Saturday, October 31, 2009

DID (Direct Inward Dialing) Phone Number

Some people asked me about my telephone service/features and one of the pay services that I use in order to get a DID (direct inward dialing) phone number is from offers a lot of features and it would be too long for me to go into all the features so you can check out their website.

I only use their service in order to get a phone number to use as a forwarding number. I find their rates very reasonable for this. When I travel to the US with one of my US prepaid cellphones, I will purchase a local Montreal phone number from them so that my friends/family does not have to pay long distance in order to reach me. I set this Montreal number to forward all calls (or only certain calls) to my prepaid US cellphone. I also use them in order to obtain a Canadian (Montreal) number to forward to my Google Voice number.

I've also done this with a toll free number (purchasing a toll free number) from this website but I found that based on the call volume that I was receiving and the extra costs of a toll free number as well as the fact that when I travel to the US over 95% of the people whom I want to be able to reach me for free at located within the Montreal local calling area, in my case, it was not practical.

In order to use the services, you will obviously have to register on their website. After registering, you will see all the features and prices. Prior to registering, you are only given a brief cost structure for most of their more popular services. Once you've registered, if you want to purchase a phone number or any pay service, you will have to have a positive balance on your account. The company accepts PayPal, credit cards from certain countries, wire transfer, etc. as a means of payment. The minimum payment is $25 via PayPal.

In terms of the price plans for DID phone numbers, there is an unlimited monthly plan and a pay per use monthly plan. Initially, I opted for the unlimited monthly plan but then later opted for the pay per use monthly plan.

Using, you can also set up your unlocked VoIP router and get phone service similar to what you would get with the locked Vonage router. I haven't tried this myself but it does look like something that I might eventually try in the future. If I do, I will write a blog entry for it  ;-)

Something else that you can do with is that you can use their service in order to install/configure your own Asterisk server. I haven't done this either but I know someone who has implemented this and it is definitely an interesting project that I might attempt as well.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

ASUS Eee PC 701SD 7" Netbook running Linux (Xandros GNU) Review

This is my review/thoughts regarding the ASUS Eee PC 701SD which I've been testing for approximately 2 months. Besides the 2 different colours (black or white), there are apparently 2 versions version of the EeePC 701SD. One version comes with Windows XP Home installed and the other version comes with Linux. The netbook that I've been using had Linux installed on it. Based on the documentation, the version of Linux installed on the ASUS EeePC 701SD that I was using was a modified version of Xandros Linux (GNU).

The ASUS Eee PC 701SD has a 7" display screen and a 8GB SSD drive. It also has a 0.3 megapixel webcam, high definition audio, a built-in microphone, and built-in stereo speakers. The lithium ion battery is rated for roughly 3 hours but based on my usage, I got a little less than 2 hours out of it. It also comes with 512 MB of RAM (DDR2).

Some of the notable programs included with this netbook are: Pidgin (multi-protocol/client chat program), Mozilla Firefox, OpenOffice 2.0 (Microsoft Office compatible suite), and Skype. A lot of the other icons on the desktop are what I would consider to be internet favourites/bookmarks. For example, the "Web Mail" application launches a window with Gmail, Hotmail, etc. on it. However, when you click on Gmail, Mozilla Firefox launches and you are brought to the Gmail log-in screen so these aren't really programs. There is also a software/driver updater program somewhat similar to the Windows Update service.

With 512 MB of RAM, I found the netbook to be slow and unresponsive at times so I decided to upgrade the memory. After referring to various websites and contacting ASUS, I was informed that it could go up to 2GB of RAM (single module). I got a 2 GB DDR2 RAM module and it was easy to install. It was very easy to upgrade the memory since unlike the Acer Aspire One that I have which requires removing the keyboard in order to upgrade the memory,with the ASUS Eee PC 701SD, it only required removing 4 screws on the bottom of the laptop, removing the small memory cover/latch located on the bottom of the laptop, removing the 512 MB DDR2 memory module and inserting the 2 GB DDR2 memory module. After the memory upgrade, I noticed a slight speed improvement but I still felt that the netbook was sluggish.

With the upgrade of memory from 512 MB to 2 GB, I found that the ASUS Eee PC 701SD running Linux was a bit faster and a bit more responsive but it was nowhere near as fast or responsive as my Acer Aspire One with 1 GB running Windows XP.

Another problem that I noticed with the ASUS Eee PC 701SD was that the wireless connectivity seemed to be unreliable. The netbook would identify itself as being connected to my router but it could not access the internet after a few minutes (~30 minutes) of use. I went through the process of resetting the software installed on the netbook back to the factory defaults and I had the same problem. I also updated the wireless drivers and had the exact same problem. The fastest (temporary) solution to this problem was to disable and re-enable the wi-fi on the netbook.

I did a search on the internet to see if anyone else had reported a similar problem and I found one or two users who had a similar problem but there was no solution.

With the small 7" size, the keyboard is obviously smaller than the one on my Acer Aspire One 8.9" netbook. I actually find the keyboard almost unusable because it is so small. I find that the smaller keyboard reduces my typing speed by over 50% so I normally use an external USB keyboard with the ASUS netbook.

Something else that I wanted to mention was that the AC power plug's prongs fold. There is a benefit to this as well as a drawback. The benefit with foldable AC prongs is that it is less likely to damage anything (if for example, you put it into your bag). The negative aspect with foldable prongs is that sometimes you have to insert it properly into the outlet otherwise it will fold into the plug.

One of the things that I noticed on this netbook is that if it is plugged into the AC outlet, regardless of whether it is on or not, the USB ports are still being supplied power. This might seem insignificant but if you plug a USB Bluetooth dongle or USB powered speakers or another device that draws power from USB, these devices will still be "on." even when you do a shutdown of your laptop (unless you disconnect the AC power from it). My Acer Aspire One netbook doesn't do this. The only benefit that I see with this is if you are charging a USB device, you might want it to continue charging even if your netbook is powered off.

Since this netbook also comes with Windows XP pre-installed and most of the programs that I wanted to use ran under Windows XP, I decided to install Windows XP Home on this netbook. I had a valid Windows XP Home license that I wasn't using from my old desktop PC. The Windows XP device drivers were available from ASUS's website. The only thing that I was somewhat concerned about was the amount of SSD disk space (8 GB) as well as the CPU speed.

