21 June 2016

Cloud storage made in France


Sharing this good deal from HubiC, a cloud storage service provided by well-known French company OVH, whose datacenters are located in France.

Free 30Gb of cloud storage space with this code: TJDWYK

In addition to a basic drive sync service across devices, they offer a great directory backup service expandable to 55Gb totally free through their referral program.

06 October 2011

Being Steve Jobs' boss

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

from Steve Jobs' Stanford University Commencement Speech 2005

This is the occasion to repost this excellent article "Being Steve Jobs' boss" published in Business Week a year ago.

06 November 2010

Microsoft forecats cloudy weather over enterprise UC&C

Nearly 10 years after Cisco & Skype initiated the VoIP revolution that has transformed Telephony into Unified Communications, Microsoft is gearing up to rip the combined benefits of IP convergence and cloud computing with the launch of Office 365.

If the solution primarily takes aim at Google Apps -and also at "Skype for business" when the voice components are fully operational next year- on the SMB market segment, it should also be noted that it is a most valuable add-on to their on-premise UC&C offering for larger companies -as Lync server is claimed to be the PBX killer by Microsoft who has declared war to the incumbent vendors such as Cisco, Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia-Siemens and consorts.

Microsoft's interest for voice applications in the enterprise communication space is not new (TAPI, Netmeeting, Speech API) but it gained momentum in 2007 with the release of Exchange Unified Messaging & Office Communication Server products.

Since then Microsoft has made consistent efforts to streamline the initial architecture of the OCS solution (thus allowing for it to run on virtual machines) and build a full featured API for application developers rather than trying to bring extra features & sophistication to the Enterprise Voice product in an attempt to compete with traditional PBXs capabilities.

This is quite the contrary of what Cisco did. We should see if this strategy is equally successful by the end of next year.

Lync Launch video

03 August 2010

Dial On Phone for Exchange Unified Messaging

Slimphony introduces the unified click-to-dial concept through its new Dial On Phone solution.

Dial On Phone is a SIP based click to dial productivity solution that enables users to place calls from any desktop applications or a URL link to any telephony target (PSTN or VOIP protocol) through their desk phones -or any other (authorized) phone device of their choice.

Most click-to-call solutions are adherent to the PBX and do not support the dialling of VOIP protocols (sip, skype, msn, gtalk, etc...) alphanumeric addresses. Dial On Phone is PBX vendor independent and can either transfer or bridge calls between PBXs, SIP gateways or SIP trunks.

The Dial On Phone solution was originally designed to allow Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging users to call back the sender of a voice mail by simply clicking on the Caller-Id URL link provided in Outlook -a capability only offered to Microsoft Office Communication Server users. Hence the name, in comparison with the "Play On Phone" Exchange UM feature, as well as the architecture of the "Dial On Phone" solution which is fully compliant with the Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging architecture with its Web Services front-end.

By leveraging on SIP both as a first-party CTI protocol and to interconnect TDM & VOIP communication silos, the Dial On Phone solution is the glue that turns your desktop into a URL & Copy/Paste style dialer, and your existing desk phone into a multi-protocol endpoint.

Visit the Dial On Phone site for further details & download.

06 July 2009

Electrosmog 2.0 unleashed

Why does this woman have such a great smile ? Because she's chatting up with friends on Facebook all day long from her office through a Wifi hotspot connection while answering one of the many GSM calls from her lovers ? Most likely. Or maybe it is just a side-effect of her exposure to the electrical field generated by the wireless devices she is using ? Who knows ?

There has been a massive worldwide adoption of wireless communications technology over the past decade and this is an ongoing trend -note that neither the telecom crisis in 2000 nor the financial crisis in 2007 had any impact on the ever growing user base of mobile operators (a very profitable business). As a result, the urban environment we live in is often saturated with electromagnetic waves. This is called the electrosmog.

Measuring accurately the electrosmog is not an easy task: it requires the use of expensive devices as well as following a measurement protocol. However, providing an approximative measure is possible with affordable electronic parts and good engineering -the main innovation shown below actually lies in the use of a shoe box as packaging material... not so stylish but at least 100% recyclable! ;)

Such a device is useful if you want to have a rough idea of your unwanted exposure to electrosmog. How much exposed am I in my bedroom where I spend 10 hours a day ? (OK I'm a lazy guy;) ? How far is this $500000 house from a telecom mast ? What if I stand near people using wireless devices ?

