I was invited to try the mobile app for myself, so I fired my test Android device and installed the Vonage Mobile app from the Android Market.
Vonage Mobile scanned my contacts list, identifying anyone who is already using the mobile app. Those were automatically added to a tab "Free Calls". This means any call I place to these contacts through Vonage Mobile will not be charged by Vonage (mobile data charges apply of course if your mobile is connected to the mobile data network). Since I have my smartphone connected through WiFi, they were virtually free (excuse me if I use stock screenshots, it's a lot easier since I have no way to grab screenshots on my Android).
You can place calls to standard phones as well, and call costs are very low. For example a call to a New Zealand landline costs US$0.022 per minute, a lot less than the NZ$0.49 per minute I would pay if using my mobile plan.
Calls between Vonage Mobile app users are encoded using a HD (High Definition) codec. This means the voice sound is much clearer. So much so that when I tested a call to another Vonage Mobile user I was surprised how different it sounded from those highly compressed low definition standard mobile voice calls.
Text messages are sent between Vonage Mobile users, and the interface is pretty similar to what you'd expect from an instant message app.
Some people on Twitter asked me what makes Vonage Mobile better or different from Skype for example. With Skype you have to add people to your contact list, and you have to remember what's the username/alias someone is using before you call. With Vonage Mobile you can search your contact list from within the app and easily place the call.
Another difference is that Vonage Mobile allows you to topup your account (for standard phone calls) directly from the app, charging your Google Android Market or Apple iTunes accounts directly. And this is without ever leaving the app.
For a limited time Vonage Mobile calls to numbers in the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico are free from anywhere in the world.
Users do not need to be a Vonage customer to use the app. All topups are done through the Android Market or iTunes.
When you install the app you will receive a SMS with a code to authenticate your mobile number. This means your mobile number will be used as the Caller ID when calling a landline or mobile.
Download Vonage Mobile now (iPhone calling app or Android calling app) and check it out. Invite your family and friends so you have someone to text or call, then let us know what you think.
This is a sponsored blog post, but I have used the Vonage Mobile app.
My first experience with Burroughs B and A Series computers was in 1986. My LINC training was on a B1714, but work really started on a B6910.
I joined Unisys Brasil in 1989 and in 1997 I moved to Unisys New Zealand, where I worked until 2006. All this time I worked with LINC, and from 1995 my focus was on the telecommunications vertical.
Today I found a couple of videos produced for Burroughs/Unisys in mid 80s showing the Veleiros Plant, in Sao Paulo. Veleiros was not only a manufacturing plant, but a software support centre and the administrative offices for Burroughs (and later Unisys) in Brazil as well.
In 1990 Unisys made a big push to move from being a hardware company to being a services company, while still supplying its specialised mainframe hardware.
While I was assigned to a small office somewhere else in Brazil, working with software projects, I had to visit and work in Veleiros many times.
Both videos below are in Brazilian Portuguese, but you can just watch for the sake of remember this old hardware (and people):
In this video showing the Unisys Engineering and Manufacturing (Veleiros) around 1988 you will see the mainframes and peripherals manufacturing process. Lots of B6900 and A series mainframes, line printers, T27 terminals, magnetic tapes and behind the scenes images showing people putting these together:
This one is a video from 1985 celebrating 100 years of Burroughs:
A Geekzoner (BarTender) has put together a few apps that may be useful if you ever wonder about mobile coverage...
The third one is a link you can use in your smartphone. It is a GPS-based cell site map and will use your smartphone's GPS to show your current location and which cell sites are near you.
Bookmark these now... These maps show cell site information for 2degrees, Telecom New Zealand, Vodafone New Zealand and Woosh.
1. Fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants (June 2011):
|1||Netherlands||21.2||16.0||1.3||0.0||38.5||6 392 000|
|2||Switzerland||27.2||10.6||0.2||0.3||38.3||2 983 281|
|3||Denmark||21.9||10.1||5.0||0.7||37.7||2 090 825|
|4||Korea||5.3||10.4||20.4||0.0||36.0||17 604 503|
|5||Norway||18.7||10.3||5.7||0.1||34.9||1 703 817|
|6||France||31.6||2.0||0.2||0.0||33.8||21 895 000|
|8||United Kingdom||25.5||6.6||0.5||0.0||32.6||20 274 861|
|9||Germany||28.5||3.8||0.2||0.1||32.6||26 615 000|
|10||Sweden||16.5||6.3||9.0||0.1||31.9||2 995 000|
|12||Belgium||16.9||14.6||0.0||0.1||31.6||3 433 746|
|13||Canada||13.5||17.6||0.2||0.0||31.2||10 653 342|
|14||Finland||20.8||4.8||0.7||2.6||28.9||1 550 400|
|15||United States||10.2||15.0||1.8||0.3||27.3||84 672 000|
|16||Japan||6.0||4.5||16.4||0.0||27.0||34 360 672|
|17||New Zealand||24.4||1.5||0.1||0.0||26.0||1 138 830|
|18||Austria||16.9||7.6||0.1||0.0||24.7||2 068 623|
|19||Israel||14.3||10.0||0.0||0.0||24.2||1 847 000|
|21||Australia||19.9||3.9||0.1||0.0||24.0||5 405 000|
|22||Spain||19.0||4.5||0.2||0.0||23.7||10 933 389|
|24||Italy||21.8||0.0||0.5||0.0||22.3||13 507 951|
2. Wireless broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants (June 2011):
|Rank||Terrestrial fixed wireless||Standard mobile broadband subscriptions||Dedicated mobile data subscriptions||Total||Total subscriptions|
3. Fixed broadband growth by 100 inhabitants (June 2010 - 2011):
|Rank||Country||June 2010-2011 penetration growth (increase in subscribers per 100 inhabitants)||Penetration percentage increase|
4. Percentage of fibre connections in total broadband (June 2011):
5. Business use of broadband (June 2011):
6. Average advertised download speeds (September 2010):
|Average advertised broadband download speed, kbit/s|
|United States||14 665|
|New Zealand||22 016|
|Czech Republic||26 317|
|United Kingdom||26 624|
|Slovak Republic||48 000|
7. Average caps in MB:
The footnote in the data says "Advertised speeds are typically the theoretical maximum for the employed technologies. Users commonly have lower actual speeds. Also, often only parts of the country have been upgraded to the fastest speeds." It also points out that "New Zealand's download speeds are not typically advertised."
Plenty of spreadsheets to download and go over in the OECD web page... Most of the data about speeds and data caps are from 2010 though.
Incredible reading the "reasons" for DMCA notices sent to Twitter, asking for tweets to be removed. Here are some:
Where does this Tweet link to: The Tweet links to another website where the infringing material is made available.
Where is the infringing material: The linked website links to another website where the infringing material is available for display or download.
These people are sending notices to Twitter for what a third party posted. And it's not even to the site where something is made available, but it's a link to a web site that links to another web site.
Well, let me get the clear picture. Could someone please explain to me what part of "hyperlinked text" these folks are missing?
As per the linked page (hey, caution here, we are using the infamous "hyperlinked text" thing they don't like!):
Does a service provider have to follow the safe harbor procedures?
No. An ISP may choose not to follow the DMCA takedown process, and do without the safe harbor. If it would not be liable under pre-DMCA copyright law (for example, because it is not contributorily or vicariously liable, or because there is no underlying copyright infringement), it can still raise those same defenses if it is sued.
Twitter would not seem to be "contributorily or vicariously liable" as it is not hosting the material itself - no even in second degree, but they obviously don't want to get into a court to show how idiot is this kind of action.
I am not saying legitimate DMCA notices shouldn't be sent. I am saying DMCA notices shouldn't be sent left and right without aiming at the right companies.
Obviously, IANAL and we all know that logic is not something that prevails in the world these kind of people live.
While some have changed the world by creating design products and pushing for better user experiences, Bill and Melinda Gates are changing the world by saving lives.
Yes, I agree that saying "3.4 million lives saved from Hepatitis B" would be assuming every single person who received a vaccine would have been infected. But the thing here is actually that all those people were given improved odds of not getting sick, thanks to the vaccines paid for this man. Thanks to the research funded by his foundation. Thanks to the funds given to manufacturing companies that would otherwise have no way of making those vaccines, seeing large pharmaceutical companies are not interested in losing money making things that would go for free or small subsidies by governments and ONGs.
Bill and Melinda Gates have given US$ 28 billion to charity so far. This is 48% of their worth.
