Why Not Enough Wi-Fi Over European Skies

Here in Europe, other than Norwegian Air, Wi-Fi on flights is a missing link to my travel. It seems according to the recent Skift report, others feel in-flight connectivity is important too.

Let's face it, I love to fly on Wi-Fi equipped planes in the USA because it keeps me "connected" and when I get off the plane my inbox isn't jammed, and I know more of what is going on around me where I land. That's why, when Virgin America first launched their service with Wi-Fi on every plane I pretty much stopped flying Southwest where I was an 30+ flight a year "A" lister. As other US based airlines added Wi-Fi their flights with Wi-Fi became my chosen carriers, which meant Delta right behind Virgin America.

Wi-Fi on European airlines right now is best summarized in this report. Though it's "coming" it is still a ways off.


Working Anywhere Isn't Hard. It Just Takes Planning

Over the past five weeks I've gone from living in beach community of Solana Beach, just outside of San Diego, to go on a quest to be a truly global nomad, working from anywhere and functioning, time zones aside, as if I was still there. This working elsewhere mode includes traveling through nine airports in seven countries and staying in 12 different "residences" or hotels, including three AirBnBs, two winery hotels, and seven traditional hotels.

I can safely say that with planning and research, it's not hard to be working anywhere, but having experience sure helps. By experience, I mean traveling to the places you know well enough, but more importantly have the broadband infrastructure and other essential services in place to make sure that "working anywhere" is possible. But after ten years of being a global road warrior so much is changing I figured it is time again for a refresher and some tips on "living like a local" are now more timely than ever.

Here are a few observations:

1. Hotel broadband is never as good as residential broadband except in certain circumstances. Case in point. The Conrad St. James prior life as an Intercontinental provided Royal Ambassadors with 100/100 in-room Wi-Fi and Wired connectivity. Now the best I could get was 50/20. It was still very good, but a shock to have been "slowed" down. Still this is far better than most hotels.

On the other hand, whatever MamaShelter in Paris has been doing with Wi-Fi since I started staying there years ago continues to get better. I don't remember what my speeds were, but an in-room iMacs serving as an access point and entertainment center makes life easy. Speeds are awesome, and the bandwidth is always stable.

As for my experience in Prague, the Courtyard by Marriott was far better than the Four Seasons where the speeds even when upgraded were never more that 6/6 while the Courtyard was 20/20 or greater. In Vienna, the new Renaissance was fine with speeds at 10/10 but the Intercontinental in Vienna the Internet was far better and more stable, all over the hotel using a very solid Swisscom installation.

But this is where AirBnB for the business traveler wins hands down. In the three AirBnB apartments, I have been in so far my speeds have been 100/15, 10/2 (for a one-night weekend stay) and 100/12 consistently. Why? I'm asking each owner if they have fiber or ADSL. If it's fiber, and right to the dwelling it's going to rock, and it does.

Rule of thumb is thus, put yourself on a fiber (broadband) diet where you can. In every case so far, I've been able to get AirBnB hosts to verify their broadband connectivity and where it's available, have them switch to a Fiber connection from ADSL. This type of broadband means a world of difference, as working from apartments, is the same almost as if I was working from my own home.

2. Mobile Devices, Data, Voice, and Text.

Rule number one. Never roam. Rule number two. Have an unlocked phone. Rule number three. Have enough credit on your last country SIM that lets you log on when you land. Rule number four-buy local SIMs.

This is where it can get complicated so follow along closely. If you're simply making a series of one-day visits to countries, then none of this likely applies to you. In those situations the time involved will be costly, but if you are spending three or more days in a country, or visiting the same countries over and over again in short duration and live a data intensive life like me, consuming over 100 megs of data a day when not on Wi-Fi (which is essential to use) you will need a local SIM on your smartphone and tablets or you will pay the price.

For many this is where Truphone will help as their plans work in 66 countries but its not LTE/4G (yet) in many, and it doesn't matter, though I have a need for speed as I use data side communications services more and more for calls over WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype, Wire for voice and Google Voice, WhatsApp and iMessage for text. Those apps/services and 4G/LTE makes communications often as good or better than wired broadband in some places.

To use mobile broadband like a local, or to get as much speed and high-grade connectivity, you do need the latest models of iPhones, iPads and Android devices, but when you buy them, make sure they are not "operator editions" but are truly "world phones."

My iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with my iPad Air2 have all the radio bands needed to work around the globe at the highest speeds available (with China being a slight exception). Buying these saves hassles, and prevents being on slower networks. For example, the T-Mobile USA unlocked editions lack the 4G radios that work at 4G in Europe except in a few situations. Once you have the real global devices, the speeds you expect all become available. Android devices require you to read and see what they have, but the OnePlus One is my chosen Android mobile solution.

