Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Australian wireless network provider 3 has announced free Skype calls

Australian wireless network provider 3 has announced free Skype calls, fixed line-like pricing for wireless data and a partnership with iiNet as part of its X-Series suite of services.

Customers of Hutchison's 3 network can make and receive free calls using Skype, plus use their phone to access their personal media files such as photos or music stored on their home PC using Orb. Also included in the X-Series suite of services is MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger, with customers able to send and receive unlimited instant messages.

An example of the X-Series service is that for $30 a month customers get 1 GB of data to use surfing the internet and accessing their photos or music stored on their home PC. They can also plug their mobile to a laptop and using it as a modem. That $30 also includes free Skype to Skype calls including to other Skype 3 mobile customers. It also includes unlimited access to Planet 3 content including News, Sports and Weather.

The X-Series suite of services is already available in markets across the world including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Hong Kong.
3 also today announced an alliance with fixed broadband provider iiNet to offer X-Series customers a discounted home broadband service (available from 6 April), which will allow them to experience the Orb service on their mobile.

3 has completed its network upgrade to HSDPA across its 3G network, which means that customers with HSDPA mobiles or data cards can expect typical download speeds ranging from 600 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps, with a theoretical maximum download speed of up to 3.6 Mbps. X-Series customers can choose an X-Series mobile which is also HSDPA ready.

The X-Series suite of services are initially available with the N73 and E65 from Nokia and two HSDPA-enabled mobiles - the DoPod 810 and the LGU830. Further mobiles will be announced shortly. Pricing ranges from $20 per month for a 500 MB download allowance and a 1000 minutes of Skype calls to $40 for 2 GB per month and 4000 minutes of Skype calls.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Logitech Mobile Pro and Widcom Bleutooth High Quality Audio

My Laptop is a Compaq V6060EA (HP) with Widcomm drivers (High Quality Audio)
I never got the High Quality working with my devices but never paid much attention to this either because they worked well with the normal Bluetooth driver. But then they were old and I wished that has not been tucked away in the back of my mind where it popped up after hours of frustration when using my new Logitech Mobile Pro….

It arrived with the supplier who charged the battery as asked for by me, on Monday. Great service these guys!
I collected it yesterday morning very early and paired it to my laptop successfully. Skype test calls went well and I was confident to answer any call. The Pro fits very comfortable around my ear and is great for peopel wearing glasses. And no matter how hard I shake my head, it stays around my ear.
Very good sound too, very clear with hardly any background noises. Definitely what I was looking for.

Mum was my test bunny but to my great annoyance, the headset switched off between 30 seconds and two minutes. Not just disconnecting from the laptop, no it switched off!!!
I switched to my old comfortable Tulip laptop and calls went smoothly. Likewise with my mobile phones.

I couldn’t understand why and browsed the help section on my Compaq, HP’s website and the Internet. No related topics. I phoned Logitech who listened, advised, even thought that Skype was sending some log-off signals (???) (though the same happened with VoipStunt) but who did not have a solution either.

I phoned HP who also listened, went through various settings, did not believe Skype was sending some sort of log off signal, guided me to updates for the drivers and Bleutooth architecture and felt disappointed as well that the problem still existed.

I phoned my supplier and we agreed that I could collect another Mobile Pro to see if it was only a problem with the one I bought.

Because we had updated the architecture, I thought it would be nice to try the High Quality Audio, who knows it was working now. And it did, how happy I was. I made call and ….. yes, you guessed right, no switching off with my Pro!!

I bet that it would have worked before the update as well. After all this Pro v1.2 offers up to date technology unlike my old devices…

Yep, I am still learning!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Skype and the Edge-Core Wi-Fi Phone WM4201

My Edge-Core WiFI Phone WM4201 with Skype software preloaded, arrived last Wednesday, within 24 hours after I ordered it with TipTel
I have been playing with this wonderful toy for some days now and I can only say I am highly impressed with its technology.

