Monday, July 23, 2007

Random News Stories

Is Google Entering the Mobile Device Market
For quite awhile, there have been rumors that Google will be joining the mobile device market. The strongest rumor was Google was collaborating with French telecom Orange.

According to the news story below, Google has confirmed that they are working on a mobile device.

News Story - Europe Google Execs Confirm Google Phone

The More Things Change, The More Things Stay the Same
In the pre-technology days, kids would use educational materials, such as the dictionary and scientific magazines (like National Geographic), to look for obscene things, like pictures of naked people and curse words, just for laughs.

In today's technology age, it looks like kids will still be kids. According to the news story below, Nigerian children are using their free laptops, which are supposed to be used to assist with their education, to look at pornographic material.

News Story - Nigerian Children Using Free Laptops to View Porn

Paging Gary Kasparov...
A Canadian team has invented what they call an unbeatable version of checkers (draughts). The team claims that the best that the player can do is draw with the computer.

News Story - Canadian Team Invents an Unbeatable Checkers Game

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The pros and cons of the iPhone

A few days ago, the iPhone has been released.

I'm surprised that people actually waited hours in line to get the phone. Based on my experience, it's best to wait until all the bugs and quirks are fixed.

I'm not surprised that, of all the people that were in line for the iPhone, the people that the news shows picked to interview were the stereotypical "nerds" - single, male, overweight, still live at home with their parents, spend hours on the Internet or a gaming system, and probably never had a significant other except in their fantasies. I guess interviewing the senior citizens or the glamour kids standing in line would shatter the average American's perception on who likes technology.

Enough with my commentary - back to the product evaluation. As with any product, there are pros and cons.

The Pros

  • It's a slick, pretty package - The design is nice looking, and so are the screens. If you haven't had a chance to see what it looks like, take a look at this comprehensive demonstration:

  • It gives the person the "all-in-one capability" - Not only does the iPhone allow you to make phone calls, but it also allows you to view videos, use it as a PDA, use it as a music player, and use it as a web browser. The screen is large enough to handle video capability.

The Cons

  • The touch screen - from what I've seen, the touch screen is very difficult to manipulate. I can also see problems with the touch screen with people who have dexterity issues (ex: tremors).

  • The cost - $595 USD is a steep price to pay for this all-in-one device.

  • The size - The iPhone is larger than typical mobile phones. While this isn't an issue for me, this could be an issue for someone who needs to save space.

  • The battery - I think this is one of the worst features - the battery is a rechargable, lithium-ion battery that cannot be replaced. So, if you're the type of person who recharges your phone every day, your iPhone won't work in less than a year. However, I think that when Apple releases the second generation of iPhone, they'll probably fix this because I don't think that someone wants to spend $600 on something that will be useless in a year.

  • The mobile phone network - I think this is also one of the worst features - iPhone has an exclusive deal with AT&T where AT&T is the carrier for iPhone. In order to get phone service through your iPhone, AT&T requires you to sign a two-year contract for their service, which includes sky-high cancellation fees. Also, according to Consumer Reports, AT&T/Cingular rank the worst out of all mobile providers. Some of the things that Consumer Reports mentioned about AT&T/Cingular - poor customer service, poor phone receiption, frequent dropped calls, and poor service range.

Would I get an iPhone right now? No. I think that there are too many cons for me to justify paying $595 USD for a gadget. HOWEVER, Apple is known to perfect their products after a few generations (I waited until 2006 to get an iPod, and I have absolutely no problems with it), and in a year or two, if the iPhone can be used with other wireless carriers, I may look into purchasing the iPhone.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who's 40 - ATM Machines!

It's hard to believe that, at one time, in order to do our banking, we had to go to a bank teller to perform our transactions, and we had to make sure that we did those transactions during "banker's hours" (9:00 AM - 4:00 PM). Now, we can perform our banking transactions 24/7 with the Internet and ATM machines.

