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By Brandt, D. Scott | Computers in Libraries, October 2005 | Go to article overview

Ask Techman


Brandt, D. Scott, Computers in Libraries


T.F. from The University of Akron writes: What's the difference between Internet telephony, like Skype, and Internet phone service, like Vonage?

techman responds: Let's start with the similarities--they both use the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to transmit, well, voices over the Internet. The capability of being able to take a microphone input and transmit it over Internet lines has existed for a few years; I remember first trying it out in the mid-1990s.

But the difference is that Internet telephony basically allows the simple transmission of voice as a streaming media--it's a file being sent over the Internet, while Internet phone service utilizes traditional phone service and infrastructure. Internet phone service uses a gateway that connects to the "regular" telephone system. The Internet phone offers true phone functions and features, such as actually using a cell phone, having a phone number, enabling caller ID, and so on. See http://www.fcc.gov/voip for more info.

Also, as far as I know, Skype isn't sponsoring an Indy race car or a season of MTV's The Real World yet (it takes money to do that).

Cheers,

techman

Paul O. asks: At the last Computers in Libraries conference, you mentioned that a student at Purdue asked why all books weren't electronic so they could be "played" like an audiobook ... so, do you think e-books are really catching on?

techman responds: Well, I know some of the students at Purdue would prefer listening to e-books through their iPods. And I guess the state of Ohio thinks it's a big deal--witness its Ohio eBook Project, which launched in August (http://ohdbks.lib.overdrive.com). While it hasn't exactly converged the two mediums, it's interesting that the state offers access to both e-books and audiobooks.

Whether or not e-books will catch on (or morph into audiobooks) is yet to be seen. But it is an interesting time to be a librarian! Even ZDNet thinks libraries are starting to rock the boat in various technology areas--it notes efforts like DSpace, LOCKSS, and Google's library digitization project, which are helping to forge the library of tomorrow (http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5817291.html).

Cheers,

techman

Mike S. from Lake County, Ill., wants to know: Is your Google number the same as your Google Scholar number? How does that relate to your Flickr number?

techman responds: Are you asking if my numbers are the same? Actually, I'm not sure what the definition of each of those is, if real definitions even exist. …

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