This afternoon a plaintive beep in my ear told me that the battery on my Sennheiser DW Pro2 cordless DECT headset was nearly depleted. This when I still had a lot of my working day left. Looking across the room I saw a wired headset that I have been evaluating for some ZipDX applications. It was a Passport 21P Headset, fitted with a Plantronics DA40 USB Digital Adapter.
In the production of over 530 VUC sessions we’ve undertaken some odd and occasionally rather complicated arrangements. Quite possibly the most complex is when we interconnect the WebRTC-based Jitsi Video Bridge with YouTube Live and the ZipDX conference bridge. I set about described aspects of this process a year ago, but stopped short of describing how the entire arrangement worked. Well, worked most of the time. This article will bring you current with my various attempts to make this process robust and repeatable.
Preface: When we use Jitsi Video Bridge we lose a couple of the conveniences that come with a Hangout-On-Air. Where a Hangout-On-Air has an automatic link to a YouTube Live event, we must do this manually when we use JVB.
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VUC540 on Friday, May 8th, 2015 will feature Tim Panton, WebRTC guru, VUC regular and self-described protocol droid, detailing a recent pet project known as YoPet. YoPet is a WebRTC-based service built to allow pet owners a simple, secure way to video chat with their furry, scaly and/or feathered friends.
Yopet is comprised of a web service that connects the distant pet owner back to the home, where the pet has access to an Android device running the YoPet application. In the telling of this tale Tim will illuminate a variety of issues faced in developing the app & associated service.
This weeks related form of dangerous demo may involve one of my canine office-mates demonstrating YoPet live.
As Randy is taking a vacation in Cuba, where internet access is extremely limited, I get to be pilot-in-charge for this little online misadventure. Now everyone please be seated, it could be a little bumpy on the climb to cruising altitude. Fear not, the unflappable Andy Smith of TruePhone will be in the co-pilot seat.
The necessity of a gate bell in my working life stems from the combination of a fenced yard and a home office located well in the back of the property. The lack of such capability at the front gate makes receiving deliveries chancy, often requiring a lengthy drive to a UPS or Fedex facility to pickup a missed delivery.
In researching our initial attempt to remedy the lack of a gate alert I learned about SIP door phones from several companies. These devices were targeted at very large homes or office and apartment buildings, and tended to be very costly. Most were well over $1,000, which was dramatically beyond my budget.
However, Algo Communications offers a SIP door phone for a single family dwelling with a list price around $500. At the time I had thought that something analog, for around $250, was a better option. While that choice kept me on budget, it was ultimately disappointing, most especially when the device failed outright.
It has been said that anything that can’t be measured, can’t be managed. While there’s some debate about the universality of this statement, it’s most definitely true for audio levels.
Before I get into the application and it’s capabilities you might like to know why I think it’s necessary. To be over simplistic, WebRTC!
What I really mean by that is PC-based audio handling by soft clients that lack their own audio metering.
In my past life I schlepped equipment all around North America in the process of giving demonstrations. As the most senior field staff it also fell to me to oversee the acquisition of shipping cases for our demo inventory.
Back then the nature of the gear, and the cost of shipping, drove me to select lightweight cases with layered foam inserts. This accommodated the 3-5 RU server chassis. A 2” thick protective layer of foam on all sides provided adequate protection without undue weight or cost.
Some months ago I was again tasked with creating a shipping case for some gear. This time the gear involved was not a server rack, but a small suite of telecom & network devices for demo use. Since this suite of gear was much smaller & lighter than a server I decided to research if/how I might get a nice custom case manufactured. Everyone involved in the project was delighted with the result, so I though I’d share my experience with the vendor and their process.
An email from Daniel Berninger recently pointed out that Thursday, April 30th 2015 is the 20th anniversary of Internet Independence. According to Dan;
The decommissioning of the NSFNET backbone on April 30, 1995 was the final step in the process of privatizing the Internet set in motion by the High Performance Computing Act of 1991.
This event is being marked by a reception at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. Dan further offers;
The speakers address the 20 year accomplishment horizon and 20 year opportunity horizon to 2035.
- James Lewis, Director, Strategic Technologies Program, CSIS
- David Allison, Associate Director, Smithsonian Museum of American History
- Karen Rose, Sr Director Strategy & Research, Internet Society
- Gary Shapiro, CEO, CEA – Innovation Movement
- Reed Hundt, former FCC Chairman & author In China’s Shadow, The Crisis of American Entrepreneurship
- Ira Magaziner, former Sr Advisor Policy Development, President Clinton -> Creating the Framework for Global E-Commerce in 1997
The formal program will take about 45 – 60 minutes and lead into an informal agenda with tech elders and others sharing
anecdotes/remembrances of the Internet journey and ideas going forward.
