Friday, November 5, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Telepresence, the latest hot thing in video conferencing, is one of those confusing buzzwords the tech world coins from time to time, and then mucks about with. Is it a brand name or a generic term? And what exactly does it mean?
Telepresence is in fact both a trade name, for Cisco Systems’ high-end room video conferencing systems (TelePresence), and a generic term for any system that delivers very high-quality audio and video for teleconferencing.
But the quality standards for telepresence are apparently dropping, with even Web-based systems such as those from Vidyo now claiming to offer ‘telepresence’ experience. I wrote about Vidyo recently for VoIP Planet. It’s actually pretty impressive, but telepresence? We think not.
The original idea, developed by Hewlett-Packard for Dreamworks and 'productized' as Halo systems, was that participants sat in specially-designed mirror-image conference rooms to create the illusion of sitting across a table from colleagues.
The early Halo rooms and systems were tremendously impressive, with multiple large flat screen monitors showing participants life size in smooth, high-resolution video with life-like audio. And the room designs did foster a powerful illusion of being in the same space with remote participants.
Trouble is, telepresence systems cost in the $300,000 range per room and the bandwidth required to carry such high-quality audio and video costs tens of thousands a month. Which is where Vidyo comes in. It’s ‘telepresence’ on a budget – not the real thing but worth checking out.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I hated Windows Vista. There, I said it.
Actually, I initially liked it – for the silly reason that it looked nicer than XP and had the sidebar for displaying online gadgets. But then when it started behaving badly, I grew to loathe it.
So my decision to move to Windows 7, which I took almost instantly after test driving the release candidate, was a no-brainer. Windows 7 is a long way from perfect, but I still like it after a few months of use. It appears to be a better mouse trap.
That doesn’t mean that switching is the right decision for everyone. In fact, there is no one easy answer, as I discovered while researching “Should You Upgrade to Windows 7?” a recent story for Small Business Computing.
I’m not sure the article will make it easier or more difficult to decide, but at least it gives you information you can use to weigh the pros and cons yourself.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Surely to goodness it goes without saying by now that protecting data with regular backups is an essential business function. But we know many smaller companies put their survival at risk by not implementing adequate backup strategies. Scary.
For reasonably tech-savvy firms that need to pull their socks up in this vital area, storage specialist Iomega, now an EMC company, has a big biz solution – which I reviewed here for Small Business Computing.
The Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d NAS Server is a network attached storage (NAS) device with four drives – up to 8 Terabytes (TB) of storage – configured for RAID 5. It comes with EMC Retrospect Express backup software. It can deliver e-mail alerts if backups fail. And it can be set up for remote access.
The ix4-200d is also surprisingly compact, quiet and easy to set up and use. It’s not perfect – what tech product is? – but this NAS is definitely worth investigating if you need to beef up data security.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Remember Palm, the original maker of PDAs and PDA phones – Palm Pilot, Palm Trēo, etc.? The company kind of faded away for awhile, put in the shade by Windows, iPhone, Android, etc. Now Palm is back with its radical webOS mobile operating system and two new devices, the Prē and the Pixi.
I reviewed the Prē recently for Wi-Fi Planet. It’s a very cool device, combining an iPhone-like touch interface (better than iPhone’s in some ways) and slide-out QWERTY keyboard for easier text input.
But Palm wants you to change how you store and synch data to your mobile. Instead of synching with your desktop over a USB cable, now you’re going to synch to the cloud – to Google, Yahoo or whatever, or to Exchange if your employer has a Microsoft e-mail server – over the wireless network.Will BlackBerry and Symbian users buy into this new paradigm? (I can’t see iPhone or Android users changing horses again so soon, but you never know.) Palm software partner Chapura does provide a safety hatch for those who like everything about Prē but the cloud synch strategy. The company’s $30 PocketMirror package lets you synch the old fashioned way.