Innovations and Mergers

The PR Newswire is virtually alive with information about new product capabilities, mergers, changes in corporate leadership . . . you name it. Must be something in the water at this time of year. Here is a sampling of news items I believe will have an impact on our professional and/or computing lives in the near future.

Linksys Announces the Immediate Availability of New Wireless Networking Products Based on 802.11n Draft Specification

Linksys is a highly recognized leading provider of voice, wireless and networking hardware for the consumer, small office/home office (SOHO), and small business customer. They announced the immediate availability of a Wireless-N Broadband Router (WRT300N) and Wireless-N Notebook Adapter (WPC300N), the first in a line of Wireless-N products available from Linksys that will be built to the 802.11n Draft Specification.

The Wireless-N specification promised to deliver up to four times the range and up to 12 times the throughput of Wireless-G, providing wireless networks with the capacity to surf the web, enjoy multiple streams of high definition video, listen to digital music collections and make Internet phone calls — all at the same time.

The 802.11n draft specification allows Linksys Wireless-N products to transmit over two available channels at the same time, effectively creating a 40MHz channel that doubles the capacity for applications such as high definition video, audio streaming, online gaming and Voice over IP.

Two additional key pieces of the 802.11n Draft Specification are the requirements that products provide both mixed mode operation and backward compatibility with 802.11g and 802.11b. Mixed mode operation designates that, unlike previous proprietary networking technologies, 802.11n networks must maintain optimum speeds when operating with legacy products. Backward compatibility ensures that existing standards-based wireless products are able to work at their respective highest performance levels for that environment.

The WRT300N and WPC300N are available immediately through BestBuy.com at estimated street prices of $149.99 and $119.99 respectively. Additional products from the Linksys Wireless-N family designed for both the home networking and small business will be launched in the second half of 2006.

Bluffmail Audio Email Service Simplifies Communications

Using an innovative new technology, Telmatik Network inc. has created the world’s first audio mobile email service called “Bluffmail”. Bluffmail allows for subscribers to send audio email messages via any type of telephone (cell phone, regular land-line telephones, Blackberrys, etc), and the service allows one to not only reply, store and file audio messages like any other email, but to also send audio messages to up to five recipients at once. Subscribers are allowed to send up to 15 free Bluffmails per month for as long as they use the service.

Bluffmail enables a user to send emails while on the move as it relies on state-of-the- art voice recognition. Even further, the service’s audio capabilities allow a user to send up to 5 times more information in a minute than one could using a keyboard.

The sender is better able to capture and communicate accurate context through voice inflexion, and to communicate complex information which would be almost impossible to do concisely through written text communication.

Linspire Announces “Freespire” Version of Their Popular Linux Operating System

Linspire, developer of the popular commercial desktop Linux operating system, announced plans for a no-cost version of their operating system called Freespire. Kevin Carmony, Linspire’s President and CEO, unveiled the Freespire project in his keynote address on 4/24/06 at the 4th Annual Desktop Linux Summit in San Diego. In his remarks, Carmony explained how Freespire is a community-driven and developed project, but unique for open source Linux distributions in that it will allow users the choice to download a version that is 100% open-source or one that includes proprietary software.

Freespire is venturing into new territory by offering a free community Linux operating system that includes the option for legally licensed proprietary software pieces in the core distribution. The Freespire community project and Web site are now live at www.freespire.org, with the first beta release of the operating system to be made available for download in August.

Linux has found broad acceptance on servers but has met with some resistance from desktop and laptop computer users, in part from its lack of native support for some hardware, file types and multi media formats. Freespire addresses this issue by offering proprietary drivers and software as a choice, and gives desktop Linux users the option of “out-of-the-box” legal support for MP3, DVD, Windows Media, QuickTime, Java, Flash, Real, ATI drivers, nVidia drivers, Adobe Acrobat Reader, third-party fonts, and so on. Other Linux distributions do not include these pieces of proprietary software in their core free distributions.

“Freespire is about choice,” Carmony said. “The user should be free to decide what software they want to install on their systems, be that proprietary or open source. Linspire fully embraces and supports the open source model, but if Linux is to gain mainstream acceptance, it needs to work with iPods and DVD players, and fully support hardware, such as 3D graphic cards, Wi-Fi, sound, and printers. Until there are viable open source replacements, Freespire sets out to at least provide the option of legally and easily using certain proprietary codecs, drivers and software.”

New Online ROI Methodology Program Helps Professionals Maximize Return on Corporate Training

Not sure if your investment in training is paying off? The Phillips ROI Methodology is a step-by-step system for program evaluation that includes planning, data collection, data analysis and reporting. This program was developed by Drs. Jack and Patti Phillips in order to help professionals justify business decisions by measuring the return on investment in programs, processes and initiatives. Its use is indicated for anyone who must maximize resources by understanding the return on every dollar spent.

The Phillips ROI Methodology is the only methodology recommended by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). The ROI Institute is a research, benchmarking and consulting organization that provides workshops, publications and consulting services on the Phillips ROI Methodology. This balanced approach to measurement and evaluation includes techniques to isolate the effects of the program or solution, to convert data to monetary values, and to identify and deal with intangibles.

Pitney Bowes Completes Acquisition of Ibis Consulting

Pitney Bowes Inc. announced the successful completion of the acquisition of Ibis Consulting, Inc., a leading provider of electronic discovery services to law firms and corporate clients. According to Michael J. Critelli, Chairman and CEO of Pitney Bowes, “By combining Ibis Consulting’s complementary offerings with those of Compulit we can now provide channel partners, law firms and corporate legal departments one of the most comprehensive portfolios of litigation support services in the industry. Our shareholders stand to benefit as we continue to diversify and strengthen our presence in fast growing segments of the mailstream and expand our capability to manage both hard copy and electronic documents.”

I don’t know how many of you who attended ABA TechSHOW last week noticed, but there was a total dominance of eDiscovery vendors in the exhibit hall. It’s understandable that Pitney Bowes wants to enter this lucrative and rapidly expanding marketplace.

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