And while some in the tech industry keep saying Bill Gates should go back to working with Microsoft and change its current direction (a romantic vision of a cut throat industry), I think it's better for the world if he stays working on his foundation instead.
I do have a dislike for infographics but it's important for people that demonize Bill Gates to realise what he's been doing for years now:
This infographic was sourced from frugaldad.com, but I found out a page with very good specific programme ones from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This is evil. A business trying to poach customers by accessing data from a competitor, and cold calling - even saying they are working with said competitor?
Since October, Google's GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing Mocality's database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners. They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so. As of January 11th, nearly 30% of our database has apparently been contacted.
Furthermore, they now seem to have outsourced this operation from Kenya to India.
When we started this investigation, I thought that we'd catch a rogue call-centre employee, point out to Google that they were violating our Terms and conditions (sections 9.12 and 9.17, amongst others), someone would get a slap on the wrist, and life would continue.
I did not expect to find a human-powered, systematic, months-long, fraudulent (falsely claiming to be collaborating with us, and worse) attempt to undermine our business, being perpetrated from call centres on 2 continents.
Very bad. Unethical even. And by Google no less.
Now, it' should be obvious this is not how some companies conduct business, but most likely the actions of a rogue overachiever. I hope this person gets a well deserved boot but surely there would be controls. Someone should know what was going on. Where does the bucket stops?
UPDATE: according to The Guardian, Google admits having accessed Kenyan rival's database and apologises.
Microsoft has just made official Windows Phone update 8107, with this gem:
The update, available to all carriers that request it...
We all know what happens when we let mobile operators decide which updates come or not to our handsets. Updates are not delivered. Things don't happen as they should. And consumer suffers.
And yes, I remember Microsoft said operators can skip one update, but the next one will always incorporate the missed one. Still, this opens the door to a broken ecosystem.
In the months ahead, we'll continue to send out firmware and maintenance updates as needed. These will be available across the globe-although not everybody will receive or require them. It depends on your country, carrier, and phone model. But remember that you'll never have to guess when a Windows Phone update is waiting: Just watch for the pop up notification on your device.
Yes, because one thing customers don't really care about is updates, right? Wrong, just give them instead of this tiered delivery.
There are also a few changes on the way for the blog and website. As we continue our growth, we won't be individually detailing country, model, and carrier details on the Where's My Phone Update? site any longer. And instead of my weekly blog posts, the official Windows Phone website will be the primary place for news and information about our updates, just as Microsoft Answers is there for your support questions.
Sure, because when everyone is moving into communicating more with customers, someone at Microsoft decided it was time to reduce the options of communication.
Seriously, Microsoft? This is not the way to go ahead with a mobile platform that is not exactly winning at the moment.
Remember back in 2009 there was some discussion about New Zealand government giving the DIA powers to maintain an Internet and Website Filter (Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System) containing a list of pages that should not be accessed by New Zealanders because of their child exploitation-related contents?
I have been reading some of the committee reports and this is a summary. Note the highlights will appear in order of most recent reports to the oldest ones, and of course you should read the links to have the full picture.
The filter itself is optional to ISPs, but once an ISP decided to use the filter then all its customers would be automatically included - it's not optional for customers. Currently the following ISPs are using the filter:
- Telecom New Zealand
- Xtreme Networks
I am reading the latest briefing document (December 2011) and it gives us some interesting data to date:
- seven ISPs
- 16.1 million requests blocked
- 415 records in the filter list
- 368 unique web sites
- 25 appeals.
Going through some meeting minutes I found that one of the committee members objected to the reported number of blocked requested being technically correct but too high. To be fair, as per the minutes, this is number of requests, not number of page views. Remember a web page can be made up of many items to be downloaded, hundreds even.
Reading the minutes of March 2011 we find out that the DIA isn't only involved in filtering but actively working in identifying people trading this material over peer-to-peer networks, as found in the minutes of this meeting:
Officials demonstrated software that had been developed in-house for the easy identification of IP addresses trading child sexual abuse images over peer-to-peer networks. This tool has been translated and made available to enforcement agencies in over 20 countries.
