By Cliff Millward, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
I am only reporting more of my problems with Windows 7 because several members have expressed interest in my difficulties. I guess it makes some members experience a vicarious masochistic understanding of computers. Believe me, I am not really complaining or am I after any sympathy for my problems. I hope my experiences will demonstrate that all of us run into problems occasionally. The recent problem involves not only Windows 7, but XP as well.
I have LightScribe, but it only prints in black and white on CDs. I wanted to print on CDs in color, so I purchased an HP all-in-one wireless printer. (It seemed like a good deal as I could have all things together instead of separately. Besides, my scanner uses SCSI, so with the new printer I could remove the SCSI card and speed up the boot process.)
I use Panda as my firewall and anti-virus program. Well -- Panda refused to allow my new printer to install on my home network! I tried everything I knew to get in on the network, but to no avail. I contacted HP. They, to their credit, replied within a couple of hours. They gave me some instructions -- that did not work. They gave me another set of instructions -- no results. Finally, they told me to contact Panda. This I did; they gave me instructions but it only half installed on Windows 7, but at least I could print.
So, I printed the orchestral parts to a composition I had just finished (about 20-30 pages) -- and the printer ran out of black ink.
Started another approach; I have, in effect, 4 computers (plus an old 386 in the basement somewhere) with two bootable hard drives (using XP) on both of them. THE PRINTER WOULD NOT INSTALL THE WIRELESS ON ANY OF THEM! (So much for it being only a Windows 7 problem.)
I finally said to myself, "lets see if it will work using USB." HOORAY, with the USB everything installed and everything worked. However, that computer with the USB (which I rarely use) is on the other side of my house! Also, my daughters laptop and her husband's laptop can only communicate by wireless.
I finally decided to return it, as it was too much frustration for me after I learned that it could not use either of the CD writing programs I have. (It came with a very inferior CD writing program.)
The only good things I can say is,
1. Windows 7 at least installed half of it,
2. The duplex printing was very impressive,
3. The photo printing was superb,
4. The Fax worked.
Winding up this story; Windows 7, I believe, was not at fault. It was either HP's drivers or Panda's protection system that prevented the wireless installation.
hope, in the future, they resolve this problem as it really is a very
nice printer, and, I hope they include a better CD writing program.
Who knows, perhaps I will try again (I'm a glutton for punishment!)
And More Problems
A friend of mine on facebook added a long lost friend of his in his "Friends" access file. Suddenly that "friend" started sending me all kinds of garbage! I looked at my Friends file and saw he was added without me adding him! I deleted him from this file and all the garbage he sent me.
To my surprise, the next time I went to visit my Facebook account, I received a message the my account had been terminated because I was not who I said I was!
Obviously others have been effected by this problem. As a result, I did not try to reestablish my account and, probably, never will. Caveat emptor!
Security-Related (S-R) Report Update #15
Caveat Emptor and Happy Valentines Day!
by Don Nendell
Before we get started on this very solemn and momentous occasion: 1. My 100th Security-Related BCM Review/Report (S-R) over the past 10 years with this, the February 2010 edition of Security-Related Update Report #15; plus, and more importantly, naturally, 2. I'd like to publically and Lovingly Wish a "Happy Birthday" to my daughters, Deborah (the 7th of February) and Dee Ann (the 14th of February). They being women, naturally, we can't divulge their ages herein; I'd be struck dead by lightning right on the spot, if I did. In any case, "Many Happy Returns, and a Long, Prosperous and Happy Life, my Dear Ones."Dad.
Now, "Onward and Upward" with this month's S-R 2.
"A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." - Wayne Gretzky
To go along with Gretzky's advice, I am recommending a reading for you in this month's Security-Related Report (S-R). It's Double Tap by Steve Martini (Pocket book ISBN: 0-515-13973-4). And if nothing else, at the very least go to the library, sit down in a comfortable chair and read Chapter 8. It could conceivably open your eyes to what's going on around us daily concerning "the invasion on our individual privacy rights," maybe, a little? The first paragraph goes like this:
"If the experts are to be believed, Madelyn Chapman and her minions [at their company, Isotenic] have perfected software that allows the government to monitor its people and their activities in ways that would cause most of us to shudder. The stated purpose, at least publicly, is to do what geologists cannot do when it comes to earthquakes: predict with accuracy the tremors of terrorism."
Explanation. Isotenic's major client is the U.S. government, particularly the Pentagon. Besides other products, the company is developing Information for Security (IFS), a computer program that can be used as spyware. I will be quick to point out here that the scenario laid out in Double Tap is not as far-fetched as many might believe, or following the Wizard's first rule thinking, are afraid to believe. (See Wizard's First Rule, written by Terry Goodkind, the best-selling first book in the epic fantasy series The Sword of Truth, published by Tor Books, plus the Legend of the Seeker, from ABC/Disney Studios, whose First TV Season is available on DVD. Great entertainment, don't miss either of them.)
Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander (Zedd), the wise and powerful Wizard of the First Order, says, "Wizards's First Rule: people are stupid." Richard and Kahlan frowned even more. "People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People's heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool." Wizard's First Rule, Chapter 36, p.397, U.S. hardcover edition
of Wizards First Rule, the old wizards created Confessors, and Seekers,
as a means of helping find the truth, when the truth is important enough.
Rahl knows the Wizard's Rules. He is using the first one. People need
an enemy to feel a sense of purpose. It's easy to lead people when they
have a sense of purpose. Sense of purpose is more important by far than
the truth. In fact, truth has no bearing in this. Darken Rahl is providing
them with an enemy, other than himself, a sense of purpose. People are
stupid; they want to believe, so they do." - Wizard's First
Rule, Chapter 36, p.560, U.S. Paper Back Edition
Real Life Scenario
of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might
have been! ..." - John Greenleaf Whittier, American Writer,1807-1892.
These prophetic words of Whittier can be aptly applied to yours truly in an "I almost caught the rabbit scenario," nearly an exact replica of the Double Tap explanation above. I am under a Mutual Non-disclosure Agreement (MNDA), so naturally I can't elaborate on the details. However, you don't have to look very far over the horizon to get a very good idea of what I'm eluding to here.
My aforementioned "near" deal has not yet come into fruition, one that involves my dynamic (U.S. patented) access/encryption software (See the Review of AutoEnc (Automated-Encryption) on page 8 in the August 2006 BCM archives 1 2 & 3) and my potential business partner, a gatherer of Open Source Intelligence, working for, an unknown to me, contracted interested and unnamed party/parties.
Definition: "Open source intelligence (OSINT) is a form of intelligence collection management that involves finding, selecting, and acquiring information from publicly available sources and analyzing it to produce actionable intelligence. In the intelligence community (IC), the term open refers to overt, publicly available sources (as opposed to covert or classified sources); it is not related to open-source software or public intelligence.
"OSINT is defined by both the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as 'produced from publicly available information that is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence requirement [See below.] - As defined in Sec. 931 of Public Law 109-163, entitled, 'National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006."
- Wikipedia definition
More on Intelligence Collecting
Example. "In the broad reach of NSA eavesdropping, the massive
FBI [plus 50 other agencies] data sweep in December 2003 [concerning
New Year's 2004] in Las Vegas [See graphic and See Spying on the
Home Front, a May 2007 PBS FRONTLINE special report <www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/
access to records gathered by private database companies that allows government agencies to avoid the limitations provided by the Privacy Act, and nearly 200 other government data-mining programs identified by the Government Accounting Office, experienced national security officials and government attorneys see a troubling and potentially dangerous collision between the strategy of pre-emption and the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable search and seizure." - ACLU, May 17, 2007
Example. Keith Olbermann on Obama and Wiretapping by Tim Jones, Deeplink,
April 8, 2009. "Last night, Countdown With Keith Olbermann on MSNBC
had excellent coverage of and commentary on the Obama DOJ's radical new argument s [re. Obama sides with Bush on wiretaps and
'Sovereign Immunity,' in addition, and adding to that, 'States Secret
Privilege,'] in Jewel v. NSA, the EFF's lawsuit against the NSA for
illegal surveillance." <www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/
another example. "I think right now, the Bush people are bringing
out their mission-accomplished sign, because they've not only gotten
Obama to protect Bush and Cheney and others from any criminal investigation
on torture, but he's now gone even further than they did in the protection
of unlawful surveillance. This is the ultimate victory for the Bush
officials. They have Barrack Obama adopting the same extremist arguments, and in fact exceeding the extremist arguments [My emphasis here] made by President Bush. You cannot any longer suggest
that President Obama is advancing the civil liberties and the privacy
interests that he promised to advance. This is a terrible roll-back.