In a subsequent blog entry on the ASUS Eee PC 701SD (entitled "Installing Windows XP on the ASUS Eee PC 701SD"), I will detail my installation of Windows XP Home onto this netbook and the issues that I had and what you should look out for if you also decide to install Windows XP on this netbook.

The blog entry on my experience installing Windows XP on the ASUS Eee PC 701SD is located *HERE*.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Points of Interest (POI) on a GPS

Whenever someone asks me about the various GPS units that I've used/tested, one of the questions that often comes up is "How many points of interest are included in the GPS?"

For me, the included points of interest aren't very important. I've been using various GPS units for about 5 years and I rarely use the included points of interest. What I find more important is the ability of the GPS to accept new points of interest (POI).

This leads me to the website that I use for my points of interest. The website that I use is or From this website, you can not only create your own points of interest but you can also download the points of interest that others have created onto your GPS. The website supports various GPS formats including Garmin and TomTom.

Generally speaking, you should download the POIs identified as being "Official." These official POIs are made by the company. For example, Tim Hortons has their official POI *HERE*. For a list of the "Official" POIs, you can click *HERE*.

As a test, I created a set of POIs for TD Canada Trust in the Montreal region. If you also deal with TD Canada Trust and live in the Montreal region, you can download my POI for TD Canada Trust *HERE*. If you bank at Royal Bank (RBC), you can find their official POI for Canada *HERE* (they have other official POIs on the site so depending on your needs, you might want to do a search for "RBC") or if you bank at CIBC, you can find their official POI *HERE*.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Griffin Technology's radio SHARK 2 Review

I've been testing the radio SHARK 2 by Griffin Technology for a few weeks and a few of my friends have asked me when I would be writing my review of this product on my blog.

Griffin Technology has released 2 versions of the radio SHARK. The visible difference between the 2 versions is that the first release of the radio SHARK is white and the second release of the radio SHARK is black. My review is on the radio SHARK 2 which according to people who have tried/reviewed both versions being the later release of the product is also the better of the 2 products in terms of sound quality and radio reception.

The radio SHARK improves AM/FM radio in much the same way as a generic PVR improves television. It gets its name from the shape (it is shaped like a shark's fin).

The radio SHARK is an AM/FM radio that connects to a PC via USB and allows users to record programs as well as time-shift live radio. Using the radio SHARK, you are able to "pause" live radio with a user defined buffer of up to 99 minutes (with the included radio SHARK 2.1.0 Build 214 software). The radio SHARK is USB powered so you won't need a spare power outlet in order to use it.

In terms of the AM/FM reception, I find the audio from the radio SHARK 2 to be quite good. The radio SHARK 2.0 comes with an external antenna that can be used in the earphone jack. I find that even without the external antenna (or anything) plugged into the antenna/earphone jack, the sound quality is still quite good.

In addition to the external antenna and software CD, the radio SHARK 2 also comes with a USB extension cord. For best reception, I recommend placing the radio SHARK as far away as possible from the computer. I also recommend placing it away from any device that produces strong radio waves like a microwave, wireless router, etc.

When the radio SHARK is on, the lights on the side of it power up (can be user controlled via the included software).

I find that the software included with the product to be somewhat limited. It does what it was designed to do (pause live radio, instantly record the radio, automatically schedule recordings, manually tune to a radio station, change from AM band to FM band, add a particular radio station to your list of favourites, and jump a few seconds forward/backward during a radio broadcast). However, when listening to the radio, there is no time indication on the buffer. The visual buffer length is the same size regardless of how much time is buffered. The software records in 3 formats (WMA, WAV, or MP3) and the software also integrates the recordings into iTunes if necessary. I have not tested the iTunes integration since I didn't have an iPhone, iTouch, or iPod at the time of my testing.

I like the radio SHARK 2 but I found a bug with it. After running the program for a few hours (~5 or 6 hours), on my Vista PC, the audio quality would become incomprehensible for some reason. The sound quality after using the program for 5 or 6 hours becomes very distorted and it seemed as if it was overlapping 2 different radio stations into 1 so it was almost incomprehensible. I have tried various settings in order to fix this myself but haven't been able to. The only solution that I found was that in order to temporarily fix this, I would have to exit the program and restart it. This would of course reset the amount of audio that was already buffered to zero and the buffering would start from zero. I contacted technical support regarding this problem and other than having me uninstall/reinstall the software, they were of little help.

Since the product doesn't prominently appear on the company's homepage, I think that the product will be discontinued soon and they won't fix the problem. I have been able to.

If having the product run 24 hours is important to you, I can't really recommend the product based on my issue with it on my Vista PC. However, if you only plan on running the program for a few hours a day as well as being able to either schedule or manually record your radio programs/stations, it is a decent product. The only thing is that after the scheduled recording, the program will continue to run and after the 5 or 6 hours of running, the sound quality will become distorted again. If your next scheduled program occurs before you're able to reset the sound quality (be exiting the program), you will be recording something incomprehensible. I have created a script which exits the program after my scheduled recording finishes which helps solve this problem.

What I like about recording my radio programs/stations onto my computer's hard disk is that I can use the Aluratek's Internet Radio Alarm Clock with Built-in WiFi and connect to my PC (configured as a media server) so that I can listen to my radio programs when I want even when I'm not in front of my PC. I can also place these radio station recordings onto my MP3 player or onto an iPhone/iPod/iTouch and listen to them when I'm outside of my home network.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Canadian Phone Number (with Free Calling capabilities)

Quite a few people ask me about all the phone numbers that I have as well as the costs associated with the phone numbers. I've already written about magicJack, Skype, some of my GSM service providers, etc. so I thought that I would mention is a service that I've used to get a free phone number in Toronto. You can see all the free features offered by this service on their website. Using a softphone computer program which can be downloaded from the company's website, you are able to make/receive calls. When you are not logged into the softphone program, you can configure the software to forward to certain Canadian phone numbers free of charge. This is what I did with my Toronto number. I would set it to automatically forward to my Montreal number. This way, people in Toronto could call me in Montreal for free. Unfortunately because I didn't actively use the program, the company canceled my free Toronto phone number.

The company allows 1 free phone number per household. During the registration process, you are asked for the standard personal information (name, address, e-mail address, and contact phone number). You are not asked for any credit card information. Using the contact phone number and your e-mail address, the system calls you in order to complete the authentication process.

