Friday, February 24, 2006


Living a cheaper life without Telecom Italia

I cannot express my joy enough: I finally got rid of Telecom Italia!!!

It has been a long project but it went a lot smoother than I expected. I renewed  my ADSL contract with SiADSL last year and paid a one time fee of 99 euro to get a new line installed without Telecom Italia.

I spent a lot of time this autumn evaluating the various VoIP technologies. My main requirement was that I wanted a solution that did not require a PC that was always one. That ruled out most Skype based solutions as they integrate with the Skype client on a PC. This LinkSys cordless Skype phone was a possible compromise as it has a separate base station that I could connect to a server but leave the phone and docking station in a separate room.

After careful consideration I decided to go for a device that supports SIP:

  • It is a standard protocol, and not a proprietary one like the one used by Skype that may change from one version to the next
  • There are many VoIP providers that supports the standard
  • There is a wide range of hardware, from the simple VoIP gateway I got to large SIP systems, that supports the standard

The next step was choosing the VoIP provider.
Gizmo/SIP Phone offers dial in numbers in the USA but not in Italy. I was about to go for SIP Phone anyway when a colleague, Mirco, pointed me to Skypho. I used it for several months using the X-Lite client software and the quality is as good or better than the other options; Skype, Gizmo, MSN, ...

But what really impressed me about Skypho is all the features they offer:

I did not get my VoIP gateway until a few weeks ago because of shipping problems (but more about that later on crap and crapability).

I cut the Telcom line in January and so far so good: I am a very happy Skypho client. Cool Or What?


Google Pages

Google Pages is  very simple and intuitive to use. Best of all; the free hosting service does -not- automatically insert loads of advertisements like many other free hosting services do.

No technical knowledge required as you see what the finished page will look like every step along the way:

The editor is simple to use and lets you choose from a set of templates and layouts without having to write a single line of code:

The online editor solution offers one big advantage over the work offline and upload to the server option: you can edit your site any where, any time. Google has a -lot- of bandwidth and takes cares of backups so it beats hosting a site at home over a ADSL connection.

I guess they will offer custom domains like they do for gmail soon.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Full motion video on Dutch postal stamps

These 0.39 euro stamps issued by Dutch post look great:

They are made with lenticular technology developed by Lenticular Technology:    

Lenticular is a specialised printing process that can show depth, motion, HD video, film or combinations of these.  The lenticular material is made up of tiny ridges or lenses (hence the name "lenticular" printing). We take raw images and process them through a computer algorithm, which matches the lens surface of the lenticular material. When the two work together it enables the image to be replayed back to you.

Check out their gallery for more examples.

The technology would be great for making personalized stamps. Imagine sending a Christmas card with a short video of the family!

Via Core77 Design Blog

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Monolith Premium MX7000: the indestructible MP3 player

Tired of MP3 players that break if you sit down with them in your pocket? Then the MX7000 should be the right thing for you:

The Monolith Premium is fused into a solid 1.5mm aluminium casing (called X-Protect); not stuck together with glue or screws – ‘fused’, in a unique manufacturing process pioneered by the manufacturer, Estar Laboratories. This makes the Monolith Premium practically indestructible; we have run the player over with a car, shot the player with a BB gun, thrown the player against a brick wall – it just doesn’t break.

The MX7000 plays MP3, WMA, OGG, WMA DRM files and has a FM tuner/recorder.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Ariel Atom

The Ariel Atom looks mean:

And it is mean. Check out the video of the Top Gear review by Jeremy Clarkson as it gives you a feel of what the go-kart car can do. It is powered by a super charged Honda i-VTEC 2.0 in a very light body which gives it 3 times the horsepower per kilo compared to a Porsche Carrera 911!

Via []


Gmail for your own domain

This is great news; Google is offering Gmail for users at any domain like You no longer have to worry about running a 24x7 operation to have e-mail up and running for your users as Google takes care of everything. Users have access to their e-mail any time any where and you don't have to worry about end users loosing all their e-mail due to client hardware failure or a virus:

This special beta test lets you give Gmail, Google's webmail service, to every user at your domain. Gmail for your domain is hosted by Google, so there's no hardware or software for you to install or maintain.

   Gmail - 2 gigabytes of storage and search tools that help users find information fast.
   Control Panel - Easily manage user accounts, aliases and mailing lists.