It's a terrible decision". - GWU Law Professor Jonathan Turley,
April 7, 2009 (on video.msnnbc.com)
You Do the Math. I've been reporting to you for a very long time
now, but now only you can add the 2 and 2 together (by simply applying
the aforementioned knowledge and merge it with the following) and come
up with a suitable answer for yourself: 1. Echelon (Intelligence
gathering by orbiting satellites); 2. USA Patriot Act; 3.
ABC News Exclusive, Is the government Spying on Americans? (See above, plus See page 17, Security-Related Report (cont.): Number
13 in the Series - NCAM in my October 2008 S-R in the BCM archives 1, 2 & 3 , plus See the CBC2 graphic on page 7 herein, plus the video from ABC's Good Morning America, broadcast October
9, 2008 <http://rawstory.com/news/
Now apply all this knowledge to the deterrence, or lack thereof, of terrorists like the so called, "Fire Bomber" on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 26, 2009 (See graphic.) The following is one report on the "incident," which was "luckily," not a full "blown," to coin a phrase, tragedy:
Plane Bomber Claims Link To Al Qaeda. White House: Incident Was Attempted
Terrorist Attack. WASHINGTON (CBS) - "A Nigerian man who said
he was an agent for al Qaeda tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane
Friday as it was preparing to land in Detroit, but travelers who smelled
smoke and heard what sounded like firecrackers rushed to subdue him,
the passengers and federal officials said. Flight 253 with 278 passengers
aboard was about 20 minutes from the airport when passengers heard popping
noises, witnesses said. At least one person climbed over others and
jumped on the man. Shortly afterward, the suspect was taken to the front
of the plane with his pants cut off and his legs burned, a passenger
said. One U.S. intelligence official said the explosive device was a
mix of powder and liquid. It failed when the passenger tried to detonate
it." - CBS News Interactive: Eye On Air Safety, Dec 26,
So What Now?
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou, American Poet, b. 1928.
Last month I reported that Anthony Agresta, Vice President of Marketing for Centrifuge Systems, said, "Cyber-crime and fraud has become high profile as internet usage has increased and thieves evolve their techniques." - GSN, December 24, 2009.
And again, like I wrote in last month's S-R 1, 2 & 3 , The Bad Guys Are Winning: So Now What? "With the continual release of zero-day exploits, ever-larger-scale botnets, and rampant spyware, attackers have compromised tens of millions of machines connected to the Internet. With clever attackers mixing social engineering, physical attacks, and phishing into their bag of tricks, their rate of successful penetration is both astounding and depressing." - Ed Skoudis, Author of Prentice Hall best seller, Counter Hack: A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses. His latest book is titled Malware: Fighting Malicious Code, SANS Track 4 Course Instructor: Hacker Techniques, Exploits and Incident Handling, and Co-Founder and Senior Security Consultant with InGuardians, from his Keynote Address at SANS CDI 2009, December 11, 2009.
This month we add
Intelligence chief sees dire threats to nation's cyber-security, by Jacob Goodwin, GSN: Government Security news, February 2, 2010. "Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair appeared before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 2 and delivered one of the most dire warnings about the nation's vulnerability to cyber-attacks ever heard on Capitol Hill. 'Malicious cyber activity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication,' said Blair, in his prepared testimony. While both the threats and technologies associated with cyberspace are dynamic, the existing balance in network technology favors malicious actors, and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Cyber-adversaries are stealing sensitive information from government and private sector networks on a daily basis, and they have managed to enter exploited networks without authorization and without their presence even being detected, he added."
or not an international approach is required, necessary or possible,
the reality is that the [cyber/terrorist] war is on, that concerned
individuals, businesses, military, and government bodies need to give
serious thought to it." - Will Gragido, Casandra Security, October
22, 2009 <http://cassandrasecurity.com/
As to the big cyber/terrorist picture, all this "security stuff" would apparently seem to be worth while, doesn't it? That is, concerning "yours, mine and ours" safety and security from cybercrime attacks, coupled with the feeling of being left alone and not being afraid of being blown up someday, somewhere (See the daily newspapers of "Suicide Bombers" throughout the World) That's only part of the reason why I do these S-R's and have developed my security software - for our mutual security, privacy and safety. There's more, lots more.
"There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free." - Walter Cronkite
Unfortunately, that is, for all of our individual privacy rights, if it's not already being done unbeknownst to any of us, I'm afraid that the writing is already on the wall (See above). In order to defeat Cybercrime the world is going to have to do a repeat performance on the "Fight on Terrorism;" this time, and it is about time, it's got to be a full blown, full out, no holds barred, no stone unturned, "Fight against Cybercrime!" I'd like to think it's a start, but most likely it's more like the words to those ancient campfire songs we used to sing as a Boy Scout long ago: "Same song, second verse, could get better, could get worse??? Here's what I mean:
1. President Obama Names Cybersecurity Leader. "Late last month, President Obama named Howard Schmidt, president and CEO of the ISF (Information Security Forum), as the national cybersecurity chief. Schmidt, who will reportedly have direct access to President Obama, previously served as a cybersecurity advisor to President Bush and also worked for eBay, Microsoft, and the FBI in security positions. Overall, he has more than 40 years of experience in the security field." - Processor.com, News, January 12, 2010.
2. Fraudsters Circumventing Two-Factor Authentication Protection. "Strong two-factor authentication methods apparently aren't what they used to be, according to recent research that Gartner released stating that fraudsters using 'Trojan-based, man-in- the-browser attacks are circumventing strong two-factor authentication, enabled through one-time password tokens.' Additionally, alternative strong-authentication factors, including ones using chip cards and biometric technology that rely on browser communications, are capable of falling to malicious users' tactics." - Processor.com, News, January 15, 2010.
3. Trend Micro: Tech Threats Are Sure To Increase. "Looking ahead to the types of threats data centers will face in the next 12 months necessitates both a thorough examination of the previous year's security challenges and the current patterns developing on the technological landscape.... In its report titled 'The Future of Threats and Threat Technologies: How the Landscape Is Changing,' Trend Micro revealed that the 2009 predictions came true regarding the threats with social networking, social engineering, and the underground tech economy. The 2010 forecast appears to be no less challenging with risks emerging in numerous tech sectors, including Windows 7, alternative operating systems, virtualized environments, and corporate social networks. Attacks will no longer overtake systems on a global scale but will be localized and engage specific targets. Malware and other infections will have a mind of their own, taking new forms and contaminating PCs in a single visit. In the coming year, it's expected that cybercriminals will see more ransomware-type attacks, in which the attacker confiscates the user's Web connections or data for cash. They will also utilize social manipulation to gain access into the social media 'circle of trust,' where users unknowingly click malicious notifications and pop-ups only to become victims of a cyber attack. Other threats to the user include tainted hardware, poisoned searches, malvertisements, and application vulnerabilities." - Processor.com, News, January 15, 2010.
4. "Some reports estimate a 200 percent increase - or more - in cyber-security incidents since 2006.... cyberadversaries range from nuisances to bandits to nation-states, and the explosion of Internet-connected devices and wireless networks has increased exponentially the number of vulnerability points.... In 2008, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (HSPD-23) responded to this rise in cyber-security incidents by prescribing an array of practices and preventive measures, but budget limitations and competing priorities have inevitably slowed compliance.... Attack sophistication today is far ahead of where it was only five years ago. As network protection has advanced to counter the threat, the threat has shifted from the system to the user, and the user (who is accustomed to ubiquitous connectivity) has become an easier target for exploitation." Government must jump-start cyber-security efforts by Mary Croft, Senior Vice President, National Systems, in QinetiQ North America's Mission Solutions Group, Guest Columnist, GSN:Government Security News, January 2010.
