Will AliBaba Do With DingTalk What eBay Didn't With Skype?

AliBaba, the Chinese eCommerce giant has launched a social business communications service called DingTalk in Beta (Translation required) bringing back memories of what eBay hoped to and failed to do with Skype.  The dream back when Skype was acquired by the online marketplace pioneer was to connect the business to business ecosystem that powered it and the customers who shop. That's exactly what AliBaba is trying to do today with DingTalk.

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The Chinese market is rapidly expanding, and today, DingTalk is only available in Mandarin. But already AliBaba is claiming their multiple ecommerce platforms have 8.5 million users, so they could have a running start with users and the key features that delivers Over The Top services that bypass the telcos just like Skype:

  • Free messaging
  • Free multi-party calling
  • A business contacts directory that links the eco-system and customers
  • Message Read/Unread status

DingTalk, designed to be a mobile service first, offers voice communications, messaging and team collaboration and already has a downloadable app for Macs and mobile apps in the Apple iOS App store and Android Play Store.

Another Wrinkle

Ironically, there's another wrinkle with DingTalk. It's the fact that Apple has allowed a BETA service app in the App Store. Perhaps something got lost in translation (Apple techs only use Safari not Chrome which auto translates) or Apple has softened their stance on allowing Beta services in the App Store now.

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A bit of Deja Vu

Long before Skype became part of Microsoft, it was acquired by eBay because then CEO Meg Whitman (now at H-P) and her team thought that Skype would be a great way to connect those buyers and sellers together too. Unfortunately, that wasn't what eBay's ecosystem wanted, or maybe Meg and her team were just too early, as today we're seeing a shift in how buyers and sellers interact with services like Amazon's MayDay. and WebRTC.


Marriott Says No More Blocking of Wi-Fi

Marriott Hotels has reversed its position on Wi-Fi and will no longer pursue their lobbying efforts with the FCC when it comes to blocking.

For travelers who use Mi-Fi's this is good news, but more importantly, it shows that Marriott is beginning to rethink their digital strategy, and are beginning to listen to the public and influencers. This may also mean that other member hotels who joined up with Marriott who are members of the American Hotel & Lodging Association will likely take the same perspective but continue to lobby the FCC for clarification. SKIFT has more on this.

Marriott faced lots of pressure from Google and Microsoft, who beyond being influential with their lobbyists in D.C. also have thousands of executives every day who travel and likely were having to also rethink where their executives were staying on the road.


2015-The Year of WebRTC

WebRTC is alive and well, and in reality all the AT&T announcement did this past week was move it from the world of early stage and forward looking companies like Citrix with their free version of GoToMeeting, to Switch.co, Talko, Wire, iotum with Calliflower and a cadre of collaboration service providers like appear.in who all see what it means for them and their customers.

At the same time Cisco, Ericsson, Firefox are sticking more than their toes in the water, each finding ways to want to swing their weight, while emerging companies like client Temasys, Telefonica Digital’s TokBox and Acision all are really making things possible by providing platforms that are making WebRTC really work.

What AT&T is doing is basically saying “people call from their computers. We’ll make it possible to move the call from the computer to their AT&T mobile phone.” That’s what Switch is already doing. If AT&T was thinking about changing the game, they would enable that to happen so a call could be “switched” to an iPad or any device as mobile phones are so yesterday.

The real power of WebRTC is only now starting to be seen. The reality is that the new worlds of Internet of Things and Wearables are where the future resides making voice, video, file and screen sharing simply table stakes. You have to do that, and with WebRTC any developer can. It’s what they do beyond the basics that makes WebRTC interesting and game changing down the road.

 


Hotels Still Want to Manage Wireless Access

Re/Code is reporting how Marriott and other hotel operators want FCC approval to be able to effectively block the use of mobile hotspots.

If the hotels provided reliable WiFi so work can get done, the need for mobile hotspots wouldn't be necessary. But they don't. What's more this is really a "wolf in sheep's clothing" move by the hotel industry to use Wi-Fi and in essence mobile networks as an excuse to justify how they are no longer making money on:

  1. Phone calls-people use their cell phones

  2. Movie rentals-iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu

  3. Room service Delivery-Grubhub, Delivery.com, Amazon Fresh

  4. Gift shop necessities-Amazon Fresh

So the mobile hotspot becomes the target of attack but really this is all about hotels wanting to maximize revenue beyond the "free WiFi."

