Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Catalog your books collection using

If you have lots of books on your bookshelf that you’d like to catalog, then the following tool may come handy. It is a free tool with C# source code available on request (actually, the source code may make the subject of an article or another post in the near future).

The catalog is generated in HTML format using information provided by Amazon WS. In general the information for each book will contain a picture of its cover, editor review and customer reviews.

For a limited time (1 week) you can download it from here. If happened to land on this page at a later time, and found the link expired, drop me a comment and I’ll send you the tool.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The guys at GizmoProject launched recently a new service. Named GizmoCall, the new service allows you to make phone calls directly from your web browser. It is not a web activate phone service like Jajah – but a pure SIP softphone implementation with a Flash interface.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Free calls to US

After Skype terminated last year its promotion of free calls to US, a lot of small companies started to offer free calls to US and other popular destinations. While reliability cannot yet be verified with all of these companies, is still worth using them for occasional or test purpose calls.

Free calls to US:

Build your own appliance using PC technology

The big advantages of designing embedded products around PC technology is the simple development and quick time to market mostly due to reusing existing components such as: operating systems (Linux or Windows), drivers, development toolchains (GCC, .NET Framework, Java, etc) or even complete applications.

Encouraged by the success of Mini-ITX and Nano-ITX series, VIA announce recently pico-ITX. The new pico-ITX form-factor will reportedly measure 3.9 x 2.8 inches (10 x 7.2 cm) -- exactly half the surface area of Via's already small 4.7 x 4.7-inch (12 x 12cm) Nano-ITX standard, and considerably smaller than the original 6.7-inch square (17 x 17cm) mini-ITX standard.

If you are already using your PC only for a few dedicated tasks (VoIP, Media Center, etc) consider turning it into an appliance using one of the above motherboards. The tremendous benefits will include: low power consumption, no moving parts (most of these motherboards/processors can be used with a passive heat-sink and the HDD can be replaced with a flash memory), cool appearance … not to mention the personal satisfaction. A good place to start with such project is

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Linux for gadgets

If happens to be a Linux and/or embedded development supporter, then you probably know already If now, then stop reading now this post and make that site a visit. Besides news and forums you’ll also find nice articles, like the following:

Although embedding Windows may not be for you as fun as embedding Linux, the site is still a good web destination.

Skype without a PC

Do you like Skype (better than SIP?!) but you don’t like to be near the computer when making phone calls? There is good news for you: at least a few companies have launched Skype devices that don’t require a PC. All you need is a broadband connection and one of these devices: DUALPhone 3088, Webtalker 5000, SMC WSKP100 or Netgear SPH101.

Skype without a PC

Note: Alternatively you can use Skype for Mobile and a compatible PocketPC PDA.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SlingBox vs Hava

Remember SlingBox and Hava? Since last post, both producers extended their streaming boxes family with new models with integrated tuners and HD support. If you intend to buy one of these products, the recommendation is to check yourself the specifications and then read tons of reviews. Anyway, for a quick compare you may take a look at the following table:

* This table was published by snappymultimedia, and so may contain subjective information.

Note: According to user reviews it appears that (at least with current firmwares) Slingbox is better suited for remote connections while Hava for local connections. On remote connections Hava seems to drop frames while on the LAN has exceptional quality, much greater than Slingbox.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mobile to VoIP bridge

Finally a flexible and affordable mobile to VoIP (Skype and SIP) bridge service was launched at the beginning of this year. As opposed to other similar services, this is the first one focused on simplicity and customization.

Although it is marketed as a mobile to VoIP bridge service, you can use it with almost any classical phone. All you have to do is dial a local access number (or a toll-free number), and after the system recognize your CallerId, type your abroad number.

The interesting part is that you choose the rates by registering your preferred VoIP providers with this service. All your calls will be routed through one of your registered providers according to a dial plan you define.

This is the registration page for you providers. For maximum convenience, you can register more than one account with the same provider. Note that the service doesn’t actually register with SIP proxies because most people have also ATAs at home that use the same service.

Provider list

The following screen is the one where you define you dialing plan. You basically need to specify just a prefix for each account that you want to use. While on the road, call a local PSTN access number, then your destination number beginning with the prefix for the appropriate account.

Dial plans

For even a simpler way to call abroad family and friends, the service offer the ability to define personal local numbers for those contacts. Just add these numbers to your phone’s address book and you are ready to call. For the other contacts (that you don’t call that often) just dial a generic local PSTN access number.

Personal local numbers

At this moment the service offers local PSTN access numbers in 40 countries including United States (numbers in 48 states), most western and eastern European countries, Israel and a few others from Asia and Africa.

While in beta the service will be FREE for all users. After that, the service owner announced that will introduce several plans: a free one targeting individuals (ad-supported) and some commercial plans targeting mobile corporate users. The free accounts will not have the possibility to define personal local access numbers. The users of free accounts will have to dial a generic local PSTN access number or the toll free number.

For more information about this service please drop me a comment.