February 21, 2017

Persistent Group Chat

Persistent group chat apps like Slack and Spark are starting to dominate the conversation of unified communications. Are they that good? I'll let you find your own fluff blog posts hailing them as the next big thing (rendering everything else dead I assume). This takes a look at the other side, since it's rarely discussed.

February 20, 2017

Why Calling a Technology Dead is Stupid

Yet another instance flashed in front of my Twitter feed calling something dead.

Rest in Peace, oh product that I do not sell

February 17, 2017

Cloud vs On-Prem

In the past few days, I've seen this graphic come across my eyes on LinkedIn so I felt it necessary to comment on it. One can only assume it was drawn by a marketing person for some cloud computing organization. If someone knows its origin, let me know and I will give credit.

February 14, 2017

Amazon Chime - is this the killer app?

Today, Amazon released Chime, it's entry into Unified Communication.

I proceeded to download the app for my iPhone and after an email verification using my existing Amazon account, I was met with a clean interface.

There are three tiers of pricing and upon a quick check, I have absolutely no idea of the tier I am on. One can only hope and assume that I'm on the basic, free tier. Amazon already has all my credit card information as I routinely purchase damn near everything from them already.

Amazon has little to lose, yet much to gain in this space. Most other UCaaS providers have much to lose however if Chime gains wide adoption. Further testing needs done on my part to determine if Chime will come close to my personal expectation. Stay tuned.

You can't turn off self view in the iPhone app. This is bad. Video quality is quite good and puts Spark to shame on a quick test basis. I obviously couldn't test audio due to the dreaded echo loop.

Also of note, I could not launch a call from the browser in either Safari or Chrome on my MacBook Air. I had to download the OSx app which couldn't be done from the call in webpage, even though there was a link. I had to go back to Chime's main page to find the app, install it and run it. Upon further review, it appears that you can't do video from a browser, you can join a meeting and see data, bot no video. You need the app for that.

February 12, 2017

Tips to look better on video

Here are some quick tips to look better for your next video chat - think Lights! Camera! Action!

Tip 1 - Lights
If the other person can't see you, you may as well just have a phone call. Fill your space with enough light to show your face. Be aware that natural light probably isn't the best.

Tip 2 - Camera
Look at your self view before the video chat. Make sure your whole face is in the camera's capture.

Tip 3 - Action
Keep your device steady. Don't have your laptop literally on your lap and don't run around house while video chatting on your phone. Think about what the other person is looking at.

February 11, 2017

Top Three Tips for a Better Video Conference

Here are my top tips for a better video conference experience in the meeting room.

Why three? Why not!

Number one - Don't talk over someone on the other end. Latency is a fact in video conferences and if you tend to talk over someone in normal conversation it becomes worse over video. Take a breath. Wait your turn.

Number two - Don't mumble! Audio in a video conference can range from poor to fantastic so make sure you speak clearly, especially in the cases where language can be a barrier. Also, be respectful of cultural differences. A funny joke in the USA could be incredibly offensive elsewhere.

Number three - Test your equipment in advance. Get meetings off to a faster start by knowing if your speakers, microphone and camera are on and ready to go.

Additional tip - If you're in a video call with someone on the other side of the world, be respectful of their time zone. It may be morning where you are, but it sounds a little silly when you say "good morning" to someone when they are about to wrap their afternoon at work.

What are your favorite tips?

February 10, 2017

Planning a Kitchen Remodel? Here are some tips

In January of 2017, our kitchen was remodeled. Without any advice blogs to read before the preparation of this project, I thought I would write one. Here you go.

Fuze $104 million round

Read about it at David's site HERE

Fuze got $104 Million in funding to bring them to a total of $304

From the article:

 Its top ten deals of 2016 represented a combined $71 million in contract value

This represents the same as Zoom with their latest funding. This is a huge chunk of money brought in, most likely representing a huge chunk of equity going out.

February 08, 2017

Logitech Brio

Logitech's best ever webcam includes 4K HDR and Windows Hello support

Logitech has taken its more than 20 years of hardware experience and created its best ever webcam. The new Logitech Brio 4K Pro Webcam launches today for $199, but the high price is matched by a high number of features. Logitech has paired 4K recording with HDR, and the company’s latest RightLight features to improve low-light situations. If you’re used to holding video calls in dimly lit rooms, then the addition of HDR should improve image quality and avoid some of the typical lighting issues associated with webcam feeds.

Read more HERE

February 07, 2017

Auto Zoom and Tracking Cameras; do they work?

Auto zooming and tracking cameras are now whittled down to price points that anyone can afford. But the real question isn't "should I buy one", but it's more "do they work".

I'm in video conferences for several hours per week. Many of the far end points have auto tracking cameras, either Polycom's Eagle Eye Director or Producer or Cisco's Speaker Track. If you've ever been in a meeting with one these that are active on the other end, you'll know it immediately.

You'll know them because:

  • The camera moves around, sometimes without reason
  • The camera takes 3-4 seconds to pan over to whoever is talking (and by that time, they may be done talking)
  • You start waiting for it to move - and that's completely distracting.

Imagine if you're in an important meeting and you start sneezing. Guess what, you end up on camera front and center so everyone can see you sneeze. Well, actually since the delay is so long, they get to see you wipe your nose instead. Great, isn't it? This technology assumes that only one person is ever going to speak at a time. The problem is, meetings aren't like that. Meetings aren't just one person in site A talking to one person at site B. They are dynamic with sometimes several people speaking at once.

Not to mention that most people who have them tell me they turn them off because they simply "don't work".

It's best to see actual demonstrations of the products versus marketing videos. These two videos speak for themselves.

Notice the length of time it takes to switch. The people who stopped talking look a little lost.

If you're considering one of these products, or one of the new USB offerings out there, take it for a long test drive. If you are the decision maker, don't put it in your room, put it in a room you talk to often. That way YOU can get an idea of the pros and cons of the technology.