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Posts from November 2012

Dial Around App to Call China

Have a hankering to call China, but don't want the high costs that your mobile operator charges?

Well a new service called, Call Me In China, may have the answer for you to stay in contact with friends and co-workers back home.  To call China most numbers require 17+ digits to be dialed tand regular long distance international rates apply.  With the Call Me In China app, you can sidestep the regular phone company, by calling a unique and local phone number that you or your friends can dial that route the call to China at a fraction of the normal price with reported increased clarity since the calls are being optimized to terminate in China. The company is USA based and with the word "launch" you'll receive some free calling credit.

Apps for iOS and Android are available now.

In an email the folks behind Call Me In China told me:

"The service makes it cheap and easy for people outside of China to reach you directly on any phone in China or Hong Kong. When you sign up, you choose a new number in your home country (a new number that will be used exclusively by you). You then give that number to your friends, family, customers, or anyone who may want to call you. Calling this number will connect directly to your local number in China. For this service, charges a low per-minute rate and the person calling just pays their phone operator the usual fee for a local call --- often free. 
You can easily update your destination number at any time if you want to re-route the calls to another phone.
With CallMeInChina, there is no software to install, no computer needed and no dependence on video. Everything works right the first time by simply using a telephone.  If you download and install our Android or iPhone app, you can also call people back and your Call Me In China number will show up on their caller ID.


Unsubscribing More And More

Maybe it's just me, but I'm finding that I'm getting overloaded with email offers these days, to the point where I am actively unsubscribing. It's not that I've lost interest in the merchants, its just that I'm a buyer, not a shopper, and I look for what I want, I don't have it pushed towards me.

Between B2B offers for services, offers for travel, wine and food, restaurant review sites that push deals, it's getting to the point that the first hour of every morning is spent cutting through the emails to simply address the real work that has to be looked over.

What I do like are curated sale sites like, Gilt and for wine, Invino, where there's some real thought going in to the offers. What I'm also enjoying as an avid business traveler are private sale sites that are relevant to my travel pursuits, that seem to come with far less frequency but are more appealing. 

Many of these online merchants would do better sending less but offering more but until then, I can search, find and discover what I need without being pushed something three times a week or more.

A Site for The 3 oz Crowd

squirt bottlesquirt bottle (Photo credit: rodaniel)

If you travel like I do,without chekcing bags, the air travel three ounce rule for containers of anything liquid is a route to not being as well groomed and clean as you can be at home.

Well finally, I found an answer. and I placed my first order today. carries the best of the best better brands. Good bye drug store brands. Hello really good products that I use at home (when I'm home) and all in a travel sizes, packed inside a travel size carrier.  But they have another plus. They can ship to your hotel too, so if you're on a long trip, you can have your favorite products waiting for you. That's what I do with my luggage too using LuggageForward

So now with 3floz and Luggage Forward I can keep the leap frog, bag drop, no hassle travel approach I like, and start looking good. Work out gear sent by Luggage Forward. Looking good stuff, from


Let's Turn Five Dollars into $300 or More

This image shows a red wine glass.This image shows a red wine glass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Census Bureau map of Little Egg Harbor Townshi...Census Bureau map of Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I was doing some wine touring in the Woodinville Washington area with two very dear friends who like me, share a very deep passion for wine, and as wine professionals, we don't normally go touring on a weekend. But, one of them, is a very dear friend who moved up to Washington recently and for his birthday, my neighbor and I decided since he no longer can take part regularly in "our Secret Wine Society" events in San Diego, we would bring the "Secret Wine Society" event to Washington with three days of wine to make up for what he's missing. 

At the end of the day of tasting and touring using a combination of lifts, limos and Uber Car, we ended up at Sparkman Cellars, a garage winery in the warehouse district of Woodinville. Of the six wineries we visited yesterday, it was the winery that turned me on the most. Much like Margerum Wine Company or Core Wines from friends Doug Margerum and David and Becky Corey, there was a vibe around the people, and the wines. As I was tasting wines I was offered the opportunity to make a donation to help victims of Hurricane Sandy back in Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey where a $5.00 donation let's you play a cork toss game. If you got one of the corks in the jar, you win a magnum of the unreleased 2010 Sparkman Cellars Wilderness Red.

The premise was simple. A glass jar had been set up about 10 feet from the ground. You were handed ten magnum wine corks. You stood ten feet back on the charity line, otherwise known as the "free throw" line.

On toss five, after "whiffing" and a rim shot, the cork floated right into the glass jar. Much to everyone's amazement, and yes, even mine. Tossing a cork, that weighs almost nothing, that distance, in a drafty winery, where the lightest breeze can shift where the cork will end up, of course made it no easy feat. But I did it.