The irony here is when the speeds at San Diego International Airport for Wi-Fi got really slow some years back the suggestion of the IT Director was to use a mobile hotspot. Hotels could do the same and actually reduce the level of customer support calls, dissatisfaction with WiFi and guests opting to stay elsewhere as reliable WiFi is the third most wanted feature by hotel guests.

Hotels, guests, mobile networks can also all be working together. For starters, hotels can rent access to mobile operators, install DAS systems and improve their in building coverage. They can also boost their WiFi, improve the quality of broadband coming to the property and give the guests a work like experience, even if the guest has to pay a fair price for it. To me, paying for reliable WiFi, or paying a higher rate for a room that includes it, is far better than paying less, and getting less, and that's something the hotel industry hasn't quite figured out yet, in their race for profits, at the sake of guest dissatisfaction.




(Don't) Leave Me a Message

Today a story broke about Coca Cola, one of the largest companies in the world, and was all about why they are turning off voicemail in their Atlanta HQ.  It made me think back to a call to my cellular company many years ago where I asked them to turn off my voice mail, and to take the cost of it off of my bill.

They couldn't. And they still can't. My point was I was using GrandCentral and I didn't need their Voicemail so I shouldn't be paying for a service I don't use or need.

But today, the point goes deeper, and is pretty much in line with the Bloomberg story. Not everyone really needs to be using voice mail. And to my point, if I'm not using the service, why should I pay for it.

For starters, almost all the people I deal with professionally are either able to reach me or provide answers to questions via some other messaging service, app, text or email, and most of them have been able to for more years than I care to remember.

Second, leaving me a long voice mail usually will only lead to a follow up. I'm not sure how many times a supplier's customer service team will leave a voicemail, but when they’re called back, you don't get the same person to speak to, and that in turn leads to a whole other issue. Lack of ownership of the problem and often the need to start all over again.

While I'm sure some in business still believe that voicemail is a solution, but for some businesspeople it's really more like voicejail.

Want to solve voice mail hell? Here are a few tips on how to do that:

1. Leave an outbound message saying "Hi, thanks for calling. I don't listen to voicemail, reach me another way."  

2.Use the call forwarding/busy, no answer code function for your carrier and forward it to a number that you set up somewhere with a third party provider, without voice mail. The call will just ring, and ring, and ring. That means instead of leaving you a message they have to call back.

3. Let your voice mailbox fill up, and never erase any messages.

 

 


The Comunicano Daily for Thursday December 17, 2014

 
 
 
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Changes. Lots and lots of changes in mobile. T-Mobile rolls a stash of data. Doctors make video house calls. Sprint drops their sponsorship of Nascar. Those stories and more are all just below...So now onto the news..

 

 
 
 

T-Mobile Allows Subscribers to Hold on to Unused Mobile Data

 
  T-Mobile USA, the fourth largest wireless carrier in the United States, said on Tuesday that it would allow customers to roll their unused mobile Internet data into the next month's billing. Or, as John Legere, the company's chief executive, put it in a video broadcast: "What you don't use, you won't lose."  
 

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A Doc in Your Pocket: Doctor on Demand Gets Smarter

As you travel to your destination this holiday season, you may be bringing bags filled with presents - as well as runny noses, colds, flus, extra stress and high emotions. And there's a good chance that you'll see your primary-care doctor or psychologist before the year is out.
 
 

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T-Mobile US confirms 700MHz LTE network live in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and Washington DC

TeleGeography's free daily email summary of the world's top telecom news stories.
 
 

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You may wonder why Sprint is giving almost 15 months of notice to NASCAR that it's dropping its title sponsorship. The reason is simple. It will take a long time to find a sponsor ready pony up the kind of money it takes to sponsor and support such a massive sponsorship every week during the NASCAR season...

