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What is “management by walking around”? June 13, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Management, Project Management, Uncategorized.
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Sometimes also called “Management by walking around” or MBWA, management by sight is a management strategy that can and should be integrated into any management style or approach. It is very people-oriented and it requires managers to be visible and interact heavily with project team members. Interactions at all levels of the project team foster the quick and efficient gathering of information about the project and the project team members.

Management by sight is very direct and the manager practicing it utilizes observation and visibility to conduct project analysis and project leadership, to monitor the situation, and to provide control when necessary.

I have had a great amount of success using this management technique and I thought I would share with you twelve guidelines for MBWA which were shared with me by @sjohnson717 on Twitter in response to this original MBWA post. These tips are great and I recommend following them when using this very simple and effective management technique.

Simple and effective management techniques are what every manager needs more of these days!

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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

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What is an ACNA? What is a CCNA code in telecommunications? June 8, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Definitions, Fiber Optics, Telecommunications, Uncategorized.
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An ACNA stands for Access Customer Name Abbreviation; It is a three-digit alpha code assigned to identify carriers, both ILECs (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers) and CLECs (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers), for billing and other identification purposes.

It is closely related to the CCNA code, or the Customer Carrier Name Abbreviation, which identifies the common language code for the IXC (InterExchange Carrier) providing the interLATA facility.

The CCNA reflects the code to be contacted for provisioning whereas the ACNA reflects the IXC to be billed for the service.

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Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Senior Technical Project Manager at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

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Demandware gets Round D funding of $15MM and works to answer SaaS ecommerce challenges, under incredible marketplace pressures May 23, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Ecommerce, Uncategorized, Venture Capital.
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Recently I tweeted about Demandware (Woburn, MA) not getting their Round D funding – this was incorrect, and I have retracted this information. The link to the $15 million Form D filing with the SEC is here

[There were rounds of layoffs at Demandware around spring 2009, just prior to this Round D. Round D is generally the last round of financing before an IPO. Many of their employees in Woburn, Massachusetts were laid off. Interesting move. Without this $15 million, it was unclear to many outside observers how strong Demandware’s cash position would have been. Take care to distinguish between “brands” and actual “accounts”. Demandware has lost some high profile accounts (their model is to skim off 3% of sales in addition to setup and hosting fees – despite this, Demandware still has a “burn rate”) that they don’t exactly mention in their press releases. A SaaS (“Software as a Service”) provider such as Demandware is nowadays caught in the crossfire, under incredible pressure from three fronts: powerful and robust, open source ecommerce solutions leverage the cost argument (Magneto), Java-based solutions are starting to get long-in-the-tooth in the face of massively scalable new technologies such as Ruby-on-Rails, and developments in cloud computing leverage the hosting argument. Predictably, Demandware and their PR corps is hard at work dissembling so as to position themselves as the “worry-free package for merchants without in-house technology competence”. Of course, this competence is easily found on the cheap now that it is no longer 2000, and J2EE for ecommerce seems (to many) like a complex, costly, code-bloat dinosaur. Read the commentary below and make up your own mind, Dear Reader. It will be interesting to see if they are able to hold on — I’m rooting for them, however, if I were you and your enterprise, I would still take a long, hard look at Magento, Shopify, or other ecommerce providers. And I would have a lot of tough questions like the ones below ready for the Salespeople and PR types]

So Demandware may even IPO one day – although despite all the optimism about 2009, this year is still looking grim for new issuances. A recent report from Ernst & Young found that the pipeline of companies waiting to go public in the United States dwindled to 80 companies at the end of the second quarter, down from 90 companies three months earlier. There have been seven IPOs so far in 2009.

Demandware is a SaaS (Software as a Service) provider, and with all the controversy surrounding my incorrect, retracted tweet, I have been thinking about some of the reasons enterprises might decide against adopting a SaaS model for their ecommerce operations.