And I did it, not for the magnum, but for the cause. I grew up in Philadelphia and drove through Little Egg Harbor and Egg Harbor on my ways to the Jersey Shore. My late uncle Meyer used to call out the township's name as we drove down in the car "E---gg Harbor" with his southern drawl.I used to laugh when I heard that or when my mom would tell us the story, so for sentimental reasons I gladly gave the five dollars because it wasn't for the toss, but for the cause. 

So now I have this magnum. My friend, and neighbor, RIta and I cooked up an idea on how to drink the wine, once it arrives.

We are going to toss a party for our friends. I'll cook up some "crack" from Cardiff Seaside Market, various flavors of it ranging from the original Burgundy Tri-Tip to the Chipotle marinade to even the Hanger steak, pork tenderloins and chickens. I'm all in, but I've decided to add a wrinkle.

Let's raise more money from the bottle.

We'll open the wine, and for a $10.00 per taste donation I figure we can raise another $300 dollars or so for the people of Little Egg Harbor.  I figure we can easily get 30 tastes or more out of the magnum.

Date and time of the party is TBD. 

Oh..and yes, I ended up buying some of the Sparkman 2009 Wilderness too. It was the best red blends of the day I tasted. It will go great with Cardiff "crack" or pizza, or chicken or even turkey. Best of all, it will go great all by itself. 

Four Red Wines To Know and Appreciate

English: Modified version of Commons image Ima...English: Modified version of Commons image Image:Rhone transit suspension.jpg to show the major cities, rivers and wine regions of the Northern Rhone Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I drank a bunch of wonderful wines that just have to be noted. I was up in Seattle for a birthday dinner of a friend. The first was the Le Petit Cheval, 2003, a Bordeaux blend that was light, silky and smooth. It was very clearly ready and and delicious.

The second wine that just needs to be known about is from a winery I have become a fan of. Domain de Mourchon, is a Rhone Valley producer I have gotten to know this year. Nestled up in Seguret, not far from another winery I'm fond of, Chene Bleu, is the McKinley family's winery. The 2007 Domaine de Mourchon Family Reserve is made from 100 percent Grenache, and is so complex and rich, layered with forrest floor, raspberry, blackberry and cherry flavors. The wine is nowhere near showing any age, and will clearly go for another 8-10 years. It's complex, knitted and tasty. 

The last two wines are wines that are special to me. The first is the 2009 Comunicano Wine Company Syrah, that I blended in conjunction with friend and winemaker Doug Margerum. The second is the 2007Domaine d'Aupilhac Les Cocalieres. Both are moving along nicely, and are showing forward development and lots of years ahead. The Comunicano red is becoming the Northern Rhone style red that I envisioned when I first started with Doug on the project. The Aupilhac wine is numbingly complex and requires an hour or two to open, but when it does, it goes from being a very good wine, to something for the textbooks of what a wine from the Languedoc should be. Garrigue herbs, fruity middle and an amazingly long, lingering finish.

UberConference in Your Browser

UberConfernce, from Firespotter Labs, now has WebRTC conference calling, as long as you're using GoogleChrome.

As their web site says: "When entering the conference page (either directly taken there if the conference is now, or when the conference starts) a popup will display your connection options. From here you can choose to connect from your computer by selecting the option and hitting ok."

Right now WebRTC is rather new, and somewhat "geeky" but it won't be long. From what I know, UberConference is the first of the conference call services that are making this feature available.

Back Together Again-Google Voice's Vincent Paquet Joins Firespotter

An email to Vincent Paquet bounced back a few minutes ago. I quickly asked Firespotter Labs founder Craig Walker what was up with Vincent.

His reply says it all:

VP, Product Management at Firespotter:)

This is the third time the duo has teamed up First with Dialpad--sold to Yahoo. Next was GrandCentral-sold to Google. Now with Firespotter Labs and Uber Conference they have something that eventually will get sold. Maybe Microsot or Facebook will give my good friends the hat trick.
Congrats Vincent.

RIM Goes Over the Top

Research In Motion (RIM) has gone over the top with BlackBerry Messenger and Voice calling with the addition of BBM to BBM user calling according to FierceMobileContent.

Basically, this means that calls between BBM users are free, anywhere, and part of the data plan. Imagine if Apple did that or Google/Android did this, the carriers would be livid. But this is RIM and they have been a true partner with the carriers for years, sharing revenue, using them as a channel for distribution and more.

This is a very good thing and with BB10 a few months away in an era of declining voice minutes the traditional way, what RIM is doing is one way for the carriers to still see some of the revenue.

Apple Invents Very Cool Next-Gen Dual Mode Headphones!

Apple has invented a very cool next-gen headphone design that could be operated in two modes. The first mode is the normal every day in-ear design that all headphones offer. The second mode is where the fun comes in. It will allow users to rest their headphones on a table or other surface and kick them into true speaker mode with a full amplifier so that they could share their music with others in any room or other social setting. What a fantastic idea! I'll definitely be first in line to buy these headphones.