 

 
 
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Sprint to Drop Nascar Partnership After 2016 Season

Sprint has decided not to extend its Nascar title sponsorship for the Sprint Cup Series, citing the need to focus on its core business. After the 2016 season, the telecommunications giant will allow the partnership to expire. Nascar has partnered with Sprint for years.
 
 

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In light of the Sony hack encrypted email is going to be the rage. Obviously, with Gmail and Google Apps so widely used, Google is sending a message that they're getting ready to offer that to their users.

 

 
 
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Google's alpha-stage email encryption plugin lands on GitHub

Google has updated its experimental End-to-End email encryption plugin for Chrome and moved the project to GitHub. The firm said in a Tuesday blog post that it had "always believed strongly that End-To-End must be an open source project." The alpha-stage, OpenPGP-based extension now includes the first contributions from Yahoo's chief security officer, Alex Stamos....
 
 

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NBC wants to make sure you can watch their content. Anywhere. But they've put a few catches to insure that their cable subscribers only see it--for now.

 

 
 
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NBC to roll out live streaming - but not so fast, cord cutters

Saturday Night Live isn't live streaming just yet. NBC has announced plans to begin live streaming its network shows, but cord cutters won't have access to the new service. The peacock network will start streaming to mobile and desktop devices on Tuesday, but viewers will need to provide a login tied to a cable subscription to gain access.
 
 

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Google Ventures is moving big time into healthcare. 

 

 
 
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Google Ventures Shifts Focus to Health Care

Google 's venture-capital arm is moving strongly into health care and life-sciences startups, mirroring shifts at the Internet giant. More than one-third of the money Google Ventures invested in 2014 went to health care and life-sciences companies, up from 9% each of the prior two years.
 
 

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While Marriott and Sheraton have already stated their no-key required, no check-in approaches, along comes Hilton with their own claims.

 

 
 
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Hilton's digital check-in and room selection rolled out worldwide

17 Dec 2014 | Get Free Access to Breaking Hospitality News Here [News, Information Technology] Hilton Worldwide has announced that its pioneering digital check-in and room selection technology is now live across more than 4,100 hotels spanning 11 brands worldwide. This includes more than 260 hotels across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
 
 

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Comunicano client PixiePath's CEO Bryan Field-Elliot was was interviewed on That Drone Show this morning. You can hear via YouTube just what PixiePath is all about.

 

 
 
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PixiePath CEO On Drone Fleet Management Platform

You can watch PixiePath CEO Bryan Field-Elliot talk all about Camera Drones, Quadcopters, Multirotors and more Video Podcasts at ThatDroneShow.com

 
 

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The next set of stories are all about drones. How they get used, where they can and can't and what may keep them from transforming business and privacy as we know it today.

 

 
 
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The Future of HealthTech - Ambulance Drones

In December 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos caused quite a stir with the announcement of his company's plans to offer 30-minute product deliveries via unmanned aerial vehicles (more commonly referred to as "drones"). Drones have been deployed by the U.S.
 
 

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Drone Shows L.A.'s Expo Line Route from a Bird's-Eye View (VIDEO)

L.A. has become a drone development center, in part because of Hollywood's desire for great aerial shots, and in part because of the tech explosion in Silicon Beach and Downtown L.A. A journalist can pick up a phone and find out if any of the city's hottest drone companies has...
 
 

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New York City's Drone Ban Would Be the Strictest in the Country

​A New York City council member is introducing legislation that would ban drones in the city, according to draft legislation obtained by Motherboard. The bill would amend the city's existing administrative code on aviation to severely restrict drones within city limits, essentially banning them except under very specific circumstances.
 
 

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Flying a drone in the UK: What you need to know

Drones of all shapes and sizes will be popular Christmas presents this year, but while some of the most dramatic videos are shot by flying over skyscrapers and famous landmarks, few pilots are aware of the laws preventing drone flying in built up areas.
 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Tuesday December 16, 2014

 
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Apple Pay is rolling along.  And like iTunes and the iPhone, more and more people and more retailers are using it. What's funny is Google had Wallet long before Apple Pay, yet the attention being given to Wallet vs. Apple Pay is small while Apple gets the attention.

