This 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.
Austin-based LifeSize recently released a software-based PC video conferencing client that they call the LifeSize Desktop. Since I’m always looking for new tools I took the opportunity to download the 30 day free trial and have it installed on a desktop and laptop, both running Windows XP.
The software is intended to be a SIP soft client for their HD video conferencing products. To that end they recommend it be used with a webcam that supports 720p images, that is 1280 x 720 pixels @ 30 frame/sec. At the time of its release the only one available was the Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000. Since then Microsoft has announced a suitable webcam. I expect that others will eventually do so as well.