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When The Wifi Blows: Experience At NAB 2011

NABshow_logoThe past week or so my attention was wholly consumed by the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters. Held in Las Vegas each April the NAB exhibition is the major event in the year of a broadcast equipment maker. This was my 18th NAB, which makes the more a test of stamina than anything else.

Happily, the show was for my employer a considerable success. Attendance has returned to reasonable levels. It seems that broadcasters are feeling better about their existence. Globally broadcasters are starting to move forward with long stalled projects. New channels will be launched and existing services enhanced. It all bodes well for the manufacturing sector of the industry, presuming that manufacturers have toughed out the recent slow period and continued to develop products that improve the operating efficiency of customers.

For our company the one major annoyance of NAB 2011 was the complete failure of wifi on the show floor. From the last day of setup to the close of the event wifi was essentially useless. This was not a huge problem, but a considerable inconvenience. In our case it meant that the many sales and executive staff present could only access email via a wired network connection.

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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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Mythbusting Skype, SILK & The Freetalk Everyman Headset

It has been said that, “the devil is in the details.” It has also been noted that I’m fussy about such things. After all, it usually takes little or no extra effort to get something right, often with much benefit moving forward.

Cast in this light I would like to revisit the Freetalk Everyman Headset being offered by InStore Solutions through the Skype online store. You may recall that I reviewed this device a while ago. I found it to be a decent product at a very attractive price. I’ve recommended it to a number of people, and none have come back to complain.

I think that USB attached audio devices, whether headset or speakerphone, are exceptionally convenient. They isolate the low-level analog signal handling from the harsh electrical environment inside a computer, often allowing for improved noise performance. They also save us from the painful prospect of loading unique device drivers.

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Introducing The Freetalk Connect PBX With Skype Integration

Today marks the launch of the Freetalk Connect PBX from In-Store Solutions. Freetalk Connect is a small business PBX appliance that includes close integration with Skype.

Freetalk Connect was initially announced in January at ITEXPO East. Thomas Howe, CTO of In-Store Solutions, made a guest appearance on a VUC call on August 13th to discuss the device. At that time we learned that Freetalk Connect is based upon Asterisk and Skype-For-Asterisk.

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