Archive for December, 2010


Cisco SPA 525G: Upload a Ring Tone

The Cisco SPA 525G is more than just your typical business VoIP desk phone, it’s a powerful multimedia communications device. With bluetooth, a LCD display and a USB 2.0 port – the Cisco SPA 525G is one of the most desirable VoIP phones on the market. While many VoIP phone support basic ring tone support, the Cisco SPA 525G allows its users to upload their own custom ring tones. Here are some tips on how to conveniently upload your own ring tone:

Download a desired MP3 music file and load it onto a USB 2.0 memory drive
Insert the USB 2.0 memory stick into your Cisco SPAP 525G phone
Select the “FromUSB” softkey on the phone
Press “Play” in order to play the music file
Select “Save”
Load and save the ring tone in an empty field, press “Save”
Press “Select” to select the ringtone for that extension

Enjoy your new ring tone.


Business Resources: Understanding Intellectual Property

Business Resources: Understanding Intellectual Property

The term “intellectual property” refers to inventions, writings, designs and other items that result from an individual’s creativity. These items are usually identifiable by their ability to be trademarked or patented to protect their contents from being used or replicated without the creator’s permission. Because intellectual property is often the result of years of hard work and research, it components and other aspects are extremely important to protect: without protecting these items they could easily be misappropriated, resulting in the creator not receiving credit for his work. If designers do not receive credit or payment for their work, there is little incentive to continue creating, which could result in the drastic decrease in the number of new inventions.

The need to protect inventions has resulted in the development of a field of law specifically designed to help creators assert and protect their property rights. This field is called “intellectual property law”. Through these laws creators can establish ownership of an invention and protect and limit their invention’s use. These laws are federal laws, meaning that they are created and enforced by the U.S. federal government. There are four categories of intellectual property protection: patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. These items are regulated by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Technology Patents

A patent grants an inventor the sole rights to his invention and the right to prevent others from using, making or selling his creation without his permission. A patent does not grant permanent rights, but rather only lasts for up to 20 years and cannot be renewed. A technology patent gives the inventor the rights to the technological invention. Computer software programs and hardware, machinery, electrical systems and automobiles are a few items considered technological, and therefore protectable through a technology patent.

Trademarks, Appellations of Origin, and Emblems

A trademark protects a symbol, design or color used by a specific company or individual for identification purposes. Trademarks prevent use of those same colors or symbols to identify another group. Trademarks can be renewed indefinitely. An appellation of origin is a physical location that is essential to the production of an item. Often, these items are known specifically for where they are made. An emblem is a picture that identifies a group or concept, an example of an emblem is a country’s flag. An emblem can also be a trademark.

  • Overview of Trademark Law: This page, hosted by Harvard Law School, defines trademarks and provides general information about trademark law.
  • Trademarks: This page, provided by the University of Washington, defines trademarks.
  • Emblems: Provided by the National Museum of American History, this page defines emblems and contains pictures of some of the more famous emblems.
  • Appellations of Origin: This page, provided by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, discusses appellations of origin as it relates to wine.
  • The American National Red Cross Emblem: This page discusses the Red Cross’ Emblem and the restrictions on its use by unaffiliated organizations.

Intellectual Property Statistics

The first patent ever granted by the federal government was awarded in 1790 to Samuel Hopkins. Each year the U.S. Patent Office grants hundreds of thousands of patents and recognizes hundreds of thousands of trademarks and copyrights. However, each year there are also hundreds of lawsuits alleging theft of intellectual property. These lawsuits may allege the theft of the idea of the creation, misappropriation of a trademark or theft of a patented device. 

  • Calendar Year Patent Statistics: This page contains reports about how many patent applications were filed in 2009 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Patent Statistics: Compiled by the University of Houston, this page contains statistics about patent litigation.
  • Statistics on Trademark Litigation: This page, provided by the William Mitchell College of Law, contains statistics on trademark litigation.
  • The Global Intellectual Property Center: This organization focuses on reducing the amount of intellectual property theft. The website contains statistical information about this type of theft and potential steps to reduce or eliminate a majority of that theft.