Forty years ago, the first ATM machine was implemented in the United Kingdom at a north London branch of Barclays Bank. Back then, the machine only dispensed cash. The man credited for developing the first ATM machine at Barclays Bank is John Shepherd-Barron, OBE. ATMs really didn't catch on in the United States until about 5 years later, although Shepherd-Barron did present the idea to Miami bankers in 1967.

Apparently there is a controversy on who really invented the ATM machine. While the UK acknowledges Shepherd-Barron as the "inventor" of the ATM machine, the Smithsonian Institute actually credits American Don Wetzel as the "inventor" of the ATM machine. Web site ATM Machine, a company that sells ATM machines, actually did comprehensive research on who is the real inventor of the ATM.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Interesting Article on the Most Technically Proficient Generation

Animator Eddie Fitzgerald, author of the blog Uncle Eddie's Theory Corner, wrote a fantastic article on how technology impacted the latest generation, dubbed the "iGeneration" by Jorge Garrido. Even though the article is oriented toward how technology has impacted the animation business, the article contains an interesting social commentary on technology and the current generation.

While it's not a "geeky" article on technology topics, it's a good article to give the digithead an understanding on how his or her work impacts society and business.

Read the article here:
Is the Millenial Generation Different?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm wearing my "blue" Fedora...more Fedora info

Well, I was able to successfully install Fedora Core 5 on an old Pentium II laptop. I was able to configure my wireless network card on the laptop using ndiswrapper, but I get a kernel panic every time I try to connect to a network. (It c/b that I'm using a too new version of ndiswrapper.) I'm not worried about being able to use the network card because this was just an experiment anyway.

I was also able to successfully install Fedora Core 6 on my Centrino laptop as a dual-boot between Windows XP and Fedora. However, I didn't allocate enough space for what I wanted to do with it, so I'm somewhat limited to what I can install and what I can't install (I only allocated 5G space, and after installing the office tools and the software tools, it took up 3.5G space - eep!).

Anyhow, I wanted to post some helpful links for those of you who are converting to Fedora:

  • The Fedora Project's Presentations Site - While some of the presentations are aimed at people who will be doing kernel development for Fedora, there are some interesting presentations for end-users and Fedora administrators as well.

  • Fedora Core 6 Tips and Techniques - A very nice site giving some generic tips on how to work with Fedora Core 6.

  • Fedora Core Getting Started - Aimed at Windows users, this nice article explains the basics of Fedora. This article focuses on the end-user applications with Fedora.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with Fedora or other flavors of Linux.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Fedora Users: Help with the "make" command

In a few weeks, I'll be teaching a Linux Administration class, and I'll be preparing for my vendor-neutral Linux certifications as well. One of the experiments that I'm doing before class starts is installing Fedora Core 5 on a Pentium II machine. (I got it installed and working, but it was a pain to do!) I digress, though.

While I was working on my install, I was inspired to do a few posts on using Fedora. One of the most popular questions that I found on the Internet was people who were having trouble with using the make command. Particularly, when they use the make command, they get a Can't find kernel build files in .... type of error.

The reason why the Can't find kernel build files in .... occurs is the kernel-devel package is not installed on your machine. So, how to fix the error?

  • If your Fedora machine can connect to the Internet or you are on a network that has a yum server, use the command yum install kernel-devel.

  • If your Fedora machine cannot connect to the Internet, you will need to get the package and use RPM.

    This is the link to Fedora's RPM page

    • To get the actual kernel installed on your machine, run the command uname -r. You want to "jot down" the number that returns to you. For example, on my machine, the number that returned to me was 2.6.15-1.2054_FC5

    • You are going to need the kernel-devel-your kernel number returned from uname -r.rpm file. If this is not in your disk distribution, then you are going to have to find a machine with an Internet connection and download it.

    • Once you get the correct file, assumming that you are in the same directory as where you put the file, run the command rpm -ivh kernel-devel-your kernel number returned from uname -r.rpm

Hope this helps.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Anything You Say Can (and Will) Be Used Against You

Update: Read the latest story on the Wal-Mart worker who got fired for posting a joke on MySpace

With the latest explosion of social networking sites such as MySpace, FaceBook, and Friendster, loads of people are publishing lots of information about themselves for the entire world to see. Social networking sites have shrunk the size of the world because the information is visible to anyone that has access to the Internet. The positive is it introduces the person to people that one would never have the chance to meet otherwise. The negative is that anything that is posted on that page can haunt that person. It can affect the person's ability to get the job that they want, or worse, it can attract the wrong kind of person.

