Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shoretel IPO Roadblock - Mitel Launches Lawsuit

I just got back from Mitel's customer/analyst conference this morning, and have not been able to blog until now. I've got a backlog of things to post, but this one has to be first. I got wind of this late yesterday - Las Vegas time - but wasn't able to post about it until now. This may well be the first you've heard about this story.

Basically, Mitel is suing Shoretel big time for patent infringement, and the news hit the wires late yesterday.

In the enterprise telephony vendor space, this is a big one. There's not much detail in the press release - no surprise there - but there's been some difficult history between these companies, and it looks like Mitel has strategically timed this release in advance of Shoretel's planned IPO.

Seems very similar to the tacks a number of service provider threw in the road just around Vonage's ill-fated IPO last year. It's another example of how tough it is to go public these days, and it's too early to know if Shoretel was blindsided here, or just felt these patents would never be an issue. More to come, for sure....

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Teen Tech Review - LG Fusic Phone

On this week's Teen Tech Review, Max and I discuss the LG Fusic cell phone. Of course, Max does most of the showing and telling, and he draws some nice comparisons to other phones he's been using, mainly from Nokia.

This is supposed to be a weekly series, and we missed last week because Max is studying for exams! Next week I'm away, but after that, we should be back to our weekly schedule.

Now that I've developed a "workaround", anybody reading my blog will be able to view this videocast. As you may know, this series of videocasts is being produced by me, and broadcast on

If you're based in Canada, you can go direct to their site, and view it there. You can find Teen Tech Reviews on the Techno-Gadgets channel. To reiterate from previous posts. is a hybrid between TV and videoblogging. It's like TV in the sense that there are channels where you can view content for a variety of topics. It's also like TV because our broadcasts are live, but then archived for future viewing.

At any given time of the day, then, there are several live video feeds, and you can have a lot of fun playing voyeur, and drop in on all these virtual fishbowls that people seem to enjoy living in. I'm way too old for that, but I can certainly see how lots of people are very comfortable doing that.

So, for those of you in Canada, you can view this week's review here. From there it's not hard to access our other reviews, as well as explore the rest of

For those of you outside of Canada, this link will not likely work, since can only be accessed domestically. They have their reasons for doing this, and one could view this as a net neutrality issue, I suppose. However, I think I'm the only one producing content for them that has this problem, so I don't see their policy changing any time soon. Pretty much everyone else there is producing content for their own entertainment, and aren't concerned about reaching a global audience. After all, this is really about social networking, and not being on FOX or the CBC.

Anyhow, if you can't open that link, you can watch our review here, via this embedded URL. It runs about 9 minutes - hope you like it!

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Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - New Media, with MyThum Interactive and Deloitte

On this week's podcast, the focus was Canada's New Media community. I've never had 3 guests on together before, but somehow, we made it work. This podcast was a follow up to my coverage of the Canadian New Media Awards held last month in Toronto, and I wanted to do something with the Company of the Year winner. So, one of my guests was Michael Carter, President and CEO of MyThum Interactive, and we talked about what winning this award has meant for the company.

Joining us was Gary Gluckman and Richard Lee, both from the Toronto office of Deloitte, where they are key leaders of their Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice. Deloitte has been on previous podcasts of mine, talking about their Fast 50 and Fast 500 programs, but this was the first time we talked about their involvement in the new media space. Deloitte is a major sponsor of the CNMA, and Gary and Richard shared their views on the new media space in Canada, along with the winning qualities they saw in MyThum.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Gary, Richard and Michael.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Video Calling - Ready for Prime Time - But is Verizon?

One more quick entry for today. SightSpeed CEO/fellow blogger Peter Csathy has brought this story to my attention. It may not be news to many of you, but it's still worth noting. Peter cites a WSJ story about a new service launched yesterday from AT&T called VideoShare. While not the first to do this, it's a huge validation for person-to-person mobile video calling, and as Peter notes on his blog, it opens up huge opportunities for creative applications.

Peter and his company, SightSpeed, are major advocates of video, and this is great news for companies like his. Video calling has always been slow to take root for all kinds of reasons, but people seem to be far less inhibited on their cell phones, and in some ways, video is really a natural extension of a voice call for mobile users. As Peter suggests, it won't take long for businesses come up with all kinds of applications that will totally make sense. An example he cites is for real estate agents, who can show their clients listings in real time when they're somewhere else. Couldn't agree more!

