Sometimes I have to paste a line or two of code, or a few lines of a stack trace. Sometimes I have to paste a string which contains some particular set of characters. Microsoft Lync absolutely destroys the pasted text. It subtly converts the double quotes into some unicode nonsense. Then it converts some common character sets into smilies. When you copy text from Lync it is almost always guaranteed to be different from what what entered originally. God, I hate Lync with a passion.
If I were a developer of Slack, I would be very tempted to disable that OS functionality (similar to how Sublime Text does not seem to utilize this OS feature).
Turn it off at the OS level if you don't want it. Don't make a decision that makes everyone else who uses the OS frustrated because functionality only exists in a subset of applications.
Which leaves me juggling there on my keyboard, trying to delete one, move my cursor and add a second dash before submitting.
System Preferences / Keyboard / Text / Use smart quotes and dashes = off
Source: I was a teen during the Desktop Publishing craze
That the simple chat use-cases don't work well is, frankly, confounding to me.
With a smart phone that would pretty well via a push notification or an actual call, but not sure how that would work when you want a join a meeting from a physical meeting room with its own AV system. I'm sure there is a way to get that set up.
My company used WebEx and I could make it dial me and start up my conference line without having to go through all the regular pin entry stuff. Now we're using Lync (Skype for business) which is similar although tragically buggy. That can also dial me and sends notifications if you hook it up.
The key for these kind of apps is cost and reliability. Seems like they're advertising substantial cost reductions and better quality. If either one is true they'll likely make out really well.
WebEx wasn't as convenient but at least it worked correctly the vast majority of the time.
You answered yourself - no, quality is not life and death (at least not fast death) for this product. :)
When there's a rare issue, its usually a headset not working, which is probably more a user or windows problem.
My company has about 4000 users in 100+ countries so maybe it's bandwidth/scale in part. i see a lot of stuff like skypefb crashes or doesn't render correctly when you try to screen share, etc especially internationally.
Not 100% certain part of it isn't due to us cheaping out on infrastructure to run it.
Chime is the absolute good step in the right direction, however we will need need a layer on top to solve for all conference call systems.
There are three pieces that needs to be figured out to make this work well:
1. How do you deal with (non?) presence? Are you joining from the AV hardware?
2. How do you deal with PSTN?
3. How do you deal with other VoIP solutions out there.
I have a few ideas on this, especially on #2.
ie, I'm in someone's Chime/webex, and I need to join a different one. Also does it seamlessly join multiple connections - one benefit of Webex is that I can start my meeting on the iPhone while leaving a meeting room so that others can hop on, and then have my laptop join later so I can share my screen when I hit my desk.
WebEx has (sort of) that capability. There is an option for it to call you when you join a meeting.
1. Make it so meeting codes are strictly forbidden from having repeating digits, by construction.
2. Make it so that when entering meeting codes, if you think you see repeated digits, consider it just one instance of that digit.
The cell system does not use literal DMTF tones to dial calls; those are played by the phone itself for the user's benefit. If the cell system used DMTF for numeric signalling, we'd all be dialing a lot more wrong numbers. (And we'd all groan when we got a new line with a number with repeated digits in it....) Heck, even on VOIP systems very well connected to the internet, I've had trouble entering 9-12 digit codes without the remote system becoming convinced I'd actually entered a 11-15 digit code. I've gotten a few strange looks before for the way I push the buttons for the codes as rapidly as possible, because, ironically, the human intuition here is exactly backwards; you intuitively think that if the remote system isn't understanding your numbers you should press the number "longer" and harder, but that actually increases the chances of the system hearing multiple instances of that number. You actually want to pound the number buttons as quickly as possible. You still can't deal with the entire number being dropped, but it's still your best chance sometimes.
'course, there's probably some patent out that this is in violation of. In which case you are authorized and even encouraged to use this post as part of a defense that this technique is Obvious to One Skilled in the Art. I'm not a telecom engineer.
As someone who works in video conferencing, this is often very broken. The are all kinds of compatibility issues and crappy UX. One of our core selling points is getting room systems into online meetings.
