Collaborating With Video – An Overview

 

Before you we get into an in-depth discussion regarding collaborating with video, let us learn a few things about video collaboration. It is a process of collaboration between virtual team members carried out via video conferencing, which is a technology-mediated method of communication.

Collaborating With Video - An Overview

Let us discuss the new way of communication that has off late become extremely famous.

It has altered face to face collaboration

There are a number of techniques, which the end users can use for making calls. They are Skype, Google Video, YouTube and the likes. The users can use these forms to make calls, post and share videos, establish libraries, showcase creativity and do a lot of other activities in the virtual world. All these modes of video communication have affected the business fraternity in a great way, by helping them market their products and service, and thus, businesses are surging ahead strongly with these modes of video collaboration.

The Enterprise Video Difference 

Businesses nowadays, regardless of whether they are small, medium or large scale, rely heavily on a wide range of applications for running their corporate network effectively. That includes the various web based video as well as collaboration apps for mobile devices.

Enterprise Video Collaboration

The most important feature of modern enterprise video collaboration is that it has the capacity to pull together even a remote team of experts from across the globe collaboratively and put each and every member face to face in a meeting, without having to travel or even leaving their work stations and that is what makes the difference for the businesses today.

End-To-End Video Services

Video collaboration involves effective use of software that provides end-to-end service, which provides reliability as well as quality of service for broad adaptation backed with success.

Video collaborations are extremely easy to use, and they come up with video concierge services as well, which give an extra echelon of support for lengthy and important video meetings or events involving a large number of people, like financial reporting, introductions of new products or service, and company-wide announcements, AGMs and the likes.

User Friendly Domain

The technology comes up with a user friendly domain, with a central delivery, command and control mechanism, which can manage and at the same time, distribute the digital content in a jiffy, and in a seamless way from a centrally located point, without any hiccup whatsoever. The digital contents are of several types like static, dynamic and real time visual content. Besides, the technology can also be used to impart clear as well as consistent training and other activities related education, delivery of corporate updates, and content related to compliance across the entire organization.

Thanks to the advent of video collaboration, video services are using the cloud. This implies that it is now possible to avail video conferencing, without the need to invest in and operate expensive and complicated video infrastructure.

Video collaboration is completely different from the cloud video services available in the market. This is in fact a service that can be managed using the cloud and facilitates in establishing connection among telepresence systems, meeting rooms, software-based endpoints like tablets and desktops and executive appliances. The end users can not only internally connect with colleagues and co-workers but also with the suppliers and customers that use compatible systems. These videos can be streamed to other users and even recorded to later references. Organizations can easily offer customer support that is both responsive and efficient.

About the Author

Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

Ooma-Obihai Hybrid

I have been experimenting with the following VOIP systems:

  • Magic Jack Go
  • Ooma
  • Obihai

Now I thought I would take some time to summarize things. I’ve been using Ooma for two years and I have used MagicJack and Obihai in the past. Now let’s look at the different systems and their pluses and minuses

MagicJack

The problem is that it comes with a cheap Ethernet cable and a cheap USB power charger. In order to have the MagicJack work and last longer, you need to replace these components with ones from places like Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc.

The MagicJack component is not recognized by my router, until after I plug it into my computer USB port and register it. Ooma and Obihai components can be registered, just by plugging them into the router.

They do not have a 911 service included and can’t tell you what the price would be for your area – in advance.

On the plus side, they do have a good Android and IOS app. And they have a B rating on the Better Business Bureau site.

Obihai

There’s really no down side here. You just need to register it with a vendor approved service provider. I did this with Ring To and Google Voice, on an Obihai 202 device. It’s also recommended to check each week for firmware updates. They are not automatically provided.

Ooma

The only downside is the higher hardware cost, as well as the F rating on the Better Business Bureau site.

The plus side is that the called are both compressed and encrypted. I have run this off a Linksys router, via the Comcast service. It works very well. But I don’t like to pay the higher cost for the primer service. So I have come up with the Ooma/Obihai 202 hybrid.

