Previous month:
November 2012
Next month:
January 2013

Posts from December 2012

Standards Don't (Always) Apply

Over the past week what should be standard isn't anymore. First was the fact that Pay as You Go SIMs on SFR in France and the iOS on iPhones stopped working. After some work and a day later, SFR support admitted that the settings needing updating, and are different than the ones that are published everywhere.

Then there was the hotel/resort that this past July that everything worked perfectly. Then Apple changed what it does with Java and voila, I can't log on with my MacBook under OS 10.8.2 without the IT guy doing what we used to call Sysop magic. It seems the service that provides the gateway will be changing in January so they're not keen on doing much.

Now with their gateway, IP calling works with Skype but Bria is another story, not because of any thing CounterPath has done, but because ONSip and they both follow standard, and the gateway, and the network NAT or in this case double NAT making some things like conference calling and vido conferencing a bit of a challenge.

Speaking of conference calls, there's the never ending signalling and media issues, coupled with echo and latency. Ever since the demise of HiDef Conferencing via Citrix which incorporated what made it great into GoToMeeting, nothing has ever really sounded as good or worked as well.

You see, when standards don't always get applied the same way by everyone, nothing really is standard. Back in the day, when everything was PSTN, everything was the same. Now, with so many different ways to do the same thing, nothing is really the same.

An iMessage Sunday! What's App With That?

My friends have arrived in Lisbon, well some of them anyway, and where a few years ago BlackBerry BBM was the way we all would have been staying in touch what seems to be the common denominator isn't even the globally popular WhatsApp, the OTT SMS service, but instead its Apple's iMessage.

And, its not because of iPhone but because of iOS. Yu see, everyone isn't using their iPhons due to roaming charges or the fact that they may have a locked phone. But on Wi-Fi, using accounts from FON, Boingo or others, they can still be connected to one another and keep in touch.

We also can go one step beyond, with "Find Friends" which is an iOS app from Apple that is a lot like Google Latitude.

Between the two services, iMessage and Find Friends, neither requires carrier involvement, if you don't wish to go local. In my case, with unlocked iPhones and my iPads and SIMs from Vodafone, I'm pretty much staying in touch with everyone.

Does this mean I've abandoned my BlackBerry--NOPE. I still have it, use it and find a lot of benefit with it. And when BB10 arrives with new devices, and new apps I wouldn't be at all surprised if my usage levels increases as there are just somethings a BB is simply better at.

A Very Video Christmas

Image representing Comcast as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

Ten months ago, pal Michael Graves wrote a very detailing post about two new hardware devices, TelyHD which works with Skype, and Biscotti, which uses GoogleTalk as its signaling and media transport layer that on face look very similar. Like many of us who live on the cutting edge, those devices and news of them was very early in the making, as the early adopters took to them, but not much in the way of mass adoption. You can read Michael's post to get the lowdown on both companies, but this post is about the implications I see coming from the developments both companies have made.

You see, when it comes to video in the home and small business offices, I think there is going to be change in adoption and use cases this year, and the reasons are:

Processors inside smartphones, Mobile networks with LTE, Cloud and Broadband to the home getting faster.

Those four reasons together all spell the ability for mobile and fixed line video calling to work more easily together, as well as to propel it's growth. Gone are the days where developers at services and apps like SightSpeed (now part of Logitech) needed to/prayed for the next generation of processors, while figuring out how to get more compression into video and audio streams. Now we have the power in the processors and the speed in the networks to produce and deliver full motion video without much hesitation to use it. 

We are also seeing total integration into the endpoint, the camera, with upgradeable software and encoding tools. By putting codecs in the endpoints, that can be updated, much like Apple TV's, video cameras become like telephones of old. We never updated our phones, the telephone company upgraded the network and our phones kept working. And that's the beauty of both TelyHD and Biscotti and once they go 1080P will be even better than 720p, but when you think about carrying video, sometimes size doesn't matter as much, or actually, it does.

What TelyHD and Biscotti both do is bring video calling to the home and office for less than the price of expensive Polycom and Cisco desktop phones. They also use two widely deployed networks with millions of users already connected every minute of every day. While Biscotti seems to be angel backed, TelyHD has funding from both Comcast and Rogers, two of the biggest cable MSO's on the planet. It will be interesting to see just how integrated the programs to sell in TelyHD into business markets really are, because both Comcast and Rogers are very siloed as companies go, and like many venture arms of large communications companies, not always knitted to the fabric of the business. 

Perhaps, Yahoo wll jump into this space with an acquisition of one of these companies because as Yahoo moves mobile, one of its biggest strengths is Yahoo Messenger, an app that has always had video and never really exploited it. On an International level it remains one of the most installed chat apps around.

