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There was a time when Skype was the only Voice over IP (or VOIP) service available to the general public. Now Session Initiation Protocol (or SIP) has made VOIP available to businesses and private citizens worldwide. How can you get your piece of the action?

In this article we will cover how by using SIP and VOIP hosting services (and in some cases a small amount of hardware, too) you can use your broadband connection to add another landline to your home for nearly free.

Get on the Horn

VOIP is nothing new, especially in a time when Skype (like Google and Hoover) is so ubiquitous it has become a verb as well as a company name. Skype, while for some still the gold standard of VOIP, has been joined in the market by many competing and sometimes better quality services. Apple’s FaceTime is good and Vonage enjoyed a brief period of popularity, but now many generic services based on SIP offer VOIP voice hosted communications for residential and business customers.

What this means is that for minimal cost and even free in some cases, you can set up a local number landline for your home or business. All that’s required is an account with a VOIP provider.

Get a Provider

All providers charge for calls, but the charges are usually fairly minimal, like 1.9 pence (about 3 cents in US dollars) per minute from sipgate. As with Skype, you can top up your service with credit so you can make calls.

You can even make emergency calls with some providers, but check their website for details about that. If they do, they have to check to be sure you are really a resident in the country (in case you are intending to make prank calls from afar), so to register for 911 or 999 or 112 calls, the companies may ask for your address and check it before you are allowed to make emergency calls.

It varies wildly by country and provider, but take the time to shop around all the providers in your country for the best deal. Once you’re registered, you are issued a phone number (usually you get to pick where this number seems to be from), password and account number.

Get a “Phone”

Once you have yourself set up with a provider, you need to have a means to answer the calls.

Option 1 – the easiest and quickest option while spending no money is X-Lite softphone for Windows and OS X. Download the software, and configure it using the setup instructions from your provider, usually with a password and account number.

Option 2 – you can also get SIP software for your Android and iOS devices, which is another cool option, especially if you have an unlimited data plan. The best free iOS option is Zoiper, and the best iOS and Android paid app is Groundwire.

Option 3 – if you want to take it up a notch you can add a VOIP phone adapter and plug a regular phone into it.

The PAP2 by Linksys is an example of the kind of thing you need as is the OBI-100 by Obihai. Many other such adapters exist. Get one that’s compatible with your provider.

Configuration of the standalone adapter devices is by web browser.

Option 4 – The top of the line solution is a specialized multi-line capable VOIP phone like this one and this one. They just plug right into the Internet but are a little more expensive than other options.

Picking Ethical Numbers

Okay, this is something shady that telemarketers have picked up on. Register with a worldwide VOIP service, pick a number local to another country and phone the public to market to them. Being resident in another country, you are not bound by the NO CALL lists in the country in question. This is evil and disruptive and sleazy.

Don’t be that guy. Obviously there are legit reasons you might want to have a phone number in another country. Having a business which does business mostly with the US but being based in the UK is a totally legitimate reason to have a US number.

For the most part, it’s ethically and legally best if you pick a phone number in the area code closest to you. Obviously if you want to appear to be a bigger or more significant company than you are, then you pick the nearest big city to you or the nation’s capital. Those are also legit reasons as they are a way to gently boost your marketing credibility.

But otherwise do yourself and everyone else a favour; don’t be a scammer or use VOIP for shady purposes. Only crooks do that.

Photo Credit: Billy Brown

Phil South

Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He’s designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.

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You're reading Use Sip And Voip To Add Another Landline To Your Home

What Is The Google Home App And How To Use It

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The Google Home app is one of the most effective tools for managing your smart home. Given the increasing adoption of smart home devices and Google’s prevalence in that space, the app is increasingly one of the go-to hubs for controlling all aspects of domestic tech.

But what is the Google Home app, how does it work, and what can you do with it? We’ve answered all of these questions in this handy guide.

What can you do with the Google Home app?

Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The app can be used to control an almost endless list of smart devices, such as cameras, lights, and speakers. Multiple devices can be activated at once, and you can even set them to be automated. It’s also useful for managing services like calendars, to-do lists, and media subscriptions.

There are dozens of types of devices that can be controlled by the app, and each one has a range of functions that can be performed remotely. This adds up to hundreds of actions you can perform with the app. Listing those functions would be endless, but we’ve summarised the features of the app that you can explore.

Google Home app features

Here’s a rundown of the general features that the Google Home app offers:

Set up Google devices — From the Google Nest Mini to your Google Nest Wi-Fi router, Google Home is the app you use to configure them when you’re first setting them up.

Control and manage compatible devices — Thousands of smart home devices from many brands are compatible with Google Assistant. The Google Home app can detect what type of device they are and give you the means to control them in-app or with your voice. Popular actions include adjusting the thermostat, making calls, changing the music, and much more.

Quick actions — These make controlling your devices easier via shortcuts in the app. This could be a link to your camera feed or access to your smart thermostat. You could also set routines for multiple devices, such as having several lights turn on at a scheduled time in the evening.

Group devices — Your devices can be organized into groups. This could be a connected set of speakers, or it could be every smart device in one room.

Alerts and notifications — The app has a feed of notifications about important device activities and reminders.

Adjust settings — Find and manage settings for all of your devices, services, and home members.

New features

On top of the usual features above, the Google Home app recently got a revamp to include some new additions. You can already preview this version of the app with these new features, some of which are:

Spaces — Quickly view and control groups of similar devices such as compatible lights, cameras, and thermostats.

Media mini player — Be better placed to adjust settings on video playing in your home by actually viewing what’s on the screen through the app.

Automation — Go beyond routines and build your own automation, such as one smart home device detecting movement and triggering the activation of other devices.

The Google Home app is available on your phone or tablet as with any app. It has recently also become an option on the Pixel Watch and other Wear OS 3 wearables.

You’ll then be asked to set up a device, which you can do at this point or any time afterward. You can either select New Device to add a device, or you can link one of your existing devices already previously identified in the app.

When adding a new device, you’ll be asked to give the app permission to detect and connect to nearby Bluetooth devices. Do this and follow the subsequent prompts to locate and add the device or devices of your choosing.

As you add devices, you’ll see them accumulated on your home screen, which should now show your home’s name. To add more devices, create speaker groups, manage your services, and more, you’ll find all of the options you need in the Add and Manage menu. This is accessed by tapping on the + symbol in the top left of the home screen.

Now that you’ve connected your account, created a home, and added your devices, you’re all set. The possibilities from here are limited only by the functionality of your devices.

FAQs

Yes, the app is free to download and use. But if you are using it to control services that require a subscription such as Spotify, you will have to pay for that subscription.

If you don’t use the app and want to delete it then nothing will happen. If you use it to control your smart home devices then deleting it will remove that ability, and you may lose any settings or configurations from within the app for your smart home devices.

The Best (And Worst) Beverages To Sip When You’re Dehydrated

Summer’s right around the corner, but the heat is already on. From unrelenting sunshine to sizzling grills, feeling hot (and cooling down) are part of the daily grind now. PopSci is here to help you ease into the most scorching season with the latest science, gear, and smart DIY ideas. Welcome to Hot Month.

With summer right around the corner and the thermostat ticking up, it can be tempting to reach for the coldest looking thing in sight to quench your thirst. But when it comes to hydration, not all drinks are created equal. 

Usually, when we’re feeling thirsty, we’re trying to combat symptoms like dry mouth, tiredness, headaches, and dizziness. But dehydration is not solely due to the loss of water in our system. It also means we’re low on  electrolytes—minerals that carry an electrical charge. These electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, are agents of balance. They help with bodily functions like regulating the pH levels of your blood, balancing fluid levels, and helping blood clot. 