 

 
 
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Dozens More Companies Sign Up for Apple Pay

The list of companies working with Apple Pay continues to grow. On Tuesday, Apple announced that in recent weeks the company had signed up dozens more banks, retail stores and start-ups to adopt Apple Pay, the company's new e-commerce product, which allows customers to buy things with little more than a wave of their iPhone.
 
 

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Drones continue to be in the news.  Two stories today of note.

 

 
 
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Why our drone future is for real -- someday

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wants to ship goods using unmanned aircraft. Some are skeptical, others nervous, but drones already are improving the way we live. In 2002, a stroke-like event turned Henry Evans into a quadriplegic, depriving him of almost all ability to move.

 
 

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Drone-Hunting Blimp To Launch Over Washington, DC

On Friday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, will launch a giant drone-hunting blimp over Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Grounds just east of Washington D.C. The system includes a 242-foot balloon (technically called an aerostat because it's connected to the ground) that can stay up for a month at a time and a radar to detect - among other potential threats- drones.
 
 

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Ever wonder which companies protect your data, and which may not?  This story may make you think twice.

 

 
 
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We Asked 29 Tech Companies If Their Employees Can Access Your Personal Data

Traditionally, privacy worries for consumers and tech companies have been limited to keeping information secure from third parties or hackers. But a series of internal abuses show that tech company employees often have universal access to user information, as well as reason - be it pure voyeuristic curiosity or, in the worst cases, a vendetta - to look at our whereabouts, spending, and of the most private corners of our lives.
 
 

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Changes in tax laws in the EU may have a major impact on services, pricing and availability.

 

 
 
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EU tax change is about to hammer small digital service providers

From the beginning of January, new EU tax rules will force many businesses offering online services across the Union to take on a load of new administrative responsibilities. The changes have caused particular consternation among micro-businesses providing such services - for a classic example, think about an individual who's making a small amount selling knitting...
 
 

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In the UK BT is looking more like they are getting back into the mobile business in a big way, buying up EE/Orange/T-Mobile UK.

 

 
 
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British Telecom Company BT Is in Exclusive Talks to Buy EE

LONDON - The British telecommunications company BT said on Monday that it had entered into exclusive talks to acquire the British mobile phone business of Orange of France and Deutsche Telekom of Germany. Orange and Deutsche Telekom confirmed last month that they were in early stage discussions to sell their joint venture EE to BT, Britain's former telecommunications monopoly.
 
 

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Friends. Enemies. It's hard to figure out what Bose and Apple are these days, but one things for certain, Bose is going from hardware into the services arena and wants to play in the Internet of Things. They have the devices, now they want to dance to the music.

 

 
 
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Bose May Be Working on Streaming Music Service

Apple's Beats Electronics and Bose already compete in the headphone and speaker markets, but it appears that Bose may be gearing up to compete with Beats in another area -- streaming music. A Bose job listing first noticed by (via VentureBeat ) seeks a Senior User Experience Designer to work on prototyping Bose's "next generation streaming music platform and ecosystem of products."
 
 

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For small business social media has lots of value, but that means paying attention to it. Yelp is now moving into the Attention Management business.

 

 
 
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Yelp Introduces New App For Business Owners With Push Notifications

Yelp is releasing a new app for business owners. Unsurprisingly called "Yelp for Business Owners," it's available for iOS and Android users in all countries and languages in which Yelp currently operates. Until today, business owners had to tolerate a less than optimal experience accessing their account information on a smartphone.
 
 

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Ever wonder why you see ads for web sites you've visited? Retargeting is the answer. And it seems to work very well.

 

 
 
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90% of marketers say retargeting now as good as search ads, email marketing

Over 90 percent of marketers say that retargeted ads are as good as or better than the gold standard in digital marketing, search ads, according to a recent survey by leading retargeter AdRoll. Why? Intent, says AdRoll president and CMO Adam Berke.
 
 

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Here's a great read on focus and getting things done.  Ask yourself if you're applying what's suggested or not.

 

 
 
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How to be the most productive person in your office - and still get home by 5:30 p.m.