Peter also brings up the inevitable iPhone question. They won't be supporting video calling in the initial launch, but if uptake is slower than expected - and there are all kinds of reasons for this to happen - you can bet that would change. Video calling will sure have a cool factor for a large segment of the market, and it could turn out to be a great value-add to compete against Verizon, who will be doing whatever they can to retain subscribers lured by the allure of the iPhone. I suspect we'll find out how cool video calling will be when the iPhone era officially kicks off.

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iPhone UI Simulator

Been running all day, and I just wanted to quickly bring attention to a really neat post from colleague Thomas Howe. It's a fun look on how various Web 2.0 UIs would look on the iPhone, due to hit the market next week. If you're a fan of the iPhone... or iPhoney, give this a look!

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Bell/Telus Merger - See Me on CBC News Tonight - Twice!

The latest wrinkle for the fate of Bell Canada is a possible - and much anticipated - merger with rival Telus. It's front page news in Canada right now, and there's a lot at stake on many levels. Not a lot of technology to talk about, but it's a story that will alter the course of Canadian telecom like nothing before - once it unfolds. Right now, there's a lot of talk and speculation, and it's being widely covered in the media and the blogs.

I haven't been commenting so far, but today I got my chance. I just finished shooting two video segments for CBC television about this story. One runs on the local CBC news at 6pm, and the second segment runs on the 6:30 broadcast right after, but on the national CBC network. So, regardless of where you live in Canada, if you're watching TV during dinner tonight, I'll be in your living room, at least for a couple of minutes! Hope you tune in.

We filmed the segments outside, which was very fitting, since it's the first day of Summer - much nicer outside than at my desk, that's for sure. My son Max just finished his last exam, and was home in time to join me, so he took a photo during our shoot. So, here's a glimpse of how TV actually gets done.....


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TSX Venture 50 - 2 Companies to Watch

Yesterday, the Globe & Mail published a report on the TSX Venture 50. This is one of Canada's key junior exchanges, and, as the article states, serves as a pretty good "farm system" for Canada's big board exchange, the TSX.

If I had just seen this article online, I wouldn't be blogging about it. However, I'm old school, and I still read the morning papers! While the articles in this report were published online, the detailed breakdown of the Top 50 was not. This too, may not have caught my eye, had I not seen a blog post about Sangoma making the Venture 50 the day before.

Colleague Ken Camp ran a press release from Sangoma's website about this, and it was great to see an American blogger pick up on this. Ken is actually a great supporter of Sangoma and several other Canadian companies, and often runs posts about things going on up here I haven't heard about. However, he couldn't possibly have seen the Globe's report, so I couldn't expect him to cite their story. As you'll see in a moment, he's sharing a good news story, but there's more to talk about in this report.

So, aside from Sangoma making the Venture 50, there was a second company on the list that has recently fallen into my orbit. It's Calgary-based Immersive Media. I just came across them recently - really interesting company, most notable being the work they do for Google. These are the guys driving up and down every street in your town, taking 360 degree photos of everything in sight for Google. Who knew - Calgary? There's a lot of good stuff going on up here, folks. I've done a few things with Sangoma already, and now I'm working on getting connected to Immersive, and I hope to do a podcast with them soon. Stay tuned.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Microsoft Canada Expression Launch


Last night, I attended the Canadian launch of Microsoft Expression Suite. This is their soup-to-nuts Web design software solution. As you can see from their website, it's a full suite of various tools for designers, web developers, graphic artists, etc.

This isn't exactly my crowd, but it was very interesting to mingle with this community and see how Microsoft engages them. I'd say they did a pretty good job, and it's a very important audience to be cool with. I'm pretty sure that Adobe is the tool of choice for many in the room, and Expression certainly seemed to hold their interest. I'm also pretty sure that I was the only analyst in attendance, and in my circles, this may be the first and possibly only place you'll hear about Expression.

Aside from the demos and requisite Microsoft presenters, the star of the show was GK VanPatter, a renowned designer - which was new to me. You can learn more about him via Humantific, as well as the NextDesign Leadership Institute. Pretty interesting stuff.

I love learning from people like this, and he gave some interesting perspectives about the design process. From this, it became clear to me that what Expression brings to this community is a complete platform that facilitates collaboration, which is critical to good design. GK spoke about the importance of cross-disciplinary work teams, and platforms like Expression make it possible for people in different spheres, speaking different working languages, and probably using different computer technologies, to collaborate during the process of creating good design. He also talked about Design 1.0/2.0/3.0 - and it's the same paradigm we use in the IP world, whether it be striving for Voice 2.0 or Web 2.0. Same problems - same principles - and same types of solutions. That clicked for me.

