PhillipBlanton.com

"Save me, oh God, from people who have no sense of humor."
— Ludlow Porch

Free Telephone Conferencing

I have a small startup software consultancy, (www.phasepoint.net) and often times need to hold conference calls with clients. I was using the conferencing service provided by our telephone system, (www.Freedomvoice.com) but they were charging me 14 cents per minute per attendee. Last month I used 1300 minutes of conferencing and it cost me $112 (I get the first 500 minutes free each month); so I did a little research. I found two companies that provide free teleconferencing service.

Free Conference Call   http://www.freeconferencecall.com
Free Conference   http://www.freeconference.com/

FreeConferenceCall.com Reservationless Service

  • Maximum Number of Callers: 96
  • Maximum Length: 6 hours
  • Free Call Recording and Playback: Yes
  • Web Controls: No
  • Access from any phone: Yes
  • No computer needed: Yes
  • Toll Free Number: No
  • Account Management Services: Yes
  • Maximum number of conferences per month: Unlimited 

FreeConference.com Reservationless Service

  • Maximum Number of Callers: 150
  • Maximum Length: 3 hours
  • Free Call Recording and Playback: No
  • Web Controls: No
  • Access from any phone: Yes
  • No computer needed: Yes
  • Toll Free Number: No
  • Account Management Services: Yes
  • Maximum number of conferences per month: Unlimited 

I signed up for an account with the first one, FreeConferenceCall.com and tried it out last night with one other caller. It was perfect. The sound was crystal clear and I wasn't subjected to any ads. To sign up, I only had to give them my name and email address. I still don't know what the "catch" is, but there has to be one, right?

So far, I highly recommend these conferencing services. Especially if you have a small busines on a shoestring budget. Maybe their business model is to help you get off the ground, then hope you upgrade to their paid services for more functionality. I will update this post as I learn more.

Setting up Windows 7 and Visual Studio 2010 for WCF development

I have been looking for the definitive article that tells you how to set up Windows 7 and Visual Studio 2010 for WCF development and I haven't found it yet. I did however find the information I need; most of which can be found here...

http://www.schnieds.com/2008/10/setting-up-iis7-in-vista-for-aspnet-wcf.html

Once I get some time, I'll write my own article. For now, go there and pick and choose the information you need.

The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph for $6? Still Too Expensive.

As almost all newspapers are today, the Gazette Telegraph is crappy. Their slanted "reporting" and condescending editorials are just plain offensive; all while their subscription rates continuously increase. So, about two years ago I canceled our subscription and I haven't looked back. Today I got the following email from them...

This is my reply...

$6 for only the Sunday edition for three months? You people are pathetic. Your paper isn't worth even that anymore.

I will however, offer to pay you $5 per month for all editions. That's seven days a week of newspaper service for $5 per month. Not a limited trial price, or introductory price, but $5 per month for all editions, for as long as I care to receive them.

I still think that's too much, but my dog, Tank is trained to bring in the paper each morning and he LOVES it. I'll pay $3 per month so that he can have his job back. Another benefit that I can think of is that I'll have paper to use for starting fires and that's worth about $2 per month. When I canceled your stupid paper, I didn't realize how valuable having a steady supply of fire-starter was.

So, for $5 per month I'll allow you to deliver your "news" paper to my house every morning. You can boast to your advertisers about a new, paid subscriber; I'll have my fire-starter and my dog will be happy to bring it in to me every day. It's a win-win for everyone!

I'll send you $60 for the year and I look forward to delivery resuming soon.

With Warmest Regards,
Phillip H. Blanton

Update: The Gazette replied and offered me seven days of newspaper deliver for $69 per year. I accepted, so Tank will be fetching them again soon. By the way, here is a video of Tank fetching the paper.

This is what's wrong with the Kindle (and by extension, the Apple iPad Bookstore)

I own a Kindle. When I first bought it I was lured with the promise of getting elctronic versions of my books at a substantial discount. It makes sense. The production of an electronic version of a book is completed in one step. That electronic book can then be copied an infinite number of times at a very very tiny cost; much less than one cent per copy. Conversely, paper books must be created in production runs that require people to set up the presses, run the presses, maintain the presses, continually feed raw material - ink and paper - into the presses, etc... Not to mention the cost of storage, transportation, handling. The cost of producing a paper book is orders of magnitude greater than producing a copy of an electronic book. Additionally, the normal rules of supply and demand don't work with electronic books since there is no real limit on supply. 

The retail price of the electronic book should reflect these actualities, but it doesn't. I expected pricing on electronic books to shake out over time, and settle in at something in the $4 to $7 range. When I see this on the Amazon website...

I realize that the Kindle and iPad and Sony book readers will NEVER be as popular as they can be. At least not until the ebook sellers get the pricing in order. At comparable prices to the paper book, I will always buy paper before the electronic version.

The New Logitech G330 Headset Rocks! --- NOT

Update:
I was wrong. I bought this headset on March 18, and here it is March 26, and the microphone has quit. A $50 headset with a microphone that lasts somewhat less than eight days. Why can't I buy a good headset? My HP headset still works, but it is so painfully uncomfortable that it is useless. I'm not cheap. I am willing to spend good money for a good headset. WHY CAN'T I FIND ONE???


I am a software developer and I work with geographically distributed teams. I use Skype and other VOIP systems on a daily basis, so a good headset is mandatory. Until today the best headset i had was a cheapo, behind-the-neck headset my wife bought me at the Loveland Wal-Mart when we were visiting there and I forgot to bring my expensive Plantronics headset. I have used the cheapo headset for going on three years now and it is flawless. Comfortable, clear, Works consistently. Unfortunately I guess Wal-Mart quit carrying it because I have been unable to replace it.

Today, while killing time at the local Best Buy I found a nice behind-the-neck headset from Logitech that I thought might do the trick. Unfortunately it was $50, so I balked a bit. I eventually ended up buying it and giving it a try. I am so glad I did. Though it was a little expensive, it is awesome. It's super comfortable and has great sound. You can tell by the foam on the earpads that is is a high-quality headset. It is a Logitech G330 "Gaming" headset. Normally the "gaming" label would have put me off, but I think they are just using that word to justify the high price tag.

I will now be selling two headsets on EBay. They are both Microsoft branded headsets (all Microsoft branded headsets suck). I have also used a number of Plantronics behind-the-neck headsets, and while they are fine headsets with good sound, they don't last long. I have been through three high-priced Plantronics sets that each crapped out after about eight months. Since I am not renting headsets, I expect them to last longer than that.

Hers's hoping that the new Logitech G330 outlasts the Plantronics junk. 

Short Ebay Item Links

I posted this once before, but lost it when I moved the blog contents here from Radwarrior.com, so I am re-creating the post.

Have you ever wanted to email an ebay link to someone but hated copying and pasting the mile-long link?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Flightcom-4DLX-Classic-Headsets-Set-of-2_W0QQitemZ270530825553QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotors_Aviation_Parts_Gear?hash=item3efce4cd51

I don't know why EBay has to have such ugly, long links. There is a way to shorterize them yourself, without using a service like http://bit.ly, or http://tinyurl.com. All you have to do is hand craft the link on http://gci.ebay.com?viewitem&item= <item number>. Here's the same item with the short link...

http://cgi.ebay.com?ViewItem&item=270530825553

There's also a way to make a nice, short link to your ebay seller's page.

http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/pblanton