Category Archives: SightSpeed

Random Monday Night Thoughts

I thought that I would share some findings with my loyal blog readers.

VirtualSUG is a Virtual SAS Users Group.  Andrew Karp of Sierra Information Services offers training (paid and non-paid) through this facility. I think that Andrew has done an excellent job putting together the VirutalSUG. VirtualSUG is implemented in a WebEx type of environment and can handle 1,000 attendees for each class. He offers numerous classes at different times so be sure to check the VirtualSUG website for dates and times.

Speaking of WebEx type of software, I recently started using Lotus Sametime Unyte for sharing desktop screens and applications. This has proved quite handy as I’ve been doing a fair amount of work with companies that are quite a distance from me. I cheaped out and bought a yearly five user license for $100. They do have a free product that many people could use but you are restricted to two users, a client and a host. Compare the pricing of Lotus Sametime Unyte and WebEx and you can easily save yourself $300 to $350 dollars a year. I’ve used this software at least a half dozen times and I can say that it does work well. The only problem I’ve had is with a client who was using a notebook and the resolution on the notebook was 1280×800. My desktop’s screen was set to 1280×1024. This caused some of my screen to be clipped on her display.  The problem was overcome but it took me a few minutes to try to figure out what was going on.

There’s a new video conferencing service that is being offered and it’s called ooVoo. I’ve not used it yet but I’ve read some reviews on the web and it looks promising. It’s still in beta so I suppose that the quality of service will improve shortly. What is most intriguing is that you can have five participants in a video conference. Frame rates are reported to be around 15 FPS. In reading the knowledge base articles at ooVoo, they do state that you can increase frame rates up to 30 FPS. In comparison, SightSpeed is 30 FPS but modifies the window size to try to maintain a high frame rate. Note that SightSpeed now charges you $10 a month for the multi-party service. If you visit the ooVoo web page, let me know if Linda has that expression on her face like she just saw something she was not expecting.

SightSpeed 6.0 a Quick Review

A new version of SightSpeed recently became available and like when other SightSpeed upgrades rolled out, upgrading is mandatory. The interface is nice and modern. It is much sleeker than before. The SightSpeed site talks about better performance and better video quality. I’ve always thought the video quality was very good. I don’t see an improvement over the prior version at the same upload speed. I did notice that they have increased the maximum upload speed to 1500kbps. On my internet connection, I max out at 1100kbps and this might be the reason I don’t see the improvement.

As a user of SightSpeed, I would love to see some things added to the application. Here is a list of features that I think could offer members and organizations the additional encouragement to subscribe. Addressing these would really help to get SightSpeed into the corporate office and as well as add some functionality that is missing.

1) Offer integration into Outlook like Plaxo or Jajah. It would be nice to be able to look at a contact, see an icon that tells me if the person is available for SightSpeed Video Conferencing and then Click to Conference.  I don’t like having to switch between applications if I don’t have to. A lot of people live inside Outlook and this would be a nice feature.

2) Offer embeddable tags to Add, Call, Chat, and Video Conference with other SightSpeed members. I’m not talking about the “Call me on SightSpeed” banners but something along the lines of what MSN offers. i.e. the ability to add someone with a single click. For example, with MSN I can use msnim:add?contact=@hotmail.com — so that a user can add me to their Messenger contact list from a web page. I would love to see that functionality included.

3) Include SharePoint integration so I can click on members contact information and see an option where I can video conference with this person. Sort of a poor mans plug-in to replace Live Server.

4) Add LAN/WAN options. Different quality settings would be nice if I’m trying to talk across the LAN as opposed to across the internet. I have gigabit speed to burn on the LAN and being able to have the highest quality settings for talking to someone down the hall or a few floors down would be nice.

5) Support the Logitech PTZ controls. It’s supported on the Creative Web Cams. Logitech web cameras are pretty common if not more popular than Creative and supporting the Point, Tilt, and Zoom features of these cameras would be nice.

SightSpeed

Keywords: SightSpeed, Web Conferencing, Video Conferencing, Communications, Web Cameras

For the last 18 months, I’ve been using a service called SightSpeed. SightSpeed is an amazing service that allows me and my clients (as well as family) to communicate over the internet. With a good web camera and a decent internet connection, you can hold video conferences at 30 fps with speech being perfectly synced with lip movement.

There are numerous reasons that I like SightSpeed so much. The price for the service, for doing one-on-one conferencing is free. You simply have to signup for an account and download the software. If you need to web conference with more than one other person, SightSpeed offers a professional service plan that allows you to initiate multi-party conferencing. Multi-party conferencing costs $50 per year and allows a maximum of four participants (you and three others) in a single conference.

SightSpeed also allows you to send video e-mails (they are stored on a SightSpeed server) which can be 30 seconds in length for the Basic free service and up to one minute for the Professional Service plan. Your video emails are stored for 30 days on the basic plan and for the life of your subscription with the Professional plan. That’s also a nice way to post video to blogs and not have to worry about storage and bandwidth issues.

I use a Logitech QuickCam Fusion web camera that has a built in microphone so I don’t have to mess around with a headset. At other times, I use a Jabra Bluetooth ear piece/microphone that clips in to my ear and for the most part is hidden behind my ear. The Bluetooth setup is really superior in that there is absolutely no echo and I can get up and move around to the whiteboard or do other things and still keep a conference going.

SightSpeed works over or through firewalls quite well. I use Microsoft’s Small Business Server 2000 and I only had to make a single change to ISA (opened port 9000) to get it to work. On an XP Pro notebook using a D-Link UpNP router, it worked without a single change. I like that!

The quality of the web conference is dependent on three factors. The amount of light you have in your room, the speed of our broadband connection, and the quality of the camera. With a well lit room, a moderately fast connection (I have a 6 Mbps/1 Mbps cable connection) and a good web camera, you can have a very good video conferencing experience. Check out the requirements at the SightSpeed web site for more information and detailed information in plans and pricing.

What would I like to see added to SightSpeed? I would like to see application sharing (or even application viewing) and whiteboard functionality included in future releases. But even without these additional functions, SightSpeed does what it was intended to do and that is provide the best PC-to-PC video conferencing application available on the market today.

Links: www.SightSpeed.com
www.logitech.com