We can talk about the dangers of posting inappropriate material on a social networking site, but I think that the majority understand those dangers. However, many people don't understand how this can affect a future career. The focus of this post is going to be on how what you have posted on the Internet can affect your future career.

When you apply for a job, nearly all companies have you sign a release that permits the company to do a background check on you. While they are mainly performing criminal background checks on you, they are also scanning the Internet to find out about you as well. As many people are discovering, what they are publishing about themselves on the Internet may cost them a dream career or a spot in a prestigious school. Recently, there was a case where a young teacher who just finished her studies for her Master's degree was looking for a dream job in education. When the education board found a racy photo of her in a pirate's costume published on MySpace, the education board rejected her as someone who was "not appropriate" for the school environment. So, while the picture of you doing something silly while you're drunk or high may be funny to your peers, some person who makes decisions on who will work for a company may think that you are "irresponsible" and "not a good fit to the company".

It's not just social networking sites that people are searching - they are also searching blogs, viral video sites (like YouTube), and review sites to see what you are like. For example, a person who interviewed me about a year ago struck up a conversation about Doctor Who with me. I was puzzled - how did he know that I liked Doctor Who? Simple - he did a little research on me on the Internet and found that I wrote a review for a particular Doctor Who DVD that was published on numerous sites on the Internet!

Because of the power of the Internet, people need to be careful with what they say and do. You may be careful with what you publish on the Internet about yourself, but what about what others publish about you? For example, a tape or photos featuring you in a compromising position may find its way on YouTube or another web site. Don't believe me that someone can post things about you? Just ask former American Idol contestant Antonella Barba. Granted, it got her publicity, but I don't she really appreciated someone posting a picture of her sitting on a toilet bowl looking like she is "doing her business".

The bottom line - you need to be aware of what you say and do. If you don't want the world to see it or hear it, don't do it. If you don't publish it, someone else will. Just ask Antonella Barba or the kid who made a film of himself pretending to be a Jedi Knight.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Things to Note When Creating Training Presentations

Regardless of the role that you play in IT, you will have to create training presentations.

  • If the publisher of a textbook hasn't created these for the instructor as material to use when teaching information from the book, IT instructors create training presentations all the time.

  • With US post-secondary institutions putting more emphasis on enhancing students' communications skills, IT students will need to do this for their coursework.

  • Unless the IT professional works for a very large company who has its own training department, the IT professional has this responsibility as well as his/her other duties.

Training presentations are very useful tools to have to help the listener engage other senses while you are lecturing on a subject. However, a number of people still miss the mark when creating presentations. There are a number of reasons why:

  • Wrong Color Scheme

  • Too Much Information

  • Font that's difficult to read

  • Distracting animations and music

  • No animation and activity

How should you create a good training presentation? Here are some tips that I've learned based on my own experience as a student and an instructor:

  • Don't use white or a very dark color for the entire background color if you are presenting from a projector on a screen.

    kiosk-style: A presentation that will be viewed on a person's own machine, rather than presented through a projector on a screen.

    While white as an entire background is perfectly acceptable for "kiosk-style" presentations, a white background has a tendency to "glare" when presenting from a projector on a screen, and some people think that a pure white background is harder on the eyes. On the other hand, using a very dark color as a background (such as black) causes problems for visually impaired audience members (see the point "Be aware of your audience's restrictions" for details). Use a softer white or a softer light color as the background.

  • Use complementary colors (Colors that are opposite on the color wheel)

    Using complementary colors in your presentation helps the material stand out better. If you are not aware of the color wheel, see this site or this site for an illustration and a general explanation of the color wheel.

