David Sifry’s latest project: OffBeat Guides.

Have been speaking to David Sifry recently and he told me about his latest project:

OffBeat Guides.

As followers of David already know: Many things he starts turn into an indescribably success, best example is the blog sphere directory Technorati, also he took my critics regarding the customer support and the stability of the service pretty well.

Anyway, let’s look at the city guide. In comparison to the others around, it’s pretty slick and simple. And it’s far from complete. But there are some surprising entries, like a pretty detailed entry about Kabul while the entry of Luanda makes it look like it has nothing to offer. Maybe it was better if they made it the way that it’s marked as a stub until it’s completely completely.

The guide is good in finding details about huge, big and semi-small cities. If you however search for small cities or villages, you will get zero results and no way of adding it on your own.

Now the question is how does the project cover its costs? Simple: It allows you to make travel routes and then it supplies you the info as guide journals to be printed and sent to you, however I never tried this possibility.

In summary, we can say OffBeat Guides has potential to get big and has surprisingly good information even about places that are not your first travel destinations!

It’s seriously worth to check it out.

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Ipevo TRIO now working for me!

Ipevo’s TRIO which I reviewed 2 years ago didn’t work for me in Windows Vista X64 and now after so much time it finally works in Windows Vista X64 and Windows 7 X64!

Obviously something in the software prevented to detect the TRIO on my computer. Anyway, it works now as the screen shot proves.

Thank you to Ipevo for finally making something that works for me, great 🙂

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Review: Skype DualPhone Philips VOIP8411B /01

I have planned to replace discontinued RTX USB Cordless DualpHone because it will enventually break with a future release of Skype (when they make chanegs of the API) and also because it’s already my 3rd handset because the upper right corner of thw LCD display would stop working and this damage grew so reading caller id and status completely became impossible.

When I told some of my Skype community friends about this I was asked to tell them my opinion, so I decided to make a review of it.

What my friend Kent noticed, is that when one tries me to message me, one gets that notification as on the above screenshot made by him (thanks!)

t. Actually no Skype phone featuring the embedded “Skype on Devices” client has chat notification. It was always this way when I was in DND in past too, because:

When Skype for Windows was closed, the RTX USB Cordless DualPhone would not notify of messages then only my Ipevo SOLO desktop phone or my Ipevo S0-20 wifi phone was on.

He probably never tried before to send me something at night when Skype for Windows din’t run 🙂

So it’s not about whether the phone has the feature of “chat notification” or not , it’s just that the “Skype on Devices” software doesn’t have this feature on any phone.

So this is already the first and only down of the phone so far, but rather of the software used supplied by Skype.

In the Package!

The phone comes with a charging cradle, with a Skype voucher for 120 minutes SkypeOut Global Rate calls and 12 months voicemail, a base sation with LAN and phone jacket , lan and phone cables, receptacle and phone adpaters for different countries. Quick manuals in various language, a CD with the full manual and the handset itself.

Speacial charateristic of the hardware

The handset features an external speaker which is quite big and of good quality used for polytonic ringtonees (Yeah! finally!) and the speaker phone functionality.

It also has a headset jack. The headset jack is the same as on the Netgear SPH101 and the Belkin Skype wifi phone. So we use the Sennheiser MM30

The base station has a “page ” button so if you lost your handset you can find it this way again (it plays fine music then).

It also has 2 control LEDs to tell you whether the Skype and the PSTN phone is ready.

The Skype on Devices client: Different functions

As we all know the Skype on Devices software gets modified more or less to the manufacturer’s own needs.

The VOIPVOIP8411B has some features that make the phone pretty different from the others like the phones mentioend above or the Ipevo SOLO or Ipevo S0-20.

The Philips phone differs to the others in these aspects;

-It has a lock keypad function
-Despite the warning that it slows down since I have over 100 contacts, it doesn’t, so it must have a stronger CPU or just uses the resources better
-the PSTN calling feature is actually part of the included Skype client!

In common with the Ipveo SOLO:

-The Skype phone allows you to add your telephone country and area code so that if you call a number inside your country you do not have to add your country code, same when you call a number inside your city then you can even leave out the city code.

