The Professor's Notes

Where my thoughts and your eyes (and now ears!) collide

Real Tech for Real People, Episode 52: LIVE!

Posted by Steve Brady On September - 21 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

For Episode 52 we had a special event–Tony was in PA, so we recorded our first episode together.  I drove up to University Park, dragging the equipment with me, and Tony and I sat down with my brother in front of a “live audience” and talked tech.

Sadly, one of the problems with moving the equipment around, and doing something for “the first time” is that I make “first time mistakes” and this was no different.  I tried to use the Zoom H4 recorder, but ran out of room.  Luckily we caught it early, but sadly you will hear the difference.

Let us know what you think of the podcast, though, and please, share it with your friends!


    Live From Penn State
    WINDOWS TIP: Spread a Windows desktop image across two monitors:
  • Follow these steps in to display a large image across multiple monitors:
  • Right click on the background and select Personalization.
  • Click on Desktop Background
  • Select a background image that is at least as wide as the combined resolution of both of your monitors. For Example, I have two 19â€� monitors that have a resolution of 1280×1024. I need an image of 2560×1024 or greater so that it can be displayed across both monitors.
  • Next, this is the step that most users would never even think about trying: Select the Tile picture positioning option as shown below. This is the only option that will display your background image across multiple monitors.

Apple Store to Re-accept Google Voice Apps–is it too late?

Posted by Steve Brady On September - 10 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

According to various sources (my favorite being MacRumors for this story) Apple has reversed their previous (non) decision to dis-allow any Google Voice apps on the iPhone. The question is: is it too late?

I was a generally happy iPhone user when I first got my 3G. I was also a very happy Google Voice user (still am) and was quick to install the Google Voice apps when they arrived. I became rather reliant on the app, since the Google Voice number is the only one I give out. Then the app disappeared. I was not happy.

So I joined the ranks of people who “jailbroke” their phones. I only jailbroke when I had a need–and for me that need was Google Voice access. I then found the use of settting up a 3G wifi hotspot using the MyWi app.

Of course, as I mentioned in my previous post, I recently switched over to the Android OS and the Samsung Captivate and again, part of the move was the tight integration with the Google Voice service. There are many other useful applications that make the Android attractive to me, but certainly the Google Voice app was a significant draw.

I am glad to see that Apple is letting Google Voice back in, but I am not sure that it will mean much any more. Will it be enough to bring people back into the fold? Will they reconsider switching to the Android, because Apple is being (potentially) more open, or has Apple lost some people–perhaps permanently?

As reporters say when they have nothing else to say…. “Only time will tell…”

So Apple, and TUAW agree with Me: Google Voice is not VOIP

Posted by Steve Brady On August - 22 - 20092 COMMENTS

A few posts back I wrote that Google Voice won’t “Kill Skype” because unlike Skype, Google Voice isn’t what we all know and love as a VOIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, system. My argument really centered around the customer experience of the tool.

Well, TUAW and Apple apparently agree:

Apple goes on to agree with AT&T that the carrier did not engage on any level regarding the GV apps.

Question 4. Please explain any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications that Apple has approved for the iPhone. Are any of the approved VoIP applications allowed to operate on AT&T’s 3G network?

Apple does not know if there is a VoIP element in the way the Google Voice application routes calls and messages, and whether VoIP technology is used over the 3G network by the application. Apple has approved numerous standard VoIP applications (such as Skype, Nimbuzz and iCall) for use over WiFi, but not over AT&T’s 3G network.

As we noted in some of our original coverage of the GV controversy, Google Voice is not a VoIP service in the same way that Skype or Gizmo are, since it continues to use the cell network for voice connectivity to the device. Apple’s response to the FCC inquiry shows that they are on the same page.

So there you have it.

Simply put:  They aren’t the same thing!

I am reminded of the old BASF motto “They don’t make the things we use, they make the things we use better.”  That fits Google Voice to a “T.”

