Category Archives: Phone

WordPress In Your Pocket

WordPress has been around a long time and is quite a powerful web publishing platform available to virtually everyone at no cost.

I finally got around to installing the official WordPress app onto my iPod Touch and I have to say I’m impressed with the app. It quickly accepted the credentials to my own WordPress blog, and I found I could update my site directly from my iPod. More impressive to me was when I discovered the ease with which I was able to take photos (or videos) with the iPod’s camera and instantly embed them into blog posts.

Nothing is more powerful than to be able to quickly update one’s own site with not only words but images as well. The official WordPress for iOS is a free download on the iPod/iPad/iPhone/iOS App Store. If you have a WordPress blog and an iOS device, this free app is worth installing.

The Master Switch

Once in a while, a book comes along that contains ground-breaking insights.  Such is the case with a book I’ve listened to over the past couple of days, the Audible audio book version of ‘The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” by author Tim Wu.

“The Master Switch” is a compelling look into the history of major information industries such as the telegraph, the telephone, commercial broadcast radio, the commercial movie business, and commercial broadcast television. The book points out an identifiable, slowly-repeating cycle obviated by the fact that these industries were able to gain and hold monopoly status. Each in turn became quite adept at retarding disruptive technological innovations that threatened their respective business models.

Today we take an open Internet for granted, but these same and other forces are looking to take over control of the Internet and turn it into a closed, much more tightly-controlled system.

The book is extremely well written and well researched. The Audible audio book narrator Marc Vietor brings the book to life in a wonderful way.

Mr. Wu does a fantastic job of laying out the often-fascinating histories of companies such as Western Union, AT&T, NBC, etc. As consumers, we think we know these companies through their consumer advertising. The real history of these companies is often quite different and very eye opening.

If you enjoy stories about technology and business, you will almost certainly enjoy “The Master Switch” by Tim Wu.

Whistle Free Calling

I recently installed a VOIP phone app on my iPod called “Whistle.” Whistle is gives you a free incoming phone number that can be called from other phones, along with free domestic phone calls within the U.S.

Since my Sprint “Simply Everything” phone plan gives me unlimited voice calls within the U.S., I don’t really need the free voice calling feature. However, I installed it because it’s nice to have alternatives available, just in case. Whistle is free. It works, but the call quality is poor.

Nonetheless, a few days ago I found myself unable to use my cell phone, but still needing to make a call. Since I had WiFi available, I remembered I had the Whistle app available and was able to make my call via Whistle without any trouble.

Whistle has poor call quality on my iPod Touch. However, it is a free app and you can make free calls if you are willing to listen to short audio ads just before your call is placed. I like having extra options which can sometimes come in handy, and Whistle worked for me when I needed it to.

Whistle also offers very cheap rates on international calls.

Whistle doesn’t offer the voice quality of Skype, but Skype costs money to place calls to telephones as well as to have an incoming phone number. Whistle offers both of those features for free.

PowerSkin by XPAL


We have all been there, you are at a conference or out on the town and your phone battery dies at the most inappropriate time. Now you could carry the phones charger with you and run around looking for an outlet, but lets face it that’s not very practical. Besides the fact you start looking like a crazy person. A better solution maybe the PowerSkin by XPAL Power Inc.. XPAL Power Inc is a subsidiary of TennRich International a California based corporation. The design team for the PowerSkin is in Taiwan and it is manufactured in Shenzhen, China.  The factory in China is the first one in that country to focus on lithium rechargeable batteries.   It is also the largest producer of portable power packs in Asia. XPAL is very proud of its high standard of safety in its manufacturing plants and the quality of its products.

PowerSkin is an impact resistant case made of silicon rubber. It is light weight and has a non-slip grip. The case is recyclable, the batteries and internal components are not. It can extend the talk time from 4.5 to 8 hours depending on the phone. The new line of PowerSkin was introduced at CTIA. It is currently available for the: HTC HD7 for $49.99, T-Mobile mytouch for $59.99. and the Samsung Galaxy i900, i903, and 4G for $59.99 at the PowerSkin Web site. The PowerSkin is coming in April for the HTC EVO for $59.99, Samsung Vibrant for $59.99 and the Apple iPhone 4 (both Verizon and AT&T) for $49.99. If you sign up for their mailing list they will send you an email plus a discount coupon code.   If you use your phone a lot at conferences or events, the new line of PowerSkin maybe just what you are looking for.

GadgetTrak Remote Tracking Software For Mobile Gadgets

GadgetTrak is a piece of software that you install on your mobile phone or laptop. The software will periodically check in and let you know the physical location of the device. If a camera is present, for example on a laptop, it can even take a photo of the thief and email it back to the owner. The software cannot be disabled by the thief.

For a Mac or Windows laptop, the price is $34.95 per year.

For Android and Blackberry phones, which includes remote data wipe ability, secure encrypted backup and a loud piercing audible alarm even if the device is in silent mode, the price is $19.95 per year.

