Unified Communications becoming a "must" in today’s business world

June 12, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Blackberry provides necessary link

With the ever changing advancements in technology, virtually anyone can be reached at any given time or location in the world. Today’s business needs require this seamless method of communication. Communication could quite possibly be the most important and most crucial aspects to any organization. Communication on an inter-departmental basis, communication with your customers, patients, or colleagues, communication that is considered mission critical, the messages that NEED to meet their destinations, such as health care personnel, IT managers in times of network emergencies, and virtually any position that requires attention immediately.

I was recently reading an article on computerworld.com pertaining to Unified Communication and how the Blackberry can take this process one step further. Imagine your personal or work-related Blackberry cellular device completely tied in to your corporate phone system (PBX), and the Blackberry inhabits all of the features and characteristics of the corporate system–now that’s Unified Communications at its best.

Now the Blackberry can’t do this on its own and according to John Cox, intermingling with the RIM’s Mobile Voice System (MVS) is needed to allow this mobility and functionality to work correctly. More information on the MVS system and how it essentially links the Blackberry with your corporate PBX can be found here.

With the ongoing need and push for a more mobile workplace, the idea for Unified Communications will become a must in almost every business out there; no more missing an important call, missing VM, or “I couldn’t get a hold of you.” In the Computer World article, David Heit, director of software product management, who focuses on MVS, server software introduced in 2007 and based on a product acquired when RIM bought Ascendant Systems, demonstrates on his own BlackBerry, selecting a five-digit corporate extension at a desk in RIM’s Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters and presses a button to connect over AT&T’s Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution network. For the first time, the BlackBerry becomes, in effect, the user’s mobile desk phone, not just his mobile e-mail device.

New Resources for OpenSER Community!

Prolific author and Brazilian OSS telephony jedi Flavio Goncalves emailed me this morning to let me know about some cool things he has been working on for fans of OpenSER.

First off, Flavio has penned a new book on OpenSER which is currently available through PackT Publishing. The book is titled Building Telephony Systems with OpenSER.

For those of you not familiar with OpenSER, head over to OpenSER.org OpenSER is an OSS project built off of SIP Express Router, and offers an alternative to Asterisk with an excellent feature set and growing community worldwide. OpenSER is known for its scalability and stability.

Flavio is also affiliated with Voice-System.ro, whom are offering an OpenSER bootcamp in Miami, FL July 7-11.

Details regarding the training from the Voice System website:

OpenSER bootcamp – 7-11 July, 2008 – Miami, Florida, USA (full description)

First specific training for OpenSER, 100% dedicated to OpenSER.

Maximum efficiency course – 5 days, 40 hours of training

Best knowledge transfer – Instructors with many years of OpenSER background (see our instructors)

Hands-on labs to back-up the theoretical knowledge

Learn and get certified as an OpenSER administrator

Comprehensive course materials – books, DVDS, T-shirts, IP Phone

The OpenSER Bootcamp is a full 5 days (40 hours) of intensive training providing in depth coverage of OpenSER Installation, configuration and administration. The students will learn how to download, compile and install OpenSER. After the installation, you will start to learn how to configure and operate OpenSER, how to deal with the most demanded functionalities, all, in the most professional way.

Instructors:
Bogdan-Andrei Iancu – OpenSER co-founder (board member) and main developer, with more than 7 years of SER/OpenSER behind. Also CEO of Voice System, an “know-how” OpenSER company.

Flávio E. Goncalves de Andrade -­ CEO of V.Office Networks, writer of the book “Building Telephony Systems with OpenSER”. Comprehensive knowledge in OpenSER operation and valuable experience in running VoIP courses and certifications.

Prices:
Course: 3000 USD per person (lunches included)
Certification: 230 USD per person

Registration:
Email: [email protected]

IPCS Word(s) of the Day: MPEG4

MPEG4 = MPEG4 is a newer codec and supports 3D content, low bit rate encoding, and support for Digital Rights Management, which controls the use of copyrighted digital work. MPEG4 is used for web-streaming media, broadcast television, videophones, and CD distribution. MPEG4 is widely used in video surveillance, and has recently been improved to the AVC standard. As the two formats, MJPEG and MPEG4, usually target different applications, MPEG4 is not expected to replace MJPEG. MJPEG is recommended for surveillance applications and recording, thanks to its ease of use, wide compatibility and high image quality. MPEG4 is recommended for live viewing and for applications where bandwidth and storage limitations are important factors.

Free Shipping on Sangoma Products

June 11, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Our latest promotion features free shipping on quite a few Sangoma products. Some of the products can be found here:

The exact products with free ground shipping are:

A101
A101D
A102
A102D
A104
A104D
A108
A108D

With the cost of gas skyrocketing, and delivery costs going up every day, why not take advantage of this free shipping promotion?!

Where Do All the iPhones Go?

iPhone

image courtesy of apple.com

I’m kinda tired of hearing about the shiny, new iPhone. Granted, it is an incredible piece of technology, and will probably further revolutionize the way we utilize mobile services, much like the first iPhone did.

But, honestly? I’m kind of tired of technological waste.

Think about it. Where are all the year-old iPhones going to go when gadget ghurus decide they want the latest version? Who is going to buy them? Especially in this economy.

For companies that claim to be eco-conscious, Apple seems to be more worried about the green in its pocket, than green living.

What is Apple planning to do with all of the old, outdated iPhones? I hope they have some sort of recycling plan. They could make a cool art exhibit, utilizing some kind of structure-sculpture base. Probably not the best doggy chew-toy.

I’m all about technological innovation (I DO work for a technology company), but it seems as though we live in this fast-paced, throwaway society, where something that was worth $500 only a year ago, now has devalued immensely. We need to take some responsibility. What about a trade-in program, where you get $50 off a new iPhone? The parts can then be recycled to create the next generation of iPhones, instead of using new resources.

