Miscellaneous Bits

1. Skype has announced free calling to regular telephones in the U.S. and Canada…(the Skype-Out service). Contrary to the euphoria seen elsewhere I wonder if this is just an admission that the Skype business model is folding up fast, and they are getting desperate. The equivalent service from the Gizmo Project costs almost nothing, and includes international service also at very favorable rates of a few cents per minute.

2. Ken Camp has a blog: Realtime-VoIP: The VoIP Community Weblog

3. The Microsoft Express Editions for the Visual Studio 2005 programming languages and the the SQL-Server 2005 database are all free downloads and come with a ton of tutorials. I’ve been working through the Visual Basic tutorial which works with SQL-Server. Very Java-like. There is also an interface to the Lego Mindstorms

4. Make Magazine 06 arrived today. Emphasis on robotics. They are putting together a generic micro controller package to be used as a basis for a number of future projects in the magazine.

5. The Economist (free day pass available) this week has a scathing article on Dell…”For Whom the Dell Tolls”

The second factor hurting Dell is that growth in the computer business is coming from the consumer market and emerging countries rather than the corporate market, in which Dell sells around 85% of its machines. Increasing sales to consumers is difficult for Dell because individuals tend to want to see and touch computers before buying them. They also like to be able to return the machine easily if it breaks. Dell’s lack of retail presence, once ballyhooed as a benefit, has turned into a grave disadvantage. Likewise, sales in countries outside America are often based on the advice of sales staff, which places Dell’s “direct-only” business model at a disadvantage.

Hmmmm….I’m wondering if isn’t more that technical support at Dell is in the toilet, and the web site is practically impossible to navigate. Business buyers are getting sick of all the hassle and are feeling abandoned.

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