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Insight Into Free Conference Call Services

Stranger-in-a-Strange-Land-bookcover In the novel “Stranger in a Strange Land” the legendary science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once wrote, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” This came immediately to mind when I stumbled upon Fee Fighters where I found a post that was a nice explanation of how free conference calling services work.

The author quite rightly points out that Google Voice and Vonage will not place calls to the rural rate centers with the exorbitantly high termination costs that make the free conference service possible.

My preferred ITSP, OnSIP by Junction Networks, charges a uniform per-minute rate for calls to most rates centers in North America and Western Europe. However, when it comes to those rate centers in rural areas that host free conference services their plan changes. If we call such services they charge us “the true market rate” which can be up to 20x the normal rate. They made this abundantly clear back in 2009 when the policy was enacted.

We find no fault with OnSIP and their policy in this regard. In fact, we decided that we saw value in adding an optional private conference bridge to our OnSIP account, even though it costs us $20/month.

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Powerless At FAT: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Last week I had occasion to spend several days in Fresno CA. Their airport code is FAT. But FAT is not PHAT. In fact, it’s powerless.

Like many places in the country Fresno is busily enhancing their airport. The terminal from which I arrived and departed looks like a brand new building.

The terminal had all the traditional conveniences; public restrooms, a few places to eat & drink. Of course it had seating for all the waiting passengers. It has free, but very slow, internet access via wifi. What it lacked was sensible access to AC power for people using their personal electronics.

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Ensuring Productivity In My Home Office

I-Have-A-Bean-SingleMugDarkImageI’d like to pose a simple question. What’s the single most important piece of technology in my home office? Don’t dwell on it. What comes immediately to mind?

Those of you who have been paying attention for a while will know that the correct answer is the coffee machine. You may have a different opinion, but as the question was specifically about my home office, I assure you that this is definitely the case.

Like so many people coffee plays an important part in my day, illuminating the foggy crevices of morning, accelerating my migration into the productive portion of the day. I have been heard to refer to coffee as, “that marvelous brown fluid that gives rise to intelligence before noon-time.”

I am admittedly an addict. So be it.

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The Belkin Conserve Valet: Dishonorably Discharged?

valet-charge-smartIn recent years the number of devices that we need to charge daily has constantly grown. Initially it was just our two cell phones. Since they each had unique power connectors each had its own AC adapter that lived near the appropriate night stand. Simple enough. Tidy even.

My Blackberry Bold 9700 was the first cell phone I used the featured the newly common micro-USB power connector. Shortly thereafter we added a Barnes & Noble Color Nook. Both of those devices require high-current chargers, where “high-current” means more than the 500 mA that is actually part of the USB standard.

That’s when things started getting more complicated. We may have achieved standardization of connectors, but still required dedicated chargers for some devices.

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Here’s Proof That SOPA Is Simply Idiocy

Earlier today Dan York posted a lovely and very simple explanation of how to completely circumvent the DNS based filtering scheme that’s been put forward in the Stop Online Piracy Act. This bill, known generically as SOPA, has been the focus of the senate judiciary committee for the past while.

The bill is being promoted by Big Media in all it’s facets. I would have thought that a decade’s worth of debacles with digital rights management (DRM) would have taught the industry something. There is no technological solution that cannot be overcome. This I understand to be a universal truth.

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Recommended Reading: The Master Switch By Tim Wu

the master switch-200A few weeks ago I finished reading “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” by MIT Professor and outspoken network neutrality advocate Tim Wu. Professor Wu starts with a historical examination of various industries that he considers to be “information industries.” This starts with the telegraph, telephone, movies, radio and television before moving onward to consider the internet.

In each case he traces the evolution of the business, key innovations, notable rivalries, competitive pressures, corporate alliances and government involvement. Each little tale is entertaining and informative on its own, revealing something of the great men and companies of an earlier era.

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