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Show HN: Remotehour – Allows people to talk to you anytime you’re available (remotehour.co)
82 points by shyamady on March 19, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 78 comments

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Game over. Zoom requires no account to join a meeting and I just learned a couple of days ago it even works in the browser (toggle in the account settings of the one starting the meeting)

I even plugged a Logitech c920 webcam in my Xbox One and did a meeting this way using Edge. Sadly the audio API seems unsupported in that Edge so I had to join the audio through another means.

> VS Zoom

> Don't have to fix a schedule. Remotehour enables you to connect when you're online on the app.

Give someone your fixed Personal ID and they can call you anytime.

> it even works in the browser

Only in Chrome, unfortunately, and it's severely limited at that. The most limiting factor is that you can only see one other participant at a time.

Additionally, Zoom's past attempt to prevent you from uninstalling part of their software is extra reason to only use the Chrome version, if any: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20407233

Ah, tested it and it behaves the same WRT audio in all browsers but Chrome (so works, except audio). So that's not Edge on Xbox One as the culprit but Zoom implementing a Chrome-only audio API.

You can create a new meeting where that ID can be used to connect at anytime.

Thank you so much for your feedback :)

You’re welcome. You could mandate the "meeting creator" to have an account, then have a (constant or ephemeral) ID/password that people can use to join without an account. Also, Zoom IDs being digits has the advantage that they’re super easy to communicate to attendees and don’t expose your account/email/whatever.

Multiple authentications are important. I know Zoom's personal ID, but it's not dedicated to always-on. For realizing the always-on room, showing the real-time status is necessary I suppose.

Zoom in the browser is limited to 360p unfortunately :/

Didn't look like so in my testing, it looked like at least 720p.

There is Jitsi (https://jitsi.org and https://meet.jit.si) which does not need any login - this is really seamless.

I've tried the following in the last few weeks (and several more, but I forget the names): jitsi, cisco jabber, cisco webex, google hangouts, google meet.

Jitsi is definitely the best that I've tried. Jabber is OK, webex is a complete joke, the google ones are OK.

The failure mode for a lot of these services seems to be crappy centralized routing infrastructure. I have way more than enough bandwidth to support like 10x bidirectional 1080p60 streams at, say, 10mbps each, but no service even comes close to that.

I assume that people are working on doing this in a P2P way, but it's hard for some reason.

It's hard because millions of people are on mobile and/or don't have that bandwidth.

Jitsi is already peer-to-peer as far as I know.

On that point, is it actually? I've been messing around with p2p lately and everything is behind a Nat these days, it's almost impossible to do without a relay server which will probably be a dedicated relay server since most clients are going to be behind some sort of router.

And before anyone says hole punching, thats pretty much useless these days since almost all NATs are symmetric Nats now, the outgoing and incoming ports won't be matched the same even if the same socket is the same one. (if anyone is having success with this I'd love to know how they are doing it)

NAT seems like it has been a disaster for the internet. It basically forces us to route things through dedicated centralized servers, actively damping investment and research into P2P technology. Some of the most useful networking things I’ve learned in the last few years have basically been ways to circumvent NAT-induced problems.

Yea that was pretty much how I viewed it as well. There seemed to be a lot of research on p2p research but nat made everything impractical. That being said nat was an necessity due to ip4, but given how widespread it is now I somehow doubt ip6 is really going to make p2p easier

I've never come across Jitsi before - wow, this is fully featured, with screen sharing that works, and even video background blurring! And all for free, amazing!

My only question is how the company behind Jitsi plans to monetise things. This wasn't answered in their FAQ - anyone here know?

From jitsi.org/user-faq/

> We are fortunate that our friends at 8×8 fully fund the project. 8×8 uses Jitsi technology in products like Virtual Office. The open source community and meet.jit.si service help to make Jitsi better, which makes 8×8 products better, which helps to further fund Jitsi. This virtuous cycle has worked well in the past and should continue to for many years to come.

Gah, I'd read the FAQ but somehow missed that, thanks!

Jitsi shows a warning when using Firefox and recommends using Chrome or Chromium. Why? No, thanks.

It doesn't happen any more, the firefox WebRTC API's are more mature now - either that, or you're using an older Firefox, which you really shouldn't.

I'm using v74 and still get that warning. That said, it's working fine, and is one of the only ones to actually work in Firefox at that.

FF v74 on Linux too, tested https://meet.jitsi.si and I do get the warning (otherwise I would not have post my initial message). Even tried disabling uBlock Origin, same orange box in the bottom-left corner.

Interesting. I'll try to see it!

We setup a number of such servers ourselves and don't have any issues with Firefox. The public site at https://meet.jit.si/ also does not show any issues like that right now.

This is due to Firefox bugs like this: https://github.com/jitsi/jitsi-meet/issues/2835

In person, I have an open door policy with my students. If my door is open, it generally means I'm available to talk with them. Since all of our instruction has moved online, I'm adopting a virtual open door policy. I have a camera pointed at my door. If that door is open, students know I am there and if they announce themselves, I "let them in" by turning the camera around. When I'm in a meeting, I mute the audio and close the door so they know I'm not currently available. To be determined how effective this will be.

Frankly I'd be really worried about forgetting to mute the stream.

I am concerned about that as well. I may switch to mute by default as soon as I connect and whenever I'm done talking to someone. I've been using Google Meet and I wish there was a way to persistently show the muted state. Fortunately, there's a ding when someone enters so even if I've forgotten to mute, I'll likely notice if someone starts listening.

