All posts by agahtan

About agahtan

Alan Gahtan is a Toronto-based computer, information technology and e-commerce lawyer who loves technology. offers free long distance is offering free long distance to a couple of dozen international destinations for people who already have free US long distance or a bucket of minutes they can utilize for US long distance. No VOIP adapters or softphones required. Instead, callers make a phone call to an IOWA phone number and are then provided with a dial-tone to dial internationally. Right now the company appears to be trying to build up its user base. Next year we may see them introduce commercial messages that are played before a call is put through.

Identifying Splogs

Charles C. Mann writes in Wired about the growing problem of spam blogs. He reviews a number of techniques, suggested by David Sifry, founder of Technorati, of identifying potential splogs. These include:

  • short posts (50-100 words) with hyperlinks to lesser known websites as opposed to links to better known websites and more prominent blogs
  • search terms in the anchor links
  • odd-looking, super long URLs that are packed with keywords
  • multiple dashes in the URLs
  • use of .info domains (which are favored by sploggers because they are often offered free for the first year
  • Well, let me suggest another potential technique, one that would be very easy for the pay-per-click firms such as Google and Yahoo to implement.
    Continue reading Identifying Splogs

    hField Technologies’ Wi-Fire

    Road warriors may be interested in hField Technologies’ Wi-Fire – a USB wi-fi client with a built-in directional antenna designed to provide enhanced performance over longer distances. Similar features are promised by the Hawking Techbnologies HWU8DD Hi-Powered USB Wireless-G Adapter. Unfortunately, neither company is clear about how much RF power their devices put out.

    CRTC affirms its VOIP ruling

    Canada’s telecommunications regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), reaffirmed an earlier decision to continue to regulate what the major telephone companies can charge for VOIP services – at least until the incumbent telephone companies lose 25% of their market share. In doing so, it ignored the government’s desire to allow free market forces to play a bigger role. From the Globe and Mail.

    Philips VOIP841 Skype VOIP DECT Phone

    Philips is apparently joining Netgear, Belkin and others in announcing PC-less cordless Skpe-compatible handsets. However, unlike Netgear and Belkin, who have announced wi-fi based handsets, the Philips offering will be based on DECT standards. Sounds like that means it will operate like a home cordless phone but without the need for a PC. For more information, see PCWorld.

    I wonder when we will actually see these devices available for sale. In May and June, Netgear starting taking pre-orders for a June 30th launch. However, its now 2 months later and they are still not shipping.

    Not clear whether piggybacking on Wifi is illegal

    The current version of Califoria Assembly Bill 2415, as last amended on August 21, 2006, may make it much more difficult to prosecute someone who piggybacks off someone else’s wi-fi service that is not password protected.

    It states that:

    There is disagreement as to whether it is legal for someone to use another person’s WiFi connection to browse the Internet if the owner of the WiFi connection has not put a password on it. While Section 502 of the Penal Code prohibits the unauthorized access to computers, computer systems, and computer data, authorized use is determined by the specific circumstances of the access. There are also federal laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1030 et seq.), that prohibit the intentional access to a computer without authorization.