5. In describing the dire consequences of malware attacks on governments,
businesses and consumers, Mike Fumai, President and CEO, Blue Ridge
Networks says, "According to a Symantec spokesperson, cyber-theft
is now a more lucrative business than drug trafficking." In other
examples of the impact of malware, Fumai pointed out that the Melissa
Hathaway/CSIS Report commissioned by President Obama concluded that
$1 trillion worth of U.S. intellectual property was stolen by cyber-espionage
in 2008. He added that cyber-criminals are presently stealing over $1
million per day from small businesses.... "This stealing impacts
everyone," said Fumai. "You can pick up a newspaper every
single day reporting of the stealing of identities from consumers or
drawing money out of the bank accounts of small businesses. Small businesses
that lose $75,000 or $150,000 from their bank accounts can be brought
to their knees. They're closing their doors every day." From Blue Ridge CEO describes impact of cyber-theft in GSN video interview, Special Section: Anti-malware, GSN: Government Security News, January 2010.
"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves." - Buddha Siddhartha Gautama
doing my part in the fight on terrorism and cybercrime, and then some.
The question now becomes; are you?
1 See the actual Reports/Reviews in the Blue Chips Magazine Archives at <www.ucs.org>. Note. Always choose the .pdf format for its beauty.
2 To see all the beautiful graphics in this Review - the ones that I've worked so hard to entertain you with - you will need to follow the procedures outlined in Footnote 1 above. Enjoy!
3 Feature(s) precisely
identified as reason(s) for designating this Review/Report as "Security-Related."
magicJack (VoiP) Internet Phone
Never Pay a Monthly Phone Bill Again!
Reviewed by Don Nendell
YMAX COMMUNICATIONS CORP
5700 Georgia Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
(Not found on their web site)
Mailing Info (as found on their web site):
P O Box 6785, West Palm Beach, FL
(Not found on their web site)
Web site: <www.magicjack.com>
Support: Provided by "Live Chat 365/24/7" Support Only from
<www.magicjacksupport.com> Unofficial magicJack Forum (Hot item) (Not found on their web site). To borrow a well-known phrase in these parts, "This is the place" for mJ questions and answers.
YMax Communication Corp: (Not found on their web site - See more below)
I just got back from 2010 CES (where some are calling the year twenty-ten). I didn't get to see a great deal due to my existing back problem, shucks! Oh yes, they didn't have the Sands Convention Center this year, so I guess that makes this year's CES smaller than last year's CES? With my restricted time on the Convention floor, I am not able to officially say yea or nay concerning this year's show. Overall it did seem to be pretty much the same to my eyes - kind of lean and mean - but still very exciting.
From the official CES end of show report by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President and CEO, Gary Shapiro, we get the "Rest of the Story:"
"More than 2,500 technology companies introduced more than 20,000 new products this week at the 2010 International CES, kicking off the next decade of technology innovation, ...with a record 330 new exhibitors, [and] major technology trends unveiled on the 2010 CES show floor.... Cutting-edge technology trends wowed crowds throughout the 2010 International CES show floor including advancements in 3D technology [3D TV], mobile DTV, tablets, netbooks, eReaders, apps, connected TVs, embedded Internet technologies and green technology [apps]. Major innovations creating a buzz from CES included the Android OS, Lenovo's IdeaPad U1 Hybrid, Microsoft's Project Natal and Sprint's 4G network."
thing I do know, however, is that ShowStoppers 2010 at CES 2010 was larger than last year's show with 105 exhibitors on
the floor. However, sad to report, they didn't have their usual USB's
being handed out with the exhibitors information on them - that data
is now up on their web site - so I guess you could say it was a little
leaner there, too? But that in no way detracted from the overall quality
of products being shown off, however, they were all absolutely great.
Many of the same company's products I've reviewed previously for you
here in BCM 1 & 2 were present on the floor again this year, and you'll be re-introduced
to them in their latest iterations once again as the year progresses.
To Begin With
There was one real "cutie" at the ShowStoppers event that I want to introduce to you this month; a great little product that was totally new to me, but, evidently not so much so to the nation, however. It's called magicJack (mJ), and even though it is named for the inventors daughter's little puppies, Magic and Jack, of course, it is definitely a little piece of "magic" to my imagination. Whoa! Wait a sec, I've already begun using superlatives, and we haven't even started, yet!
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Aurthur C. Clarke
Remember, for the past two (2) months now I introduced each BCM Review 1 & 2 product with the following words, "Anything this good is either illegal, immoral or fattening," meaning it probably should be banned, it's so good, or some such.
Also, I mentioned that two (2) Utah counties (Utah and Salt Lake) are recognized as the "Scam Capitols of the World;" again, or some such (but Bernard Madoff, former Chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange, definitely put us all to shame, it's safe to say.)
this is coming to you via the northern most of those two said "Scam"
Utah counties - meaning a caveat is probably very much
in order here concerning this month's product 1 & 2 ; however, more than likely it probably should be "me" - since I'll even go one step farther in superlatives
this month. To wit, I'm herewith adding another "thought provoking
statement" herein for you, one that we've all probably been very
familiar with over the years (especially in Utah): "If It Sounds
Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is." We'll stick with the money
side here. One such apropos affirmation (out of the 261,000 possibilities
I found in a Google Search for the phrase) is attributed to Neil Cavuto, Common Sense, Fox News, Fair & Balanced, February 20, 2009 <www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,
Note. Watch Neil Cavuto weekdays at 4 P.M. ET on "Your World with Cavuto"
FYI This particular "If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably
Is," web site (one out of the 261,000 Google search results) even
has a magicJack Ad floating overhead <http://cjonline.com/stories/
thing though, magicJack definitely is, "Too Good to Be True!"
There I've said it, and I'm glad. Just keep on reading and hopefully
you'll see what I mean, er, I mean "sell you on magicJack?"
Oh! You don't believe me? Good, then! SEE FOR YOURSELF,
it's FREE to Try for 30 days. ;-} But beware, it's
an "either/or," "love it or leave it," etc., sort
of thing and you can really get hooked, it's that "Good!"
just getting warmed up, folks. Here's what I mean about sounding "Too
Good to Be True." From a magicJack "Internet"
"FREE TRIAL. Use our Phone Service for free, make all the free calls you please. 100% Risk FREE - you pay nothing. (Hurry, less than 10,000 magicJacks are eligible to be shipped for the Free Trial Offer Today, Sunday, January 10, 2010 [my emphasis here, plus compare this with the identical ad below]. This offer is not available in stores and will expire (See also below).) Click Here for Free Trial: FREE Local & Long Distance; FREE Phone Number; FREE Call Waiting; FREE Voicemail; FREE Caller ID. Works with Windows XP, Vista, 7 [and] Intel Macs." (See more below)
Now I ask you (Remember "Scam" and "Too Good to Be True!" from above?), "Who could believe all that FREE, FREE, FREE stuff?" Well, I simply had to check that one out for myself, most definitely and especially, since I was handed one (FREE, thank you very much!) while attending the aforementioned "great" ShowStoppers 2010 event.
Actually, it didn't take me long, after a flawless, but involved and unnecessarily lengthy, installation and registration, to do exactly like their web site said to do. I did indeed tell (by calling "FREE" on my magicJack, naturally) my family, a friend, or two, or three, and... now more! Here's why!
The Nitty Gritty Stuff
When Donna first saw the magicJack (mJ), visualize, it's about the size of a small box of wooden matches, the kind of handy "strike-on-the-box" size, she thought it was a "toy." I, too, originally thought it might be as well, but that changed very rapidly, the farther I got into its workings. Plus, it's "shiny" metallic case blew me away (See graphic); you know me and those "shiny cases" ;-} But make no mistake, this is a very serious business, folks, it's all about "money!" Your money. My money. Everybody's money! And times being what they are, this is a very sensitive, important and timely topic, I truly believe. Always has been, always will be - money, that is!
First off. magicJack is not a panacea, or an elixir, nor is it a cure-all, for everyone, but when it works, like it does for me, then it's simply dynamite - a literal bonanza. It can be for you, as well, so, do your homework well (See below), play with it, and then, if it fits your needs, Bingo!, you've just won the jackpot, er, I mean, magicJack! If it doesn't, well then chalk it all up to experience, and move on to another adventure. As the sayings go: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained!" "No harm, no foul!" "No pain, no gain!"Just remember, this is VoIP (Voice Over IP), you know like SKIPE, et al., and they all need to be researched carefully. So tread carefully! You've been warned! However...