Laws and Treaties

Intellectual property treaties date as far back as 1883 to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Since then, the international community has established numerous organizations and created treaties to solidify the protection for intellectual property. In 1967 the World International Property Organization (WIPO) was established by the United Nations (UN). The WIPO replaced previously established intellectual property treaty organizations that were not affiliated with the UN.

  • National Copyright Laws: This page, provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, contains copyright laws in effect all over the world.
  • Intellectual Property Treaties: This page contains a list of many worldwide intellectual property treaties. The page is provided by the George Washington University School of Law.
  • American Intellectual Property Law Association: The Association’s main website contains information on the types of intellectual property laws and litigation concerning those laws

Classifications

Intellectual property classifications refer to the system of organization applied to all patents, trademarks and protected materials. When an application to protect intellectual property is filed the patent office searches these classification systems to see if the invention already exists or is claimed by another creator. Traditionally, classification was used mainly in Europe, but recently the U.S. agreed to also rely on the system. There are four classifications: the International Patent Classification (IPC), Nice Classification, Locarno Classification and Vienna Classification. Each of these classification systems organizes trademarks and patents differently.

Intellectual Property Standards

What is considered “intellectual property” depends on how and why the item was created and its purpose. Many times, the items commercial viability is also important. If an item is a new formula, concept or was invented to change the way something is done it is likely intellectual property. An item that substantially alters the design of a pre-existing item may also be intellectual property.

Intellectual property standards can also refer to the item’s conformity with industry standards. This means that to qualify as intellectual property, the item must comply with safety and other requirements for its industry. Conformity indicates that the creator intended his invention to be used, which thereby indicates that it is a unique creation worthy of protection. That an item conforms to industry standards can be used to obtain a patent or defend ownership of the item in court.


Business Communication Systems

Business Communication Systems

Business communications systems allow businesses to effectively communicate through text, audio, video, or a single system of all three. One or more of these communication methods are integrated into a computer-based network to provide ways for businesses to communicate with other businesses, customers, employees, and the general public. The most basic form of a communication system is email support and/or telephone. More robust business communication systems acquire support for instant messaging, video conferencing, and audio transmissions sent through the Internet. By combining telephone, email, and other communication tools into a single computer system, businesses can minimize personnel costs and provide better forms of communication.

Basic Communications

Telephone Systems

Cellular Systems

Satellite Systems

Fiber Optic Systems


E-business Resource Guide

E-business Resource Guide

The Internet and the connectivity that it brings have changed business over the past ten years. Now with businesses and consumers relying on online activities to conduct business, no longer do retailers rely on storefront locations for sales of merchandise or services. Now just about all transactions that used to be done face-to-face can be done online.

The Internet has provided access not only to external users, but also internal users at companies throughout the world use e-business platforms for customer information, human resource needs, document storage and other purposes. Other e-business techno.ogy users are for VoIP, email, web conferencing, shopping, online marketing and a variety of other uses.

While e-business initiatives provide convenience for internal and external users, it also has concerns. Security of data which is being transmitted is a big issue with online users, companies need to ensure that any data and costumer information being transmitted be securely kept from external people who could use this data for identity theft and other criminal uses. For more information on e-business technology, please review the following information:

Internal e-business

External Communications

E-commerce

Security Concerns


Voice Over IP; What Is It?

Voice Over IP; What Is It?

Not so long ago, landline phones ruled the world of communications but recently, it’s becoming outdated. This is hardly surprising because many people are opting for cell phones Voice over IP. Also known as VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol, the technology uses Internet connection to transmit sounds, making it possible for users to make calls. With VoIP, computer-to-computer calling is possible, which is usually free of charge. Furthermore, VoIP users can also make calls to landlines, mobile phones, and other VoIP devices. Providing high quality calls at low prices, VoIP has created a lot of positive effects, especially for businesses. VoIp is also useful for people who have a lot of friends and family members who are residing in other countries.

According to statistics, 40% of Internet users are utilizing VoIP. This is extremely impressive because it started only about 15 years ago. It began in 1995 when a company called Vocaltec first put VoIP in the market. In the early days, the product was known as Internet Phone software and it had to be installed in a normal computer. With this, it’s possible to make phone calls through the Internet. The drawback was that it could only work when both parties have the product. The year 1998 was considered to be a great milestone for VoIP service. The technology made it possible to make phone-to-phone voice calls via the Internet.

