Wednesday, August 30, 2006

UMA gets Danish Nationality

Almost 1 year ago Paul in his usual tongue-in-cheek approach blogged about the foresight of Uma Thurman's parents

Well in a shock exposure she has decided to become a Danish National !!

The Baltic trader that is TeliaSonera, with presence in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, is the first mobile operator to release [publicly] UMA into it's network.

Unlicensed Mobile Access or UMA is the technology that allows more traditional mobile operators to create a pire into their GSM network to allow people to start make use of some of the IP and dual mode feature on their phones.

It, in theory, allows mobile subscribers to use VoWiFi features but this then gets routed through onto the GSM network. It is one of the real enablers for one form of fixed mobile convergence (FMC) that opens up the mobile handset to be used for home based telephony, using SIP phone.

The key benefits for the subscriber are that they have the convenience of their contacts at their fingertips when using their phone in home telephone mode but combined with something closer to VoIP rates, therefore a lower price point.

The main benefit for the Telco is that it should in theory help minimize the long foreseen disruption to their revenues that VoIP and VoWLAN will bring to the mobile markets. It could help reduce the churn away from their businesses.

Blog Ping Echoes for this story

Cellular news via Andy Abrmason

iTWire

TeleGeography

Monday, August 28, 2006

Trying to use Live Writer as Blogger editor

I thought I'd have a go at using the Windows Live Writer to add blog entries.

The configuration to be able to blog to blogger from here is pretty easy, we'll see if it works as well as it would imply.

I have tried this with Writely, now Goolgelized, and it work from time to time but was not consistent.

I have the same (if not more) options for editing in Live Writer.

I want to see if I can unlink myself from having to log in to Blogger all the time, of course as you can expect the toolbar that includes folio and the blog tools is only visible in IE as far as I can tell.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On WiMax and concrete cows

Milton Keynes is famous for two, maybe three things:

  1. Lots and lots and lots of roundabouts
  2. Concrete Cows
  3. XScape -indoor snow zone amongst other things
Now it is set to become the site of the first commercial use of WiMax in the UK (as far as I can see).

There's been a lot of buzz about this so here are a few of the blog ping echoes:

Pretty upbeat news off the back of the Sprint announcements that it's 4G network will be mobile WiMax based. A recent article in Telecom Asia here lays out the developing business case for WiMax depsite the pessimism from the old school (but no surprises there).

An Alexalent listing......

At the weekend I sat down and took some time to go through Seth Godin's Web 2.0 list to see what was out there.

The usual suspects are at the top but I wasn't looking for the volume but the movement that shows increasing; albeit brief maybe, popularity.

After a long trawl a couple caught my eye for further research and some I went as far as registering.

More than a cursory glance:

In the might go back later category:
There was the usual mixture of URL not found errors that come with this hit and miss approach :(

What comes out of my walk about is the niche of it all. Some of the sites look good but are obviously meant for a very small number of people. Still it's good to see that in many cases the internet is becoming easy to use that some of these groups and sites exist at all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Other Network.... Revisited

Paul Jardine once coined the phrase "the other network" when talking about the mobile operators in the UK spending vast amounts of money to build out their networks when there was already a network that could (with some thought) have been used. By this he meant the slowly decaying Public Phone network.

Now I am working with a fixed line operator here in Thailand that still maintain a pay phone infrastructure, this is barely used due to the proliferation of mobile phones; a trend that is bound to be repeated in countries all over the world. So what can the Telco's do about it?

In my converging ideas posting I highlighted the innovation that I had long been thinking of that New Zealand Telecom are driving forward with. This was the natural expansion of two previous ideas that I had expanded on and is a WiFi twist on the other network idea of Paul.

The basic concept is that the pay phone becomes a node in the MuniNet (Municipal Network). This could equally be using WiMax technology (still working on a Sprint and WiMax spin) and could even help provide back haul for cellular over WiMax as the nodes are pretty well mapped out.

In an interesting mirror to this use this aroused my suspicion via Andy Abramson over on VoIP Watch.

The idea to have the pay phone as a user of the Municipal network itself is unexpected but it looks like that it also acts as a repeater, i.e. expanding the network at the same time. This sounds on the point of realizing a mesh network for WiFi.

The other add ons and in fact the more likely use of the kiosk is the internet browser and the dual mode as a sales point for prepaid top ups and ringtone downloads.

I'll keep an eye on it as I'm really interested to see how well the idea flies in the real world.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Fax of life .... Fax over ADSL

I've been looking into getting a Fax setup at home, I know what you're thinking why? The truth of it is here in Thailand faxing is still very popular. You cannot assume that any of your business partners have an internet connection (other than dialup) due to the low penetration of broadband outside of Bangkok, so....?

Normally you would say get a Fax modem and use some sort of fax software.

Problem: It took almost 1 year to get one telephone line put into the house, I can't afford to wait that long for a second analog line.

Other options include the online services such as MBox, which looks good but I would still like to find a solution.