"He that will not sail till all dangers are over, must never put to sea." - English scholar and preacher, Thomas Fuller
The Ugly, The Bad, The Good,
or is it the other way round?
I say this because this magicJack Review has been one of the most perplexing reviews I've ever done in all of my BCM Reviews 1 & 2. This is mainly due to many previously undiscovered Internet Blog "hearsay comments" and/or from my own personal considerations, in actuality. And like Johnny Mercer's 1940's hit song, AC-CENT-TCHU-ATE THE POSITIVE 5, I could right this minute write that "the mJ works perfectly for me, I'm exceedingly happy with my mJ. (Period)"
Note. For those of you who know me as, "The greatest Beta-buster ever," with the by-line of, "Happiness is a working PC," this is a dynamite statement coming from me, in and of itself. And that would be that; End of Review. Not!
The Ugly (Internet whining), the Bad (Company selling MO and lack of phone Technical Support), The Good (magicJack itself). With that caveat, and just for the lazy ones out there, here goes my own Internet findings; and contrary to the byline above, follow along in no particular order of importance, so he says:
Note. You can find all the following data, and then some, in your own Internet search of magicJack, and as a result, it will immediately become a "bit more involved for you, as well," than my simple statement: "mJ works beautifully for me. (Period)"
On the magicJack web site itself, the "Click to Play Video (Click
& Learn)" TV commercial advertisement is a "hard sell,"
ala Billy Mays' style (a turn off for some, but the telemarketer's idol,
I've read <www.copyblogger.com/billy-
Other TV News style reports, like ABC News TECH bytes, for example, seem genuine (See graphic). Also mJ has a number of very positive, even glowing, media raves, including a PC Magazine's Editors Choice Award (January 17, 2008), displayed on their web site (See more on this below.)
the magicJack web site, for example: "Click to Play Video (CBS
NEWS)" brings us to: Talk All You Want With No Monthly Phone Bill:
MagicJack Device An Inexpensive Alternative To Traditional Telephone
Talk by Dorothy Tucker. CHICAGO (CBS) "Keeping in touch
is getting easier and cheaper than you ever imagined, thanks to the
Internet. First, there was voice over Internet protocol - or VoIP -
offering customers phone service at a low, flat rate." As CBS 2
Consumer Reporter Dorothy Tucker reports, "you can now talk without
a monthly phone bill at all." True! <http://cbs2chicago.com/
However, sadly, deceptive appearing web site practices are interspersed
along with valid claims of mJ <www.magicjack.com/8/index.asp
the magicJack web site ad itself states (See graphic): "FREE TRIAL. Use our Phone Service for free, make all the free calls you please. 100% Risk FREE - you pay nothing. (Hurry, less than 10,000 magicJacks are eligible to be shipped for the Free Trial Offer Today, Tuesday, January 19, 2010 [my emphasis here, plus compare this with the identical ad above]. This offer is not available in stores and will expire [See below].)"... $39.95, etc. Sound familiar?
Explanation of critique: 1. The data inside the parentheses in the statement above (Hurry, ...) at first glance appears to be deceptive. To wit: a) They may indeed have only 10,000 mJ's to be shipped "Today," then again???; b) The date of "Today's" shipping changes "every day" to the current "Today's" date; and, c) The offer "not being available in stores and will expire," is entirely misleading. (See the mJ web site, See graphic, and See below.)
Here's why? mJ was "shown to be available" under the "magicJack" Google search (See graphic above) "Shopping results for magicjack [Sic]" heading which displays graphically thereunder the five (5) stores "currently selling mJ that day (i.e., "Today," and most likely, every "Today" to come)" for $39.99 (i.e., RadioShack, Walgreens, Amazon.com (which was the cheapest price out of the 5), Best Buy and Office Depot.
Mistake, I think not? But, giving YMax the benefit of doubt, even with their Billy Mays approach to selling, maybe it's in the process of being changed, as we speak? That alone doesn't change the very fact that mJ is a terrific product for me personally and in my estimation.
Google search heading out of the 5,170,000 mJ results returned for me
was (See graphic), for example: "magicJack.com - Never pay a monthly phone bill again! Free
local and long distance calling in the USA and Canada. 100% Risk Free
30 Day Trial." True!
3. No phone number is listed on the mJ web site (or anywhere else for that matter), only a Post Office Box address in Palm Beach, Florida is listed for other contact purposes (that alone is rather strange, I mean, acting like a "Fly-by-night" organization, don't you think? Which obviously is the basis for my eliciting the "Scam" rejoinder above.)
Explanation of critique. My own search of Business Week showed: "Ymax Communications Corp.5700 Georgia Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33405, United States, founded in 2005, Phone: 561-586-3380, Fax: 561-586-2328. Ymax Communications Corp., through its subsidiaries, offers telecom services, consumer products, and software. It operates a competitive local exchange carrier network. The company also provides phone calls through USB devices and voice networks, as well as softphone. In addition, it offers VoIP software." <www.ymaxcorp.com >. This is pretty straight forward, so why don't they put this information on their web site?;
4. magicJack doesn't have a live 1 on 1 Tech Support setup to answer my (or anyone else's) questions, and for me this is my own personal "No-No #1." I always, repeat, always, always, always have questions regarding any review I do (and this one is most definitely one of them); recall my byline is: "Happiness is a working computer?" Oh, they do have Tech Support, but it's in the form of a Chat line that does operate 24/7/365.
Note. My extensive Internet research of mJ (which is solely where my ambivalence arose from), if you are to believe all the "Whiners" out there, indicates that there have been problems in the past with those same mJ Chat Representatives due to an apparent lack of adequate training on their part by the company. It also appears to many that their responses are backed up by apparently(?) reading "Scripts" in response to questions being asked of them (see "one possible" explanation below.)
a. For me personally, I didn't have a problem with my "Chat" person, Andre, when I first "test" contacted Chat Support. He was polite, helpful, understandable, and answered my question to my complete satisfaction. The following is a condensed "excerpt" of the transcript of my "Chat" session:
Don Nendell: I would like to know how to set up a smart phone/cell phone with mJ?
Andre: Would you like to use cell phone for international call?
Don Nendell: No, only local and long distance call to the U.S. and Canada.
Andre: It is only applicable for making international calls.
Don Nendell: Thank you. Good bye.
Yes, it was a "loaded question," for sure (See New Information - This Just In below.)
b. Once Again, when I conducted my second "loaded test" contact with Chat Support a few days later, I didn't have a single problem with "Chat" person, Gertrude, nor her second level support person I was handed off to, Cherry. My question: "How do I get one (1) of my 'ancient' Telex H-531 USB Headsets 4 to work with magicJack?" It took about an hour and a half of excellent, professional-level "chatting" before we were able to work out a suitable, but clearly alternate, solution to my problem. Long story, short story. I know I was talking to a real person, because Cherry misspelled "magicJack" once. So much for scripts. If they are using them, and I'm sure they have to be, as my subject was way too technical, they did both did an excellent job. Bottom line. "Cherry: I may suggest you to buy an adaptor. A [Sic] adaptor that has an input of USB and has an output of speaker jack so that you can use that headset, Don." OK!