To use the hybrid, I needed to set up Obihai 202 with both Ring To and Google Voice. And Google Voice would also ring my Ooma device and cell phone – but not the Ring To number on Obihai. Otherwise, there might be a conflict on the Obihai side.

Ooma-Obihai hybrid

I gain the following advantages by using the hybrid

  • All lines are under Google Voice
  • There will be two separate lines. And in the second line, I can switch between Ring To and Google Voice
  • I can call anywhere in the US on all three systems and anywhere in Canada on Google Voice
  • There are Android apps for Ring To, Google Voice and Ooma
  • I have 911 service on Ooma, as well as Obihai
  • If one device goes out, I have a backup in place. And the cell phone will be a backup for the VoIP systems

Here’s what I lose with the new Hybrid

  • Name look-up on caller id
  • Some advance filtering that filters out junk calls. But I do have all numbers – including the Google Voice one – registered with the US federal do not call list.

The strange workings of certain LinkedIn groups

It all started when I joined a popular linkedIn writers group and shared this link, in the discussions section:

102 Resources to Transform Your Writing. Now it contained a graphic of a fully clothed woman dancing, along with this description:

“Do you want to transform your writing? These 201 resources will help you go from amateur writer to Seductive Wordsmith.”

Innocent enough, right? Well, they had a volunteer, who placed this in the promotions category. They didn’t like the words “seductive wordsmith.” They didn’t say anything about the woman dancing. But if the person was a copywriter…or supervised copywriters…they would give them a raise and/or a promotion. Imagine the same person reviewing Ulysses by James Joyce. It would never get off the ground

What is a copywriter? There are many definitions. Let’s even go with one for promote, from Dictionary dot com.

“Copywriting is the use of words to promote a person, business, opinion, or idea. copywriting is getting across the perfect message, with the perfect words.”

In our example, they are promoting an opinion or idea – not a person or business.

There are three tabs LinkedIn has: Promotions, Discussions and Jobs. And here’s how LinkedIn defines the tabs:

“A Jobs tab gives group members a place to share jobs and jobs discussions. Jobs discussions are automatically removed after 14 days. You can always post a job on LinkedIn if you want to reach a wider audience or need a job posted longer.”

“A Promotions tab gives group members a place to post their product promotions. Promotions don’t expire, but they can be deleted by the poster or by a group owner/manager.”

Here were my questions in the “promotion”, which they did not answer.

  • Why is this post placed in the promotion category, when according to the rules set by the owner and LinkedIn, it doesn’t fit the definition of promotion (NOR his definition of SPAM, I might add)?
  • If this is a promotion, why could I share this in other LinkedIn writing groups and it’s classified as a discussion?
  • If this is a promotion, then how can Write to Done gain 2.5 million yearly readers, just by writing promotions?

I wrote to the owner and ask him for help. Here was his reply:

“I will send it to the editors for review.”

Why send it to the editors?  Can’t you make decisions on your own?

Then I opened up this topic there for discussion:

“When should I place something in discussions and when should I place it in promotions?”

And the same person who had the original placed in promotions, said this:

“I believe in the rules XXX has referred to ‘community moderation’ and ‘democratic’ processes.”

Promotions isn’t only about things with prices, but anything that is a presentation in the OP or asks me to follow a link to read something somewhere else to be able to join the conversation. It’s pretty simple

The problem is that I have monitored subsequent posts that exactly had links just like mine.  Here’s an example: Is Nature Writing Old Hat?

Let me settle this question from LinkedIn’s own words. In it, they say this:

Enter details in the “Add more details” box or add a link to a website by typing in the URL and pressing the space bar on your keyboard.

So if I were “following the letter of the law”, I could first ask: “What are some resources that writers can use?”

Then in details, I could say: Here are some examples in 102 Resources to Transform Your Writing.

Now the only thing that needs settling is: What are “objectionable” words in the description?

Isn’t their answer a process of  GroupThink?

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Let’s take that logic there and ask some questions:

  • If you have a few thousand members, how do you measure what members want, unless you have conducted surveys and statistical polling?
  • Why is this group not adopting the definitions LinkedIn has established for groups?
  • If you have different rules, why aren’t they all written down in the group rules section?
  • Why isn’t the owner actively involved with the group?  Could it be they are more interested in business gains from the group?