When choosing a wireless operator you have to take in two network factors-speeds and coverage. To do this use Google Search and enter the mobile operator's URL and the words "coverage map." That will show you where they offer coverage and what speeds (GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 4G/LTE)

This means as time goes on things change. For example, in the Czech Republic my initial research showed that T-Mobile would be my best choice. Then as I did more reading, I learned how Vodafone, when they came into the market, went LTE, and sure enough Prague speeds and network were super reliable.

In Vienna Austria, I quickly learned that no one sold 4G mobile phone service for smartphones on pre-paid, but that Telekom Austria sold 4G/LTE for tablets. That meant my iPad was going on A1. What I also found out from the research was that the best network outside the major cities was also going to be A1 from Telekom Austria. Where again I thought either T-Mobile or 3 (Drei) would have been good for me, I would have been on 3G on the iPad and given I was in the wine country half the time I was in Austria, and where the wineries are not always as tech savvy, the LTE/4G on the iPad more than a few times saved my bacon when it came to conference calls and one on one calls using Skype or a variety of Voice over IP providers.

In France, I was a fan of SFR for many years, but the winner these days is Bouygues Telecom. For starters in Paris, they have really good coverage but in Bordeaux I never didn't have 4G/LTE. I've got a SIM from Orange also but while they have the biggest network, much of it is still EDGE in the wine regions. The bottom line for me in France is you have to look at the coverage maps and decide which carrier is for you where you will be. In my case, I hedge and have SIMs with both Orange and Bouygues in my SIM pack.

In Portugal, Vodafone has gone from number 3 to number 1 in speeds on 4G. It used to be Optimus (now NOS) on my iPad but the past year my two trips have shown that research pays off, and the coverage in Cascais has been improved and all along the train ride. That said, if I end up in the Alentejo or Algarve and coverage falters I'll just grab SIMs from MEO (Portugal Telecom) if the Vodafone coverage is sparse and pre-paid SIM's are available everywhere.

In London, 3 used to be my favorite and they remain my steady choice as they started from an all 3G network, however with the merger of Orange and T-Mobile into EE and EE's commitment to LTE-A (a for what they sell as Double Speed, their service has become my first choice. Both provide easy online management, with the key being to buy what you need and not oversubscribe to more than will do the job. Even Vodafone has improved their coverage, so when it comes to the UK, look at the coverage maps and drill down on what speeds are offered where, and then decide who has what you need.

While many may think that T-Mobile USA's global roaming is a good deal, the speeds are variable across the globe. For a quick email check in, and simply map usage it does the job, but if you are heavy app user or plan on making VoIP or Skype calls, forget it, and go local. 3 in London has a "feels like home" program with free roaming. That is enough of a reason to grab a few SIMs and keep them topped up with credit and use them in countries when I first land if I'm not sure I can roam with others before buying local SIM's and I need to check email.

As far as staying connected to the folks back home, pointing a Google Voice number to your Skype In and then forwarding Skype Out to your local number works well. So does Switch.co. And since both offer Do Not Disturb modes you can turn them off when you're sleeping.

3. You Gotta Have Wi-Fi and you need Boingo

Finding Wi-Fi access these days is pretty much like locating running water, but like running water, you need to locate it, and sometimes, even pay for it. That's where Boingo comes in. Having a Boingo Mobile account is a very useful addition to the mobile arsenal. For $9.95 a month (first month is only $4.95) you can connect two mobile devices. Boingo also provides an instant log-on feature called PassPoint in the USA, and a free VPN service as well. All in all for the price the amount of access around the globe, especially at International airports, makes Boingo a very good option. On top of that there's a global plan, a North American one, and specific offers for different parts of the world.

4. Make The Network Yours

In my AirBnB apartments, I've made them "mine." At least when it comes to technology. Given I'm on extended stays I brought along my Apple Time Capsule which has 802.11ac in it. While I also carry an Apple Airport Express, which lacks 802.11ac (as of now) so while that's good for hotels, given properties can get speeds up to a Gigabit, it makes sense to have the gear that works that fast. What you need to do usually is either wire in directly to the router or if you don't have hardwired access, extend the existing wireless network. Be sure to use DHCP to the cable or fiber modem, and then go into bridge mode, that way you avoid IP address and NAT conflict issues.

5. Make Your Place Feel More Like Home

I love Apple TV and the ability to watch the programs I want, and honestly, TV in foreign countries other than news is often lacking. Connect the Apple TV to your wireless or wired network and the content you already have is with you everywhere. To get around geographic restrictions on content from Hulu and Netflix, use MediaHint. What's great about this is you change your DNS settings on your devices and then it opens up your universe to the content you're already paying for anywhere you are. This is far better than a VPN as it doesn't slow down the traffic to your devices either plus it works as either a browser plug-in or a setting. Another great gadget in your bag to carry along is a Google ChromeCast. This lets you have a big monitor wherever you so don't forget the HDMI cable. In some cases, hotels lock down the ports and the ability to add on your devices but here is where being in an AirBnB location changes the game. It's more "open", and you don't have to Hack the House like you often have to "Hack the Hotel."

