Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is VoIP Taking Over?

This Philips phone can use Skype's VoIP service.

As popular VoIP services, such as Vonage, continue to increase quality and go down in price, a popular question is whether or not it's time to discontinue your home phone in favor of VoIP.

Some households have already ditched their home phones and have gone completely cellular, but for those who frequently call long distance and international, this might not be a practical alternative.  VoIP, on the other hand, offers excellent rates for calls.

A popular complaint about VoIP was that call quality as not always the best, but in recent years, this has significantly improved.  I regularly use VoIP, and the person I'm talking to on the phone doesn't know the difference--the crystal clear call quality is most apparent.

Have any of you completely gone VoIP at home?  If so, what VoIP service do you use?  Skype?  Vonage?  Another?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Skype Releases VoIP on Android Phones

Mobile VoIP FTW?

Skype just released its application for all Android phones.  Currently, it can be used over WiFi; however, a hack allows Skype calling to be used over 3G for true mobile VoIP calling.  If your Skype caller ID is the same as your cell phone number, you can make those international calls at a fraction of the price.

What do you think about this breakthrough?  Do any of you already use Skype for VoIP?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Small Businesses: Oursource MS Exchange Hosting or go Gmail?

As soon as a few years ago, if a small business wanted professional and reliable MS Exchange services to push to mobile devices and work with Microsoft Outlook, the easy decision would be to pay for MS Exchange hosting with its annual fee per mailbox.  In a business that had a handful of employees (i.e. a small mortgage or real estate firm that lived and breathed with email), this was a smarter business decision compared to having your own Exchange server and hardware.

Recently, Gmail's email services (including calendar, etc) have encroached on the small business email territory.  Gmail is free and works with mobile devices.  The storage space increases everyday (it's up to approximately 8GB now).  However, a downfall to using Gmail for business is that each account is independently owned by the Gmail user, so the email account cannot be shut down by the employer and reviewed.

Ultimately, serious small businesses will stick with MS Exchange hosting, while small "mom and pop" shops will use Gmail.  The gap between the two services in the business world is still wide, but at least Gmail provides a robust and feature-rich service for free.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Windows Mobile Messaging (Microsoft Exchange) vs. BlackBerry BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server)

In the enterprise infrastructure, 2 hand held messaging platforms are dominant: Microsoft Exchange and BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES).  Windows Mobile phones and the iPhone use the ActiveSync MS Exchange Server information to sync up with your mailbox, whereas BlackBerry phones use a BES server.

In the current infrastructure I manage, our enterprise phones are BlackBerry devices.  The BES links up with MS Exchange.  When emails are received, they route to both servers.  The main benefit here is if the MS Exchange network account is locked out, the BES continues to be able to send and receive messages.

In terms of being a user, I still preferred the iPhone over BlackBerry as I like the iPhone's OS.  However, from an enterprise point of view, the decision makers seem to be more comfortable with a BES as it has a reputation of being more secure (whether this is true or not is a different story).

What are you experiences and thoughts on this?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Google VoIP? Voice calling in Gmail?

At the end of last August, Google added voice calling to Gmail.  Basically, when enabled, you can dial any regular telephone number for free in the United States and Canada.  Your Google Voice number will appear as the caller ID.

I've used this service multiple times, and I've found call quality to be excellent.  Google is trying to encroach on Skype's VoIP territory.

The only flaw I've experienced so far with this is that you cannot utilize the number pad while connected on a call.  For example, if you are going to call your credit card company, and you need to punch in the numbers, they won't be recognized.  Also, if you are dialing into a conference call, and you need to enter in the meeting room number, you're not able to do so.

Have any of you had experience with voice calling in Gmail? Please share your thoughts...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Skype 5.0 and VoIP... the start to service consolidation?

Skype 5.0 will integrate with Facebook to become an even more powerful, consolidated messaging platform. In addition to the normal messaging, this will bring a VoIP interface when simultaneously logged into Facebook.

Are we heading towards a service consolidation concept in which a person can maintain and entire social network and contact them via text, email, or voice all via an Internet connection? It seems like it's getting closer and closer everyday.

What are your thoughts on this?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Computer Insurance?

In recent years, as laptop ownership has become more and more mainstream, some people have gone towards purchasing computer insurance to protect their technological investment.

As for me, I've never been tempted to purchase such insurance as the factory warranty is sufficient for me, and I have the ability to open up the laptop or desktop computer and fix myself. When doing so, there's the cost and time factor... does computer insurance ultimately make life easier?

I think it ultimately comes down to the technological ability of the computer owner. If you don't know much, you're better off having a professional service/insurance take care of it. If you are very knowledgeable, it could be more convenient and safe to do it yourself.

What are your thoughts on this?