The company will continue to conduct their verification process and if the company detects any discrepancies with the registration information that you've provided, you will receive an e-mail informing you that your account has been deleted/canceled even though you've already authenticated yourself via e-mail and via your personal contact phone number.

Based on the information that I've read, the service also works with ATA SIP adapter. Unfortunately I've never verified this although I did download the ATA configuration instructions. Using the provided Canadian phone number in your ATA SIP adapter is free as long as you limit your calls to Canadian numbers. It is something that I am looking at trying, if I ever purchase an unlocked ATA VoIP adapter. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the company deleted/canceled my account because of non-use so I will have to get a new free Canadian phone number when I get a chance.

I've also never used the softphone feature. I would assume that the audio quality is similar to the audio quality obtained by other VoIP solutions like Skype, magicJack, etc.

The only thing that I've used the service was to forward the Toronto number that they provided me to one of my Montreal numbers. I found that this worked well although once or twice people have informed me that they've called me at the Toronto number and according to them the phone was ringing but my Montreal phone did not ring nor was the call forwarded to my Montreal voice mail box. I find the audio quality of a forwarded call to be good. There was the occasional problem but this might have been due to me forwarding my Toronto number to a Montreal cellphone that had poor coverage.

My actual suggestion for anyone who wants a free Canadian phone number is to install the softphone onto their PC and have it log into their server occasionally in order to keep your account active. I didn't do this since I was only using their service as a free Toronto forwarding phone number to one of my Montreal phone numbers.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PalmOne Treo 680 Review

I've been a long time user/fan of the PalmOS platform and I've been using my Palm Treo 680 for approximately 2 years. My previous PalmOS based smartphone was a Palm Treo 650. Before that, I was using a Treo 600 and prior to the Treo 600, I was using a Handspring VisorPhone.
One of the reasons why I purchased my Treo 680 is because I had purchased/found a lot of programs over the years that I wanted to continue using. Even though my Treo 650 was not broken, the Treo 680 had dropped in price and I found that the amount of memory was limited in my Treo 650 (~32MB on the Treo 650 as opposed to ~64MB on the Treo 680).

The Treo 680 is a PDA with quad band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz bands) GSM phone functions. In terms of the carrier's data network, the Treo 680 supports GPRS and EDGE. It does not support 3G nor does it support WiFi. Out of the box, it does not have GPS capabilities but with the proper software and a bluetooth GPS module, the Treo 680 can be used as a GPS.

The Treo 680 runs the PalmOS version 5.4.9. The processor is the XScale processor and the display is 320 x 320 (~64K colors). It comes with approximately 64MB of non-volatile internal memory. It has an SD slot (on the side) which supports SD cards and SDHC cards up to 4GB. The camera is capable of taking pictures 640 x 480 in size with a 2x optical zone. In my opinion, the picture quality is not very good but I generally don't use my cellphones to take pictures unless absolutely necessary.

I find the PalmOS to be relatively stable and most users can find almost any program that they want (provided that the PalmOS hardware supports that feature). For example, if you are looking for a stock program that updates via the internet, your PalmOS hardware must be capable of accessing the internet.

The Treo 680 comes with the built-in standard PalmOS PDA programs (Contacts, Datebook/Agenda, Tasks, Memo/Notes, WorldClock, etc.). It also includes an MP3 playing program called pTunes Basic v3.09 as well as an Microsoft Office compatible program called "Documents To Go Ver 8". If you want to use the MP3 playing program and regular headphones, you will need a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter. There are also other programs including an internet enabled web applications like"Web" (which is the built-in PalmOS browser) and a built-in e-mail program. The Treo 680 synchronizes with a PC via a special PalmOne proprietary USB cable or via bluetooth. Certain built-in programs as well as third party programs have conduits which when the user performs a synchronization with a computer, the program will also access the internet to get the information (ex: stock quotes, RSS feeds, e-mail, etc.)

What I like about the Treo 680 is the abundance of programs available for it. I've collected quite a few programs over the 8 years that I've been using the PalmOS platform. I have various multilingual dictionaries, games, etc.

What I find lacking about the Treo 680 is that it doesn't have wi-fi. This means that the only way to access the internet is to use the cellphone service provider's data service since some providers (such as Rogers) lock the ability of using bluetooth to access internet via their customized firmware.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Red Pocket Mobile US GSM Prepaid Service Review

After not having access to a cellphone because of the high costs of roaming and long distance from Canadian cellphone service providers (can be as high as $2.00 per minute with one of my Canadian cellphone accounts), I thought about getting cellphone service whenever I traveled within the US. I was interested in getting a cellphone or cellphone service with a low yearly maintenance fees as well as low per minute rates within the US and low per minute rates to call Canada since over 50% of my calls whenever I'm in the US would be calling Canada. I also had a preference for a GSM service provider because I wanted to use my unlocked smartphone and I didn't want the added cost of having to purchase a new cellphone. In my search, I came across a company called Red Pocket Mobile.

I've been using my Red Pocket Mobile SIM for approximately 2 years after purchasing it from a seller on Ebay and all in all, I'm happy with the service. I will sometimes lend my Red Pocket Mobile SIM to friends and family when they go to the US.

Red Pocket Mobile is an AT&T MVNO that doesn't use the full AT&T coverage map but uses the native and more limited AT&T GoPhone (prepaid) coverage map. To view Red Pocket Mobile's coverage (and AT&T GoPhone's coverage map), go to AT&T Coverage Map Viewer and under the heading "Coverage Type," click on the "GoPhone." In the "GoPhone Coverage Legend" section, select "Pay As You Go Plan."

What I find attractive about RedPocket Mobile is that the basic airtime rate is a maximum of $0.15 per minute and a minimum of $0.10 per minute (based on airtime purchase). Red Pocket Mobile like most carriers round the calls up to the closest minute. For my airtime purchase of roughly $25 every 90 days, I have access to a US cellphone number with the very low rate of $0.15 per minute. This low basic per minute rate applies to calls made to US phone numbers as well as phones in Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Monterrey (Mexico), Guadalajara (Mexico), and Mexico City (Mexico). The low basic per minute rate also applies to landlines in Taiwan and South Korea (calling cellphone numbers in both of these countries carries an extra surcharge).  Calling other countries/cities not listed above carry a long distance surcharge. Red Pocket Mobile uses direct dialing in order to get the low basic rate to call the above non-US countries. Some other wireless carriers such as O2 Wireless Service require dialing a US number similar to a calling card number in order to benefit from their low basic rates (before connecting to the long distance number). O2 Wireless allows for calling more countries at local rates but there was something in the terms of usage for O2 Wireless that didn't appeal to me based on my usage.

