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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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Review: Plantronics .Audio 480 Headset

plantronics-audio480usb_cu-120-copyLast Christmas my wife got me one of Plantronics .Audio 480 headsets. I’d seen this model of headset offered for a while, and since I’ve used noise reducing headphones for listening to music for many years, the idea of a similar approach to a VoIP headset was intriguing. She knew that I was searching out a wideband capable SIP soft phone and thought that a suitably capable headset might enhance my traveling arsenal.

My earlier experience with noise reducing headsets started with the venerable Sony MDR-NC10…which I simply loved, and had several sets over the years.  I found them both comfortable to wear and very effective.  The concept of soft rubber-tipped ear buds that form a noise blocking seal into the ear canal was simply brilliant.

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