For iPhone, iPod, and iPad, the GadgetTrak app is .99 cents, The iOS version does not include remote data wipe, but does include remote camera and push notification support to inform the thief of the GadgetTrak software’s presence.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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WellDoc Medical Coaching Software For Better Patient Outcomes

Anand Iyer and Chris Bergstrom of Welldoc, Inc. ( present Welldoc Coaching Software for phones that helps patients with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes report their ongoing self-monitoring statistics and other relevant data to their physicians, thus helping the patient remain in compliance to their medical treatment program with an eye towards better patient outcomes.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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Dell Has Great Deals On Mobile Phones

Until I received an ad in my email today it escaped me that Dell sold mobile phones.  Sure I knew they made a couple of them and logically they would sell those, but not a whole line of phones from other manufacturers.  And they have good prices too…really good prices.

The revelation came in the form of an email ad for the HTC Droid Incredible, which they are offering right now for free.  My contract was up a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been searching around for deals.  Mostly I am looking at the Motorola Droid X and the Samsung Fascinate.  I can get the Fascinate from Amazon for $99.  It would only be $29 if I had an individual plan as opposed to our family plan.  Dell offers if for free for new accounts and is also $99 for existing accounts (individual or family).  That’s comparable to the Amazon pricing.

What blew me away, though, was their pricing on the Motorola Droid X.  The Droid X is $49.99 for me and a stunning $9.99 for new accounts!

They carry phones from all manufacturers and for all carriers.  In addition to Dell’s own phones, there are phones from Blackberry, HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Samsung, Sanyo, and Sony Ericsson.  And, they are working with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Nextel.

You will have to search around a little and make sure you are looking at the price for your situation – New Account, Renew/Upgrade, or Add a Line.  But you can find some REALLY good deals on just about any phone you could want.  Except, of course, the iPhone.

Smartphones As The New Facebook

Facebook hit critical mass and managed to move into the mainstream and is now sucking in mass numbers of new users. Much of the value of a many goods and services revolves around mass adoption – it becomes beneificial for people to use Facebook simply because so many friends and family are already on it.

We keep hearing statistics about smartphone adoption rates. No doubt about it, smartphones are increasingly popular devices and are quickly moving into the mainstream.

How does this translate into the real world?

I came across a guy a few days ago that had recently gotten an iPhone 4.0 specifically so he could do Facetime chats with his brother. This guy was in his 50’s and had never owned a computer or dealt with the Internet in any way. I was surprised at how well he had learned to run his phone. He was clearly thrilled with the smartphone and what it was capable of. Even though this fellow had somehow managed to resist getting a computer and the Internet, the smartphone managed to pull him in. Furthermore, this guy was using a lot of data above and beyond WiFi and Facetime. Even as a novice user, he had already purchased a few iphone apps. Additionally he expressed a lot of interest when I was describing Audible.Com audio books.

There’s a segment of the population I run into personally that doesn’t like the idea of or see the need for or perceive any benefit from paying for mobile data connections. These are the people that are hanging onto more basic phone models. I suspect that these same people likely resisted the idea of getting a cell phone in the first place – in other words, they are late adopters when it comes to cell phone technologies and services.

We are now entering the phase of smartphone adoption of where mass numbers of people will get smartphones simply because everyone else has them. I believe smartphones are poised to outstrip even a service like Facebook with the total number of smartphone users.

These new smartphone users are likely to use mass amounts of data. Cell phone companies wanted people to have data plans because of the extra revenue from larger data-enabled bills – now they’d better be prepared to deliver on the promise.

A Free And Powerful Phone System With OpenVBX

I know a lot of telecommunications traffic is moving to the internet, but in some situations a real phone system is still necessary.  And sometimes, I stumble across a technology that is just so geeky-cool that I can’t resist it.  That’s why I am dying to build an OpenVBX system.  It’s like a home server for your telephones.  If you like playing with things such as FreeNAS and WebDAV and understand them, then this shouldn’t be a stretch for you.  And did I mention that it’s just really cool technology?  And it’s free and open-source!

Rather than me trying to explain it, here’s the description given by their web site:

Get virtual phone numbers, and build business apps with the easy drag ‘n drop editor. OpenVBX comes with applets for auto-attendants, call forwarding, voicemails (with transcription), receiving text messages and more.

Integrate OpenVBX with your existing systems. Build your own custom phone applets with just a little bit of PHP. Rebrand and resell OpenVBX to your customers.

Give every user their own phone number and personal conference line. Dial whole departments, share voicemail messages with the team. OpenVBX is for companies and collaboration.

It comes from Twilio, which is a cloud-based communications service.  OpenVBX is an open-source project which was started by Twilio.  You host it on your own server – Twilio has not announced any plan to host a version.  If you don’t want to host it in your home/business then you can easily find a paid host that offers one-click installation of OpenVBX (just like installing WordPress on your blog).

There are a few apps available on their website and you can write any that you want and easily add it to your installation.  You’ll need to know some PHP, but that’s a pretty common language in today’s world, so if you don’t know it then it’s easy to find a programmer who does.

I found a great tutorial for a basic installation over on MakeUseOf which will get you started.  I’ve bookmarked it and put this project on my to-do list.  It sounds like a great weekend project, especially with the cold, snowy weather on the horizon.