Most days I work out of my home office near Philadelphia on a 5 year old Windows 2000 machine. Most of what we do at Junction Networks is virtual. We use Salesforce.com for lead tracking and trouble tickets and Google for document sharing and e-mail. I tried an experiment this week to see how virtual I could be and see if anyone would notice. I bought a new MacBook Air. My first Mac. I have to say I LOVE IT. Buy Apple stock now. I copied over usersnames/passwords and bookmarks from my Windows box to my new Firefox install on the Mac and left town. I drove 600+ away on a 'working vacation' in Indianapolis (where I grew up and my family still resides) so my kids could hang out with their cousins for a week. I only brought with me my Mac and my Polycom VOIP phone. I wondered if anyone would notice. I didn't tell anyone what I was up to. First problem: SSH.
Posted by Mike Oeth at 10:47 PM EDT
Posted by Mike Oeth at 10:00 PM EDT
In a well reasoned article entitled The case against VOIP author Carl Weinschenk makes three cases against VOIP: 1.) Companies looking at VoIP primarily as a way to cut costs on voice services should be careful. I agree that in VOIP, as in all aspects of business, you should explore the full cost of any product or service prior to purchase. In the case of VOIP, the customer who we have seen with HUGE savings are those who think outside the box and take advantage of VOIP to its fullest extent. For example, worry less about the per-minute savings from VOIP and look at the savings you can obtain by sending the entire help desk staff to work from home thereby saving rent on an entire floor of people. One of the major advantages of VOIP is that it is not tied to a single geography like land lines. Users can be anywhere and still have full phone system access.
Posted by Erick J Johnson at 06:56 PM EDT
Posted by Mike Oeth at 04:47 PM EDT
Andy Abramson in VOIP Watch is enthusiastic about new legislation to equate VOIP calls to land-line calls relative to access to E911. It is a noble effort and certainly VOIP carriers should not be blocked from placing E911 calls, but my problem is that VOIP calls are not at all like land-line calls. It's more like trying to attach 911 to Instant Messenger. When I log in to IM, I could be at home, at the office or at some Wi-Fi hotspot somewhere. But, at each location, it's still me. IM is not tied down to a physical location. Neither is VOIP. I have three phones all registered as "me". I have a phone in our NYC office, a phone in my home office and a soft phone on my laptop. That's three different physical locations. Two of them are relatively stationary, but my laptop could be anywhere.
Posted by Mike Oeth at 02:02 PM EDT
Junction Networks' OnSIP Hosted PBX users now have four ways to make/receive phone calls. Firstly, you can use your SIP-based soft phone/hard phone. This is how the majority of the calls are made today. You simply dial your phone. Secondly, you can use our "Click to Call" Firefox add-on. Then, any phone number listed anywhere in a WWW page is 'clickable'. When you click on that number, we place a call to your desk phone. Once you answer, you hear "Outside transfer" and then the 'ringing' of the phone for the phone number you clicked on. Thirdly, use our "Click to call back" Ajax API, you can place some HTML into your WWW page which displays a form for entry of a phone number. The user puts their phone number into the field.
Posted by Charlotte Oliver at 09:41 AM EDT
Last week on the subway, I saw an unintentional but interesting social experiment. I was outside the turnstiles where you swipe your ticket to pay for your ride. Someone had left the emergency exit door wide open and there were no transit employees around. Here was a perfectly easy way to get a free ride off of the subway, but it would involve breaking a minor law. As I watched my fellow New Yorkers scope each other out to figure out who would be the first to go through the door (because as we all know, it's not really breaking the law if it's done in a group), I walked over to the turnstiles and paid for my ride. Most people did the same thing as me, but finally, one person walked through the open door. After that, everyone walked through the open door. After all, the door was left open. One thing that surprises many of our customers at Junction Networks is that we have a policy of calling to verify financial information.
Posted by Mike Oeth at 09:53 PM EDT
Is Video over SIP the 'Next Big Thing'? Andy Abramson seems to think so. Andy states, "By offering and delivering video, along with voice and text as the new universally used platform for real time communications voice gets to come along for the ride via a real standard, SIP (session initiation protocol.)" As long as the video is using the SIP standard, we at Junction Networks are all for it. Our OnSIP Hosted PBX already supports video codecs using the SIP standards. Today, any customer with a video phone can make video calls. Oddly, however, I have the capability and most of us here at Junction Networks have video cameras, but I do not make it a habit to make video calls for business. My kids call the grandparents on the video phone every now and then, but as a business tool, at least here, it has not caught on.
Posted by John Riordan at 09:56 PM EDT
I don't currently have an official home office, but I've had an office phone at home for years now. This home office phone mirrors the phone on my desk at work. Both phones are registered as a contact for my SIP address so they both receive all my calls an otherwise behave exactly the same - all very easy to do with OnSIP Hosted PBX, but that's another story. A few weeks ago I swapped out my home office phone for an Aastra 57i CT which comes with this nice little cordless handset that syncs with the main station. While it has never been an issue for me at the office as I'm pretty much at my desk most of the day, having the phone at home hardwired to my DSL router has always been a little bit annoying as I kinda like futzing around the kitchen and whatnot while talking.
Posted by Mike Oeth at 02:13 PM EDT
Excellent post in Gigaom today: Web 2.0, Please Meet your Host, the Internet. The point of the story is that too many of the Web 2.0 companies are caught up in the software and not concerned about the 'host', in this case the Internet. In my 'spare' time I coach my 10yo daughter's AAU basketball team. We have a great team with a lot of talent. Our travel season ended up with two championships and a 26 and 0 record. Pretty impressive. Our AAU season has not been as successful, so the head coach, Coach John, has instituted a 'back to basics' practice regimen the last two weeks. He, and any good coach, will tell you that a team with good fundamentals will always beat a team with pure talent. We're going back to the basics to re-establish those fundamentals. The Gigaom article is similar.
Posted by Charlotte Oliver at 11:15 AM EDT
This spring, I started seeing an ad campaign on the subway about how using public transportation reduces your carbon footprint. And then last week, when I was reading the last edition of the This Old House magazine, I saw the phrase again. As gas prices rise and the summer heat (and haze) set in, I suspect we're going to continue to hear more and more about it. A carbon footprint, if you haven't run into it, is the measure of carbon dioxide produced by human activity. It's a method of figuring out how much an activity contributes to global warming. If you want to measure your carbon footprint, which is mostly caused by transportation, you can find one of many online carbon footprint calculators to figure it out.