Red Pocket Mobile includes call display, call waiting, voice mail, and SMS services. The charge for incoming as well as outgoing SMS is $0.10 per text message regardless of the destination. I didn't like the idea of paying for incoming SMS that I had no control over where some of the SMS might be spam so I had Red Pocket Mobile disable SMS on my account. Unlike T-Mobile prepaid, Red Pocket Mobile is able to disable SMS on your account. Similar to T-Mobile prepaid, call forwarding is not part of Red Pocket Mobile's service and neither is wireless data. Unlike in Canada (at least with Rogers), there is no charge if someone leaves you a voice mail message at your Red Pocket Mobile number. However, there is a charge to listen to your voice mail messages from your phone.

With Red Pocket Mobile, when dialing a non-US number, there will be a short pause and then a message will say "Thank you. Connecting your call" before attempting to connect to the non-US number. This "connecting your call" message adds approximately 5 seconds to the call in the case that the call is actually completed. You are billed a minimum of 1 minute for the call when calling a non-US number. These non-US numbers are recorded on their website when you log into your account. If the call is not completed, there is no charge for the call. A completed call is any call that is answered or goes to voice mail. Depending on certain redirection (forwarding) options, a call will also be considered as being completed by Red Pocket Mobile if you call such a number (for example calling a Google Voice number will count as a completed call regardless of whether the person picks up the phone or not).

In the places that I've used my Red Pocket Mobile SIM with my quad band GSM phone, I find that the reception is quite good. I've used it in Washington DC, New York City, Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Atlantic City, and Philadelphia as well as at the Quebec Lacolle border crossing into the US. I did notice that in some casinos in Las Vegas, I would have no reception/coverage but once I left the casino floor, the signal bars on my cellphone would go up to the maximum level. When calling, I would sometimes get what appeared to be noise/static and the call would not complete. After the "connecting your call" message, I would get this "static/noise" and I would be forced to manually hang-up/disconnect the call. This caused me to have to make the call twice (being billed for the call that didn't appear to go through and the 2nd call). I don't have the exact figure on this but during my trip to New York City, this happened less than 5% of the time (where I would get static/noise and have to hang up). However, once the call was actually completed, there were no problems with noise or sound quality. The problem that I experienced in New York City might have just been because of the congestion problem with AT&T's network.

Red Pocket Mobile's website advertises 24 hour phone support but they don't offer 24 hour support (at least not in English). I had an issue with my account in the evening on a Saturday and I had to wait until 1pm on Sunday in order to get a customer service representative on the phone (their hours are based of Pacific Time and they start at 10am on Sunday according to their timezone). Generally when I have a question or non-urgent request because of possible language issues (since the company caters to a Chinese clientele), I deal with the company via e-mail which is generally responded to within an hour during regular business hours.

For personal reasons, I deactivated voice mail on my Red Pocket Mobile account. However, when I did have voice mail on my Red Pocket Mobile account, I noticed that their voice mail system had more advanced features than what I'm used to in Canada. For example, it can be set up so that if someone leaves you a voice mail message, the voice mail system will call you at another phone number to let you know about the voice mail. The voice mail system can also be set so that if you call from your Red Pocket Mobile SIM, you are not prompted for a voice mail PIN in order to access your voice mail messages.

An important thing to note is that in order to use/activate your voice mail for the first time, you must call yourself at least once from your Red Pocket mobile phone. It isn't possible to activate your Red Pocket Mobile message initially from using another phone. Since I received my Red Pocket Mobile SIM while I was in Canada, I wasn't able to activate the voice mail until I went to the US since Red Pocket Mobile does not offer any international roaming capabilities. You won't be able to activate your cellphone's voice mail box if you leave the United States (or if you're in the United States but don't have AT&T GoPhone coverage). After you call yourself from your Red Pocket mobile phone for the first time, you are walked through the process of setting up your voice mail box. I believe that you are billed airtime for this process, however, the entire process took under 2 minutes so at most it will only cost $0.30. Once your voice mail box is set up, you can then pick up your voice mail messages from any phone by calling your Red Pocket Mobile cell number, waiting for it to go to voice mail, and pressing "*" during the message.

When dialing any number in Canada and the US, I found that the phone requires the international prefix of "1" before the actual phone number. This doesn't make a difference in terms of charges but it just causes some issues dialing some of the contacts in my smartphone where I haven't entered the "1" before their area code.

Just like with most prepaid phones that I'm familiar with, Red Pocket Mobile offers rollover minutes as long as you add your airtime prior to the balance expiration date.

As mentioned above, Red Pocket Mobile does not allow for international roaming so if you leave the US coverage area, you will not only not have access to make/receive calls but you will also not be able to obtain your balance by dialing *777# and hitting [SEND] from your Red Pocket Mobile phone. This isn't really an issue since I've found that it is easy to obtain your balance by sending an e-mail to Red Pocket Mobile's customer service.

I have another blog entry (which concentrates on the activation/purchasing process) about Red Pocket Mobile *HERE*.

If you have any questions/comments regarding my review on Red Pocket Mobile's US GSM Prepaid Service, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Securing/Configuring a Wireless/Wi-Fi router

In my computer freelancing, I often get asked to configure and/or set up a secure wireless network so I thought that I would create a blog entry about setting up a secure wireless network.

The first thing that I have to write is that regardless of how secure you set up your wireless network, it is always possible that someone will be able to access your wireless network. The only thing that you can actually do is keep out the casual hacker from accessing your network. I also want to state that a lot of the settings that I specify in this blog entry is "overkill" so the least that you should do with your wireless network is to change the router's default password and to enable WPA encryption.

When setting up your wireless network, the first thing you have to do is to change the default password. After changing the password, you should enable encryption. Without enabling encryption, someone can easedrop on your wireless network and possibly get your passwords as well as see the information that is being transferred back/forth between your computer and the internet. Unless you have something that doesn't support WPA, I would set the router's encryption to one of the WPA variants over WEP because WEP networks can be "easily" hacked. For the WPA Shared Key or passphrase, even though it might be easier to remember and to enter into new devices, picking a totally random string is better than picking something composed of words that can be found in a dictionary. You can pick a random string for your router's passphrase from Gibson Research Corporation's website but this might be going overboard and will make entering your passphrase in your wireless devices very cumbersome.

