Coming Soon: A Pair of New USB 3.0 Webcams

You might recall my ongoing lament about the lack of innovation in what we now laughably call webcams. If not, here’s a brief refresher…the current state of the art in consumer webcams (IMHO, the Logitech C920 & 930e, released in 2012 & 2013 respectively) are getting quite vintage. Where are the newer models that address current technological front lines, like USB 3.0, 4K resolution, VP9, HEVC, etc?

Well, there appears to be some movement in this area. Although, while interesting, it’s probably not what you expect. Continue reading “Coming Soon: A Pair of New USB 3.0 Webcams”

Conference Room Systems Preach Looking Good on Video

CRS web site on hdx4500My long and continuing exploration of the evolution of webcams has reliably turned up a small set of companies that are doing interesting things. Conference Room Systems is one such company. An AV reseller in Pennsylvania they seemed to recognize that A/V tech was evolving beyond its traditional boundaries. It was moving into live streaming, in applications from corporate to churches, schools and community groups.

However, a sales organization is just that. They exist to sell things. Having spent many years in such an organization it’s familiar territory for me. Sometimes they are genuinely knowledgeable, occasionally less so.

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Online Marketers: How-To Hold Branded Blabs

OnSip-SMBlabLong-time VUC sponsor OnSIP has been running a series of video chats they call #SMBLAB. Blab is a newer, kinda Hangout-like video chat tool built using WebRTC. This week I participated in one with Mike Oeth, CEO of OnSIP, Angela Leavitt of Mojo Marketing, and Randy Resnick, founder of the VUC.

Blab is dead simple to use. It integrates with Twitter for user authentication, allowing up to four people to join each Blab (call?)  The resulting video chats are recorded. Throw in good social media integration and you can see why it’s an online marketers dream.

As nice as blab is, it’s visual presentation is a bit generic. It doesn’t have the image overlay or lower-third capability that you find in Hangouts. That means that you can’t readily add your name or company logo.

That said, it doesn’t need to be this way! You can take matters into your own hands and deliver strong, visually branded blabs…if you want to. It takes a little effort in advance, but it’s not difficult…and it will strengthen your brand presentation.

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IoT Idea: A Smarter Pet Door

LabradorBlackSome years ago I installed a MaxSeal pet door into one of the French doors that leads into my home office. This lets Shadow & Gwen wander in and out over the course of the work day. I opted for their dual-flap model, which aims to be more weather-tight. We get heavy rain, and there’s no point in attempting to air condition the back yard.

In general, we’re very happy with the pet door. Where “we” are the two quadrupeds, who like their independence, and the bipeds who don’t want to be pestered about every possible coming or going.

If there’s one complaint I have about the dog door it’s the clatter it makes when it closes. Each flap has six metal clips that swing past magnets embedded in the aluminum frame. This acts as a brake for the flapping action, and holds it closed between ingress/egress events.

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Tip: Faking an HDMI Connection

FITPC-HeadlessLast week I once again saw a need to share the output of an Android device. As I’ve described previously, this requires the use of an HDMI splitter to feed both a monitor and the HDMI capture card in my vMix PC. The monitor satisfies that HDCP handshake, which allows the PC to see the video stream.

However, there are times when it’s just not convenient or practical to have an extra monitor involved. This came up recently in a thread in the Wirecast support forum. Someone wants to capture the screen of a number of Mac Mini’s in order to bring multiple Skype video calls into a streaming production. They run the Mac Mini’s headless, accessing the Mac desktops using a software screen sharing application.

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Rant: If I had a time machine…

TARDISA few weeks ago I tweeted that if I had a time machine I’d travel back and ensure that the speakerphone was never invented. It’s a vile thing whose use is seldom justified. It degrades communication and damages relationships. This story is an example of how this can occur.

My tweet met with response from Doug Mohney. He noted that such an action would likely put Polycom out of business. I doubt that. I appreciate conference phones. Given the presence of a group their use is completely justified. It’s an individual using a speakerphone that makes my blood boil.

My tweet was inspired by a terrible experience on a recent conference call. The experience is worth sharing, so that you might avoid such aggravation, or worse cause someone else the same sort of outrage.

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