My favorite "gadget" along for the ride is the Amazon "Echo." It has become my virtual assistant. I use it as an alarm, as a temperature and weather reporter and most of all as a music source. You see, like using MediaHint, Amazon has it configured in such a way as it still thinks it's back home in California. Once you overcome the fact that you can't use any time zones outside the USA, it all becomes easy. For example, just add or subtract the time zone differences when you ask what time it is. But if you ask "specifically" what time it is in your current city by name and country, or make a similar request for weather, you get your local information. What I like is the ability for the Echo to provide me a verbal overview of my calendar for the day, plus to add things to my ToDo List. And with an IFTTT recipe, I can easily have entries populated onto my ToDoIst To Do list. I can also create similar "recipes" to add to my "shopping" list and then have that emailed to me as well or simply review it on my mobile ToDoIst apps.

6. You Have to Have an Office Address

If you're going to be residing somewhere for more than a few days and it's not a hotel, don't get in the trap of the post office being confused. In my case in Lisbon I'm in a security guard/concierge building, so I have someone who can receive packages (and provide local advice as needed) but delivery people and postmen are not always up to date on things. For that reason, I took a "local" office address in one of the Regus locations. I had my Luggage Forward shipped baggage sent there, and knew from both Regus and Luggage Forward when it was received, thus not burdening the AirBnB hosts or worse, my bags not being delivered because someone wasn't home or worse, a different guest was in the property that would have been very confused, and possibly declined the delivery.

7. Credit Cards and Your Addresses

Nothing is more challenging than being out of your hometown and using credit cards these days as the banks are all getting more security attentive. Visa is deploying its Mobile Location Confirmation technology powered by Comuncano client Finsphere which uses your mobile phone as the validator that you're where your card is, but that's just getting rolled out by Visa member banks so it will be a few more months before that is the salvation. For now here are a few tips that are very helpful:

Notify your card issuing and online banks of your travel plans. Most now have (finally) an online form to do that. Provide dates and countries of your travel plans. In the case of American Express, you can provide "alternate addresses." This is a big boon as some service providers locally in theory won't accept foreign country issued credit cards, but what it seems to be is the "lookup" that occurs. I've found using a local address on file with Amex works around some, but not all of those situations. Plus it lets AMEX know where you will be.

8. Getting Around

Being spoiled by Uber in the USA isn't just a hometown thing. In most cities I've been in of late I've used Uber far more than local cabs, but when there's no Uber using the taxi or metro is a good thing. Buying local bus, rail and train passes or local rechargeable cards for transportation is far easier than fishing for cash or fumbling with a credit card, plus it makes you less vulnerable to pickpockets which in tourist areas is always a problem.

Uber can sometimes be a challenge so remember to do the following:

  • Make sure you have your local mobile number up to date. You can do this from the app or the Uber website. If you can't just email their support team.
  • Don't expect the maps to be accurate.
  • I make a point of calling the drivers or sending them a text with specific details on where they can find me or what I am wearing.
  • Surge pricing. In some markets when UberX is in Surge Uber XL or Black isn't. For about the same price you can get a better ride.
  • If at an airport, confirm where the pickup location is with the driver. Often it's not the same place as the taxi's or Limos for UberX. I like to use the "departure" level as there's usually less chaos and confusion.

There are also local apps usually for taxi services. Just know that your costs are higher than Uber but in most cases outside the USA the fares are far better (Paris is a challenge as the fare starts when the driver goes to pick you up.)

9. Living Local

I miss Amazon Fresh. Seriously. Order what you want and the next day, or even the same day it's at your door. Well, in Lisbon El Cortes des Ingles' SuperMercado which happens to be the best market in the city delivers. And while I'm not residing that far from the store, carrying bags of groceries without a shopping cart in 88-degree heat isn't my idea of fun.

Enter their app and web shopping page and their delivery. I'm finding this type of grocery shopping, and delivery service is available in more places like London, and there are a rising number of multi-merchant services like Hubbub that are spawning globally. But just as I've found home delivery in Lisbon it's thriving as well across France with Intermarche and in the UK with Waitrose amongst others.

10. Staying Connected to The Team

It doesn't matter anymore where you are. Crossing time zones is the same as crossing the street. Using services like Slack, HipChat, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, UberConference, Yammer, Skype keeps me connected.

Having a great headset is a key for calls. Invest in NOCS or a high-quality brand. Don't go cheap.

