24 June 2010
My personal inbox is getting bigger than my work inbox, so it must be time for an Inbox Liquidation Post.
Truph0ne News: Having made use of Truphone Local Anywhere on my last trip abroad, I’m certainly interested in seeing it expand to other markets. They recently announced planned expansions of their “local markets” to The Netherlands and Spain (i.e. markets where you can get “local” numbers and pay “local” rates). Unfortunately, it’s not immediately, it’s “months.” On a more positive note, their iPhone app now supports iPhone OS 4.0 multitasking, so you can receive Truphone calls on your iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 while running other apps.
iOS4 (or rather iPhone OS 4): I’ve actually been playing with iPhone OS 4.0 for the past few months. I had the “golden master” release on my phone for nearly two weeks now and I’ve been fairly happy with it. Unfortunately, to take advantage of the multitasking feature, your apps need to be updated to support it. Why Skype did not launch their updated app the day iOS 4 became generally available, I’ll never know. My prediction: we won’t see it until after my kids get back into school in September.
Tomi Ahonen Takes on the US Wireless Industry: I am reminded of what my tour guide in Jerusalem told us: never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen gets a couple of facts wrong in this epic rant about the state of the US mobile phone industry, but most of what he has to say is spot on.
Unlimited Mobile Data in 25 Countries: I’ve gotten a couple of press releases from XCom Global about their offering where they will rent you either a wireless USB modem or a MiFi like device on a per-day basis. The pricing is pretty good, given what I paid for WiFi in Europe. Unfortunately, it only works if you’re traveling to one country. Wonder how they’d handle that situation?
MAXroam Goes Global: I had a press release in my inbox about MAXroam’s special plan for people going to the World Cup. I figured it might be a bit dated by now, so I went to see if it was still being offered. To my surprise, their website had changed and they have launched their “Global SIM” cards. This was the “Holy Grail” SIM card I used on my last International trip . You can buy reasonably-priced bundles of minutes and/or megabytes of data to use in 41 European countries. These SIMs “just work” without the usual trickery involved with global SIMs.
Positioning Without GPS or WLAN: I like the idea of not having to fire up the GPS or WLAN to get location. The mobile phone is already talking to multiple cell phone towers and it is possible to use the information from those towers to triangulate your location. It may not get as pinpoint as a GPS can, but it can certainly get close enough (does 7-12 meters work–indoors no less?) where a regular GPS can’t easily. I really hope GloPos and the technology they are building around this gets some traction because it sounds like the right idea for a lot of reasons.
26 April 2010
This is a cross between an “inbox liquidation” and a “random thoughts that have been bugging me” post.
Pixy Me: I was given a redemption code so I could have a look at this application that lets you “personalize” stock photography with your name or some sort of message. The effects is really well done. There are limits to the personalization (number of characters) and the app could do a better job of noting the limitations. You can also personalize your own photos, but it’s more like an “add a border” personalization and not nearly as cool as the stock photography personalizations. A worthwhile purchase at $1.99.
Starbucks: Anyone who reads my Twitter stream knows I visit Starbucks on a regular basis. It is one place I relocate my home office to in the afternoons. I go there because of their rewards program (which I know some people aren’t fond of) and because the experience is generally predictable and consistant no matter which Starbucks I go to. And yes, I have Starbucks at home because I buy their “Custom Roasts” from Costco. And more recently, because Klout hooked me up with some free coffee (specifically Pikes Place Roast and Verona). Pikes Place is not one of my favorites (though in Decaf, I have no choice). Verona is much better, but my favorite so far on the Starbucks Tasting Tour is the Yukon Blend. I also remember Gold Coast Blend being good too (which is the coffee this week).
Boingo Offers Unlimited UK WiFi: Like the unlimited North America plan, Boingo now offers a similar plan for UK residents for £14.95 per month, with usage outside the UK being billed at £0.09 or £0.13 per minute. The version of their plan for mobile phones is £3.95 per month and is “worldwide” (though it is a subnet of the 125,000+ locations where Boingo is accepted). I have been considering getting Boingo again for my US travels as it is insanely useful to not have to worry about whether or not I’ll be able to use the WiFi.
Some Thoughts on CenturyLink buying Qwest: The landline business is going nowhere but down. Neither Qwest or CenturyLink has a wireless play of any sort (sorry, partnering with Verizon for mobile phones or AT&T for WiFi is not a wireless play). DSL (at least as these two companies currently deploy it) is not broadband, or won’t be considered broadband much longer. Size might matter for updating their infrastructure, but it won’t solve the lack of wireless problem? Maybe they buy Cricket and MetroPCS next?
