OOMA – Your Personal VOIP System with no monthly service fees

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OOMA is a personal VOIP Hardware Device, which you hook up to your internet and then connects with your regular landline phone to enable unlimited voice calls within US for Free. I have owned the first generation OOMA device for the last 4 years and really love using thing. If you need a landline, then OOMA is no brainer saving you 100s of dollar.
It is a breeze installing this device and the call quality is good and the savings are even better. The device I have requires a wired connection and I believe the current generation of OOMA telo also requires an wired connection. The current generation also allows you to connect your mobile phone to the OOMA using bluetooth, this allows you to receive your mobile phone calls on the OOMA device.

I was lucky to get a lifetime premier membership this has lots of advanced feature, the one I use the most is international calling for pennies.

imageSome of the other features, that I have come to rely on…

1. Unlimited Free U.S. Calling

2. CallerId, Call Waiting, Call blocking.

3. VoiceMail with Online access.

4. No PC Required.

There are other competitors like MagicJack, which sells for much cheaper and I haven’t used primarily because it requires a running computer at all times and is not as feature rich as OOMA.

The Device:

You need to buy the device which currently cost around $149, but you can find it online or at Costco for around $129 and also has an optional handset. Also as mentioned above, you can buy an additional Telo Bluetooth adapter to connect your mobile phone to the Telo.

You can also follow the following referral link to get a better deal and thank me for introducing you to OOMA.

image

Mobile App:

I own a Windows Phone, unfortunately, the OOMA app is missing on that, but it is available on IOS and android devices for $9.99. I haven’t used it, but I didn’t find any good reviews on the mobile app. The mobile app basically allows you to use OOMA from your phone without burning your mobile minutes. I haven’t found a thought of a good use for it. But I would be able to use it for international calling if that is supported.

Summary:

It is no surprise I am a big fan of OOMA and highly recommend it to anybody who requires a landline. I hope OOMA addresses the complains of their mobile user base and also gets a windows phone version out.

Update 1: Recently, OOMA started charging for the govt taxes and fees for having a home phone service.

Update 2: Some good feedback for OOMA can also be found @Quora.

The Hype Around iPhone 64-bit Architecture

 

Apple’s new iPhone 5s will be powered by the new A7 processor, which is built on a 64-bit architecture. This is all fine. But, most of the media I can gather relates 64-bit architecture to improved performance.  Here is what Engadget.com had to say…

…as a result of the extra transistors and 64-bit architecture, the A7 is claimed to be twice as fast as its predecessor, both in terms of CPU and graphics performance.

However, technically, there is no relationship between 64-bit architecture and performance. The 64-bit architecture relates to memory addressing. i.e. 64-bit architecture can address 2^64 bits of memory as compared to 32-bit architecture which can address 2^32 around 4GB of memory. So unless iphone ships with (or can upgrade to) more than 4gb of memory it has no real advantage.

Qualcomm’s Chief marketing office, Anand Chandrashekher, said it better…

…I know there’s a lot of noise because Apple did [64-bit] on their A7. I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There’s zero benefit a consumer gets from that.

he said that (emphasis mine) to IDG News Service, alas, he was re-assigned.

But, its likely Apple is working on a ARM based Mac, in which case it makes sense. Well lets wait and see.

Uninstalling a stuck app on Windows 8.1 Preview

Having installed Windows 8.1 on my Surface Pro, I noticed some of my apps were stuck in installing. And I couldn’t get them uninstalled through the UI.

Here is a big advantage on working for Microsoft, I have access to mailing list who were able to help me get this cleaned up. It help me, hopefully it will help you, No guarantees. If it didn’t work, get back to me on comments and see if I can find ways to unblock you.

  1. Using Powershell, use Get-AppxPackage and find the full name of the package. Basically you need to find the full name, not the small ~12 character one.
  2. Then using this full name, again using powershell run Remove-AppxPackage.