Note. Although I could talk clearly with the mic with both Telex H-531 models, I ultimately determined that neither model Telex H-531 could/would receive voice signals, as they are presently constituted - they're evidently too old. In the long run, I will ultimately need a newer model of USB headset/mic to use with the mJ, or alternatively, plug the ear piece and mic mini-jacks out of one of them into the PC, vice using the Telex USB connector. I intend to do one, or the other, as the headset/mic combo is far more comfortable to use than manually holding phone handsets to the head while conversing over long periods of time. That way, the ear goes to sleep, not the arm ;-} What more can I say?;
5 . You cannot make a conference call to a phone number, other than to another mJ device with "mJ fully operating." That, in itself, is not really a deal breaker considering how much one pays/annum for a mJ; which is exactly $19.95, not a month, but a year, and figuring this out to four decimal points of accuracy equates to $1.6625/month, which is exactly one and a fraction under 2/3rds dollars per month, or 5.54 cents, plus or minus, per day - like wow! Try paying highly qualified, skilled and fully trained Technical Support personnel on that amount of income? It's a catch 22, actually. "I personally don't see how they do it," he says, shaking his head;
6. You're not supposed to be able to FAX with mJ - it's not "officially"covered (See FAQ's below.)
Note. But, I almost did it - however, others have done it successfully - in my own FAX test on line 2 of a 2-line phone system. But ultimately, I couldn't find any place in the FAX manual on how to change (lower or speed up) the "receiving speed" on my "ancient" Panasonic KX-F550 FAX machine, as mJ suggests to do. Oh well, this is not a deal breaker either - see item 4 above, re. operating cost/month explanation;
7. The following PCMAG.COM Reviews (See graphic) are the most comprehensive reports on magicJack I could find during my extensive research on magicJack. The information contained in these reviews is "very telling" in the overall scheme of things. Here are some excerpts from a few of those Reviews:
magicJack (Winter 2009) (PCMAG.COM Review) by Mario Morejon, February 4, 2009 <www.pcmag.com/article2/0,
[We could very easily stop right there, but, please do keep on reading straight through all the way to the Summaries. It could very well be "well worth" your while! "Nothing ventured, nothing gained!" as the old adage goes.]
magicJack (Winter 2009) (cont.): Where's the Disconnect? (PCMAG.COM Review) by Mario Morejon, February 4, 2009 <www.pcmag.com/article2/0,
magicJack (Winter 2009) (cont.): The Real issue (PCMAG.COM Review) by Mario Morejon, February 4, 2009 <www.pcmag.com/article2/0,
Complicated Case of magicJack (PCMAG.COM Review) by Dan Costa, February 5, 2009 <www.pcmag.com/article2/0,
8. Some "Whiners" stated that they could not get a refund on their mJ 30-day Free Trial up front, pre-payment of $39.95, plus S & H, requirement established by mJ. It apparently did not entail a Credit Card (was it a Debit Card?) , which is an entirely different process (See below for a solution)?
Note. This is obviously intended to stop anyone from cutting and running with the goods in hand after paying for their mJ with a "deficient" Debit Card account, for example, I most certainly can imagine.
There's more to all this, for sure, but I'll now save you from searching for the gory details.
Caveat. Long story, short story. Simply purchase your magicJack from Walmart for $39.88 (See "As shown on TV" shelf at the 5300 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville store (see graphic above,) as they may be the best of all), or Best Buy, Walgreens, Radio Shack, Office Depot, Sears, et al., and not, repeat, not buy it from the magicJack web site itself (Note. This effectively defeats the mJ web site "hard" sales spiel, I know, but it does solve a lot of potential problems, as I've noted herein, doesn't it? See item 1 above), and thereby save yourself: a) the S & H; b) any possible misunderstandings (due to people not reading the fine print, their own computer problems, et al. See also below); c) any potential frustration, if such were to arise, and they have been known to arise due to computer problems, etc., and not mJ's problems, (See Conclusion and Solving mJ Problems below); plus, d) "they" (meaning the stores themselves) will honor the stated "Money back guarantee," which means, then you won't have to rely on mJ to perform! Ta Da!; and,
Some "Whiners" stated that Ymax Communications Corp. had an
"F" rating early on with BBB due to complaints against them.
My personal check showed a rating of "A-" as of January 15,
2010, which leads me to believe that the growing pains of a company
getting started in a very competitive and "back biting" business
was being worked out very nicely, thank you. Overall, pretty good, I'd
My Immediate Questions
Concerning mJ Are:
1. What is my own personal intended use of my mJ? Is it to replace my primary, Comcast "cable" 2-line phone? My cell phone? What?
Note. I have all three (3) services from Comcast Cable: TV, Internet, and a 2-line Phone system. And this excellent mJ product has caused me to rethink about not having a land line-based phone for emergency 9-1-1 service needs. My advice, based upon Donna's and my immediate medical needs is this: "You need to rethink this vital 9-1-1 emergency calling service need for yourself, as mJ handles Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) crises in an entirely different manner according to the recently adopted FCC E911 VoIP Order (as does all VoIP providers), and E9-1-1 will not be available if your Internet connection goes down. (Period)
Here's what happens in mJ's " real world." Upon registering magicJack (in addition to E9-1-1 instructions which are also contained in the magicJack packaging), they will immediately send you an Enhanced 911 Disclosure e-mail notification to doubly insure that you are in full understanding of their, i.e., magicJack's, Enhanced 911 (E911) "LIMITATIONS ON ACCESS TO E911 SERVICES."
Caveat. This is not an emergency phone, folks. Get that through your heads. It's designed primarily for other very useful purposes, for sure; however, mJ will most likely work for you, if, repeat, if your Internet services and PC are up and running. Warning CYA here. Check this out for yourself to be absolutely certain!;
2. How is the mJ to be used in a travel scenario? Say, in a hotel, coffee shop wi-fi "Hot Spot" location, a different country of use, on a vacation, on a business trip (See below), on short visits semi-locally, et al.? Note. In any multiple choice test, I've always been taught that the "best guess" answer, when you don't really know the right answer, has always been to "Choose C, All of the above!" mJ is designed to work perfectly with "C, All of the above!"
For a more analytical solution than mine to this apparent quandary of choosing the right answer, try this perfectly logical explanation on for size. From the comic strip FRAZZ (1/27/10):
Little Black student: "Assuming a typical distribution of answers on a multiple-guess test, it works out that your best odds are with (b) or (c) 60% of the time. Which drops to 48% if that was the previous answer, and another five percentage points per consecutive occurrence. Plus or minus 1.5. Beyond that it gets complicated."
FRAZZ: "I thought you hated math?"
Little Black student: "It's different when you can apply it to something."
Point made. Case is closed;
3. Which brings up the cell phone/smart phone replacement/supplement (See "Chat" session above?) Can you reduce the expensive minutes on your cell phone by using a mJ? The answer is a qualified yes, but consider carefully here as well, what your actual needs for cell phone usage versus mJ usage will turn out to be. The cell phone is "mobile" (See New Information - This Just In below) and the mJ is not. To each his/her own. Both are great in their respective pews. However, remember, do your research on all of the above, repeat, "All of the above!" Which means, "Everything" I've mentioned herein;
Financial considerations. This is personal for each of us, and mJ most
certainly can be the answer to the majority of your own problems, that's
for sure. However, I'll say it again: "Do your 'due diligence'
research on all of the above, repeat, 'All of the above! [I say again,] Do your CYA stuff, meaning everything I've mentioned herein, and get with the times." Have some fun, get up to speed, and get
yourself a "Great" mJ to play with, right now! Which finally
brings us to...
