when Apple and Google exist and work better. But, the Windows market is massive, and Skype is taking advantage of it. In his two posts this week about Skype and Windows 8, Jim has disected the two versions of Skype that work with it, and shared his experiences with us.

Post One

Post Two

Honestly, I'm more interested in where Skype is going with Microsoft Lync than I am with Messenger. Skype already has most of those users, so beyond the fact that you can sign in now with either set of credentials to use Skype, the bigger issue, and one of the two driving factors that caused Microsoft to buy Skype in the first place was the fear inside the Lync group of what Skype would do to their growth, so now that they have it, making the two interoperable has to happen soon.