Thursday, June 12, 2008

VoIP for dummies

Using voice over IP, from any computer or telephone (IP phone or regular phones with ATA) connected to the internet with a broadband connection (though dial ups can still make calls) can call another computer or phone at a fraction of usual cost, or absolutely free. In other words VoIP can turn a standard Internet connection into a way to place free phone calls or almost free.

The main idea is to use a software like softphones or hardware like IP phones and to make a phone call bypassing the phone company together with its charges.

VoIP is slowly replacing traditional voice communications and access to it can take place today from most any kind of telephony device whether physical or digital. Traditional telephones can easily access low-cost VoIP services like what Onesuite voip has to offer while maintaining their telephony hardware intact.

Even mobile phones can now access VoIP telephony services from multiple providers making it possible for users to save significantly on long-distance and international calls and taking greater advantage of new complimentary services like conferencing, scheduling, recording and more.

Voip works by taking the voice and sampling it. Most of us have recorded our voice to a digital device be it a computer, a mobile phone or a digital dictaphone. You can even get applications for iPODs to record your voice. The voice samples are converted into data and then stored on the device to be played back at a later date. V0IP works in the same way, taking the voice, sampling it and converting it into binary data. The different is that data isn't stored locally but the samples are transferred them via the network to the recipient at the other end.

In order for the data to flow smoothly from one point to the other the samples are compressed with a CODEC and sliced into packets or smaller samples. These packets are then pulsed across the network and reassembled at the other end, decompressed and played backed. The whole process is so quick that the users do not notice the process taking place. If the process does become slowed down then jitter can take place. The voice or video then becomes choppy or glitch ridden. In order to over come the problem a fast Ethernet network dedicated to voip improves the flow of data.

There are two major types of equipment used for voip transmissions. The first is the soft phone, this is a system that utilizes a computer with the addition of a microphone and either headphones or speakers. The computer has software installed that acts as the gateway to the network providing the sampling, CODECS and the steaming of the data.

The vast majority of Skype users use soft phone route when accessing the service. Although you can use handsets these are still pseudo soft phones as Skype cannot be used with voip analogue telephone adapters (ATAs) and therefore they are restricted to the Skype network which kinda disadvantage to most users.

The other devices for using a voip network are unsurprisingly called hard phones. These are stand alone devices that look like a regular phone but instead of a phone jack they have an internet cable that can be plugged directly into the network.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Knowing VoIP

VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) or IP telephony is rapidly changing the way we communicate. Aside from being a lot more cheaper than traditional phones, certain features such as portability makes it attractive for residential and business owners alike. But as with all modern technologies, VoIP has its own disadvantages. These flaws are minor, and solutions are being worked out as you read this. One thing is clear, though. The advantages of VoIP clearly outweighs its disadvantages.

VoIP is dependent on bandwidth. Even the best of the best ISP (Internet Service Provider) experience technical issues. Since VoIP uses your Internet connection, it is bound to be affected. If your Internet is down, you will not be able to make or receive a call. If your connection is exceptionally slow, then expect low voice quality. A user might also encounter problems if he makes or receives a call while streaming videos or audio, or while downloading a large amount of data. If bandwidth is the problem, then it might be time to change your provider. Search for a more reliable and stable ISP and don't forget to ask your friends for referrals.

Voice quality issues. This has been a problem attributed to VoIP calls ever since its birth. Static noise, echoes, and delays are a common complaint of users. There are a number of factors that affects VoIP's voice quality: internet connection, the hardware in use, the VoIP provider, distance of call, and many more. It is best to try out the service before committing to it. Also, try different combinations of hardware until you get the results that you want.

VoIP needs power. Unlike traditional phones, VoIP needs electricity to work. You have to plug in your modem, ATA, and other VoIP hardware for you to be able to make and receive a call. You can not use your phone if there is a power interruption. Emergency power generators might be a little far-fetched for a regular home to have, but if you are running a business then you should probably get one.

Emergency calls. If you use traditional phones to dial 911, it will be diverted to a call center nearest to you where the operator has the ability to see where exactly you are calling from. Using VoIP, there is no way to trace where your call is coming from. In addition, if the emergency involves a power interruption then you will not be able to make a VoIP call. There is a new service called E911, which a lot of VoIP providers are offering. It is for your best interest to ask your provider regarding this and other emergency calling issues.

To be on the safe side, having a traditional phone aside from the VoIP phone is a good idea. It will also help if you could write down individual phone numbers of emergency facilities (local police, fire station, hospitals, etc.) and post it near your phone.

Keep in mind that these are just minor inconveniences and every passing day VoIP is advancing. Its advantages and benefits are too many to pass up. Soon it will replace traditional phones as the communication technology of choice.

From Hero to Zero

Lewis Hamilton went from hero to zero after crashing into Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen in a bizarre pit-lane pile-up at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Lewis, a near champion last year (lost by a point) made a silly stupid mistake by ramming to Kimi Raikonnen in the pit lane. The 23-year-old McLaren driver, who covered himself in glory by winning in Monaco two weeks ago, kissed goodbye to his championship lead with the most embarrassing moment of his fledgling Formula One career.

Hamilton, who was branded "stupid" by Raikkonen, was handed a 10-place grid penalty for shunting the world champion out of the Montreal race in a pit-lane collision last Sunday.

Leading the race from pole position at the scene of his first grand prix victory last year, Hamilton ploughed into the back of Raikkonen's stationary Ferrari after they pitted on lap 20 while the safety car was deployed.

The Finn had stopped at the red light at the end of the pit lane, with BMW Sauber's Polish driver Robert Kubica waiting alongside for the all-clear to rejoin the race. Lewis who came in first was probably mad coming out third after Kimi and Robert and eager to take back the position lost.

Hamilton failed to brake in time, with German driver Nico Rosberg then adding to his misery by shunting the McLaren with his Williams.

"We got into the pitstop, it wasn't a great stop and I saw the two guys in front of me and they were battling in the pit lane," Hamilton told Britain's ITV television.

"I was obviously trying to make sure I didn't get involved with those guys. I saw the red light but by the time they had stopped and I had seen the red light it was a bit late," he continued.

"It's a lot different if you crash into the wall and you are angry with yourself. It's not like that. I apologise to Kimi if I've ruined his race but that sort of thing happens."

The incident happened at the exit from the pit lane after the first round of stops and took both drivers out of the race. Raikkonen, whose car was stationary at a red light signal, said: "My race was ruined by Hamilton's mistake.

"Obviously, anyone can make mistakes - as I did two weeks ago in Monaco [when Raikkonen shunted Force India's Adrian Sutil out of the race].

"It's one thing to make a mistake at 200 miles per hour but another to hit a car stopped at a red light."

He added: "If I go 300 kph, lose control and hit somebody it is natural. But if there is a pit-lane speed limit and two cars stopped and you hit them, it is stupid. I saw a red light and chose to stop, someone else saw a red light and chose not to.

"I am not angry - because that doesn't achieve anything and does not change my result! I am unhappy, because I had a great chance of winning."

Whitmarsh agreed that Ferrari and Raikkonen were the "innocent victims". And he explained that the pitlane had been unusually congested, with drivers pitting during the safety car period, and Hamilton had to monitor the cars ahead of him as well as the keeping an eye on the lights.

But he said McLaren had never considered protesting the penalty. "We're going into France with a 10-place penalty for Lewis so that will clearly affect our approach. Without giving too much away, I suspect he'll run a little bit longer in the first stint than would otherwise have been the case," he said. "We haven't modelled it yet, but intuitively that's what we'll probably do."