The VoIP Service Blog

Compare and review IP Telephony & VoIP providers. News on the latest technology, from mobile Internet to IPTV.

Second Talk brings Skype to Second Life

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

VoIP has moved beyond reality into the realm of the virtual world we know as Second Life. Skype Journal announces:
Centric today announced Second Talk, an easy-to-use voice communication system for Second Life. Second Talk "headsets" automatically scan for other Second Talk users nearby, and offer instant voice chat for groups of up to 10 users through Skype, a popular Voice over IP communication platform.

While this isn't the first attempt at voice communication within SecondLife, it is probably the first that works with Skype. I know quite a few people who use Skype and SecondLife at the same time (myself included now and then), but not quite like this.
This sounds like it may just catch on among Second Lifers. You can pick up your portable virtual headsets here.

How VoIP can help your career

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wanna be a hero at your company? Propose a switch to Voice over IP! VoIP has the potential to save costs, simplify tasks, and increase productivity. Read on for more of the info you need to sell your boss on a VoIP system at VoIP News.

Watch out though, because it could also get you fired. A corporate communication system is no game. If you buy into a flawed system, you would probably get singled out as the scapegoat. Don't let it happen. Be sure to fully research your proposal, starting with the guide and resources mentioned in the article.

Oh, and when you get that raise, don't forget who gave you the initial push ... ;-)

Categories: ,

Nintendo DS hacks for free WiFi VoIP calls

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Since the Nintendo DS has a built-in microphone and a wireless Internet connection, what's to stop it from being used as a WiFi phone, or the DSphone, if you will?

Nintendo DSI've scoured the 'net and found some projects currently underway that claim to do just that, albeit with limitations.

VoiceChatClient is a homebrew application that lets you freely call anyone who also has VoiceChatClient installed on their DS. This hack even adds extra value by transmitting what you write on the touch screen to the other person! VCC requires hacked firmware or some type of passthrough device. (source)

DSpeak has been developed by Nintendo themselves, but aside from a demo at E3 in 2005, nothing more has been heard about this program. DSpeak will reportedly allow in-game and out-of-game chat. And when you speak, an on-screen Mario or Wario avatar lip syncs along! (source)

HelloDS was released some time ago as a proof-of-concept hack, along with a promise of a future version of this homebrew software. Unfortunately, the update has not been forthcoming. The initial version is still available and requires the firmware hack or passthrough. (source)

Metroid Prime: Hunters is currently the most easily accessible option for chatting with your DS buddies. All it requires is the Metroid Prime: Hunters game and a WiFi connection. You might want the NDS VoIP headset too. For this VoIP solution, you just meet the person you want to speak with in the same pre-game lobby and talk. It also works post-game, but not during. (source)

Conclusion: Though this handheld gaming device is certainly capable of competing with other mobile WiFi phones, the current state of Nintendo DS VoIP affairs isn't very exciting. None of the above solutions include support for SIP or for dialing out. However, the demand seems to be out there, so the DS might get to see a true VoIP app yet.

UPDATE 9/14/07: SvSIP, a VoIP client using the open SIP protocol, is released for the DS.

Have you made calls on the Nintendo DS? I'd love to get your feedback in the comments section. Don't forget to subscribe to the feed to receive updates on this subject.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Does the iPhone measure up as the portable holy grail?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

iPhoneToday, Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at MacWorld 2007. It was met with many cheers and jeers, probably even some leers. Still, there's no doubt it will raise the bar for future portable devices to come, now that manufacturers will have to refocus their efforts on coming up with the "iPhone-killer".

Some time back, I wrote a wish-list of features that I would like in the ideal ultimate gadget. The technical specs on Apple's website, while not quite matching up, come closer than a lot of devices I've seen. Here's the blow-by-blow comparison:

Handheld Holy GrailApple iPhone
  • 4" screen with at least 1024x640 pixels
  • Standardized video output for hooking up to a bigger screen
  • Minimum of 3 megapixel camera
  • 3.5" widescreen with 320x480 pixels at 160 dpi. However, the screenshots show webpages at full size rather than puny mobile phone versions.
  • Video output not mentioned, though Steve did have one on his "special" iPhone at MacWorld.
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • Should be able to handle graphics as well as a Nintendo DS
  • Buttons should be in strategic places, like the Sony PSP
Gaming on the iPhone hasn't been mentioned as of yet, but it looks more than capable of great graphics. However, without buttons it may be less than ideal as a gaming device.
  • Office-like applications
  • E-book readers
  • E-mail client
  • Web browser
I understand the iPhone will not have 3rd party application support, even though it will run OS X, so it may not be capable of running an office suite. That said, webpages on its built in Safari browser looks amazing on a 3.5" screen. For e-mail, Apple has partnered with Yahoo for free push-IMAP e-mail -- look out BlackBerry!
  • VoIP programs
  • Instant messaging
  • Cellular phone capability (if that's still needed by then)
Cingular will be the exclusive GSM carrier in the United States, but without 3rd party apps, VoIP and IM programs may be excluded.
  • Speech recognition and Text-to-Speech
  • GPS maps, driving directions, and business search
  • Fold-up or slide-in mini QWERTY keyboard
  • Battery life lasting at least 24 hours when idle, 10 hours when using voice and low graphics activity, and 5 hours when gaming and watching videos
  • At least 16GB flash memory
  • USB and Firewire output
  • USB input (maybe for one of those laptop lights, or just downloading files from a memory stick)
  • Wireless (bluetooth or otherwise) interface for keyboard, headset, and other functions
  • No word on speech recognition, though OS X is certainly capable of it
  • Apple has partnered with Google Maps and features click-to-call for businesses but doesn't mention GPS
  • Soft keyboard only, with intuitive error reduction and correction
  • Up to 5 hours battery Talk/Video/Browsing, and up to 16 hours for audio playback with no mention of standby battery life
  • Initial choice of 4GB or 8GB flash memory
  • Probable USB 2.0 output
  • No USB input
  • Bluetooth, WiFi

In that article, I had prefaced the list with this statement:
The operating system doesn't matter much, as long as it's open for some hacking around and creating new programs.
And so I was excited to hear Steve say that the iPhone would run OS X, which is built on Unix, only to be let down later when I read this Engadget article that said it would be locked to outside programming.

The real reason this is such an explosive announcement isn't just the new product itself, but the innovative user interface. The patented multi-touch screen makes navigation look almost effortless. It's just a scroll here, a tap there, or a "pinch" to zoom in on your photos, maps and websites.

The iPhone also has a proximity sensor that turns off the screen when you hold the cellphone up against your face or put it in your pocket, plus an accelerometer that automatically knows when to show the display in portrait and landscape mode.

Another first is the use of "visual voicemail", which shows you a list of voice mails with the callerID, and lets you choose the order in which to listen to them.

The Apple iPhone is expected to ship in June, pending FCC approval and a Cisco lawsuit for trademark infringement, with a price tag of $499 for the 4GB version and $599 for the 8GB version, when you sign a 2 year contract with Cingular of course.