“The human body as a whole is roughly anywhere from 60 to 65% made up of water. In order to have all of your normal metabolic functions, you have to have adequate fluids,” says Bailey Jones, a registered dietician and assistant director of performance nutrition at Indiana University. “Fluids are going to play a role in thermoregulation and the transport of nutrients and waste products, and also act as a cushion for your joints. If the body is dehydrated, it just can’t do any of those functions very well.”

Hydration isn’t a zero-sum game. It’s not that liquids are either hydrating or dehydrating—some things are less hydrating than we might assume, or their hydration properties might come at the cost of other effects on our bodies. Here’s a look at the usual suspects of dehydration. 

Coffee

Coffee has long been shamed as dehydrating. That’s because caffeine has a diuretic effect—it makes you feel like you need to pee, which gives you an opportunity to expel fluid and electrolytes. This may technically be true, but those effects aren’t powerful enough to offset coffee’s hydrating properties. 

“It’s still a liquid,” says Jones. “Any small dehydrating effect is essentially negated by the fact that you’re still consuming fluid.” 

[Related: Does drinking hot liquids on a hot day actually cool you off?]

If you added more water to your coffee, or even a splash of milk, you could even further offset the balance between liquid intake and the effects of caffeine. 

But that doesn’t mean that espresso and ice should form the bulk of your fluid intake. Though you might feel refreshed and hydrated, excessive amounts of coffee will send your heart racing—so you don’t want to rely on it for all your fluid needs.

Juices, sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks

If you’re looking to hydrate with a soft drink, your main concern should be balancing how well the fluid can hydrate you with how negatively its additional sugar content will affect you. Sodas and most fruit juices weigh in somewhere in the middle. They’re good for hydration in the sense that there is liquid flowing into the body, but the high sugar content could have downsides.  The higher the concentration of sugar in your blood, the more water your cells will lose through osmosis to maintain equilibrium.

If you can get your hands on 100 percent natural juice, that can be an excellent source of water since you’re staying away from useless added sugars. You could also go straight to the source and eat fruit. Some fruits are heavier lifters than others: watermelon, grapefruit, and cantaloupe have particularly high water content. Fruits also have the added bonus of replenishing electrolytes and vitamins. 

Energy drinks like Redbull have few redeeming qualities. While they might perk you up with caffeine, their high concentration of sugar means that your kidneys work overtime to produce more urine to flush the sugar from your system, which isn’t going to help you stay hydrated. 

But what about sports drinks like Gatorade?

“Water and sports drinks are usually the go-to recommendation, especially during training,” Jones says. “They’re losing fluids through sweat, but they’re also losing electrolytes, and that’s where adding a sports drink is going to provide some of the sodium, potassium, and chloride— basically the electrolytes that you won’t find in plain water.”

Even if you’re not a high-performance athlete, the low-sugar, low-calorie option of sports drinks tips the scale in favor of more hydration at a lower cost to your other bodily functions. But unless you’re doing intense exercise and sweating profusely, water is likely to be just as helpful. 

Alcohol

Pints, cocktails, spritzes. It can be hard to refuse drinks that look so refreshing and put you in a tizzy. Like caffeine, alcohol has a diuretic effect. This causes you to lose more water and steadily get dehydrated as you continue imbibing—that’s why day-drinking in the sun can really do a number on you.

[Related: Why 8 glasses of water a day is a myth]

That said, it’s still just a game of proportions. A beer will have more water than a neat whiskey, and a margarita’s dehydrating properties will depend on just how strong the bartender makes it. Your best bet is to assume booze isn’t giving you the fluids your body needs, and to drink a whole glass of water for each alcoholic beverage. You’ll stay hydrated even after you ‘break the seal,’ and you’ll avoid a hangover to boot. 

Trade a drink for a snack

Liquids aren’t your only saviour in the heat. Certain foods will also help stave off dehydration. Before a football game at Indiana, Jones makes sure that the snack selection laid out for players is going to optimise hydration levels. That means plenty of carb-rich foods, and different salty snacks such as pretzels, granola bars, and pickles (which have the dual benefits of keeping sodium levels up and making you thirsty to fuel your fluid intake). Fresh fruit, fruit snacks, and applesauce also tend to make an appearance.

