Wed 13 Jan 2010
Sat 7 Jun 2008
With high speed Internet connections and relatively cheap webcams, multi user video conferencing is now a reality for almost any group or organization. Several companies have hopped on to this bandwagon offering free or low cost software solutions that allow you to host online meetings or classes with ease. We recently did a quick evaluation on the following three options (thanks to #citrt for helping out with the initial eval):
- MeBeam Video Chat – Simple, Flash based site that supports up to 16 users. No software to install.
- ooVoo – Up to 3 simultaneous users for free, 6 with the $10/month super option. Capability to record conference in Flash. Runs on Windows or Mac.
- SightSpeed – Up to 4 users for $9.95/month on a personal account or $20/seat/month on a business account. Video call recording supported on business account.
Our initial testing showed ooVoo with the best video quality and interface (no hard data, just our opinion), plus video recording and six users for $10/month it is a pretty sweet deal. We put ooVoo into production a week ago and began using it for a clergy seminar. Results came back overwhelmingly positive from all those who attended. The only issue is that 6 simultaneous users may not be enough, so we’ll have to make the jump to MeBeam or just go one way (for the larger meetings) with Ustream.TV.
Fri 4 Apr 2008
Fri 1 Feb 2008
I just stumbled across Lylix, an Asterisk virtual private server hosting provider. They offer Trixbox, AsteriskNow, PBX in a Flash and Elastix solutions starting at $30/month. I haven’t tried them yet but Lylix maybe a solution for the following scenarios:
- Testing out different Asterisk IP-PBX solutions.
- Central PBX for organizations without a main office.
- Public facing PBX connected via IAX/SIP trunks back to internal PBX
- External VoIP clients can connect easily (less issues with NAT).
- Higher security for internal PBX.
- Backup PBX in case internal PBX goes down.
Wed 8 Aug 2007
I saw a thread on IT Discuss a few days back on how staff cell phones are managed. Â We are actually going through a reorg of our system right now. Â Currently, if you are approved for cell phone and mobile email access, we issue a Treo 700p and add a line to our Sprint Corporate account. Â We are moving to employee liable plans for everyone except clergy. Â When phones are used for church purposes we will reimburse $30 for voice and $15 for data monthly. Â We are handing off existing equipment to the staff, but they will be responsible for maintaining and/or purchasing their own phones in the future. Â We officially support the Palm OS Treo line, but there are plenty of other phones that support ActiveSync as well.
Fri 3 Aug 2007
A lot of my friends keep asking when I am going to break down and get the iPhone, I tell them that while it truly is an innovative device, it just doesn’t cut it for me. In addition to a a great web browsing experience, there are a few features that the I would like to see in my next phone. We will have to wait and see if the second generation iPhone or the rumored Gphone is released with any of these features…
- 3G Internet – I surf the web a lot from my phone (I have EVDO now)
- Full support for Exchange ActiveSync or something equivalent – I could live with Google syncing calendar, contacts and email back to Google Apps.
- Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) – allows seamless call roaming and handover between your wifi network and the carrier network. T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home is an example of UMA.
- Going along with UMA, standard SIP client support would be great, allowing for VoIP calls across WiFi or the 3G network. VoIP would not only save money, but allow for direct connectivty with the VoIP based office phones systems.
Wed 18 Jul 2007
Tue 17 Jul 2007
Taking advice from Om Malik and a former SunRocket employee, I moved quickly and signed up for service with Lingo, requesting that they transfer my phone number from SunRocket (sounds like they should be able to port the number over). I went with Lingo’s $14.95/mo with 500 long distance minutes, they also have a $21.95/mo all you can eat plan. I chose Lingo because they are backed by Primus, an established player in the telecom field, and they come highly recommended from a few friends.Â If you are interested, contact me, and I’ll refer you (we both get a $25 credit).
Tue 17 Jul 2007
Looks like SunRocket, my VoIP phone provider at home, may have bit the dust. I lost dialtone around 8pm last night, but I was able to login to the member area and forward my calls to another number. SunRocket isn’t reachable by phone and they have not released anything official. The New York Times says that SunRocket is moving its customers to one or more other companies. While I did prepay for two years of service, I am not as concern about losing the money as I am about keeping my phone number. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.
Mon 11 Jun 2007
I was catching up on Andy Abramsom’s blog, VoIP Watch yesterday and came across a post highlighting a client of his, Seattle area startup CallButler. CallButler is the first simple to use phone system that I have seen targeting to really small businesses. Prices are affordable, starting at free if you are using Skype to a reasonable $229.95 (sale price) for a package with unlimited extensions. As of right now, you must have an always on broadband connection and use Skype or sign up with an Internet Telephone Service Provider to run the software and accept/place calls. According their FAQ, they do plan on offering an online version, CallButler Live later this year.
A few of the features from their website:
Within 10 minutes of downloading, CallButler can enable you to:
- Get a business number in minutes, instead of giving out your home or mobile number.
- Take customer calls 24×365 and automatically answer common questions in multiple languages.
- Transfer callers to people on VoIP, mobile, and land-based telephones.
- Give callers access to a Dial-By-Name directory of extensions.
- Play hold music for your callers while CallButler finds you at one of your telephone numbers.
- Have your own voicemail system with Email and Outlook integration.
- Integrate your phone system with databases and other applications.
I tried out the free CallButler version for Skype, it was easy to get up and running. They provided examples to work from, it would be easy for even those who aren’t technical to get it up and running. My only hesitation is the fact that it depends on an always-on computer and Internet connection, I am not sure if that configuration would be reliable enough to receive calls on the main church number just yet. My experience with running on VoIP across the Internet has been mixed, with a lot of factors that could possible degrade service (although VoIP on managed networks works great). I think the real potential here is when they release their hosted, CallButler Live, service. With a hosted service, you can rely on a manged infrastructure to accept and route your calls across VoIP, mobile and land-based networks. That way, if your Internet connection is acting up one day, you could simply route calls to your cell phone or backup land lines.
Overall, I am impressed with the easy of setup and use, I think CallButler fills a much needed gap in the VoIP PBX market.