Maybe I will buy one for nostalgia sake, and in 10 years it will be worth something. Maybe I can sell it to a museum.

What are your ideas for recycling the old iPhones, even if you don’t plan on getting a new one?

Gas Station Security with IP Cameras

June 10, 2008 by Garrett Smith

IP Cameras catch thieves at gas station pumps.

It’s important to watch what happens in the video. It is not what you would expect. For all of those gas station owners there are many advantages offered by IP camera surveillance technologies. Not only do they ensure the protection of your investment but they protect your customers. Because in the end that is all that you have…your customers. If they are not happy, and at a minimum–safe, then there is no way that they will return to your business.

Women in VoIP: Switchvox She-Ra

When people in the VoIP industry hear the word ‘Switchvox,’ most of them associate the name Tristan. Tristan Degenhardt, Switchvox Product Line Director for Digium, works tirelessly to actively promote and further Switchvox products. Switchvox’s good name and reputation comes from the boundless work of Degenhardt, which can be seen all over the web, and beyond. And also in honor of the newest Switchvox appliance, the AA300, which can support up to 150 users, let’s hear it for Tristan.

How long have you been in the VoIP world?

I got my start in technology in 1999 at MP3.com, where we were essentially delivering bits through that pipe known as the Internet. After that, I co-founded Switchvox in 2003 and that was really my first experience where those bits were voice, instead of music, but I really don’t see a huge distinction. Switchvox was acquired by Digium in September 2007, and it has been a transition that I’m really excited about.

What is it like working as a woman in the VoIP world?

People find it easier to remember my name, so that’s one benefit. Trust me, if a purple guy walked up to the podium at a crowded conference session, introduced himself and started talking about SIP, you’d remember his name. Now, technical women in VoIP are not as uncommon as a purple guy, but you get the idea.
But seriously, I imagine it’s very similar to being a man working in the VoIP world- we’re in an exciting field that’s experiencing tremendous growth, and I’m having a blast. Especially at Digium, there’s a feeling that with Asterisk, we’re helping to build a technology that is fundamentally changing business communication. And we’re doing all of this in a cooperative way with the developer and user communities. I think it makes us so much stronger when we’re competing with proprietary solutions, and that really appeals to me.

How did you become interested/introduced to VoIP?

I became interested in VoIP in sort of a roundabout way. I’m really into usability and interface design, and when we were looking at Asterisk for our own phone system, it became really clear that it could use help in the UI department. So I really started learning everything I could as fast as I could about VoIP, but there’s so much more to learn, and it changes every day.

What are some of your networking/marketing methods?

Well, I’m really proud of Digium’s products and technologies, am a huge proponent of open source, and love to get into discussions with people everywhere I go about this stuff. I find that a lot of people are curious about open source and don’t necessarily have a good handle on what it’s all about yet, so I love hearing their thoughts and opinions. And of course, Switchvox is really important to me. I know the product like the back of my hand, and so when I’m presenting and giving demos to groups, I often like to let my audience describe their real life communication roadblocks and then try to solve them in real-time. For example, they might say that their sales people don’t have enough information about callers before they answer the phone, and so they spend too much time gathering data up front. So they might throw out a problem like that, and then I show how Switchvox can solve it- not just talk about it, and say, “yeah, Switchvox can fix that,” but to actually flip some switches and make some calls and actually show them live, exactly how the technology can work for them. It comes back to bite me every once in a while where someone will stump me, but nine times out of ten, I can come up with a solution that works, implement it in a minute or two, and make the call live, and I think people are naturally very impressed by that.

How is it working with men in VoIP?

I can’t really say that there’s anything different about working with men in VoIP than in any other technology field. I’ve met some really bright and talented men, and women, for that matter, that are attracted to working in such a dynamic space. It’s very fast paced and lots of fun.

What do you see for the future of women in VoIP?

As far as the future of women in VoIP is concerned, I think that you’ll definitely see more and more of us in all sorts of different roles. I just have to look around at the smart women I work with every day to know that I’m right!

IPCS Word of the Day: Lux

Lux = Used more often than lumens when discussing security cameras, a lux is a unit of illumination. It measures the amount of uniform light that falls on one square meter (expressed in one lumen per square meter). Security camera specs use the lux to indicate how much light they require to operate, with lower lux levels indicating a camera as more effective in lower ambient light. Look for 0.2 lux or less when choosing a low-light camera, and two lux or higher for daylight cameras. Refer to the specification sheet of the individual camera to see its lux rating. Below is a standard Lux Chart for your reference.

Lux

And the Winner Is…

June 9, 2008 by Garrett Smith

We have a winner!

Ashley Kitto has won a $1500 VoIP Supply store credit in the ‘101 Things You Can Do with Asterisk’ contest from Digium and VoIP Supply.  We had over 250 reader responses in the contest, truly showing that Asterisk is more than just an open source phone system.

We picked our winner by using a completely random number generator, found on random.org.

Ashley’s suggestion for a use of Asterisk was the 171th reason:

“You can use Asterisk as a tandem switch in front of your legacy PBX, to add more functionality, like SIP and fax-to-email.”

We would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to this contest.  Because of your cooperation, we are looking to run more like it in the near future!

We are hoping to see Ashley’s reasoning for the Asterisk use in a future guest blog post.  We are also inviting all of our contributors to send in other guest blog posts on their Asterisk uses as well.

Part of the reason for the contest was to create more dialogue between us and our readers, and we want to continue the discussion. This will provide an arena for you to speak about your experiences and connect with other users in the VoIP/Asterisk world.