Go check out this article on Choosing the right phone system for your business, over on StackAccel.com if you're in the market for a new PBX. The cost model today seems to be that if you're larger than a handful fo folks, a Cloud/hosted phone system is still pricey given the number of small/mid-sized phone system options available... from Allworx, to the plethora of Asterisk-based solutions.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
For those of you who were disappointed by the lack of AT&T SIMs on StraightTalk, or who were were buying old AT&T SIMs from Amazon for $70 each... it appears that the AT&T StraightTalk SIMs are back. Also, in case this happens again... a call StraightTalk and escalating to a manager could also get your T-Mobile SIMs converted to work on AT&T.
Monday, August 05, 2013
Are you considering switching to StraightTalk to save money on your cell phone plan... but just aren't quite sure what the whole story is? Are you worried about losing your phone number, or about the not quite unlimited data plan? Maybe you're just trying to figure out which MVNO is the best fit for you.
And at the end of the day, can you really save about $1,000 a year by switching to an MVNO, like StraightTalk?
You absolutely can. I know, because I switched 8 months ago and haven't looked back.
That's why I'm releasing The Unofficial Straight Talk Guide, for $10.99 via LeanPub.com.
The Unofficial Straight Talk Guide is the missing manual for switching to an MVNO, like Straight Talk. As of today it's about 38 pages and 10,900 words long. I say, as of today because Leanpub.com lets you update after you publish, meaning you'll see future updates for free (which makes Leanpub pretty cool). At 38 pages, it's just long enough to tell you everything you need to know... to explain precisely what you need to do, and the order to do it in, so that you don't have to worry about making a mistake. But short enough to not be irritating.
Plus, there's a 45-day 100% Happiness Guarantee. You'll get the guide in pretty much every format... Kindle, PDF, and iPad (MOBI, PDF, and EPUB), which means that you can pretty much read it on any eBook reader in existence. Also, for a very limited time you can get The Unofficial Straight Talk Guide for $2.99 by using the coupon code st-100 when you go to order.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Did you take my advice and pick-up a Nexus 4 for yourself, or for someone who might not be a phone geek? So if you've spent any time with the phone, you're already using the mainstream apps (e.g. the Pandora, Dropbox, Skype, OpenTable, GasBuddy, etc.). But what about the niche? The ones that you didn't think to think about? Well, here are a few of my less mainstream favorites...
- Tape-a-Talk - great little tool for taking voice notes (like for a class, or if you want to record long rambling thoughts for later dictation). If you even begin to build up a back-log of voice notes, you'll find the paid for version is critical to keeping your thoughts organized.
- Power Note - if you use Diigo for social/cloud/portable bookmarking needs, Power Note comes in quite handy for interacting with your library while mobile.
- Handy Scanner - Scan things like receipts, and send them to DropBox.
- AirDriod - Enables you to wirelessly manage your phone from your computer. If your phone and computer are on the same network (or with the latest release, even if they're not) you can connect via a web browser on your computer to get a desktop-like experience for navigating your phone (copy files, send texts, etc.). I mostly use it to transfer files when I don't have a USB cable handy.
- Compound Interest Calculator Basic - because who doesn't like to be able to calculate the opportunity cost of small financial decisions from their phone?
- Wallpaper Changer - such a cool little app for rotating through pictures as wallpaper... here's a link directly to the developer.
Obviously, the you can search your way through the vast Google Play store to find useful things. But these are some of my favorites. If you have an amazing niche app to share, or something better than the above let me know about it.
Friday, March 08, 2013
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
What if you never had to worry about going over your celluar data plan again? What if you could use your phone for web browsing, email, navigation, and occassional tethering without fear of going over some arbitrary limit? Does that sound too good to be true? Could Straight Talk possibly offer all of that and still cost half what you're paying with a major carrier? Alas, that is just a bit too good to be true... but only a bit. Here are the highlights - if you want more information, just ask.
- Use WiFi when it's available.
- Don't stream video... especially don't stream Netflix, or excessive YouTube.
- Don't use your phone in place of your computer... file transfers, downloading content, etc... really belongs either on WiFi, or your laptop.
- Try not to tether (or if you do, do it responsibly)
Monday, February 11, 2013
If you've read part 1, and part 2, you already know the potential... start saving $1,000 a year by getting off of a big carrier contract and switching over to a prepaid StraightTalk plan. So after a couple months, is StraightTalk living up to the hype? Or have I been cast into scylla or charybdis - marooned on a prepaid plan and having been throttled (or worse) to my doom? Well, don't let me keep you waiting... hurry-up and read on!
- $45 for unlimited everything
- $2.93 for taxes
- $0.23 for E911 services
- 0.68 Federal Universal Service cost
- 0.09 regulatory cost recovery
- Total: $48.93
Thursday, February 07, 2013
The last hardware upgrade on my vSphere lab was the SSD, but in addition to that I've been in need of a descent switch for a while. What I wanted, was a Cisco 2960-S. Not only are they good, but they're also my top-of-rack standard switch in my vSphere deployments. However, in spite of diligently trolling Ebay looking for a deal, I decided to opt for a Netgear GS724T-300 for the home lab... which is a 24-port gigabit managed switch, supporting 802.1q VLAN tagging, link aggregation, etc. Most of all, it's affordable at $219. While not of any consequence in my environment, they're silent, which doesn't hurt.
Monday, February 04, 2013
One day, a few years ago a stack of HP equipment showed up for job we had just won. Everyone was excited. "Did you hear? We just got [insert amazing high-visibility job X for key client Y]". "That's great Eric... but did you see that stack of HP equipment sitting in receiving... what's that for?", I asked. "That's for this new job, I ordered it yesterday as soon as we received the PO." "Uh-huh... and who did the spec?", I asked... knowing the answer. "Don't worry... you did... I just switched out the chassis, and left most of the other parts the same from our last job the same. They're all low-utilization servers." (Says the person who has neither heard of esxptop, nor has ever used a performance monitoring solution). I also replaced a couple of things with stuff I found on newegg, mostly just RAM and hard drives... they're not HP branded, but I think we've really been overpaying some of this stuff." And so it goes...
If you don't have a vendor management office (VMO) doing this kind of stuff for you, then you're like just about every other SI out there. Maybe your procurement process has grown organically as your company has grown, or maybe Bob in Accounting always does it... or maybe you're fortunate enough to have a Systems Engineer who inherited the responsibilities from someone else, and actually does know what he/she is doing (at least from a technical standpoint)... and that enables the ship of procurement to sail unhindered until something stupid happens, and then everything is a wreak. So even if you think what you're doing works, you might want to go back and compare your process with mine, and see if there are any gaps.
Over the course of the next few posts, I'm going to talk about my server procurement process. I suspect that most SIs have to deal with this, so I'm going to go over what I've picked-up in the time since Eric stopped doing procurement. I can't say that I've covered everything, or that you can beat a VMO at their own game, but I've picked-up a few things that help prevent scenarios like the above from happening, while at the same time enabling you to be more competitive (both in terms of pricing, and in terms of eliminating labor), and ultimately help you find the hidden server margin. Because, like you... I primarily care delivering the scope, on schedule, under budget at the level of quality that I committed to. Hardware and software are just necessary to insure we can deliver the scope, so let me help you take the pain out of procurement, by giving you my process.