November 02, 2015

Real Time Review of the Acer Chromebook 13

This is a review of the Acer Chromebook 13, performed on the Acer Chromebook 13 that I just received from Best Buy on Friday. I purchased the 768 resolution model as I tend to be cheap which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. I purchased this mainly for home use and wanted the longest battery possible. Cheap and long battery life led me to this. So here we go.

October 11, 2015

360 degree camera - for video conferencing?

In this blog I'm writing about the ins and outs of using a 360 degree camera for video conferencing in my usual random format. This is largely based on the Polycom Centro which was just announced but some of it will overlap with any tabletop 360 degree camera.

September 30, 2015


Video conference integration into a conference room is no easy task. Product vendors are reliant on both IT and AV experts to make it as easy as possible on the end user and look great at the same time. Yet I still hear the rants from pundits saying that everything needs to be easy for everyone. It's not going to happen and we need to accept this. There is no easy button and there never will be one.

September 14, 2015

Having a Meeting

Our industry tends to get caught up in the bells and whistles of the latest "Unified Communication" product thrown in front of us, but there's a problem: When we're so involved in the technology and how (if) it works, how can we have a simple meeting?

Video conferencing is supposed to be about having a meeting, only you're not in the same location as the other participants. Let's take a look at some limiters keeping us from having an effective meeting over video and what you can do to help that. Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should.

August 31, 2015

August 2015 Around the Industry

Here are some interesting items of note for August 2015 around the video conference industry.

Although it happened in July, the reigns were officially handed over to Chuck Robbins as the new CEO of Cisco. To celebrate John Chambers leaving, Cisco threw a huge party, spent a ton of money on it, and laid off some employees. Not only did they shed some employees via layoffs, but it seems as though many are leaving on their own (let's hope that's the case and they aren't being shown the door)

I started writing for a new group called Masters of Communication. These posts will exist on LinkedIn, the Masters of Communications website and I will re post mine here. Note that as of this blog date, MoC and my own blog are where I currently post content. 

Above is video worth watching regarding Gartner's magic quadrant.

Aver released a new USB PTZ camera, the VC520. What I fail to understand is the insistence that software cameras be 1080p. If a camera is meant to only be used with software codecs, 1080p is only for marketing department bullet points as getting that much resolution into a PC will lead to bad video quality, based on my experiences only. I've had video chats at 480 that were better than 1080 due to pixelization, blocky images and high latency that comes with attempting high resolutions. Anyway, I like Aver products in a general sense.

This month I read "articles" on the death of the telephone, email, voicemail, television and of course hardware codecs. I won't link them because for the most part these articles/blogs are bullshit. Most of these are written from the standpoint of "since I don't use them or I sell something else, they must be dead" so I don't give much attention to them. Nor do the "industry experts" know exactly what's going on in every enterprise around the world. To read some of their articles makes you think we're all going to be working from home using video conferencing on a smartphone all day long. Sounds like their vision of a perfect world is Solaria from The Naked Sun, and that's not a world where I want to live.

The Stock Ticker
  • Polycom took another slide to $10.79 as of 8-31 down from $11.38 at the end of last month. That's down from $13.52 at the beginning of June
  • Cisco dropped to $26.00 from $28.42
  • Avaya dropped to $15.02 from $16.38

August 19, 2015

Bad Marketing Photography

Let's just get it out there - I'm not fond of marketing photography. Why do I have such a problem? False advertising. I've seen too many marketing documents either portraying video conferencing wrong or photoshopping key items out of pictures.

August 17, 2015

Is Telecommuting Right for You?

The last time I wrote a little about telecommuting as part of my Changing Workplace blog but what I didn't go into is my experiences over the last 11 years of working at home. This article will run on with some things I liked about working from home, some I didn't and some things you should be aware of if you, your coworkers or your employees start telecommuting.

Photo by franky242.

August 02, 2015

July 2015 Around the Industry

Here are the news, views and reviews from the world of video conferencing for July, 2015. There is typically a lull after Infocomm and this July was no exception.

  • HERE is an article about what Lifesize is doing. Note that I don't necessarily agree with the direction they are going but I wish them luck nonetheless.
  • Going back through some Infocomm videos I discovered some new video wall products geared toward video conferencing. Video walls don't make sense to me in a video conferencing environment. It's no different than a huge projected image (except the projected image at least doesn't have bezels all over the place) where camera placement becomes a big problem. In the near future I feel that we're going to get this problem resolved but right now I see video walls problematic if the planned use is for video conferencing. Note that I do think they are cool, they just aren't great for VC.
  • While I think Chromebox for meetings is a bad product for conference rooms, I can see the Chromecast making a bigger splash. Some two-way functionality (if it's not already in there) where if there was one in each conference room to display content to all conference rooms, that would be cool. Seems like an obvious winner to me. Until then, Mersive's Solstice is still my favorite.
  • This camera was introduced. I cannot tell you how much I will think this will fail with that pricepoint.
  • Below is nice video recap of Infocomm. The industry needs more discussion like this, especially using video.

  •  Microsoft's Surface Hub is experiencing a delay. Although Microsoft's explanation is transparent (and most likely incorrect), I can empathize with their situation.
  • Sony introduced a USB PTZ camera. Not excited.
  • Logitech Collaboration Program was announced. Logitech should band together with all software codec vendors and push push push it.

The Stock Ticker
  • Polycom stock went from $13.52 to $11.51 per share over the month of June to $11.38 as of 8-1
  • Cisco went from $29.60 to $27.83 to $28.42
  • Avaya went from $16.02 to $15.84 to $16.38

July 28, 2015

Practice What You Preach

Forward the video to the 29:30 mark. It was mandatory that Cisco's acquisitions move to San Francisco.

What's wrong with this? Well, a look at their website shows that Cisco is pushing telecommuting/teleworking for their customers. Makes sense, right, since they sell video conferencing and collaboration related products. However, they are forcing relocation of their acquisitions? I thought with teleworking everyone was supposed to be more efficient and happier. If the company that sells the highest end communication products in the world doesn't practice what they preach, then why should anyone think working from home is the way to go?

Now of course I know nothing of Cisco's situation other than what Rowan shared in that video. But still, on the surface if you're trying to sell products that has a specific purpose, you really should use them your damn self for that purpose.

July 19, 2015

Image Acquisition

For a successful video conference there are four key components * as far as getting a good picture to the far participants. 

Here they are in sort of a start to finish order:

  • Image Aquisition
  • Compression then decompression after transmission (the codec)
  • Network (transmission)
  • Display

In this blog, I'll discuss the image acquisition portion of video conferencing, as I've found that of the four, it lacks the most attention.