FRAMINGHAM (04/05/2004) - There's nothing like coming back from a two week vacation--and then having the whole family fall sick for a week--to put you in the mood for a bit of tidying up once you get back to work. Thus I present a couple of small bits that didn't make it into previous Tech Tacts.
First a quick note about Plantronics Inc. Why Plantronics? Because it deserves something from me. Its people regularly keep me in the loop on wireless and mobile happenings, answer my questions without fail, and it has received exactly zero mentions in CIO for their ongoing trouble. And heck, a few years back they replaced my long out-of-warranty telephone headset after my dog managed to get tangled in the cord, reducing the unit to a handful of no-longer-connectable pieces. (And no, they didn't know I was in the press, and they still sent it free of charge.)
The company recently arranged a new deal with Skype Inc. (www.skype.com), of the millions-strong, free voice-over-IP network. The companies have arranged a deal where Plantronics will bundle and advertise a couple of free months of Skype's soon-to-be-launched premium VoIP service with select Plantronics headsets. (The premium service will go beyond the current free service to offer such features as voicemail.)
While I doubt many large companies will be throwing out their PBX for Skype anytime soon, it's an interesting service, and definitely worth a look for small companies or anyone with teenage kids and rising phone bills.
Then there's the money issue. A few weeks ago I mentioned iRise, a company that makes a rapid prototyping tool for browser-based apps. The tool isn't cheap, but it offers a number of features aimed at helping large organizations turn their business ideas into software reality. But what if you don't have $250,000 to spend on a prototyping tool? Then you look for options, such as Ubiquity RP 2.0 from Axure Software Solutions Inc. (www.axure.com).
Ubiquity lacks some of iRise's high-end features, such as its capability to use your actual sample data for the prototypes, its sophisticated logic operations, and a collaboration server that serves as a central repository for prototypes and related information. But both tools provide drag-and-drop, programming-free ways to create prototypes and subsequent requirements documents. And Ubiquity RP costs a mere $598 for a single-user license.