Hrm, SIP URIs maybe? https://www.wikiwand.com/en/SIP_URI_scheme
As you suggest for a physical meeting or when people have back to back meetings, it would quickly get annoying.
I wonder if this also reflects that calendar apps still suck.
"Anyone there? Hello? Crap, someone needs to dial in as the host. OK Is everyone dialed in? Good. Oh, wait, Roger can't hear us. Roger, dial back in. OK. Hey, whoever is at the cocktail party, can you go on mute?? Thank you. All right. Who's projecting? The projector is VGA, does anyone have a laptop with VGA? How about a dongle? Great, we can see it now. Can everyone who's remote see the screen sharing? No? OK let's restart the screen sharing program. How about now? Shit, we lost Roger again! Why is the screen 640x480? Damnit, can we just use a different laptop? E-mail the presentation to Diane, we can use her laptop. Did Roger dial back in yet??"
It's almost universally an awful UX.
Also important, most video conferencing solutions suffer from the same problems because they all use the same hardware just with a different software layer written on top of it. There are very few providers of video encoding and processing hardware.
So yes the cost to building a good ui and less complex system can be way more expensive.
Despite it being Microsoft, I've found it to be the most reliable and seamless system for multi-party Audio, Video, and Screen-sharing based meetings - and I've used at some time or another in my career almost all the other big hitters in the corporate virtual-conferencing space.
Combine Lync/SfB with one of those nice multi-camera units that sit in the middle of the meeting table and provide audio tracking of the speaker (the active camera switches to the person speaking) along with always-on 360 degree video as well - and it's the closest you can get to being there.
We have "quick" instructions on how to use these devices and they take up a whole page. Most of the devices are abandoned or just left there gathering dust while we use a simple Jabra speaker puck.
PS - Most of these experiences are with SfB. These devices are somehow worse with Webex.
Sorry, Lync/Skype for Business has been awful for us.
I'll be fair and state that I don't if it is Microsoft's or our tech teams fault.
I've used that, and experienced comparable delays of at least 5 minutes of futzing on average to get everything working, with occasional bursts to 10 minutes.
 - http://bressner.com/ucbox-express/
 - http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=550989
But no, once or twice a month I rent a car and drive ~225km to meet with them personally. I supplement these in-person meetings with phone calls.
I'm not sure I've ever had a videoconference call go perfectly smoothly, and I found that these kinds of calls added all sorts of invisible friction to the customer relationship. My goal as a service provider is to take problems away from my customer, not to add new ones or make them feel technically inept.
My travel days are long and tiring, but most of my customers actually forget that I'm not local, which is exactly how I like it.
This product looks interesting, and purports to solve some of the issues, but color me skeptical.
Super high def full wall screen, so they can see every hair on your head with minimal lag -- I think this would work, the only thing they'd miss was a handshake.
Oops, you're frozen.
Dang, we lost the connection.
There's a really bad echo, do you hear that?
Bob can't connect.
Besides, I'm not particularly handsome in HD. :-)
But I've had to be on conferences with purely technical topics where people use cameras. There's barely even a reason for the call to begin with when specs and questions can just be sent via e-mail, so why do we need to see each other?
One place I worked at spent about $25,000 to get an AV system setup complete with conference calling that was supposed to make it "easy". Every single meeting without fail we'd waste 10 minutes trying to figure it out then have to bring someone from IT support who would then spend 10 minutes themselves fiddling with it.
Why must these things be so complicated that you need IT support for them? The purpose of computers is to automate and make things easier.
CEO: "Why does everything take so long to get done?"
Everyone: "We can only have 15 meetings starting at the same time, and any additional meetings must be delayed 20 minutes, because there are only 15 IT support techs."
CEO: "What?!? Is this something to do with that teleconference project? That was like a year ago!"
CIO: "That's why I've suggested to the stakeholders, most of whom are here in this meeting, that they sign off on moving to Phase 2. That way we'll have more capacity to fix the ongoing issues with desktops and printers..."
Everyone: "Absolutely not! Your techs get there ten minutes ahead of time, and usually they're still struggling to get everything working five minutes after we should have started! The system you bought is crap!"