Using music services like Pandora on the Amazon Echo, Spotify, Apple iTunes and even YouTube music keeps me jamming along. Operating the business on Google Apps for Work or Office 365 solves the "I need the file now" problem when everyone else is asleep. You can also make great use of workforce collaboration tools like DropBox, Box, BaseCamp and others. Automating processes with Zapier and IFTTT makes things faster and eliminates manual labor. Services like 99 Designs and Fiverr, plus FancyHands give you a virtual workforce army allowing you to get work done while your team back home is asleep.

12. The Work Day

You're out of the usual time zone, so setting up your day with your calendar focused on maximizing the day is key. I take my dinner 8 hours later than the west coast is at lunch. So 130 there is 930 in Lisbon and London. When I'm in Paris or anywhere on CET, I work it 8 or 9 hours apart. If I know I've got a call scheduled for after dinner, I just eat a bit earlier. Living in an AirBnB apartment means cooking in or having a delivery for those times. The mornings are my writing time and then around 11 or so I split for a few hours. Grab a workout, go for a walk, run errands (laundry) or just grab an early lunch or late breakfast.

Working across time zone is never easy. Add in Daylight Savings Time and when that arrives and ends in different parts of the globe is confusing to even the most experienced traveler. I make extensive use of the paid version of World Time Buddy. It helps me know what time it is where and allows me to easily suggest times for calls. You can also add time zones to Google Calendar and set up your smartphone or tablets with clocks for the more frequently looked up time zones but by having all the times in front of you in World Time Buddy life is simpler.

I'm also making great use of Assistant.To to get one on one meetings set up for either face to face or via a conferencing service. By choosing times that work for you, it then sends out the options and loops into Google Calendar, notifying everyone that the meeting is set up.

13. Gear Up to Go To Work

Recently I bought a new 12" MacBook, choosing the CTO edition with the biggest and fastest solid-state drive, memory and processor. It was the best move I could have made. It's as light or lighter than my iPad, fits in my snug and functional mini Tumi shoulder bag with the iPad, cables, chargers and backup battery for my iPhone, and more importantly has enough horsepower to get me through the work day, The 12 inch screen is bright and the audio is amazing. The key is the weight and power combination. It's fast and light and for people on the go, it is the best Mac out there and since I don't work on heavy graphics or any complex spreadsheets, what this has is more than enough.

14. Airports, Airlines, and Lounges

I am not anti-EasyJet or RyanAir, but I do admit that cutting costs has its challenges, but in reality the best United or American Airlines experience isn't much different than flying the discount airlines of Europe. But there are options so using SkyScanner.com or their mobile apps has given me all kinds of visibility into local routes and flights, plus the airlines own websites. The key is to find the routes and days they fly, and where they go head to head, often the mainline carriers are only a few dollars more, much like Southwest and JetBlue force in the USA.

As for getting work done, investing in Priority Pass is a given. While some lounges are accessible via the American Express Priority Pass relationship, not all are. Armed with their card and the app on your smartphone puts you in striking distance of lounges all over the world. Just learn what it means to be airside or pre-security side as the difference can mean a made or missed flight. Inside you'll find the usual amenities like hot coffee, snacks, drinks and of course Wi-Fi, and often it's better than the airport's own.

Signing up for programs like the UK's new Registered Traveler programme means getting into the country faster. While in the EU a USA chip passport carriers no sway, it will now in the UK with the start of Registered Traveller. Much like Global Entry in the USA, getting in the program takes more time than getting in the country. But once you're in, you're getting in much faster, without any long lines making this an essential for the frequent flyer into the UK.

Apps like TriptIt and FlightBoard as well as FlightStats keep me sane with alerts and flight options. There's no worse feeling when you're flights late, and you have a connection. With these apps you not only know what's going on, you end up finding your options faster, allowing you to go to the gate not wait for some customer service person to get to you in line.

Wrapping It All Up

The bottom line is that it's not really that hard to be working from anywhere. And as the on-demand economy, the app economy and the virtual workforce all merge, being local in a foreign land won't be as hard in the near future as it was as recent as ....yesterday.


A Travelers Trick

Often times we book flights on airlines that sell tickets under code share agreements with other airlines. Case in point my first of three "Lufthansa" flights to Prague at the start of the trip back in May was on United to Houston, while my two continuation flights were on Lufthansa. Check in on either airline, using the passenger name record (PNR) or what we usually refer to as our record locator, didn't work, and what's more, after some digging around and a call to Lufthansa it was discovered that there actually was a different PNR for the United leg of the flight even though that wasn't in any of the original flight information. 

But checking in wasn't prohibited. It was just not possible using the information that was on the itinerary. What did work was the electronic ticket number and therein lies the key to checking in and more.

Tomorrow I am flying to Paris, so naturally the ticket was purchased on Air France, but it ends up that the flight is really an Austrian Airlines flight. The check-in reminder alert that arrived by email over night from AirFrance advised that automatic check in wasn't possible, and even going through the process on their web site, ended up with the same result.