Interestingly however, Philips enclosed a red warning paper which warns you that the city code is only required for UK and USA which is a false claim.

-Equal to the Ipevo SOLO is also that you can have up to 500 contacts while most others can only handle up to 200.

Call quality.

When I first connected the phone the call quality was miserable. there were gaps and shutters, but after the firmware update the call quality is equal to the Ipevo S0-20 and slighty better than the Ipevo SOLO.

The firmware update makes the phone performing very good which explains why it has such a good reputation in the Skype Community. Skype made a fairly bugfree product.

PSTN calls

When making PSTN calls you can decide whether to use preferably your tradtional landline or Skype to dial the number or you can set it this way to ask you every time after you dialed a number.

The PSTN part is included into the Skype software so this menas it acts differently from a traditional PSTN phone:

-When you actually just hang up you really hear your landline’s free signal and not some fake one.

-When you put Skype on DND because you do not want that the phone rings at night and wakes you up then keep in mind that incoming PSTN calls also will not ring anymore! So better you instead put the Skype status on “offline”, this way you are still logged into Skype and can see the contact list but nobody can wake you up at night.

Firmware update

Updating a Skype phone’s firmware is very important for Skype, to keep the phone runing and matching to changes Skype did and remove nasty or not so nasty bugs.

Firmware updating is done over a webbrowser interface exactly like you know it from configurating routers!

When updating the phone’s firmware I can into problems, because it always said “site not found” after I pressed on OK in the uploading the bin file process. The reason was, the CGI script used didn’t work in IE8 or any other browser, only when I used the compatibility mode in IE8, the firmware update would proceed!



+Can handle up to 500 Skype contacts
+Perfect call quality in PSTN calls and Skype-to-Skype calls.
+Has a speaker phone function
+Many neat polytonic ring tones
+headset jack
+Pretty bugfree with latest firmware
+PSTN function embedded into the “Skype on Devices” client seamlessly.


-DND on disables ringing for incoming PSTN calls too!
-No seperate PSTN phone book, you have to save them as a contact on Skype
-Firmware updating only possible in compatibility mode of IE8!

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Skype Echo Video Test Service shut down

As a result of Skype recently discontinuing Skype Extras, Tapur decided to shut down its Skype Echo video test service for good.

Quoting Yamamoto Tatsuya:


Maintenance of videoecho123 was difficult technically, and I decided to finish this service.
It is one of the reasons that I was disappointed at recent Skype.
For example, the abolition of Skype Extra or suit over Skype.

20.Sep.2009 Yamamoto Tatsuya (www.tapur.com)”

It’s very bad and sad since it was the best way to test whether your webcam works and what it looks like.

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Philip is going to release new Skype Dualphone soon: VOIP 855

We have heard it: Philip is going to release new Skype Dualphone soon: VOIP 855

(source: Skype Gear Blog.)

(With “Skype on Devices” client included). Interesting is that according to the copyright message of all phone’s clients, the client is from 2007 and appears to not be updated ever since.

However, it’s interesting that Ipevo was able to make it awesomely bug free in their Skype phones!

Now we wonder, why we see nothing of this phone on the philips sites or in the mail trader shops?

Because according to the German Philips site, they obviously decided to rename it to VOIP8550B!

It can be ordered e.g. from Amazon.de for 123.98 EUR. At the time of writing this I found no product site of the phone on the English Philips side.

For Skype long time and power users it’s not usable anyway, as it unfortunately, like the most other Skype DualPhones, can only support up to 200 Skype contacts which is too small. There are only 2 phones with Skype on Devices client included I know of that support more is the Netgear SPH200D Dualphone /(according to technical specs it supports up to 500 contacts!) which is unfortunately no longer on sale.

According to Netgear Support, the EU model is in whole Europe the same. The US variant uses another and might not be working in EU.

Also the previous model of the Philips phone, the Philips VOIP8411B supports up to 500 contacts.

Last interesting bit: The new Philips VOIP 8550 will according to the manual come with a answering machine for PSTN (landline) calls included.

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