Skype releases 2.7 for the Mac, Continues to Improve

Skype LogoAs a remote workers and road warriors, there are certain tools in our toolbox that are indispensable.  The ones that take some of the remoteness out of being located away from your teammates and colleagues.

IM is great for quick conversations and email is fantastic for more important communications, but when it comes to feeling connected to those you interface with, nothing beats Skype.  This is why I was elated to see that yesterday Skype updated it’s client on the Mac to version 2.7 and added some fantastic new features and bugfixes.

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17 Tips to Be Productive with Instant Messaging

The best way to be productive with instant messaging (or chat)? Don’t do it.
Seriously, IM can take up your entire day if you let it. Those who stay away from it can get a lot more done.
However, if done right, IM can be a great tool for connecting with others, networking, getting things done quickly, and being productive. I’ve been experimenting with different methods recently, and I’d like to share some of the best tips.
1. Limit your time. If you do IM all day long, it’ll be a constant interruption. If you find that people are constantly pinging you, put your status as “busy”. It’s best to have a certain time of day when you make yourself available for IM … and let your friends know this as well, so they can reach you at that time if needed. I suggest an hour a day.
2. Have a purpose. Unless you have time to kill, don’t chat just to chat. Start a chat session with someone if you have a purpose in mind (that purpose could be just to check in with a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile, but I suggest you limit these kinds of chat). If you know your purpose, you can avoid getting sidetracked and avoid idle talk.
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GOOG-411’s “Biddy-Biddy-Boop”

One of the things that makes the GOOG-411 directory service awesome — besides the fact that it’s free — is that cool “bippedy-bippedy-bippedy” sound it makes while searching. And now, for the first time ever, the man behind the “bips” (and the voice of 1-800-GOOG-411) breaks his silence to talk about that famous sound.
“We call it the ‘biddy-biddy-boop’ sound,” said Bill Byrne, whose official title at Google (GOOG) is senior voice expert. “The technical term is the ‘fetch audio.'” [digg=]
The fetch audio is precisely what its name implies, the sound the service makes to let you know that it’s working on retrieving the information you’ve requested. Putting the fetch together, however, isn’t as easy as you’d think.
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T-Mobile Wing, HTC Atlas review: Mobility Site

No matter which name you call it, the new T-Mobile Wing looks to be a solid Windows Mobile 6 smartphone. Chris Leckness has one of the first reviews and videos of the handset and if I didn’t like my Dash so much, I’d strongly consider the Wing, also known as the HTC Atlas. It keeps some attributes from the older MDA such as the 200 MHz processor and slideout keyboard, but gets a camera boost to 2 Megapixels and has the new Windows Mobile 6 Professional OS to boot. T-Mobile added a few addtional features for the Today screen as well. Under standard usage Chris was easily able to get a full day’s use from the 1130 mAh battery and still had a fair amount of juice left. WiFi, Bluetooth, EGDE and Quad-Band GSM round out the radio services; still no true 3G from T-Mobile, but as Chris says, you can’t blame the phone for that!

VoIP: is Windows Mobile second fiddle to Symbian?

FringAfter reading this post by Matt Miller, I’m starting to think maybe so! Since I’ve used Pocket PC / Windows Mobile devices almost exclusively for seven years, I realize my perceptions might be jaded. It’s all too easy to get your perspective locked into a hardware or software platform, which is why I recently ordered my Mac Book Pro. Now Matt has me seriously thinking of borrowing a Series 60 device just to broaden my horizons!

From a VoIP standpoint, I’ve used Skype on Windows Mobile every now and then. There aren’t too many other options for me. Matt, however, has a bunch of choices on his Series 60 devices: Fring, Gizmo Project and TruPhone. Each has its own pros and cons; after reading up on Matt’s experiences, TruPhone looks appealing due to its feature set and recent support addition for Google Talk.

Matt says "While web surfing via WiFi on a mobile phone is enjoyable because it is faster than the EDGE speeds I get with my carrier, the "killer" application for WiFi on a mobile phone is VoIP". Some of you might say, "why is VoIP a killer feature on a phone when you can just make phone calls" but I see Matt’s point if you travel a bunch and want to keep that cellular bill down. Is anyone using mobile VoIP software on a regular basis? What are you using and how is the experience for you?

Update: on a related note, GigaOm reports that Gizmo Project just added voice support for Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Jabber and Google Talk! VoiP + IM = productivity!

To Sell or Not To Sell 3G Spectrum

Mike brings to attention that India is grappling with a unique set of problems when it comes to their 3G direction – whether to give away new licenses for free to existing license owners or charge carriers for it. This has everyone in an uproar. Indian regulator, TRAI thinks India should give it away. But then these are the same geniuses who went with the 256 kbps definition of broadband, so you can’t really take them too seriously.
The wireless operators in India already have cash flowing into their coffers, and can afford to pay for the spectrum. Given that spectrum is nation’s public property, giving it away for free should not even be considered. I think it is clear to me – they should charge more like a leasing fee for it. The spectrum compromise, should be that the money should pay for helping armed forces move to a new frequency and perhaps create a rural telephony fund. Still, I see an impasse over 3G emerging in India, which could stall India’s fast growing telephony markets.
As an aside, one of the big stories in India that is not being covered in the west is the ongoing split between the Ambani family – the owners of Reliance Infocomm. Reliance is going to go to Anil Ambani, one of the brothers who also happens to be a member of the upper house in the Indian parliament. There are rumors that Reliance Infocomm is not all that as it is made out to be. A 3G license for free could come in quite handy, don’t you think? Or perhaps it is me who sees shapes in shadows.

Mercora Goes Mobile

Mercora, one of the place shifting companies I have written in the past is going mobile. To remind you all, Mercora is a peer-to-peer radio network which lets you share playlists of music on your hard drives with a certain set of friends, or listeners. The company calls it IM Radio. Mercora has just launched a new software that will allow consumers who have Windows Mobile devices to listen to the music from their own hard drives, and from their IM playlists.
There is free and paid version of the service. With this, Srivats Sampath, CEO of Mercora, says they are taking the battle directly to the satellite users. (Remember, the satellite guys have just started to stream their music channels on the web, so this is more like tit for tat!) That they are doing it, doesn’t surprise me. Orb’s service (review pending!) already lets you listen to your disk-based music, but Mercora takes the concept of “playlist” sharing to another level.
There is just one problem with this model: carriers. Read More about Mercora Goes Mobile