Thursday, October 28, 2010

Everybody is video conferencing - Are you?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so a video should multiply that effect exponentially. As data speeds become faster and cheaper, camera quality achieves greater quality and clarity, video conferencing is slowly becoming a mainstream reality. New technology generally develops on the fringe, as Facebook and Twitter did, then gradually creep into the mainstream. As businesses evaluate technology and develop a strong value proposition, adoption quickly follows.

Below is a snapshot of several video chat applications that are out there that deserve serious attention. The good news story is these applications are either free or only requires small fees for premium services.


TinyChat’s early adoption from the teen demographic gives it a certain stigma. But when you look at the technology, delivery, and interface it does what it says it does. TinyChat requires no installation. You can quickly set up video conferences of up to twelve people. I have used the application several times and it has performed as advertised. The disadvantage is the user interface is not as professional as Skype or ooVoo so enterprise may only use it for internal communications instead outside customer interaction.


Skype has definitely established itself as the leader in this space. Skype provides the ability for voice conference, chat, as well as video conferencing. The term, “just Skype me” has become as synonymous with VoIP communication as “Xerox copy” is to the paper reproduction business. Skype’s new 5.0 now gives users the ability to host multiple user video chats. Users can also integrate their Facebook feeds into Skype for added convenience.


Another application that doesn’t require any installation is Tokbox. The basic version supports up to 20 people, and you can easily invite others via email, Twitter, or Facebook. The video quality is good and the invitation process makes this extremely user friendly.


Unfortunately ooVoo many times gets confused with Ooma which is a VoIP device that doesn’t require a PC. ooVoo supports a six person video conference call and is gaining in popularity. They supported multiple video users prior to Skype 5.0 and they leveraged it effectively. The ability to transfer your Skype contact list is also a strategic and convenient feature. The user interface and design lend well to a professional enterprise organization as well as for general personal use.

Let me know your comments.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Hustle

The Two Party Trick

Today the public debate in the black community is, "should we show up for the Democratic Party for midterm elections or stay at home." The reasons are varied; some based in fact some just lazy excuses for apathy. What I find interesting is when we step back and look at the two major parties, do we really identify with either one.

Generally speaking the African American community shares conservative views. Most don't delight in paying excessive taxes to the state or federal government. We are not gay/lesbian advocates. We have a strong religious background which directs us in most of our activities. We are disgusted at big government spending which mostly doesn't trickle down to our communities and the no-bid contracts that miss minority contractors. And we believe in competition. These are all current Republican Party issues.
It seems the great divide is the Republican Party’s inability to acknowledge or validate that racism and bigotry still exist. To pretend that the playing field is level when current statistics show the inequities only suggest one thing to African Americans – that they are lazy and unmotivated. I heard an analogy one day that fits this scenario. The basic premise is when you look at sports, where the game is played in the open, the rules are defined ahead of time and are consistent, African Americans thrive. Not only do they thrive, there is a level of motivation and vigor to participate. When you look at the job market, financial institutions, the criminal justice system, and education, the rules are often changed to fit the players. Deals and agreements are not presented in the open arena but behind closed doors which lend to corruption and nepotism. Corruption and fraud are uncovered but consequences never seem to materialize. So it’s comparable to a basketball game where the minority team is required to run ten miles to the game and only play with 3 players. When they lose the other team says we played on the same court, the same ball, and the rules didn’t change. Understandably the minority team just doesn’t want to play anymore and they sit out – ‘Apathy’. Now a different party comes along and says that they can get rid of the ten miles and play 5 on 5, plus we will advocate lowering your goal and giving you shoes that can make you jump higher. Out of frustration it sounds good and we follow that party.

In reality all African Americans want is a level playing field and when the rules change or have been broken that it is exposed by a referee, maybe even instant replay. Consequences must be real and equal for both parties. But instead we have been caught up as the political football in the two party game of politics which we never seem to win. Will things change? Is there a need for a third party?