chromebook Engineer media video webrtc

Bandwidth use for Google Hangouts #WebRTC

Was on a WebRTC conference call this morning. I was calling from the Chrome browser in my Chromebook. Volume could have been slightly louder but the quality of the call was terrific. All I did was click on a link and hey presto. I’ll tell you more about it in due course.

We chatted for over half an hour. It wasn’t video as the other participants were using standard SIP phones. We were hooked up through a WebRTC gateway in the (good ole) US of A.

One on the subjects that came up was bandwidth use of video streams when making WebRTC calls. Using a gateway minimises the amount of processing that you have to do locally and also cuts down on the internet bandwidth you need.

Google Hangouts apparently use your laptop/local device to do the video mixing and thus you need more i/o bandwidth. Google tells us that for person to person video hangout the min bandwidth required is 256kbps/512kbps (up/down) and ideally for the best experience 1Mbps/2.5Mbps).

For calls with more than 2 persons the ideal scenario changes to 900kbps/2Mbps. This means that many people living with poor quality ADSL connections will not be able to properly experience the power of Google Hangouts.

It also explains why calls at weekends (that’s when we hangout) to my daughter at Durham University are also poor quality. It has been known for four of us kids to be on the hangout – one in Durham and three in separate rooms in the house in Lincoln (me and the two lads still at home).  We have 7Mbps up in our house but in Durham it is an ADSL connection shared between four in a student house.

Shame really. For the want of a few quid more on the broadband line it could be much better. Students however are always skint and conserve the cash and we should recognise that they are representative of many people in the UK.

With time everyone will be on a faster broadband connection but for the moment, and I know I’m quite likely to get noises of agreement (or maybe just the occasional assenting nod) from readers in rural areas, many still have to live with limitations of their internet connection.

Mind you I’m all right Jack:)

That’s all.

4g Business chromebook mobile connectivity

54 minutes 315 Megabytes 4G conference call using Google+ Hangout

sweyn hunterGoogle Hangout for 54 minutes using Samsung Chromebook and EE4G Huaweii MiFi clocks up 315Megabytes.

Just had a very pleasant 54 minutes video call with Sweyn Hunter using Google+ Hangout. My Huaweii 4G MiFi (courtesy of EE) tells me that it used approximately 315MB of bandwidth – probably slightly less as I did some emails before hand.

At Sweyn’s end he had “good old fashioned BT ADSL” with maybe 512k uplink speed. He lives in Orkney. The video quality was great though it did freeze two or three times in the 54 minutes. The only slight issue was an element of half duplex/one way speech in that if he was speaking and I tried to speak at the same time. I quickly got used to that and it didn’t detract  from the quality of the conversation.

Also 54 minutes was a long hangout for what was just a casual chat – I’ve never met Sweyn but converse with him from time to time on Twitter – @sweynh – I’m sure he won’t mind me telling everyone. The point being that if we were comfortable having a 54 minute video conversation the quality must have been good – otherwise we would have cut it short.

Sweyn is an interesting bloke I’m sure he won’t mind me saying – you should follow him. He is organising an Island Govcamp in Orkney next year on 6th and 7th September.

Might try a hangout using O2 and Vodafone sims in my various phones next time. It will be interesting to see if personal video calling is going to at last get mainstream with 4G. Bandwidth cost is still going to be an issue. You can work out for yourselves how quickly you will eat up your own data bundle.

Apps Business media video

Google+ Hangout live stream broadcasts – wowsers

You will have been staying with your auntie on another planet if you are a regular visitor to this blog and not have noticed that I’m having a book launch on May8th (see here for details). I’ve been spamming my social media channels about it (sorry to those followers that remain 🙂 ) and I’m expecting a packed house.

Recognising that most people in the world won’t be able to come as all flights and hotels will be full (etc) together with the fact that the Morning Star will only take 100 people at a push I thought I’d stream the gig live online.

Up until recently I had intended to do this using, that being the only streaming facility I’ve used. However I was pointed in the direction of Google+ Hangout Live Stream broadcasts and boy oh boy is that a cool service.