That was when I remembered the e-Ticket technique and went over to Austrian Air's web site.  As soon as that information was entered, and a vital piece of information it is, my world changed. Not only was the check-in process now available, it was offering seat selection, the opportunity to purchase additional baggage and what's more, a pre-departure upgrade option to business class. SCORE. I grabbed the business class seat, paid the upgrade fare of 139 euros, which when combined with the original fare was still a bargain (and a relief) and I'm on my way, checked-in and ticketed.

Here's the bottom line. Codeshares as they are called, especially on international flights are more common now than ever before. Knowing your way around the codeshare system will make your life easier, stress free and likely give you some perks you didn't know about. The key is to know that your electronic ticket number is not your PNR and that's the key to unlocking your flight options on the airline your actually flying on.

Twilio Goes Video, Puts Pressure On TokBox Now

For the past two years, when it came to WebRTC video many early developers would look at TokBox and use their platform. Today, the heavyweight of heavyweights in developer programs, Twilio fired a broad shot across the bow and entered the fray. This is big news for WebRTC because Twilio has the key part of the equation. The developers. And that means a lot more than what they have in their stack. Their entry also begs the question how Genband will react as they have been tossing Kandy around for months but with hardly any news about deployments.

Tsahi also raises the same concern I have towards TokBox, but overlooks a key missing piece of the equation. That is the lack of Internet Explorer or Safari compatibility that plagues both TokBox and now will impact Twilio. Both would be well served by working with client, Temasys, whose commercial plug-in brings IE and Safari to WebRTC players. 

So for now, devs working with either Twilio or TokBox will still have to go to Temasys directly to license the functionality.

If I was a developer working on IoT products, apps for iOS or Android or someone looking to appeal to the millennial generation, I'd run, not walk, to Twilio's dev program as this will speed up the adoption of WebRTC even without Microsoft being friendly today. That day will come. Just like Christmas does.


Getting "Back In The USA" Will be Faster

The U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement folks (not to be confused with Homeland Security) are making great strides to improve the "welcome home" and "welcome to the USA" experience. And, they're doing it with your smartphone and applications.

For years we have been filling out a form as we land, and then presented it to the Immigration officer as we entered the USA.

DeclarationformfrontAlong came Global Entry, where we insert our passport, present our fingerprints and allow a retinal scan to be taken. For those in Global Entry, the process dramatically reduces time, and if you carry on your luggage often your out of the Customs area in minutes, not hours.

With your smartphone form, this will provide CBE officer a faster way to break down the lines. But more importantly, the advanced passenger data, plus the submitted data will ensure that all your data matches up, and if it doesn't, that will provide the officers the flags in advance to have the questions ready to help get the right facts or take the right action.

But the new use of smartphone forms has another benefit. Many airports, due to FAA rules, prohibit the use of mobile phones in the Customs and Immigration area in the USA.  The fact that forms will now be filled out on the smartphone means you'll need to be using your smartphone to fill the form out and submit the form to the CBE servers. That also means you'll be able to send your SMS/Text messages, check your email and possibly even make calls. When I recently posed the question to a Customs officer he said that each airport would decide what was the rules, but to keep an eye out for the signs.

To me, this is progress. And progress, using technology, is what it's all about.


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...



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.



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.



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. 



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.



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.



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.



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 November 18, 2014

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Today starts WebRTC World in San Jose, CA. Already Cisco has made news at their own event a few hundred miles south in Los Angeles with a new service called Project Squared (see a few stories down)....Nokia is back and at the Slush Conference in Helsinki with an Android based tablet to rival the iPad....Technology has moved so fast that some are claiming the smartphone is now passe and connected devices are the new "IT" thing....Better image recognition is alive and well, so watch for new cameras to hit the market that show even more.....NYC Lync's Up with gigabit hotspots resurrecting an idea from another era but now which just may work...New services come to life so you can pay where you are or whomever you know, all part of the mobile payment extravaganza...Those stories and more...all, are just waiting for YOU...



Nokia surprises with Android tablet

Nokia is launching an Android-powered tablet, marking the Finnish company's return to consumer electronics. The surprise launch pits the firm against Microsoft, which completed its takeover of Nokia's previous mobile-devices business in April. The N1 tablet is due to go on sale in China towards the start of 2015, ahead of other countries.


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The internet of Things is still in its infancy, and while more and more devices in our homes, cars and on our bodies are getting connected, one has to wonder just how much longer our phones and tablets will be the connective tissue or the network becomes even more attachable.....



Giants have to move quickly as smartphone era ends


The smartphone's day in the sun was a comparatively brief one in the end. Compared to PCs or landline telephones, the smartphone era could be dated to just seven years, from the iPhone launch to the end of 2014, when two giants, Samsung and Intel, admitted that they needed to look beyond handsets for growth in devices.



