Summer Fun: Baseball and Phono

Last week, I wrote about the under-appreciated but impressive Phono, a jQuery plugin that lets you embed a softphone into any web page.

Phono is made by Florida-based Voxeo, a long-standing and innovative telephony software vendor.

With a pinch of JavaScript, anybody—developer, HTML-phobic designer—can add a voice channel widget, accessible from laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

What’s cooler than an embedded JavaScript softphone?

Connecting said softphone up with Tropo, Voxeo’s server-side telephony environment.

I usually free associate baseball, not JavaScript, with the month of August, so I decided to take on a small Tropo project to read back current major league baseball scores into my Phono widget, which I’ve conveniently inserted into this post.

Go Yankees!Continue reading

A Holiday Gift Idea from Voxeo

I’ve been exploring less expensive Android gadgetry lately in my search for a capable but not overly glitzy e-book reader. My experience with Velocity Micro’s Cruz Reader, which I have previously documented, was not a positive one. I’ve now turned my attention to a Rockchip-powered Android tablet from Yixin, a Chinese electronics and toy manufacturer. I’m hoping to have one in my possession shortly.

The gadget gift giving season is upon us. And no doubt in the coming weeks many Android tablets will be wrapped up and adorned with ribbons and bows. But are there other creative ideas out there, possibly free, that could put a smile on a young child’s face?

I don’t normally turn to Voxeo in these matters, but I came across a neat suggestion in their blog for turning their Tropo multi-media development environment into a joy machine.Continue reading

Voxeo’s Phono: Instant Softphone Using Javascript

Yesterday at the jQuery Conference held in Boston, Voxeo announced its new plugin that “turns any web browser into a multi-channel communications platform.” Called Phono (rhymes with Tropo), this is a pure client-side solution that is simple enough to implement: just a few lines of HTML and you have a working softphone embedded in a browser page.

I repeat: this is a client-side solution that, unlike Tropo and Twilio, doesn’t involve any server-side complexities. Voxeo’s cloud does all the communications control!

I suspect at more than a few startups next week, the words “Phono” and “Voxeo” will be found scribbled on whiteboards.

There are other tantalizing things about the announcement. More on page two.Continue reading

Meanwhile Over at Seatle's OpenGov Hackathon

Another weekend, another hackathon.  But the one that was just held in Seatle concerned itself with Gov 2.0 projects. And Technoverse favorite Tropo was there, along with open data service provider Socrata.

The winners were …  ChatterCast, which monitors 911 activity in your area and sends SMS notifications, and GeoCast, which lets you learn, also via SMS, about traffic conditions within a shape you draw on a map.

Tropo scripts  handled the telephony aspects for both these apps.

Congrats to the winners!

Continue reading

Multimedia Fun with SIP

In my evolving unified communications projects, I’ve been searching for a way to switch media between voice and text. My current two Tropo apps (the headline reader and the Gov 2.0 bill browser) are voice-centric, but at times I would like to eliminate the text-to-speech part and just send the text.

This should be possible with SIP, which underlies the unified communications platforms I’ve been accessing with my X-Lite softphone.

So called “multi-modal” communications, in which device capabilities (plain cell phone, smartphone with keyboard, smartphone with video,etc.) and presence ( in meeting, on the road, in the quiet car) are acknowledged in routing and rendering decisions, is one of the important advances of this session technology.Continue reading

And one more thing … SIP

I have been writing lately about my experiences setting up several unified communications applications, most recently one involving an open government project with hosted service provider Tropo. The projects were cell-phone centric, and assumed I would be issuing commands into my aged Samsung model while I was managing other activities—driving, drinking coffee while driving, etc.

I do engage with larger devices, and with my new MacBook Pro I am now evolving a nomadic lifestyle. In between appointments, I’ll pitch camp at Starbucks or another WiFi friendly oasis and fit in a few licks of work before I pack up.Continue reading

New York Senate Telecom Committee Is on the Phone

Earlier this month, I glued together two neat apps using parts supplied by two different VoiceXML unified communications companies. The first lets me call in to a VoXMLPHP script hosted by Tropo, which then interprets my voice commands and reads news articles using their API wrappers.  The  second sends SMS headlines (using Twilio’s APIs) from my favorite news sources to my not-so-smart-phone (it’s an ancient model).

Both have their place in my work schedule.  Another idea that’s been taking root in this blog is crowdsourcing of public policy  and moving government documents to the Internet, accessible using open-standards protocols (RSS, et. al.)

Hold these thoughts.

Continue reading

Gov 2.0: Unified Communications Meets Social Networking

Were you distracted by iPad mania and overlook this year’s Emerging Communications Conference that was held this week in San Francisco?  I did.  eComm is the successor to the short lived  O’Reilly  eTel conference. The talks and presentations all looked quite tasty, and I’m hoping videos will be made public soon.

In any case, I  stumbled across a slide deck delivered at eComm by electronic government evangelist Mark Headd. (Check out Mark’s excellent blog, Vox Populi.) In it he describes a few practical projects involving on-line government docs, cloud-based telephony, and crowdsourcing-social networking, areas that I’ve been focusing on recently.Continue reading

Tropo Puts Unified Communications in the Cloud

About a year ago, VoiceXML pioneer Voxeo started a cloud-based unified communications service called Tropo.  It’s a tempting free development environment in which you craft unified communications apps in your favorite web programming language without having to wade too deeply into VoXML tags and voice grammars. The words “free”, “development environment”, and “VoiceXML” struck the right note with me.Continue reading