Let’s explore how a big inbound marketing Hubspot runs LinkedIn groups.  Look at How HubSpot Moderates LinkedIn Groups.  Let’s look at their four categories:

  • “Relevant questions for advice/discussions.”
  • “An interesting article with an accompanying question about the article’s content.”
  • “Important industry news.”
  • “Really darn catchy, unusual, content.”

I’m just like the little child in The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen, stating the obvious. There are times the owner needs to step in. Like when a new minority trend in copywriting occurred, when they used real smear words – and posted a link. Well, I have to worry about general sensitivities. And I asked them to follow the comic book guidelines for replacing swearwords with certain characters. But I have stepped in.

Other groups are probably more into resources to help them improve their writing, etc, then they are here. I really don’t believe in sharing knowledge and resources to help others, where it’s not wanted. I should be able to just read the group rules section, along with the LinkedIn guidelines, to know what is expected.

The question was raised there if I get paid to promote Write To Done. I answered as follows:

  • I do not get paid to post the resources links. And I don’t think any of the resources they list, is a paid product. I have a personal and professional standard of theological and philosophical ethics. And that would prevent me from posting links that are affiliate links and disguising them as legitimate posts.
  • It would also be easy for a professional software engineer – trained in these matters – to easily break down and decipher an affiliate link (i.e. LinkedIn technical support, for example). Or even LinkedIn software.
  • The other thing is I use a URL shortener. The one I usually run with is owned by Twitter. Any popular URL shortener would have build in filtering, to weed out things like SPAM, affiliate links, etc.
  • Lastly, Google and Bing would only allow blogs to rank high, if they provide authoritative and popular content. Hence, Write To Done can claim a readership of 2.5 million views, based upon good and authoritative content. Certainly, that many people wouldn’t visit them to view promotions or infomercials.

What has given me perspective here is that I’m in a different culture. Yes, a LinkedIn group could be a different culture. Like those in the books of writer Carlos Castaneda, who also earned a PhD in anthropology for his work. Things could be stranger. Like we could have a group owner like Sheldon Cooper, from the Big Bang theory. And a group manager like Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld. If I visualize these extreme examples, things start to make sense by comparison. Perhaps I am joining Alice on holiday in Wonderland. Or traveling with Dr. Who, in exploring an alternative LinkedIn universe. Then I can echo the usual words of Spock from Star Trek: “fascinating”.

The 3 Most Secure Smartphones of 2015

When picking out a smartphone, consumers usually choose the latest trending phone and rarely use device security as a deciding factor. But, as hackers are becoming increasingly savvy on how to gather information from your phone and steal your data, you need to be more proactive and pay attention to how your phone can offer protection. Sure, every phone has a password protection functionality, but digging deeper can protect you even further against hackers.

The 3 Most Secure Smartphones of 2015

Here are three of the most secure phones in 2015 that are currently on the market:

Apple iPhone 6

Apple’s iPhone 6 plays off of the success of the iPhone 5s, which saw the introduction of many new security features. The iPhone 6 takes many of those privacy features and makes them better than before.

  • Randomized MAC Addresses: This is one of those little features that are often overlooked. As people leave their house and travel from place to place, it can be really easy to forget to turn your scan for Wi-Fi off. This allows hackers to search for an open unsecure network for your MAC address (a string of characters that uniquely identifies your phone to Wi-Fi connections) and allows them to manipulate your phone. Instead, the iPhone 6 randomizes the MAC address when it’s passively searching for a Wi-Fi connection, thus ensuring your MAC address doesn’t fall into the wrong hands
  • TouchID: TouchID is also known as the fingerprint scanner. Most of the phones that have fingerprint scanners now took a clue from Apple and started including them due to demand and popularity. Software and hardware enhancements make the TouchID on the iPhone 6 the most secure fingerprint scanner yet, ensuring only you can access your phone.

Samsung Galaxy S6

The Galaxy S 6 also features a fingerprint scanner, but it’s just one component that makes the S 6 one of the most secure devices of 2015.