The more restrictive you configure the router, the fewer wireless devices will be able to connect to this. I use this as a general rule when I configure wireless routers. However, it does make connecting new devices to the router a bit more difficult.

The next thing that I will normally do is pick the wireless mode based on my devices. Generally, for compatibility with all my devices, I will pick a "mixed" mode if my router supports it. If I only have devices that support G (or another mode), I will pick G (or the other mode). For security purposes, there is no point in picking "mixed" mode if all your devices support G (or another mode) and you have no plans on getting a device that supports the non-specified mode. If you configure your router for G-only or N-only (or another mode only), all other devices that don't support that mode won't be able to connect to it.

The next thing that I will generally do is to scan the wireless channel spectrum with a program to see which wireless channel I should pick. I will pick the channel with the least overlap. Depending on the OS, there are a few free programs that do this.

Although this doesn't make a big difference (and I wouldn't rely on it as the sole means to protect a wireless network), I will generally disable the broadcasting of the SSID unless one (or a few) of my devices can only connect to SSIDs that are broadcasting. At the same time, I would also enable MAC filtering. MAC filtering allows only devices with the MAC address that I've specified on the router to connect to it. If for some reason, I am forced to enable the SSID broadcasting, I will set the SSID name to something that can't be identified to my network (for example, I would never pick my name, address, phone number, etc. as the SSID name).

The final thing that I will generally do is to set the DHCP settings for the router outside the common network settings for that specific router as well as restrict the DHCP address range. For example, if I only have 10 devices (both wireless and wired) that will access my router, there is very little point in creating a DHCP address range with a large number greater than 10 IP addresses. This doesn't really offer any real protection on the network since if someone knows what network your wireless router is configured to use and is able to connect to your router, he/she can specify a static IP address and would be able to access your router's internet connection.

The only negative thing about configuring all of these settings onto a wireless router is that, depending on your viewpoint, it takes a little bit or a lot more work in order to connect a new wireless device to this router. Personally, the extra few minutes (less than 5 minutes) in order to connect a new wireless device to my wireless router doesn't bother me.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tivo Series 2 Dual Tuner PVR Review - Part 2

One of the things that I like about the Tivo service is that it allows me to remotely record a program or a series over the internet.

I sometimes find out about a program that will be televised while I'm not at home and I would like to schedule the recording. With a Slingbox, it would be possible to remotely access your PVR and just like if you were sitting in front of your PVR, you could go through the recording menu on your PVR using the SlingPlayer software. The only drawback with this is that it requires that you have access to the SlingPlayer software and enough internet access (i.e. not blocked) in order for you to remotely access your Slingbox from the PC and issue the record command.

With a Tivo, this can be done entirely using the internet and a browser so no special software is required. As long as the computer is capable of browsing web pages, it will be capable of issuing the record command remotely for a program scheduled a few hours in the future. All you have to do is make sure that your Tivo is connected to either the internet (via WiFi or network cable) or to a phone line. If it is connected to the internet, you can record an episode approximately 1 hour away. If the Tivo is connected via a phone line, it can only record an episode after it dials into Tivo to download settings, updates and the television schedule. I don't recall how often Tivo dials in for the television schedule guide updates since I've always used my internet connection for the television guide updates but I believe that it only happens once every 24 hours. If this is the case, it means that if your Tivo is connected via a phone line, you will have to issue the record command about a day in advance in order to have the command accepted.

In order to record a program or a "Season Pass" remotely, you will have to have access to the internet (web browser). You will then log onto Tivo's website using your log-in credentials. Once you do this, you must locate the program that you want to record via the webpage television schedule. You can issue the record command and have your Tivo let you know if/when the recording will happen (via e-mail). If it doesn't happen because of a higher priority program, you can also have your Tivo let you know about this (via e-mail).

In fact, I issued a record program command remotely via the internet yesterday when I was at work, I found out that Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield would be featured on Oprah Winfrey that day. Being somewhat of a boxing fan, I was interested in hearing what both boxers had to say. I'm not someone who normally watches Oprah and her program is not one of the television programs programmed as a "Season Pass" on my Tivo. I opened up a browser and logged into my Tivo account. I did a search for Oprah Winfrey and issued the record command. A few minutes later, I received an e-mail informing me that the record command was successfully sent to my Tivo and that the television program that I selected was placed on my "To Do" list on things that would be recorded.

When you issue the record command via the internet, you will receive 2 e-mail confirmations. The first one will be similar to this where it states that the command was received by Tivo:
date at time

To: emailaddress


We have received your request to record "Rocky Balboa" on Channel 334 for Tue 10/20 at 3:30 AM.

 Priority: Only record if nothing else conflicts
 Quality:  Use the default on the DVR
 Keep Until:      Space needed
 Start Recording: On Time
 Stop Recording:  On Time

The next time your DVR named "DVR XXXX" connects to the TiVo service, it will receive this request and send you another email with the results.  You can always see the status of your requests by checking your TiVo Messages and the To Do List or Recording History.

Best regards,


If you need to re-request this program, be sure to change at least one
recording option so it will be recognized as a new request by your

Note: This is an automatically generated email notification.  Please
do not reply to this message if you need help; instead, please visit

The second e-mail confirmation will either state whether the program was successfully or not successfully accepted by YOUR Tivo (i.e. placed in your Tivo's "To Do" list). An example of the e-mail which shows that the program was accepted by your Tivo is here:
date at time

To: emailaddress


Your online request for "Deep Impact" has been received.

This program is now scheduled to record and appears in the To Do List.

Best regards,


If you need to re-request this program, be sure to change at least one recording option so it will be recognized as a new request by your TiVo DVR.

Note: This is an automatically generated e-mail notification.  Please do not reply to this message if you need help; instead, please visit

If the program was not successfully accepted by your Tivo, the e-mail will state the reason. An example of the e-mail which shows that the program was not accepted by your Tivo is here:
date at time

To: emailaddress


Your online request for "Rocky Balboa" has been received.

However this program COULD NOT be scheduled to record because it conflicts with a previously scheduled, higher priority recording.

Tip: Try using "View upcoming episodes" to find other times to record this program.