LUNAR designs the outer case of Check Point Abra: According to their press release, “LUNAR’s challenge was to complete the expression of the Abra USB drive’s security features with an innovative design that evokes impenetrability and inspires confidence. The resulting solution approaches this goal from both a visual and tactile perspective, creating an object that is pure, iconic, and monolithic.” I haven’t seen the production Abra units up-close and personal, but if you’re interested, I’m sure your local Check Point SE would be happy to show one to you
FREETALK Everyman HD Webcam Coming: The team at Comunicano sent me an email today telling me the FREETALK® Everyman HD webcam (TALK-7140) will be generally available tomorrow (April 27) anywhere in the world via the Skype Shop. The TALK-7140 is an affordable new high-definition webcam that empowers Skype users with true 720p HD video and was unveiled at CES in January. Given the high quality of their previous products, I have no doubt this will be a fantastic camera. All the same, I have a review unit coming that I’ll take a look at once I get it.
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20 February 2010
My inbox is bursting at the seams, it seems.
Skype and Verizon Wireless?: One of the surprises to come out of the recent Mobile World Congress show is that Verizon Wireless and Skype have signed an agreement that allows a specially designed Skype client to be available on several devices (Blackberries and Android phones). Om Malik uncovers some sources who say that this deal is exclusive for 2-3 years. What kills this for me is that all calls (either Skype-to-Skype or Skype to international number) are routed through the Verizon Wireless voice network, meaning no WiFi. Not to mention the fact that the Verizon Wireless 3G network doesn’t support voice and data. Meh.
Skype and the iPhone: Related to the above, Skype is planning on issuing a version of their iPhone app that will actually allow calling over the AT&T 3G network. Previously, Apple’s SDK forbid this practice, but this has recently been changed. The stated reason for the delay is that Skype wants to ensure the iPhone experience is tuned for an optimal experience. Skype isn’t tuning the software, if you ask me. I think they’re waiting for the next version of the iPhone OS to release, but that’s just my theory.
Restaurant Paging over SMS: The Recess Paging System is something that’s recently been brought to my attention. Instead of those annoyingly large restaurant pagers that they give you, just send an SMS to the patron when your table is ready. Clever idea, though any heavy user of SMS will tell you that it’s not always reliable. And, of course, there’s always the “it’s a great tool to spam market to your customers.”
Voxbone Provides SMS Support for iNum (+883) Numbers: One thing that makes virtual numbers more real is the ability to text message the number. I was real happy when Google added this feature to Google Voice (formerly GrandCentral) numbers. Voxbone is now providing this service to their “global” iNum numbers (which have an ITU-assigned country code of +883). I wish more carriers supported these global numbers–for calling and SMS–but the list keeps growing.
Fonolo Comes to iPhone: I got heads up several days ago that Fonolo was launching an iPhone app in the App Store. The application lets you search through the phone tree of many different companies toll free numbers. You can find exactly the right point in the phone tree and have Fonolo call you when it has navigated to that point. In short, you spend less time navigating the phone maze and more time dealing with the company you’re trying to deal with. It’s a free app and a free service.
Calliflower Adds Skype Support: I wish I had an opportunity to use Calliflower more than I do. While you could always use Skype to enter a Calliflower conference, albeit via a PSTN number, now you can dial the Skype user CalliflowerSkype and get into any Calliflower-hosted conference. It certainly makes it cheaper and easier to join a Calliflower-hosted conference. In theory, this should give you better voice quality as well, but when I tried dialing the CalliflowerSkype user from my Mac’s Skype client, I saw it was using G.729–the same codec as if I were using Skype to dial into the PSTN number.
21 January 2010
Time to clean out the inbox once again…
Truphone Bonanza: I have a fair number of items related to Truphone in my inbox. A while ago, they launched an Android calling app for WiFi, making it possible to use their service to make cheap phone calls from Android phones. More recently, they launched their Truphone Anywhere service, which gives you a SIM card that gives you “local” rates in US and the UK and cheaper roaming abroad. It could, theoretically, be your ONLY GSM calling service–calls inside the US are $0.10 a minute inbound and outbound–but data is not exactly cheap at $0.75/MB. It’s a nice prepaid service I will be keeping an eye on. I’m always looking for a way to be reachable when I travel abroad, but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to do it Oh yeah, and now you can make and receive calls from +883 (iNum) calls thanks to a partnership with Voxbone!
