One of the things I try to do on this blog is try things–new consumer VOIP products, downloads, etc. You can get commentary on industry news like who’s buying who, or who just closed shop, in places like GigaOm.
Admittedly, I don’t get to try a lot of hardware, just software mostly, but if you’re looking for that kind of thing, VOIP and Gadgets or Smith on VOIP are good bets.
But this week Andy Abramson, in Living with Softphones, posted a neat-and-tidy roundup of some VOIP tools he’s been using, and I like it because he lists only what he’s used (or experimented with), and explains how he uses them. I think this kind of post is really useful. Don’t you really wanna know just how you’re supposed to use all this stuff in the real world? I know I do. Thanks A. Alec Saunders also posts quite often on VOIP adventures with his Blackberry, and Phoneboy writes about handsets he’s using (because all other hardware is just too boring). Check them both out too.
For my part, I use on a regular basis:
Skype: for chat and calls to Skype buddies
Gizmo: for general softphone calling
PhoneGnome: for long distance calling to reg phones
SightSpeed: for video calls
GrandCentral: for simplifying inbound calling. I’m using it to funnel calls through my Gizmo account.
Fring: for mobile calls to Skype buddies (still experimenting mostly)
Since I cancelled Vonage in August, I haven’t signed on with another subscriber service. However, I’ll be trying one soon.
I just had a look at SightSpeed’s brand spanking new video community called Vlip, and not surprisingly, Peter the SightSpeed Guy is in there like a dirty shirt (or t-shirt, I should say). It looks like a sort of video message board where you can post your own videos and allow others to reply to you with their own cinematic responses. Just like SightSpeed, the video generation tools are built right in–all you need is a web cam.
You can read the official Vlip Manifesto on Peter Csathy’s blog (SightSpeed CEO). The VOIPGirl doesn’t vlip yet, but stranger things have happened.
You’ve seen a few posts already announcing SightSpeed’s Peter Zottolo debut as DirectTV host for Fizz Newzz. Personally, I think that anyone who can move his or her eyebrows independantly of one another (and in complete control) deserves a shot, so way to go SightSpeed Guy. And how about a company (SightSpeed) that actually pays their employees to come up with this stuff!
Ted Wallingford cites his favourite SightSpeed Guy moment. I like the freestyle dance routine for Halloween (c’mon Sightspeed Guy, give us the link for that one!)
Ted Wallingford got the scoop from Sightspeed’s Peter Csathy about their new and improved video mail feature. Faster, smoother, cooler. Gonna try it!
Following on Peter Csathy’s post about how he uses SightSpeed for business and personal communication, Andy shares six tips for making video calls. In a nutshell, 1) Get over it, your hairdo’s not that bad 2) Get a hat, 3) Come as you are, be comfortable, 4) Have good lighting, 5) Learn to multitask on camera, 6) Don’t worry about multitasking on camera, it’s not considered rude.
I was following the thread started by PhoneBoy and SightSpeed’s Peter Csathy about the obvious advantages of communicating with someone in person. Facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language are huge non-verbal cues that say a lot. But, when face time isn’t an option, then real-time video calling (using SightSpeed of course) is the next best thing. Peter himself runs his Berkeley-based team from San Diego, and couldn’t do so effectively without SightSpeed. PhoneBoy agrees and thinks that SightSpeed rocks, “Almost like being there”.
But, I’m curious to know if the folks who use SightSpeed today are making spontaneous or pre-planned calls. I confess that when I use it, it’s usually a planned thing. I’ll email or text someone and say, “OK to SightSpeed you now?”, or I pre-arrange a call at a certain time.
My guess is that live video from the desktop is still so new that people hesitate at “surprising” someone with a video call. Unless of course you’re The SightSpeed Guy. You may want to check out his latest blog post. He’s wearing a tie. Must be the staff Christmas lunch.
Today SightSpeed went live with some great updates. If you’re already a SightSpeed user, you don’t have to do anything. All the new features will be there the next time you start the application.
Luca has already posted a great summary of what’s inside the new and improved SightSpeed so I won’t repeat. However, here’s a sample of the new video blogging feature. Rather than post a link to your video message, you can embed the video post right into your blog or web site. Great job!
By the way, to post this in WordPress, I had to turn off the Rich Text Editor, and then paste in the code.
I recently bemoaned the fact that I was having a hard time recruiting followers to my SightSpeed network. SightSpeed is an easy-to-use video calling application that lets you make free video and voice calls.
I found that asking friends to join using the “Invite” feature generated an autoresponder-type email that at least one of my buddies deleted without even reading. It looked too suspicious.
Peter Csathy, SightSpeed CEO, points out that you can embed a click-to-call link in any email, or paste HTML code for clickable “call me” buttons into your web site or blog. The email recipient or web user clicks the link or button to launch a SightSpeed plugin that automatically dials you up. You’re not asking them to download or trial anything.
I tried it and it works great. At work, my husband could see and hear me, but I only had the audio. He also started a text chat while we were talking from his end.
To use click-to-call links or buttons:
- In the SightSpeed window, click the Account button (top right).
- In the Account Management menu, click Account Information > My SightSpeed.
- Copy the Easy Email Link or Private Link code or copy the HTML code for the SightSpeed web button of your choice.
- Paste the code into your email, web site, or blog.
I’ve been playing catchup a little this week so I’m reading the flurry of posts that started with SightSpeed’s Peter Csathy on Video as the Next Big Thing in Social Networking. Luca Filigheddu and Ken Camp had some interesting things to say. However, PhoneBoy really put it together for me.
First, he says that until video is literally built in everywhere, like right in my laptop or as part of a web site, the masses on the whole may not bother. I see this already in my efforts to get friends and family to join SightSpeed. After all, it’s free, it works, and it’s easy. What’s the holdup? Seems that my friends are either a little suspicious of something FREE off the Internet (what’s the catch) or they simply don’t have a webcam. Why can’t they could just rush down to Staples immediately and spend $40 on a web cam and some gel pens? Not everyone’s a Staples geek like me. If the technology isn’t right there staring them in the face, it’s not a priority.
Phoneboy goes on to say that even if technology catches up and “the ability to do video is as ubiquitous as a mobile phone”, people may still not use it to interact on the Internet. It depends on what you have to say and how you want to say it. For example, I can convince my parents to use SightSpeed because they see huge value in the ability to see and talk to their kids in other cities. My friends are lukewarm on the idea of video calling me just to chat because it seems unnecessary (and they can’t do dishes or look for car keys at the same time).
That said, I’m still trying to get friends, family and colleagues into my SightSpeed network. I may have to resort to webcams as Christmas presents. Because SightSpeed has a great feature that lets you email video messages, I’m just gonna video mail them until a) they tell me to stop, or b) give in and try it.