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LifeSize on WebRTC Revisited

LifeSize WebRTC gateway LaptopA couple of weeks back Lifesize announced the availability of an experimental WebRTC gateway service. They made the announcement during a webinar on WebRTC. Of course, I went to try the service shortly thereafter. While I could make the test call to the address offered, I couldn’t reach anything else, nor was it exactly obvious how that should be done.

A couple of days later Emily G. from LifeSize PR responded to my inquiry about this. She offered to be the other end of a an initial test call, giving me her H.323 dialing string as a calling target.

At the appointed time I visited the the WebRTC test page using Chrome on my laptop and entered her H.323 address, which was just an IP address. The WebRTC gateway immediately connected us. We chatted briefly. She was able to explain how the gateway should accept typical H.323 dialing strings or a SIP URI.

The gateway worked reasonably well for this short call. The call quality was limited by my use of a laptop with it’s questionable built-in camera. Also by the fact that the laptop was online over my local Wifi. Wifi and high-bandwidth streaming media are not always a happy pair.

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How To: Creating Great Quality Screencasts

Making screencasts Lenovo X1 Carbon HP DesktopSeveral times over the past few weeks I’ve had to create screencasts or asked to advise how they are best created. There are a variety of approaches to this task, but I’ve found that my preferred technique is perhaps uncommon, and worth sharing.

Over the years there have been many times when screencasts were the most appropriate method for conducting user training or addressing specific support issues. At different times I’ve used various software tools in these pursuits. Techsmith’s Camtasia Studio was the most common solution in years past, although Adobe Captivate was also notable.

More recently I’ve sought a lower-cost solutions and settled upon the freeware CamStudio as a passable solution. CamStudio is apparently the open source progenitor of Camtasia Studio.

There are also a myriad of free, online services that do their magic by way of a browser downloadable applet. I have little experience of these as I prefer another approach entirely.

As in other matters, I’ve long held the belief that a more hardware-centric approach can hold a distinct advantage. This has become increasingly true as common PC screen resolutions have come into alignment with frame sizes common in HD video production. A screencast that looks as good a broadcast TV is likely going to be more than adequate.

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Revolve Robotics Kubi: Telepresence Robot or PTZ mount?

kubi-telepresence-robot-holding-surface-proTablets are everywhere these days. In the early I’m morning often seen sitting on our front porch reading news on my Nexus 7.

I occasionally used both the Nexus 7 and an iPad to make video calls using Polycom RealPresence Mobile. I’ve even joined a Google Hangout from a tablet.

Tablets are not exactly video end-points. Holding them up in front of one’s self is tedious, especially for calls of any duration. Propping them up against things is unreliable and leads to unflattering camera angles.

Revolve Robotics hopes to improve this situation. They are about to ship their KUBI device, which is essentially a robotic PTZ mount for common tablets.

Perhaps “PTZ” is not quite appropriate since it normally means pan, tilt and zoom. Tablets don’t have zoom lenses, but KUBI does support rotation, making it perhaps a PTR mount?

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Chromecast In Da House

Chromecast-Sharp-Aquos-42inchIn the first day or two of its release I ordered a Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player via Amazon, and was lucky enough to actually get one delivered. We’ve been living with it for a few weeks now, and have some thoughts to share.

At the outset let me say that we’re reasonably well-serviced when it comes to TV & movies. We have two HDTVs, each paired to a second generation TivoHD. We do not partake of any kind of surround sound playback. It simply wasn’t desired.

As TivoHD users we have Comcast Cable TV with a generous, if costly, package of channels. We also watch Netflix streams and use Amazon Unbox downloads.

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Video Calling 3: Brightlines I/S-22 LED Conference Lamp

i-Series-with-desk-clamp1 copyIt’s been a month or more since I took delivery of a Brightlines I/S-22 light for use in my working life. I noted it’s arrival to my small circle of associates, who seem to be happy with the result. With the I/2-22 providing even fill lighting I’ve not appeared as a disembodied head on any video calls.

As was mentioned previously, the I/S-22 has three possible mounting options; a VESA bracket with a 6” gooseneck, a table clamp with a 22” long gooseneck, or a heavy round base with that same 22” gooseneck.

The VESA mount allows the light to be  mounted to the back of a monitor, presuming that the monitor is not itself mounted to a VESA type arrangement.

My situation seemed best addressed by the long gooseneck with the table clamp. This allows me to mount the light to the edge of the table immediately behind the HDX-4500. The HDX is a large and rather heavy device, and does not have VESA type mounting holes. Happily the I/S-22 on the long gooseneck rises to an appropriate height, about 4 inches above the top of the HDX.

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