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If this works in New York City I would expect to see more hotboxes around the world popping up. Think of all the Red Phone Booths in London just beaming away....as WiFi and GigaBit connectivity become common place...(go back to the story about IoT)



The Plan to Turn NYC's Old Payphones Into Free Gigabit Wi-Fi Hot Spots

New York announced the winning bid to transform the existing payphone infrastructure. LinkNYC will bring free gigabit Wi-Fi connectivity to some 7000 street towers. It'll be the largest and most ambitious Wi-Fi network of its kind in the world.



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Video imagery is getting batter and better. When you see how small cameras are today and just what they can do, plus what the software behind them is capable of you just have to SMILE....



Hi-tech camera takes surveillance into third dimension

Banks on the mainland are testing an advanced surveillance camera technology that could be installed at key sites including Tiananmen Square and Beijing airport, according to the start-up company behind the system.


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Researchers Announce Breakthrough in Image-Recognition Software

Two groups of scientists, working independently, have created artificial intelligence software capable of recognizing and describing the content of photographs and videos with far greater accuracy than ever before, sometimes even mimicking human levels of understanding. Until now, so-called computer vision has largely been limited to recognizing individual objects.



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Cisco rolled out two new products yesterday and one, Project Squared seems to feel a lot like a corporate update and roll up of all their services to me.....



Cisco launches new telepresence system, Project Squared mobile app

Cisco is busy retooling its collaboration portfolio with a telepresence system that uses less bandwidth and power and Project Squared, a mobile app that offers video conferencing, document sharing and other tools. Cisco on Monday launched a new three-screen telepresence system designed to cut costs on bandwidth and deployment as well as a mobile collaboration effort dubbed Project Squared.



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How we pay and what we pay with is changing and so is the whole payments industry. ApplePay and Google Wallet are only the tip of the iceberg. PayPal and others started the revolution, but the new players are far from all known yet...Everyone wants their piece of the action....



Alibaba launches in Australia with Alipay

Alibaba founder and billionaire Jack Ma's payment offshoot company is eyeing aggressive expansion in Australia. Alipay, already China's largest third-party online payment solution company, is opening an office in Sydney targeting local small and medium-sized businesses.



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Snapchat to Let You Send Money to Friends, Thanks to Square

Snapchat unveiled Snapcash on Monday, a new payments feature that allows users to send and receive money from friends through the app's private messaging service, CEO Evan Spiegel told Re/code. The new tool is powered by payments company Square, which operates its own similar service called Square Cash that allows people to send and receive money through its Cash app or email.


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The Comunicano Daily for Monday November 17, 2014

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You can always tell when the news cycle is starting to slow down. It's when dirt, rumors and soft news starts to take hold. That's what this morning feels like as I scanned looking for stories. The holiday period is here and the next few weeks will be more about Cyber Monday, Black Friday and all the offers, deals become very visible.  

The first story is really revealing about Facebook, and how they basically build their own technology after looking at everything else when they can. It helps them maintain a market lead, and they don't provide a vendor the ability to then sell things to the competition.



Facebook's New Data Center Is Bad News for Cisco 

As it announced that the Altoona data center is now serving traffic to some of its 1.35 billion users, the company also revealed how its engineers pieced together the computer network that moves all that digital information through the facility.



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Facebook recognizes that it is in a battle with other social networks including LinkedIn and Twitter. As Facebook begins to be part of everyday life and as people cross lines between work and play, Facebook is launching At Work to address the market.



Facebook is making 'Facebook at Work' so you can Facebook at work

You already Facebook at work, so here's "Facebook at Work." Facebook is working on extending its network beyond the social realm and into the professional world, according to the Financial Times . The company's new, enterprise-focused product will be similar to the functionality of its current site, with a newsfeed, groups and messaging capability.


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Acquisitions usually lead to changes within the company acquired. The much heralded NEST purchase of Dropcam is now showing the signs of how things really can be as the founders of the aquired company are not always as happy once they become employees.



Unrest at Nest Labs

Sitting on stage last week at a San Francisco conference, Greg Duffy, the 28-year-old co-founder and CEO of Dropcam, which makes Internet-connected video cameras, fielded questions from an audience of startup founders. It should have been a time to celebrate. After all, last June, Duffy sold Dropcam to Nest Labs for $555 million.


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Country music icon Garth Brooks has always listened to the beat of his own drummer when it comes to his brand. His attempt to use the Internet has been frought with challenges and of late things are not really going his way.



How Garth Brooks took on the internet - and lost

"This is where I make my stand." So Garth Brooks proclaims in the opening lines of the new album, Man Against Machine, his first collection of new original material since 2001. He isn't just flexing his muscles.