  • Don't write your whole script on a slide; use "headlines" to highlight the important points of the topic

    If you write your whole script on a slide, your presentation loses its impact. The first thing your audience will say is, "I know how to read! I don't need you to read it for me!". "Headlines" or "bullet points" highlight the important points of what you are saying. The audience will see the point, and listen to you for more details.

  • Choose a consistent background to use throughout the presentation

    One of the most distracting things in a presentation is a presentation that uses a different background for each slide. Using a consistent background, such as a company logo or the same border, looks cleaner and more professional.

  • If you are using transition animation, choose one style of transition animation throughout the presentation

    Another distracting thing in a presentation is different transition animations for each slide. Using one type of a transition animation, such as a "flip to next page", looks cleaner and professional.

  • Use a Sans-Serif font, and don't use anything under 16 point size (unless this presentation is "kiosk style")

    A psychology study shows that sans-serif style fonts (like Arial or Helvetica) were easier to read than non-sans-serif fonts (like Times New Roman). Try to avoid using the "graphic-type" fonts because the machine where you will be doing the presentation may not have the drivers for that font, and some of those fonts are very difficult to read.
    If you are doing a presentation where you will be projecting it to a screen for an audience, don't use a font under 16 point size. It's too difficult to read from a projection. However, if you are doing a "kiosk-style" presentation, you can use a smaller font.

  • Keep the font size consistent on each slide

    Again, this is to make the presentation look cleaner and more professional. If the font size jumps too much from screen to screen, the viewer's eyes will need time to adjust.

  • Don't have a completely static presentation; have a few multimedia types embedded in the presentation

    transition animation: An animation that happens when going from one slide to another, such as a "flipping pages" effect.

    Completely static presentations with absolutely no multimedia (pictures, graphics, animation, music, clips) are absolutely boring! Here are some ideas:

    • Have a few pieces of multimedia in the presentation that has to do with the topic at hand. For example, if you are talking about how a network architecture transmits data, you can put a small cartoon that illustrates how it works in the presentation.

    • Use the company logo on each slide in the same place.

    • Use a transition animation.

    • Use a consistent animation to help emphasise the important points of your speech, such as a point appearing when you click on the mouse button.

  • On the other hand, don't use multimedia for the sake of using multimedia

    Completely static presentations are boring, but over-the-top presentations are downright annoying and look unprofessional. Some people use multimedia for the sake of using multimedia in their presentation, such as putting in material like clip art or "cute" films and songs that have nothing to do with the presentation. While one slide with a funny picture may get a chuckle out of the audience, 10 slides with funny pictures will lose them.

  • Proofread the material

    Spelling errors, grammar errors, and sentences that don't make sense are things that can kill your presentation. Sometimes it's hard to proofread your own material because you have been viewing it for so long. Try to recruit someone, especially someone with good spelling and grammar skills, to review the material.

  • Be aware of your audience's restrictions

    Not all of your audience will be able to see colors perfectly, or have 20/20 vision, or speak your native language fluently. Create your presentation with restrictions in mind. For example:

    • According to this study from Stephen F. Austin University, elderly viewers have a difficult time viewing a light-on-dark presentation color scheme versus a dark-on-light presentation color scheme. If your audience is older, choose a dark-on-light presentation color scheme.

    • According to a guide from on accessibility, visually impaired audience members have difficutly viewing certain fonts and certain color schemes. This reference guide will give you some pointers on what color schemes and fonts to use if you have visually-impaired audience members.

    • If you have audience members that are color-blind, be aware of the schemes that you choose. That does not mean that you are not allowed to use that color, such as blue, but be aware that the color-blind person doesn't see that color the way others do.

    • Be aware that certain animations, like flashing screens, can trigger epileptic seizures in people who have photosensitive epilepsy. (Personally, I wouldn't do flashing screens anyway unless I want to annoy my audience)

    • Avoid using "slang" in your presentation.

A Note on Using Multimedia

  • Be aware of the type of multimedia that you use. For example, can the machine where you will be doing the presentation support the media type that you are using? If you embedded a fantastic QuickTime file that helps demonstrate your point, but the machine doesn't have a QuickTime player installed, it will impact your presentation.