Will NOT record:
           Rocky Balboa   10/20   3:30 am - 5:30 am   334 ACTIONC

           overlaps with   Smallville   4:00 am - 5:00 am

Best regards,


If you need to re-request this program, be sure to change at least one recording option so it will be recognized as a new request by your TiVo DVR.

Note: This is an automatically generated e-mail notification.  Please do not reply to this message if you need help; instead, please visit

If you have any questions/comments regarding my "Part 2" on Tivo Series 2 Dual Tuner PVR, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Review on Slingbox Classic and Slingbox Solo

I've been using my Slingbox Classic for a few years (even before it was widely available in Canada). I purchased mine on Ebay from a Canadian living near one of the US/Canada border cities. Similar to my experience with purchasing my Tivo on Ebay before the Canadian Tivo launch, a few months after purchasing my used Slingbox Classic on Ebay, Sling Media (the makers of Slingbox) released the Slingbox in a few Canadian stores including Future Shop and Best Buy so I purchased another Slingbox Classic for a different satellite receiver. Approximately 1 year after I purchased my second Slingbox Classic, SlingMedia released the updated Slingbox Solo along with a few other Slingbox models and Dell Canada placed the Slingbox Solo on one of their Deals of the Day promotion. This was roughly the time that I was thinking about getting a similar product from Sony (called LocationFree) or getting a similar product from Hava. Based on the price and the support for faster speeds as well as the price, I purchased a Slingbox Solo.

The Slingbox Solo is similar in design to the Slingbox Classic except that the Slingbox Solo has HD component input which the Slingbox Classic doesn't have. The Slingbox Solo is also black whereas the Slingbox Classic is silver in colour. One other difference between the Slingbox Solo is that it is capable of faster speeds and higher video quality than the Slingbox Classic when viewing over an internal network. The Slingbox Solo also is supported on the newer phones/devices whereas the Slingbox Classic is not officially supported on certain of the newer phones/devices..

For those of you who don't know what a Slingbox is, it is a device that allows you to "place-shift" your television or audio/video source in much the same way as a Tivo can "time-shift" your television viewing. With a Slingbox, let's say that you travel a lot or you aren't at home a lot, you could watch your television from anywhere around the world where you have access to the internet and a PC. For example, if I go to another country where they don't have a program that I want to watch (or all the programs are in the local language which I don't understand), I could simply access my home's Slingbox and view the program that I want. When paired up with a Tivo, it gives me the flexibility to not only watch the program when I want to but also I'm able to watch the program where I want to.

What is included in the Slingbox is the Slingbox itself, and depending on the model of Slingbox, the audio/video cables, a remote control blaster, and a short network cable. You connect the Slingbox to your router as well as your cable/satellite box or your PVR (like your Tivo). You place the remote control blaster in front of your cable/satellite box or PVR. After some configuration (giving your Slingbox an internal IP address and opening up the appropriate port on your router), you will be able to access and control your TV box or PVR. The Slingbox takes in the video/audio from your TV box or PVR and when the Slingbox is accessed, it sends the video/audio over the internet or over the internal network using TCP (and not UDP) which opens the possibility to do port forwarding.

Using the included SlingPlayer software (for Windows), you will be able to view whatever your box is being fed via the audio/video cables. Using the SlingPlayer software, you will also be able to issue remote control commands to your box. The software's remote control looks very similar to the actual remote control for various devices (including the Tivo and the Dish/Bell remote).

While you are accessing the Slingbox, if someone at the actual physical location decides to access the TV box, they will affect what you are viewing. If you change the channels remotely, they will see the television "magically" change channels by itself. Depending on the device (PVR, TV box, etc.), almost anything that you can do while sitting in front of the device with the device's actual remote control, you can do using the SlingPlayer software.

Right now, I'm actually connecting to my home Slingbox and I'm watching CTV (CFCF12 - Montreal) local news which I recorded on my Tivo while I'm physically in New Jersey. I'm using the hotel's free internet to connect and watch the programs recorded on my Tivo. This gives me the ability to watch what I want, when I want, and where I want.

The video and audio quality will depend on your internet speed both at home as well as at the location from where you are trying to access your Slingbox. With a download speed of over 500 kbits/s, I find the quality to be quite good and I would say that it is comparable to the HQ quality videos found on YouTube (not the HD quality videos). Depending on how much bandwidth I want to use, I will sometimes go through the SlingPlayer for Windows settings and will manually reduce the quality of the audio/video. For example, when I'm watching the news, I don't really care if the video quality and all I'm interested in is the audio as well as being able to determine exactly what it is that I'm looking at. Manually, reducing the speed down to 100kbits/s accomplishes this for me. Another thing that you can do with the SlingPlayer software is to turn off the video and keep the audio. The only use that I find for this is for the radio stations broadcasted on cable/satellite.

SlingMedia includes the Windows and Mac SlingPlayer software for free. They also created SlingPlayer software for various phones running the S60 operating system, the PalmOS operating system, the Blackberry operating system, Windows Mobile, the iPhone/iTouch OS, etc.. SlingPlayer for these mobile devices require purchasing the appropriate software for the specific mobile. There is a 30 day trial for the software that I've tried (PalmOS & S60).

SlingMedia has recently come out with a browser plug-in which allows users to view their Slingbox remotely using a browser (after the plug-in is installed). The only negative aspect with this is that in order to install the plug-in under Windows, the user must have administrative rights to the PC which is a big limiting factor. If the user did have administrative rights to the PC, he/she could easily install the actual SlingPlayer software which has more functions and is more responsive.

There are 2 noticeable limitations of the SlingPlayer software and Slingbox. The first limitation is that the Slingbox will only accept 1 connection. Once that connection is established whether via internal network or internet, no one else can access the Slingbox. The second limitation is that there is no recording feature within the SlingPlayer software. There is a third party that has created a recording program specifically for Slingboxes. This program is called At-Large Recorder and the company is called Applian Technologies. Applian Technologies offers a reduced functionality demo of almost all their software (including the At-Large Recorder) so that users can see if the program works for their situation. When I demoed the At-Large Recorder, I found it to be very good.

SlingMedia has improved their SlingPlayer Windows software since version 1. They are currently at version 2. Version 2.0 offers PVR like functions, an integrated television program schedule, and closed captioning.

In case you haven't guessed (based on my description), the picture on the top is the Slingbox Classic and the picture on the bottom is the Slingbox Solo.