Although it can be tempting for large retail enterprises to partner with a SaaS ecommerce platform vendor to quickly launch an online store for short-term gains, it is important that the CIOs of these retail enterprises develop a defined SaaS strategy and incorporate it into their other long-term application and IT infrastructure plans. One of the most important aspects of this SaaS strategy must be an “exit strategy” for when they may want to bring the online storefront in-house. Hard to blame any company for ditching the revenue-sharing model.

It is vital that when these retail organizations evaluate SaaS ecommerce providers, they evaluate the competing ecommerce platform vendors on whether or not they have a plan and method in place to get the retail enterprise off the SaaS platform – in other words, what is the exit strategy in the long term? Five years out, when the online storefront is growing and becomes a cornerstone of the company’s total revenue stream, how does the retailer migrate the storefront back into the corporate IT environment if the management of the company decides to reintegrate? After the first two years of a SaaS deployment, many enterprises find that cost savings begin to break down. Five years from initial deployment, will it be possible to reestablish control over the online retail presence?

Choosing an ecommerce platform vendor working with hosted technologies that align with the enterprise’s internal IT infrastructure (Microsoft .Net technologies vs. Java? Oracle, MS SQL Server, or MySQL?) could potentially ease migration pain down the road and enable cost savings when and if the decision to internalize critical ecommerce operations is made.

Ecommerce “on demand” software salespeople may try and attract a large retail organization with the promise of utility pricing – it may even sound so good that the large retail enterprise may be tempted into bypassing their normal IT department’s procurement specialists. This is not a good idea. Real utility pricing is almost certainly not as flexible as initially presented and true utility pricing is rarely available. Because many SaaS contracts do not allow for volume reductions, some critics have labeled this licensing model as “shelfware as a service”. 

It is critical that large retail organizations negotiate the ability to reduce users. Do not allow the “on demand” vendor to lock the enterprise into negotiations before agreement on this basic principle is reached. If the “on demand” ecommerce platform vendor does not or will not agree to this basic tenent, then refuse over-committal and negotiate escalating discounts for incremental spend in volume bands. Large retail organizations should always remember that SaaS licensing models provide steady and stable revenue streams for ecommerce “on demand” vendors and because of this, the market is becoming increasingly competitive. (Demandware’s competition includes Marketlive ecommerce, among many others)  Large retail organizations have immense leverage which can be used to achieve significant licensing concessions and discounts on larger competitive deals. In addition, given the increasing and continual downward pressure on SaaS pricing, single year deals are much preferred but it is essential to secure price caps on renewals.

The vendor’s “on demand” production environment should also be scrutinized carefully. Some questions to get answered in writing may be: How often are changes made to the production environment? What is the breakdown of changes to the production environment by category? What percentage of changes had to be rolled back, or reverted? What sorts of regression tests are performed after a software patch / upgrade / code iteration? 

It is vital that a keen eye is focused on the SaaS vendor’s churn and churn management (for instance, Demandware has recently lost two major accounts that you won’t read about in their press releases, including Playboy International and the Vermont Teddy Bear Company) policies. For example, how many customers have they lost in the past 6, 12, 24 months? Is their customer retention improving over time? What percentage is the customer churn compared to their customer base? What is the average duration of customer retention? What is the breakdown, broken out by reasons for customer churn? Beware of salespeople and marketing types who count “brands” as individual customers. A customer is a retail organization, not each of their individual product lines counted separately as “brands”.

Some ecommerce “on demand” vendors also provide for fulfillment services (if they do not, the retail organization will have to continue to provide these services as a normal operating business expense). High volume retail ecommerce by necessity implies that these operational expediencies are being handled with great care and efficiency. Some questions to ask: what is the status of your inventory? What box is located where? What function or customer would be affected by a loss of a certain box? When does your software / support contract expire and what might this expiration impact? 