When in doubt, just drink water. The liquid in our body is mostly water, and that’s what we lose when we sweat, cry, and pee. If you really can’t stand the banality of plain H2O, try and have fun with it. A sprig of mint here, a slice of cucumber there. Throw in something green or a fruit or two—anything that might make you forget that you’re not sipping on something far worse for your mind, body and soul.

Cisco Voip: Getting To Mobililty

Cisco Systems has made a couple of announcements about mobility of late.

The first one, issued at the end of April (read it here), snuck past us initially, but we caught up with it. It describes a partnership with Nokia that “extends the rich Cisco Unified IP phone capabilities to Nokia Eseries dual-mode smartphones over Cisco Unified Wireless Networks, to offer users a seamless mobile experience in the enterprise environment and public cellular networks.”

Translation: With the help of some software from Cisco, Nokia’s dual-mode handsets will be able to place and receive phone calls over Cisco wireless LANs—when they’re in range—and save money on cellular minutes. In enterprise telephony parlance, this bit of technology will ‘port the desktop phone number’ to the Nokia device over Wi-Fi.

It’s nice to see Cisco taking the first steps toward mobilizing its formidable IP telephony capabilities. And in characterizing this dual-mode capability as “mobile unified communications” (a stretch in our view), the announcement constitutes at least a tacit endorsement of the idea that mobile phone users in the field should have access to the same communications resources they enjoy at their office desk.

But if the company wants to be a serious contender in anything that could legitimately be called mobile unified communications, Cisco is looking at a serious game of catch-up, as a generation of smaller, more nimble competitors has already got a formidable head start.

The first to take on the challenge of the dual-network telephony were the so-called fixed/mobile convergence (F/MC) vendors—startups such as Kineto Wireless and the other members of its Unlicensed Mobile Access coalition (UMA) or BridgePort Networks and other members of the Mobile Ignite trade group.

These companies figured out how to identify the “best available network” for a call and how to engineer automated, on-the-fly handoffs between carriers’ cellular networks and local wireless LANs for mobile users. (With Cisco/Nokia solution, it appears, the user can manually select Wi-Fi or cellular.)

These technical solutions (which relate only to voice, not other communications modes) have been available for years now, although as they are carrier-centric solutions—that is, they are deployed in carrier networks—and the carriers by and large have not seen fit to deploy them yet, they are not currently an option for many would-be adopters.

There are, however, several enterprise-centric solutions that chúng tôi has written about in some detail. Technology from DiVitas Networks, OEM provider FirstHand Technologies, and (to a lesser degree) Siemens Communications, not only goes beyond basic F/MC to mobilize PBX functions and/or other key modes of enterprise communication, they are fully available for deployment now.

For Cisco to get to the place where these providers sit today—again, with a level of functionality that could be reasonably termed mobile unified communications—will not be easy.

Providing extended communications features, such as PBX functions (hold, forward, extension dialing, etc.), e-mail, conferencing, corporate directory access, and the like over cellular networks is not a trivial problem.

Doing this over Wi-Fi is relatively easy, DiVitas CEO Vivek Khuller told chúng tôi in a recent conversation, “because you are in control of the network and it’s an all-IP network. However to provide the same feature set over cellular is not a trivial task. That requires coordination—both on the client side and on the server side—between two disparate networks: cell voice and cell data,” Khuller said.

“When you combine all three together—cell voice, cell data, and Wi-Fi—it gets even more difficult,” Khuller continued. “There could be three people on a single call; one on cell, one on campus Wi-Fi, another on public Wi-Fi—three very different networks, controlled by three separate entities. How do you now manage that call—without echo, latency, with everybody having equal features?”

From DiVitas’s perspective, the task is far easier if that functionality was a fundamental goal of the product’s initial design—from the ground up. It’s tougher to do as an add-on to an architecture that didn’t envision it at the outset.

