VUC LifeSize Call Feb 25th Cancelled!

Breaking news! Well…hold the phone..or would that be hold the video phone? Camera? Whatever the case….

In an unexpected twist Lifesize has elected to defer their appearance on the VUC for now. They cite some difficulties with getting VUC people confirmed as able to connect to the service using the soft client, and the fact that some key staff are not available to assist with setup this week as reasons for the decision.

To those of you who received web cams…Happy Birthday! Or Happy VUC-day, or some-such-thing.

As a peace offering Lifesize is providing a further goody as a giveaway for this Friday’s VUC call. One lucky attendee will win their choice of either a Logitech Harmony One universal remote or a Logitech Squeezebox Touch wireless music player.

I personally own five (!) Squeezebox 3’s…and I can tell you that the Squeezebox Touch is SWEET!

As circumstances and product offerings evolve there may eventually be another opportunity to engage with Lifesize. That could have some potentially interesting implications…but it’s too early to know anything specific about that potential.

VUC Goes LifeSize Feb 25th At 1PM EST

The VUC call featuring LifeSize, originally set for February 4th, has been rescheduled to February 25th at 1PM EST. That makes it part two of a VUC double-header that begins with Safi Systems at the usual time.

All of the details of the LifeSize call remain as originally laid out. Those who received the Logitech C910 HD webcams can use the LifeSize Desktop software to connect to the LifeSize Bridge.

The video bridge will also be live-streamed via a web feed using the LifeSize Video Center. The video bridge will be connect to the ZipDX bridge for those who participate in audio only.

LifeSize will also be offering another chance for those who received the webcams to test connectivity to their bridge before Friday’s call.

The LifeSize Desktop trial installation only runs for 30 days which is one of the reasons that we’ve decided upon the Feb 25th date. An email poll of those who received the webcams did not reveal anyone who expected to have a problem with the software reaching that 30 day limit as of Feb 25th.

However, not everyone responded to the email poll. If you find that you will not be able to use the LifeSize Desktop software on the 25th please contact me asap so that we can try to find a solution.

Oh, yes. Remember that LifeSize will be giving away a Logitech Harmony One programmable universal remote control to one lucky VUC attendee.

Video Calling: My Own Motivation

Video calling has been around for a long, long time. However, it’s yet to become commonplace. There have been studies, some very recent, that suggest that people really don’t want or need it. Yet Skype reports that a substantial amount, around 40% if I recall correctly, of their call traffic involves video. Of course, events like last years volcanic excitement in Iceland highlight how valuable video can be when travel is impossible.

Beyond the more general cases I have my own reasons why video could play an important part in my working life. It happens that I travel a lot in the course of my work. The scope of my working duties is divided three ways; pre-sales demonstrations of hardware/software systems, post-sales commissioning, installations & training, and finally end-user support activity. The demonstration aspect of my travel could be reduced significantly if I were able to deliver the demonstration via online means.

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Junction Network Phone Labs Reviews The Polycom VVX-1500

This past week Junction Networks phone lab posted a review of the Polycom VVX-1500 Business Media Phone. They make note of the devices’ many fine qualities. The VVX is truly a joy to use. It’s build quality is outstanding, and you simply won’t find a better sounding phone anywhere.

That said, I remain curious about the use of one-on-one video calling. It’s remains unclear to what extent companies are making use of desktop video calling. It’s not the kind of this that springs up organically since one must first seed the organisation with a number of suitably capable phones.

I wonder if this tends to happen within companies that are already making use of traditional video conference installations? Do the Business Media Phones merely extend the reach of such facilities to to the desktop or SOHO users? Or are desktop video phones something completely different?

If you make use of such devices please leave a comment about your experience.

The Question Of Sidetone

Just a couple of days ago I received an email asking about side-tone. Marshall Wilgard asks;

“A VoIP expert has written that he would never buy an IP phone that did
not have “sidetone” in the handset because he would want to hear a
little of his own voice when he talked.  The Grandstream phones I use
do “not” have sidetone.  Do you believe that sidetone is important?  And
if so, which brands of IP phones have sidetone?”

As you note, sidetone is the mixing of a little of the users voice into the earpiece such that they can hear themselves as they speak. I believe that sidetone is critically important to comfortable user experience with a phone.

It’s very unnatural to not hear yourself, or hear yourself from another acoustic perspective, as you engage in conversation. Without sidetone you sound like you are very far away even though the other party sounds very near. It’s an inversion of acoustic perspective that can be discomforting.

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IETF CODEC News: OPUS Is Ready For Testing

On the mailing list of the IETF’s CODEC working group Jean-Marc Valin made a significant announcement on Feb 4th. It reads as follows:

Hi everyone,

We’d like to announce that the Opus codec is now ready for testing. The bit-stream is now is a “pseudo-freeze”, which means that unless a problem is found during testing/review, there are no longer any changes planned. The only exception to this are the SILK-mode FEC and the stereo SILK mode, which should be landing in the next few days. Considering that these are not critical features, we felt like the testing phase could already begin.

<snip>

Cheers,

Jean-Marc

Please recall that OPUS is the new codec arising from the combination of CELT and Skype’s SILK. It’s multiple operating modes accommodate many different applications, from extremely low-latency high-quality links between production studios, to voice applications on very low bit-rate channels. OPUS brings us the current state-of-the-art in audio codec technology in a royalty-free, open source form.

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