Apart from the avatar, chat messages and uploading your credits (this is only possible via your account page at http://www.skype.com/), it does everything the PC Skype client does too.
It took me a while to configure it for my WiFI router but blame the router (or me) as I had numerous problems to get it working with my laptops. 3Com even sent me a new device, which worked much quicker. It is also hard to get any router working with my Internet Provider UPC, this is a well known problem.

No problems with the WiFi phone when I set the router to a static IP address but then my laptops disconnected from the Internet and they did not connect with a static address.
I got it all working as it should do by giving the WiFI phone the mac-address of one of my laptops and to make this a static mac-address. When all the settings are entered, the phone remembers them and signing in is a piece of cake.

Since then I enjoy the luxury of shuting down the laptops but being on-line during the evenings, still able to receive and place calls via Skype.
My mood message is informing my contacts that I can only accept calls and no chats. For them they thus see my normal Skype avatar and me WiFi mood message.

Authorization requests arrive and can be accepted or cancelled after viewing the profile of the requester.
Voicemail settings, on-line status, profile, you name it, it is all there and working like charm.
The sound quality is very good, even away form the router with a lower connection percentage.
Very promising for when I am going to use it in other WiFi and Hotspot area’s.

Together with the charging cradle (optional) it is a beautiful set and worth every penny.
Standard it comes with a 220Volt charger, USB cable and earpiece with answering button.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bleutooth Problems

You think you are going to have a very productive Friday. Enough paperwork to keep me off the streets for days and I needed to get most of it done before my meeting of this afternoon.

I switched my laptops, the Bluetooth headset and the Manager for Skype on and logged on to the Skype accounts. Everything worked well accept the Bluetooth devices.
Yes, they are getting old, the new Logitech Mobile Pro is about to arrive today but there was no reason what so ever to be disconnected every other minute.

The Widcom device was ok (according to the information I got from the laptop), the troubleshooter did not bring any relief but my frustration was growing.

I deleted all the headsets and added them again. No problem.. However, after a minute or so, the connection was gone again.
I opened the account of one client at my old laptop where I connected it to a USB phone. Luckily, my WiFi Phone arrived on Wednesday so I did a lot of testing and I connected to the account of my other client via WiFi.
I have to say it works great! (Getting it connected to the Internet is another story, will tell you about it over the weekend.)

My own accounts could wait until I sorted out the Bleutooth connections.
I did a lot of thinking; I am not really a techie though I am rather practical. So thinking often solves more then going through all the settings. But this time both were not helpful.

Then I remembered a friend who once sighed: “We don’t have the ability to think simple anymore. When something happens, we count down from the worst scenario.”
I could hear his voice as clear as being in the same room. He was right; I was counting down from the worst scenario: a broken Widcom device, phoning the supplier if I cannot find the error.

With my friend in mind, I deleted the driver and rebooted the Laptop. The driver got reinstalled and I could connect with my headset without loosing connection. Phew…..

But then……… CPU 50% for the Bleutooth. Grrrrrr. Another reboot and YES!! Everything is up and working fine!
I can hear you thinking……… “And your headsets, are they really bad or was it related to Widcom?”
Very smart thinking but of course I tried that on my other laptop and the headsets are worn out indeed so the new one will be on duty as soon as possible.

Friday, famous for being busy, packed and troubled. Can anyone explain to me why? Is it part of Murphy’s law?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Logitech Mobile Pro and TipTel Edge-Core WM4201

My bondage with my computer and even more the program Skype, is huge.
We love each other to bits and are very seldom seen separately.
OK, we do not share the same bed…. True, it isn’t that “bed” yet!
But yes, the three of us spend an awful lot of time together throughout the week.

Work never stops, always a “listening ear”. Apart from an excellent hearing I also need my beloved “hearing aid” the Bleutooth headset.
Proud owner of 3 but now almost widowed because 2 of them stopped working.
My most loyal one the Logitech Mobile Freedom, also the first one I bought, is still going strong but the Ericsson 608 stopped working at all. The 600 is not too bad but the batteries are about to give up.