Samsung Knox comes standard with the Galaxy S 6 and S 6 Edge and is essentially a mobile device management (MDM) business suite. This means that if you happen to lose your phone, you can compartmentalize your files onto a partition that is separate and can be remotely locked or wiped. This comes in handy if you tend to have bad luck with phones and often lose or break them.

Silent Circle Blackphone 2

This phone is the long-awaited sequel to the original Blackphone. Its release date will be in the latter half of 2015, but it builds on the what made the original Blackphone so secure.

This phone is a true paranoid person’s dream come true. It runs a heavily-modified Android-based operating system called PrivatOS, so it is not necessarily for the everyday consumer. This OS allows for multiple virtual self-contained workspaces, which make it that much harder for data to be compromised. However, the OS is about the only thing that it’s got going for privacy as it does not feature any hardware components like a fingerprint scanner.

How to Choose the Right Bandwidth for Your VoIP

The most contentious issue dogging the faster adoption rate of VoIP has been the quality of calls, which is directly linked to the bandwidth. Every VoIP consumer wants to know the appropriate bandwidth required to ensure seamless and good quality of calls. In order to properly understand the right bandwidth for your VoIP, you will have to understand a few things.

Michelle Bandwidth

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the data transfer ability of a line from the source to the destination within a specified time. If you are using a broadband internet connection that has a higher bandwidth then you will be able to send more data from one point to another. However, in case you are using an internet connection that has a lower bandwidth then your data transfer rate would be lower. This is exactly why our voice calls over VoIP gets affected when you are not using the appropriate bandwidth.

Types of Bandwidth

Further bandwidth is of two different types at any location – one is the upload bandwidth and the other is the download bandwidth. The download bandwidth depicts the volume of data you will be able to receive from your internet connection and the upload bandwidth is the volume of data you will be able to send over to the internet. When it comes to bandwidth, the only adage that sounds apt is “the more the merrier”!

Bandwidth Speeds for VoIP

It has been seen that in majority of the cases, a single VoIP call would need at least 90 kbps (kilobits per second) of bandwidth. If you are availing a broadband service that does not offer higher bandwidth then you certainly have the option of lowering the voice quality by setting a lower bandwidth usage of 60 kbps – this helps you to save at least 30 kbps. However, there are several users who are not able to differentiate between the settings. In case bandwidth is not an issue for your connection, it is better to use the 90 kbps setting – this will provide excellent voice quality. Your device and VoIP connection is set to high bandwidth as a default setting but if you are using a low bandwidth then you can reset it to a lower bandwidth setting. However, higher bandwidth does not always ensure good VoIP voice quality because of the poor service provided by your ISP. By turning down the bandwidth to lower bandwidth you will be able to overcome the problems.

Connection Types

Another big question that VoIP users often face is the type of connection they need i.e. a choice has to be made between a DSL connection and a Cable internet connection. The upload bandwidth for a DSL connection starts at 128k and that of a cable internet connection starts at 600k. The choice has to be made depending upon your budget and the usage because cable internet is expensive than a DSL connection. The biggest advantage of using a cable internet connection is that you will be able to experience greater speed – it is around 5 times quicker than the DSL and is more compatible with VoIP systems. However, one thing needs to be kept in mind; both the cable internet connection as well as the DSL offers enough bandwidth to support all types of VoIP services.

When you are down to choosing the VoIP service provider, the only thing that you need to consider is the bandwidth required by the provider to complete a quality VoIP call. It is very important that you learn everything related to the quality of calls because good quality calls will ensure smoother communication.

About the Author

Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

Some Ooma and Magic Jack Go issues and fixes

As you know from reading previous posts, I’ve been an Ooma user for 2 years. And I’ve been very happy with it. But due to hardware costs, I’m replacing it with:

  • Obihai 200 configured with Ring To and Google Voice
  • MagicJack Go as a backup.

This is in addition to my cell phone plan. But some issues have come up in testing and I’ll go over them and the solutions.