CIO: "We've always had a great relationship with that vendor, but unfortunately their product has had a few issues..."
CEO: "I know what 'great relationship' means... I don't care if the salesmen for competing products don't have comparable expense accounts, just get something in here that works!"
I've done a lot of deals, real high value business, and meeting coordination in them, in a variety of situations and companies.
Nearly everything Google makes is just some version or another of Google Home telling your Android phone not to handle that voice prompt to add a calendar entry (which your phone can do) because Google Home is there, so that Google Home can tell you that Google Home can't add calendar entries yet.
Hey, here's Allo. We think you're going to love it. I mean, it doesn't have SMS support, so no one is actually going to use it, but other than being pointless, ain't it great?
My EVP there would have walked in, saw the first slide about a new messenger, and said, "Let me stop you here. Does it transparently bridge IP chat and SMS into one conversation like iMessage? No? OK, I'm going to lunch. I'm sure your stickers are cool and all, but pass."
Hangouts has been amazing for us.
Initially it was IP only. Then it added SMS support. Then it added merged conversations between SMS and IP. Then it unmerged those conversations. All the while only really working well on the desktop inside a weird Chrome extension that burned through battery like kindling because there was no hardware support for encoding and decoding the video.
I still use it on my phone, but again, the only actual feature anyone really wants from a text/chat/IM program is the one that enables "I just want to send a message to Alice. You figure out how to get it to her appropriately" -- a.k.a. iMessage. If you put stickers and crap in there, sure, people will use them I guess, but the one absolute core feature anyone should expect for at least five years now is still the one Google can't figure out how to do.
And they were actually close with Hangouts at one point. Close enough, in my opinion. It lacked the automatic routing of iMessage, but just showing any message I've received from my wife in one conversation and giving me the ability to toggle how I send a reply right there in the conversation view was fine.
Had that team remained relevant they could have conceivably done a "Chromebox" Hub like the Surface Hub and given Microsoft some competition in that space.
EDIT: Ok so as is pointed out there is a chromebox for meetings. Pretty nice. Seems to be out of the Enterprise group though, is that still part of Google or is it an 'Other Bet' now?
Also, modern GVC is fucking amazing.
The only problem I used to have is audio would die whenever I mess with browser plugins (disabling that WebRTC feature that leaks your internal IP for privacy, and some other Googlyeish feature).
Also we keep WebEx around for screen control, it seems still best bang/buck for that.
If you're a part of a large Google Cloud account, have your IT person contact your gCloud account manager and get on the beta. Actually, if you're a part of a large account and your IT team is risk tolerant.
With Google Hangouts we have poor quality audio as well and at least once per day we have someone that their audio won't come thorough unless they restart their Mac.
I bought a SABRA bluetooth thingie for the room. Seems to work well.
Our results are mixed. We test out the conf room before the meeting starts. Good to go. Then weird stuff happens. People being muted. Their icon shows them talking, but no sound. People being dropped.
I don't mind the unreliability so much. 7 laws of networking and so forth.
I frikkin hate that I don't know what's broken, so can't hope to fix it. Especially DURING the frikkin meeting.
Except in rare cases, I find the problems you're describing are usually a problem with the end-user, their equipment, or their network. Cheap phones, bad cell connection, bad voip, etc. An unmuted speakerphone with a noisy background can bring most calls to their knees.
- Zoom (larger meetings where we need it to be rock solid),
- Hangouts (for smaller / quick meetings since we are in Gsuite), and
- WebEx (for external tech support / keyboard sharing)
- Slack / Screenhero (internal chat and keyboard sharing)
Zoom has been a revelation especially with large videoconferences. Rock solid global performance.
I'm wondering what your CPU usage looks like in Zoom sessions when just participating vs. when you're sharing your screen.
Which platform and hardware are you on?
We're across 24 hours of time zones and conduct a majority of internal and external meetings over video conference. We've pretty much tried them all and Zoom has been the best.
That said, there are still things to improve, so will be interesting to compare.