Watch video get even more in home use, as apps and devices from Biscotti and TelyHD arrive under the tree this year.



MpMe-Music The Way It Should Be

WMMRWMMR (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up as a radio junkie. Living in Philadelphia I was weaned on top 40 from WFIL, WIBG as well as WDAS and WHAT, the latter two for R&B and real soul music. They were the AM stations. When FM came around it was WMMR, WYSP and WIOQ, before discovering my inner music muse at WXPN and WRTI for the more creative new wave and experimental music found there as well as roots, jazz and blues.

As the Internet arrived music took on new shapes as Shoutcast and WiredPlanet, which is now part of Rhapsody, all caught my ears, followed of course by Pandora and Spotify. But while Pandora played songs that fit together style and musical tone wise, and Spotify gave me the mother of all music libraries, neither gave me what the voices of John Diliberto, Russ Musto, Michael Tearson, Ed Sciaky or Meg Griffen ever could. They told me about the music and the artists. That's one reason I love the Underground Garage or Sirius XM and DJs like Loog or Handsome Dick Manitoba and of course, Little Steven himself. It's the stories that make the music discovery fun.

And that's why I love MPme. Ever since they were introduced to me, and have since become a client, their music and what they call "curated radio" has been a staple on in the background when I'm working, writing or just chilling out, especially when I'm on the road. 

With MPme I search for stations, artists or even individual songs, and their discovery engine looks around the world and offers you the stations to connect you to so you can listen to the stream that is playing the song, or may have just played it. Once you land on the station you have real DJ's picking and spinning the tracks, giving you really professional picks, not just music your friends like (not that that's all bad either.)

Once the station's on the iPhone or iPad, you have amazing sound and the real  benefit. You can buy the tracks from iTunes. That's why for me, someone who loves to find new and old music, and to collect the tracks, are all reasons why MPme is my kind of radio app on the iOS devices.

Related articles

Breaking Bad-iPhone and SFR

After almost two years of using SFR on iPhones in a prepaid environment that started with an iPhone 3G and on everyone iPhone since, yesterday when I used my top up recharge coupon, nothing happened. Well actually a lot did.
First the online system was giving me a different audio message. Then the top up/recharge worked but I did not have any data service, even though the type of top up was designed to be voice, text and data, and for two years is what I have been using.
Next was a trip to the SFR store in Paris, where despite some amazing service from Julie, and two SIMs, including a replacement one for the old one, and a new number, nothing worked. Julie spent two hours dealing with support and technical services. Nothing. No data.
This morning, I awoke and magically data was working on my iPhone 5, but not the 4S. Then after updating my iPhone5 with a recent update, it no longer received data.
SFR's PR team is being super responsive, but despite everyone from their PR people to the most excellent Julie at the Rue Tronchet store telling support "he mostly speaks English-un parle anglais" the only call I got was from someone who spoke no English.
I'm now working with the Bouygues Telecom who has SIM's. Not only have my numbers changed, I'm now sad to have to leave the carrier, SFR, for some of the services I've used for the last two years without hassle. Hopefully the PDP authentication issue resolves itself this week, or by the time I'm back, but knowing my options made an intolerable situation better.
Ironically, my iPad SIM is working fine, and recharged just as always on SFR. Unfortunately, they don't have iPad Mini nano-SIM's but Bouygues doesn't either. Call me happy...but sad, as I really enjoyed SFR for the past few years.
An update will be provided as soon as someone who can help, does.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Selling Mobile Data By the Pound

First thing I did on Saturday after an amazing overnight flight from LAX to London's Heathrow airport and checking into the Heathrow Sofitel, the property that is on my short list of great airport hotels, just behind Munich's Kempenski, was find a nano data only SIM for my iPad Mini.

That led too a short mini-cab ride into Hounslow, and a visit to the Treaty Center where Vodafone, EE (the blend of T-Mobile UK and Orange) as well as 3 all hold mobile court.

So for seven and a half pounds you get a gig of data good for a month. For 20 you get yourself 3GB of data that are good for three months. I counted my days in London between now and end of March and opted for one of each.

On my iPhone two pounds fifty gets me data for five days on T-Mobile UK, and a week on Three. Its all called fair use but the limits are pretty much half a gig.

With 4G just getting here as HSPA+ rolling out and LTE just arriving, 3G is fine.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Voxeet Launches Amazingly Super Conferencing Service

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with the founders of Voxeet, a new audio conferencing service that just launched their iOS and Android apps after finishing on top in a competition sponsored by Previously they had a Windows app and are promising a Mac client shortly.

