04/10/2007

Bootcamp to expire

Apple's Bootcamp system (which allows Windows or MacOS X to run on Apple hardware) will expire when the next version of MacOS X 10.5 (Leopard) is launched.

Bootcamp is currently offered as a beta download.

Bootcamp differs from Parallels or VMWare's offering in that it encapsulates a Windows partition on the hard disk and allows a Windows operating system to boot or MacOS X. Parallels is a virtual machine which runs inside MacOS X, allowing a Windows OS to run in parallel with MacOS X (there's a reason why they called it Parallels).

BT invests in FON

BT has invested in the Spanish company FON. BT state this is to increase wireless coverage, but it could also be a way to increase use of their Fusion packages which haven't really taken off in a big way (Fusion is BT's converged mobile service which allows a mobile phone to roam on to a [Bluetooth in a home environment] WiFi gateway).

FON sells or gives away WiFi access points preconfigured to work with FON and these allow the user to set-up whether they'll give free or charged access to their broadband services.

O2 to allow "free" access to social networking sites

During October and November O2 is going to allow free mobile data access to social networking sites MySpace and Facebook, after which it will encourage users to sign-up to it's unlimited data plans (which aren't really unlimited at all, but nothing new there).

It's the old system of getting users hooked and then charging them for the service, but they'll probably attract quite a few users to their data plans this way.

O2 are also going to launch their broadband services soon (they bought Be a while back), some of which will be free if the monthly mobile spend is high enough.

3Com launches Asterisk based SMB IP PBX

3Com has launched a $1,600 30-user Asterisk appliance based IP PBX.

It's essentially just a resale of the Asterisk appliance by 3Com, but it's sold and supported by 3Com.

The Asterisk IP PBX is a great piece of software (it's available for download from the Asterisk website), but it's not for the feint hearted. It runs on Linux and is reasonably complex to set-up. Unfortunately documentation is severely lacking (though there are some good books out there from publishers like O'Reilly and various websites like VoIP Info) and often a response is "look in the code".

Having "real" vendors support Asterisk means it will get into the mainstream markets and that's likely to produce some good documentation.

As the 3Com unit is a pre-installed system, configuration is a lot simper and newer versions of Asterisk come with a web based configuration system. Though that takes some of the fun out of hand writing dial-plans - which may change the definition of fun.

Talklets, making the web speak

The world of cinema changed when silent movies became talkies, now the same is (slowly) happening with the web. A UK company Textics has developed Talklets accessibility enabling technology.

Talklets is actually a web based service that can perform text-to-speech and a website owner only needs to put Javascript tags on the site which enables a Talklets toolbar which controls the text-to-speech system. It also allows for other functionality such as "right-click" floating toolbars which can be configured per site, the standard toolbar will allow offer the user a dictionary or theasurus look-up on the word the mouse is over. In future it will also allow per site lexicons which can allow for local "buzzwords" to be explained.

Talkets can also take RSS feeds and convert them to MP3s, which is like having a local newsreader.

Textics is part of the Hidden Differences Group which is a company that is trying to make the web accessible, in the UK 20% of the population at least have reading difficulties. Developing countries have an even higher percentage that cant read but almost everyone can speak.

02/10/2007

RIPA goes live

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act has actually been live for a while, but from today all telecoms companies must store records of all phone calls (and mobile networks SMS messages) for a year.

Though the actual conversation are not recorded (and SMS messages are not saved), but the caller and called numbers (and how long they talked) must be stored, for SMS the origination and destination number are stored.

Telcos have always stored the data (they use it for billing), but it's now who has access to it which comes into force. Around 650 organisations will be able to request records under the RIP Act, from normal agencies such as government, police, security forces to councils and even the charity commission and various quangos.

It's been slipped through as "helping to fight terrorism" ...

Ofcom tries to ensure the future of Sitefinder

Sitefinder is Ofcom's database of mobile cell sites. The mobile network operators (MNOs) used to supply data on a voluntary basis which contained the location of cells.

Ofcom was forced to make extra data available that showed cell sectors and transmitter power etc. after a freedom of information request, though Ofcom resisted it went to the Information Tribunal and Ofcom lost.

Since Sitefinder is populated voluntarily, the MNOs felt they were giving away competetively sensitive information and have stopped providing new information.

Ofcom is urging the MNOs to continue populating Sitefinder and is also appealing the Information Tribunal’s decision so that in future sensitive information does not need to be released.

Sitefinder is an important database as it helps Ofcom conduct its duties as a regulator, having stale data reduces that usefulness.