Disclaimer: I work for Google, albeit not on Chrome, and use this every day.
The coolest thing is that the company rolled out hangouts in a weekend to 100% of the conference rooms, replacing all projectors in the process. It completely democratized remote work and remote offices since people are using Hangout by default.
I'm really not surprised they built their own in the end. It's a clear pain point for companies.
That said, my current employers (not Amazon) have been using Zoom (zoom.us) and it seems to be really quite good. I've had almost no problems with it at all.
At a company of 12 people, our GoToMeeting bill was $15,000/yr.
But uhh, call-in rates of 1c/min/participant? That's going to add up. We would regularly have meetings of two hour duration (programming, planning) with up to six-eight attending is a $10 meeting in itself. Chicken feed compared to salaries but I could easily see pricing of up to $1k/mo with this.
To get a $1k meeting bill with $100k fully loaded avg participant cost or about $50/hr (way too low in metros, but let's be conservative), that's 1600+ meeting hours or about $80k/mo in staff costs.
(I see you do mention this but I wanted to call it out).
I think an interesting way to look at it is, if it can make your meetings one minute shorter than what you do now, you'll actually save.
Am curious how? I think it's like max $50 a person/month, and that's only for huge meetings.
What would great videoconferencing software look like, and what are the odds that this is it?
i had to debug voip and outside of some simple things like not enough resources/bandwidth it can be really frustrating.
BlueJeans is pretty good.
Have you tried http://www.justchimein.com/chime-in.html ?
I guess video conferencing is about to get really easy to implement over WebRTC.
So I'm guessing there will be an explosion of competitors soon.
Have you tried Cisco's offerings? Maybe I just have a really excellent IT department, but whether joining audio only, from a tablet, desk, desk phone or telepresence room it just works. It's impressive as hell.
I've never seen any latency problems personally - we even do a call with everybody in the company in one room every week, mostly on video, and it doesn't even blink. Drastically better than anything else I've ever tried.
and the linux client works really well (it's on aur, if you use archlinux)
Also, it's free.
I didn't try it out. The old client still works. The only missing feature is screen sharing in multiple parties video calls. I'm using TeamViewer for that. Desktop sharing is much smoother with TeamViewer anyway.
The real plus of Skype over Hangout or Webex is the chat: the history is stored forever locally and I can search every message I sent. We're using a Skype group chat even when we're using TeamViewer.
Edit: never mind, I googled it
(I should have googled first, asked second)
It's a problem because it seems that the new client is far from being fully functional.
Another update: The Linux client v4.3 seems to be safe. In a post on page 2 of that thread the community manager states
> At this time we are not retiring any of the existing working Linux Clients.
What they are retiring are old Windows and Mac clients
> beginning March 1, users running older versions of Skype for Windows desktop (7.16 and below) or Skype for Mac (7.0 to 7.18) will no longer be able to sign in.
No problem. I am using the new Alpha Client since three months and it is very stable and usable. The only major missing feature are video conference calls with more but one opposite, but that is actively being worked on. Looks like MS is heading for feature parity with the Windows client.
WebEx is literally the only reason I even start up a Windows VM at work.
Minimally it is centralized, and you can't verify that there's no backdoor. In this day and age, that means we're both trusting their core intentions, and also trusting that some government won't step in and silently force their hand. I don't personally feel that is good enough to be considered secure anymore.
s/, if it's in the US//
There, fixed it for you. Any data not under your control can and will be used against you, especially by a state wielding a monopoly on force.
This wording has always struck me as being awful. People felt confident investing with Bernie Madoff as well. I'd rather have confidence from proven security instead of just feeling confident.
Edit: there's a problem here. Skype for business allows up to 250 participants. The AT&T solution (webex maybe) allows, I think, an unlimited number. Amazon Chime has a limit of 250 people. This wouldn't cut it for presentations in large companies e.g. announcement of annual results or divisional virtual 'town hall'
There are no conferencing products, to my knowledge, that support more than 250 first-class participants over the internet in a reliable way.
If you have an example, I'd be very curious to play with that product.