Another primary focus for corporate ecommerce vendor selection decision makers is the emergence of platform-as-a-service providers such as Amazon’s EC2, IBM and Google as well as Microsoft. Large retail organizations can use these platforms to build myriad applications, services and workflows not only to conduct online sales but also to perform advanced predictive analytics, gather fundamental mail order management metrics like future value of a customer and enable billing services to be moved into the cloud – all while providing immense capabilities for increasing uptime and availability during the high volume holiday shopping season.

Some best practice ecommerce SaaS platform selection guidelines could also include data backup and disaster recovery policies, adherence to corporate IT standards regarding accepted technologies and development tools and languages that internal software development resources and departments are familiar with. SLAs (Service Level Agreements) should be examined from ecommerce platform vendors that explore not only DR policies, but also help desk support, performance and uptime, so that buyers of SaaS ecommerce hosting services have a stronger sense of what they are purchasing.

Large retail enterprises have special needs to link internal billing and operational IT systems and external hosted ecommerce systems. Security, billing, fulfillment and compliance requirements differ from industry to industry and over-reliance on a hosted ecommerce service provider should be carefully examined. Retail enterprise decision makers may decide to get back to the fundamental vendor selection process, and take a long hard look at vendor viability in addition to the solution functionality provided by each hosted ecommerce service provider. These decisions should extend past the initial glow of cost savings in the first years of an ecommerce storefront deployment. 

 

In a Feb 20th, 2009 research report, Forrester polled 352 corporate IT decision makers and asked them why they are not interested in SaaS:

Total Cost Concerns                                                       37%

Security Concerns                                                           30%

SaaS Application Mismatch to corporate reqs                  25%

Integration Issues                                                           25%

Lack of Customization                                                   21%

Application Performance                                              20%

Complex Pricing Models                                               16%

Vendor Lock-In                                                               14%

Other Reasons                                                                 13%

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What is the difference between Cellular and PCS? May 17, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Definitions, Fiber Optics, Mobile Software Applications, Telecommunications, Uncategorized, VUI Voice User Interface, Wireless Applications.
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Cellular is dual-classified as being inclusive of both analog and digital networks. Cellular networks began with analog infrastructures, and over time migrated this infrastructure to digital. In a cellular network, depending upon your location throughout the world, the operation frequencies are 800MHz to 900MHz band. Cellular infrastructure is generally based on a macrocell architecture. Macrocells involve a coverage area with a diameter of around 8 miles, and because of this large coverage area, cellular operates at high power levels, in a range of .6 to 3 watts.

PCS is a more recent technology, and has been all digital since inception. As with cellular, depending upon where you are located in the world, the frequency band of operation is in the 1.8GHz to 2GHz band. Instead of cellular macrocells, PCS uses two different infrastructures, both microcell and picocell. As these names imply, the coverage areas of these architectures are smaller than macrocells, around 1 mile in diameter. As a result, PCS uses much lower power levels – 100 milliwatts.

So the key differences between PCS and cellular are the frequencies in which they operate, coverage areas of their different cell architectures, and the power levels each uses to transmit signals. They work essentially the same way, use the same types of network elements, and perform the same functions.

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The SONET and SDH Signal Hierarchy: How many T-1s are in an OC-1, OC-3, OC-12, or OC-48? May 10, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Definitions, Fiber Optics, Telecommunications, Uncategorized.
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I have found that there exists out there in the wide world a touch of confusion when it comes to recognizing the different signal levels and transmission speeds associated with what is referred to in the telecom industry as digital hierarchies, the two most common of which are, in North America, the PDH and SDH, or SONET, hierarchies.

Throughout my work as a telecommunications enthusiast, a pastime of discovery which has kept me occupied ever since my teen years, and on through many of my professional pursuits, I have always served as a point of reference for others in regards to the various telecommunications signal levels as well as the transmission speeds that these levels in the hierarchies represent. The following is my rough attempt to put this information into one place that can serve as a reference for me and others:

SONET was developed to aggregate, or multiplex, circuit switched traffic such as T-1, (E-1 in Europe) T-3, and slower rates of data traffic from multiple sources on fiber-optic networks. SONET transports traffic at high speeds called OC (Optical Carrier). The international version of SONET is called the synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH). SDH carries traffic at synchronous transport mode speeds. Equipment interfaces make SONET and SDH speeds compatible with each other, so the same SONET switching equipment can be used for both OC and SDH speeds.