Well I think I have two options:

  1. A pure old school hardware solution: Andy Abramson over at VoIP Watch put me onto this with his posting which led me to the Engadget page for the Sharp Broadband fax machine. The UX-B800SE provides the usual fax machine features that you would expect from an analog machine, it also has an Ethernet connection and hosts the same software that you would normally put on your PC hosting a fax machine. Something like this is long overdue. If the cube is the Fidel Castro of office furniture then the fax machine is definitely the Fidel Castro of office machines.....Let's start the revolution
  2. A SoftPBX with fax options: I have talked about Asterisk before now it has been joined by SIPCat. You can find some more information about it on Om and Andy, but I went and had a look. It looks like a pretty good alternative in the new target for disruptive technology in a tried and tested arena. SIPCat has a fax server as standard, only last week while I was searching around for real options I stumbled upon the AsterFax plugin for Asterisk. At some point in the near future I am going to do a parallel run of both and do a compare and contrast.
The test for both will be the platform of install. I have an old Dell laptop that is beyond upgrade due to the SDRAM on board. I have found a likely light Linux candidate; it would be interesting to see if I can get either of these products to install on it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Three Things Series.... 3 Things I would like to use

In the second part of my three things series I would like to focus on three things that I would like to own to add to my current toolkit.

  1. Nokia 770
  2. Nokia E60
  3. Jabra SP500 Bluetooth speaker phone.
Why?

Nokia 770: apart from the fact that it looks cool :) there is a real use for this sort of device. Now that it has significantly improved and new applications are creeping into the domain I can see me using it in one of two modes; and not necessarily exclusively
  1. Communication: Gizmo phone and the ability to use Gmail and GoogleTalk mean that I have a means of communicating in my palm. This becomes useful when I am on a client site; like today where I need to be on their network to get to their servers but I need to use an external wireless network because their firewall and proxy doesn't allow me to use some sites. In this mode I can leave the 770 connected to the external network and still have my laptop connected to their LAN. The size lends itself to being used on the hoof and at airport lounges to catch up on email.
  2. Reference: one of the best parts is the screen. The resolution is great and it is very clear. This makes me think it would be a great book reader and reference media (be it stored locally or browsed from the web). The 770 has swappable memory in the form of Reduced Size MMC, a common feature on Nokia phones. This means that you can group reference material together on a set of RS-MMC cards. Like all flash media the capacity is increasing. A quick Google finds this 1Gb card, with adapter than still allows me to use and share the content on my SD adapter.
Nokia E60: despite the debate about dual mode phones, I still believe that there is a use for them. The E60 comes with a SIP Phone which gives you a lot of ability when combined with Asterisk. The WLAN interface is very clunky, a feature that will need to change if dual mode handsets are going to take off. Even if you don't plan to use the WiFi capabilities the fact that the phone is EU and US GSM as well as CDMA (Japan et al) makes the phone and ideal choice for the frequent traveler.

If the WiFi connectivity options are tidied up, with the increasing number of public WiFi networks (Philly, Oulu, Norwich to name but a few) and with UMA and WiFi starting to converge [finally] a dual mode handset will become the personal device of choice, I hope.

Jabra SP500: firstly what is it? The Jabra SP500 is a Bluetooth speakerphone.

That means wireless microphone and speaker combined. Because it's bluetooth I can use it with my laptop or my mobile phone. The blurb on the Jabra website has an image of a screen mount in a car. This saves all of the wiring normally involved with a car installation, and it means that when I'm traveling I can easily install it in a hire car.

All-in-all I think it would be a great addition to my toolkit as the ability to have a quick Skype based conference around a table would be enormously beneficial.

Three Things Series.... 3 Things I couldn't do without

I am finding myself increasingly dependent on a couple of things that I now leave in my toolkit.

  1. My USB adapter for SD cards
  2. My external USB hard drive
  3. My Bluetooth headset
SD cards: when was the last time you saw a laptop with a 1.44" drive; quite a long time I wager. However as I drop in and out of client sites I am faced with a series of connectivity problems which sometimes aren't worth solving given the duration of stay. More often than not this is around printing of documents.

I started out using the normal USB or thumb drive but as I changed cameras I found that the SD card I had was no longer usable with my new camera. Also given that SD card storage size it increasing I looked for an alternative that gave me the flexibility of floppy disks without the expense.

I adopted this guy, or at least something similar. I find it incredibly useful and I can carry more, smaller, SD cards around to give me extra capacity and flexibility without having to have lots of USB drives hanging around in my bag. The vendors see this as a good market for them and they have now started to combined the technologies directly.

I'm not sure how popular they will become and if the combined device will evolve (in terms of capacity) as quickly as the simple SD card.

USB Drive: I first starting using an external, USB powered, hard drive when I first came to Asia. Mostly because the laptop that I was provided with didn't have enough space for the data I needed when moving around the region and the VPN wasn't built out or reliable enough such that I could get to the data on the company Intranet. Laptop drives are bigger but I also use several machines now, I have a laptop at work, one at home, a Linux server etc so this device is even better for me now. As well as work data I am also to have music and photos stored on a highly portable media.

I recently invested in a second, 70Gb, disk that I use for backups of the first one and less volatile data; for example ISO images for SuSe etc that I can also burn a new CD from if required.

Again the capacity is for ever increasing on this kind of device.

Bluetooth Headset: Bluetooth as a real connection protocol needs some more work, but the basic headset function has become central to the way I communicate. I use a Nokia HDW-3 to connect to my current handset. After some googling and downloads I finally bypassed the poor driver delivered by Microsoft in XP and got a working headset and audio gateway working on my laptop.

This now means I can use both Skype and Gizmo with my headset and not have to be wired to my laptop. Works fine, the only thing I would change is the headset itself. As I mentioned in my other posting about Bluetooth the HDW-3 is completely spoiled by a cheap plastic clip that frequently breaks. I would swap it for this HS-11W also by Nokia.