Let's Get to the "Good Stuff"
We've heard some of the "Weak" points of mJ, now what are some of the "Good" points of mJ? Extracted from a few Blog sites on the Internet, I've gleaned a couple of OPTF (Other People's Thoughts/Feelings) for you. Here they are:
1. "I was told by friends going into the MJ [Sic] purchase that I might want to have MJ [Sic] on a machine by itself and I do. I think the occasional reboot of the router or machine MJ [Sic] is sitting on will not be [a] problem especially when I think of all the money I'm saving. I spent in one month what the MJ [Sic] will cost me all year for the land line each month.... Great product, so far." - Stevo on the coffeedesk.com, November 24, 2009;
2. "I've had this piece of equipment for over a year and have had no problems. However, I only use it to make calls that would chew up my minutes on my cell phone - I don't use it as a primary phone. When everything is working (power's on, Internet connection works, router, etc) you can't beat MJ [Sic]." - SCConsulting on the coffeedesk.com, November 27, 2009;
3. "Anyone that relies on a wireless phone or any VoIP device for emergencies is a complete moron. I can't tell you how many people I've run across in my life that have NO IDEA that only their land line will work when the power goes out... you can still have a land line for as little as $5/month for emergencies." - StrahdZ on the coffeedesk.com, December 12, 2009;
4. "M72 has hit the nail on the head. A powered USB adapter is the answer; along with the right hardware. Use current Hardware with current technology (cheapopotomus) (via a decent computer)[,] a 7 MG DSL line AND follow the directions to a 'T' and you will be fine. Critics always look for uptown quality at downtown pricing. Defrag, Defrag, Defrag!!!!!!" [you'll be introduced to Diskeeper 2010's "Set it and Forget it" technology very soon, so hang in there!] - Cabledoc64 on the coffeedesk.com, November 20, 2009;
5. "39.95 + tax is the initial investment, 19.95 for one year renewal and 59.99 [it's up to $69.95 now (See graphic.)] for 5 year renewal.... Most of us pay out more than this for 1 to 3 months of Internet access. Affordability should never negate acceptable functionality but, good grief people, how pathetically bitchy do you want to sound? I have used the magicJack for about 8 months now on XP home with a Acer Aspireone netbook at home and out on public wi-fi, it simply works! Each user experience will be different and the good ones don't cancel out the bad ones but, how much are we expecting for how little? I've been a Skype user, a Vonage customer and a Packet8 customer and never had call quality like the MagicJack [Sic] gives me. I spent large amounts of time trying to point the finger at my ISP for packet shaping (not saying they're innocent, I just gave it a rest finally) and done tons of system tweaks... nothing came close to current MJ [Sic] quality. Privacy issues?!?! Between Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, social networks (FB, Myspace, Twitter etc), credit cards, public records, traffic cams and anything else we've dumped our personal info into or can monitor our data/actions.... What do you think may be still a mystery about yourselves as far as 'Big Brother' is concerned? [See also S-R Update Report #15 1, 2 & 3 starting on page 4 of this BCM] Somewhere between 19.95 and up can get me so much info online on just about any person's name I can pull out of the phone book, off a property search, a marriage record (public record), domain name registration, certification records and the list goes on. You'd have to live 100% off the grid, no cellphone, Internet, credit cards, ID of any kind, GPS (pattern of travel is info), no regular employment, lease agreement... if you don't get it by now, in simple terms in your day to day life you give up so much information about yourself, it's real late in the game and silly to think MagicJack [Sic] is a major privacy concern over all the other things out there gathering/sharing your 'personal' information." - whatdoyawant on the coffeedesk.com, November 19, 2009;
6. "Nothing's perfect, but at 1/50th the price, this service is money well spent. For those of you still driving Hummers [which GM just dropped like a "hot potato" on 01/19/10] you replace every year, who eat out often with money to burn and egos to strut, this isn't for you." - Us'ns on the coffeedesk.com, November 2, 2009;
7. "I've been using it (mJ) for several months already without a single glitch. US$20/year, I don't know how they can do it, but who cares? There is no long term commitment, so even if they last one month, I've saved money over Vonage. At that cost, any expectation of live, 24/7 customer service by phone is unrealistic. For the price, their online FAQ and chat is sufficient. Two thumbs up." - CraigTPE on the coffeedesk.com, October 10, 2009; and,
8. "If you want to remove Magic Jack [Sic], you can do it with www.magicjackuninstaller.com. Actually, if you are having problems and want to start with a clean slate, it's the way to go [See below.] "- Enn7667 on the coffeedesk.com, September 5, 2009.
Solving magicJack Problems
ultimately brings us to an important, at least I think it is, Internet
web site dedicated to magicJack; one called, Solving Magicjack [Sic] Problems by A. J. Petersen <http://voip2u.org/solving-
"Luckily, this VoIP phone service has been designed in such a way, and has evolved so well over time, that there are virtually no major problems that one can expect to have to deal with in using this wonderful, innovative, technological device which is evolving our society as we sit here and speak. Nevertheless, on occasion things may come up which is why I am writing this article on solving MagicJack [Sic] problems. We will not get into the nittiest and grittiest details as at a certain level it is a much better idea to deal directly with customer support at the official website itself."
Note. The official Customer Service web site is: <www.magicjack.com/1/
"First of all, one of the first things you should always do when experiencing problems with your device is to look into your computer. I don't mean figuratively; I just mean that you should run through the following diagnostic tests. Try restarting your computer at least once every week. This is always the first thing I recommend to people to help them in solving MagicJack [Sic] problems (or any other computer problem). I restart mine at least once a week, and even more than that sometimes.
"You should also try to defrag [you'll be introduced to Diskeeper 2010's "Set it and Forget it" technology very soon, so hang in there!] and backup your computer's hard drive about once monthly. Some people would do it even more often, so it's kind of a personal thing. I just state 'once a month' as sort of a minimum. Remember that memory problems are often to blame in MagicJack [Sic] malfunctioning experiences, so defragging is a definite help in solving [lot's of] problems quickly and easily.
"One also should take into consideration that they may want to unplug and replug the actual USB device. This is simple and often overlooked. People tend to think that if it's plugged in and the light (if applicable) is on, then everything must be okay. In fact, lots of little random problems can come up in tiny physical ways. That is why the company itself recommends to plug and unplug the device at least once a month.
few simple techniques have been known to knock out a good percentage
of issues. It can be just that easy to implement when solving MagicJack
[Sic] problems, despite what the skeptics may tell you. Remember that
it's not always necessarily a problem with the device itself: it can
just as well be with your computer even though it appears to be working
Getting to the "Good Stuff"
BTW & FYI I installed my AutoEnc Security Suite on the magicJack, just exactly like on any other ordinary USB Flash Drive; and it works perfectly, as you might "only" expect after all this time with me here in BCM-land. There's actually a total of 18 MB of USB storage space available on the mJ, but only 9.16MB of that space is actually usable after my installation. Which makes this just another Security-Related Review 3, then, doesn't it? Yes! It does! Stretching the point a little ;-}
Let's take this another step forward, if you will. Since I've proven that with the installation of my patented AutoEnc Security Suite on magicJack that it can be made into an USB AES 256-bit encrypting/decrypting digital data/secure storage/exchange, AKA "SPY," device; now with a few more minor modifications to its innards, mJ can also be made into a "secure" VOIP conversation device, as well. Now, that's fairly controversial, wouldn't you say? Need I say more about mJ being Security-Related?
Matter of fact. Just for a practical joke - which Cliff usually appreciates - I even carried the "Final" copy of this Review (and the corresponding S-R Update #14 Report, See beginning on page 4 herein) to Cliff, the BCM editor, just exactly like any other "Spy" could/would do with his/her magicJack; that is, if they were ever disposed to do such a treacherous, despicable and/or diabolical thing? Cliff said, "What tha...?"
thunk it? Hooah!
Some More Getting to the
I've picked a few more actual postings at random from Internet Blog sites to share with you herein, once again, just to let you see how "Great" mJ really is in OPW (Other People's Words). For your own peace of mind, most definitely do go and search for your own mJ Blog postings (simply type "magicJack" (without the parentheses) in your Browser's window and viola!). Meanwhile back at the ranch:
said... I've owned a magicJack for about a month and am reasonably happy
with it, 'nuff said. For anyone having issues with MJ [Sic], try the
unofficial support forum at <http://www.magicjacksupport.
"Anonymous said... I just installed a magic jack on a computer with a Suddenlink high speed cable connection. It connected and installed perfectly. There were only a limited number of locations for my phone number, and all were long distance. (I live in rural NE Texas) Still it worked perfectly. I have installed it into a tablet PC that was gathering dust in my closet, and I plugged it into my Panasonic phone system. It is now line 2 on my phone system and is working from all of my phones in my house. At least for me, this device is working great and saving me lots over my previous line 2 charges." December 14, 2009
"Anonymous said... This is my second year using MJ [Sic] with only minor problems as audio that Always corrects its self, nothing 100% perfect, not even ma bell, for a measly 5 cent a day, who can complain, it's the next best thing to being free in a world of record run away inflation, I have found no problem with MJ [Sic] with Patience that cannot be solved, personally I plan to keep my MJ [Sic] service forever and that's a fact!" December 18, 2009.
this one I really, really like. "Anonymous said... We live
in Thailand and travel all over the world for work. MagicJack [Sic]
allows us to have an Indianapolis number while in Thailand or anywhere
else we travel...as we have one unit dedicated to our home here and
one that we take with us on the road. Since we have a unit at our Thai
[location] that lists as an US number, we can call from Australia, Europe,
or China back to Thailand for free. The system thinks it's a call from
the US to the US, when in fact we're calling transcontinental. AMAZING
product that we've convinced all of our ex-Pat friends to purchase and
utilize." January 8, 2010.