The first one was that MagicJack supplied cable. When I tried it, the MagicJack couldn’t register an Internet connection, when connected to the router. The solution was just to replace it with a standard Ethernet cable.

The next issue was the unit was getting warm. I did a Google search on “MagicJack getting hot” and found others had the issue. Then I came across this video on YouTube and looked into the comments section:

One viewer had this great comment:

“I will tell you from personal experience, separate the ac plug from the mj plus box it heats up less saving the ac plug from going out again, i separated mine with the jumper plug it comes with and now the box isn’t even half as hot what it used to be, think what happens is the ac plug and box both create a lot heat and put together its like a heat bomb ready go off, do the separation now and save later from replacing the ac adapter, this is why it goes bad.”

So there are two issues here and two solutions, based upon this video and my Google search.

  • The first is to buy a replacement power adapter that has the specs of five volts and one amp output. Or a universal one you can set to those variables. I found one for twelve dollars at Walmart, that was both a serge protector and a USB device charger. Just keep the original black one for warranty issues.
  • The second one is that MagicJack supplies an extension adapter for use, when you register the device via your computer USB port the first time. From my Google search, some folks are plugging this in between the charger and the MagicJack device. So I’ve followed this advice with the new USB device charger and the MagicJack device.

This did solve my heating issue with MagicJack.

There’s another thing I discovered and it proved to be interesting. I have access to Hoovers via the College of Dupage online library resources. I decided to look at MagicJack and Ooma on both Hoovers and the BBB (i.e. Better Business Bureau) sites.

In the Hoover research, Ooma appears to have much great annual sales then MagicJack. I think they also have more on site employees.

But in the BBB search, I found some interesting items. First of all, I thought that MagicJack would get a low rating. But they are a BBB accredited business. While they had a large number of complaints issued, they did resolve a lot of them – to the BBB site’s satisfaction. And they earned a B rating.

Ooma had far fewer complaints lodged against them. But they failed to provide a satisfactory resolution to many of them – according to BBB standards. And the BBB gave them an F rating.

Well, that did surprise me.

Obihai with Google Voice plus Ring To and MagicJack Go

For two years now, I have used Ooma as my home phone service. It’s really a great product and functions well. It has gotten good reviews on Amazon. But it does cost money to replace the hardware. This is why I have searched for some alternatives. Ring To and Google Voice are approved vendors for certain Obihai devices. In my case, I have used Obihai 200. MagicJack Go has made inroads with their mobile device apps. And they would not be expensive to replace. If you buy them on Amazon, you can purchase an inexpensive Square Trade warranty package.

First, there is some preparation one should do for Obihai

You need to open a Google Voice account and pick a phone number. Then tie a phone (i.e. your cell phone) to the Google Voice number. Install Google Hangouts and Google dialer on your Android device. Proceed to make a few calls with it.

Open up a Ring To account and get a number assigned. Install Groovip on your Android device and proceed to make a few calls with it.

The MagicJack Go is a bit trickier. They claim you can just plug it into your router and it will recognize it. Well, over the years, I have had the same router and could just plug and play Vonage, Net Duo, Ooma and Obihai devices into it and they were recognized. But for some reason, I needed to plug the MagicJack into my computer’s USB port and go through the registration. Then I could just plug the device into my router. And regardless of what the vendor says, don’t use the device as a router. Plug it behind a good router instead. I had too many problems when I first started out, using a Vonage device as a router. It just wasn’t robust enough.

So why two devices and three different services?

The Ring To will eventually be a replacement for my home phone service. I will eventually port my home phone number from Ooma to Ring To.

MagicJack Go will function as a business number, since I am a small business owner.

Google Voice will be the front end to all my numbers, for family and close friends. And it will be the preferred way for calling people, in conjunction with my cell phone service.

For a period of two months, I’m testing Obihai 200 and MagicJack Go, while I run Ooma as my main service. This way, I can run various tests and insure the service holds up.

Ooma is still better in my opinion than Vonage. And their mobile app is not all that bad. But I still think Obihai is better – as long as you go with their approved vendor list. Then it’s really not all that hard to configure and set up. Otherwise, it could be a bit geeky.

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