Skype for Symbian Beta: I’ve actually been using this a fair amount of my Nokia E71, especially when I was in Israel several days ago. It was the only way I was able to make calls back home without it costing an arm and a leg. The application is very laggy in terms of startup and shutdown, but the calls were crystal clear! Hopefully, they improve the speed of this app, as it’s my only real complaint. Well that and it does not pass touchtones at all.
CTIA Is Against Network Neutrality for Wireless: From the “no duh” department, my friends at the CTIA–the industry association for the wireless industry in the US–are against net neutrality principles (PDF link) as proposed by the FCC via their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the subject. Seems like a rehash of their usual points (i.e. wireless is different, a competitive market, and the operators are doing nothing wrong). *sigh*
Trapster goes 4.0 on iPhone: The new version of this free speed-trap reporting program for the iPhone and a number of other phones gives you more “trap” types (including roadkill, yum!), shows you were Trapster users have driven recently (to give you confidence in the reported traps), a Caravan mode where you can message and share photos with other Trapster users, and the ability to share Trapster with your iPhone contacts. Wonder what these guys will do next?
21 December 2009
It must be time to clean out the old inbox once again, which this time also includes random observations and other things that aren’t necessarily in my inbox.
Google Chrome: I’ve started using Google Chrome on my Macs and Linux boxes. I have to say, it’s quite peppy! I’m still waiting for extension support on the Mac, though I can always run Chromium, which does offer it. Google already pwns all my data, so I’m not too concerned about using their browser
CallGuard for Nokia Devices: The folks over at SymbianGuru have a neat little app that provides a whitelist and blacklist for calls at specific times. Calls from certain people can be “rejected” complete with an SMS to the number or ring through as you configure the app. I haven’t had a chance to try this out, since I primarily use an iPhone these days, but it’s worth checking out. 10 days to see if you like it, if so, pay $12.95.
HiDef Conferencing Beats Holiday Stress: While I do appreciate the reduction in mental processing that occurs when you have a conversation over a wider band medium, such as provided by HiDef Conferencing service, I find conference calls themselves stressful. Granted, they tend to take less time than the typical business trip, but there’s only so much one can do over the phone. As stressful as those business trips are, they are necessary.
TruPhone Cuts The Price Of Calling This Holiday Season: If you’re a TruPhone user, or are looking for an excuse to try out this calling service on your Nokia, Blackberry, iPhone, or Android), here’s a nice offer. From Christmas Day until the 5th January 2010, calls made on Truphone to 30 popular destinations worldwide will be charged at 50% off the TruStandard rate – allowing friends and family to talk longer for less this holiday season. In addition, calls to all listed destinations will be free of charge on New Year’s Eve (or rather 12:01 pm GMT New Years Eve to 11:59 am GMT New Years Day).
TextPlus 2.1 Launches With Personal Communities: I’ve always thought SMS was a ripoff. The operators charge way too much for too little. Several applications on the iPhone look to reduce or eliminate your dependence on SMS by pushing your short messages through their service. The only one I find compelling is TextPlus by the folks at Gogii. The main reason? It interoperates with regular SMS. People not using TextPlus on their iPhone (and soon the BlackBerry) can send messages through the short code 60611. TextPlus also allows you to do “group” messaging, sending the same message to up to 50 people. And yes, that feature works with folks not on TextPlus (yet).
VoIP Supply Reclaims Your Old VoIP Gear: This is a bit like taking your old video games down to the GameStop or similar store, trading them in for new games, or getting some cash. Except this is with VoIP gear. Maybe I should send them my list of VoIP gear and see what they’ll give me. I suspect it will be like GameStop does for old games, you won’t get as much as you’d like, but you’ll get something. At least the equipment won’t end up in a landfill somewhere.
Tweetings: I ran across this client on my Twitter stream for the iPhone and I have to say, it’s quite good. It looks a lot like Tweetie, actually, but it’s slightly cheaper ($1.99 versus the $2.99 for Tweetie 2), and for that price, it even supports push notifications of @ replies and direct messages! It’s also the first Twitter app I’ve run across that actually uses oAuth, which theoretically means you don’t have to give the application your password! However, you still need to enter your password into the app anyway if you want to use any of the media sharing services (or push notifications, for that matter).