Cool Or What?

Via eXtensible Mind Lounge

Wednesday, February 8, 2006


Cool tool: Automatically compress attachments with bxAutoZip

bxAutoZip automatically compresses attachments in Outlook and Outlook Express. A great way to save space in your inbox and bandwidth. bxAutoZip is free for personal use:

bxAutoZip is a dedicated add-in utility for Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express which automatically and independently compresses any files attached to an e-mail message.

Compression dramatically reduces the size of e-mail attachments, allowing much faster transfer times. The result is significant savings in time and money for both the sender and the recipient.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006


Send a secret message to your Valentine

The Binary To Text conversion tool lets you convert text to binary and back again:


Say Happy Valentines Day to a nerd the binary way

Monday, February 6, 2006


The Cool Or What link blog

Check out the Cool Or What link blog  to see the best items on my blog roll that I never posted about. I come across a lot of interesting items on my blog roll that I don't post about. It is a shame, so I have decided to something about it and create a link blog.

I will keep the link blog separate from my blog for now. Cool Or What will continue to have a post or so a day but the link blog will have more traffic (~10 posts per day?). It is an experiment and the future of the link blog is not clear to me yet. I may keep it separate forever or integrate it in Cool Or What using a dedicated category.

I spent the weekend considering the different formats:

  • One daily post with 10-20 links. Many bloggers do this but I don't like it: it is difficult to find interesting items in a long list with short description. Worst of all; I cannot mark items I want to study/post later
  • Repost the data as it is with clear links to the source blog. Scobleizer did this on his linkblog for a while. I like the approach as a "best of the best feeds" but I decided not to do it. Many people was upset with Scobleizer for "stealing" their contents and I guess I would suffer the same fate.
  • Summary posts: short intro with the key points with a clear link to the original contents. A bit more work than a complete re-post but it keeps the posts short and quick to read. I have used this approach for the items I have posted so far.

Cool Or What?

Sunday, February 5, 2006


Star Trek: New Voyages

Dedicated fans have created several episodes of Star Trek; New Voyages that can be downloaded online (with DVD cover of course):

The original Star Trek set out on a five-year mission that network execs cut
short in 1969. Now a new confederation of amateur Kirk worshippers and studio
renegades is repairing the space-time continuum and finishing the job.
The great people helping Marshall make New Voyages have grown more proficient with each episode. But it's still obvious at times that this is the work of enthusiastic amateurs. As with almost all fan films, the weakest element of New Voyages has been the acting. For this third episode, the New Voyages staff has worked hard to improve things. Cawley lacks Shatner's vulnerability, but he has a little of his swagger, enough to be passable in the role of Captain Kirk. And there's a certain verisimilitude when the guy playing Chekov is, well, Chekov.

Via Wired 12|2005

Saturday, February 4, 2006


Scott eVest 5 year anniversary sale

Scott eVest celebrates the 5 year anniversary with a 50% sale on many items like the cool SeV Gadget Tie:

It is 100% silk and has a has a hidden pocket for carrying a credit card, key, money or other small items.

Thursday, February 2, 2006


Suit Sat: A space suit turns sattelite

Astronauts on the International Space Station will throw an old spacesuit overboard tomorrow, Friday 3rd:

The SuitSat has been equipped with batteries, a radio and internal sensors to measure temperature and battery power. It will transmit its condition as it circles the earth.  The radio message can be heard using a police scanner or a ham radio tuned to to 145.990 MHz FM.

Unlike a normal spacewalk, with a human inside the suit, SuitSat's temperature controls will be turned off to conserve power. The suit, arms and legs akimbo, possibly spinning, will be exposed to the fierce rays of the sun with no way to regulate its internal temperature.

"Will the suit overheat? How long will the batteries last? Can we get a clear transmission if the suit tumbles?" wonders Bauer. These are some of the questions SuitSat will answer, laying the groundwork for SuitSats of the future.

You can track the progress of SuitSat online and get more background information on NASA.


Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 preview

Internet Explorer 7 looks pretty cool judging by the screen shots and the new features

  • Tabbed browsing with “quick tabs“

  • Better security

  • Integrated search bar with configurable search engine

  • RSS support

I cannot tell for sure though. It only runs on Windows XP so gives me the following error message when I try to install it on Windows 2003: "Your operating system is not supported by this package" :-(

Via [Better Living Through Software]