If you have any questions/comments regarding anything that I've written here, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Acer Aspire One 8.9" Netbook Review

Someone asked me why I haven't posted my opinion/thoughts regarding the Acer Aspire One 8.9" Netbook since I've been using it for awhile so here are my thoughts/review...

I consider my Acer Aspire One to be my "main" netbook. There are a few models for the Aspire One 8.9" netbook but the model that I use is the A0A150 which comes with 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, an Intel Atom N270 1.60 GHz CPU, and Windows XP Home preinstalled. It has WiFi B/G, three USB 2.0 ports, card reader capable of reading SD/MMC/MS/MS PRO/xD.

All in all, I like my Aspire One netbook. The 8.9" screen is bright and when used to view the digital pictures that I've taken with my digital camera, the pictures look very nice.

In my opinion, the only thing missing from it is a GSM SIM slot for using the cellullar carrier's data, a DVD drive, and bluetooth capabilities. If you really want to use the cellular carrier's data network, without internally modifying the netbook, there are 3G/EDGE/GPRS USB data modems that can be used. Getting around the lack of a DVD drive requires purchasing an external USB DVD drive. Without internally modifying the netbook, to allow the netbook to have bluetooth capabilities, all that is required is a USB bluetooth dongle. If so desired, there are various websites that show how to internally modify the Acer Aspire One netbook so that it has bluetooth and/or a USB SIM slot (as well as upgrade the memory).

When I purchased the netbook, I didn't really care about the lack of a DVD drive since I wanted something light and portable. Having a built-in DVD drive would not only add weight to the unit but also increase the size (or thickness). While the DVD drive is in use, it would also drain the battery.

I find the speed of the netbook to be acceptable. However, it is by no means a speed demon. For example, when trying to view YouTube's HD video content over a wired connection (and not wifi connection which is often times slower and less stable), there are quite a lot of pauses in the audio and video. The netbook, however, is capable of watching regular YouTube videos or YouTube videos in HQ without any pauses in audio/video (subject to internet quality).

According to Acer's website, the battery is rated for 3 hours but it of course it depends on usage. For me, based on my typical usage, I've been able to watch a streaming movie of approximately 100 minutes using the netbook's wifi connection before getting a low battery warning.

One of the things that I don't like about the Aspire One is that it is not easy to upgrade the memory. The maximum memory that it can have is 1.5GB. As mentioned above, the Aspire One that I use comes with 1GB of RAM. Out of the box, the memory slot already has a 512MB DDR RAM installed and the remaining 512MB of RAM is soldered onto the motherboard. Since you can only remove the 512MB of DDR RAM from the memory slot and swap it with a 1GB DDR memory, this gives it a maximum of 1.5GB of memory. It is not easy to upgrade the memory since it requires removing the keyboard from the netbook in order to get access to the memory slot. There are various websites/videos showing how this is done. It doesn't appear to be very difficult but it is definitely not as easy as it is on my Asus EeePC where all that is required to upgrade the memory is to remove a small panel on the bottom of the netbook.

I'm also not too fond of the buttons for the touchpad. They sometimes seem to require a somewhat hard push. Most of the time when I'm using this netbook, I'm using an external mouse (and an external keyboard). Speaking about the keyboard, I find the keyboard to be a bit tight/small but when I purchased the netbook, I wanted something small with a screen size of 8.9" so I wasn't expecting a full sized keyboard. I can say that the smaller keyboard reduces my typing speed by roughly 20% which is one of the reasons why I will generally use an external USB keyboard.

If you have any questions/comments regarding my review on the Acer Aspire One 8.9" Netbook, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Google Voice Service

I've been using Google Voice since it was called GrandCentral and I find it useful even with the limitations that Google Voice has which GrandCentral did not have.

As many services by Google, Google Voice is an ever changing product so one of the things that GrandCentral offered which Google Voice didn't offer has already been addressed. The feature that I'm referring to is free calling to Canada. When Google Voice was first launched, if I remember correctly, calling Canada was approximately $0.01 per minute. GrandCentral allowed for the forwarded numbers to be Canadian numbers, however Google Voice currently does not allow this.

Google Voice grandfathered users of GrandCentral so that any Canadian numbers that they have in GrandCentral were automatically migrated to Google Voice. However, once the Canadian number is migrated, no changes can be done to the number. One of the things that this means is that Canadian numbers cannot have associated ring schedules.

The first thing to note is that Google Voice is associated with an e-mail address. When you create your Google Voice account, you are prompted for an e-mail address. BE VERY CAREFUL WHICH E-MAIL ADDRESS YOU ENTER. Once entered, you pick the US area code that you want for your Google Voice number and you are given a phone number from that area code. You won't be able to easily change your associated e-mail address. You will have to contact Google via their online support page and ask them for assistance if you want them to change the e-mail address associated with your Google Voice account.

In order to use your Google Voice invite (since Google Voice is available based on "invites" only), you will need access to a US proxy server. The reason for this is that Google has limited the sign-up process so that it works with US IP addresses only. During the registration process, you will also need a US phone number that Google can verify via an automated process. After registering for Google Voice, there is no US IP address restriction on which country you can log in from.

Google Voice has a lot of features. The 2 features that I use most is making long distance calls (Canada/US) for free and sending free SMS to Canada/US mobile numbers. I will also sometimes use their conditional call forwarding.

The free long distance calling to Canadian/US phone numbers works like a callback service. Google has some Google Voice clients for specific phones but I generally use their webpage to initiate the callback service. I log into my Google Voice account and I enter the phone number that I want to call and I select from my list of forward numbers which phone I want to take the call on. When I click on "Call", the phone that I selected from my list of forward numbers will ring (call display will show the Google Voice number). When I pick up the call, Google Voice will call the other number and connect the call together. The recipient will see your Google Voice number. The only cost to the Google Voice user is the cost of receiving the call. If the Google Voice user has unlimited incoming calls, he/she doesn't pay anything for the call.

The sending/receiving of SMS works with Canadian phone numbers and US phone numbers only. It does not work with SMS notification systems like MSN, Skype, Twitter, etc. so you won't be able to receive an SMS from a non-mobilephone system..

