Thoughts on technology, investing, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Category: Software

Skype coming on strong

After hearing more and more buzz surrounding Skype, I finally downloaded the software to see what it was all about. As far as VoIP providers go, I think Skype has a great business model – free calls to existing Skype users, cheap rates to everyone else on a per minute basis. Unlike other VoIP providers that allow customers to simply plug in their existing phones, to this point Skype has relied on an all-computer setup. This worked for a set of users, but couldn’t really hit mainstream usage in that form. New developments may be changing that reality. Skype recently announced a strategic alliance with Motorola. The announced partnership goals:

The initial focus of the collaboration will be on co-marketing of new optimized Motorola ‘Skype Ready’ companion products, such as Bluetooth(R) headsets, dongles, and speakerphones, as well as delivery of the Skype Internet Telephony experience on select Motorola mobile devices.

Skype is not without its challenges though. Poor performance of both Skype and SkypeOut have been reported. Although this is to be expected with any newer technology (especially as all VoIP providers have documented issues), it will be interesting to see if Skype can make the leap from an an all computer based server to one more integrated with how people are currently familiar with making voice calls.

As far as my experience with the service, Skype really looks like vocal instant messaging. When you sign up, you select a username. This username then becomes your “phone number” in the network. Much like IM, another user either needs to know your username or look it up in a directory. Unfortunately, my own trials are incomplete, as i don’t know anyone using Skype yet!

Related resources:
Skype, Xandros Bundle VoIP, Linux
Skype to provide WiFi VoIP service to Motorola mobile devices

Study finds Windows more secure than Linux

Can it be true? Is a Windows server more secure than Linux? Common technical opinion tells us this cannot be. So, when I read this article from (and ), I was astounded.

Two Florida researchers presented their findings to an RSA Conference of computer-security professionals. Apparently, one was a Microsoft enthusiast, the other Linux. My first thought was that this was another Microsoft sponsored study, so that is obviously not the case. Comparing Windows Server 2003 and Red Hat Enterprise Server 3, their research computed a metric called days of risk described as “the period from when a vulnerability is first reported to when a patch is issued.” The researchers found that on average the Windows server configuration had just over 30 days of risk versus 71 days for the Red Hat configuration.

This is obviously going to be very controversial. Hopefully, though, more objective studies like this one will be performed to spark constructive debate on the topic.

Additional resources:
Linux fan concedes Microsoft is more secure
Study finds Windows more secure than Linux (Mikehall’s Embedded WebLog)
Windows More Secure Than Linux? (Say Anything)

Planning for Microsoft IIS 7

is planning to release Internet Information Server (IIS) 7.0 in 2006. VSLive has a first look at Microsoft’s next generation web server. The new version of IIS appears to be more modular, allowing specific components to be turned on or off as needed. Building on the component theme, Microsoft is also building APIs to allow for third-party development. Finally, IIS will now be fully integrated with and the entire .NET framework.

More details at Jon(e)sie.Net Blog and Fritz Onion’s blog.

Google Video is released as TV search service

Google released its TV search service on Monday. Google is currently beta testing the service and right now there is limited programming to search. Searching is available for some local ABC and NBS affiliates, PBS, C-SPAN, and Fox News. Interestingly, Google actually searches the closed captioning text of the TV programs in their databases. While Google searches TV, Yahoo takes a different approach and has a much wider variety of clips to search on any particular topic.

Alternative to Adobe Acrobat for printing to PDF

If youâ??re looking for an alternative to Adobe Acrobat for creating PDF documents, Pdf995 by Software995 is an outstanding choice. Iâ??ve been using it to create PDF documents as a print driver and it works seamlessly. The only drawback to the free version is that a sponsored ad will pop-up in an Internet Explorer window (even if you use Firefox) each time you print to PDF. But as a very clean print driver for creating PDF documents from Windows, I havenâ??t found it obtrusive. This is especially true when you consider the price!

RSS news readers

Iâ??m currently on a quest to find an RSS news feed reader. Iâ??ve simply been using Firefox to this point to manage my feeds, but Iâ??ve found Iâ??ve outgrown the basic functionality provided by the browser and its extensions. Iâ??ve just installed trial versions of FeedDemon and NewsGator Outlook version. Iâ??m debating whether to use a separate app or keep everything within Microsoft Outlook. As a heavy Outlook user, the integration makes sense. The problem is there are less of the really useful features included compared to the stand-alone applications. Specifically, I like the built-in browser functionality in FeedDemon as well as its watchlists and “news clipping” features.

FeedDemon is created by Nick Bradbury, the creator of TopStyle and Homesite. The usability of Homesite was outstanding, so I have high expectations for this product. After I pound on both these software products, Iâ??ll post a more detailed commentary.

I’ve also tried FeedReader, but it was woefully lacking features. If all you need is a basic feed reader (thatâ??s free), I guess this is a viable option. Iâ??d stick with using a browser over FeedReader though.

If anyone has suggestions on other great RSS feed readers, please let me know.