FYI #1 FAQ's
Q. When someone calls my magicJack line, will my telephone ring?
A. YES. Your telephone connected to your magicJack will ring as it always has.
If you are using a cordless telephone system, all phones will ring as they always have in the past.
Q. How can I use my answering machine with magicJack?
A. You may use a third-party answering machine with magicJack. NOTE: magicJack voicemail is set to 4 (four) rings by default. The ring count may not be changed at this time.
To use your own answering machine with your magicJack: Change the settings on your answering machine to pick up after 3 rings ...before the magicJack voicemail picks up. Please refer to your answering machine's user manual for additional details.
Q. Can I send and receive faxes using magicJack? (See above)
A. SOMETIMES. We do not officially support using faxing with magicJack.
Please try the following steps to use magicJack with your fax (contact your fax manufacturer for details): 1. Turn off error correction on your fax machine or program; 2. Set the fax machine or program to use the slowest speed available; and, 3. Increase the speed, checking at each speed that faxes work.
Q. Does magicJack support three-way calling?
A. YES. magicJack supports 3-Way Conference Calling for incoming calls. How 3-Way Conference Calling Works: 1. Have both parties call you; 2. With one party on the line, and one on hold (using call waiting), simply press # # to start a three-way call; and, 3. Press # * to end the three-way call.
Q. How do I edit a contact in my contact list?
A. To modify or edit a contact in your contact list: Right click the contact you wish to edit and select "Edit" (see also CBC2 graphic on page XX .)
Q. Are 411 Directory Assistance calls free with magicJack?
A. YES! 411 Directory Assistance calls are free with magicJack! 1. To access Free Directory Assistance by telephone, Dial 4-1-1; or, 2. To access Free Directory Assistance on the Internet, Click on "411" on your computer's magicJack SoftPhone.
FYI #2 Free voicemail is included in your magicJack purchase. You may access your voicemail by telephone and through your email. You may not disable the voicemail to email function at this time. (See the mJ manual for directions)
FYI #3 Tip for dropped calls: Right click on my computer, go to manage on the left side, click on device manager on the right side, click the + sign next to universal serial bus controllers, double click the USB root hub, click the power management tab and uncheck the "allow the computer to turn off this device to save power" do this for all USB root hubs.
FYI #4 Tip for voice quality issues. If you are having voice quality issues all you need to do is buy a USB port with an adapter. It takes lots of energy from the computer to make a call so when you have a powered usb you don't have to worry about the computers usage. You can buy one for under 7 bucks at EFORCITY.com, et al.
Had enough? Satisfied? I am! Just "TRY" mJ for 30 days and make up your own mind, it's that simple. Mine already is! It simply works for me! Bonne Chance! Buena Suerte! Buona fortuna! Whatever your language, Good Luck!
New Information - This Just In
CEO of magicJack stood up at CES 2010 and announced another brilliant
coup; cell phone adaption of magicJack real soon (it's called
FemtoCell). But, that's another "controversial" telecommunications
story, for another time.
Conclusion (Summary #1)
I'm not here to defend Ymax, its MO, its morals, its financial/accounting methods, its shortcomings (due to introducing new technology), its ethics, none of that. I've done a great deal of research about magicJack on the Internet, and on my own PC's, on my very own, and the bottom line is this: mJ definitely works for me. I tested my mJ in two (2) different scenarios: 1. A single hand-held phone located immediately adjacent to the designated receiving PC that worked absolutely perfectly, i.e., was "crystal clear;" and, 2. A PanasonicKX-TG2382 Triple Talk (i.e., three (3) stations) portable phone setup which was "crystal clear on all stations," as well. Hooah!
Bottom Line: The cost is negligible in the overall scheme of things. I personally think the mJ is a genuine, fantastic "Toy" that has a great deal of intrinsic value in a whole host of telecommunications areas (home, travel, business, etc.). However, one should consider all factors carefully before making the decision to put all their eggs in one basket - or all their marbles in the ring - alone, and none other. Caveat Emptor: Know what you are doing here, folks. Don't say you haven't been warned, because you have!
For my money, I truly don't believe the mJ is a scam. It is however, an extremely serious business, very important and even critical, in some cases, and should be approached that very way. "Anything less would be uncivilized," as Sir Charles told us on a Gillette Right Guard TV ad in 1994.
Don't be an impulse buyer on mJ. Do your homework, just like your school days made you do, that is, if you're going to pass this test, and it is a test, believe you me. ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, mJ can turn out to be a literal life saver for some, a boon for others, fun for almost everyone, and definitely worth all the trouble it can potentially cause (in the brain box, that is) for virtually everyone.
I have all three (3) types of phones: a Comcast "cable" 2-line home phone, a cell phone (Blackberry), and the mJ, for a grand total of four (4) entirely different phone numbers. Ergo, the best of all worlds, as they all work to supplement each other in some fashion or other, at one time or another, and are each in its own way not "solely" my dependency-related source of connection to the outer world.
I don't have enough experience yet with mJ to give any other recommendations on it at this time, I'm just having fun with it for right now. I'm still in my "30-day FREE Trial" period, and so should you!
One thing I really do like is the genius behind the idea of mJ, the operation (phone, that is, not the company) of mJ, the concept of mJ, the cost=savings of mJ, and practically everything "Good" about mJ. It has its faults, sure, but for the price, it's worth the short comings. (Period) My best advice for you, if you are considering getting your own mJ, is to buy it outright from Walmart, Best Buy, et al., but do not, repeat, do not buy it from the web site, or from off of commercial TV ads (remember - that's where all those complaints originate from - not the stores selling mJ's, because they will honor your money back guarantee.) Do the one year thing ($39.99 or $39.88?) and save the S & H charges. Then if it works perfectly for you, buy the extended plan, but not one second before you're absolutely certain it's the right thing to do for you personally.
smart, have fun and save lots of money playing with your new toy, the
mJ - you'll be glad you did! I most definitely am!
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds," - A. Einstein
And so, in the long run, you are ultimately going to have to make up your own mind on whether to "Try and Buy, or Not to Buy a mJ ." Well, you always do this anyway, don't you? "Do or Do Not, there is no "Try," as Yoda advises us. And my advice is, don't squawk, carp, complain or whine about not having been warned herein to: "CYA and do your own research. Then, and only then act according to your own needs!" magicjack will either will work for you, or it will not, it's that simple.
"The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger - but recognize the opportunity." - John F. Kennedy, in a 1959 speech in Indianapolis.
For me, magicJack works beautifully. It's that simple!
For you, I suggest that you: 1. "Buy a mJ and TRY it! But, (in keeping with mJ's 'hard Sell' line), you'd better hurry, Walmart only had one (1) left on the 'As shown on TV' display (See graphic above) when I checked them out just before publication deadline"; 2. Like Dolly Parton advises us to do: "If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one."; and, 3. By all means, "Don't mess with Mister In-Between!"5
happy, folks. And just like the Electronics salesperson I spoke with
at Walmart (See graphic), who not only sells "lots of magicJacks,"
but also bought and "uses" her own magicJack, plus her sharing
with me personally that, "she (exactly like myself),
is very content and mighty satisfied with the magicJack's performance."
It's literally magic, to coin a phrase, to my ears, and pocketbook! It can be for yours, too! Enjoy!
1 See the actual Reports/Reviews in the Blue Chips Magazine Archives at <www.ucs.org>. Note. Always choose the .pdf format for its beauty.
2 To see all the beautiful graphics in this Review - the ones that I've worked so hard to entertain you with - you will need to follow the procedures outlined in Footnote 1 above. Enjoy!
3 Feature(s) precisely identified as reason(s) for designating this Review/Report as "Security-Related."
4 The Telex H-531 Headset is the first microphone to deliver high-quality digital input for for PCs, iMacs, and iBooks . And because it is digital, the H-531 eliminates the need for a sound card. This innovative product is light, comfortable, and easy to use. Get yours today from TELEX DIRECT. The H-531 was tested by PC World and was named the "Best Buy" in the computer headset category. The H-531 is also approved by major voice recognition software companies.