I use the conditional call forwarding by forwarding a local number to my Google Voice number (long distance charges may apply to forward to the Google Voice US number). Depending on the caller ID of the number calling me, Google Voice routes the call to ring (forward the call) to whatever forwarded number(s) I've configured. For example, let's say that I'm in the US and I want my friends and family to be able to reach me but no one else. I would then set the numbers in my "friends" and "family" category to forward to the US number that I'm using while in the US but all other numbers outside of the "friends" and "family" category to forward to one of the other numbers that I've set as being a forwarded number. For telemarketers, I can even set it so that they receive a message saying that the number which they've dialed is not correct.

There is also a "call me" Google Voice widget similar to the alpha Vonage Me widget/webpage. I tried the call me Google Voice widget (and the Vonage Me service) but don't actually use it except in special cases since I personally feel that it encourages telephone spam and there isn't any filter based on contacts.

Google has a blog specific for Google Voice (like many of their other products/services). In their blog, they discuss the existing and new features of Google Voice. Their Google Voice blog can be found *HERE*

As of today, you can set the forwarding numbers to be US phone numbers, GoogleTalk, and Gizmo VoIP numbers. You cannot set the forwarding numbers to an international number or services like Skype or another Google Voice number.

If you have any questions/comments regarding my review on Google Voice, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

magicJack Review

I purchased the magicJack approximately 1 year ago at a local store for some testing after reading about it on the internet and watching a few infomercials.

MagicJack is a device that plugs into a PC's (running Windows) USB port that allows users to make/receive free calls to Canada and the US. According to the company's website, magicJack also works on Macs but I don't know anything about this since I've never tried the magicJack dongle on a Mac.

Even though I purchased my magicJack approximately 1 year ago (it will be up for renewal within a few months), I remember the installation being very straightforward. Once the magicJack is plugged into the computer's USB port directly or via the included USB short extension cord, the program automatically installs if autorun is enabled. If autorun is not enabled, I believe that a drive is mounted on the computer. You would then have to double-click on "My Computer" or "Computer" and double-click on the appropriate drive which represents the magicJack device and run the associated installation program.

During the installation process, you are asked to register by including your name and address for emergency 911 service. You are also asked to select an area code in the United States. The program only supplies phone numbers for the US but using various non-associated/non-affiliated workarounds, you are able to have people call a Canadian number reach your magicJack number but when you call people with your magicJack line, the outgoing phone number will be your US number. With the purchase of the magicJack USB device, it includes 1 year of free service/subscription. The subscription gives you free calling to Canada and the US. You are not asked for any credit card information until your free subscription expires or you want to make calls outside of Canada/US.

The magicJack software/service also includes voice mail, call display, call logging, and call forwarding. There is apparently some unknown limit to the amount of free calls that you can do to Canada and the US but I believe that it is sufficiently high enough for most consumers. There is mention on various forums and blogs of users being cut-off when they've exceeded the number of minutes for calling the Canada and the US within a month.

Technical support for the magicJack is entirely done by online chatting. There is absolutely no call-in support. There is also mention that the program runs in the background on your PC and monitors what you do and the numbers that you call in order to target advertisements to you based on the wording in the licensing agreement. You will find many users mentioning this on the internet.

Another negative thing about this program is that there is no automated uninstall for the program. After your 1 year of included free service (subscription) expires, if you don't want to renew your subscription and/or continue using magicJack, you will have to manually uninstall the program. Searching on the internet, I managed to uninstall the program from my PC. I'm not sure if following the instructions removed all the components of the program but it seemed to be uninstalled from my PC and even with some programs that include uninstall programs, the uninstall programs still leave remnants of the program on the PC. A few months later, I reformatted my PC since I wanted to install a new OS on it.

I have since installed magicJack on a low powered laptop that I don't use for anything else so even if magicJack was monitoring my internet usage (which it might not be doing), it doesn't really affect me.

In terms of the sound quality of magicJack, I find it to be very good. I've tried it both using my cable internet connection as well as my celluar carrier's 3G data network. With the carrier's 3G data network, there is some latency and pauses in the audio but I think that it was fine for short calls. Something that I noticed with my magicJack was that if the phone call lasted over 30 minutes, the line would disconnect. I'm not sure if this was a problem with my unit or a built-in limitation of the service/hardware. When this happened (and it happened rarely since I rarely used my magicJack and I also rarely talk on the phone for more than 30 minutes on the same call), I just dialed the number again. I find the sound quality better than Skype but this could be because I am using a real telephone with my magicJack but I'm using a cheap headset when using Skype.

Even though I find the sound quality to be good for magicJack, I don't recommend using it as your only source of making/receiving calls even if you live in the US. The reason for this is that even though the sound quality is good (but obviously dependent on the quality (speed) of your internet connection), based on my limited usage, I've experienced problems occasionally when making/receiving calls. One such problem that I encountered was that when calling Canadian Rogers or Fido cellphones, it would appear as if I was ringing the recipient's cellphone but in fact, his/her cellphone was not ringing at all. There was also the "annoying" cut-off that seemed to occur for me roughly 30 minutes into a call (I experienced this a few times but didn't test it enough to know if it always happens or whether it was due to some internet connection problem).

The service/subscription price is approximately $20US per year. I find it to be a cheap alternative for a second line provided that you have a PC that is always on (or you're willing to turn on the PC whenever you make calls).

There is an unofficial MagicJack forum located *HERE* where you can find information about minor hacking, tweaking, and/or using the magicJack as well as possibly solving some of your magicJack problems/issues.

If you have any questions/comments regarding my review on magicJack, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I thought that I would write about Skype. For those of you unfamiliar with Skype, where have you been?  ;-)

Skype combines VoIP and instant messaging in their proprietary product. As I'm writing this, Skype was recently sold or a large stack of it was sold by Ebay.

I've been using Skype for awhile and I have 2 Skype phones. One Skype phone works via WiFi and the other Skype phone works via a cordless handset where the charging dock is plugged into a network cable. I've also used Skype on my PC/laptop/netbook.

I find the audio and video quality of Skype when using my PC/netbook to be very good. I've also used Skype via my carrier's 3G network and I find that the voice quality is acceptable for short calls but for longer calls because of the latency which can be ten times larger than what I get with my land based internet service, conversations can sometimes get annoying.

I used to subscribe to the unlimited US/Canada plan but because I have many long distance options available to me, I cancelled my Skype voice plan after the first year but continue to use my account for Skype to Skype text chatting or Skype to Skype voice chatting as well as the occasional Skype to phone (pay per use).

If you have any questions/comments regarding my review on Skype, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section.