“When will they ever learn?”

I’ve had the privilege of playing music with a few famous musicians, mostly before they achieved their full public prominence, e.g., playing bass with Jimmie Vaughan a couple of times in small clubs in Austin. Perhaps the most notable of these opportunities was impromptu playing harmonica with Pete Seeger, sitting in the grass at a Clearwater Festival in 1976, a time of his full prominence. Seeger’s most famous composition, Where Have All The Flowers Gone?, ends each chorus with the refrain “When will they ever learn?”

Though the song is about more substantive issues than interoperability of video calling solutions, that refrain comes to mind when thinking about all of the isolated islands of video calling solutions that seem to be proliferating instead of reconciling.

It’s hard to keep up with them, all the instances this year: Cisco umi Home Telepresence that won’t call other Cisco systems, the Logitech TV Cam that seems to only call other Logitech Vid instances, not Logitech’s LifeSize sytems, FaceTime that only calls other iPhone 4’s and iPod Touch, Qik that only calls between Evo and Epic, …

In July, I had hopes for fring, and that Skype would soon leverage the video capable hardware of Evo and iPhone 4. I actually succeeded with a fring to Skype video call just before fring stumbled out of sync with Skype when iPhone 4 launched.

For a while I was dismayed that Skype had not become available on Evo, with the Android Skype only available for Verizon phones. Skype lifted the Verizon-only limitation a few weeks ago, but so far Skype isn’t doing video on phones. Skype is moving in lots of directions, so patience may be necessary.

Impatient for something useful/usable, I started trying to setup a SIP environment that would allow me to use one of the SIP apps for Android. I’m still pursuing that, but it is much slower going than I hoped. That’s another story for another writing or two.

Tango seems plausible for phone to phone video calling, but there are no indications of interoperability beyond phones.

FaceTime may well become available for other Apple platforms, but will it ever call non-Apple systems?

For now, I’ll hope that Skype and Tango may become more useful on my Evo, and try to get things going with SIP, and wonder “When will they ever learn?”

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