  • Be aware of the rules of using public domain multimedia and copyrighted media.
    According to the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), "fair use" for copyrighted songs and films allows you to play up to 30 seconds of the material. However, be aware that some media hosting sites are airing on the side of caution and not allowing any publication of presentations that even use 1 second of copyrighted material.
    If a graphic or picture is copyrighted, you will need to follow the rule from the owner of the copyright. In some cases, the owner will allow you to use it as long as the owner is credited. In other cases, you may not be allowed to use the graphic or picture at all.

Here are two other links that provide more information:
The 7 Sins of Visual Presentations
Tips for Effective Visual Presentatiosn

Do you have any tips to share? Post them here!

Monday, April 30, 2007

More on Verizon v. Vonage

Here are some updates on the Verizon v. Vonage saga:

  • On April 24th, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Vonage can continue to sign up new customers while Vonage is appealing the patent infringement loss to Verizon.

  • While the appeal is pending, Vonage plans to continue paying a 5.5 percent royalty rate on all future sales to an escrow account, and it has posted a $66 million (USD) bond

Even with these findings, Vonage's operations are still in trouble. Vonage has admitted in an Security and Exchange commission filing that they began to lose customers before the ruling, and all the legal trouble could lead to bankruptcy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo! Maybe not.....(Verizon v. Vonage)

For those of you who are not familiar with the case, Verizon sued Vonage for patent infringement regarding their VoIP technology and won the case. Does that mean that Vonage is a dead company? It's not dead yet, but it's on life support. A judge in an April 6th hearing found that Vonage can still provide services to their existing customers, but they cannot acquire new customers. Even with that finding, an appeals court can override that ruling. Even though as of now Vonage can support their existing customers, it's possible that Vonage may cease operations.

What if you or your small business is an existing Vonage customer? How can you prepare for a potential Vonage collapse? The good news is time is on your side. You have time to evaluate your VoIP needs and choose another provider.

This article from VoIP News is written for IT professionals on how to prepare for a potential Vonage collapse. This article highlights how to plan for choosing a new provider and what to consider when you decide to make the switch.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'm back!

I'm back on the blog! I'm sure you're happy to hear that! :)

I haven't been posting any commentaries or information because there were and are a lot of things going on right now with me. I couldn't dedicate the time to the site or the blog as much as I wanted to. Now that I have a little more time now, I can start posting again, and I can work on the web site as well.

Wow - there's been so much IT news since I last posted: the mistake in Alaska where all the records in the government's systems were deleted; the court's decision against Vonage (Verizon alleged that Vonage used Verizon's VoIP technology and didn't give Verizon credit); the launch of Microsoft Vista; and more.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Random Technology Thoughts

  • Right now, I'm installing Fedora Core 5 on a Dell Pentium II 128M RAM machine. Why? I'm doing an experiment to see how Fedora Core 5 will act on an older machine. No, I'm not that big of a geek. :) I'm going to be writing an article on what to do with older machines, and I'm trying to verify some information before I write it.
    Right now, the install is very painful - I'm installing the Office and Productivity modules and some of the Development and Web Server modules. Once it's installed, I'll see how the response time is for using it.

  • Does this look like a bomb to you? How about an LED image of these characters sticking up their middle fingers hanging in various areas of town?

  • I'm reading IEC white papers about FiOS and IPTV, and the song that's popping in my head is Video Killed the Radio Star. From what I've been reading, these technologies (along with YouTube) will probably "kill" standard television as we know it. I'll be writing an article about that as well.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do You REALLY Need to Upgrade?

All the talk of the upcoming release of Windows Vista inspired me today. My question is not necessarily related to upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista. Rather, my question is do I really need to upgrade my technology at all? For example, should I upgrade from my Centrino laptop to a dual-core? Do I really need to upgrade?

Making the decision to upgrade your software or hardware required analysis. You analyzed:

  • The level of work that you did with what you had (do you just use your computer to surf the 'net and read e-mails, or do you write graphic-intensive applications)

  • Whether it really harms your productivity (do I really need to be able to play solitaire at a faster speed, or is it taking too long to create and test my Flash cartoons?