All of the questions above require instantaneous recurrent measures to get answered, and these can only be delivered by a personal electrosmog meter. Such devices already exist, but in my opinion their price and features can be much improved for the consumer market.

Below are a few snapshots of the data output provided by my low cost device which provides both average electrical field density in Volt per meter and peak statistics for the GSM/DECT, UMTS and Wireless LAN frequency bands.

04 July 2009

Shanghai surprise

As a celebration for the International Year of Astronomy 2009, a total solar eclipse will take place on July 22nd. If you have a chance to get into the path of totality, don't miss it! This is a very unique mind-blowing experience.

The July 22, 2009, total solar eclipse begins at sunrise in India, and from there the Moon's shadow zips across eastern Asia. The track crosses China for much of the morning before leaving the mainland near Shanghai. Observers just south of this city will experience nearly 6 minutes of totality. The track then moves out over the Pacific Ocean.

If you cannot make it this time, check out the following map of the forthcoming total eclipses of the Sun. Maybe there is one closer to your place in a few years!

03 April 2009

Open source hardware

Embedded product development is on the edge of going mainstream as the main barrier for product innovators, which used to be the lack of ready-to-use, customisable & documented hardware has collapsed. Indeed companies such as Raisonance from France or Hitex from Germany now provide low-cost and full-featured devices to get quickly started on a project.

The latest Primer2 whose design is fully documented is built around the latest STM32 microcontroller from ST Microelectronics and is about the size of a cellphone, and comes with a 128x160-pixel color touchscreen, audio capabilities, a built-in USB port, a MicroSD card slot, and other features, such as an accelerometer and an infrared transmitter/receiver, that allow developers to quickly add extra capabilities to their applications.

The STM32 circle online community, named after the open source CircleOS project that powers the Primer2, counts around 6000 developers from hobbyists to professionals who want to quickly turn a concept into an attractive-looking demonstrator -rather than a conventional engineering development board- with minimal design-start investment.

The explosion of the mobile phone market has made embedded devices affordable enough for new usages in home automation or environmental monitoring for instance and this is clearly a market opportunity for innovators... which should receive a boost from Microsoft who is trying to commoditise the embedded software development process with its .Net MicroFramework... but the task is tedious given that there is a number of hardware manufacturers (Atmel, Freescale, Microchip, NXP, ST Microelectronics, Texas instruments) who are adressing vertical markets each with a significant market share... -no Intel-like company in the embedded world to partner with that is!

19 December 2008

Electrosmog 2.0

The "no cellphone under the age of 12" advertising campaign recently launched by the city of Lyon is the first ever of this kind in France. Indeed, the telecommunications industry still is a flagship industry in France and RF safety -that is the effects on the human body and the environment of radiofrequency radiation- is not really a major concern today. As a result, independent research in the field do not get enough public funding (this is an understatement) and the government's rules regarding human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are laxists (another understatement;)

However, the topic is taking momentum amongst the scientific & medical communities and, as for other environmental related health issues (pesticides, food additives, chicken flue, nuclear safety, etc...) it will take some time to make the headlines, but it undoubtedly will... Why ?

Because even though there is still not enough evidence of their nocivity -equally due to the lack of hindsight and the lack of proper monitoring and funding- the effects of RF radiation on human tissues & the hormonal & nervous systems are obvious. The questions to answer are rather : when does it become nocive ? to what extent ? how can we best accomodate for it -at both individual and collective levels ?

Electrosmog (RF radiation exposure -I am not talking about the 50Hz electrical wires exposure here) has been around since radio broadcasting took off and has kept increasing ever since.

  • Eletrosmog 1.0 (radio & TV broadcasting) is characterized by high signal levels in the lower RF frequency range (below ~700MHz)

  • Electrosmog 2.0 (wireless networks) is characterized by low to medium pulsed signal levels in the higher frequency range (above ~700MHz up to ~6GHz)

Electrosmog 1.0 mainly goes through the body whereas Electrosmog 2.0 is mainly absorbed.

