Thursday, 30 October 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday - Dell Video Chat

This week's post from Mobile Industry Review.
I recently installed Dell Video Chat , following a tip from Andy Abramson. Dell Video Chat is the Dell branded version of SightSpeed and is another step in Dell's bid to be a software company as well as a hardware company. The software is a free download and provides an improved user interface compared to SightSpeed's own version. Both Windows and Mac versions are available. 
Dell Video Chat offers free video calling to other Video Chat and SightSpeed users, plus regular phone calls to anyone and instant messaging to other Video Chat users. I'm using Video Chat with a Logitech QuickCam S5500 and the video quality is fantastic - much better than I expected from my past experience of using video calling. Multi-party chats are also available for $9.95 per month. 
A neat feature is the ability to record a video message and send it to someone who isn't online or doesn't have Dell Video Chat installed. The recipient receives an email with a link where they can watch the video and also sign up for Video Chat. This is a nice feature for families who want to send impromptu video messages to each other.
As you'd expect, Video Chat offers the usual functionality to tune your video and sound settings plus the option to select different transmission speeds based on your Internet connection. There's also a test call function to check you can communicate okay with the far end. Invoking 'Control-S' during a call brings up a statistics windows so you can compare your transmission speeds with the other party and monitor CPU usage and latency.
Whilst video calling to another Dell Video Chat user is free, making regular phone calls is chargeable and you need to top up your account with a minimum of $10.
The decision to use Dell Video Chat instead of other video calling products probably comes down to one of quality against ubiquity. If quality is important then Video Chat is well worth installing but you need to persuade your contacts to do the same. In the past I've not been a big fan of video calling because it's always seemed a bit flaky but using Dell Video Chat a few times has inspired me to think again about when it would be useful. Now I need to persuade a few people to think likewise and download it!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – DeFi in the wild

This week's post from Mobile Industry Review.

Last month I wrote about a new mobile VoIP service, DeFi. I’ve been using DeFi for a couple of weeks now, initially on my Nokia E65 and now on my E51, and it’s proving to be an excellent mobile VoIP service, both in terms of call quality and functionality. As with any VoIP service the odd call experiences quality issues but that could be down to any one of a number of reasons. In any event the quality is better and more consistent than the flaky cellular coverage I get at home.

The DeFi number you are allocated at signup is a geographical number in the country of your choice - I have a UK 020 London number. This is great because it’s cheaper for people to call than a mobile number. DeFi passes full CLI so people I’m calling see my 020 CLI. Occasionally I have seen ‘international’ appear on an inbound call but I’m told that is an issue with a specific carrier that will be fixed shortly. In addition to my main number I’ve added two additional inbound virtual numbers, including a US number.

One of the most striking features of DeFi is the tariff structure. For $40 (or £23) the Global Access tariff provides unlimited calls from any country to any country, subject to a fair use policy of 3000 minutes a month. Here in the UK this includes landline and mobile numbers, plus numbers to 08 destinations like 0800, 0845 and 0870. This is the first time I’ve seen these destinations included in a fixed price bundle and emphasises the value behind the pricing. Also included in the tariff is WiFi access via an increasing number of commercial hotspots, for both calls and Internet access from your handset. DeFi is in the midst of signing agreements with a number of networks and so far I’ve used my handset out and about in London. The only additional charge is for the virtual numbers which are part of the Global Access Plus tariff and add $10 to the monthly charge.

At the present time there is no support for SMS. This is in the roadmap and both inbound and outbound SMS will be supported on the geographical DeFi number – mobile SMS on a London number is a neat twist! SMS support will also include voicemail alerts, which are currently delivered via email. Voice messages can be received as WAV file attachments, accessed via the DeFi ‘My Account’ portal or by dialling into your mailbox.

Initially I had a few issues with specific UK 08 number sub-ranges not connecting but these were fixed very quickly after raising a fault ticket. Customer support is always very responsive, with answers to queries received with a matter of hours.

Some of the terms used in the voicemail menus need to change for the UK, for example ‘pound key’ need to be replaced with ‘hash key’. These will are due to be fixed in a UK localisation upgrade to the system shortly.

Your DeFi account is managed via the ‘My Account’ portal. This is where you manage aspects of your service like voicemail settings, simultaneous ring, call forwarding, call waiting and check your call history. Simultaneous ring is my favourite feature and I’ve set it to ring my DeFi handset, another mobile and my home office landline so I can answer the call wherever convenient.

Although WiFi doesn’t offer the convenience of 3G/GSM for ubiquitous coverage, the cost benefits of a service like DeFi, both for calling from your home or office and when out and about, particularly when roaming, certainly make it a worthy addition to the mobile toolbox!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Lebara Mobile - good SIM card for visitors to the UK

I picked up a Lebara Mobile SIM card the other day for a fiver. Free SIM with £5 of credit on it. Useful for testing and to use in an emergency handset. Lebara offers international calls from 4p per minute & UK calls at 10p per minute. Worldwide SMS charge is 10p per message.

Struck me this could be a good option for visitors to the UK who will need to phone home and don't mind swapping their SIM card.

