Making Some Noise About Noise

Snapper-lawn-mowerThis morning my normally tranquil home office was pierced by the sound of a neighbors lawnmower. The lawnmower, while aggravating, is just the lead-in to that most vile of power tools…the leaf blower. Leaf blowers should be outlawed.

All of this has thinking about noise. In even modest amounts, noise degrades our ability to communicate. Beyond simply annoying, it hampers productivity. Therefore noise has very real costs. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of conference calls or video conference calls. These are cases where extraneous noise should be avoided.

The classic conference call wisdom, good advise to this day, is that all participants to should diligently mute themselves when not speaking. People being what they are, many do not know of or act upon this belief.

When using a managed conference bridge, like ZipDX, the call moderator has the ability to mute a noisy participant, ensuring that their local acoustic reality doesn’t degrade the call experience for everyone. That’s great, but it really just allows the moderator to compensate for the fact that someone on the call is exhibiting poor conference call etiquette.

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A VoIP Supply Q&A Batting .500!

Phoenix Audio Quattro3 USBEarlier this weeks a new blog post over at VoIP Supply caught my attention. It’s a Q&A item that addresses the Phoenix Audio Quattro 3  USB conference phone and the Polycom RealPresence Group 300 video conference end-point.

The first question posed was in reference to using the conference phone with a computer to access online services like Skype. In his reply VoIP Supply blogger Nathan Miloszewski is right on the money, the Quattro3 USB attaches to a host computer as a generic audio device. That means that any software-based client application can make use of it, from Windows Media Player to Counterpath’s Bria , Skype, Hangouts…whatever.

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Free Stuff: Polycom RealPresence Mobile

Polycom Real Presence Mobile in Mocet CommunicatorAs you are no doubt aware, I’ve long been a fan of Polycom hardware. From the entry-level SoundPoint IP335 to the new VVX Series Business Media Phones, Polycom makes great hardware. That said, I’ve also come to expect that great quality often comes at a price.

I was not at all surprised to see that Polycom offers a video conference soft client called RealPresence Mobile as part of their RealPresence solution suite. RealPresence Mobile has been around for over a year but was not something that’s crossed my path until recently. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s distributed without cost.

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Blue Jeans Network: H.323 & Skype Video Conferencing

A couple of weeks ago I started to play with a new service called Blue Jeans Network. This startup offers a cloud-based video conferencing service, effectively a cloud-based MCU. The service is presently free as it’s in a limited beta program. The beta program, originally set to expire this month, was just extended until June 15th.

At present their service supports connectivity via H.323, Skype and the PSTN. Of course,the PSTN dial-up means voice conferencing only…and thus only G.711. Clients connected via Skype get VGA resolution video and nice SILK-encoded audio.

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Junction Network Phone Labs Reviews The Polycom VVX-1500

This past week Junction Networks phone lab posted a review of the Polycom VVX-1500 Business Media Phone. They make note of the devices’ many fine qualities. The VVX is truly a joy to use. It’s build quality is outstanding, and you simply won’t find a better sounding phone anywhere.

That said, I remain curious about the use of one-on-one video calling. It’s remains unclear to what extent companies are making use of desktop video calling. It’s not the kind of this that springs up organically since one must first seed the organisation with a number of suitably capable phones.

I wonder if this tends to happen within companies that are already making use of traditional video conference installations? Do the Business Media Phones merely extend the reach of such facilities to to the desktop or SOHO users? Or are desktop video phones something completely different?

If you make use of such devices please leave a comment about your experience.

Review: Polycom VVX-1500 Business Media Phone

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Originally published September 24, 2009 at Small Net Builder

A little over a year ago, I was offered the daunting task of reviewing the Polycom Soundpoint IP550 & IP650 desk phones. It was a considerable challenge being tasked with the review of these top-of-the-line products from a company that is considered by many to be a market-leader in enterprise VoIP.

Well, that review was easy compared to my current task of evaluating one of their newest offerings; the VVX-1500 Business Media Phones. I almost wish that I hadn’t agreed to undertake the project, because these devices have a wealth of features. But here I am, having had the phones for a couple of months. So I thought I’d best make good on my promise to describe these beasties in some detail.

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