Home Office Lighting For Video

Over the course of the past year or two I’ve been making increasing use of video in my home office. Sometimes it’s in a professional context using dedicated hardware. Often it’s less formal, leveraging Google Hangouts or Jitsi Video Bridge. In all cases I’ve found a need to improve the lighting so that I can be well represented on the calls.

I wrote about this over a series of four posts. There may be more coming, too. I thought it useful to collect the series here in one pace for convenient reference.

polycom-hdx-4500-160px Lighting for Video Calling and Conferencing in a Home Office

Daniel Berninger Samples AT&T’s Mobile HDVoice in Chicago

Samsung S4 Mini 300pxHere in the US the mobile carriers are finally getting something done with respect to rolling out HDVoice. T-Mobile has been offering HDVoice since January of 2013. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been able to try this myself using a Nexus 5. They added a little sport to the game by launching VoLTE in Seattle earlier this month.

Sprint is trialing HDVoice in limited markets pending a national rollout in June.  AT&T has launched VoLTE/HDVoice in some mid-western markets. Verizon must be feeling laggard as they recently started some PR/social media hand-waving with respect to their VoLTE/HDVoice initiative.

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Deal Alert: Logitech H820e Cordless Headset

logitech-wireless-headset-dual-h820erightLong have I harped on the merits of a headset in business communication. I also like to move around while on longer calls, which makes a cordless headset very attractive. While I do appreciate the finer qualities of my Sennheiser DW Pro 2, I also accept that it’s a costly beast. So that ability to recommend a less costly option is also appealing.

Today Daily Steals is offering the dual-earpiece version of Logitech H820e DECT cordless headset for just $79. That’s down from $199 MSRP. It is currently listed on Amazon at around $161.

This is a DECT based headset that connects to a computer via USB 2.0. Thus it can be used with any soft client you can name, including; Blink, Bria, GotoMeeting, Hangouts, Jitsi, Lync, Skype, etc.

It’s wideband-capable and has a battery life that will likely outlast your voice. The cordless range, reported as up to 100m, should be more than adequate.

Some might prefer the single ear model to this dual-ear version, but at this price why be picky. The dual-ear version is still in mono, but better at isolating the user from noisy surroundings.

The product being offered is “recertified”, with a 90 day warranty. The deal is only valid through to the end of this afternoon.

Update: this deal has been extended and now seems to be running through to June 2nd.

An Open Letter To Lenovo

In January of 2013 I bought one of your X1 Carbon ultrabooks. It’s a lovely machine. Splendid hardware design. You should be proud. I gather that others have come to share my opinion of your wares.

Lenovo X-1-Carbon

However, given your apparent aim at business class customers, at least with respect to the more costly models, I question your decision to litter up your products with bloatware.

I think that you might consider the example set by Google’s Nexus series of Android devices. The attraction of the Nexus series is the pure-Android experience, without any added bloatware.

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New Tools In My Home Office: More Webcams!

Faced with this tweet by Randi Harper my head rang with the sound of “More Cowbell!” Although in this case the memory of the old SNL skit skews to more webcams! Her tweet shared an Amazon offer of the Logitech C920 for just $59.99, where it normally sells for $89.99.

Webcam Grouping

A C920 has been my primary webcam for the past year or more. I’ve been considering the purchase of a second. Given the sale pricing I could not resist. In fact, I ordered three different webcams, and to my surprise the Amazon order placed on Thursday, arrived on Sunday. That’s our first experience with their Sunday delivery.

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Deal Alert: Cerious Software* Offers ThumbsPlus v9 Standard Free For Personal Use

ThumbsPlus-Dell-MonitorHow do I love thee? Let me count the upgrade cycles. I bought my first copy of ThumbsPlus in August of 2000 when v4.0 was released. For going on fourteen years it has been my preferred software for managing our library of digital images. There are other programs for managing graphic files, some even open source or freeware, but I still like ThumbsPlus. I am pleased to recommend it, and even more pleased to say that for a short time Cerious Software is offering ThumbsPlus 9 Standard free for personal use.

ThumbsPlus does a zillion things, most of them extremely well. It reads/writes/converts/edits dozens of types of raster images. It performs lossless rotations on JPEG files, batch renames files, prints contact sheets. I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that I use this software every day.

There’s only one thing that I’ve found that it doesn’t do as well as I’d like. It’s not as clean as Photoshop when it comes to scaling (resizing) images. As an image database and format convertor it’s not intended to displace Photoshop. In fact, I most often work with both applications open, using ThumbsPlus to find images, dragging them over into Photoshop for composition & editing.

Go. Now. Try this program. You can thank me later.

* Not to be confused with Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. Also, not related to Apple’s Siri.