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The net neutrality issue is becoming an everyday news item in light of the recent comments from President Obama. More and more the argument is about the have's and the have nots, but the reality is what the Internet was designed to be and what broadband is about are two different things now and we need a whole relook at the opportunities just what the Internet is and what broadband will be.



Wolff: Obama punts on net neutrality

President Obama's decision to advocate the reclassification of Internet broadband services as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act - that is, making broadband subject to all the laws that regulate telephone service - seems particularly Obama-like: squirrelly and lofty at the same time. It's squirrelly because it will never happen.


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Apple and Google are shaking up payments. Now that they are in the whole mobile payments world is expected to grow. This will create new opportunities on a variety of levels for suppliers of new technology.



U.S. Mobile Payments Market to Boom by 2019, Research Firm Says

Just a few years ago, the idea of paying for things at the checkout counter with your smartphone seemed like a technology company pipe dream. That dream, according to payments industry experts, is beginning to become a reality.


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A new fund to help fuel growth of companies started by people who are not as well entrenched in the "Silicon Valley" scene is launching. This is one more step on the path to greater democratization of opportunity and certainly a welcome addition.



Unshackled, a New Angel Fund, Forms to Back Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Some of the U.S.'s most successful tech companies, including Intel Corp. and Google Inc., have been built by immigrants, and many people who come to the U.S. aspire to work in or start tech companies. Without work visas, though, they don't get far.


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Down under in Australia, there's lots of geography that's not populated enough for wired or even wireless broadband. But Google and Telstra have a potential solution, using hot air balloons. Guess you don't need to be a Balloonatic after all to see that there's more than hot up there.



VIDEO: Google's Bal-LOON-y trial gets QLD Telstra spectrum

Google is extending trials of its broadband-by-balloon project entitled Project Loon, and while it has already previously conducted some tests off the coast of Queensland, it is partnering to trial 20 more balloons in Western Queensland in late December.


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Robotics, drones, and IoT (Internet of Things) are nowdays a part of everyday conversation and in some cases, a safer work environment may come from it all.



Knightscope's Autonomous Robots Will Take on Security Jobs Normally Held by Humans

As the sun set on a warm November afternoon, a quartet of five-foot-tall, 300-pound shiny white robots patrolled in front of Building 1 on Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus. Looking like a crew of slick Daleks imbued with the grace of Fred Astaire, they whirred quietly across the concrete in different directions, stopping and turning in place so as to avoid running into trash cans, walls, and other obstacles.



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My good friend Manrique Brenes, longtime Skype hardware guru is out on his own with a very interesting startup, Blossom. Yesterday he launched his rewards campaign on Kickstarter . It's all about water, your lawn or garden, the environment and saving people money. Given the drought conditions in California that we're all living through, his idea is timely. Even if you don't have a lawn, helping his campaign, either by telling someone about it, or puchasing a Blossom, would be a move in the right direction.



Blossom™: The Smart Watering Controller

Blossom is raising funds for Blossom™: The Smart Watering Controller on Kickstarter! Automate your sprinklers with real-time weather data and complete control from your phone to lower your water bill up to 30%.


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The Comunicano Daily for Friday November 14, 2014

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It's always nice to wake up to see Comunicano clients in the news. Today, GigaOm's David Meyer captured the news about Temasys launching the All AWS (Amazon Web Services) based Skylink for WebRTC developers. In essence, if someone is building services on Amazon's Web Services platform they can now quickly and easily use Temasys' technologies quickly and easily.



Temasys wants AWS users to embed WebRTC comms using its platform

The WebRTC company Temasys has released a platform called Skylink to help other firms build real-time communications into their apps and services. Because it is entirely built on the AWS stack, Skylink should work particularly well for providers who are also using AWS as their foundation.


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The rules of the game for investing are changing and Angels List, like OurCrowd is at the forefront of changing those rules. Now they are letting institutional investors jump in early. Where this really changes the game is in the area I like to call "diagonal marketing" where relationships that exist between companies, people and organizations can be leveraged to shorten time to market, broaden distribution, supply pieces, parts and technology, form alliances, etc. This is all good as long as they all stay far away from the potential anti-trust, monopoly or insider trading regulations. I see this as a ripe opportunity for new regulation to come to be...hopefully for the good.



A disruptor shakes up angel investing

One recent evening a group of institutional money managers was ushered into a backroom at San Francisco brasserie the Cavalier via an unmarked secret entrance that most customers would mistake for an emergency fire exit. Their host was Naval Ravikant, a wildly successful angel investor-Uber, Twitter, etc.-and serial entrepreneur who wanted to pitch them on his latest venture.


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If it walks like a duck....BlackBerry Meetings sounds a lot like iotum's Pronto to me, which Comuicano helped launch many years ago at DEMO winning a DemoGod Awardin the process. Fast forward nine years and now BB has Meetings that does much of the same thing, but possibly with different technology.



