How To Connect A Google+ Hangout-On-Air To a Conference Bridge: Part 2 – Interconnection

It’s worth noting that a Google “Hangout” is not the same as a “Hangout-On-Air.” A Hangout-On-Air is streamed and recorded via YouTube in real-time. This gives it the potential for much greater reach. A normal Hangout is not streamed in this manner, although it does allow for PSTN connectivity.

This difference is arbitrary, although I’m told it stems from legal concerns about copyright issues that could easily occur if Hangouts-On-Air were allowed to have broad interop capability.

The fact that the VUC uses a Hangout-On-Air has compelled my search for a reliable, high-quality means of interconnecting the Hangout-On-Air and ZipDX conference bridge. Given my long-standing and vociferous support of HDVoice even the PSTN access provided by a plain vanilla Hangout is troubling. Connecting via a pure IP means, like SIP URI, would allow interconnection with much better audio quality.

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How To Connect A Google+ Hangout-On-Air To a Conference Bridge: Part 1 – Background

Interconnecting A Google Hangout & ZipDXThe VoIP Users Conference is closing upon 500 weekly sessions, each one more-or-less a conference call. Along the way the manner in which the calls happen has evolved. A bit of background about this will serve to frame why I’ve been seeking a way to interconnect a Google+ Hangout and the ZipDX conference bridge.

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Celebrating Five Years Of The VoIP Users Conference on ZipDX

VUC-ZIPDX-5th-AnniversaryNext week will mark five years of using ZipDX. In that time we have used ZipDX to host 318 VUC calls, each and every one in HDVoice.

My earliest experience with HDVoice arose from being asked to review the new Polycom SoundPoint IP650 and IP550 back in Q1/2008. That review first appeared at Small Net Builder in August 2008. The initial experience of using those desk phones inspired me to seek out ways of incorporating HDVoice into my daily life.

That summer someone at Polycom introduced me to David Frankel, CEO of ZipDX, quite likely the very first commercial HDVoice conference service. It was only natural that I would invite David to a guest appearance on a VoIP Users Conference call to talk about HDVoice.

David’s initial appearance on a VUC call was on November 7th, 2008. That first experience went so well that from January 23rd, 2009 ZipDX became the sole conference bridge used to host VUC calls.

In May 2009 I attended the first of Jeff Pulver’s HDVoice Summits in NYC. At that summit it was noted that the weekly VUC calls were likely the single most accessible public example of HDVoice in-use.

IMHO, HDVoice is an absolute must for anyone producing a podcast. It might have been avant-garde back in 2009. It’s basically mainstream in 2014. ZipDX provides a great toolset for such activities.

TWiT’s Know-How Picks Cameras For Podcasting

Apparently I’m not the only person pondering cameras for use with computers. TWiT’s recent Know How program, episode #69, goes over selecting a camera for podcasting applications.

They start in the low-end with USB attached webcams, citing the Logitech Pro 9000 and Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 as good starting points. They note quite correctly that a USB attached webcam is the preferred way to do live streaming online, which is basically the same use-case as UC applications.

In truth, the Webcam Pro 9000 is obsolete. While it’s still available the newer B910, C920 and C930e models are definitely preferable.

They then escalate into issues that relate largely to more traditional video production, as opposed to live streaming. They place a lot of emphasis on sensor technology, specifically CMOS vs CCD sensors. Such issues don’t really come into play until your spending a lot on a traditional production video camera. If you’re interested in such matters have a look at a recent TVTechnology article that examines CMOS, 10 Years Later.

While the camera segment is a nice introduction, it leaves me wanting more. I’d like to see them do something more detailed about setting up a live streaming studio.

This is typically the case. There’s a large audience for  an introduction to anything-at-all. The audience falls off quickly as you start to dive deep into the details of how to actually do something potentially interesting.

This very phenomenon is why TVOntario didn’t want to produce Kite Crazy 2, when the original Kite Crazy series was one of their most popular How-To series of the 1990s. That series, a project from a past life, was produced by SOMA Media Works. I was one of a handful of guest hosts, making it my sole foray in front of a TV camera.

Considering Opus Implementations

Opus-over-skypeOpus promises to be a great tool for online audio. In technology, as in music, not all opus are implemented equally. Allow me to explain.

Earlier this week I happened into a Twitter exchange with Mike Phillips. Mike is a podcaster. VUC founder Randy Resnick has introduced us once before. Mike is seeking a replacement for the role that Skype plays in his online toolbox.

It came to light that Mike has tried to leverage various soft phones, even giving some focus to finding one that implements the Opus codec. Opus is after all, open source, the current state-of-the-art in audio codecs, and a new IETF standard. However, in Mike’s attempts to tap its potential he has to date come up short relative to Skype.

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Auphonic: A Free Online Tool For Automatic Audio Post-Production

auphonic-logoOpen source guru Randal Schwartz of FLOSS Weekly recently interviewed Georg Holzmann of Auphonic.com about their new online service for post-processing audio files for podcasts. Auphonic.com sounds very interesting indeed.

In the past the routine production of the VUC podcasts involved the use of The Levalator from The Conversations Network. That program, while a potent tool, is run locally and limited to processing uncompressed WAV files. This places a certain burden on the user to know how to create the appropriate source files, and later on to encode the processed files for publication online.

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