Meta: Open Live Writer Launched

OLW LaunchedAs mentioned yesterday, I have long enjoyed using Windows Live Writer as my offline blogging tool. I appreciate its simplicity. It’s purity of purpose. It’s lightweight, just enough tool to get things done.

It’s not perfect, but it has some great features. It’s simplicity has allowed its functionality to be extended by the user community. For example, there’s a nice trick that uses DropBox to sync WLW drafts between systems. This has proven very productive as I move between desktop & laptop.

I also appreciate the way that it will automatically insert web links to a library of phrases. This kind of auto-linking, previously done server-side using a WordPress plug-in, was a constant source of problems in the past.

Sadly, Microsoft has largely ignored Windows Live Writer in recent years. It wasn’t even included in the Windows 10 RTM. There was a trick initially required to get it installed on Windows 10.

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I Want A New Kind Of Desktop Webcam

Logitech-C920-WebcamYes, I want a new webcam! The idiocy of that statement doesn’t become apparent unless you’re familiar with my home office, which is littered with various webcams. They have become something of an obsession. Yet, none of them does quite what I’d like.

My reference for a simple USB attached webcam is the venerable Logitech HD Pro C920. One sits, a near permanent fixture, atop my left-side monitor. It’s a solid product. It’s affordable. Makes great video under various lighting conditions. It can deliver MJPEG or H.264 encoded streams, which makes it capable of 1080p when used with suitable software.

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A Better Understanding of the Microsoft LifeCam Studio Webcam

Microsoft LifeCam Studio 300pxOver the last couple of years I’ve been exploring the realm of webcams. Along the way I’ve encountered some confusing things involving the Microsoft LifeCam Studio. To be more specific, some have claimed that it’s capable of delivering 1080p video, while Microsoft’s own information suggests otherwise. My recent experiments using vMix have shed some light into the actual capabilities of this inexpensive little webcam. I thought them worth sharing.

“You cannot change the laws of physics, Captain.” – Montgomery Scott

Remember that a USB 2.0 connected webcam is bandwidth limited to delivering a maximum of 480 mbps (60 Mbytes/sec) to the host computer. Because of this fact, and given that the video frames from the webcam are uncompressed, the USB 2.0 link can only deliver 720p30.

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The UC Architects Podcast: Walking The HDVoice Walk

UC Architects in Lenovo X-1-CarbonBack in 1984 Ric Ocasek of The Cars quite famously sang, “You might think I’m crazy.” That sentiment underscores how I feel about HDVoice as a tool for podcasters. It’s a constant source of amazement to me that so many podcasters, even some in the Enterprise UC business, still publish podcasts with audio quality in the finest narrowband tradition of the PSTN circa 1937.

In the past I have occasionally called attention to these offerings. I see them as  a telecom version of The Emperors New Clothes. This has given rise to a reputation for being something of an audio snob, a not entirely unfounded assertion. However, a fellow Canuck one opinioned, “that the medium is the message.” While McLuhan was addressing television, I hold his assertion to be equally valid with respect to UC podcasts.

I am truly trying to shed my curmudgeonly audiophile image. It gives me great pleasure to note that The UC Architects current podcast, while episode 48 in their series, the first that I have encountered, is produced in lovely HDVoice. Kudos to the team for making the effort!

Their podcast is focused upon things Microsoft, from Exchange to Lync (aka Skype-For-Business.) That’s certainly a big topic area.

As a SOHO user, I may not be in their target audience, but I commend them for making the effort to deliver a podcast the goes beyond traditional telephony as it’s means of production.

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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Webcams 4: Hunting a USB 3.0 Webcam

USB2-Webcams-Not-USB3In the last installment in this series I examined the role of USB 2.0 as the primary means of connecting a webcam to a host computer, and the inherent limitations involved. But USB 2.0 is just so 20th-century…what about the newer, SuperSpeed USB 3.0? Doesn’t this lightning-fast (5 Gbps!) bus promise to allow real 1080p or even 4K webcams? Cheap-as-chips!

The answer to that question is a definite maybe (many thanks to Ray Davies.) However, as a practical matter, USB 3.0 webcams basically don’t exist. Even so, it’s worth having a look a the relatively brief existence of USB 3.0.

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