Photo Credit| Laura Billings ;Flickr 2010

Today, it’s very easy to purchase the necessary equipment to start using VoIP. There are many VoIP-ready phones so you will just need an Internet connection and the phone can be plugged into a computer or laptop for immediate use. The process of VoIP works by converting data before sending it to the other end. There are VoIP calling plans available from broadband phone companies. For the best quality VoIP calls, it’s recommended to have a minimum Internet speed of 1.5mbps. If the Internet speed is slower, there would be some problems with sound quality and sudden disconnections. According to VoIP users, there’s really not much difference in the quality of calls in comparison to mobile phones and landlines.

VoIP offers a number of advantages but the most obvious is probably its portability. VoIP can be used in any place in the world where good Internet connection is available. In this sense, there’s no need to change numbers. Another major advantage of VoIP is the fact that users can place calls at almost zero cost. For just a minimal amount, you can place unlimited domestic and international calls. For people who have to make a lot of calls, the cost of a single call is definitely very low. Since it’s portable and cost effective, VoIP is very popular with travelers, expats, and other people who are far from their family members or friends. It’s the cheapest way to stay connected with loved ones who are abroad. Businesses with international connections can also take advantage of such a service to control costs. There’s also the conference call feature which allows for a number of people to speak in a group setting.

Today, there are quite a number of companies that offer VoIP. There are packages for personal or business use. Most of the packages offer unlimited domestic and international calls, caller ID, call forwarding, voice mail, and other features. There are other add-ons like having additional lines and virtual numbers. To select the perfect VoIP service, it’s wise to compare the features and the costs. Know each company’s promotions and calling plans. Try to read reviews and feedback before deciding which VoIP phone service is the best for your purpose.

Check out these links to learn more about VoIP.

  • History: Here’s an account of the history of VoIP.
  • Benefits: An outline of the various benefits of VoIP. 
  • VoIP: Covers VoIP technology, services, caveat, and limits of service.
  • FAQs: The FCC provides answers to questions on VoIP.
  • Understanding VoIP: The article outlines the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP.

VoIP Providers on Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging service that has revolutionized communication and the Internet. The website was established in 2006 and currently has over 200 million users. Users of twitter have their own profile page and are able to post messages on their profiles, also known as tweets, of up to 140 characters. Twitter enables people from all over the world, businesses and consumers, to chat and collaborate. Additionally, it has practically become a norm for businesses to have and maintain a Twitter profile page in order to communicate with their users. The following is a list of VoIP providers currently on twitter along with their respective user names:

@NEXTIVA - Joined Twitter on 10/29/08
@Skype – Joined Twitter on 03/27/07
@Vonage – Joined Twitter on 01/28/09
@jajah – Joined Twitter on 12/28/06
@PhonePower – Joined Twitter on 07/10/09
@ViaTalk – Joined Twitter on 11/11/08
@8×8 – Joined Twitter on 03/16/09
@aptela – Joined Twitter on 11/19/08
@Vocalocity – Joined Twitter on 12/10/08
@onsip – Joined Twitter on 10/30/08
@RingCentral – Joined Twitter on 06/22/09
@GetJive – Joined Twitter on 09/01/09


Selecting a Business VoIP Provider

As previously mentioned, both hosted PBX and hosted business VoIP services, as well as a combination of both have been increasingly popular, both for small and large businesses. Hosts eliminate the customer’s need to invest in expensive hardware. In addition, hosts take care of maintenance costs and technical issues, so that customers can focus on business tasks and enjoy uninterrupted communication and improved efficiency and functionality. With all these benefits, it is not a question about whether a business should choose a business VoIP provider, but rather, which one should they choose? There are several factors to consider. Firstly, the customer should consider their specific needs: How big is the business? Are their multiple locations? Are there many employees telecommuting? To and from where are these employees making and receiving these calls? Does the company have a contact service center? Does the office need cordless phones? Do employees travel a lot for work? These questions are a starting point in addressing the needs of the business and where the costs are and how to make communication more efficient. For instance, if the company has a very international calling base, they should consider international calling business to save money. For customer contact centers, call redistribution, automated call services, and call waiting will keep customers and employees happier as communication is more streamlined.