5 AC-CENT-TCHU-ATE THE POSITIVE (Mister In-Between) - Artist: Johnny Mercer as sung on "Remember the 40's-Music Of the War Years, Vol. IV, 1941-45" CEMA Special Markets (Capitol-EMI) CDL-57367; peak Billboard position # 1 in 1945
- competing versions
charted by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters
- Words and Music by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer
<Intro is slow
Gather 'round me, everybody
Gather 'round me while I'm preachin'
Feel a sermon comin' on me
The topic will be sin and that's what I'm ag'in'
If you wanna hear my story
The settle back and just sit tight
While I start reviewin'
The attitude of doin' right
You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene....
The meeting was convened by President Stuart Gygi.
Wolsey showed some of the things he did while studying video and
audio editing in school. He first showed a short animated video on which
he did the audio and sound effects. It was a five minute video for Onstar
and was quite entertaining. The video was a school project. The music
was an original score by a student in the music school. The voices were
done by two people who were recorded first; then the animation was done
around the voices. The sound effects were all created by Sean. Finally
everything was merged together. The rendering process built a .png file
for each frame in the video, so it was quite large, 1.3 gigabytes for
animation level, although he rated it as beginning animation, was created
with industry professional software used by such companies as DreamWorks
Animation. It is called 3ds Max and was created by Autodesk Media and
Intertainment. The sound was recorded using a professional product from Sony Creative Software, Inc. called Vegas Pro 8 (Version 9 is now out). The price for Vegas Pro is $600 and up. Sony
has a line of software products which includes consumer versions of
Vegas Pro 9, including one, Vegas Movie Studio for under $100. A quick
search revealed prices between $60 and $80. The Vegas Movie Studio is
an excellent choice for the nonprofessional. An extensive set of plug-ins
for sound effects is also available.
showed how he created the sound effects, explosions, thumps, etc. It
was a process of experimentation. Many sounds were recorded and blended
together to achieve the sound he wanted. He ended up with 120 different
sound tracks in the final result. There is a crash sound which took
up 5 different tracks. Some were recorded while thumping on the furnace
in the basement in different places. Some were of glass breaking. There
was some left over glass chunks from a window broken by his children.
"Glass breaking is always useable in creating sound effects."
That wasn't enough. Also included in the crash was the sound of a kick
drum for a deep thud. Some sounds were created in the computer. Sean
says it is very easy to do. Some the sounds involve walking and falling
in snow. Sean and the co-producer went up into the mountains, set up
5 microphones and did the actions there.
final audio was mixed in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. The Vegas
software has amazing abilities for sound mixing. Sony is touting its
video capabilities, but it was born as an audio mixer. Why were the
sound effects created the way they were? Because using libraries costs
money. There are royalties required and they aren't cheap.
did some recording for Peter Breinholt, a singer who is popular locally.
He played a recording of a song. Prominent was the sound of a kick drum
played during the song. However, while the drum sounds great in concert,
the drum records very poorly. It required approx. 30 hours of processing
to get the sound right. It was finally realized that the drum sends
only a pulse to the speakers and the concert hall creates the reverberation.
So the reverberation was created in the Vegas program. The recording
was submitted to a competition and one of the judges asked how the drum
sound was recorded. She was amazed to hear Sean's explanation. Had the
judges known this before hand, Sean might have placed in the top three.
Oh well! Better luck next time.
a practical level for UCS members, talked about some things we members
might be interested in and might be more affordable. For something as
simple as a podcast, he recommended not depending on the microphone
on a laptop. Instead, purchase a microphone of better quality. A standard
unbalanced microphone can be purchased from Radio Shack for under $50
for a unidirectional microphone, or $25 for an omnidirectional microphone.
You can buy a plug adapter to plug into a computer sound port. The $50
mike would probably be adequate for narrating home movies or slide shows.
What is good enough? Depend on your ears. Sean showed a karaoke mike.
A bit more expensive mike (about $80, Shure SM58) would provide better
quality. I found with a quick search the SM58 listing at $124 and available
for $99. There are several places in Salt Lake where it can be purchased.
are two main types of microphones, dynamic and condenser. The dynamic
has a magnet and a coil of wire. A diaphragm attached to either the
magnet or coil generates an electric current when it vibrates in a sound
wave. A condenser mike has a capacitor/condenser. The capacitor has
two conductive plates one of which is the diaphragm. When the diaphragm
moves, it varies the capacitance which changes the electrical characteristics
of the mike. This mike requires a power source.
dynamic mike has the advantage that it is self powered and is physical
very tough. One he showed dropped 4 floors and cracked a tile on the
floor. The mike suffered only a scratch. It is an Audio Technica MB1K,
an answer to the Shure MB50. It cost $40, but the current MSRP is $49.
Sean recommends this mike for the home podcaster. It is often used by
bands starting out and can't afford the Shure. Frequency roll off is
around 12 - 13 khz. It and the Sure are not adequate for recording a
professional, high soprano singer or group.
condenser mike is far more sensitive to the high frequencies and sounds
stronger. The signal from the condenser is very small, so the mike often
has an amplifier inside to boost the signal to a level that can travel
over the cable to the main amplifier. Remember, the condenser mike must
be powered. Since the voltage required to power the mike varies with
the model, a preamp that matches the mike may be required. Some mikes
come with batteries built in to power the mike. You can't tell a condenser
mike from a dynamic mike just by looking at them. They often look the
same, so be sure to inquire when looking.
can be purchased with different patterns of sensitive (polar patterns).
This is the direction from which the mike picks up sound. The cardioid
pattern is sensitive mainly in one direction. The pattern is fairly
broad so it picks up sound at angles approaching 90 degrees from directly
in front. Within a few inches of the mike a base boost can be heard.
This can give the voice a rich sound, but it also accents any popping
sounds the voice may make. The popping can be diminished by speaking
into the side of the mike.
are variations to the cardioid pattern that may narrow the directional
effect, but may also include pickup in additional directions. The Audio
Technica 2050, MSRP $369, has several switchable patterns from cardioid
of various widths to a figure eight to omnidirectional. An omnidirectional
mike picks up sound almost equally in all directions, but less than
perfectly depending on the diameter of the mike. Because of this, it
is more prone to feedback from speakers. A good use is on a conference
phone. These mikes don't have the base boost effect.
line (cable) from a microphone is either balanced or unbalanced. The
unbalanced line only contains 2 connections. It can only transmit over
a distance of 20 feet. Sean recommends not using that long a line. The
balanced line has the property of good noise rejection, so it is superior
to the unbalanced line. The standard connector for a balanced line is
the XLR three pins, however, it can come with more. This connector is
the connector you are accustomed to seeing.
MOTU preamp is an expensive unit that goes for over $500 on the street.
For $80 you can get an Applied Research and Technology (ART) USB dual
Pre preamp with 2 microphone inputs, a USB output and analog speaker
output. The USB output gives you a USB microphone. The analog to digital
conversion is a lot cleaner and has better frequency response than the
computer's built in sound card. The unit accepts either a ¼ inch cable
or an XLR cable. Each input has a separate volume control to adjust
for differences in the loudness of voices. Each of the two inputs is
considered the left or right channels of stereo recording. If inputting
to a computer (USB output), the two channels can be handled anyway you
like in VEGAS or other software.
three most common plugins, in Sony's opinion are equalization (EQ),
noise gate, and compression. EQ allows you to change the sound of the
audio. Noise gate allows turning off a channel until a certain level
is reached, thus reducing noise. Compression separates the men from
the boys. It compresses (squishes) the peaks in the audio, thus reducing
distortion. You set it to start compressing at some level, say -10db.
In digital audio, you consider 0 db the distortion level. Next you set
the compression amount. Say for every 4db in, you only output 1db or
¼. There are several other parameters that can be set. Attack sets the delay before starting compression. One or two ms. is good for
voice. 0 ms. delay is very noticeable. Release should be about
150 ms. Auto gain compensation should be left on by novices.
Although auto-gain constitutes nonlinear amplification, a well designed
circuit will not show noticeable distortion. Sean doesn't like the feature,
but he isn't a novice.
a final note, Sean said that if you want to use your computer's sound
card, by using a decent microphone (the Audio Technica MB1K) with an
inexpensive ART preamp (one without the USB interface) you can have
an good microphone for your home recording. The ART Tube MP is a single
channel preamp for $50. Sean does recommend the USB interface, though.
Submitted by Stuart Gygi.