OC-1 operates at 52 Mbps and is equivalent to 28 DS-1s (same as a T-1) or 1 DS-3 (same as a T-3). OC-1 is generally used as customer access lines. Early-adopter types of customers such as universities, airports, financial institutions, large government agencies, and ISPs – use OC-1.

OC-3 operates at 155 Mbps and is equivalent to 84 DS-1s (same as a T-1) or 3 DS-3s (same as a T-3). OC-3 speeds are required by end users such as companies in the aerospace industry and high-tier ISPs.

OC-12 operates at 622 Mbps and is equivalent to 336 DS-1s (same as T-1) or 12 DS-3s. This is another capacity towards which high-tier ISPs are moving. It was originally deployed for the metropolitan area fiber rings built out across cities worldwide, although those rings are now moving to OC-48.

OC-48 operates at 2,488 Mbps and is equivalent to 1,344 DS-1s (same as a T-1) or 48 DS-3s (same as a T-3). This capacity has been deployed for backbone, or core, networks. Today the metropolitan area rings are moving from OC-48 to OC-192.

OC-192 operates at 9,953 Mbps and is equivalent to 5,376 DS-1s (same as a T-1) or 192 DS-3s (same as a T-3). OC-192 is in use for backbone networks.

OC-768 operates at 39,812 Mbps and is equivalent to 21,504 DS-1s (same as a T-1) or 768 DS-3s (same as a T-3). Use of OC-768 is very rare outside of testing or research networks due to the great expense of this transmission speed level.

At times, you may see OC levels such as OC-1c, OC-3c, OC-12c, etc. This is called concatenation, and it puts streams of data into one fat, or high-bandwidth, contiguous stream. For example, OC-1 speeds of 52 Mbps may be used to carry broadcast video. In this case, OC-1c, or concatenated OC-1, carries OC-1 streams back-to-back. These streams travel contiguously through the network as long as capacity is available. Most applications for concatenation are high-speed data and broadcast-quality video.

As far as the DS, or Digital Signal Levels, of the older PDH, or Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy (plesiochronous means “minute variations in timing”), they follow what is known as the T-carrier signal levels. Technically, the DS-x and CEPT-x terminology (DS-1, DS-3, CEPT-1, CEPT-3, and so on) indicates a specific signal level (and thus usable bandwidth), as well as the electrical interface specification. T-x and E-x terminology (T-1, T-3, E-1, E-3, and so on) indicates the type of carrier – a specific implementation of a DS-x/CEPT-x. More often than not these days, however, the terms DS-x and T-x are used interchangeably. So some people might use the term DS-1 and T-1 to refer to the same thing – a digital transport that can carry 1.544 Mpbs over a total of 24 voice channels. In Europe, the same is true: E-1 is the same as CEPT-1, and so forth.

A DS-0 (T-0) has a bit rate of 64 Kbps and carries 1 voice-grade channel.

A DS-1 is equivalent to a T-1 and has a bit rate of 1.544 Mpbs and carries 24 voice channels.

A DS-2 has a bit rate of 6.312 Mpbs and carries 96 voice channels, equivalent to 4 T-1s. This is also sometimes referred to as a T-2, or T2.

A DS-3 has a bit rate of 44.736 Mpbs and carries 672 voice channels, equivalent to 28 T-1s. This is also sometimes referred to as a T-3, or T3.

A DS-4 has a bit rate of 274.176 Mpbs and carries 4,032 voice channels, equivalent to 168 T-1s. This is also sometimes referred to as a T-4, or T4.


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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.


