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thumbs down for oovoo

Recently I came across a new beta service called OOVOO which provides a video conference interface for up to 6 participants.

I had a conference call thursday and we tried to use oovoo.com’s video chat/conference.   The service allows for 6 people to be on a video conference call at one time.  The interface is very clean, the setup is very easy and finding your ‘friends’ is as easy as entering their username or email address in the search.  You simply start the call by selecting the person from your contact list.

The instant messaging chat works well.  For callers who don’t have a microphone or camera on their computers, you can call them on their cell or land-line phone to include them in the audio portion of the conference call.  The quality of the audio only participants was very clear.

As for the participants using the video conference, the video was very smooth and clear.  But that is where the positives end, the audio for those who were on the video portion of the call was extremely choppy and poor; bad enough we used the telephone conference bridge for the audio on our call.

Well oovoo is still beta so maybe we’ll try it again…. but that still leaves me on a quest for a Free (or close to Free) video conferencing solution for 6-10 participants on a call.


New in the RSS reader

I have found a few more items to add to my RSS reader…. and I thought I would share:

Mindsharp Blogs: a compilation of the whole Mindsharp team.  I couldn’t publish this list without including a new Ministry Partner: Mindsharp, INC and its owner Bill English.  This blog has more than info on SharePoint than every could dream of digesting.

Microsoft Exchange Team: More than I ever wanted to know about Exchange (In insane detail)

The MSDN SharePoint Server Blog

Woot, One deal one day: I have to admit I have ordered a couple things including $10 1gb mp3 players for our children’s ministry team… You can’t beat some of these deals and $5 shipping.  What did I do before the fun of wooting?

Any new feeds you can’t live without?


No Blackouts on NCAA MOD

CBS Sports has been providing web streaming of the NCAA B-Ball tourney for several years.. but alot of games were blacked out.  This year not the case… No games blacked out.

“This year, for the first time ever, you’ll be able to watch every game* of the NCAA Championship live online for free. All 63 games, from the First Round through the Final Four including the Championship Game, will be available with NCAA March Madness on Demand — so you’ll never have to miss a single shot.”

Sign-up now for “VIP” status , and enjoy.. While I am not a huge basketball fan I do like the tourney… and the cool factor is even higher on a webstream.


Did Apple use the word Enterpise?

Well the news spread like wildfire today… Apple announced their iPhone will have ActivSync in conjunction with Exchange…  and the release of the update is expected to hit in June… One of my huge issues with Apple is their continued unwillingness to play nicely with the enterprise environment; Specifically playing nicely with Exchange.  But all that may change which might also change our mobile device policy we established just a few months ago….

Our current mobile sync policy states:

If you intend to synchronize your PDA/Mobile device with Northwoods’ email, contacts, tasks, etc. that device must support Microsoft® Exchange ActiveSync® (For Exchange 2003 or later). 

Well I’ll tell you I haven’t signed up the Enterprise beta Program … yet, but I think for now we may come to new conclusions on which devices we ‘support’.  I reserve the right to change my mind :) especially if the Apple ‘flavor’ of ActiveSync isn’t true ActiveSync and the OTA sync functions aren’t the same configuration as Windows Mobile 6 devices.  One interesting note.. will the iPhone support wildcard SSL certificates?

 So now, we only have no love for Blackberry… is that fair?  No, sorry but that’s just our support limitations.


Cool Tools Collection

I have to give credit to David Drinnon , he mentioned webware.com during a recent telephone call.  If you don’t know much about webware.com you should have on your list of sites to check out.  Their top 100 is a listing of ‘web 2.0′ sites and services.

A couple on the list that caught my eye…

 is a off-site storage/backup solution that provides a front end to Amazon S3.  They charge a $20 one time fee for their software and just $.15/gb for storage.

 is designed to make text messaging easier to use, more convenient and more accessible. Joopz allows users to send text messages from the Web to both individuals and groups, while enabling recipients to respond directly to the originating PC or Mac. Joopz web texts can be sent from any web-enabled device worldwide to any U.S. or Canadian mobile phone.

 converts voice into text for e-mails, text messages, and comments on blogs and Web sites. The new to me feature is the ability to send ‘jotts’ not to just my inbox as reminders but to specific people… staff, spouse, family etc…

 a IM client that lets you connect to 16 different messaging services… I have been using Pidgin (known to some as Piggin) and it works well for the #CITRT channel.

 have you ever wondered which planes on which carriers have power outlets, which seats are noisier than others, etc?  This site is a great resource to check the specs of the flight you are planning to book before you shell out the cash.  Its quite amazing that someone has taken the time to compile all this data.


Thin Client Demos continue

We are still working thru evaluating the ChipPC, but we have also added Wyse V10L to our demos.

Wyse V class

After talking with the technical engineers at Wyse we are armed with a little more knowledge.  Where as the ChipPC runs on Windows CE the V10L runs on the Wyse proprietary OS.  We are working thru the configuration but as I understand it you put a configuration file on a internal FTP server and via DHCP you point the devices on boot to the FTP server where it pulls your configuration.  We are told then the RDP session can start and all is well.  We will be evaluating this process, but if it works as expected this appears to be a more cost effective and simple approach to the ChipPC… granted not nearly as much of a cool factor but a better configuration.

