Archive for the ‘video’ Category

increments of learning (attrition)

Monday, May 14th, 2012

I’ve been pursuing video calling technologies for roughly 20 years. For the first years (and before my experience), a major challenge was lack of adequate networks for calling, when even Basic Rate ISDN (two 64 kilobit channels) was often hard to find. Today, even cell phones often have multi-megabit connections. Though there are network limitations and frustrations, the available networks are usually more than adequate.

Then, and certainly now, an even larger challenge has been incompatibility between calling products. There have been many laments about lack of inter-operability, long before, and after my last one, When will they ever learn?.

It is hard to call changes from last year “progress”, or even “learning”, but there have been some improvement by attrition of isolated products. Now that Skype has acquired Qik, Qik seems to be emphasizing stored video over video “chat”. (Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic. Yet, I have never known anyone to actually use Qik video chat.) Logitech TV Cam, which I lamented, has seemingly morphed into Logitech TV Cam for Skype®. Most notably, Cisco has discontinued Umi. So at least one anomalous product is gone and a second has gained inter-operability.

There are other bits of progress. BlueJeans inter-operability between Skype and H.323 systems is one of the pleasant surprises of the last year. It is hard to anticipate what Microsoft will do with Skype, but that acquisition may lead to more inter-operability between Skype and other systems, at least Microsoft’s Lync, and maybe more SIP flexibility.

Until video calling is as inter-operable as voice calling, the inability of one product to call another is unacceptable. As long as major players, such as Apple and Google, introduce new products that preclude video calls to existing products, laments are appropriate. When incompatible products are abandoned, or morph into more compatible products, some small celebrations seem in order.

EVO 4G returns!

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

“It’s déjà vu all over again” Yogi Berra

The EVO has landed” proclaims Sprint, featuring 4G LTE before Sprint’s coverage is available. Seems like only yesterday (actually two years ago) I was anticipating my second “smart phone”, my first since 2001, and anticipating 4G WiMAX (which I’m still waiting for, at least at my home and other frequent locations).

Re-reading what I wrote after a month’s experience, I don’t see a lot to say differently. The biggest surprise is that I’ve used Skype so little on my Evo, only two times that I remember for a video call. I don’t remember much about the first call, but the second one seemed surprisingly satisfying from a calling perspective, and the portability allowed me to show my sister all 5 of our cats in various poses around the house.

My biggest complaint continues to be the sporadic WiMAX coverage, which seemingly hasn’t improved, and probably won’t given the trends toward LTE. Most of the time I have WiFi available and don’t feel deprived without WiMAX. But there are also times when I turn on the WiMAX radio in hopes of coverage, and more often than not, see the warning icon that tells me I’m wasting battery on non-existent 4G.

So I’m not pre-ordering an EVO 4G LTE when (a) Sprint doesn’t have LTE anywhere and (b) Austin isn’t one of the initial Sprint LTE cities. I expect I’ll keep the  original EVO until the hardware fails. If that happens in the near term, then the new EVO seems like a promising option, as long as I don’t count on LTE.

U.S. Patent 6,212,547 — It’s not over ’til it’s over, but …

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

maybe it IS over?

I first encountered the ‘547 patent, “UTP based video and data conferencing” in 2004, when Avistar was challenging Polycom, and I asserted then that ‘547 should not have been granted. Three years ago, Microsoft filed for ex parte re-examination of ‘547. I speculated that ‘547 would not survive re-examination.

Last week, the U.S. PTO Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences issued a decision on appeal, affirming in part the examiner’s final rejection of all claims of ‘547.

Intellectual Ventures can appeal further, but maybe they will not.


Definitely better than being there — IMTC annual meeting over the Internet

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

The International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium is “a global consortium of companies dedicated to the advancement of open standards and multi media communications through our Activity Group initiatives and annual events that include interoperability forums and workshops.” I was a vice-president of IMTC in 1995-6, after the merger of IMTC and the Personal Conferencing Work Group.

In 1996 I, when I was last active in IMTC, I participated in board meetings in Munich and London and the annual meeting in Boston. This time I participated in the IMTC annual meeting mostly from my home office, but also while driving, running errands.


“When will they ever learn?”

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

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.