About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Senior Technical Project Manager at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

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Measuring Voice Quality in a VoIP environment May 1, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Telecommunications, Uncategorized.
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One of the consequences of installing Voice over IP systems is that the “voice” sides of information technology departments are learning the lingo and technology of measuring voice quality on data networks. In addition, staffs that manage data networks are becoming aware of the criticality of voice. They are developing a cognizance of the impact on voice services of congestion when they add new applications. They also note lost voice service when they take down the network for maintenance or new installations.

Staff use network management tools that entail quality of service assesments to monitor the following factors in voice quality:

* Packet loss refers to the network dropping packets when there is congestion. Packet loss results in uneven voice quality. Voice conversations “break up” when packet loss is too high.

* Latency refers to delays when voice packets transverse the network. Latency is measured in milliseconds. It results in long pauses within conversations and clipped words.

* Jitter is uneven latency and packet loss resulting in noisy calls that contain pops and clicks or crackling sounds.

* Echo, hearing your voice repeated, is often caused when voice is translated from a circuit switched format to the IP format. This is usually corrected by special echo-canceling devices.

The true meaning of “Getting someone’s Goat” April 30, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Definitions, Uncategorized.
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The expression, “To get someone’s goat”, meaning to anger or irritate, originated in 19th century racing stables in England. High-strung race horses were kept calm by having them share the stables with a goat. Evidently, the company calmed them and allowed them to rest and relax. Unprincipled hooligans would sometimes sneak into the stable at night and remove the goat. The horse got upset, would not have a good rest, and lose the race the next morning.

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An exploration of telecom USOC (pronounced “U-Sock”) codes April 22, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Definitions, Telecommunications, Uncategorized.
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Uniform Service Order Code (pronounced “U-Sock”) is a structured language that allows for the development of software to support service order systems in the telephone industry. The service order process utilizes the USOC, along with Field Identifiers (FIDs), to provision, bill and maintain services and equipment. USOCs can be either three or five alpha/numeric characters. A plus (+) sign indicates a variable suffix position. Suffixes define options of the USOC i.e. color, jurisdiction, speed. To prevent confusion the letter “o” is used and zero is not; the number “1” is used and the letter “I” is not. USOCs are designed for tariffed services, official company services, coin services, equipment, detariffed services, etc. The Bell operating companies in the United States and many independent telephone companies use USOCs to communicate both within their company and between companies. Many new companies in the industry are using the USOC information to interpret incumbent telephone company records when they are supplying new service to a customer. The different companies may have different names for the same services, but the USOC name is generic and therefore becomes a common naming device between companies.





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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.


About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Senior Technical Project Manager at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.


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An explanantion of telecommunications industry CLLI “Silly” Codes April 20, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Definitions, Fiber Optics, Telecommunications, Uncategorized, Wireless Applications.
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What the heck is a “Silly” Code? Allow me to explain…

A CLLI, (pronounced “Silly”) code is a telecommunications industry-standard and is an alphanumeric code of 11 characters, CLLI was developed by Bellcore (now telecordia Technologies) as a method of identifying physical locations and equipment such as buildings, central offices, poles, and antennas. Each CLLI code conforms to one of three basic formats (Network Entity, Network Support Site and Customer Site). Each format, in turn, determines how these six coding elements are used:

Geographical Codes (Example: DNVR = Denver) Typically assigned to cities, towns, suburbs, villages, hamlets, military installations and international airports, geographical codes can also be mapped to mountains, bodies of water and satellities in fixed-earth orbit.

Geopolitical Codes (Example: CO = Colorado) Typically assigned to countries, states and provinces, geopolitical and geographical codes can be combined to form a location identifyer that is unique worldwide.

Network Site Codes (Example: 56 = A Central Office on Main Street) This element is used with geographical and geopolitcal codes to represent buildings, structures, enclosures or other locations at which there is a need to identify and describe one or more functional entities. This category includes central office buildings, business and commercial offices, certain microwave-radio relay buildings and earth stations, universities, hospitals, military bases and other government complexes, garages, sheds and small buildings, phone centers and controlled environmental vaults.