David Crow, Microsoft Canada



GK Van Patter, NextD



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Monday, June 18, 2007

Mobility + VoIP = $$$ Calls

This equation doesn't sound right, does it? Calls are supposed to get cheaper with VoIP, right? A lot cheaper. That's what all of us want - unless you're an incumbent, who typically doesn't want to change the status quo unless it's for the better.

That seems to be what's happening with startup Truphone and wireless giant, T-Mobile. The details are well covered by bloggers closer to this space than me, notably Om Malik, Alec Saunders and Thomas Howe. Their posts will tell you more than you need to know about how T-Mobile is blocking traffic from Truphone in the U.K. unless they pay the price they set to access their network.

I'm not that steeped in the technical and regulatory issues around this - especially in the E.U. market - but it just looks like VoIP all over again. We all know VoIP is better and cheaper, and it poses the same threat to the wireless operators as it did to the wireline carriers a few years back. Economically, there is zero incentive to embrace it - at least until a tipping point is reached - and that's a long way off in the wireless world. In the wireline world, it looked like Vonage would create that tipping point, and maybe they did psychologically, but the real inflection point in the U.S. came with the cablecos, and now the RBOCs have no choice but to fight back.

Oligopolies behave the same regardless of what industry they're in, and T-Mobile's behavior here is exactly what one would expect from someone who holds all the cards. Wouldn't you? They have the customers, they own the network, business is booming, and profits are fat. Truphone may have a great solution, but right now, they're a pesky annoyance, and T-Mobile can afford to act like the schoolyard bully and basically hold them ransom. Sure, Truphone can interconnect, but only at a price that loses money.

At this point in time - as good as Truphone's offering is - and it's great - a full house beats a pair of 10s - which is about how this hand looks to me. T-Mobile will win this hand, but if Truphone can stay in the game long enough, things will go their way. Until the mobile carriers feel a lot more pain, the Truphones of the world - and there are a few - will have a tough go.

That's why it's so important for anyone following this space to be supportive and remind anyone who's listening that history repeats itself. What happened with landline VoIP will happen in the wireless world, and solutions like Truphone are the enablers. If they can find a way to hang in long enough, their turn will come.

On that note, what makes this story rather concerning is the way T-Mobile can be so arbitrary about this - because they can. It's not unreasonable for the owner of the pipes to set the price for using them, and with limited competition, it's clearly a seller's market. However, T-Mobile is now an investor - along with Intel - in Jajah. You don't have to look far to find out what that's about, and it doesn't take much to see that T-Mobile is simply protecting their investment here. Again, a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

Fair enough. But let's see what happens if somehow, Truphone could make their own deal with another wireless carrier and will only take Jajah's traffic at a certain rate. I don't think things would - or could - unfold this way, but at this stage of the game, Truphone needs to find some friendly ground and work it really well until the time is right to go up against the giants.

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This is the third in my series of updates on my videocasts on I now have a way to make Teen Tech Reviews accessible to anyone on the Net, and this post gets us up to date on all our videocasts so far.

Below is the embedded link to our most recent videocast, which is Max's review of the Sony PSP. Here's my original post about the videocast, at which point I realized people outside of Canada couldn't access the website.

In case you were wondering - we didn't do a review last week - Max is studying for exams!

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Well, it looks like my workaround solution works. Earlier today, I did a test for our first Teen Tech Review with some people in the U.S., and they were able to view the review. So, I now have a way to share our reviews with anyone who cares to watch them.

If you're wondering what this is about, I'll quickly explain. A few weeks back, I launched a weekly videocast series called Teen Tech Reviews on This is the vehicle to make my son, Max, famous --- but also to draw attention to this interesting experiment called As I soon discovered, you can only access the website from Canada. This means that a lot of people reading my blog are not able to view our videocasts.

As of this morning, that has been fixed, so from now on, when we do our segments, I'll include an embedded link to the videocast on my blog post. For those of you outside Canada, at least you'll be able to see our reviews. However, you won't be able to visit the site to see what else is going on there - and I don't have a fix for that. Which is too bad, especially if you're into new media and social networking. It's pretty unique, although I haven't compared it yet to the BlogTV edition that's coming to the U.S.