Some days the to-do list seems bottomless. Just looking at it is exhausting. We all want to know how to stop being lazy and get more done. I certainly want the answer. So I decided to call a friend who manages to do this - and more.
 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Monday December 15th 2014

 
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The news out of Sydney touched me immediately on Sunday, as it was just about a year ago that I was near the coffee and chocolate shop that is currently under siege. That and the fact that I have friends in Sydney on both personal and professional levels. Thankfully, all are safe, and thanks to iMessage and email I knew within seconds of asking. While not on the same level as 9/11 in New York City, when I think how far we've come in the ability to contact and confirm that people are safe one can quickly realize the impact that technology has on society. What's also a very powerful force today is streaming media and social media. Both are very important to following the story. The first story below will take you to ABC-Australian Broadcasting Corporation's live news broadcast.

 

 
 
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Watch the ABC News 24 - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Coverage of the Lindt Cafe Siege

Australia's most trusted source of local, national and world news. Comprehensive, independent, in-depth analysis, the latest business, sport, weather and more.

 
 

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The recent Taylor Swift flap with Spotify may end up being a very well crafted publicity stunt, but the bottome line is musicians and artists need streaming media.

 

 
 
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Why Musicians and Advertisers Need Streaming Internet Radio

Taylor Swift ignited a renewed debate about music industry revenue and the impact of Internet radio on artists. Like many debates what you believe may be driven more by where you stand than by reality. On one side you have artists and music labels that have experienced a decade long slide in music sales.
 
 

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A new app, Workflow,  may be the IFTTT or Zapier for iOS apps. Right now it's a very primative but powerful tool that will only get better over tim at automating some repetitive tasks.

 

 
 
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Workflow is a powerful automation tool for iOS

A new app called Workflow aims to close the divide between the power of OS X and the convenience of iOS. By offering curated and custom workflows, the app can automate just about anything you'd want to do on the iPhone or iPad - along with actions you probably haven't thought of before, like calling an Uber car to take you to your next meeting with one tap.
 
 

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There's lots of money in take out and delivery and now venture capitalists and developers are looking at multiple ways to bring your food to you.

 

 
 
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Why Commerce and Tech Companies Want To Deliver Grub

6:15 AM EST December 15th, 2014 Big players in the payments space tend to have a knack for disrupting every market they enter. Look at Amazon and retail or Uber and cab services. They've stepped on the toes of businesses - big and small - undercut business models, and managed to make a few enemies along the way.
 
 

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New tracking technology using video may help change the way offers and information are presented to us.

 

 
 
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Next-generation tracking technology could be in your gadgets soon

Sophisticated tracking technology, the likes of which you might associate with governments or big companies, may soon be in consumers' hands, homes, cars and local stores. If it works as described - a big "if," of course, - the technology could detect not only people but determine what they are doing, where they are going and even what they may be thinking.

 
 

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Over the weekend the Drone Expo was held in Los Angeles and drones remain a hot topic with a lot of focus on management.

 

 
 
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Drone management: The next frontier

About a year ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made a bold publicity move - he sat down for a 60 Minutes interview and showed off the company's planned use of drones for same-day delivery to its customers. Those familiar with the reluctance surrounding drones in the U.S.
 
 

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If you've got a charitable effort needing crowdfunding Indiegogo just gave it a kick. Now non-profits can use the Indiegogo platform to raise funds without paying any fees to the company. This doesn't remove costs for credit card transactions, but it helps put more money into organizations that need it.

 

 
 
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Indiegogo cuts fees for good causes so you keep every penny

Raising money for medical bills, memorials, sports and other worthy causes are now fee-free on the popular crowdfunding service. More of your money is set to go to good causes as Indiegogo cuts fees. The popular crowdfunding site has got rid of fees when you're raising cash for emergencies, sports, volunteer efforts and other worthy causes.

 
 

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If you're worried about your email being insecure, TechCrunch has penned a story titled "The Founders Guide to Email Security." 

 

 
 
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The Founder's Guide To Email Security

With the horror of the Sony Pictures breach unfolding in slow motion before us, we are reminded that operational security - OpSec - is absolutely key at any company. Whether or not you traffic in high-value data, the expectation that your servers are secure enough and that your data is worthless is foolhardy.
 