Network Entity Codes (Example: DS0 = A digital switch) This element can be used with geographical, geopolitical and network-site codes to identify and describe functional categories of equipment, administrative groups or maintenance centers involved in the operations taking place at a given location.

Network Support Site Codes (Example: P1234 = A telephone pole) This element can be used with geographical and geopolitical codes to identify and describe the location of international boundaries or crossing points, end points, fiber nodes, cable and facility junctions, manholes, poles, radio-equipment sites, repeaters and tall stations.

Customer Site Codes (Example: 1A101 = A Customer) This element can be used with geographical and geopolitical codes to identify and describe customer locations associated with switched-service networks, centrex installations; Trunk forecasting, cable, carrier or fiber terminations, NCTE, CPE and PBX equipment, military installations, shopping malls, universities and hospitals.

Consider the real-life example of NYCMNY18DS0. The first four characters identify the place name (NYCM is New York City Manhattan). The following two characters identify the state, region, or territory (NY is New York). The remaining five chracters identify the specific item at that place (18DS0 is the AT&T 5E Digital Serving Office on West 18th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues). Phone companies use CLLI Codes for a variety of purposes, including identifying and ordering private lines and trapping and tracing of annoying or threatening calls.

CLLI Code – Facility Identification codes provide unique identification of facilities (cable and carrier systems) between any two interconnected CLLI coded locations. The CLFI code is a variable length, mnemonic code with a maximum of 38 characters. Example: 101T1LSANCA03NWRKNJAA. This example says that there is a T-1 carrier connected between the Los Angeles, California Central Office to the Newark, New Jersey Central Office.





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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.


About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Senior Technical Project Manager at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

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Faster Job Hunting with LinkedIn Toolbar April 17, 2009

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22 Ways to Dominate on LinkedIn April 17, 2009

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Using LinkedIn for personal and professional brand growth:

If you have a profile on LinkedIn but have never understood why, or you are still waiting to get on, this will help you get more out of this fantastic networking site.

Double Tap Games: Nintendo DS-oriented game studio sprouts up in Cambridge April 16, 2009

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Two primary executives formerly of THQ’s now-defunct Helixe studio have formed an exciting new game company in Cambridge, oriented to the white-hot Nintendo DS platform. Helixe created the movie-themed DS games Wall-E and Ratatouille, among many others including a Star Wars-themed game, The New Droid Army, for the Nintendo GBA. Double Tap Games, headed by Kurt Bickenbach and Richard Corredera, is aiming for “new games and franchises” with a fresh approach, appearing in the second half of 2009.

The company has a developer staff with over nineteen years and 10 million units of collective experience on the Nintendo DS and Gameboy Advance, having worked in such outfits as Sony Online Entertainment, Looking Glass Studios, and obviously, THQ.

Director of Business Development Richard Corredera, formerly of Sony Online Entertainment in San Diego and most recently Technical Director at Helixe, has stated that the new company is working on a few titles that have been slated for development, although no specific details or release schedules have been announced. From the company’s website:

“Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the DoubleTap team carries extensive experience in crafting online games of varying scale, as well as movie and TV licensed based games such as WALL•E, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Tak, Jimmy Neutron, Fairly Odd Parents, Scooby Doo, Star Wars, and many others, with an understanding of a licenser’s ever-changing properties.

DoubleTap Games is committed to redefining online multiplayer experiences available on the Nintendo platforms. DoubleTap is confident the online Nintendo market will continue to grow and transform, and strives to speak to its audience in an uncommon way, with uncompromising quality.”

An exciting aspect of Double Tap’s intentions in the marketplace appears to be their emphasis on the online gameplay component of the Nintendo DS. This burgeoning new point of emphasis for Nintendo DS games, which as a platform has been relatively slow to adopt the online gameplay approach, could indeed deliver big success to the Cambridge-based Double Tap Games.

