No Jitter: Still No HDVoice Either!

Here’s yet another case of the telecom punditry failing to live by their own guidance. What’s the common term? “Eating one’s own dog food.”

No Jitter, a UBM property, in support of their Enterprise Connect event, produces a podcast. This time around editor Beth Schultz spoke with Alan Quayle about the coming TADHack Mini Hackathon which will run in Orlando March 25-6, just before Enterprise Connect.

That’s nice. Alan certainly knows his stuff. He’s been a VUC frequent guest in recent years.

NoJitter on Lenovo X-1-Carbon

It’s a pity that the podcast was produced via a plain vanilla PSTN telephone call. Narrowband in the best tradition of Ma Bell, circa 1945.

The failure to tap a new age, HDVoice-capable means of podcast production just feels wrong. Most especially given the widespread emphasis on WebRTC as a key aspect of the new age of telecom creativity.

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It’s Official! The patents on G.729 have expired

Somewhere in today’s news I was tipped to this update from SIPRO Lab about the status of the G.729 patent arrangements:

“As of January 1, 2017 the patent terms of most Licensed Patents under the G.729 Consortium have expired.

With regard to the unexpired Licensed Copyrights and Licensed Patents of the G.729 Consortium Patent License Agreement, the Licensors of the G.729 Consortium, namely Orange SA, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation and Université de Sherbrooke (“Licensors”) have agreed to license the same under the existing terms on a royalty-free basis starting January 1, 2017.

For current Licensees of the G.729 Consortium Patent License Agreement, no reports and no payments will be due for Licensed Products Sold or otherwise distributed as of January 1, 2017.”

In truth, I haven’t given much thought to G.729 since I ran a local Asterisk server. Back then, when embedded Asterisk appliances were a brand new idea, I was running Asterisk on a Soekris Net4801 with a paltry 266 MHz AMD Geode CPU. It could barely manage to transcode two calls into G.729, if I paid Digium $10/channel for the licensed codec.

That said, G.729 is likely the most widely deployed low-bitrate voice codec. It’s embedded is all manner of hardware, which means that it probably won’t be going away any time soon. With the licensing requirement dropped it’ll just be cheaper for grey route operators to deploy the codec.

That’s a pity since G.729 sounds nasty. Otherwise normal phone calls transcoded to/from G.729 to pass across cheap international long distance links are notably degraded. Cascading transcodes make matters dramatically worse.

Further, there are newer and much better options today…most especially Opus.

Argh! Google’s Neat Ethernet Adapter For Chromecast is Proprietary

You may recall a month ago when I stumbled across Google’s way-cool power supply + Ethernet adapter for  Chromecast. At just $15 I thought it novel and a great way to give Chromecast the reliability of a wired network connection. That it is.

I also thought, hoped even, that it was a relatively standard use of Androids USB-On-The-Go capability. Meaning that I had hoped it would serve an Android tablet just the same as it handled Chromecast, providing power + Ethernet. That’s where I was wrong.

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A Cautionary Tale of Meshes & Networks

ubiquiti amplifi 300pxEveryone wants great Wi-Fi. That much is a given. Our homes occasionally make achieving this difficult, either by way of their sheer size or manner of construction. This is a cautionary tale about a project I undertook around our home, and its unexpected impact on our Wi-Fi.

In recent years wireless mesh networks have become quite fashionable. And why not? Providing reliable coverage in a large home may require multiple wireless access points. Pulling Ethernet cable to each of those locations (yeah, baby!) is beyond all but the most ambitious of DIY homeowners.

For the average Joe installing one central router, then plugging in a couple of more distant wireless repeaters seems so much easier. That’s a Saturday morning chore that might well ingratiate you with the family.

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The Pixel Tells Me About HD Calls

Google Pixel In-callThroughout 2016 I carried a Nexus 5 mobile phone. So did my wife. Hers is the red one. She loves it.

My Nexus 5 suffered a crack in the display the very week that I bought it. In fact, that happened the very day that the screen protector was to arrive from Amazon. In frustration, I merely applied the tempered glass screen protector and kept using the phone for a year!

Over that time, although the phone worked perfectly, the crack grew. By the end of the year it was something of an embarrassment, so I broke down and bought a Pixel from Google.

Some have heard me rant that the move from Nexus to Pixel was disappointing. I maintain that the Nexus phones were an outstanding value, whereas the Pixel, while a fine instrument, is just another costly device.

My experience with the Pixel has been great. It’s a big step up in performance. Nougat is nice. I really like the fingerprint unlock feature. Battery life is exemplary, at least in my use case. USB C fast-charging is ok, although I do miss wireless charging.

One of the things I liked about the Nexus 5 on T-Mobile was that I enjoyed HDVoice calling to the few people I call most often. They are also T-Mobile customers, with suitably capable handsets.

This morning, for the very first time, I noticed that the Pixel indicates when it’s connected in HDVoice. I’m not sure if this indication is a new thing, or I simply never noted previously.

There aren’t too many people who get excited about HDVoice. I still do. It’ll be great we can pass HDVoice between carriers. Some say that’s happening now, but I see no evidence of it.

Surveying the state of small desktop computers

The fact is that I’m in need of a new desktop computer. My current desktop was purchased an embarrassingly long time ago. It was an impulse purchase, inspired by an attractive offer at Woot.com.

These sorts of transitions are no surprise. I’ve been on the lookout for suitable replacements for a year or more. I know that I don’t want just another huge box. I want something potent, but small and hopefully very quiet.

Is that what they call, “out of the box thinking?” Here are some thoughts about a few notable candidates.

1. CompuLab’s Airtop PC

I’m still seriously enamored with the Airtop PC from Compulab. It’s a fine piece of engineering.

It’s completely fanless, so dead silent. It has both Intel Iris Pro 6200 onboard graphics and an nVidia discrete graphics adapter. It’s capable of driving 7 (!) displays.

The 5th generation Intel i7-5775C CPU might be getting older, but it still measures well against the current crop of Skylake and Kaby Lake processors.

It accommodates six storage devices while maintaining a compact footprint. It even has one PCIe slot to handle my HDMI capture card.

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