Talking to other Bluetooth addicts and reading numerous reviews, I decided to go for Logitech again and this time the Logitech Mobile Pro. It needs a bit of fiddling at first but when it sits around your ear, it sits comfortable and shaking your head does not change its position. The broadcasting range is 10 metres which is also the case with the Mobile Freedom which actually has a range up to 20 metres when there are no walls.
I ordered the headset yesterday for a very fair price of € 50 incl. VAT with my supplier OKE PC and they promised me to have it delivered this week. I told my Mobile Freedom that it will be working together with its brother and that it will not be replaced for it (mind you it will give up before the other arrives………..)

Technical Specifications Mobile Pro:
* Works with Bluetooth phones and PCs
* Logitech® Mobile Pro Headset
* Bluetooth V1.2 compliant
* AC Power Adapter
* Weighs less than 30 g
* User documentation
* Broadcasting range: 10 meters
* 2-year warranty
* Talk time: Up to 10 hours
* Full product support
* Standby time: Up to 300 hours

I receive more and more questions about the Wifi Skype phones and I feel ashamed I can hardly really reply to them.
And I also discovered that I am going to need one more and more. I am still spending most of my time in the office but occasionally I am also on location and carrying my laptop on my back is not the best solution.
On location means also close to a WiFi hotspot and today I have been digging into my wallet and ordered the TipTel Edge-Core WM4201. Priced at € 178,50 incl. VAT.
I should have done that a long time ago but other more important investments needed to be done first. But now the time is there.

I have chosen for Tiptel not only because I am an official dealer, but because I am an official dealer because their products are inventive and reliable. Like their service (if needed at all!!).
Besides that I like the look of the Edge Core. It is very easy to handle, a 1,8 inch LCD, full colour display (65.000 colours), mini USB connection, Headsert connection and only 115 x 49 x 18 mm. Just my cup of tea!

Technical Specifications:
* IEEE802.b/g support
* Transit Speed: 54, 48, 36, 24, 18, 11.5, 5.5, 2, 1 Mbps
* Antenna: Omni Directional, 2.5dBi
* Frequency: 2.4-2.497GHz
* Channel: FCC 1~11, ETSI 1~13
* RF output: Power 13dBm
* Safety - EN 60950-1 (TUV), IEC 60950-1 (CB)
* EMC - EN55022, EN55024
* RF - EN300 328, EN301 489-1-17
* AC adapter: 240 VAC, 50/60Hz
* DC voltage: 5V

2 New necessary toys to look forward to and I will keep you informed about my experiences with them.
But first I have an appointment with my dentist. I lost a complete tooth today, only enjoying a lunch of garlic bread and shrimps…

Not only my devices are giving up, my teeth as well!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Is the Internet an excuse for (anonymous) ranting, insulting and bullying?

Visit every forum where people are looking for support and you will find edited and blocked users and posts.
Fortunately it is still a minority but it looks like rude language and pestering has become a more common behaviour.

Like hiding behind an “on-line or off-line” status as a virtual "close your eyes", hiding behind your IP seems to be a perfect way to insult people and to shout and rant if you do not receive the reply or service you were expecting.

30 odd years ago you could order items and services from catalogues either by post or by telephone. And almost everyone accepted delays because you were talking and writing to humans. Life was far from the rat race it is now and people understood that orders needed to be processed (by hand), taken from the stock department, packed, sealed, stamped, delivered at the post office, on its way to another post office and delivered with the customer.

If we order a car, settee, awning, builders, we know and accept that there is a delivery time.
But now a days, if we order via the Internet, we accept our payments to go through in seconds because there are no humans involved anymore. Ordering, paying and delivering is fully automated.
Distances of thousands of miles are reduced to seconds.
Dealing via the Internet is has become infallible.

Really??? Are we sure technique (after all that is all what Internet is depending of) is infallible?
I mean, do we really think nothing can go wrong? No connection problems, no bugs, no power failure, no overloaded servers?

