Boy, can you hear me now!

Everyone is familiar with the way telephone calls sound.  That particular ‘sound’ is created by significantly limiting the range of frequencies that are carried through the phone network.  A full range of sound, like you might hear from a CD, is approx. 20hz to 20khz.  It’s very likely that the sound system that you are listening to that CD through is not capable of reproducing that entire range, but that’s Ok since only young children can hear it anyway.

Almost every phone call you’ve ever heard narrowed that 20khz range down to only 8khz, less than 1/2 what we normally hear.  The brainiacs over at the open source PBX project FreeSWITCH have created a new codec that doubles that range to 16khz.  The result is a much more natual sounding voice.

FreeSWITCH.org :: Open Source Telephony Project

What do those little icons mean anyway?

I think I’m going to start an new catagory, ‘smartphone’. My trusty Audiovox SMT5600 is always by my side. I originally purchased it (used on eBay and unlocked from the tyrany of carrier chains) because it was the first, and only (at the time) phone that played Windows DRM protected content.

I use it on a daily basis to listen to podcasts on my commute. I have a cassette adapter for my truck and then switch to the ‘buds for the train ride. I can burn through a good 2+ hours of content on a daily basis. I’ve up’d the storage card to a 1GB device and although I get the occasional ‘jitter’ in playback it has worked well despite the fact that the specs for the phone indicate a limit of 512MB.

Lately I’ve greatly increased my use of the on-board camera. With the addition of an app from ShoZu I can now directly upload my phonecam shots to my Flickr account immediatly after taking the shot. No need to sync the phone, attach the pic to an email, or other thumb-wrentching exercises, just a simple ‘Yes’ to the ‘Send this to Flickr?’ prompt.

Sweet.

Anyway, what I really wanted to mention was a good description of several of the icons that appear on the status bar of the phone. This entry goes into some detail about the antenna and data connection type icons. I always suspected that the ‘G’ indicated a GSM data connection but now I know for sure.

Windows Mobile Team Blog : What Are These Arrows (and why are they still here)?

A New York State of mind…

I’m in serious like with my EZPass. Massachusettshas a similar program named “FastLane” but the devices were free from EZPass and the FastLane program wanted $20. Guess which one I got? 😉

One of my favorite immature things to do is to wave at all the people waiting in the toll booth lane as I zip through the aptly named “FastLane”. One of the greatest benefits of this device is that works in so many places; the Mass. Turnpike, NY Throughway, several bridges and tunnels in the NY metro area, right down to the parking garages at the Newark airport.

Sweet.

For those of you who are not familiar, EZPass is a small (deck of cards) device that is attached to the inside of you car’s windshield. When you pass through specially configured toll booth lanes an antenna mounted above the lane activates the device and reads a unique identifier. This id is then used to verify that you have an account in good standing, record your passage, and then indicate the status of your account via a traffic light like device in your lane. It then debts your account for the toll.

On a recent trip to New York state I noticed a difference in the indicator lights. In my home state of Massachusetts the green light is labeled ‘Thank you’. However, in the home of the ‘New York Minute’ the same green light is labeled simply ‘Go’. Just how much of a hurry do you have to be in for the time it takes to read ‘Go’ vs. ‘Thank You’ matters?

Maybe NY really does have the cold, soulless, ‘You talkin to me?’ mentality after all. Or maybe it’s just easier to read ‘Go’ because the letters are bigger when overlayed on a signal light. 😉

Everyone can hear me now… unless your in China

Well the big Skype news this week is that a group of Chinese engineers have managed to reverse engineer the protocol used by Skype’s VoIP client. This item has been extensively covered in the last few days so I won’t bother to flog that horse further. But I will mention a few things that haven’t been overly flogged.

I doesn’t take a great leap of logic to infer that the Chinese government was behind this effort. Skype is well known for it’s ability to traverse firewalls and the Chinese are well known for their ‘Great Firewall‘ so it was inevitable that they would try to crack the code. Skype allowed those behind the Great Firewall to contact the outside World and get access to all that pesky Truth that the government there is so desperately trying to protect them from. Now that they know how it works they can shore up the Great Firewall to block it.

[sigh] Continue reading

Digital Media and whatever else flows through my head…