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It seems that webcams are important after all

For quite a few years I’ve believed that webcams are an important tool in the arsenal of personal communications. I’ve also wondered openly when they would evolve beyond a relatively simplistic state. For example, it took a long time for a USB 3 connected webcam to arrive.

This morning my wife was researching webcams for some of her staff. While she has a long history in broadcast production, she’s currently a public relations and corporate communications professional. Her staff are fielding requests from TV stations seeking to do remote interviews using tools like Skype, Zoom, Webex, etc.

Logitech Streamcam frontal

Since they have existing desktops, they don’t have built-in webcams. She was looking for webcams to add to these existing computers. Off the top of my head I recommended Logitech’s latest, which is known as the StreamCam.

Introduced in February of this year, the StreamCam is a brand new product. Unlike the Brio 4K webcam, reviewed here a while back, it’s USB 3.1 Type-C connected, delivering 1080p60. It’s likely a better solution than Brio 4K for most people.

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About Speakerphone Quality

A short while back, over in the VoIP forum on DSL Reports, long-time participant Stewart asked a question that seemed like it was written for me. Of course, I answered. The matter is related to one of my most favorite posts: Can You Hear Me Now? Headset vs Speakerphone In The Home Office.

With a little reflection, I realized that I didn’t want this discussion to simply fade away, so I’m adding a copy here.

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The Sound of Silence

For the past couple of days my office has been blissfully, almost eerily silent. Silent like I’ve not heard in several years. It’s enough to make me want some kind of background sounds, which is something that I’ve never wanted previously.

This newfound silence has been brought about by a combination of things. It cool enough outside that the door is closed. The mighty Fujitsu Halycon air conditioner is taking a much needed break. Today, it’s not so cool that I need a heater.

Most significantly, I’ve turned off the 24-port Netgear switch that serves as our network core. The other day I swapped an older 10/100 switch into service so I could clean out the old Netgear unit. Racked and untouched for along while, it was terribly dusty inside & out.

Netgear GS524T

This old Netgear GS524T has two built-in 40mm fans. They’ve been making noise forever. It’s been getting steadily worse. The 10/00 switch that I have as backup is fanless, so the familiar whine of the wee fans has been silenced for now.

In fact, according to my Netatmo Weather Station the ambient noise level in my home office is around 36 dba. That’s pretty quiet.

2019-12-10 15.11.05

Just now, staring at the approaching holidays, I don’t really want to spend on a new & much better switch, so I think I will replace the fans in the old one. It’s a $20-30 project. I’m told that folks do this routinely in the case of Ubiquiti switches. They replace the noisy stock fans with quieter fans from Noctua.

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Offline Today

From 3am this morning our home network has been offline. This was expected. Comcast, our primary access provider, was quite good about notifying us of a planned fiber upgrade. The process has been taking areas of the neighborhood offline briefly…

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The Ubiquiti LiteBeam Wireless Bridge Looks like Fun!

Occasionally something crosses my path that looks like a fun toy. I find myself wishing I had a project to justify the purchase. Such is the case with the Ubiquiti LBE-5AC-GEN2-US LiteBeam Wireless Bridge.

A pair of these devices form a long-range wireless bridge operating in unlicensed spectrum. It fits right in with our existing Unifi Cloud Key and AC Pro Wi-Fi APs. Best of all, at under $70 per end, it’s really affordable.

LiteBeam 5AC Gen2

Ideally, I’d use a pair of these radios to gain access to the Tachus fiber internet service that runs up Harvard Ave. That’s 1.43 miles (2.29 km) due west of our home. The Ubiquiti setup tool shows that we could achieve 250 Mbps over that link.

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Laptops Past & Present

This is gonna come off as self-indulgent. Since this non-commercial blog, I’m gonna go with it anyway. It’s a collection of thoughts brought about by the purchase of a new laptop, a process that was not simple. It could have been, but it wasn’t.

You see, it’s been along time since I last bought a laptop. All the way back in January 2013. I had forgotten a lot of things in the intervening six-and-a-half years.

The last laptop I carried when I worked for Pixel Power was an HP 8510W. This was not standard company issue. In the UK, they had a standard issue laptop (I think.) In the US, lacking central admin, we were given a spending allocation to go procure something for ourselves.

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