Well, yes, of course we do realize that but then we expect a solution straight away, immediately, within seconds because this is the Internet.
How easily do we forget that it are still humans designing programs and dealing with the bugs and failures.
Real humans like you and me. Working for an income, in the middle of a constant learning process.
Humans who do not mind working extra hours but who can’t be expected to be up and running 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. They are no robots.

People who don’t want to understand this because they want a prompt reply to their orders and questions, seem to think the Internet is infallible and tend to treat the humans behind it as robots.
Robots without feelings, a good excuse to rant, shout, humiliate and curse.

The Internet caused a complete new language: words and abbreviations.
Most are harmless and amusing: CU2 in a lil while, bfn. Or a reply to a joke: roflol.
But also a lot which can easily be replaced for ***** Those we see more and more on the Forum.
Again, it is still a minority but it is a ten dens that if one is brave enough to use this kind of language, others finally dare to follow to become even worse. And the worst thing that can happen is your post being edited and / or locked and your profile blocked. This of course is only confirming the posters angry opinion about the company’s support. “If I don’t get the correct service when my payments don’t go through in seconds, I have the full rights to shout. And of course no body can get me, I am only an internet address.” Funny way not only to rule out your opponent’s humanity but also your own…..

I still believe the Internet is doing more good then bad. It is a very rich source of information and knowledge, an excellent way of communicating, networking and buying and selling.
And if we do this in a polite and friendly way, the Internet is a wonderful place to be.

For those who forget (or still don’t know) what Network Etiquette is, please visit “Netiquette” for a proper explanation.

Now, did you really think the lack of social behaviour over the Internet is a modern phenomenon?
Wrong… In 1999 Professor Dr. Suzan C. Herring, at the time an associate professor of linguistics at the University of Texas at Arlington, published a study about Netiquette.
From 1975 to 1986, Dr. Herring tested claims that Internet users were ruder and less inhibited when they were online. She also tested theories that users' grammar and spelling degraded over time.
Dr. Herring about one of the effects she came across in her study: “One effect is that even those who are civil and polite become rude. Why? Some people say it's inevitable with computer-mediated technology. On the Internet, there is low social accountability - a lot of people don't know each other and will never meet. There are a lot of strangers talking to strangers.

Another reason might be that you're talking into a keyboard. Because the medium is impersonal, people become impersonal.

Studies show that boys are more aggressive than girls, but there's a lot of social conditioning. I don't think the males thought they were rude. They didn't take it that seriously.”

To be honest, I am not so sure about the “They didn't take it that seriously” part anymore. Personal attacks became more common over the years.

It is not without reason that children bullying children over the Internet (also called Cyber Bullying) is now of great concern to parents and teachers. Vulnerable children become traumatized and bullies, who are not going to be corrected in their (childish) behaviour, will not learn their boundaries. Socializing will become difficult for both parties.

Our responsibility is showing social cyber behaviour. Children are our future…..

Thursday, March 08, 2007

SkypePro, National or International?

There is a discussion going on Skype’s Forum about misleading advertising of SkypePro.
Although users try hard to convince me of the misleading part, to me the ad is very clear.

I will quote some of the users:

“I just upgraded my skype to skype pro. And on the add it said that I could call national landlines (within these countries Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland , France, Germany, Ireland, Italy,Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Uk) and here's the deal; I live in Denmark and when I called national landlines here i had to pay and when I made a call to France, yes, another landline number, I had to pay again. Now did I misunderstand something here? Or is it not supposed to be free? Cuz then I got ripped off! I wanted skype pro only for that feature!!!!”

“A 'Detail' missing, intentionally or otherwise. No detail. False and misleading advertising.”

“welcome to the club mate. I feel ripped off to as I was mislead down the 'free international calls' lie to.”

“but is also sounds like you can call all national land lines from which ever of the countries you are in and get it for free. (I am not the only one to think this) when actually it means you have to be in the country and only call that countries national landline to make it free.I assume I made this mistake, because the beauty of skype is that you can call any national line from anywhere in the world for a small fee(it's borderless), so I assumed it sounded like this is another useful and cheaper step in this direction. 'Pay nothing per minute to national landlines' then in my eyes is misleading”

It shows to me that people are confused with National and International and in my eyes Skype’s ad is not lying. I think I am back here about “people don’t read”, I blogged about this before.