  • Whether you had enough money in your budget

  • Whether the company decided to no longer support the product because the software life cycle has run out

Based on your analysis, you made your decision to upgrade or stay the course.

Now, software companies are making it easy for us to decide. Software life cycles are shorter now, and most companies are developing their newer, supported versions around the latest hardware requirements. In some cases, if you need to upgrade your software, you may have to upgrade your hardware as well. I can't begrudge the software companies from shortening the life cycles. Trust me - it's annoying to have to support a software version that's 7 years old. However, from an end-user perspective, it's bank-breaking because as an end-user, it's possible that I have to upgrade my hardware because the newer version of the software can't run on what I have, even though my hardware may only be about 2 years old!

When it came to upgrading, I usually followed the "2-year rule" for software and "4-year rule" for hardware. I upgraded my software versions every 2 years, and I upgraded my hardware every 4 years. Now, my rule will have to change - I may have to upgrade everything every 2 years. The bright side with the hardware is a lot of the free operating systems (like the Linux distros) will run very well on older machines, so at least I can still prolong the usage life of my machines. Now if more software and drivers are available for Linux, I can completely convert.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Could the Communications Decency Act Get Revised?

See the latest updates on the case in the comments....

The Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 protects minors (people under 18 years of age) from obscene electronic communication. Another part of the CDA deals with libel and slander on the Internet. According to the CDA, if libelous or slanderous speech is published on a web site, the web site operator is not liable for the information if it is posted by someone. For example, if someone goes on the forum on my web site and publishes slanderous statements about a figure, I am not liable for what that poster said (although the victim can pursue legal action against the poster). There is a defamation lawsuit currently happening that may change that.

To summarize the case, Todd Hollis is suing Tasha Joseph, the web operator of, for defamation of character. According to the case, an anonymous poster posted false, slanderous comments about Mr. Hollis, and Ms. Joseph refused to remove the comments when she was asked by Mr. Hollis to do so. It was recommended to Mr. Hollis to post a rebuttal comment or to post his own web site countering the charges.

John Seigenthaler Sr. lost a legal battle with Wikipedia over a "prankster" posting on Wikipedia that he (Mr. Seigenthaler) was involved in the assasination of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. This is the case that actually added the section (section 230) to the CDA absolving web site operators of liability from users posting information on their sites

Although there is a precedence that was already set regarding libelous information published on a web site, the lawyers for Mr. Hollis are finding holes in the law protecting web site operators. If the case is found in Mr. Hollis's favor, this could change how web site operators maintain their sites.

My Take
As a web site operator, what do I think of this situation?

The intention of Section 230 of the CDA was supposed to help promote the freedom of legal speech on the Internet. I can understand the fear of changing Section 230 because America is becoming a more litigious society. If someone decided to post an opinion of a product, service, or person on a web site, the person being critiqued could "cry foul" and sue the web site operator and the poster for defamation. Although the lawsuit would probably be dismissed because the person was expressing an opinion and not stating comments as fact, it would still cost the web site operator money and time to fight the legal battle.

However, I have two concerns regarding Section 230:

  • Even though I am not liable for what someone publishes on my site, whether it's on my forums or on this blog, I still try to practice due diligence by monitoring comments before I publish them, reviewing requests for user IDs for the forum, and monitoring the forum for inappropriate posts. There are other web site operators that perform the same due diligence to prevent situations like this. The problem is not all web site operators practice due diligence. Because they are not legally obligated to monitor third-party content on their site, they don't have to spend the time reviewing the published material. As a result, situations like Mr. Hollis's occur.

  • My concern is the double standard regarding how published media is treated. According to Section 230, Ms. Joseph is not responsible for what someone posts about others because it was published on the Internet. If Ms. Joseph was a publisher of print media (a newspaper or a magazine), and if the same information about Mr. Hollis was published in the print media, she is liable for what was published, and she can be sued for libel.