So, for this post, I'm providing an embedded link for our second podcast, which was for the Fireman 3.0 DVD burner software. I'll put up another post shortly for the Sony PSP review, and then we'll be up to date. Enjoy - and please, your comments are welcome!

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Saturday, June 16, 2007 Broadcasts - Plan B - Nokia N800 Review

I recently started a weekly series of video posts with my son, Max, to do tech reviews. We're doing these on, which is based here in Toronto. It was recently been brought to my attention that that our video segments cannot be viewed outside of Canada. can only be viewed in Canada, so many people who follow my blog can't see what we're doing.

That situation isn't about to change soon, so I'm resorting to Plan B as way to make our video posts accessible to anyone. I'm embedding our first segment below - which was a review of the Nokia N800 - and if you can view this, then I think I have a workaround.

So, if you're outside of Canada, and can view this, please let me know! I need the confirmation, and then we'll be fine.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Waterloo Mini Tour - 3 Podcasts

Last week I had a mini-tour of the Waterloo region as a means of getting closer to their tech community. I posted a brief entry about my visit a few days back, and I'm following that with some podcasts that were created from interviews I conducted during my visit.

I've got 3 podcasts to share with you here:

Podcast #1 is with John Tennant, CEO of Canada's Technology Triangle Inc. You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about John, CTT, and what we talked about.

Podcast #2 is with Linda Fegan and Mark Whaley. Linda is the Director of Marketing and Communications for CTT, and Mark is a Councillor for the City of Waterloo. You can download this podcast here, as well as read more about Linda and Mark, and what we talked about. Apologies - the photo shown with the podcast does not include Linda - it's John Tennant, myself and Mark Whaley. Somehow I missed getting a photo of Linda during my trip, which I intend to fix on my next visit, hopefully in July.

Podcast #3 is with Dave Bullock, President of LiveHive Systems. This is a very cool company that's doing great stuff in the area of interactive entertainment. You can download this podcast here, as well as read more about Dave, and what we talked about.

Finally, here are a few more photos from my visit courtesy of my Nokia N93. The first two podcasts were done in the Seagram Museum, which was an old whisky barrelhouse, but has been beautifully restored, and is home to Canada's Technology Triangle Inc., among others. It's got a great heritage feel, and made for some neat photos.

The House of Seagram - nice historical touch here...


I don't know about you, but it's hard for a guy like me not to think about all these barrels as large packets rolling along in a network...




My visit to LiveHive, home of NanoGaming....


A photo taken during a presentation that Dave gave about NanoGaming during a College baseball game. It's not that illustrative, and you should go to their site to see it for real - they have a demo there.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Microsoft Office RoundTable Demo

It's been a busy week on a few fronts, and I got to attend a cool event last night. Microsoft Canada held a demo event for Office RoundTable, which is part of their unified communications thrust. RoundTable is an IP-based videoconferencing solution - more features and flexibility than traditional systems, but not as high-end as telepresence. It's a pretty neat concept, and the part I like the best is its portability. The unit is quite small - the size of a table lamp - and looks like an inverted Starship Enterprise. So, you don't have to dedicate a room to it, or have specialized furniture and lighting.

Not too many analysts in attendance - I may have been the only one, in fact, so I got a good look at it. The demo shows the 360 experience, as the cameras take in all views of the room, and you get to see them all at once across various windows on your PC screen. We're told it will scale very well, so potentially, you could do a lot of interesting things with a large room full of people - if that's your cup of tea.

Not much else to say, really, other than kudos to High Road Communications, who did a great job pulling this together. I'll let my Nokia 93 take over from here, with a few photos, and a 4 minute video clip of Bryan Rusche leading the demo.


Bryan Rusche, Microsoft Canada



with Sean Seaton (Microsoft Canada) and my "Microsoft Blue" Mojito


And the best for last - with Katie Cook (Microsoft Canada) and Michel Burger (Microsoft CTO) - and the door prize, which I happened to win - whoo hoo!


Take it away, Bryan....

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VoIP Peering Gets a Good Boost

I don't often pick up on news items, but this was a good announcement that came from the VON Europe event this week. I've been following the VoIP peering space for some time, and am an Advisor to XConnect, one of the leading advocates for VoIP peering. Despite my close connection there, I think their latest news is worth noting.

