Can You See Me now? Microsoft Suffering New Windows 10 Webcam Strategy

It seems that others have now encountered the change in how Windows 10 handles webcams after the Anniversary update. Many applications simply never try to go beyond 720p30, so it wasn’t clear to me how many people would be impacted by this change.

After my initial post about this on 8/4 I dropped news of the trouble in the related support forums for OBS, vMix, and Wirecast. My thought was that people involved in the production of streaming media could possibly be impacted.

How ironic that in the two weeks since there’s been a flood of complaints about the Anniversary Update breaking webcam access in Skype. It hadn’t occurred to me that Skype, a Microsoft product(!), would also be impacted.

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WebRTC: Ripples In Fabric Of Cyberspace

TheVoicePodcastOnThinkPadX1CarbonWith every passing day the news of WebRTC spreads to a larger audience. As the audience grows it becomes more diverse. It has moved beyond the developer community to those who might leverage the technology in some real manner. It’s interesting to track how the technology is being conveyed to an ever broader, less technical audience. Given that these things happen online, it’s a bit like watching ripples in the fabric of cyberspace.

Media Style and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in Ottawa produce a podcast known as The Voice on issues relating to business communications and marketing. The December 9 episode (#63) was entitled ”Let’s Talk WebRTC with Lawrence Byrd and Mark Lindsay.” Lawrence Byrd was previously with Avaya and contributes to the No Jitter and WebRTC World blogs. Mark Lindsay is President of the Ottawa Product Management Association.

The podcast is an interesting illustration of how the news of WebRTC is getting around. I cannot take issue with the information presented. It’s a nice intro to the topic presented by knowledgeable, well-spoken people. In fact I, commend them for the effort.

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Skype’s Desktop API Lives On For Now

Skype & DevicesEarlier this year Skype announced to developers that its Desktop API was going to be killed off at the end of 2013. This is an old API exposed a number of the applications internals for use by third-party developers. It was originally offered back 2004 when building an eco-system as an important strategic move for the company.

As a practical matter, within my sphere of activity, the loss of this API basically meant that any hardware that accessed the Skype client would cease to work correctly. That includes products like the Polycom C100S USB speakerphone and the Logitech Conference Cam BCC950 as both of these devices accessed the Skype client to control hook state via the “call control buttons.”

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Webcams 5: SparkoCam & My Canon Rebel XSi

When is a webcam not a webcam? When it’s actually a DSLR!

Canon-Rebel-XSi-Asus-Monitor-SparkocamAround here we are strong believers in DSLRs. Our first DSLR was an Olympus E-10, but these days we have a couple of Canon Rebel XSi’s. Released in Q1-2009 these are not the latest and greatest by any stretch, but they’re nice cameras. We also have a small selection of lenses.

As DSLRs have come to shoot video it would make some sense that they could also be used the more sedate role of webcam. Our Rebel XSi’s don’t shoot video, but they do make nice 12 mega-pixel pictures.

It happens that many Canon cameras, including the XSi, have a feature called “Live View” that’s intended to stream the image to the LCD viewfinder or even across a USB connection.

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Webcams 1: The Old Days, A Personal History

I’ve been pondering a series about webcams for some months. As the use of video becomes ever more commonplace webcams have moved into an increasingly important role in both our personal and professional lives.

My own use of webcams harkens back to around 2000. At that time I was working for an English firm, but working primarily from my home office in Texas. My boss was splitting his time between the UK and an office in the Miami area. Others were scattered about North America.

A dispersed group such as this we were making a lot of use of conference calls to have meetings. Being a smaller, privately held firm, we watched costs closely. We often used the fairly new, free conference services. We were at that point blissfully unaware of the games that they played to generate revenue.

Heck, back then “broadband” was anything over 128 kbps. We enjoyed 3 mbps x 768kbps DSL and I still had multiple analog phone lines from SBC.

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Skype Offers Tips For Improved Audio and Video Quality

Skype-Jabra-Jims-book-300pxMatthew de Beer has penned a couple of recent blog posts over at Skype’s The Big Blog. The most recent one is called, “See no evil, hear no evil – Tips for audio and video quality” and offers some sounds advice on the use of the mute button. It also offers guidance on lighting considerations for video calls. These are both simple, but helpful tips.

I’m constantly amazed at how many people have video calls in a completely ad hoc manner, giving no thought at all to how they look, or the situation around them. A little thought about lighting can dramatically improve your experience with video calling.

Mr. de Beer also had an earlier post entitled, “Gearing For Success.” In this case he promotes the use of a headset over the built-in microphone & speakers common to a laptop.  I concur, but I would make the case more fervently.

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