In an era where pal Craig Walker launched UberConference, which I subscribe to and enjoy has set a new bar in user interface and completeness of offer, I was delighted to see how very much alive and well imagination is in the conferencing space today without WebRTC being at the core, and that someone can take an idea and deliver a very different call experience.

Not since HiDef Conferencing (former client, now part of Citrix and embedded inside GoToMeeting) have I had the kind of audio experience that Voxeet gave me, as their binaural audio approach, and the visual user interface on the iPhone and iPad Mini was simply mind blowing in an era where not much has been new. 

Because Voxeet uses binaural audio, the sound comes from inside your head. Because you can move the location around on the iPhone of where the other parties are on a call, you can really seperate the participant in a call.

Pal Tom Keating, who loves to test things, goes into detail on what the experience was like, and I agree. My experience with Voxeet was clearly head and shoulder past anything on the market today, for people who want to be on an all IP based conference call. This will put a lot of pressure on companies like ZIPDX and TurboBridge, given the pricing model and the quality.

What's more impressive is the team that built Voxeet, did all this for under one million dollars in seed funding proving that imagination, technical prowess and desire can bring great things to life.

GoGo vs. A Possible Class Action Suit

Slap suits are silly. And the idea of a class action suit against GoGo and parent Aircell is silly. While I don't disagree that the pricing model is currently flawed, the reality of the case is there is competition for GoGo and airlines have the choice of which provider they choose to use, as points out.

The issue though is that we don't have a choice in the air of which provider we use, any more than people who want soft drinks when they go to McDonalds do. McDonalds only offers Coke, not Pepsi. And until the operators of the in the air broadband networks can figure a way to offer an MVNO like play in the sky, don't expect to see lower rates.

That said, iPass and if I recall correctly, Boingo customers have roaming deals so there are some options so this case while having some rational merit, on face is not meaningful. Personally I'd rather see more planes offering Wi-Fi. The inconsistency of planes from SouthWest with Row44 makes it impossible to pick that airline over those with GoGo and I used to be an A list flyer with SouthWest. Also when I look at the productivity I get when I fly on Virgin America, have in seat power, friendly flight attendants and Wi-Fi, I really don't worry about the costs of a monthly fee I pay GoGo because the time saved, stress removal easiy outweighs the cost.

This comes at a time when the international airlines are adding Wi-Fi as American Airlines just announced.

Is SMS Going Away? Or Is It Becoming Generic?

SMS, the texting service found on mobile phones, which now has connectivity making its way into the landline and desktop world is rumored to be going away. Well, I think rumors of its decline are not being properly portrayed as mobile operator based SMS will decline due to one reason. Alternatives that offer more, but go away? No way.

Let's look at what's out there that's taking traffic away from the mobile operators:

1. BlackBerry Messenger-Teens who text love their BlackBerry devices. Why? The keyboard makes it easier to text fast and furiously. Since it works cross-border at no added messaging cost, it makes it a winner.

2. Google Voice-free texting, delivery via SMS, to the Google Voice apps and by email. Plus, you can archive the messages in your account on Google.

3. iMessage-Apple's over the top service. All your connected devices (Macs, iPod, iPads, iPhones) get your messages making it easy. If two people are on iOS or Apple devices then the messages bypass the mobile operator and go direct over the data side.

4. WhatsApp-perhaps the biggest SMS alternative service. Works cross border, allows sending of voice notes (like BBM), share photos and more. 

5. GroupMe-purchased by Skype. Biggest plus is exactly what its name is. Group texting. Why didn't the carriers offer this years ago?

6. Twitter-sure you can SMS to and from Twitter, and in the days of unlimited SMS, why not. But with more robust features in apps and web browsers, why bother. Add in Facebook too for community reasons.

7. Failure to advance. Lack of evolution.

Perhaps the most telling reason. SMS is 20 years old. It took a long time before networks became interoperable. No simple desktop integration or gateway services led to Instant Messaging taking hold faster. Today, MMS is a limited use service, even with people sending and sharing photos and vidoes, largely due to expense. SMS is still what it was when it launched. Yes, useful, but only for what it was designed for.

WebRTC World -Tells It All about WebRTC

I was thinking about adding a section to VoIPWatch called WebRTCWatch, so I was happy to see that the folks at TMC (Rich, Eric, Tom, Paula) have powered a new site called WebRTC World.

It's a very nice compendium of news edited and compiled by Phil Edholm. 

With WebRTC taking a center stage this year as the "next big communications thing" its nice to see attention being given to it by people who are passionate about the technology and it's implications.