They've issued a joint announcement with Telcordia to integrate and share their ENUM registry services. This isn't the first time such developments have occurred, but it is notable given Telcordia's stature in the telecom business. These are the kind of initiatives that will hopefully get VoIP peering higher up the priority list for Tier 1 carriers. Adoption continues to grow among the smaller carriers - not just with XConnect, but the other VoIP peering entities, such as Arbinet and Stealth. This is great for building a base, but the real payoff for everyone in this space is when the Tier 1s - telcos or cablecos - get into the picture. It's still a ways off, but players like Telcordia make this a more likely scenario.

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Skype History Made in Fenway Park

Very cool post from fellow blogger and Torontonian, Jim Courtney. As you may know, he's quite the techhie, and writes - very well - for Skype Journal.

Well, Jim is at a Skype Developer's conference in Boston this week, and he took in his first-ever visit to Fenway Park. Just when you thought I was about to sneak in a Red Sox post - which is long overdue, but the way they're tanking tonight, I'm not in the mood - this is very much an IP communications story.

As you'll see in his Skype Journal post yesterday, Jim made history at Fenway Park on Tuesday. The big deal is this - Jim figured out how send a Skype IM over his Blackberry at the conference, and by his estimation, sent the first such message ever from Fenway Park. Very neat. Not quite a "Watson, come here, I need you" moment, but when the annals of Skype are written - and perhaps sold off on eBay... - this may well find its way into the historical timeline chart. Maybe not, but it sure must have felt good doing so.

And guess what? I was supposed to be his Watson on this first-ever event! Yup, I was the first person Jim Skyped to have this IM conversation via his Blackberry, but nooooooooooo, I was too busy to partake. Plan B - not surprisingly, was Alec Saunders - and not surprisingly, Alec was there for Jim, and you can read all about their IM chat on Jim's post. Way to go, Alec! At least Jim kept the thread going in Canada. Would have been really cool if Alec was in Brantford at the time, but Ottawa will do.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Mike Barry - Vecima Networks and WiMax

On this week's podcast, I spoke with Mike Barry about the current state of WiMax, and what his company is doing to move it forward. Mike is the CFO of Saskatchewan-based Vecima Networks, one of the few publicly-traded Canadian IP communications vendors. It was nice to talk about a TSX-listed company now, given how Espial just went public there last week. I'm working on them for an upcoming podcast, so stay tuned.

Mike and I talked about where fixed WiMax is today, including issues around standards, in-building coverage, what's driving adoption and what types of operators are embracing it. Mike also commented about emerging trends and applications, especially around video. He also touched on elements that make Saskatchewan a good place for their company to be based.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Mike Barry.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Nokia Siemens Analyst Night

The Canadian team for Nokia Siemens Networks hosted an analyst dinner tonight, and unlike the global events for the major vendors, this was much more relaxed and intimate. The time was definitely well spent, and we got to learn more about what they're doing to establish their brand here in Canada. Also got some insights about what's behind their new logo, and we even came up with some great branding ideas that involve hang gliding,wireless networks and solar energy. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but you know, it just might work...

This seemed like an appropriate place to show off my Nokia N93, and for a change, other people had cooler phones than me - but given the audience, that's to be expected.

"In Claude We Trust" Pettus



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Saturday, June 9, 2007

My Waterloo Mini-Tour - the World's #1 Intelligent Community

On Thursday, I finally got to do my mini-tour of Waterloo, which is one of Canada's most dynamic hubs for tech and innovation. I'm not going to re-tell that story here, but suffice to say it's a real hot spot if you didn't know that by now.

The quickest way to demonstrate that is via the recent news that Waterloo has been rated #1 in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum.

I've written a few posts about this, most recently about Waterloo making it to the top 7 finalists, and now they've taken the #1 spot. That's a pretty good story, and I'm here to share it with you.

We may never win the Stanley Cup again, but Canada knows what to do with broadband! Actually, my gut tells me that Jim Balsillie will land the Predators and the team will end up right there in Waterloo. If that happens, not only will Canada's chances of winning another Cup greatly increase, but they could well end up winning it right in Waterloo. How about that for a feel-good story?

Back to my trip. During my visit, I spent time with a few different people, including a very cool demo with a company called LiveHive Systems. I recorded a few interviews, which are being produced into podcasts, and I hope to have those ready for posting some time next week, so watch for those. When the pods are ready, I'll have more photos to post as well as the details about who I met with. For now, I'll just share one for posterity...

John Tennant (CEO of Canada's Technology Triangle Inc.), myself, Mark Whaley (Councillor, City of Waterloo)


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Friday, June 8, 2007

My Skype Update with Don Albert

Just trying to tie up some loose ends before the week is out. Was on the road Thursday, and today was packed with calls, so I'm a bit behind on my posts.