24 November 2009
As usual, a lot of crap gets backed up into my email. Here’s a few of the more interesting bits. I have a few more that I’ll post later.
Callpod Fueltank Uno: As my portable iPhone charger I bought off eBay bit the dust the other day, this particular gadget comes along at a good time. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t say how big the battery is, but it claims to be “more than 4 times the capacity of a standard mobile phone.” It comes with an iPhone/iPod and a mini-USB charging tip. If you don’t have a phone that charges with one of those, a coupon is in the box that lets you get a free charging tip. Extras are $10 each.
Prepaid Phones a Stocking Stuffer?: One of the emails I had from a PR firm suggested that in today’s economy, a prepaid mobile phone might be just the perfect gift to stuff in someone’s stocking. They are certainly inexpensive and can be had for under $30 and do not require either a long-term commitment or a contract. I wouldn’t necessarily pick phones from TracFone, as was suggested by the PR firm, but maybe you can get a prepaid phone one from one of the major carriers, which can also be had for about the same price.
Walgreens Launches an iPhone App: Aside from the usual “store finder” type functions, the new Walgreens app on the iPhone lets you order prescription refills and upload photos for printing at a Walgreens store. It would be nice if I went to Walgreens, which I almost never do.
Social Networking Wars: From the folks who bring you SuperNews, a hilarious animated take on current events, comes Social Networking Wars. You are a nobody working in an office trying to fend off the distractions of social networking. Armed with a stapler, you must fight them off while not hitting your co-workers–or your boss. It’s a silly game, but like social networking, it’s a nice time killer.
More on the Yamaha USB Speakerphone Gadget I reviewed: Jim Courtney sent me a followup letter about the Yamaha USB Speakerphone that I reviewed a few weeks ago. One of the things he points out is that a lot of people are put off by the price, as I mentioned as a concern in the review. If you can make that jump, however, the “on site” experience of using the gadget is quite good and can prove to be valuable. To that end, In Store Solutions wants to encourage user trial and will extend its return policy such that anyone purchasing during this promotion can return it, shipping prepaid but “no questions asked”, for a full credit until January 31, 2010. This gives purchasers a chance to make their own “on site” decision about its value in the end. Nice promo, guys!
Sony Selling AT&T Service at Sony Style stores: Not that I’m a huge fan of Sony Ericsson phones, but if you buy a Sony Ericsson C905a or W518a–presumably at full retail price–and agree to a new two year contract, you get three free accessories. It’s only in stores, not online. And, if you ask me, it’s not that great of a deal. Sony gets points for trying, but I doubt the promotion will be very successful.
2 July 2009
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I spent the afternoon in Starbucks going through my work inbox. It’s still got too many items in it, but it now has less than my personal Gmail. Now it’s time to turn my attention to my personal Gmail inbox and crank out another Inbox Liquidation post:
Psiloc Cuts Prices during the Summer: During the summer, you can 1 S60 3rd edition application from Psiloc and get a second one at half off. If you buy an app for an older Nokia-type phone or a UIQ device, buy your apps for 5.99 EUR (or just under 9 USD). Psiloc has a lot of great apps. I’ve personally purchased Psiloc Connect for the N95 8GB and been very happy with it.
David Blaine‘s Street Magic: See A Card app for iPhone: For $1.99, you too can amaze your friends and perform one of David Blaine’s famous card tricks using your iPhone, or so the press release goes. But let’s be honest: it’s more impressive with an actual deck of cards than it is with an iPhone app. I guess I’ll have to try it once my iPhone comes off backorder.
Your Streelights Bring You WiFi: Duratel has a very clever solution: hide those unsightly antennas for mobile phones and WiFi inside the light poles. Have to say I like this, if only to shut the NIMBYs up. Now if only AT&T would deploy a few of these in my neighborhood.
Spy On Your Employees/Spouses With FlexiSpy: It’s available for a lot of phones, including Nokia, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and iPhone. I’ll just let you read the site and decide if you think it’s a good idea. Whether it is legal or not is another thing entirely.
Park Your Number With NumberGarage: If you’re moving out of an area and you don’t want to lose that number, a service like NumberGarage is helpful. You can essentially port the number to them. For a nominal fee, they will keep the number alive for you. The PARK service just parks the number, the FORWARD service will forward calls to your number to a different one. It’s a clever service, but their PARK service needs to announce a forwarding number, just like your phone company does when they move your service to a different location.