Entries Tagged as 'Communications'

Disposable EMail Addresses

DEAs = Disposable EMail Addresses; they’re useful for you to provide to a vendor so that you can track the use of the email address and delete it if you find it’s abused or chose to no long do business with whom you gave it to.

Just like Virtual Credit Card numbers give you control over payment to merchants, Disposable EMail Addresses give you control over your inbox.

It’s a great way to fight SPAM and identify SPAMmers.

If you don’t happen to own your own domain were you can create “forwarding” addresses, there are a number of web sites that provide you with the ability to create and manage DEAs — just do an internet search.  If you can’t find one, let me know and I’ll give you some pointers.

Originally posted 2008-12-19 12:00:36.

Wikipedia Funding

I’m a big fan of Wikipedia— that should be clear from my previous posts on Wikipedia and my frequent use of Wikipedia as a reference tool (and to link to from my posts).

Wikipedia rose from the ashes of failue much like a phoenix… and currently operates one of the largest (if not the largest) repositories of human knowledge.

Wikipedia is freely accessed by anyone with an Internet connection (provided their provider does not block such access), and is currently funded completely through donations.

While I applaud the dreams of Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales to keep the site free of advertising, my feeling is that advertising might well be a better way to sustain the site.

My concept is that those who do not wish to see advertisement donate, and are free from advertisements as long as they have “credits”… when they run out of credits then they like those who choose not to donate see advertisements.

Since Wikipedia is one of the heaviest traveled sites on the internet, advertisers will likely pay top dollar, and there’s likely no need to work through an advertising network…

Originally posted 2010-01-24 02:00:35.

Fair Use

The fact that the US Copyright Laws are in a major need of an overhaul isn’t something that only the masses of ordinary users understand; but to some extent John McCain is also painfully aware.

A little back ground.

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, John McCain launched a number of political advertisements on YouTube, many of those advertisements used copyrighted material (for which he had not obtained a use license for).  Those advertisements were pulled from YouTube to comply with US Copyright Law (not the McCain had much choice — YouTube was required to pull the advertisements under the DMCA — an act which McCain supported).

In mid October 2008 McCain suggested to YouTube in a letter that “VIPs” shouldn’t be bound by the same fair use rules as others.

What can you expect from an elitist… he only sees the problem for himself, not for the general public.  A man with eleven homes and thirteen cars and uncounted wealth simply doesn’t feel he can afford to pay for the use of copyrighted material when the use of that material has obvious and substantial personal gains for himself, but it’s fine that a minimum wage mother should have to pay for the use of an old tune in the background of her child’s birthday video.

When put like that it’s easy to understand why member of Congress have one of the best health care plans in the world (for life) but they don’t feel the average American should have much choice.

Or perhaps we should consider TSA treatment of the average American who is subjected to searches and harassment and humiliation while members of Congress bypass the entire process.

Wait I digress.

Maybe, though, on copyright, we’ll have a little more luck holding politicians to the exact same standards that you and I must be accountable to.

Something more akin to one of the results of the confirmation hearing for Judge Robert Bork.  It resulted in the passage of the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (because our member of Congress were afraid their video rental records might be revealed to the public — not because they were worried about you and me).

There are permitted uses of copyright material which do not require any license payments; it may not be required to completely scrape the existing laws; all we may well need is the statement added that when an individual is not likely to substantially profit through the use of the material, it is covered under fair use.

US Copyright Office – Fair Use

Originally posted 2010-01-20 01:00:37.

SyncMate – Expert Edition

Several weeks ago I took a look at the free edition of SyncMate, and I had some fairly good things to say about it.  In fact, I was so impressed with it that I started using the free edition to synchronize my Windows Mobile device.

Eltima Software contacted me and offered me a license for the expert edition to enable to me more fully explore the capabilities of it (and to write a more in depth post about it).

I agreed, and here’s what I found…

I decided that this would be a fairly comprehensive test; it would involve a number of different operating systems, and synchronization environments.

The operating systems I tested were:

OS-X 10.6.1 (32 & 64 bit)

Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit)

Windows Vista (32 & 64 bit)

Windows 2003

Windows XP

Windows Mobile 6.5 (HTC Touch Pro 2 – XV6875)

Windows Mobile 5.1 (MotoQ)

Outlook Look 2003, 2007, 2010 on the PC

Entourage 2008 on the Mac

Windows Contact / Windows Calendar (on Vista and Windows 7)

Live Contacts / Live Calendar (on Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows Vista, and Windows 7)

FireFox (Windows)

Safari (Windows and OS-X)

Additionally I took a quick look at iTunes and iPhoto (even though I don’t use either of those normally); and I took a quick look at Google synchronization (including synchronizing to an Android handset).

