Marking Time

Marking Time

This is the time of year when it is customary to reflect upon the twelve months just past, note milestones that were of significance, and look forward to the promise of a coming year – with hope, longing, and anticipation that those twelve months will be even better, brighter, and more prosperous than where we find ourselves presently.

The new year is our chance to welcome the undiscovered future. But we often spend more time looking in our rearview mirrors than through the windshield ahead; understandable, if not regrettable.

We need to be able to see that we have accomplished something. That we are moving forward, not backward. Know that what we do, and have done, matters. We try to do this by checking where we are now, marking where we have been during our time through time.

In total, we are the sum of all moments that have led up to now. And while it is instructive to realize how those component moments have led us here, it is more important to create anew from the undiscovered moments ahead.

And so, my challenge to myself for the coming year, is that I will not spend my days in full time residency, living in the past.

That I will learn how to do at least one new thing that I imagine myself never being capable of doing.

That I will reinvent a major aspect of my personal or professional life.

That I will learn to live in the now.


Happy New Year.

Room Size Videoconferencing, or Google Hangouts – Can’t We Just Get Along?

Room Size Videoconferencing, or Google Hangouts – Can’t We Just Get Along?

An oft-heard question in videoconferencing land: when do I use a room sized system, and when do I need to use Google Hangouts?

In the past, the usual answer is: use a room sized system when you want great quality, and use Google Hangouts when quality doesn’t matter.

Well. That answer is wrong. Not because room systems aren’t high quality. It’s because the question is usually asked outside the context of a solid use case for why you want to use videoconferencing to begin with. What is the problem you are wishing to solve.

Google Hangouts (and their recorded, broadcast version, Google Hangouts on Air) offer 720p HD video with noise cancelation. The quality is great, and offers (I argue) a more personal experience than room sized systems, because you can actually see the person that you are talking to, in detail mostly missing from room sized systems. Hangouts allow meeting participants to meet from where it is most convenient for them, rather than having to gather everyone together in one place. And more often than not, participants are better heard using Hangouts than when participating from room sized systems.

So… why use room sized systems at all?

Well, sometimes everyone must meet in a conference room. The boss requires it. Maybe everyone is away from their own devices. The system is setup in a classroom. Or maybe it is used as a collaborative space between two teams separated geographically. All these are great use cases for when room systems are appropriate.

The important thing to note that it is use case, NOT quality, that is (and should be) the decision driver.

With videoconferencing being a much higher friction activity than any other form of synchronous communications, it’s even more vital that you use a video platform most appropriate for the task at hand.

One-on-one video interview? Google Hangout.

Two or Three on one interview? Google Hangout.

Video class? Seminar: Google Hangout; remote lecture: room size.

Business meeting? Whatever the boss wants. But seriously – nine times out of ten, Google Hangouts will allow a much more satisfying, more personal, experience – than staring at an indecipherable set of pea-heads at the end of a long conference table 1,000 miles away.

I have very explicitly tried to stay away from the entire question of cost in this discussion. Needless to say, oftentimes just the mere mention of spending $30K-$80K on specialized video codecs for a single room is enough to make the decision for you.

Polycom, Cisco, Radvision, Vidyo, Mondopad… all of these systems are facing challenging times ahead, with the consumerization and commoditization of free high quality videoconferencing from Google. It’s only going to get worse for them, unless they can find a way to offer unique recording or cloud services that allow them to be something other than very expensive and hard-to-implement point solutions.

What are the odds of that happening?

I’d say, slim to none.

But until then – can’t we just get along?

Associated Colleges of the South CIO Hangout – Cloud Services

Associated Colleges of the South CIO Hangout – Cloud Services

Fred Zapata from Trinity, Fred Miller from Furman, Pamela McQuesten from Southwestern, and David Hinson from Hendrix discuss Cloud Services – what they are, how they are being used, and what they mean for the future prospects of campus information technology services.

Google+ Hangouts on Air Tip – Q&A

Google+ Hangouts on Air Tip – Q&A

I really like the Q&A feature of Google+ Hangouts on Air. It’s really “upped the game” on hosting engaging and interactive webinars using HOA.

But I had run into issues using Q&A with my events. For some reason, the Q&A app wasn’t always asking me which event to connect to, even for events that should be within the 30 minute window specified by Google.

What the heck was going on?

After some frustrating experimentation, I discovered that the issue was this – your Google+ Hangout on Air MUST be named the same as the name of your event.

I haven’t seen this documented anywhere, but it is definitely a thing.

You’re welcome. (In my best Nick Burns, Your Company’s Computer Guy, Voice).