Number of folks had mentioned this helped with MediaMonkey, Netflix, etc….

Good luck.

A little about everything

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Hello, Welcome to my blog “A little about everything”. This is a rebirth of my existing blog which existed in several different places before.  I have consolidated those blogs and moved most of the content here.

I am Irfan Bondre, a software engineer at Actuate, Microsoft(outlook.com, Bing Ads). I have been with Microsoft for the last 7 years, building outlook calendar from the ground up and scaling it for hundreds of millions of users.  These days, I work on Bing ads teams helping them enable new scenarios. In Free time I work on some personal projects whenever I get some time away from my hyperactive daughters.

Before Microsoft, I worked for Actuate for about 7 years, right after I finished my MS from USC.

Through this blog, I will report my experiences with work, as I solve some challenging (or simple) problems for my day time job and other personal projects. This is also a canvas for me to talk “… a little about everything…”

I also like to use technology to make my life more productive and effective. Things around organizing my life, prioritize important things and cut through unwanted things. Though I am far from perfect, I work continuously to improvise this. I will blog about the various things I have tried and various other experiences.

On Personal Projects, currently, I am researching, things like backing up various aspects of my digital life in a most cost effective way. Hopefully, I will build a tool around that. I will post those thoughts here as well.

Besides Technology, I Love to play badminton, it is one of my favorite activity. I am also the captain of Microsoft Badminton team, we participate in various tournaments around bay area. In general, I prefer physical activity to watching sports on TV, tough I am a TV addict and hoping to drop that habit one day.

I live with my life wife Wahida and our hyper active daughters Mehvish(6) and Misbah(2). We live in the greater San Francisco bay area.

Feel free to get in touch with me for anything, you think I would be able to help.

Amazing Windows Live Writer

One of the part of blogging is to find right tools to make the Writing, formatting parts simpler. One such tool is Windows live Writer. This is a free download as part of the windows live Essentials and it is amazing.

The live writer support all major blogging engine including WordPress, BloggingEngine.net imageso that was nice. Further it integrates with the theme of the blog thus preserves all the visual aspects as well. Unfortunately there are no options that I could find that meet my needs. Here I enumerate some of the feature of Live Writer which I have used over the last few years.

1. Deep Integration with Lots of Blogging Service.

Everything, I can do with posting blog post with the software which came with WordPress, I can do with Live writer, Rich Editor, Inserting Videos, Pictures, Post as Draft, Publish the post, etc. The Client is very intuitive and fast. This thing makes blogging fun. As mentioned above, this however, is not limited to WordPress, Live writer works seamlessly with tons of blogging services, including spaces, BloggingEngine.net, typepad and tons of other services.

2. Office like Ribbon

I have always been a big fan of Office Ribbon, it just makes discovery so much easier. I am able to find features easily, imagewhich otherwise, previously I had never used. The Live Writer Plugin is no different. It provides contextual access to different ribbon. e.g. When I am editing it enables the Formatting pieces, etc.  Spell check, Word count etc. become instantly accessible.

3. Amazing Picture (or Video) Integration.

This is another great feature, it makes integrating videos and pictures so much easier in the imageblog. The kind of finishing it provides, would be really difficult to do If we had to do this manually.

The integration with online albums from skydrive is super cool. Its very well integrated and makes my blog look so professional. All I have to do is setup some pictures on skydrive and live writer integrates deeply and sets up the albums with lots of options to tune the album as it seems fit.

The same goes with video, amazing attention to details, you could embed videos from anywhere, its gives a nice preview and makes playing with media so much fun.

3. A great plugins ecosystem.

A lots of amazing plugins have been written to enhance the experience that one can have with live writer from, integration with non-supported blogging services, plugins for beautify code in your blog post. You can find these plugins here.

4. Blog Migration and backup

One of the not so publicized part of windows live writer is the easy ability to migrate blogs from an one service to another. Just Add another blogging service and publish the same blog to that service. As I have done with this blog.