Today the top contributors to Electrosmog 2.0 in terms of intensity (at short distance) usally are the microwave oven (~900 or ~2400 MHz), the DECT corless phone (~1800 MHz), the cellphone (~900 & ~1800 MHz) and the wifi devices (~2400 MHz). But the top contributors in terms of exposure (duration/distance) are the GSM (~900 & ~1800 MHz) and UMTS (~2100 MHz) base stations antennas.
Radars (military & civil) are the biggest contributors -but are usually not directed toward the ground ;) whereas satellite communications systems are the smallest.

Finally, it is interesting to note that "natural" radiations (from the cosmos) at the frequencies stated above are almost nonexistent.

24 September 2008

Un-unified communications

Cisco recently announced the take over of Jabber & Postpath to complement their unified communication offering. This news item would have probably gone unoticed if the two companies were not editors of... open source software! I wonder if the next one on Cisco's shopping list isn't Digium ? -the well known editor of Asterisk! ;)

It really seems that Cisco's UC strategy is shaken since Microsoft launched its offensive in the field... and Microsoft's comment about the deal is quite acid :

"In early 2007, Cisco was touting their three year lead on Microsoft in UC. Now, Cisco seems to have decided they were running in the wrong direction - and perhaps even in the wrong race. In the last month, Cisco has added two new software pieces to their UC puzzle and are now playing catch up to companies like Microsoft and Nortel who have long seen that the path to UC was in powerful, well-integrated software, not wires. Cisco’s offering is the definition of un-unified communications. With more than 40 products, their solution is a patchwork of technologies and networking. The risk for customers is that a patchwork system is slower to roll out, harder to train users, and more expensive to manage and maintain over the long term." according to Microsoft's UC vice president.

Indeed, Cisco is no longer a challenger in the UC arena but is not the leader either. The challenger role has been taken over by Microsoft and Open source solutions, while historical telecom manafacturers (Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Siemens, etc) are no longer seen as old-fashionned, have adapted to the VoIP paradigm and have preserved a significant market share.

Furthermore they will not fight to death with Microsoft as they did with Cisco, because Cisco was attacking their core-business (voice switching) whereas Microsoft is on the edge (computer telephony integration). Their strategy against Microsoft consists in providing fully fledged interoperability (as well as for the other collaboration software editors like IBM or Novell) and a cheaper proprietary alternative.

However, I have to agree that this is nothing but the same patchwork architecture that was used in the TDM environment... indeed, VoIP has not changed much things in the application space to date (the only really new application that has come forth being the softphone).

03 September 2008

Telepresence 3.0

Cisco and other players such as Polycom are making a lot of marketing fuss around telepresence solution (basically a HD video conference on large screen with audio surround effects) and it is often seen as a "green" solution as it is supposed to cut down business trips.

Frankly speaking, I do not find video conference solutions as useful as they are claimed to be given that they do not bring much value to existing web conferences (voice + application sharing) and do not substitute to a face to face meeting, but do require much more hardware and power!

However, I have to admit that I have been very impressed by the holographic telepresence demo made by Cisco a few months ago. I think there is a future for that kind of engaging communication experience, so long as engineers can make it an affordable box size solution!

07 July 2008

Flashphony goes P2P

Enabling new application such as unified messaging, presence, videophone, etc... has probably been the most widely (mis)used selling point from Voice over IP technology vendors, well ahead of more basic but real benefits such as cabling, hardware and maintenance optimization.

Indeed, there are actually very few new applications that have come along VoIP. Amongst them, Flash based telephony is probably one of my favorite.

Along with the Ribbit project (which I have already addressed previously), there is a number of new projects popping out here and there that I wanted to share with you :

  • Tringme bridges Flash with SIP

  • Tokbox is a Flash videophone

  • Vawkr is a chat room for web 2.0 sites

All this is very well, but one thing to bear in mind is that Flash telephony is based on a client/server architecture which results in poor scalability & call quality since all the network flows have to be bridged through the Flash interactive media server.

Hopefully, Adobe has announced support for P2P in the forthcoming Flash 10 release -making therefore all previous flashphony implementations legacy! Furthermore, the P2P feature will probably be embedded into Flash Lite, the Flash plugin for mobile devices (whose market penetration, although growing, is not so good to date because mobile OS vendors are considering it a major threat for their own API).

However, a Flash server will still be required as a registrar and to handle some signalling trafic as well. A good way for Adobe to protect its revenues, all the more some alternative implementations of the Flash media server such as Wowza or Red5 become increasingly popular.