It’s a long list, and I assure you that the coverage of the tests were not exhaustive — but rather concentrated on suites of versions that would be most commonly found together (though I have a reasonably good feeling that unless there were some real flukes, the sample of tests I performed are probably indicative of all combinations).

My first test was to synchronize my Mac Book Pro with my Mac Pro… I’ve never really put any effort into making sure that the contacts and such agreed between the two, so I install unlocked the free version of SyncMate I’d installed on both and proceeded to enable all the plug-ins.  After fighting with both iPhoto and iTune (you wouldn’t need to worry about that if you actually used them they would have already been setup and ready to sync). the little spinners started and in just a few minutes I had everything on both machines (which also included all the calendar and contact information I’d gotten from my smart phone to start with) in sync.

I went ahead and disabled iPhoto and iTune for the rest of my tests — I’d seen it work, and certainly synchronizing those would easily be covered with the folder synchronization (which was a more generic test — but of course it was nice that the iTunes/iPhoto sync could be enabled with a simple click).

I decided next to see what the various versions of Windows and Office Suites would do… so I brought up virtual machines using various OS images and installed versions of Office in them.  I setup the Windows component of SyncMate and then decide to just do everything at once — so I added all the machines to SyncMate on the Mac Pro and hit the sync button.

It took a few minutes, but then on every machine in either (or both) the Windows Contacts and the Outlook Contacts there was a full copy of my contacts; as well as files I’d put in a test folder.

Things were going very well, so now I turned to a couple Windows Mobile devices.

Both were easy to setup via USB, and both synchronized perfectly (frankly I was a little surprised when the MotoQ running Mobile 5.1 worked as well as it did).  So then I tried WiFi sync on the XV6875 — worked just fine (there’s a nice feature of the SyncMate driver on the WinMo device that will tell you the IP and name of the device if you need).  Next was Bluetooth synchronization… and unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that on either device — during setting up the connection I kept getting “Uncompatible Device” (a newer version of SyncMate has corrected the awkward english construction; but unfortunately I still cannot use Bluetooth synchronization with either my XV6875 or Q), so I’m not exactly sure what the problem is, but I would consider Bluetooth synchronization more convenient than WIFi — though I generally use USB since I can charge the device as well.

Then I decided to try a few more scenarios from the SyncMate feature list.

Folder synchronization with a USB flash drive worked perfectly.  And from that I’d be fairly confident that iTunes/iPhoto/folders could be synchronized to any USB (disk) device.

Google synchronization worked just as documented; and synchronizing an Android handset with Google just happens (all you have to do is enter you account information into the handset and enable synchronization).

Here a few comments on individual features…

Call history and the SMS manager are both very nice features of the expert edition… I’m not sure it’s sufficient motivation to pay for an upgrade, but it certainly is a sweet feature.

Mounting a Window mobile phone as a USB disk is a feature that didn’t make much sense to me; my XV6875 has the ability to select whether or not it makes an ActiveSync style or USB drive connection when you connect it; though on an older device like my MotoQ it does let you see the file system on the Mac much as you would on a Windows desktop.

Time synchronization is another feature that just doesn’t make sense; all devices get synchronized to the network (and thus to atomic clocks) so I see little value (and a number of reasons not to) synchronize them to each other and defeat the mechanisms already in place (if this were a camera, not a cellular phone I’d consider this a plus — but I’m going to say this feature should be removed; and certainly not used).

As noted before, synchronization to Windows Live isn’t support (and since this is a Mac centric product I don’t think that should come as a surprise — but, of course, some people who have Windows Mobile phones may use some of the Live services).

One thing I haven’t really covered to this point is how you setup a sync partner in SyncMate; and I guess I haven’t focused on it because it’s fairly easy, and definitely straight forward.  It isn’t “automatic” (and I actually consider that a plus — I absolutely hate ActiveSync trying take ownership of a device I just want to attach once).  A nice touch to the way you add a partner is that you can both name it, and include an image for it (though it might be a little nicer if Eltima included more stock images with SyncMate, or created a web interface to find images of handsets — but I just downloaded one of each of my phones and then used that).

The number one quality of SyncMate is that it works — and by far and large it works as advertised.  In this round of tests I didn’t have any instability in the version of the Windows sync driver I installed (unlike in the previous tests where I did have some issues with the Windows sync driver crashing).

One feature I felt might be interesting for Eltima to add would be a “mesh” type synchronization — really all they’d need to do is have an ability to synchronize the partnerships between Mac hosts (ie — all the synchronization partnerships I entered on my Mac Pro could instantly appear on my Mac Book Pro the next time the two machines sync’d — and then conflicts would just be handled throughout the mesh on a peer-by-peer basis just as they are now).

As I’ve stated previously I find the price a little steep — but you and your wallet will have to decide for yourself…  If you like the free version, and have needs for some of the additional plug-ins; I suspect you’ll be favorably impressed by what you get once you purchase a license.