 

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While SilentCircle promises uncrackable text messaging and voice calling Verizon has new encrypted calling app that has one wrinkle. The NSA can listen in.....hmmm.

 

 
 
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Verizon's New, Encrypted Calling App Plays Nice With the NSA

Verizon is the latest big company to enter the post-Snowden market for secure communication, and it's doing so with an encryption standard that comes with a way for law enforcement to access ostensibly secure phone conversations.
 
 

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At Comunicano, we've always said it's all about the story. Seems The Harvard Business Review and New York Times AGREES.

 

 
 
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Storytelling Your Way to a Better Job or a Stronger Start-Up

IT'S been called a strategic tool with " irresistible power" by Harvard Business Review. And " the major business lesson of 2014 " by Entrepreneur magazine What exciting new 21st-century technology is this? The age-old art of storytelling - something humans have done since they could first communicate.
 
 

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The Brydge iPad Keyboard/Speaker System

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This past week the long awaited Brydge Keyboard and Speaker for the iPad arrived. And I love it. Sure it's adding weight to my iPad Air 2, but it's also giving me a real keyboard experience, and the audio that can't be beat.

The Brydge has the fit and finish that compliments my iPad and basically gives me a Mac Book like experience. The keyboard is solid and responsive and has keys that are mapped to the most used iPad functions including brightness and audio controls, as well as the @ key, up, down, left and right cursors, Spotlight and iPad lock/unlock. It even has a dedicated key for SIRI so to say the makers of the Brydge have looked at what people do with their iPads is clearly there.

But it does have a weakness. While it may pair via Bluetooth quickly, when it comes to VoIP, it fails to deliver. And not only does it fail to connect audio from VoIP apps like Google's Hangouts, Counterpath's Bria and Citrix's GoToMeeting, it does one thing worse. It doesn't pass the audio back to the iPad at all. That means everyone on the other side of the conference call or phone call can hear you, but you can't hear them without disabling the Brydge.

Sadly, this defeats one of the Brydge's best feature. The rear facing speaker. What that does in effect is help reduce echo and latency because the sound is being directed away from the iPad's built in mic. (Note: I contacted the customer service team at Brydge and look forward to a reply). This is the same issue which the Mocet Communicator faces with WebEx, JoinMe and GoToMeeting but which due to co-development with CounterPath and by applying the Apple hardware spec was solved with Bria and Skype. But, unlike the Communicator, the Brydge goes with you so the proper handling of voice would be a great fix.

Beyond that one issue, in my three days of use so far, the Brydge more than lives up to it's promise, and their support team has been providing excellent email responses to basic questions including advising that the Air 2 holding clips will be to me this month.

The bottom line, if you want a real Macbook Air replacement, and do all your work in the cloud using apps like Microsoft Office 365, Google Work and more, then the Brydge is a must to be part of your iPad essentials when you want to be Working Anywhere.

 


The Comunicano Daily for Friday December 12, 2014

 
 
 
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Hello from a very wet and rainy, windy, blustery San Diego. Normally called Sun Diego, we're having one of wettest mornings on record with the wet stuff coming in off the coast and making driving rather trecherous. It was so trecherous, today's Breakfast With The Fire Chief, an event being organized by the great folks at San Diego Fire Rescue actually called it off. And I thought only baseball games were called off because of rain?  

That's given me some time to whip up today's news and share some really interesting tidbits of news...First up is two articles on the subject of Drones. Both feature Comunicano client PixiePath started by a past client of ours, Bryan Field-Elliot who was one of the minds behind NextAlarm which successfully exited a few years back..Drones are hot business, and we're seeing more and more companies spring up in the sector. Tomorrow, PixiePath will be at the Drone Expo in Los Angeles so if you're in the area, say hello to Bryan and our own Jim Llewellyn who will be on hand...now onto the news..

 

 
 
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For the drone fleet conductor comes PixiePath

Companies delivering packages or farms mapping acres and acres of fields might not want to stop at one drone. A fleet can get things done faster. But how do you keep them safe and effective while working as a group? PixiePath, a drone software startup that launched today, thinks it has a solution: the cloud....