I wanted to share with you some highlights from my Skype meeting on Wednesday. Don Albert is Skype's VP and GM for North America, and was here in Toronto as part of a media tour. Skype was nice enough to include me in the mix, and I was happy to come down to meet with Don at eBay Canada's office, which is very close by for me.


Don provided a great overview of all the good things Skype is up to - all of which is public, and I'm just going to share the highlights here.

He updated me on the new features in version 3.2, especially the personalization features and expanded use of video. What I found most interesting are the expanded ways for using PayPal. Integrating Skype with PayPal is certainly one of the ways eBay is looking to make their investment in Skype pay off, so this isn't a surprise. However, it's really neat to see how you can now send funds via PayPal to anyone in your Skype contact list. It seems so obvious, and just think of how appealing this will be to people who want to send money back home to their families. Or sending money to your kids away at college. Great feature.

Don also updated me on how Skype is doing in Canada, and shared some metrics for the first time. That was very helpful, and all I can say is that Skype is pleased with their progress to date up here.

Finally, there was a nice display of Skype-compatible devices - some familiar and some not. I really liked the Philips cordless DECT phone, which allows you to access Skype without being on your PC. It's not available in Canada yet - hopefully later this year. Same for the IPEVO USB Skype phone. It's got a built-in display, so you can scroll through your Skype directory without having to go back to your PC screen or monitor. And then there's the Belkin WiFI phone, with Skype pre-loaded. WiFi access, of course is always a wildcard, but it's branded as being Boingo friendly, although I don't think that does us much good up here. I should also add that Skype has a retail deal now with WalMart, so they're definitely going mainstream - no surprise there!

On the Canadian front, I'm planning to do a podcast soon with Don to talk specifically about the market here, so watch for that in the next few weeks.

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VoIP Saves the Day

If you put your mind to it, you find a telecom angle in just about anything.

Around 5pm today, we had some very severe weather here in Toronto. I'm sure you've experienced this from time to time - you can see the weather radically changing before your eyes - gusty wind, sky gets dark real fast, and you can just feel a heavy rain is coming any second. Well, that's exactly what happened, and we ended up putting off our plans to go out. During the course of the storm, our landline phone service went out for a little while. That rarely ever happens, but the weather created enough havoc to do just that.

The loss of phone service wasn't really a big deal at that time of day, but needless to say, our broadband service stayed up, as did my VoIP lines. It was a nice reminder that each form of telephony - landline, wireless and broadband - has its strengths. For all the times I do have problems with VoIP - either for landline or PC-based - this was one of those times I was glad to have it. So, put one up in the points column for VoIP.

This really isn't a remarkable story, and I didn't have a blog post in mind when this happened. What changed my mind is what I saw when I went out a bit later after the storm had passed. One of the great things about Toronto is the abundance of trees and green space, but on days like this, Mother Nature's dark side takes its toll.

Driving around, I couldn't believe how much damage had been caused. Street after street, I came across branches down on the roads, and in a few places, downed Hydro lines - which is pretty scary. The worst one came on the street I turned onto that I was planning to park at. This one was like something out of a disaster movie. Never seen this before.

An entire tree - tall, full bloom, mature - was uprooted and toppled over. It crashed right on top of a van parked in a driveway, and thankfully, nobody was inside. The tree took down all kinds of Hydro and phone wires, and blocked off the entire street. Our street didn't have any damage like this, but when I saw all those wires down, it wasn't too hard to figure out why our phone service went out.

Of course, I couldn't resist taking some photos. It wasn't like a morbid crime scene - nobody got hurt - and this is where my Nokia N93 came in very handy. More than anything, I felt like a street reporter coving a local story, so here you go with my LiveEye (how about LiveIPTV?)coverage...




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Espial Goes Public

Espial is a company I've been following for some time, and they had some great news today. This morning was the official announcement of their IPO on the Toronto exchange - the TSX - and their trading symbol will be ESP. How cool is that for a symbol?!?!

This may well be the first you've heard of the news, as the press release has not been made available yet over the U.S. PR wires. I suspect it will hit the wires first thing Monday, but you're reading about it here today.

In short, as reported in the release, the stock will list at $7.00, and if all goes well, Espial will raise $25 - $30 million, which will go a long way to fuel their growth plans. They have a good story to tell in the IPTV middleware space, which is going through its own consolidation phase. With this IPO, Espial should be in a great spot to emerge as one of the leading independent middleware vendors.