> No Linux support
One problem I have with all video conferencing solutions we've tried (same for my colleagues, all Mac or Linux users, sadly no Windows users to compare) is high CPU usage. I have a 2015 MacBook Pro and when I share my screen CPU usage skyrockets to 150-200% basically pegging the whole CPU. Without sharing my screen CPU usage is at 80-100%.
I have similar problems with certain videos on the web (e.g. Ted.com and others).
Is this something everyone else here sees as well? I always assumed they must because we see it across devices and products.
As a test I'm currently on a video+computer audio+full screen sharing zoom, and my overall CPU load is at <20%, with Zoom accounting for about half of that.
I more or less can't use IntelliJ any more productively while sharing my screen because it's starved for resources.
Can't use my built in microphone because the fans as blasting full power due to the CPU usage.
The basic and plus pricing options, while cheap, are practically useless with only 2 maximum attendees and the $15/user/month pro plan is hardly "a third of the cost...".
Looks like a great product with an average price point.
Skype for Business is available in all Office 365 Business plans except the software-only one (ProPlus). That includes the $5/6 plan (https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-busine...) as well as the $8.25/10 plan that includes all of Office.
It's not a very good competitor on that front...
- Amazon, PRISM partner
(Full disclosure: I work on AWS}.
As true as this may be, the only acceptable form of privacy guarantee is through cryptographic algorithms and open source software. Anything else is a fantasy tale.
There are state actors that will pay to find the bugs, or put the bugs there (and the underhand C contest shows how hard it is to find the bugs).
Open source is not an ironclad guarantee.
Even Windows has source available, if you pay for the pleasure.
From your initial comment, I got the impression that you were claiming that closed source software could not be excellent..meaning secure.
By the way, I'm a big GPL/free software nut. However, I understand the place of closed source software, and under the right circumstances, it can indeed be excellent.
Open Source can be bad, in terms of quality. Closed source can be good, in terms of quality.
Security is an interesting case where I don't believe that you can be trustworthy and closed. Could the code be good? Yes. Can I validate in any meaningful sense that it doesn't violate my expectations? No.
Of course it's possible to have obfuscated malicious behavior in Free/Open Source software. But, there is at least the possibility of descovery of such defects. With closed source, there isn't.
In some cases, such as the security sensitive code written at Google, there are far more eyes on the code than there are with all too much of the critical, security sensitive open source code.
In my mind, it's a matter of alignment of interests.
For the cases of 'run of the mill' security questions, such as buffer overflows, password leaks and the like, Google, Facebook and I have fully aligned interests. None of us want those things in anybody's code.
Things get harder for other security questions, such as data collection, and cooperation with surveillance, legal and otherwise.
In the latter case, state surveillance, Google (and other like entities) have interests that are mostly aligned with mine, but not entirely. They're pushing back on warrant-less, Patriot Act type crap, while efficiently complying with traditional directed warrant disclosures. (As far as we know!)
Fully open source and free software will almost always have full alignment with my interests, and so is better in that regard.
As far as code-level bugs, I think the general rule is that closed source code is pretty poor at companies, with a few notable exceptions, where I think things are a heck of a lot better.
Finally: Wow, I just reminded myself that this thread talking about a new Amazon product. Crazy. (:
Amazon could be involved with spying though, just not under the same program.
We'll never know for sure. What a world we live in.
You don't admit this as it's bad for business.
General info on PRISM:
"PRISM Partners" slide:
I stand corrected.
As a consequence any telephony or messaging product we built had to have a self hosted deployment as part and parcel of our product offering. This meant we usually went for a Java backend which gave us great packaging and install tools. It also meant we had .deb and .rpm packages for all our products.
I can't tell you how much those packages helped. Once you start bundling up your software deployments as proper versioned installation packages you become quite spoilt in the DevOps department - it's hard to use Chef/Puppet or Vagrantfiles for software installations now!
I have read the Snowden leaks.
This is one of those times when details matter, and in those details you are wrong.
I wrote this previously about Apple, but it applies here too:
The problem is that PRISM has conflated two separate things, and it is unclear how much of that conflation occurred at the NSA and how much outside.