Eltima Software
SyncMate

Originally posted 2010-07-26 18:04:01.

MeeGo

Nokia has announced a launch of the MeeGo (N8) smart phone by the end of Q3 2010… and they stated that it will not be using Android, nor will they be shipping a tablet any time soon.

Nokia, once a dominant force in the cellular handset market, has seen it’s profits eaten away by Apple, HTC, and Motorola…

Here’s a bullet list summary…

  • On the N8: The N8 is more of a high to mid-range smartphone. It will be launched before the end of Q3. It will be available in the US, and carrier partnerships will be announced at a later date.
  • On MeeGo: The first MeeGo phone will be announced before the end of the year and will be a “milestone product” for the company. Nokia’s done a lot of work on the interface and done away with a lot of the “legacy” of Symbian.
  • On Android: Nokia has no plans to use Android on its smartphones. End of story.
  • On tablets / larger phones: The company’s made “no decisions” on entering the market. Savander seems to think larger screened smartphones are awkward.
  • On netbooks: The Booklet 3G was priced a bit high, but they are still in the market.
  • On 4G: Nokia has no plans to produce WiMax devices, but LTE will be a big focus.

One thing is certain, if Nokia doesn’t re-capture a larger part of the smart phone market soon, they may see the window of opportunity closing; and one has to ask the question why not capitalize off the Android hype?

Originally posted 2010-08-14 02:00:05.

Email Addresses

Ever go to a web site to enter your email address and find that it wouldn’t fit in the field they provided?

It’s amazing in a world of standards that companies (and individuals) continually ignore them and decide for themselves what’s acceptable.

HELLO!

User names (or local part of the address) can be 64 characters long, and domain names can be 255 characters long.

Here is an example of a reasonable well written validation for email addresses — if you want to see poorly done ones in action it doesn’t take too much effort to find ones that limit the entire email address to less than 30 characters!

<?php function isValidAddress( $email, $check = false )
{
##############################
# PHP Email Address Validator
# (C) Derrick Pallas
#
# Authors: Derrick Pallas
# Website: http://derrick.pallas.us/email-validator/
# License: Academic Free License 2.1
# Version: 2006-12-01a
if (!ereg(”
. ‘^’
. ‘[-!#$%&\’*+/0-9=?A-Z^_a-z{|}~]‘
. ‘(\\.?[-!#$%&\’*+/0-9=?A-Z^_a-z{|}~])*’
. ‘@’
. ‘[a-zA-Z](-?[a-zA-Z0-9])*’
. ‘(\\.[a-zA-Z](-?[a-zA-Z0-9])*)+’
. ‘$’
, $email
) ) return false;
list( $local, $domain ) = split( “@”, $email, 2 );
if ( strlen($local) > 64 || strlen($domain) > 255 ) return false;
if ( $check && !gethostbynamel( $domain ) ) return false;
return true;
# END
######
}

RFC822 superseded by RFC2822.

User names (for email) may contain:

  • A to Z letters, upper and lower case.
  • 0 through 9 digits
  • . (fullstop, period) but not as the first or last character
  • ! # $ % & ‘ * + – / = ? ^ _ ` { | } ~ – all are permitted.

The maximum length of the user is 64 characters; the domain is 255 characters; so with the @ a valid address could be up to 320 characters.

Further, did you know that user names are case sensitive (but domain names are not).  Of course many email systems treat user names as case insensitive.

For information on domain name limitation you should see IANA.

Now you know more than most developers who write code that accepts or uses email addresses!

Originally posted 2008-08-25 22:12:27.

Mint Mobile

If you’re looking for a new cellular provider, you might want to check out Mint Mobile. As long at T-Mobile service is good in your area, you might find that the pricing plans of Mint Mobile are extremely attractive.

Also, if you pay for multiple months at a time, you’ll save even more. The $20/month, buy three months, get three months free is a great deal — unlimited talk & text, 8GB of 4G LTE data (per month), and the plan includes tethering.

Use the link on the side bar of my BLOG, or the one below and we’ll both get a little bit extra from Mint.

MintMobile.com

1000+

Woo-woo…

Over one thousand posts — over two thousands hits per day — a ranking just over two million…

I would have never dreamed my BLOG would have reach such heights in under two years.

Honestly, though, it’s not the stats that make me do it — it’s the fact that I enjoy sharing my interests and views on what ever crosses my mind (I know — there are those of you who think I lost my mind… but trust me, I have it on a tight leash).

Originally posted 2010-11-30 02:00:33.

NetTalk

UPDATE:  NetTalk’s growth has cause many individuals to have issues with placing and receiving calls, if your VoIP service is intended to be your only phone line you may want to think twice about going with NetTalk — particularly as long as they maintain their “no refunds” “no credits” policy… though realistically if you find they don’t live up to what’s reasonably expected, your credit card company will probably be happy to open a charge dispute for you and return your unpaid service… but I personally seriously question companies that don’t feel they need to supply the services they sell to consumers.