If you are into blogging, Live Write probably provides the best tool for bloggers. It allows you to create beautiful professional looking blogs, let you see how they would look like before publishing them. In addition it allows you to connect to any number of blogging site out of the box.

Do leave you experiences with live writer below in the comment section.

Jim Gray "Lost at Sea Or Sailed Away"?

Jim Gray a technical fellow at Microsoft, responsible for starting the Microsoft San Francisco Research center. A specialist in database and transaction processing. He received the Prestigious ACM Turing award in 1998 for his contributions to database and transaction processing research. I can go ahead listing his never ending list of achievements, but its enough for now.

Since January, 2007 there is no clue where Jim Gray disappeared. Some think his 40-foot fiberglass cruiser called Tenacious sank, while some don’t rule out that Jim actually sailed away. And I really hope its the later. One day he will come back and say well all this technology you couldn’t still find me.

A nice article in Wired about Jim Gray a legend in database, transactions, large scale data processing who is lost at sea since January’07. This article about the high tech rescue effort that went subsequently.

I have been to couple of his talks and really enjoyed those talks and hope to hear from him soon.

Some references to Jim Gray’s research..

http://research.microsoft.com/~Gray/

IPTV

Recently, I have gotton addicted to my computer so much so that I basically all my chores on the computer, including but not limited to
telephony (jajah.com, skype), IM ( MSN, Yahoo ), Bill pay stuff, Videos ( soapbox.msn.com, youtube, videos.msn.com), and lately, IPTV ( jumptv, vdc, hot-desi, live-tv-from-india, ).  With so many choices and so progress in the digital TV arena, IPTV looks like a hot field. Hopefully, with a better cost benefits and the necessary political and infrastructure support IPTV might become a household thing.

 

 
What is IPTV?
Well its just TV using the internet. Unlike the  more traditional Direct Tv dish or comcast cable, IPTV works with any internet service, dsl or cabel based ( dial up is not recommended ).  And provides with lots of benefits of using a computer as your TV like for example automatic DVR capabilities, watching multiple channels simultaneously, etc.
 
Over the holidays, all my time was using my computer as my TV. We had subscribed to a service (bwcinema.com) which lets u watch Indian movies online. It was great. Also we got on various sites which provide streaming Satellite tv for most indian channels.  I was alos able to find one for US based channels, but was not able to play with, since you have to buy some software and I was not very comfortable with that. I think its called free-statelite-tv.com ( If not look it up on live.com for free statelite tv). Let me know your experiences with this.
 

What are the blocking factors?
Well this might get some pressure from the various traditonal providers, or may be they will provide similar service as part of the internet deals. This remains to be seen. Another factor is the network bandwith this will consume if the IPTV does get popular, and will the current infrastructure be able to support this?
 
I will have to see how local channels will be made available through this service, how a schedule for channels be made available, to various time zones.
 
Costs?
I think this kind of service should most cost beneficial to the user, there is basically no infrastructure cost to the media provider, since internet is the medium, and everybody has that. The digital channels, it has advantages that the software provides the necessary feature sets. Example DVR would not cost additional. People already have multiple computers which would now convert into TV, where everybody would be able to watch channels of their choice.
 
Quality?
This is a big thing, if the IPTV does get popular, will the current infrastructure be good enough to support this strong bandwith needs?   May be with more better techniques the current infrastructure might just suffice, well this needs to be seen.
 
Well, good luck IPTV then, you have one new supporter, hopefully there are many more.

Windows Live Service Agent

 
Today, I got a chance to attend this presentation about Windows Live Service Agent, its a interesting technology. A system to talk with, When you ask question  to the system, it responds immediately in a conversational language.
 
Several companies e.g. Comcast ( Ask Comcast ), Vonage, Cingular, xbox are using this as the first line of customer support. From what i have heard it works well.
 