Apple was (and is) compliant in the "release customer details with a court order" thing, which it seems is part of the PRISM data.
However, there was a second part, where the NSA got bulk access to communications without a court order. It is unclear which companies were complicit in this part. We know Google wasn't (because the NSA slide decks show how they had to intercept Google's inter and intra-data center links which were unencrypted at the time - and Google undertook a crash program to fix that).
Apple's statements are pretty clear: they say they only release information with a court order. That means they weren't complicit in bulk collection - but they may have been hacked at the time like Google was.
I did not see any evidence in the leaked documentation nor the reporting on those primary sources that the companies involved were complicit. If this evidence exists I would be very interested to know, but from Google's actions subsequent to the leaks it did not seem they agreed with the program or were complying with it, and instead took actions to oppose the program by encrypting their communications links internally, and indirectly by advocating encryption in public Internet protocols such as HTTP and SMTP.
The US demands - through law - that any company, US and doing business in the US, give access to all it's user data upon simple subpaena by a secret court without notification to anyone, in a situation that can last for years. They're not even allowed to let you delete your data. There is no justification needed and most users are never informed this has happened, not even in the future. If you're a US citizen the time limit is measured in years (and can be extended by said secret court), if you're not a US citizen (or merely suspected not to be one), there is no time limit.
Doing "just" this to their users is what is understood in this discussion under the misnomer "not cooperating" with US spying. One can only assume that the OP has a funny sense of humor.
Given that this is noncooperation, why are we discussing who is cooperating and who is not ? This is WAY over the line, and of course means that no foreign company of any size should trust ANY US company with any amount of data.
And, frankly, it means that given the slightest disagreement in court, you should assume that all your data is public. Famously this facebook/instagram/whatsapp private messages in divorce cases, but not just that. Outlook messages of non-US citizens being picked apart by competitors because of a small non-payment vs non-delivery civil case in a non-US court has happened.
Note that the US government is famous for exploiting private sector relationships for spying and the reverse (exploiting government spying to give advantages to favored US companies).
So you should assume the worst and immediately implement basic security mechanisms (that are standard procedure at most companies now):
1) anything sent to you for any reason gets automatically deleted, especially email, unless specifically and individually prevented
2) any backup system is encrypted and the keys are subject to (1).
3) NOTHING can be put on any cloud system, for any reason without (1) implemented, and you should refuse to cooperate with external parties that insist on such a system.]
4) more strict measures are needed for director level and upward (note: legal definition of director, not just because it's used in company directories). Protocols negotiated beforehand dictate what can only be discussed over secure channels. First item on that list: anything related to any one specific employee.
I can't defend the secret courts or how long the secrecy lasts though.
> How can you believe that [...] Amazon [isn't] part of it?
I don't know what they say, but what you're saying here is unclear.
Do the leaks mention Amazon or not?
But the thrust of that article is more suspicion that Amazon is not mentioned in the leaks and questioning the reliability of the company's word. It does cite one source, described in the article as non-mainstream, which asserts that Amazon was a part of PRISM, but that source fails to cite any leak.
Edit: I should mention that the first article casting doubt on Amazon's reliability is published by an independent publishing company, historically an industry that has been at odds with Amazon and harmed by its business practices.
In case you hadn't seen it, this is basically the anti-marketing video for how conference calls actually work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYu_bGbZiiQ
DNS should not degrade into AOL keywords!
After all, TLD is just the widest level of the hierarchy that DNS names allow. Why limit TLDs to countries if a particular organization has grown large enough to benefit from it, and wants to pay for it?
D: I work at Cisco and use Spark daily.
Entry level needs video, since you can get it for free elsewhere (i.e. hangouts).
Why not Linux?
There's long, long way to go for this thing to compete with hangout, zoom, or anything else out there.
Source: I've just tried it out, chatting with myself on native app + 2 browsers.
Furthermore, the security is apparently "fully managed", which to me translates to "keys securely stored on our servers, not client-side."
Both hangout and zoom can do Linux, but they aren't seen as corporate as WebEx.