IPOs of Canadian vendors in the IP communications space are pretty hard to come by, and I expect Espial will be well received. So, congrats to Espial, and being Ottawa-based, this is probably the best feel-good story out there, since the Senators went out quietly this week!

If you're interested in Espial, I'll be doing a podcast with them soon about the IPO, and if you can't wait for that, I also did one with them about a year ago.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Chris Lyman - Fonality and Open Source Telephony

On this week's Canadian IP Thought Leaders podcast, I spoke with Chris Lyman, CEO of Fonality. The topic was open source telephony, a space that Fonality has become a leading player in. We talked about the state of open source telephony, and how using Asterisk, Fonality has been driving adoption not just in the business market, but in the home as well.

Looking ahead, Chris also talked about how new features will be the key to growth, and how over time, open source will become increasingly stable, which itself will set the stage for broader adoption. On the Canadian front, Fonality has a local footprint, and Chris talked about the market opportunity he sees there, as well as how Canada differs from the U.S.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Chris.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Teen Tech Review - Sony PSP

On this week's Teen Tech Review, my son Max reviews the Sony PSP. This may not be of much interest if you're wearing your VoIP hat, but this is a very popular and well designed device, and Max has a pretty good idea why.

CAVEAT - and this seems to be a big one! I just discovered tonight that readers located outside of Canada cannot access I'm not sure if that applies across the board, or somehow varies by broadband provider, but I suspect it's the former. After all, bandwidth costs can get very expensive if you make these video feeds accessible to the whole world.

I'm looking into this now with, but if you've not been able to watch our video reviews, that will explain why. If that's the case, I have a problem on my hands, and I'm open to suggestions. This sounds like a Vonage scenario, I know - if they can come up with a workaround for me, we'll be fine. But if not, I'll have to look at another way of doing these so everyone can see them. You're probably nodding your head right now, as this looks to me like a net neutrality or even a net freedoms issue. I'll keep you posted.

Oh - if you can't access our video reviews, and really want to see them, please drop me a line, and I'll see what I can do.

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Monday, June 4, 2007

How to Make Life on the Road Better

Fellow blogger Andy Abramson is a great exponent of the digital lifestyle, especially in terms of living - and working - while on the road. This topic is close to his heart - so much so that Andy has a separate blog dedicated to it. He calls it Working Anywhere, and his latest post is a wonderful wish list of how hotels could do a better job of catering to the digerati.

Andy may be on the high end of the scale, but his needs today will be your needs tomorrow. So, I wouldn't be surprised if a number of his ideas become common practice, at least in hotels that are digerati-friendly. It's a great list, and if you're a heavy traveller, I have no doubt that you're smiling and nodding your head as you read each item. I don't travel enough for most of these things to matter to me, but I would certainly concur with items 5 and 10.

Item 5 - a bigger in-room safe. This one got a few comments from his readers, and I'm with them. It's great for stashing my passport, iPod, car keys, etc. Stuff I have no use for during my trip. But Andy's talking big enough to stow your laptop. I'd go for that - even to pay a buck or two extra a day. Maybe I'm naive, but I can't imagine hotel staff having the audacity to make off with something so big and so obviously not theirs. I know these things happen, but I don't think twice about leaving my notebook connected and on the desk in my room when I'm out. There are lots of times I have no need to schlep my PC around when I'm not in my room, so what else can you do? Count me in for this one.

Item 10 - early check-in. I've never been able to figure out why check-in times are always so late in the day. If check-out is usually by noon, it shouldn't take 3-4 hours to get the room ready again - and that's presuming your room was occupied and just vacated the day you arrive. It hasn't happened to me very often, but sure, it can be a drag arriving in the morning and being in no-man's land for half a day. Sure, you can check your bags and wander the streets for a while, but a lot of hotels are like compounds, and it's not so easy to just step out and stroll about.

We all have our wish lists when we travel, and this sure is a good one. Feel free to add yours here - and of course to the comments section on Working Anywhere.

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Max Arnold Reviews the Nokia N800

The Nokia N800 is one cool tablet, and I've been lucky enough to be included in the Nokia blogger program to review it. That said, I'm honest enough to tell you that I'm not enough of a gadget guy to get any utility out of this wonderful device - but my oldest son, Max, is.

Max should be pretty familiar to my blog readers by now, and he's had a good run with the N800 for a while. We did a video review of the N800 on our first edition of Teen Tech Reviews for, and Max has now posted his written review on his blog.