BlackBerry announces BBM Meetings, a cross-platform conference call tool for $13.75 per month

BlackBerry continues to expand upon and flesh out the features of its BBM messaging service. The company today hosted a BES event to unveil a new a new app called BBM Meetings that it says will address the shortcomings of current collaboration solutions.


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 If you need a lift to work now there's Lyft for Business. Fortunately, for the Comunicano team, we all are usually WFH (working from home) but if we do need to go somewhere more and more we use Uber and other ride sharing services. (Personally I'm a huge fan of Uber X)....The idea behind Lyft for Business is that companies can set up accounts for their employees, but also what Lyft is doing is setting up some car-pooling systems for co-workers. It's a neat idea and one that may just put more cars in the car pool lanes.



Lyft Becomes An Employee Perk With Launch Of 'Lyft For Work'

On-demand ride-sharing service Lyft is announcing a new program that will allow businesses to give Lyft credits to employees as a perk. The new Lyft for Work program, which launches today, is aimed to boost adoption of the service while also providing a better commuting experience for company employees.


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"I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass" was a song by Nick Lowe, and for some in the industry there may be some joy in Mudville over the nay saying, barb throwing aspects of the story below about Google Glass' future not being so bright. I take a different view, and thing that as with all early adopter programs that are over-hyped, there's a period of dissillusionment before the dam burst for the idea. Given we work so much with early stage ideas and companies, I'm a bit more tolerant but also like to caution our clients on not telling the whole story too soon. Google Glass is one where the whole story isn't really yet known.



Google Glass future clouded as some early believers lose faith - The Economic Times

After two years of popping up at high-profile events sporting Google Glass, the gadget that transforms eyeglasses into spy-movie worthy technology, Google co-founder Sergey Brin sauntered bare-faced into a Silicon Valley red-carpet event on Sunday. He'd left his pair in the car, Brin told a reporter.



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Back to School Daze..BlackBoard, which wants to be the supplier of all things educational except keeps rolling up vertcially aligned companies with their latest purchase, ParentLink. 



Blackboard shells out an undisclosed sum to acquire ParentLink

The shopping spree continues for District-based Blackboard. The education technology company has paid an undisclosed sum for Provo, Utah-based ParentLink, a company that connects school districts with parents through social media, mobile apps, phone calls and e-mail. Blackboard executives said Thursday that the purchase reflects the company's growing focus on selling technology to elementary and secondary schools.



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This sounds like something that would happen to me. And actually I'm surprised it didn't on a flight back from London on a test flight on Virgin Atlantic where WiFi was offered (It was slow and useless). That said, there are faster services coming to the global airlines, and hopefully, better pricing than this.



Man gets $1,171 bill for using in-flight WiFi

When it comes to offering Wi-Fi in the sky, airlines enjoy a situational monopoly. Still, this takes the cake: a Singapore Airlines passenger stepped off a plane, looked at his phone and discovered this bill for $1,171.46: As the passenger, Jeremy Gutsche, explains on TrendHunter, the eye-popping total came about as result of ordinary internet use - sending emails, uploading documents and such things.


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From the "don't try this at home department" of viral videos, take a look at the CEO of a company that builds armor plated limos and how far he has gone to prove his product works......



Texas Armoring Corporation CEO Lets Employee Shoot Car With Assault Rifle While He's Inside 

A Texas-based company posted a video on YouTube showing one of its employees firing at an SUV with an assault rifle while his boss is inside the vehicle, MSN has learned. The video is a promotional material for Texas Armoring Corporation, a company that retrofits everyday vehicles with protective armor.



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Microsoft Brings Back Skype For Business-Sort Of

Extra-Exta read all about it, Skype For Business is coming back...well it is soft of. Basically, Microsoft has recognized that the Skype name has more credibility than Lync does so they're renaming Lync, Skype for Business. That's the crux of the story, that's untold in my view. Given that, this is as much a marketing decision as it is a business and engineering one. At the end of the day this looks like a defensive move to counter Google Apps and give Office and Office365 users from jumping ship. To me this may be the right move, but it may be too late.

Since Lync already offers instant messaging and audio calling with Skype users, something had to be added to make it interesting, so Skype for Business will add video calling and the Skype user directory making it possible to call any Skype user on any device so let's hope this works the otherway too.

The big hook though is how Microsoft is using Office 365 and its own Lync/S4B integration going forward. It's designed to thus rival Google Hangouts, which means Office365 needs a Switch like service to marry up to it. Basically, Skype is that service, sort of.

To me this makes me think that Lync for Mobile, becomes Skype. And with LTE, the mobile enterprise extension is created best via Office365 adding Lync/S4B vs. a premise installation, as MSFT will keep the updates flowing (yes we know how often they happen.)