NetTalk VoIP services are inexpensive, easy to use, and work faily well… much less than services like Vonage or services from your cable or xDSL company.

$69.96 for the first year (that includes the purchase of a small VoIP adapter — NetTalk Duo — that can plug into your Ethernet router or your computer); then $29.95 per year after that (there are discounts for multi-year pre-pay).

 

NetTalk had a buy-one-get-one free special, and has had several discount codes; hopefully one of these two will still work for you to purchase the first year of service and NetTalk Duo device.

DUOAPP25OFF = 25% Off
DUOAPP50OFF = 50% Off


 

NetTalk Duo NetTalk Duo II NetTalk Duo WiFi


 

Nettalk Calling Features

 
 

FAQ’s on Nettalk Calling Features

3-Way Calling

Press the Flash button (or the hook) during a call. Once you hear the dial tone, dial the second party. When the second party is connected, press the flash button again to conference in the first party. There will be a three-way connection!

Call Waiting Once you hear the tone signaling a second call coming into your line, simply press the Flash button (or the hook) on your phone.

 

Caller ID

With VoiceLine Caller ID, you will see the phone number of the party who is calling you — even when you are on the other line.

You must have a phone equipped with a caller ID display.

 

Below are the dial codes for some popular VoiceLine calling features.

Action Dial Code

Selective Call Acceptance

Receive only calls from telephone numbers on your pre-defined acceptance list. *64

Deactivate feature and receive all calls. *84

 

Selective Call Rejection

Block only calls from telephone numbers on your pre-defined rejection list. *60

Deactivate feature and receive all calls. *80

Anonymous Call Rejection

Block all calls whose telephone numbers are hidden due to the caller purposely blocking that information. *77

 

Call Blocking

Deactivate feature and receive all calls. *87

Send all calls to a pre-defined destination #. *72

Send all calls to VoiceMail. *72123

Send all calls to a destination #. *72 [phone num]

 

Call Forwarding*

(All Calls/ Unconditional)

Deactivate feature & receive all calls. *73

Call Return Call the last person who called you. *69

Do Not Disturb Block incoming calls. *98

 

Speed Dial

Dial a number using a speed dial code. **[code]

Redial Call the last number you dialed. *66

Assign a phone number to a speed dial code. *97

VoiceMail

VoiceMail Access the VoiceMail system to record a greeting or hear your messages. 123#

* When you forward calls, the inbound and outbound calls are priced according to your calling plan.

 

Originally posted 2011-08-10 02:00:09.

AT&T Cell Phone Rates

I was looking at AT&T cellular rates; primarily because I was thinking about getting a SIM card to play with, and it struck me that the pre-pay rates seemed like they were less than the regular contract rates (yeah — you get a discount phone with a contract, but unlocked GSM phones are fairly easy to find).

So, AT&T wants $69.99 for an unlimited talk/text plan per month; plus an activation fee — and for that 2 year contract you get a discounted handset.

AT&T also offers and unlimited talk/text plan for $60 per month (pre-pay) and there doesn’t seem to be any activation fee and of course no contract (you don’t get a discounted handset; but often you can buy GoPhones for “free” when you consider some of them have SIMs loaded with airtime).

AT&T also offers the unlimited talk/text plan for $2 per day (only days you use)… so if you weren’t a heavy user you might find this works out great for you.

Now there is a catch with pre-pay; you can roll over you minutes from period to period as long as you keep add money to your account; and if you add less than $25 you’ll have to add more in 30 days, if you add $25 or over then you have 90 days, and $100 (or more) you have a year… so it probably makes sense to add either $25 when you need it (or every 90 days) or you could do the $100, but that’s a fair amount of money to have sitting in an account not being of any real use to you.

There is also a $75 plan that provides unlimited talk and text for the month, plus 200MB of data (that’s a little over $20 worth of data for $15, which only makes sense if you’re going to peg you data usage right at 200MB — if you go substantially under you may well be better off just paying the $0.01/KB).

You can still get a much better deal for cellular with other companies; and their are unlimited flat-rate resellers of AT&T GSM service ($40/month) in many areas; plus there’s MetroPCS (which offers 4G service in metro areas they serve) and Cricket (which has fairly good roaming coverage) that offer very aggressive pricing in markets they serve.

Bottom line, figure out how you’re going to use your cell phone, and find a plan to will work the best for you.

FYI – if you need/want an AT&T SIM card, look on eBay, you can get a 64KB new SIM card for $3.49 delivered (AT&T would charge you $24.95 plus tax).

Originally posted 2010-10-28 02:00:15.