 
Well, if you are feeling lonely, Windows Live Service agent can help, You can login into your MSN Messenger, add smarterChild@hotmail.com to your contact and start chatting….
 
Here are some of the response, I got chatting with the smarterchild (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smarterchild).
 

Irfan Bondre says:

hi

– SmarterChild says:

Hi again, irfan.

Irfan Bondre says:

Whats the weather like tomorrow…

– SmarterChild says:

Which would you like?

1 What are the current weather conditions?

2 What is the weather forecast?

Irfan Bondre says:

2

– SmarterChild says:

Weather forecast for Fremont, CA:

Friday: Mostly cloudy. High 56F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

Friday evening: Some clouds. Low 38F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday: Partly cloudy early followed by mostly cloudy skies and a few showers later in the day. Thunder possible. High 54F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

Saturday evening: Cloudy with a few showers. Low 38F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 30%.

Sunday: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 53F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.

Monday: Sunny (High:55 Low:35)

Tuesday: Sunny (High:57 Low:36)

Wednesday: Mostly Sunny (High:57 Low:38)

Thursday: Partly Cloudy (High:59 Low:41)

To get the current conditions for Fremont, CA, just type "weather."

Irfan Bondre says:

bye

– SmarterChild says:

Bye bye.

MS at USC

As I have taken up this new endeavor of blogging, I will mention briefly about my route to a MS at USC.
 
After my Bachelors degree, I started working a bit, It was not a very pleasant experience as my education didn’t completely match the work I was involved in, nor did my education provide me with a foundation for particularly any task. At this time my elder brother was in US and my dear friend was planning on moving to US. There was like a small pressure from both of them to consider a MS. After a deep thought, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to miss.
 
The task of preparing for such a move is difficult. The GREs, TOEFLs, Paperwork, VISA and so many other nitty gritty things just consume you. I finally manage to get through most of them without any difficulty. I got admit into couple of schools, and USC was a simple choice. Beside being a good school, there were people I knew, isn’t that comfortable.
 
Looking back, coming to US and doing my MS at USC was one of the best decisions in my life and it will have a profound impact on my career and my life. I cannot thank enough for all the help I got on doing that.
 
USC is a really cool school, ton of resources and good international crowd, your really feel at home. Most of the stuff that I did at USC was new to me, I tried to concentrate more on the networking aspect of Computer Science, even though my major was Electrical Engineering, I hardly did any course purely in EE. USC is an expensive School, I didn’t want to spend lot of money on completing the pre-requisite for a computer Science Degree.
 
Has it hurt by doing so, I think it has a bit, there are so many aspect of computer science I have missed by doing a EE degree. A CS degree does provide a terrific foundation, which I have missed, and it is a little difficult at times grasping those CS concept. I do spend a lot of time these days trying to understand some of those, If I get an opportunity, I will probably try to finish a CS degree.
 
I am so glad, that I got this opportunity and would recommend anybody who can, should take up this path.

Bye Bye Actuate!!!

After over 7 years of wondrous time at Actuate, it’s time to say good bye. Overall, it has been a very pleasant experiences, and there is not much for me to complain about. It being my first regular job out of school, was a great learning experience. It provided me several challenging problems to expand my mind. Besides the fact that I got an opportunity to work with so many cool people, who have turned into very good life long friends. In other words, Cool Problems, Great Colleagues.

Then why leave actuate? Well,  I needed a change. Also I had a dream, and hoped that actuate would take me a long way in fulfilling that, yes it did succeed to a certain degree, but not to the extend I had hoped.

Leaving Actuate was a very difficult decision, It did provide me with a sense of security and respect. I had refused several offers earlier to stay with Actuate. However, an Offer from one of the dream companies I have always wanted to work for, was like a wish come true. Hopefully, it will live up to my expectations.

Wish Actuate best of luck in its journey and hope it does well, I still own some equity in Actuate.