I see one of the committee members commented on the Australian filter list and shared fears of political interference in some cases:
The Group noted that following the elections in Australia, the implementation of a compulsory filter is back on the agenda with a filter list that addresses child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act. Duncan Campbell noted that the inclusion of websites supporting terrorism on the Australian filter list could be subject to political interference.
Also on the same report, there's a nod to some of the criticism towards the filter:
It was noted that critics of the website filtering system often state the DIA would be better to spend its money pursuing actual offenders. Officials agreed that these statements demonstrate that the public is not fully aware of the enforcement action taken by the DIA and information on the number of search warrant and prosecutions undertaken should be made available on the department's website.
I found a small change in directions on how information collected by the Internet filter is used. When the filter was created, its proposal had this:
2.4 A person who views a website containing chid sexual abuse images is in possession of those images, if only for the period they appear on the screen. The Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System therefore will help prevent inadvertent exposure to these images and will also help prevent New Zealanders from committing crimes.
Note how the minutes from February 2010 describes the filter as not being an enforcement tool:
It was explained that the filtering system is not an enforcement tool and could not be used to aid prosecutions. The Department was unaware of any European jurisdiction, currently using a webpage filtering system, which uses their system for enforcement purposes.
And later from a committee meeting in August 2011:
Andrew Bowater asked whether the Censorship Compliance Unit can identify whether a person who is being prosecuted has been blocked by the filtering system. Using the hash value of the filtering system's blocking page, Inspectors of Publications now check seized computers to see if it has been blocked by the filtering system. The Department has yet to come across an offender that has been blocked by the filter.
This is a big change in usage of filter log records. As said before the filter is there to prevent inadvertent exposure, so a PC being blocked doesn't mean intent. It could've been inadvertent, right?
In the February 2010 meeting we read:
Asked to address some of the criticisms of website filtering, officers explained that, while a website filtering system will not address peer-to-peer trading it will still make a significant contribution to combating child sexual abuse images. There is a great deal of traffic going to objectionable websites and inadvertent exposure to this material is a real risk of being online. Websites also play a part in transactions to purchase child sexual abuse images and act as a gateway to peer-to-peer services. Often an offender's first interaction with this material is through such websites. The filtering system is also a tool to raise the public's awareness of this type of offending and the harm caused to victims. The Group agreed that this particular aspect of the filter needs to be more clearly conveyed to the public.
So it looks like the filter is working, the committee is doing a good job of keeping on top of things, although there has been some change in how the information collected is now being used to help investigations, which wasn't what the filter was intended for (at least not what they set in the first meeting).
The two most recent reports also list some of the reasons submitted by people who stumble on the filter page and request access to the material behind it. The list is sad and hilarious, reading like a description of dumb scum people:
- I just want to see it
- I fantasy about my aunt
- I don't have children
- Its only hentai there is no auctal harm in it
- Not Real
- Just to see if its as bad as you say it is ok
- I like cute boys
- Just looking
- None of your business
- At 70 yrs old I should be able to see this
- just peeking so i can report it for blocking
These idiots really are the lowest of the lowest scum, right? The filter seems to be doing its job, the DIA is working hard to catch people trading this type of content. So why am I touching (no pun intended) on this again, after two years?
Because back in 2009 when the filter was created many people (myself included) were afraid a nationwide Internet filter system could one day be used for political purposes either by filtering free speech, or protecting copyright ownership and so on.
It seems the filter has been well applied in the last couple of years, although I disagree with the stance change in "not helping investigation prosecution" to "helping investigation and prosecution", but so be it, it's still within the child exploitation limits.
But because there was this change I still fear other changes can be made. I still have fears that our own little DIA filter can one day be expanded from "think of the children" to "think of the copyright owners and anyone who dares disagree with the established opinion or government actions". Check foobar's old blog post on this possibility. Read about the proposed SOPA legislation in the US. And read about the recent Spanish anti-piracy law.
Yes, I know. Think of the children. But think of our future too.
Seriously having a laugh at the coincidence today on NBR's technology RSS feed:
(1) Drunken BlackBerry execs chewed through restraints
(2) 'Best BlackBerry ever' gains local release
The first story refers to a couple of drunken RIM executives who were fired a couple of weeks ago from the Canadian company after creating a stir during a long haul flight. The second story is about the local launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone.
Separate the stories are unrelated. But when listed in a sequence like that, I thought it hilarious...