So, for this post, I'm really just the messenger, and my job is to steer you to Max's review. The N800 has received thorough blog coverage and great reviews from the likes of colleagues Ken Camp and Alec Saunders, but these are from an adult perspective. Max may not be as sophisticated, but I think there's a lot of value in reading about how a teenager views the N800, and if you feel the same way, I think you'll enjoy what Max has to say.

Oh, and while I have you, Max is very keen to do more reviews - or even paid writing gigs - so any suggestions are welcome. :-)

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Friday, June 1, 2007

Fireman 3.0 Reviews - Video and Text

For a variety of reasons, all kinds of neat products and gadgets find their way to me, and one of the recent ones is Fireman 3.0. This is a software package for burning CDs and DVDs, made by a company called Honestech - all of which is new to me. This is not something I would ever use, but my oldest son, Max is the perfect person to try this out. He's been test driving it for the past little while, and has done not one, but two reviews.

First is his written review, which you can read off his blog.

The second review is video-based, and is the second broadcast in our weekly series called Teen Tech Reviews, on We put this together earlier in the week, but I haven't had a chance to post about it until now. Hope you enjoy it.

Looks like the PR folks for Fireman 3.0 have been getting the word out to the bloggers. Fellow blogger Alec Saunders posted his review today - talk about being on the same wavelength! His review was quite positive, and interestingly, both Alec and Max referred to Fireman 3.0 as a Swiss army knife. Must be a pretty versatile product!

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Welcome - the Thomas Howe Company

Fellow blogger, indie colleague and New Englander Thomas Howe is doing his thing with a mission. It's not easy being an indie - it's certainly not for everybody - and Thomas is taking some exciting steps in ramping up his business.

I've been off the blogs for almost week - gotta make a living - and I just caught a post of his from last week announcing his formal launch. I'm in the loop on what Thomas is up to, but this was the first public notice I've seen about it.

So, I'm doing my part here to say congrats and welcome to.... The Thomas Howe Company. The name says it all , and you can read more about on his post here. If you're into Web 2.0 and mashups, this is a company you'll want to be following, and in time I won't be the only one you'll be hearing this from.

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Cisco's First Canadian Telepresence Sale - and Arnold Likes it

I'm not talking about myself, actually. This week, Arnold Schwarzenegger made a cross-Canada tour, with a stop here in Toronto the other day. Lots of green agenda messaging, which is great, and I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with Cisco and Rogers.

Well, here's why. In honor of his presence - not telepresence - he was actually here - Cisco sponsored a splashy event around the opening of a Canada/California trade mission. During the event, Cisco announced their first Canadian telepresence customer - Rogers. Sounds like a great first customer to me, as Rogers is probably more aligned with Cisco's vision that just about anybody, especially among big companies. As I'm saying that now, I just remembered that's exactly what I said in December while attending Cisco's analyst conference, which you can read here, or on Cisco's own blog page. Gee, what I said then now looks pretty prescient, if I must say!

Fast forward ahead today, and the news was officially announced this afternoon. You can read about it in Cisco's own words here.

And in case you're wondering, there's one more loose end to tie up here, and it's probably the most important one. As all Canadians know by now, Gov'r. Schwarzenegger has an aggressive green agenda, which was very well received here - that's what made the front pages in Canada all week - not telepresence.

Well, anyone following telepresence knows that cutting down on travel, carbon emissions, etc. is a strong selling point, and Cisco's John Chambers has been quite vocal about that. The environmental angle was only mentioned in passing in Cisco's news release, but you can be sure that was a big part of what Arnold was talking about during his Toronto visit when the news was announced. After all, Cisco is based in his state, and to make the connection clear, during the event I'm told there was a video clip of him and John Chambers make a telepresence call to Ted Rogers, CEO of Rogers. That must have been fun! Ok - I think all the dots are connnected now - back to work...

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Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - Jim Glover and BDC Venture Capital

On this week's podcast, my guest was Jim Glover. He's the Investment Director for BDC Venture Capital, the venture arm of the Business Development Bank of Canada. Their focus is to support the small business sector, and venture capital is one way of doing this.

Jim and I spoke about the state of the market for venture funding among Canadian telecom and tech companies. He addressed the challenges facing VCs in finding good opportunities, and the types of companies and technologies that are getting funding now. Jim also shared his thoughts on what he looks for in companies seeking funding.

You can download the podcast here, as well as read more about Jim Glover.

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