Even though the outside telephone company will deal with large-scale hardware issues, the internal hardware will need to be addressed. In most cases, PBX/VoIP systems can integrated with very little cost and utilizing existing phones and wiring. However, with older PBX systems, some new hardware may have to purchased to allow for increased functionality. These costs may be minor, but one does not want to be surprised by a higher-than-expected invoice. Taking an inventory of how many phones will be needed and the type of functions that each phone needs (fax,voicemail, greeting messages) will allow for an estimate of cost.

As previously mentioned, calling plans are important. Some telephone companies will give impressively low prices. However, there may be hidden and astronomical costs for services, such as long-distance or international calling. Decide on what the calling demographic is like and (if considering a variable plan) think about how many minutes each employee needs to complete their duties. Companies should have these costs available so that customers can evaluate potential costs.

In addition, the host company should be easy to contact, be transparent with their costs and offer timely service.


Save Money By Switching to a Business VoIP Service

Utilizing a hosted PBX option may be the best way to reduce business overhead while simultaneously streamlining communication. Generally, phone systems are expensive to maintain and can be inefficient and a drain on resources. However, with a hosted PBX system, customers can get all the benefits of a PBX system without any of the hassle. In addition, the cost of a hosted PBX system has decreased as it has become more popular.

A hosted PBX system require the same amount of equipment as a standard PBX system. The difference is that customers do not need to worry about purchasing, installing or maintaining the equipment. This can save businesses tens of thousands of dollars. The host will set up the system with existing hardware of the company and link it to their own equipment.

What are the benefits of a business VoIP service? Generally, a range of functions can be introduced to streamline communication, making it more efficient and keeping employees, clients and partners happy. VoIP PBX can allow for the following functions: auto attendant, auto dialing, automatic call distributor, autodialing, call accounting, call blocking/forwarding/pick-up/transfer/waiting, conference calls, music on hold, interactive voice response, and a range of other features. In addition, hosted PBX can allow for the added features of allowing a single number to be used for the entire company, allows multimodal access, reduces need for on-site hardware maintenance and allows flexibility in scale.

Users can tweak the system and add their own preferences with their own online control panels. This allows for easy telecommuting, conference calling, customer follow-up as well as easy call routing, call forwarding and messaging. In addition, using the traditional phone system can be expensive and inefficient because they can’t handle an influx of calls, but also may not garner as much use as the customer pays for. With VoIP, the internet is the mainstay and can be used for a range of communication, other than traditional phone call. It can handle increase in use from several venues of communication. This reduces a clogged communication system (no busy signals or dropped calls) and is an efficient use of money.

The scalability of VoIP system allows the system to grow with the company. For any business, big or small, a business VoIP service can strengthen both internal and external communication while saving money.


What is Hosted PBX?

To figure that out, one must understand the concept of hosting as well as PBX. PBX stands for private branch exchange. Private bank exchange refers to a telephone exchange of a specific office, as opposed to a telephone company that operates for the general public. PBX allows for connection within a specific office while linking them to outside communications (the public switched telephone lines) with the use of trunk lines. A PBX usually includes an internal switching network, micro-controller for data processing, logic cards, telephone sets, switchboard, interconnecting wiring, uninterruptible power supply, and outside telco trunks.

In recent years, VoIP PBX has become popular, which uses internet protocol to complete communications. Additionally, PBX now has a range of functions including auto attendant, auto dialing, automatic call distributor, autodialing, call accounting, call blocking/forwarding/pick-up/transfer/waiting, conference calls, music on hold, interactive voice response, and a range of other features.

So what about hosting? A hosted PBX allows for PBX function without as much hassle. The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) delivers PBX by utilizing the equipment within the telephone company’s exchange. This saves the customers money as they do not have to purchase and install hardware/software. Either the customer can lease the equipment or the telephone company can use existing equipment. Thus, customers contract out PBX functionality to the telephone company. Hosted-PBX systems offer the added features of allowing a single number to be used for the entire company, allows multimodal access, reduces need for on-site hardware maintenance and allows flexibility in scale.

Hosted PBX is particularly helpful for small businesses, who may be limited by costs. It requires very little time to set-up and to start working. It can streamline communication while saving money.




 
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