  • EU destinations are 4p per minute to landlines with mobile rates around 15p per minute
  • USA is 5p per minute to both
  • Canada is 4p per minute to both
  • Australia is 4p per minute to landlines and 15p per minute to mobiles

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – .tel, the first live global directory service

This week's post from Mobile Industry Review .
.tel is a new top level domain from Telnic that is currently in beta. What makes .tel unique is that it maps domains to contact information stored directly in the DNS. Telnic, the .tel registry operator, describes it:
The .tel is a new TLD dedicated exclusively to communications that enables people and businesses to store, update and publish contact information, web links and keywords directly in the DNS under a unique domain name.
When I discovered .tel it was one of those eureka moments. The ability to have all my contact methods available in one place, with appropriate access restrictions, is exactly what I've been missing. In the past I've tried hard to simplify my contact data. I started using personal numbers (one number for life) when they launched in the early 90's, which helped a bit. However in reality I don't want one number. I want to separate personal & business calls. I want both landline and mobile numbers because it's cheaper for the family and friends to call a landline and I don't always want to take calls on my mobile. With developments in technology I now want to give my contacts access to lots of different methods of contact – my home number, my business number, my personal email, my business email, my Skype ID, my Twitter ID, my Truphone number, my DeFi number – so they can choose the most convenient contact method for them. But how do I make the different contact methods available? And vary availability to segments of my network of friends, family, business contacts etc? In the past I would give them one or two of what seemed to me the most appropriate contact methods. But that meant second guessing how they wanted to contact me - not ideal. We are still a long way from a converged world where technology determines how best to connect you to the other party, so access to a directory of different methods is very powerful.
.tel is device independent and the directory information can be speedily accessed from any web enabled device. You maintain full ownership of your data because it is stored under your domain name and not entrusted to a third party. The contact information is ‘live’ in that it can be changed in real time. Multiple profiles will be available by launch that will allow you to display different contact data depending on where you are and the time of day, e.g. home, office, in transit. A simple method of password access will allow certain types of data to be only available to a specific group or individual; so you could make more information available to your family than you would to business colleagues. Keywords can also be added to your profile for search engine optimisation. With .tel there is no need to build, manage or host a website to make your data available – that’s handled by Telnic.
The developer site is now live at to help third parties integrate with .tel.
I've been offered the opportunity to try out in advance of the launch so I can review it and talk about my thoughts on it. If you want to be part of Telnic's upcoming beta program and get a '' test domain to play around with, you can email to get on the list.

Monday, 13 October 2008

My Mobile Industry Review profile

If you'd like to find out a bit more about me you can read my Mobile Industry Review profile here.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Goodbye F-Secure Internet Security

I've been using F-Secure Internet Security 2008 for a while now on our PCs at home. It got good reviews and worked well for some months. But a couple of laptops started hanging with increasing frequency during the boot process. I tried various things - removing apps that started automatically, cleaning up the Registry. No improvement until I removed F-Secure Internet Security. Both laptops now boot quicker and never hang. I'm now using one of the free anti-virus products while I select a new security suite. Norton Internet Security 2009 has had some good reviews- apparently this version is much faster and less 'bloated'  - so I may go for that one.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

My .tel profile

I've just finished setting up my .tel public profile. Now my contact details are available in a single place that can be seamlessly accessed from any web enabled device by going to and selecting the appropriate contact method.

What's neat about having a .tel domain? I'm taking part in the .tel beta and will be posting a review of .tel on Thursday over at Mobile Industry Review.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Nokia 6220 Classic

The team at Nokia WOM World sent me a 6220 to have a look at. My initial reaction when I tried to put my SIM in and then remove it is this is not a handset for SIM swappers. It took a toothpick and a pair of tiny tweezers to gently extricate my SIM from the slot!

However, on to the good stuff. This handset has the two features that I would most like to have on my E51 - a 5MP camera with flash and A-GPS. Whilst the E51 is a great handset overall, next time these features will be a must. Finding this high spec functionality outside the N Series indicates that Nokia is starting to see decent cameras and GPS as 'standard' features and not just features for the top end.

I could be tempted by the 6220 except for one significant ommission from the feature set - WiFi and VoIP support. WiFi is a must for me to enable the use of Truphone or DeFi. I'm no longer prepared to rely on the vagaries of 3G / GSM coverage and tariffs!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Evernote for all your notes


