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Microsoft Takes My Advice on Skype May 10, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in communication, Construction Industry - Software, VOIP, web conferencing.
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Microsoft’s Skype acquisition was overdue. It was January 8, 2011 when I Tweeted:

Just thinking Microsoft could have more Kinect sales if you could use it to Skype. #business

With the official announcement, Microsoft has plans to add Skyping to more than the Kinect and xBox but that alone can convert to huge revenues. By the time Christmas rolls around Microsoft will have kids complaining they can’t use their game consoles because their parents are hogging it for video conferencing. For the small business owner, contractor, and consultant with a home office, this will justify the Kinect purchase as a business expense – so the kids that don’t have a Kinect and Xbox yet, are almost certainly guaranteed a new toy.

With 170+ million connected Skypers around the world many seem worried that their long distance family time will be interrupted. Not to worry as Microsoft is sure to serve up ads on the free service to help them sell gaming consoles and games – 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010 is a whole lot of advertising airtime. I suspect that they’ll somehow determine from customer usage patterns or social profiles that small business Skypers should also see Office 365 Ads and every other cloud based offering Microsoft develops. Most IT staff are Skypers too so the potential Ad reach is targeted to Microsofts core audience.

So does this mean LiveMessenger and LiveMeeting are dead? Not by a longshot. Wired Magazine doesn’t think this was a great business technology purchase in their Why Exactly? article, but there is overlap.

There are other factors involved that are mentioned by Forbes Combine all this with the mobile smartphone Ad reach and you see why Microsoft was willing to spend so much money.

Will you be using your gaming console at home to Skype? Will small business owners and contractors move their Xbox into their office? We’d love to hear from you and look forward to your comments.

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Video Conferencing Isn’t Just for the Big Boys Anymore March 24, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry Hardware, VOIP, web conferencing.
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Video conferencing has been around for sometime and has either been expensive or of questionable quality.  The buzz on the internet is for the masses with technology like Skype entering 1000’s of homes each day.  It’s okay to talk with my friends and family but a CEO will not tolerate the delayed image feeds or freeze ups.  It’s just not professional. 

Video conferencing with Skype displays on your computer at approximately 8 frames a second.  A true digital video phone runs at approximately 28 frames a second (broadcast TV is just over 30 frames per second).   No delays or freeze frames.  It is live streaming “business quality” video conferencing.   If your firm considered this years ago but found the costs astronomical, it’s time to rethink your position.   I’ve seen some firms pony up $10,000+ but you no longer have to with the ACN videophone.

The ACN videophone is a digital videophone, meaning it has to be routed through high speed internet. It doesn’t run through your computer, it looks and acts like a phone. ACN has their own Video, not voice, over internet protocol so it is a secure system. The Video OIP was built out for ACN by Cisco Systems and covers 4 continents and 22 countries around the world. They have phones that start at just $99.99 plus a $29.99 monthly service fee for unlimited local and long distance calls throughout the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. In addition the phone can be connected to your flat screen TV so you can have a large video image. High Definition is expected later this year.

It is suggested that your internet speeds be at least 256 kbps and probably closer to 1.5mbps for optimal picture quality.  Anyone with multiple offices can now enjoy a great video conferencing system with more security and greater reliability.

Business people do use it to travel and stay in touch with their office and family from all around the world.  The calls are free from ACN-ACN phone anywhere in the world.   Here’s the real “big bang punch”…It is inexpensive and easy enough for any business to really impress and keep a client by supplying them with a videophone to stay in touch face-face. Yes it is a “business relationship” tool that takes advantage of video to reinforce your connection.  The next generation phone coming out this summer will allow the screen to split in 4 quadrants so you can hold a 4 way phone/video conference with all parties able to see one another. In a business world where everyone is talking about social media, I think this may be the best “live” tool you could ask for to cement your client relationships.

I want to thank a friend of mine, that some of you may know, Doug Singer, and ACN rep here in Arizona for this great information.  I’ve known Doug for years and he’s always looking for ways to make businesses stand out.

I’d like to hear about what video conferencing solutions you find most cost effective.  Please share your experiences by leaving a comment.  Thanks for all your input in advance.

Education Abounds at the Phoenix Tech Summit October 2, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, dedupe, virtualization, VOIP.
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I always am looking for education and found a variety of topics and vendors of value this week at the Tech Summit.  If you missed it, here is some of the wisdom that was shared by the speakers and vendors:

  • Virtualization is the best way to test your future IT deployments and improve efficiency.
  • Don’t sell virtualization on cost savings as training & licensing fees can creep up on you.
  • If you want to capture metadata /indexes, Kofax is the leader.  They’re also great for notifications during the workflow process.
  • IT Experiments Never Fail since there’s still progress…you need to ask more questions
  • Fully 85% of existing networks can’t handle VOIP traffic.  Analyze your IP infrastructure before deployment!
  • Your IT department needs to think more business-side and collaborate further.  The top 10% of IT leaders are noticeably different.  Where do you add value?

So here are a few gems I found at the vendor booths:

Able Information Technologies Inc had invited Elliptical Mobile Solutions to showcase the S.P.E.A.R.  (Self-propelled Electronic Armored Rack).  For the construction industry this is more than you need at a jobsite, but their R.A.S.E.R. (Relocateable Adaptive Suspension Equipment Rack) might be great for the large  jobsite.  These are available as fully air-conditioned, insulated, all-weather data centers that allow you to deploy your computer systems in the field without worrying about the harsh elements the  jobsite exposes us to “under construction” .  The R.A.S.E.R.s 3 layer of shock & vibration dampening to protect your sensitive servers. 

Data De-duplication is such a hot topic that I snagged a “Data De-duplication for Dummies” compliments of Quantum.  Speaking of deduping, EMC will be hosting a Data Domain Luncheon: Data Deduplication Strategies on October 21, 2009  at Flemings in Scottsdale.  To register go to http://www.emc.com/deduperroadshow

While Social Media is a buzz, most government agencies are using it just for notifications and postings of public information.   GITA has  incorporated a verification process with Twitter so you know that the source info is valid.  The e-policy for the state of Arizona will published in the next week or so.  I think this might be of value to all of us working on government projects.

For all those interested in IT Security, don’t miss out on the ISSA Phoenix 1/2 day education forum! Your registration includes lunch, snacks, door prize drawings, three hot security topics from industry experts, and 4 hours of CPE credit. It’s free to paid members who pre-register, and only $25 for guests and walk-ins. It will be held on Oct 6 11:30 AM- 5 PM Tempe, at ITT Technical Institute, 5005 S. Wendler Dr. Visit their site and register today at  http://phoenix.issa.org  

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