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Our DoorBot Has Been Decommissioned: Part 1

One of the realities of my life as a home office worker is that deliveries can be important. Moreover missing deliveries can be extremely inconvenient. On January 1st I installed  a DoorBot at our front gate, intent upon giving it a try as the way that we are notified about visitors and more significantly, deliveries.

Our is a fenced yard with a gate at the front. The fenced yard is important for our two Labradors. They have the run of the place when I’m working. A dog door gives them access into my office in the garage apartment. Located in the back of the property it’s not always possible to know when someone is at the gate.

Until January 1st we had been without a doorbell at the gate for over a year. On the mail box there a label advising people to call my cell phone number to reach me.

With respect to deliveries, our usual Fedex and UPS drivers know that if they dogs come to “greet” them that I’m definitely home. The delivery drivers often call me to tell me that they’re waiting, especially if they need a signature. All of this sets up the logic of why something like DoorBot had such appeal. There’s a very real need.

In mid-February I came to realize that I had developed the ability to differentiate the sound of the various delivery vehicles from the school and city buses that can be heard hereabouts. Further, I had camped out on our front port more than once awaiting a late delivery that I could not afford to miss. These facts pointed to the unavoidable reality that DoorBot had failed in its mission at our house. Shortly thereafter I removed it from it’s perch at the front gate.

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New & Shiny: Google Introduces Chromebox For Meetings

Chromebox-For-Meetings-TVVideo conferencing is changing. It started about a year ago. That’s when I first heard about DIY room systems. Then I got wind of “Huddle” systems, which are basically smaller room systems. Today Google introduced their own play on this trend.

Chromebox for Meetings looks to be their spin on Vidyo’s DIY room system. It’s basically a very small PC, running the Chrome OS, with the requisite accessories (USB webcam & speakerphone) to make it a video conference end-point. Just add a decent monitor or HDTV.

All of the PR points to the use of a Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920and a Jabra SPEAK410 USB Speakerphone, both of which have graced my desk for a year or more. Both are leaders in their respective product categories.

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PTZ Control For the Logitech BCC950 Conference Cam

Logitech-Conference-cam-BCC950The code, the code, my kingdom for the code!” – Richard III

My apologies to Will Shakespeare but I find myself thinking this way about Logitech’s BCC950 Conference Cam. You may remember it from when it was featured in a VUC session back in November of 2012. At that time the BCC950 was newly released but I managed to buy one to have some experience with it for the occasion of their appearance.

Since then it’s been a fixture on my desk. in fact, I find a lot to like about the BCC950. It’s long stem puts the camera at a nice height so that it’s gaze is not looking up or down at me. In that regard it’s actually better than the Logitech C920 webcam sitting on top of my monitor, although both create fine quality video streams for UC or vodcasting applications.

What it lacked was any kind of integration of its pan, tilt, zoom control with application code for any common soft client. I’m told that one of the enterprise video conference clients (Vidyo?) has included far-end camera control that was aware of the BCC950.

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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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VUC #472: Vaddio’s Huddlestation

Vaddio Logo & HuddlestationWhile it’s true that I live in Texas where football is elevated in status beyond almost everything else, in this case the “huddle” is not about football. Vaddio is a manufacturer of audio & video conference hardware based in Minnetonka, MN. Best known for their range of PTZ cameras, they have a diverse product offering that addresses media applications from broadcast to places of worship and corporate meeting spaces.

This coming Friday, January 17th, Vaddio will be joining the VUC to introduce us to their new Huddlestation. The Huddlestation is a new product that aims to address the needs of smaller meeting rooms for video conference capability, while also tapping into the BYOD trend. It’s essentially a USB-attached camera+sound bar+microphone module for use with a HDTV. You may recall that I have mentioned it once before.

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