Here is how Wyse describes the little box:

“The Wyse Thin OS powered Wyse V10L thin client is the most optimized solution for Citrix ICA (Presentation Server, Desktop Server, and Access Essentials), Microsoft RDP (Terminal Services), and VMware VDI environments. This ultra-thin operating system boots in seconds, automatically updates itself, and delivers the administrative simplicity that IT needs. And, with an unpublished API, Wyse Thin OS is one of the most secure operating systems on the market. The Wyse V10L thin client provides additional expansion opportunities with parallel and PS/2 ports. A DVI-I connector allow for the connection of digital or analog monitors, or both via an optional splitter cable. The Wyse V10L ships with a keyboard and mouse so all you have to provide is the monitor, external power and a network connection.”

Less than 4 weeks until our deadline for our registration computers to be online.. more info to come as we learn more about the ‘right’ thin client for our application.


And another demo – ChipPC

We have really been getting into demoing hardware as of late.  I have been enlightened by our recent purchases that most of our vendors are willing to let us try out their hardware, its just simply asking.

We are starting a new project in our atrium to build a hospitality center… it should be a really nice place for new people to get information or ask questions… the cool part specifically for IT is the fact that it will give us some more room for our public Kiosks. We have been working over the past few months to bring online registration among other items to our public website.  Along with that push, we want to do away with the paper process in the building of registering someone for something…. thus the need for Kiosks. 

Simple enough, pick up a few workstations and let Jermie and Jim do some magic… or not.  We decided this might be best served with a Thin Client rather than a traditional workstation… and we really started thinking about it when we came across ChipPC‘s JackPC.

ChipPC is a thin client that is about the size of your fist. 

It mounts in the wall in a single gang wall box.  It can be powered PoE or externally powered.  It runs a Citrix client or RDP client for terminal services and runs on WindowsCE.  It has two versions VGA or DVI and has 4 USB ports in addition to audio out and mic inputs.

We are currently demoing their VGA flavor, but they also have a DVI dual monitor flavor too.

While we are still working out the costs, this seems like a very good solution for a Kiosk that won’t move around.

Anyone have any experience with Thin Clients in this application and have some pros and cons?  Some items we need to address is how to configure the RDP session so a user can’t ‘get’ out of the session or disconnect from the server.  And how to manage multiple devices around the building… more to come…


Latest Speet Tests

I have complained recently about the service from Comcast… and I think its only fair to complain when it takes 2.5 months to get a couple of static addresses processed… but a new contact, Mohammad has called me several times this week and is putting our install closer to the top of their list… and we get to be the guinea pig on their corporate roll-out with multiple IPs in our area… I have to say Mohammad has been a great support person, and has gone the extra mile to get things moving in the right direction… and apologized about 8 times about how long it has taken… that goes along way in my book.  If a vendor can say they screwed up and apologize that can go along way…

I have to say if they keep the bandwidth speeds improving like I have seen at home over the past few days I can put up with a little lacking customer service.  The speed seemed to be up a bit tonight but I didn’t expect to see the connection at 10mb faster than normal.

speedtest22808

Keep the love coming comcast!!!


Crazy Google Results

I was going to check out the the ‘king of Church IT’ Jason Powell’s blog, but couldn’t recall the url.. shame on me.. so a quick google gave me the url… and some other crazy results I just couldn’t pass up. 

 

jp-google

 

 

I knew JP was working hard on the CIT Biggest looser contest but I didn’t realize he was working this hard…  Now he is doing natural body building promos? I just had to see the youtube video… here is a screen shot from the video.

 

JP YouTube

 

So much for thinking I would join in the contest late…


Windows Mobile/Exchange Heartburn

We have been working to get our Exchange 2003 SP2 server to provide content to our mobile devices but we haven’t been able to get it to work with SSL enabled.  After about an hour on the phone with Microsoft we found that one simple check box was breaking everything. 

Since we have only one server functioning as our Front and Back-end Exchange servers we had already applied the SSL & FBA work around by creating a new virtual directory in IIS on the Exchange server.  For more information about this see Microsoft KB article 817379.  But the over the air sync didn’t work unless we connected over port 80 and didn’t use port 443.  So needless to say, rolling out Windows Mobile sync wasn’t ok without SSL…

So we first checked our SSL certificates, the wild-card certificate is supported under Windows Mobile 6.  The catch was to import the root, intermediate and wild-card certificates not just our public certificate. But this didn’t solve the problems so a call to MS.

So here are our case notes from calling Microsoft Support:

Resolution

=======

1. We found that KB 817379 had been followed and created a new virtual directory called ExMobile in IIS
2. On the ExMobile virtual directory we found that Require SSL option checked.
3. Since Microsoft-Server-Active-Sync virtual directory communicates with the ExMobile directory on TCP port 80 only by design, so forcing SSL on the ExMobile virtual directory will break the communication and therefore ActiveSync does not work
4. We therefore disabled the Require SSL option on the ExMobile virtual directory
5. Found that on the ExMobile virtual directory it was configured to “Accept client certificates”
6. So we changed that to the default setting “Ignore Client Certificates”.
7. Ran IISRESET command
8. Now we tried to sync the mobile device and found that it was able to successfully synchronize with the Exchange Server wirelessly without any issues.

So maybe someone can learn from our heart burn…


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