User: “How would a one extra line of terms and conditions make it less understandable? maybe 'free to national lines (i.e not international) included' might make it clearer? I would have immediately understood that?”

Once I took part in a discussion about making a computer program Dummy Proof. Everybody (IT and basic users) had their say. You can go and on discussing what Dummy Proof is. And you can design a program that becomes unable to read and understand.

Maybe the user is right but for me what is so difficult to understand about National and International?
If I ask them to sing the National Anthem, will they sing the Anthem of another country to me??? I doubt very much………

OK, SkypePro: you can make free calls (apart from the connection fee) to landlines within the country you are at that very moment if that country is listed for SkypePro. Calling within the country you are is called National calling. As soon as you call from the country you are to another country, even though it is listed for SkypePro, it is called an International call and yes, you will be charged per minute.
Happy calling

Monday, March 05, 2007

Plekker descendants

My great grandmother was called Wilhelmina Sibbelina Plekker. She married Teunis Spits and they got 7 children. The youngest daughter Marietje passed away at the age of 12.
The eldest daughter Klazina married Dirk Hartog and got 4 children. Their youngest daughter Wilhelmina is my mother.
My mother and I inherited the brown eyes of the Plekker’s and it happened twice being in Zaandam where my ancestors come from, that people recognized me by my “Plekker eyes”.

A few weeks ago I went through some scrap books of my grand father. He kept a detailed “history’ of my grandmothers family his own, their children and grand children.

I felt the need to browse the Internet for people with the name Plekker and found a Plekker website designed and maintained by Greet Plekker-van Sante.

I sent her an e-mail and received one in return the very same day. We exchanged more and last Saturday, packed with documentation, family tree’s, photo’s and articles, Greet and her husband Luuk came to see me and my mother. We had a fantastic day. Greet was able to update her data with the notes my grandfather made and she told us many wonderful stories about our ancestors.

The day went by so quickly. But after they left we exchanged more e-mails. I also looked on Skype for Plekkers and my Skype friend Simon even found a Plekker in South Africa of whom Greet (she and Luuk spent two holidays there) wasn’t even aware of.

I spoke to one “cousin” on Skype and sent an e-mail to some in Scotland, USA and Australia.
There are a few others on Skype but up till now I haven’t received a reply to my authorization requests and/or IM’s.
Well, not everyone might be interested in the history of their ancestors of course.

I started a blog called “Plekker Descendants” and added an Album to which I am uploading pictures in the next few weeks.
The meaning of this blog and album is to add more information, pictures and stories and not only from the past but also from the future. Hopefully all Plekkers will come together here to “meet’.

Before the Internet, finding ancestors and cousins was a real time consuming job. But now a days and with Skype, everyone is within reach. Instead of living hours and generations apart, we have the possibility to be together again.

Think of this….. isn’t that a great thing? How fortunate we are to live in this computer area.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Mouse

There are numerous shortcuts to make life behind a computer much easier. They are nicely listed for Windows, Mac and Linux. I use just a very view because I simply love my Mouse.
A mouse is a little extra computer, much easier to handle and which functions are much easier to remember. And no, this has noting to do with my age

But there are computer users who prefer shortcuts and NO mouse, just like Mr. E.L.E. Phant…………..


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Skype Developer Survey

Days after Skype announced its support for Developers, it is now doing a survey amongst the Developers and Business Development communities to develop further services.

Skype would like to understand a bit more about their Developers and Communities and how they can best help to facilitate the requests with both their technical teams and business development teams moving forward. The details will not be divulged to any third party and will only be used anonymously by Skype.
All answers will be treated with complete confidentiality and according to Skype’s Privacy Policy.

Please spread the word and if you do work or are part of the skype ecosystem please feel free to fill out the survey