Mini Blog

This blog is a collection of useful information that I come across in my daily life on the internet.   I'm trying to save others time where I have already gone to Google for the answers.

Google voice and the controversy of the app store "rejection"

posted Sep 13, 2009, 11:39 AM by Paul Sroufe   [ updated Sep 13, 2009, 6:27 PM ]

Background
I've been listening to many tech podcasts over the years and heard many more issues discussed.  Most of the time I have an immediate opinion over the matter or don't know enough (or care enough) to have one.   The story of apple "denying" the google voice application to the iTunes app store seems to be one of a good amount of controversy.   But most importantly, not many people seem to have a full grasp of what google voice is.

I have been using google voice since it was called Grand Central, and since google bought them and added SMS support, I use it everyday of my life.   The funny part is that I only use it with one device: my iPhone, no app required!!

Introduction
I am posting this article in hopes that I can effectively explain what google voice is and how it impacts the user and the carrier.  You can always visit www.google.com/voice for more information!

Google Voice (GV) is a call middle man service, it gives you awesome features like: ringing all your lines (cell, home, work) at once, recording calls, and setting up different voicemail greetings for different people.   What GV isn't: a VoIP service like Gizmo5, Skype or google talk.   When someone's calls your GV number they're call is routed into Google's VoIP hardware, but it is rerouted back to whatever carrier/PSTN network of the phone you decide to pick up.   GV does however have a reach into the Gizmo5 network, allowing a Gizmo5 number to be one of your GV attached phones.

How this impacts cell phones
  1. The GV application, seen from the Android perspective, allows a person to get unlimited free texts, however they are not pushed to the phone like SMS is.  The feature is currently polled using a data service (3G/Wifi).  A service is provided by GV to forward texts to your cell phone, which is what I use. 
  2. Free calling using Fring, or many other SIP based apps.  The quality and delay on this type of usage is poor at best, I have tried it once but do not use it for that reason.  You must also leave Fring running in the foreground to receive calls.
    • SIDE NOTE: I do however use the Gizmo5 desktop application, the call quality is much better and incoming calls I can answer at my desk with no penalty to my cell carrier minutes.
  3. Myth: GV will take over your carrier's Voicemail.   You can still choose to call the cell phone directly and get the carriers voicemail service, if your friends are calling your GV number, then the carriers voicemail is bypassed for GV's voicemail.  No iPhone application required. 
  4. Myth: GV will take over your phones Dialing and use VoIP.  The GV application on the Android platform exists very nicely next to the phones dialer.  On the Android phone you can option to use a running SIP service connected to Gizmo5 to make a call or use the phones wireless service.  Again, the SIP service quality is crap if you ask me.   
Summary

 Feature List
 GV Application
 Current iPhone (No GV App)
 TextsFree or Uses Carrier SMS
Uses Carrier SMS
 Dial using GV number Yes Yes, if you have the person's 406 number**
GV VoicemailYes, Transcript emailed to phone or played using data connection
 Yes, Transcript emailed to phone
** Must receive text from the person to acquire their 406-xxx-xxxx GV associated number.

Conclusion
As you can see, the "rejection" of the application on the iPhone isn't preventing a whole lot.  So why did Apple "reject" it?

Windows 7

posted Sep 3, 2009, 12:35 PM by Paul Sroufe   [ updated Sep 3, 2009, 12:39 PM ]

I know there are a lot of windows 7 tips out there for everyone to read, but in my experience there are 3 that I use the most:
  • Drag the title bar of any window to the top left (to split screen left), top right (to split screen right), and top middle (maximize window)
  • Create a "mac like" task bar; where your icons are in the middle.  Do this by creating a blank toolbar, slide it to move your icons where you like them, and then un-check "show name" in the right-click menu.
  • Icons you have pinned to your taskbar can be middle clicked to open a new version of it; for example Mozilla Firefox to open a new browser window.

What do Python and WEKA Explorer have in common?

posted Sep 1, 2009, 3:16 PM by Paul Sroufe   [ updated Sep 1, 2009, 6:30 PM ]

I recently decided that it would behoove me to learn the WEKA explorer utility.  It would vastly simplify my current thesis work.  However, I'm best at python scripting.  After a quick search on google I came across Python Orange.  Like WEKA it has some built in learners and classifiers and like anything else in python, it is very easy to use.  It doesn't have near the volume of classifiers and utilities that WEKA employs, but for a simple Naive Bayes situation it can be a huge time saver for the python addict!

Latex and Figure Placement

posted May 6, 2009, 8:56 PM by Paul Sroufe   [ updated May 7, 2009, 12:07 PM ]

If you are coming from MS Word like me and are used to knowing exactly where your figures and tables (known as floats in Latex) are going to show up in your paper, try adding these two lines to the top of your Latex document:

\usepackage{float}
\restylefloat{figure}

Now when you put a figure down you can use a new placement modifier "H" (note that this is different from "h").   The new "H" modifier tells Latex to place the figure "here and only HERE".

EXAMPLE:

 \begin{figure}[H]
  % Requires \usepackage{graphicx}
  \includegraphics[width=]{}\\
  \caption{}\label{}
\end{figure}

 

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