 
 

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IT security whiz sets sights on commercial drone management

The Federal Aviation Administration has taken a hard line so far against most commercial uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e.,drones) for safety and privacy reasons. But one other good reason for taking things slow is that the software for managing such drones has trailed hardware development.

 
 

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WebRTC continues to find a way into the news with Reuters picking up the story under the watchful eye of long time friend in the Far East Jeremy Wagstaff picking up the story. It was nice to see client Temasys and analyst Dean Bubley, as well as former client at SightSpeed, Scott Lomond quoted in the piece.

 

 
 
 

With WebRTC, the Skype's no longer the limit

 
  Web Real-Time Communication is a proposed Internet standard that would make audio and video as seamless as browsing text and images is now. Installed as part of the browser, video chatting is just a click away - with no need to download an app or register for a service.  
 

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Make no mistake about it your in 2015 your cell phone will be used more and more...to help you do things like make payments and be identified. In the State of Iowa, you'll even be able to really use it as your ID too.

 

 
 
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Iowa Drivers Will Soon Be Using Their Phones as IDs

The driver's license is going digital. Sometime in 2015, instead of flashing a plastic ID at a cop, drivers in the state of Iowa will be able to show off a mobile app installed on their smartphones that acts as their official license, according to The Des Moines Register .

 
 

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The Lending Club IPO is a hit and that bodes well for those in peer to peer lending and microfinance.  Expect to see more companies jump in to what is a unique and different form of crowd funding.

 

 
 
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Lending Club Takes Its IPO Victory Lap, As Competitors Watch Closely

Lending Club, the online loan marketplace that's trying to bring Silicon Valley-styled innovation to the financial industry, pulled off a blockbuster public offering this week. In doing so, the company set the bar expectedly high for every other would-be financial disrupter. The San Francisco-based company raised $870 million from its IPO.

 
 

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Apple now requires cases protect devices from 1m drops, meet new environmental standards

Apple recently started requiring case manufacturers in its Made for iPhone (MFi) licensing program follow new requirements that will ensure cases better protect Apple devices and cover glass from impact, according to sources with knowledge of the new guidelines.

 
 

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Pardon the pun, but Uber keeps rolling along. They are now moving into China ina big way with Baidu and that comes with both cash and greater awareness in the Far East. 

 

 
 
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China's Baidu Set To Partner With Uber And Reportedly Invest Up To $600M

Uber may have just raised a fresh $1.2 billion this month, but the company looks set to welcome a new investor, Chinese internet giant Baidu, which is reportedly set to invest as much as $600 million into the U.S. firm.

 
 

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But as they raise more money, Uber is also going to see more pressure from regulators, who want to put the squeeze on them by banning their apps in iOS and Play stores. 

 

 
 
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Brussels Minister seeks to ban Uber from Belgium

Ever since it rolled out its UberPOP service in Brussels back in February, heavily-funded Silicon Valley company Uber has been having run-ins with the local government. The saga continues, as Brussels Minister of Mobility, Pascal Smet, will now file an official complaint (article in Dutch) with the public prosecution service against the increasingly controversial Uber.

 
 

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Dating sites are hot again, and hooking up seems to be on many a Venture Capitalists mind. 

 

 
 
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VCs Swipe Right For Dating Startups

With two months until Valentine's Day, investors worldwide are singling out a variety of online dating and matchmaking startups that believe tech is the solution to improving our love lives. The $12M Series A announced yesterday for matchmaking app Hinge is the 4th largest round recorded to date for a dating-related startup, beat out only by rounds for Skout, Zoosk, and HowAboutWe.

 
 

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And this just in...Google may be leaving Russia. Well at least when it comes to engineering talent. This is all part of the concerns surrounding privacy and rights in Russia.

 

 
 
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Report: Google Pulls Engineers From Russia

Google will reportedly move engineers out of its Russian office to avoid the country's increasingly restrictive Internet freedom laws. A group of employees will stay in Russia, according to The Wall Street Journal , to focus on sales, business partnerships, user support, marketing, and communications.

 
 

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