AttendAnywhere brings high-end video conferencing to the corporate masses

Disclaimer: I have undertaken some consulting work for AttendAnywhere in the past. This post only covers what is publicly available and I haven't received a penny for writing this. About the only thing I may get from the AttendAnywhere guys is a beer (or a slap on the head) the next time I am in Melbourne. Anyhow, on with the show...

Rising fuel prices, hectic schedules and incessant climate change warnings are making us more aware of the hidden costs of 'same room' meetings. Whilst telephone conferences alleviate the need for travel, a lack of visual feedback leaves such exchanges feeling one dimensional and disjointed. Up till now video conference choices have either been too costly or rudimentary to be viable business solutions. In an effort to change this, Melbourne-based AttendAnywhere have partnered with Vidyo to offer an affordable, on-demand, high-quality video conferencing solution.

That's me (on the right) taking part in a video conference. (click to enlarge)
Yes that is a .Net book in the background - I was young, naive and she promised to be gentle...

But what is wrong with Skype?

At this point many people start to wonder why you would want to spend money on video conferencing when Skype video is free. The AttendAnywhere/Vidyo combination provides a range of advantages over plain old Skype:

  • Multi-party conferences - Skype is limited to one on one video.
  • Screen sharing of applications - Is possible in Skype but requires third-party software.
  • Very low-latency audio - Ever tried having a conversation on Skype only to talk over people? Vidyo has pretty much solved this problem.
  • High quality, robust calls - Skype video works, but is not that consistent as far as video or audio quality goes. Vidyo dynamically degrades the video and audio quality to make sure the conversation can still keep going.
  • Meeting management - Skype lets you make calls but it does not help when it comes to setting them up.
  • Ad-hoc meetings - With Skype you really need to be 'friends' with someone to start a meeting. In a business environment where you could be meeting with hundreds of relative strangers this is unwieldy.
  • Support - Skype is a subsidiary of eBay focused on mainstream audio services. AttendAnywhere is dedicated to business to business video conferencing.

FireAnt: an iTunes competitor in the video space

FireAnt brings video, RSS and tagging together into a very tidy package used for automatically downloading video content onto your desktop or personal media player. It is interesting that people can construct their own 'channels' which are a series of different (or similar) shows and act like a mini-CNN, Discovery Channel or E!

Whilst Apple's iTunes video service it is still targeted at the 'pay per episode' model it would be nice to see a competitor offer something that worked with the concept of channels. We do not have the bandwidth or the iTunes video store in New Zealand but it would be nice to imagine a day where I could subscribe to and pay for mini-channels produced by people of my same interest group featuring both commercial content, videoblogs and adverts. For example I would gladly subscribe and pay for a channel that played the Simpsons, TWiT, Discovery Channel documentaries about space, the highlights of BBC World News and an episode of Lost. That would be a great night(s) television watching. Plus I would not mind the adverts as long as they related to me (ie nothing about retirement, womans products or toilet paper). Conventional broadcasting models do not allow for this but digital video based environments like what are evolving certainly do.

No more Windows Media Player for OSX

Contrary to the title this is actually really good news because the application runs terribly on OSX. Fortunately Microsoft have replaced it with a Quicktime plugin that lets you run Windows Media files natively through Quicktime (a much cleaner solution).

Hopefully this helps the streaming of Windows Media content which for me never really worked.
Download the plugin from Microsoft's Download Centre.

Ruby on Rails 15 minute Intro video

This introduction video for Ruby on Rails is very impressive. Even if you don't know anything about programming it comes across as being very easy. If you are used to programming in Java like me watching this made me very, very jealous....

Ruby on Rails 15 minute introduction video

The International Financial Centre

On Friday we did some touring of Hong Kong island. The weather was not great but it did mean we did not feel bad cruising through vast shopping malls fulled with Prada and Clarins stores. After some searching we found the lobby for the International Financial Centre I, a really impressive 100 story tower. There is a public library on the 55th floor but no public observation deck. After getting some visitor id tags we took the express lift up there. The lift had CNNs financial news showing which was quite funny and the 55 level trip took less than a minute.The view was amazing and the quality of the IFC tower both inside and out is second to none. Whilst not a true observation deck the library had more tourists than researchers trying to snap photographs of the amazing view. It was far more impressive than the view offered by the Sky Tower and whats is more it was completely free.