I have read over the past few months many articles warning that Skype (and even the cell phone) is doomed, and that Google Voice will replace it.  Most (like How Google Voice can kill Skype ) simply miss the point.  Google Voice is not a phone service.  It is not VOIP.  Google Voice connects existing phone numbers through a Universal number.  But it does not actually make the call for you through the internet.

Skype, as a VOIP (or Voice Over Internet Protocol) actually makes the call through the internet.  I use a computer (which may be  a desktop, a notebook/netbook, or even a cell phone that has WiFi) to make the call.  And yes, Skype lets me receive calls by allowing me to “purchase” a SkypeIn number, and allows me through SkypeOut to call real numbers.  But it is still VOIP.  I am calling from a computer, using the internet to make the call.

Google Voice doesn’t do that (although Google Talk might someday fill that gap).  Google Voice lets me route calls to and from my existing phones using my existing service providers.  Therefore, I can send an receive calls using my cell phone and AT&T, my work phone through Verizon, my home phone (again, Verizon) and yes, even my “SkypeIn” phone number.  But it, in and of itself, isn’t providing the call.

So I ask you–why can’t these “techy people” seem to figure this out?

NB:  Google has added voice and video chat to gMail, which does target Skype.  And because I can can send and receive SMS through a web interface, I can step away from certain aspects of my cellphone (at the loss of portability).  But at it’s heart Google Voice is still more of a turbo charging kit for your phone use than a replacement.

The Google Voice Podcast (Recorded ON Google Voice)

Posted by Steve Brady On March - 12 - 20091 COMMENT

Aaron Aiken called me, and we talked about the Google Voice experience.  We talked about the experience on each side of the phone-call.  He called, and I ignored, and received his voice mail.

The important thing to remember here is, our conversation was recorded ON Google Voice, using the re

Needless to say we enjoyed the experience–it’s a typical Google experience!

We did spend a few minutes talking about our various websites.

To learn more about my son’s water polo camp, or to have him design a custom branding image, go visit

Aaron has a couple of websites worth visiting.  Check out his personal site.  He and his wife have a good site going, and worth checking out, especially helping out with financial issues!

Finally, Aaron is beginning a new business of his own, so go check

First Look at “Google Voice”

Posted by Steve Brady On March - 12 - 20091 COMMENT

I have been a user of Grand Central for about a year now, and have loved it. It lets me give out one number, and route calls to any, or all, or my phones simultaneously.  When I answer one phone, it connects the call to that number.

It provided not only a voicemail system, but an opportunity to record a call, and even download the voicemail or recording for later use (even as podcasts!)   Oh, and just like a regular answering machine in your house, there is an option to screen the call, listen as it records the voicemail, and jump in if it is “critical.”

Well, Google bought them (a while ago) and just today announced they are remaking it as “Google Voice.”

I have just converted to the new account, and Aaron over on Twitter (@aaronaiken) politely tested it with me.  He called, and I let it go to voice mail.  You can listen to the actual audio file below.

I watched as it first delivered the mail to the webpage inbox, and was immediately available to listen to, and download.

Then, after 2 minutes, provided the coolest new feature:


Yup, you read that right.  His voicemail was converted to text.  The darker the text in the display, the more confident the automated conversion system was of the words.  Here is a graphic of the actual voicemail.

First txt from Voicemail in Google VoiceAs you can see it was pretty confident.  And honestly, it should be.  It got most of the grey words correct as well.  I am sure “your mileage may vary” but it was quite good!  Perhaps most interesting, it deleted out all the “verbal pauses.”

Within another minute I was not only notified by text message on my iPhone that I had a voicemail, but they delivered the text of that voicemail as well!

I hope to be testing out other features later today–so be on the lookout for a podcast, recorded using Google Voice, and the new “conference Call” feature!

One more thing:  If you haven’t yet, please consider helping my son get to water polo camp.  Even a simple one, or two, dollar donation would be great!

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