Link for Internet Society livestream – http://livestream.com/internetsociety/InternetIndependenceDay
The tech elders convened as a group of friends to work on a roadmap for the gigabit age continues to grow (see below).
Tech elders so far:
- John Perry Barlow, lyricist and activist
- Mark Cuban, founder, AXS TV
- Tim Draper, founder, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
- Tom Evslin, founder & former, CEO ITXC
- Dave Farber, Professor Emeritus, CMU and Board Member ISOC
- Charlie Giancarlo, Sr Advisor, Silver Lake
- George Gilder, author
- John Gilmore, activist
- Brett Glass, founder of first Wireless ISP
- Doug Humphrey, co-founder Digex, Cidera
- Bryan Martin, Chairman and CTO, 8×8
- Joe McMillen, founder, Complex Drive
- Scott McNealy, co-founder, SUN Microsystems
- Bob Metcalfe, Professor, University of Texas and inventor of Ethernet
- Ray Ozzie, founder, Talko and Lotus Notes
- Jeff Pulver, co-founder, Zula and Vonage
- Michael Robertson, founder, CEO, MP3.com
- Les Vadasz, former EVP, Intel
It’s most likely that you, like myself, can’t just fly to DC for such events, no matter how interesting the gathering. However, the fact that this event is being streamed by the Internet Society makes it considerably more accessible. Thus it’s an invitation well worth sharing.
Dave Michels is a tea drinker. I’m not sure that fact is widely known, but I swear it’s true. Moreover, I suspect that someone has slipped something into his tea. Today he issued a curious assertion in an otherwise good article about headsets.
Headset/Headphones: I prefer the term headphones. I think headset implies a voice microphone and headphone implies audio or speakers only. Those distinctions are obsolete. Modern microphones are small, cheap, and sensitive. They no longer need to be in front of the mouth, so can be placed invisibly on headphones. Since most devices now support speech or voice, it’s just silly to get headphones without a microphone. Now that we’ve cleared this up, I am only using “headphone” below.
I take issue with his simplistic view of microphones, and especially the significance of microphone placement. If you truly care about how you are conveying your voice then a boom mounted microphone is a must! Accept no substitutes.
If, on the other hand, you are more concerned about not looking geeky…go whatever path tickles your fancy. Enjoy those Beats By Dr Dre Hey, he’s a Doctor right? They must be great.
Perhaps you recall last year when Logitech launched their CC3000e Conference Cam? We had them as a guest on VUC 490 to show off their new gadget. The entire audience was impressed with the device, most especially the camera portion. It seems that last month they launched the camera alone as a new product, calling it the PTZ Pro Camera.
With MSRP of $799 the PTZ Pro Camera delivers 1080P video over USB 2.0 using an onboard H.264 UVC encoder. It’s capable of SVC when used with a suitable capable client, like those from Cisco, Microsoft or Vidyo.
Apps not able to use the onboard encoder will be limited to accessing 720p30 over the USB 2.0 link. That includes Google’s Hangouts since they use VP8 instead of H.264.
Although the camera is exceptional in its price class, that class is rather limited. There quite a leap from the $100 USB webcams with a fixed lens to the entry level PTZ cameras from HuddleCamHD, Vaddio or VDO360. Things approach $1k very quickly, which makes their pricing strategy for the PTZ Pro Camera potentially quite sensible.
My own experience with the CC3000e shows that it can deliver excellent video, but it’s not without its quirks. The auto focus cannot be defeated, and occasionally hunts to find the focal plane. Also, the single preset camera position, basically a “Home” is limited. It would be nice to have a number of positional presets, as most other PTZ cameras provide.
Finally, I wish that there was more (ok, really…any!) support for remote control of the PTZ mount.
In a casual look around the web I see that many AV dealers are starting to list the PTZ Pro Camera. Prices listed vary widely, which suggests that it’s not yet shipping. Amazon has the PTZ Pro Camera listed at $978. MacMall is the lowest at $681, but that could change once there’s real availability.
I really don’t mean to sound down on the PTZ Pro Camera. I actually like it a lot. I expect that Logitech will do quite well with this new offering.
You may have notice that March was a very quiet (crickets) month hereabouts. It was the slowest month in the seven year history of this blog. As such, I can’t help but feel that I owe an explanation for these events. March was spent focused on events in meatspace.
I suppose the term “meatspace” is by now archaic. The term “cyber”space has certainly been devalued, most especially since part of it was coopted by CBS into their newest CSI franchise. Whatever the case with the linguistics, I spent most of March engaged in things that involved getting away from my desk and dealing with real people in the physical world.
When I left Pixel Power in the spring of 2013 part of my plan was to become more engaged in the local community. For many years my work life involved so much travel that I had been unable to commit to such activities. Since then quite the opposite is true. I need such engagements to keep me from going stir crazy in the home office.