Some IVR Is Just Stupid

Does your phone system implement some interactive voice response, aka IVR? Do you know how bad IVR can drive your customers nuts? It can actually drive them away. Here are a couple of examples from my personal life.

Here in Houston there’s a very successful Greek restaurant called Niko Niko’s. Stella likes this place a lot. I like their food but I don’t like to go there. It’s always busy. It’s simply too noisy a place to have a relaxing meal.

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IETF 87 Berlin: WebRTC Opus Experiment

Next week the IETF will be holding a conference in Berlin. Part of that conference is a Technical Plenary Session about the Opus audio codec  scheduled for Monday, July 29th 5:40-7:40pm CET.

The IETF usually streams much of their conferences so people who are not free to travel may still participate. Quite often there’s an audio stream, sometimes there’s video and a web share of any slides. They usually stream from several of the meeting rooms, as multiple sessions are typical going on in parallel.

This coming Monday’s Technical Plenary is also going to be the basis of an experiment. The session is going to be streamed via WebRTC. That means that anyone with a WebRTC capable browser will be able to monitor the session. It further implies that the session on Opus will in fact be streamed using Opus…which seems only fitting.

The session will be recorded for those who cannot participate live. Since 5:40pm is Berlin is 10:40am in Houston I’m hopeful that I may be able to list in using Chrome.

Blink Does Opus

Blink-Yeti-OpusLast week there was some exciting news on the AG Projects mailing list; Blink support for the Opus codec was being released for the Mac version of Blink. A similarly capable release of the Windows version was expected shortly. Earlier this week Adrian Georgescu, the A. G. of AG Projects, passed me a Blink for Windows release candidate for experimental use.

This beta release installed readily, right along side the production release. I quickly registered it with my account at SIP2SIP.INFO so that we could have a couple of brief test calls.

Since most telephony oriented audio hardware doesn’t do justice to full-bandwidth audio I connected my Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone and a pair of AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones . It seems that the team at AG Projects have also settled on the Yeti as a very good, yet affordable choice for high-quality sound pickup.

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Video Calling 2: Commercial Lighting Solutions

Polycom HDX-4000 CompositeI have seen the light…and you can, too! As I described previously, I’ve been making use of a lot more video calling in my working life. Even beyond that fact, some have said that I’m occasionally in the dark.

After some attempts to use locally existing lighting, both natural and artificial, I determined that I need some lighting that’s specifically for my use of video. My first instinct was to ask a question of my followers on Twitter, since some of those are active in the realm of video conferencing and calling.

I also reached out to some people in the broadcast space, including photographers and lighting directors. I took the answers provided and added a little of my own online research.

There has a risen a question of why my workspace is as dark as it happens to be at times? Early in my career I was an online editor. At that point I spent most of my working life in dimly lit rooms working on the final assembly of commercials and longer video programs. The forest green color on my office walls is in fact borrowed from the design one of my favorite editing suites.

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Are Tablets Really Killing PC Sales?

I think not. Kudos to Dean Collins for getting this right. Dean  notes a Boomberg Business Week article citing Gartner Group report. They claim;

“…PC makers and suppliers are still struggling to lure back consumers who have decided they can get the Internet access and computing they need from cheaper tablets.”

…which is I think absolute hogwash. Dean quite correctly asserts that the trouble with PC sales is a lack of compelling new applications that require the continuous upgrade cycle of old.

If I consider our own experience hereabouts, both Estella and I got new desktops last summer. This was motivated in part of a compelling offer from Woot.com and the fact that were had three-year-old systems running Windows XP. The move to new hardware was accompanied by a new OS. It made more sense to go all-in on the new systems than upgrade the OS on the existing hardware.

For many people, uber-gamers and media guru’s aside, there simply isn’t any reason to get new hardware so very often. We bought our last Windows XP systems at about the time that Estella bought a license for the Adobe Master Suite. That was a monster bundle of heavy-hitting software that justified the new hardware.

Our move to Windows 7 64 bit was in-part compelled by the need to move to the latest Adobe Creative Suite, which absolutely required a 64 bit OS. For my part, I needed a desktop with PCIe to support the use of a BlackMagic Design video capture card.

Clearly, our activities involving the use of high-quality video drives our hardware upgrade cycle. Such forces do not exist for many people, so their hardware sustains them much longer.

We own tablets, but the presence of those devices has not impacted our decision to buy desktops or laptops. In this case I think that Gartner is mistaken.

Audio Quality: Sample Rates, Bit-Depth, Human Physiology & The Golden Ears

studera800.jpgThere is a curious interface between science and the senses. Perception is often wrapped in psychological or emotional elements. This comes in many forms. It can be a group trying to share their impression of the taste of a particular wine. It can be people listening to music. Every persons experience of such things, being filtered by all that is us, both physically and mentally, is unique.

In a recent post I referred to a silly trend in very high sample rate music. This has been promoted by a variety of people, including HD Tracks, a music reseller that promises to provide “audiophile grade high-resolution recordings.” This term they use to generally describe digital recording a structure beyond the 44.1 KHz sampling and 16 bit linear word length defined by the CD format. They offer music at up to 24 bits and 192 KHz sample rate.

I’ve come to regard this trend as having very little merit. I came to this conclusion after many years dealing with digital audio production, after some experimentation and a lot of research. Like everything else on this site, I don’t profess to be any kind of expert, but I am happy to share my experience.

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