Which brings us to Cisco’s second announcement (last week), of the Cisco 3300 Series Mobility Services Engine or MSE (read the release here).

If you don’t know what a Mobility Services Engines is, don’t feel bad. Neither did we. If we’ve got it right, this is an appliance-based middleware platform that will serve the ambitious goal of normalizing and integrating the entire spectrum of networking technologies, both wired and wireless, allowing the sharing of both data and application functionality among devices, regardless of their network connections.

The “platform offers an open application programming interface (API) for consolidating and supporting an array of mobility services across wireless and wired network,” according to the company. That is, software applications—and other appliances—will be able to access resources provided by the MSE.

Cisco will be releasing an initial four software offerings for the MSE platform, one of which—Cisco Mobile Intelligent Roaming (MIR), due out some time in the second half of the year—can facilitate (but not actually execute) handoffs when devices roam between networks.

“If we know that network performance is changing in a way that impacts the application, it might make sense to transition to another network. MIR can provide that intelligence to other platforms that actually trigger the roam,” Chris Kozup, Senior Manager, Cisco Mobility Solutions told our sister publication Wi-Fi chúng tôi in an interview.

Actually bringing about the connection transfer requires another device or gateway, and one member of Cisco’s technology “partner ecosystem”—Silicon Valley startup Agito Networks—announced (in conjunction with the MSE release) that its RoamAnywhere Mobility Router will integrate with the Cisco Engine to provide customers with a full-blown solution for seamless cellular/Wi-Fi handoff.

So, before the end of this year, Cisco VoIP shops will have the tools needed to begin to provide communications capabilities to far-flung mobile workers. For better or worse, it will involve one or more additional devices in the network infrastructure that customers will have to manage and troubleshoot.

This article was first published on chúng tôi

4 Smart Gadgets To Keep Your Home Secure

Smart home gadgets are becoming more and more common, and everyone seems to be lured towards the convenience they offer. And rightly so, as being able to unlock your door with a tap on your smartphone or being able to remotely control your home lights and appliances is something that’s hard to pass up. If you are interested in smart gadgets, then you might like to secure your home with some smart security gadgets. Below we have listed four smart security gadgets that you can use to secure your home.

Warning: The convenience offered by smart security gadgets might seem enticing, but they can also be used against you. If a door can be remotely controlled or if a security system is based in the cloud, then this also means that it could get hacked if proper security measures are not taken. Don’t get lured by the security claims made by these gadgets and leave your whole house’s security solely on them. Do your research and make sure your security system is secured against getting hacked. I recommend you check out Miguel’s article about smart homes to get some insight on how to securely use these smart gadgets.

1. Piper

Piper comes with sensors, a surveillance system and a home automation system to offer an all-in-one security solution. Its camera offers 1080p immersive video recording with 180° view of the area – enough to cover the whole room. Furthermore, you can easily control the camera (pan, tilt and zoom) and watch live/recorded video remotely from anywhere on your smartphone (no monthly fee). Its sensors include Motion, Sound, Temperature, Humidity and Light that are good enough to ensure your house is safe from intruders and hazards.

Once it detects unusual activity, it sounds a 105db siren (louder than a jet’s sound 100 feet away) and notifies you via text, email and phone call. Its home automation allows you to control the temperature, set up window and door sensors for a security breach and control lights and appliances. Best of all, it comes with two-way audio communication so you can listen and talk to people/pets right from Piper.

Piper Classic costs $199.99. Some sensors and automation systems are sold separately or in bundles from Piper Store.

2. Kevo Smart Lock

Kevo is a convenient smart lock that will let you open your house door with just a tap on your phone. You can use Kevo app for Android and iOS to unlock your door with a Bluetooth signal or use a FOB to open the door with a tap if your smartphone isn’t supported. Kevo claims that the lock passes stringent key bumping, lock picking and physical security tests and uses encryption for digital security.