If the case is found in Mr. Hollis's favor, this could cause a review of the Section 230. If Section 230 is revised, it will make web site operators more aware of what gets published on their web site. While, in general, I think that Section 230 does need to be revised, the only concern that I have is that it could trigger frivolous lawsuits because someone didn't like the opinion that someone else published.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Raketu - the next big thing?

For More Information

 Raketu Web Site
 From VoIP News: Making A Raketu About Peer-to-Peer Voice and Everything Else

I've been reading in a few VoIP journals about how Raketu may give VoIP (particularly Skype) a run for it's money. I decided to take a look at the product myself.


  • Raketu is a peer-to-peer service that provides voice calling, messaging and other services over the Internet

  • Unlike other P2P software, Raketu does not install additional spyware, malware, or adware

  • Unlike other P2P software, Raketu does not use supernodes in their architecture (Raketu's documentation on their architecture)

  • Raketu is looking to be an all-in-one media center. It either provides or is planning on providing the following services:

    • Podcasts

    • Video player

    • SMS text messaging

    • Social networking services

    • Free setup of your own radio show (best way I can explain it is YouTube for radio)

System Requirements

  • Microsoft Windows 98/ME/2000/XP - Note that RakOut does not work for Windows 98. Raketu may work on Windows 2003, but there is nothing in their documentation that indicates that they support that platform.

  • Install file is 3.4MB; Installed product is 11.5MB

  • If you have an Intel-based Mac, you can use Raketu if you are running the BOOTCAMP software on your machine

  • Raketu is not supported on Linux, although according to their site, they are working on a Linux version of the software

Things I Liked

  • No supernodes and no additional software installed on your machine.

  • Interfaces will all the major IMs. One of the things that I liked about this product is it integrated my IMs into Raketu, so I don't need to run all my IMs while I'm running Raketu. It lets me know whether I received any messages from my other IMs.

  • Free calls to anywhere in the US and up to 40 countries with limitations. You need to have at least $0.01 in your account.

  • The "all-in-one" package is a good concept. I, personally, don't like to have a ton of applications open when I'm trying to do my work. Keeping everything in an "all in one" package makes it easy for me.

  • I can send SMS text messages without having my phone with me. However, I do have issues with how it works (see the "needs improvement" section).

  • Good tutorial movies to explain how to use the software.

Things that Need Improvement

  • According to their published rates, they charge you approximately $0.61/minute when you make a call to a toll-free number. I didn't see anything in their support pages nor do I know of any FCC regulations to explain why they charge for toll-free calls.

  • I had trouble playing podcasts using Raketu. Raketu reads the RSS file and lists the podcasts from the service to which I subscribed, but when I try to play the podcasts, it doesn't play because the URL is malformed (it drops the address). In Raketu's defense, this could be a "bug" in the RSS feed they received from StationCaster (the provider) rather than their parser. I reported this to Raketu support.

  • The SMS interface needs work. Before you start using the SMS messaging services, you have to set up the address in your contact list. You can't just enter the destination when you send a message like you can when you are using rakOut.

Additional Notes

  • Raketu is not intended to replace your existing phone service. You can only make outbound calls, and you cannot make emergency calls (ex: calling 911 in the US) in this system.

  • If the destination number (the number your calling to) has caller ID, the number that appears in the caller ID is 555-555-5555.

  • When you are talking on the telephone using rakOut, there is about a 1-2 second communication delay

  • For their phone service, when you pre-pay, the balance expires after 180 days.

  • I'm really excited about their "free radio show" service.


Raketu has a lot of potential. The "all in one" process integration concept and the P2P architecture that they use is very good.

However, I think that they tried to release too much too soon, and it shows in the product. The interface is clunky and inconsistent (some functions stay within Raketu, while other functions open your web browser or your e-mail software), and some of the additional features that are there, like the picture viewer, are too basic to be considered as a valuable substitute for other packages.

Do I think that it's a viable competitor to VoIP? Not yet, because you can only make outgoing calls, but you cannot receive incoming calls. Do I think that it's a good product? This is a brand-new product, and there are going to be some growing pains, but I do think that it is a good product overall, and it does have the potential to be amazing.