Your Google+ account is linked to your YouTube account and at the click of a button your hangout is streamed live both in your Google+ stream and YouTube. What’s more you can embed the stream in your own website and Google records the broadcast for reuse afterwards. You can thereafter chose to make it public or private.

The beauty of this is the level of engagement you can achieve on the various social media sites – comments/discussions and shares can abound. I looked at it for my book launch but clearly this is something that businesses can use that takes a Webex style presentation session to a more powerful and public level.

You can watch my efforts in the video embedded below. It is only me playing about and the fact that I had two laptops open side by side means lots of echoey feedback. The lighting isn’t great either so the audio and the quality of the video is something you need to work on.

The nice thing about the Google setup is that you can invite several friends to participate using their phones and at anytime select their video feed to be the main one in the broadcast. You have the basic setup for a professional studio or outside broadcast, albeit a simple one. The only shame is that the Android app doesn’t have the buttons for setting up the broadcast from a handset. You seem to need to use the desktop version.

I’m going to need a volunteer or two for next Wednesday and will be testing this on site over the Bank Holiday weekend. Lemme know if you want to hook up in a hangout. I’m [email protected]. Ciao baby.

End User social networking

Hanging out with the boys on Google+ @ruskin147 @Billt @jeffjarvis

Tried a couple of impromptu hangouts on Google+ over the weekend. The first was one hosted by BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones and was prompted by one of his tweets.

This, my first hangout, was seriously easy to join. Because it was my first I had to download a Chrome plug-in but this happened in the time it took me to move from the noisy TV room to the quiet serenity of the conservatory, a place far more suited to a video conference.

The photo shows the hangout with RC-J (@ruskin147), @billt and @jeffjarvis. The only difficulty was deciding who would be the next person to talk as all 4 of use are fairly verbose individuals but this seemed to happen easily enough.

hangout screenshot courtesy of @ruskin147

I attempted another hangout with @superglaze later using my mobile phone but the google+ plug-in for Android is either understandably not as complete as the website or not yet as easy to navigate.

Google+ is easy to access from gmailGoogle+ is an attempt to steal Facebook thunder. It is late to the game and although it is still very much early days I can already see ways where it would be far more useful to me than Facebook.

Firstly it is easily accessible from gmail, which I always have open on one of my screens. Also it isn’t difficult to see Webex style collaboration being added to the functionality in future. I can already share documents in Google Docs and have side conversations using Instant Messaging.

I have also disabled email notifications for most of my social media activity to cut down on clutter but Google+ notifications appear discretely on my gmail screen which is far more acceptable.Google+ notifications arrive discretely in your main gmail screen

It’s a no brainer for personal use and certainly out competes Skype for the small business. I’m not yet sure whether it would fit with control and compliance requirements for larger businesses although Google Docs has some high profile advocates such as the Daily Telegraph Group.

Seeing as I was there I took a bit more of a look round my Google Docs account. I can now rent 20GB of cloud storage a year for $35. I have never considered doing it before but actually may change my mind. I would probably want more than 20GB but as a backup to my external hard drive for family photos sounds like a reasonable cost.

Although it is early days for this new platform I get the feeling in my waters that Google+ will become the Facebook for grown ups. I seldom use Facebook now (ok,  ok I know I’m not really a grown up) other than for keeping in touch with the kids.

Facebook has announced that it will be making a big announcement on Wednesday – apparently around offering an embedded Skype service. Microsoft owns Skype and a chunk of Facebook. It doesn’t take a big leap of the imagination to see Microsoft buying the rest of Facebook (v expensive mind) as part of its hitherto not so successful march into the cloud. It would also give Microsoft a better chance of succeeding in the mobile space as integration with a Facebook based online platform would give it more of an equivalence to Google and could potentially drive far more consumers to using Windows Phone 7 on Nokia – whenever that comes out.

This is about big business with very big bets on the table.  Exciting times and for most of us whilst we aren’t the ones placing all the bets it is easy to feel part of the game because all this technology touches us. I certainly feel as if I am catching the wave.