Category Archives: Product Reviews

Free 411 Services

Tired of paying for 411 service? A number of companies are offering free directory assistance free of charge, though users have to listen to advertisements – 800-FREE-411 and 800-411-METRO. According to 800-Free-411, operated by Jingle Networks Inc., phone carriers such as MCI can charge up to $3.49 for a similar service, while SBC and Sprint charge up to $2.49. Unfortunately, both services are limited to the US.

Kanguru BioSTOR

I came across an advertisement for Kanguru‘s BioSTOR, a USB 2.0 hard drive with built-in finger print reader that is used to provide access to the encrypted drive. According to Kanguru, there is no software to install (all the software is contained in the drive) and the data on the hard drive is encrypted and so remains protected even if the hard drive is removed from the device. Sounds like a great product, especially for a road warrior that needs to carry a lot of sensitive data around – except for one thing – according to TigerDirect’s website description, the encryption strength is only 40 bits. So what’s the point?

Zfone for Mac now available

Last month I blogged about Zfone. The Mac version is now out for public beta. A Windows version is expected for mid-April. Some aspects remind me of the PGPfone product of the last decade but updated to support the now common SIP protocol used by VOIP applications. However, unlike PGPfone, Zfone is not a standalone client but rather middleware that runs along side, and adds encryption capabilities, to a user’s already existing SIP softphone client.

In a related story, the VOIP and Gadgets Blog reports that Counterpath is set to release version 1.5 of its EyeBeam VOIP and video conferencing client – and one of the features is support for Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) streams to secure the voice and video connections. While it is still extremely difficult to find a VOIP service provider that supports SRTP encryption, hopefully making the capability available to a wide group of potential users will generate demand and lead to the wider availability of more secure VOIP services.

Google acquires Writely

In today’s Globe and Mail, Mathew Ingram discusses Google’s acquisition of Writely, a web-based word processor.

This acquisition obviously positions Google to offer an online competitive offering to Microsoft’s $400 Word offering. While there are some downsides to using Web-based applications (such as the fact that they stop working if your Internet access is down, and privacy issues when data is being saved somewhere else), there are also a number of advantages (no upgrades to perform, no bloated client-side application to run, off-site archiving, easier collaboration on documents with remote parties – Writely also offers version control/history functionality). According to the FAQ on Writely’s site, there are no current plans to add advertising. Instead, the current model appears to be free access to basic features and a subscription fee for premium features (such as PDF exporting – hey isn’t that built into WordPerfect and aren’t there free PDF publishing tools around?).

VOIP comes to Palm

If you own a Windows handheld or smartphone then you can choose from a number of different SIP software-based VOIP applications and connect to a Voice-over-IP service provider of your choice. You can even download and use Skype. Well, now a new service called mobiVOIP from Mantra Group hopes to bring VOIP to owners of Palm handhelds and smartphones. According to the company, with mobiVoIPâ„¢ patented technology, you can now use Bluetooth, Wifi, EVDO on your PDAs or Smartphones to call your friends. mobiVoIPâ„¢ also is been tested for low bandwidth connections like GPRS and IrDA. The product is currently in beta.

SMC All-in-one Travel Voice Gateway SMCWTVG

Talk about an all-in-one device. The new SMC Travel Voice Gateway (SMCWTVG) has almost everything a road warrior could ask for. It can be used as a wireless wi-fi (802.11b/g) access point, client or bridge. 1 FXS and 1 FXO interfaces (with RJ-11 connectors which can be connected to traditional telephones) for Voice-over-IP support. Address Translation (NAT), SPI Firewall and VPN pass-through. Expected to retail at US$199. Availability by end of Q1 from retail channels.

From HardwareZone and The VOIP Conversation.

RSA SecurID Security Tokens on mobile devices

RSA Security has announced that it is working on initiatives to permit a broad range of portable devices to serve as SecurID authenticators. This will mean that businesses won’t have to procure additional token devices and that employees and customers will not need to carry yet another stand-alone token. According to RSA Security’s press release:
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