I use a room with my team that auto-mutes everyone on a timer, so you have to un-mute explicitly to talk. So we can leave the audio on all the time.

Also, one can use an external mic, w/physical switch and lamp indicator.

Auto-mute has saved me many times tho.

No worry. You can set up a room default-mute-off on the setting on the app :)

Thank you for your comment :) Hope it helps for your use case.

I hate the title. “10x”? How is this 10x more seamless? It is push to talk video...many alternatives exist.

Maybe it's inspired by Peter Theil's "10 times better" argument.

Sorry about that. But it's totally different experience than before :)

10x more seamless. Step 1 - register Google account... I suppose contact discovery is also through Google?

I'll try to add multiple authentications soon. Thanks!

How about no authentication (guest mode)? That seems even more seamless.

A good idea! Thanks :)

Not sure if this app supports it or not, but it would be very useful with a 5 second warning before being thrown into a video call. I could see all kinds of embarrassing moments happening otherwise.

It would be better to not have video running by default. People can drop in to talk over audio and request to switch over audio if necessary.

I honestly prefer the push to talk approach for audio too. It is always better to have explicit user consent at every audio and/or video session. Accidents happen.

Exactly, I'll try to make it more correct.

People use Zoom because it's really reliable, not because it's "seamless."

I've been in the middle of nowhere in South Africa and could use a 3G connection on my phone to speak to people in Germany and the United States at the same time and it was reliable and useable.

I fully agree with this. Zoom has done a huge amount of work optimizing its transfer protocols to make it that reliable. Is it possible to offer same reliability using WebRTC in a browser when 50 participants are connected? I am not sure. Even https://whereby.com/ offers only up to 12 people on their highest plan. I think videoconferencing software like Remotehour serves a different purpose - seamlessly jump to a videocall without any software required to install until zoom releases a web client.

Thank you for your feedback. Yeah, Zoom is cool.

When using linux, everything is "more seamless" than Zoom. This company hates linux users, everything is broken and requires root user to even start.

Zoom on linux isn't too bad. Unlike other companies, they provide a linux client. It has all the essential features in it (I haven't spotted anything missing). In addition, it doesn't depend on some ancient java stack. Yes, you have to install the package as root, but I don't see a lot of hate from zoom.

That is odd, one of the reasons I really like zoom is how well it works under Linux. It seems to "just work", and the Linux client doesn't feel like an after-thought. FWIW, running Fedora 31 with KDE/Plasma. I really like not having a browser-based video conferencing app, but a Linux native one.

It’s been working great for me for the last year and a half or so on my stock Dell XPS 15 with Ubuntu.

Zoom works fine for me on KDE neon. No issues at all when running as a normal user.

Hmm, I see. I'm not a Linux user but I'll try to see it!

Please elaborate.

We use Zoom and it's great for ad-hoc video calls or screen sharing and commenting.

But last week we were wondering what would be a good remote alternative to sitting around at our desks and asking a quick question to the room. You know what works really well? Teamspeak. I hadn't used teamspeak in ages, but the simple fact that you can set a global push-to-talk button makes it perfect. Ask a quick question to someone in the room, they answer, if it becomes an actual convo you switch to a zoom call to not bother anyone else.

Discord is also good for that and seems to be taken over teamspeak in some teams I work with. I can't tell really if it's better though since I never used teamspeak.

Why is there only a login for Google?

Why is there a login at all?

Sorry, I'll try to add multiple authentications soon.

They should use WorkOS SSO ;)


Hey, I like the idea of trying to make remote more seamless, it's certainly a need. Looks like nice work so far. I do agree with some of the other comments that some folks would like a "knock" type feature to give a warning, clearly you get the concern from your gif. Keep it up and personally I think it's great to see more options for this.

Thank you so much for your feedback. "knock" type sounds really interesting. I'll try to add this feature soon :)

The gif under 'Talk Seamlessly' made me laugh :)

Looks great, I aim to give it a try.

Haha, that's a real use case!

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I hope others find it useful, though

Hmm. Okay, I'm building other authentication now.

Just tried it and got in the room with the founder. Great xp. Keep up the good work.

Thank you for talking :) See you soon.

I'm not affiliated, just someone who recently started using it daily, but another "always on" video conference alternative is https://tandem.chat/ . It integrates well with Slack, and keeping it open while working with colleagues feels very natural.

It's the closest I've seen to recreate a coworking environment -- we even have a #lunch channel where we "eat together" at noon (that was a bit depressing to write... we're doing what we can to keep up the illusion of normalcy).

I've added a multiple authentication :)

how is it better than whereby? (ex appear.in)

The appear.in is for a meeting, this app is for coworking. You can show your status like online, offline, etc...

BTW about the "vs Zoom" part -

Zoom does have a personal room url and a configuration option to open meeting on entry

Hmm. Zoom is useful, I love it. This time, I wanna solve a problem that my clients want to see if I can call or not right now.

Not that I like Zoom, but how's this '10x more seamless than Zoom' calculated?

I just tried this.. and it worked amazingly well. It was smooth and seemless

I'm so sorry that everyone's bleating about a bit of text in the header text rather than the actual product you've created. Sometimes HN is all about finding any hole to nitpick over.

Based on the comments, you can tell that trying to pit yourself against zoom is not going to work. Zoom users are loyal for a reason. You need to be clear if you solve a different problem.

sometimes it shows "online NaN seconds ago"

rest very nice. good idea!

Oh, sorry. I'll try to see it!

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