Click here for information on Double Tap’s Boston-based Development Team

Click here for information on Double Tap’s Development Team’s History in Nintendo Gaming

Play Rock Band with the Harmonix Developers! Tonight in Central Square, Boston! 10pm $7 to get in! April 16, 2009

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Play Rock Band with the Harmonix Crew, Tonight at ImprovBoston in Central Square!

Play Rock Band with the Harmonix Crew, Tonight at ImprovBoston in Central Square!

Meet the Harmonix Crew (I met alot of these Harmonix folks at Boston Post Mortem last Tuesday at the Skellig in Waltham; They are a great bunch, and accessible despite their world-ringing mega-success) tonight, and play their megahit Rock Band with them. The event will be tonight, in Central Square in Boston, 10pm at ImprovBoston. 40 Prospect Street. $7 admittance.

Portfolio Show at The New England Institute of Art, Friday, April 17th, 1-5pm April 16, 2009

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New England Institute of Art: Portfolio Show

New England Institute of Art: Portfolio Show

There will be a portfolio show at The New England Institute of Art, Friday, April 17th, from 1 to 5 pm. The event will take place at the Courtyard by Marriott, 777 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA. For more information, please call 800-903-4425.

Middleton, MA’s IdeaArc still in business despite Bankruptcy April 15, 2009

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Idearc Media publishes more than 130 million phone books a year that let your fingers do the walking, but lately, things have not been a snap for the company.

On March 31, the publisher of Verizon White and Yellow Pages phone books — and one of the North Shore’s larger employers — filed for bankruptcy in an effort to reduce its debt. The company said it reached an agreement in principle with its agent bank and a group of secured lenders to reduce its debt from $9 billion to $3 billion.

For more information on IdeaArc and it’s struggles up on the North Shore, click here.

GamerDNA.com : New Gamer Social Network Site Opens in Cambridge April 15, 2009

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A new social networking site for Gamers has opened in Cambridge. The site is called GamerDNA.com, and they are funded by Flybridge Capital Partners of Boston. From the site’s ‘About’ page:

gamerDNA is the place to build and express your unique gamer identity. We want to help you discover, extend and better enjoy games from wherever you play online.
At the core of our company is the gamerDNA Discovery Engine, powered by a database of gameplay patterns and passionate feedback from gamers like you. By applying the collective intelligence of our community, we’re able to understand why you play the games you do, so:

* You can uncover new games you’ll enjoy
* Game developers can design better games with the features you’ll want
* You gain a powerful new voice in the world of games

Getting started is easy… Just let us know where you play (Console, PC, Mobile) and well automatically update your achievements, scores, characters, etc. and transport your gamerDNA anywhere you want to go on the Internet, including popular social media sites like Twitter.
Beyond social media sites, gamerDNA is also working with popular fansites, blogs and gaming communities to make gamerDNA a part of your experience elsewhere on the Web. Our Alliance Network of over 4 million gamers includes some of the largest gaming communities around the world including, WoWJutsu.com, ElitistJerks.com and MapleTip.com.

Our mantra is to know gamers better than any company in the world so we listen carefully to what you have to say about games and are constantly striving to learn what you love about them.”

A123 Systems of Watertown gets tax breaks for its new Livonia, MI Plant April 15, 2009

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A123Systems, a lithium-ion battery company that just Monday said it had raised $69 million in its latest financing round, said yesterday that it has secured more than $100 million in refundable tax credits from the state of Michigan.

Watertown-based A123Systems added that it has selected Livonia, Mich., as the location for one of the new production plants it is planning.

Independent Game Developers Meetup, Monday, 16 May at BetaHouse in Cambridge April 15, 2009

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Scott Macmillan, founder of Macguffin Games, will be hosting a new meetup group focusing on independent video game development and publishing in Boston. The meeting will take place on Monday, 16 May, at BetaHouse in Cambridge. For more details, please contact Boston Indies Google Group.

MacGuffin Games is working on a very intriguing new game, called Heritage, which is due to be released soon for Linux, Mac and PC.

There is a page on their site which has a sneak peek at some Heritage Concept Art.

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