You can upgrade to Kevo Plus to remotely open the door from anywhere using an Internet connection and also get the current status of the door along with notifications for when the door is locked and unlocked. You can also give eKeys to trusted family members and friends to let them unlock or lock the door.

Kevo Smart Lock costs $199, and the Kevo Plus upgrade costs a one-time fee of $99.

3. SkyBell HD

Skybell HD is a video doorbell that focuses on making it easier to answer your door from anywhere, but in the process it also offers some reliable security features. It comes with a HD camera that lets you see who is at the door, and its two-way audio communication enables you to talk to them from anywhere with your smartphone and an Internet connection. Skybell can start monitoring when the doorbell is pressed or motion is detected, and you are notified on your smartphone. This allows you to see what is happening at your front door and also eliminates the risks of blindly answering the door. Thanks to its Color Night Vision, you are safe during both day and night times.

SkyBell HD will cost you $199 and it is only available for sale in the USA.

4. iSmartAlarm

iSmartAlarm is a set of security devices (sold separately) that you can use to secure almost every aspect of your house according to your needs. You are not forced to buy a full package – just buy what you need and leave the rest. Some of its notable devices includes an HD camera with night vision, 110db satellite siren, door and window sensors, lights and appliances controller and motion and temperature sensors. Furthermore, it also comes with a main control system to control all iSmartAlarm devices.

All iSmartAlarm devices are sold separately with different prices.

Conclusion

The above smart security devices should be enough to keep your home secure from theft and hazards. However these devices do have a risk of being compromised. You will have to keep many things secure while using these gadgets like your Wi-Fi connection, the gadget’s online account portal, your smartphone and also the gadget’s power supply, etc. If you are not tech savvy enough, then a “dumb” security system might be more secure for you than an out-of-control smart security gadget. Think about it: a smart security system will only require a tap after getting hacked to access your home. On the other hand, a 4-bolt reinforced steel lock with two physical keys will require the door to be taken down or at least an hour of physical lock picking.

Karrar Haider

Karrar is drenched in technology and always fiddles with new tech opportunities. He has a bad habit of calling technology “Killer”, and doesn’t feel bad about spending too much time in front of the PC. If he is not writing about technology, you will find him spending quality time with his little family.

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How To Make Your Smart Home More Secure

How to Make Your Smart Home More Secure

Here we bring the solution to stay safe by setting up a secure network and by filling up all the security gaps.

Also Read: Tips To Protect Your Home Assistant

How to Secure your Smart Home 1. Secure your network: 2. Know your smart device:

Understanding your smart device is the first step to stay secure. You need to know the capabilities of the device. There are certain smart devices that can listen to whatever you say, so disabling these features is what is required. But you can do so only when you know what the device does. Also check the privacy and security setting and change then according to the usage and your needs. Plus, install updates whenever you receive a notification. Not doing so, you may fall a victim to cyber-attack.

3. Run a security software:

Not all the security software can protect your smart device. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run one. An antivirus program is a must for your PC, Mac, tablet and smartphone, as it can block any malicious threat that my try to access your device. When using a security software always make it a point to update it whenever you receive a notification. Also, you can enable automatic update so that you don’t miss on any update. These updates are released to patch your system from any security vulnerability.

4. Secure your smartphone:

Imagine if your unlocked device falls into wrong hands then what harm it can cause. They can get into your house, can control your device and what not. Therefore, you need to keep your phone locked and read the Privacy Policy of all the apps that you install. This is to know what all information they collect.

Also Read: 5 Security Threats You Need To Be Aware Of

These steps will surely help you to stay safe. Until there is a sure short way that will make your smart home secure its only you who can ensure safety of your data. Now it’s up to you to device how secure you want your smart home to be. The sooner you will start more secure you will be and be ready for attacks in future. However, it depends on how serious you take this and how do you want the things to go. Your decision of today will make the future and will tell how secure your data is from being attacked.

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