This week's post from Mobile Industry Review.
I used to keep odd notes in Outlook as it meant they were available on both my PC and my BlackBerry. However, using Outlook meant they were only available on one PC and one mobile device; not on my Nokia E51 or my other PCs. A few months ago I started using Evernote as the main repository for my notes. Evernote is browser based so can be accessed from any PC or mobile phone that has a browser. As well as the browser version there are local clients for Windows, Mac, Windows Mobile and iPhone. The browser version works well and is my preferred access method on my PCs and my mobiles. Compatibility with Google Chrome was added recently.
So how does Evernote work? I like the description from Evernote's developers:
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.
After creating notes you can assign them category tags via a simple drag & drop process. All notes are content searchable and this includes scanned images and photos, which is very neat. The web clipper feature allows any web page to be saved as a note for future reference – simpler than hunting through bookmarks. Evernote also provides a unique email address you can email notes or forward emails to. This is great for quickly dumping stuff into Evernote from anywhere.
The simple provision of an email address to each Evernote account provides some neat functionality when combined with other products. I’ve set up Evernote as the default destination for uploading photos from my Nokia E51 - when I see something, for example a book that I want to remember in the future, I snap a photo of it & it’s automatically sent to my Evernote folder. When someone leaves me a voice message via SpinVox, a copy of the message is automatically emailed to my Evernote account. When I think of something I might want to blog about in the future I email or drop a note into Evernote for future reference. Using SpinVox Memo I can record simple messages via my phone when I’m out and have a transcribed copy of the message in my Evernote folder next time I open it.
Evernote is a great place to store my ever increasing collection of PDFs – user guides, data sheets and other random documents that seem to appear! Plus, Evernote will search the PDF contents. Just drag and drop the PDFs into Evernote.
Evernote comes in two versions – a free version that allows up to 40MB of data a month to be uploaded and a premium version that costs $5 a month and has a monthly limit of 500MB. This is a nice example of the freemium model in action. So far I’ve found the free version more than adequate.
Is there anything missing from Evernote? One issue I’ve found is that when notes are imported in HTML it can be impossible to remove formatting, like double spacing, from them. The only workaround is to copy and paste into a text editor and back. I’d like to see the ability to highlight text in a note and remove all formatting.
The uses of Evernote are endless and there are more ideas on the website. This video is a good introduction to Evernote.
If you already use Evernote, have you discovered any neat tricks you can share?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Which contact method?

How do you determine which contact method to give out to someone? Do I give them a landline number, a mobile number or a VoIP number? My personal email, my business email, my Skype ID, my Twitter ID, my Facebook page ...

Whichever number or method I pick, I'm assuming the one I picked is also convenient for them. Alternatively I could just give them everything and confuse them completely!

I'm thinking about the power of an alternative that will soon be available - .tel from Telnic. More on this shortly ...

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Barclaycard - an error has occurred

A familiar view on the Barclaycard account management website. Isn't it great when the company who provides you with a product or service is acquired by another company, in the name of delivering an enhanced service and then it just breaks ...
The Goldfish website always worked just fine but now ...

Friday, 3 October 2008

DeFi mobile VoIP

I've been making my calls using DeFi for a couple of days now. First impressions are very positive. Call quality has been excellent and I love simultaneous ring. Having two mobiles and a landline all ring when I receive a call is great! The account management portal is neat, with a number of options for service configuration and the ability to review call history. User support has been speedy - I raised an issue with a particular UK number range being unavailable and it was resolved within a few hours.

So far I've only used my home access point but looking forward to trying DeFi out using public hotspots.

I'll be doing a full write up in due course.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Devicescape, creating a seamless WiFi layer

This week's post from Mobile Industry Review.
Last week I met up with Dave Fraser and Simon Wynn at Devicescape to talk about their plans for the future. I’ve blogged about Devicescape before - it’s a simple software client that manages WiFi connections for mobile devices across private and public WiFi hotspots. It automates the sign-in process using pre-stored security credentials for secure networks and automatically logs on to authorised private and public hotspots. All major WiFi service providers are supported and smaller ones are being added all the time. I’ve been using Devicescape to manage the WiFi connections on my PCs and handsets for over a year now and with about 10 WiFi devices in the family it saves a lot of time and hassle fiddling about with SSIDs and WPA keys!
Devicescape (the company) has been around for three years and has a background in WiFi security products. The company’s vision is to create a seamless WiFi layer to unify the multiplicity of private and public WiFi networks available to users. Approximately 80% of Devicescape users are using Devicescape on a mobile handset and to date most Devicescape users have downloaded the Devicescape client from the website and configured it themselves. However, as Devicescape’s focus is on simplifying the WiFi access process and customer experience, increasingly the client is invisible to the end user. As an example, DeFi uses Devicescape ‘under the bonnet’ to manage WiFi network access; making the whole process transparent to the user.
Devicescape now comes in four ‘flavours’:
• Locked to one operator – OEM selects, user enters a username and password, works on one network and its roaming partners
• Locked to one operator – user selects the network of their choice
• Locked to one operator – operator provisions device, no user setup required, just works
• Unlocked Devicescape client – premium service, enabled by Subscription Service
More and more operators are seeing 3G and WiFi as complementary technologies and Devicescape partners are starting to use the client to load balance across 3G and WiFi networks. To reduce the data overhead on the 3G network, traffic is seamlessly routed over WiFi when available. Because Devicescape automates the WiFi network selection and login process, it creates a seamless user experience. 
Is there anything missing from Devicescape? The one piece of functionality I would like to see is the ability for a user to prioritise the order of login to networks on the unlocked client. Prioritisation is currently set by Devicescape and applies to all users. This is based on prioritising the most cost effective networks to use, so it uses your home WiFi before a paid for one. However I’d like to be able to prioritise private access points as I sometimes have more than one running and need to control which is used.
I’ve just had an email from Devicescape confirming that Devicescape is now in the Apple Store so it’ll be going on my son’s new iPod Touch later this week!

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