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Telepresence vs VideoConferencing

I suspect it is about time I chimed in on this definition thing on this blog.

I had an unfortunate “job” interview yesterday and it got me to re-evaluating a lot of things.  The job was to install “telepresence”.  After a few seconds of questioning  I realized that it was not “telepresence” they wanted, but, plain old vanilla “video conferencing”.  Unfortunately, I was told I was “not qualified” to install it….thus, the re-evaluation. Getting old really does suck…avoid it all costs!

But, with age comes wisdom…and also the lack of fear to express my opinion, now more than ever….

One thing I need to do (now I can check this off my bucket list) is to give you MY definition of the difference between telepresence and video conferencing.  (The pictures shown below are totally random….so don’t get all upset about what vendors are being shown…:-))

Telepresence: A very expensive room with a wonderful “experience”

Video Conferencing: Everything else from mobile to conference rooms

You get the idea….



Bryan Hellard Reviews: Fuzebox

According to the salesman, FuzeBox licenses from Vidyo its SVC (which he called Scalable Video Codec not coding) but uses something different for audio. That was immediately apparent because there were no audio issues during the call and I used my webcam’s microphone and desktop speakers.

Ease of use

Unfortunately, I was not given Host rights so I was just a user connecting to a meeting hosted by the salesman. I connected via an email link and that took me to Fuze’s website for an 8mb download. Note that once the Fuze Meeting program was installed, it was not automatically put in my computer’s startup routine. That’s always appreciated, especially if you are dealing with not-so-power users. Connection via iPad required downloading the app and input of a meeting number and user name. That’s it.

Quality of product

Due to SVC (as I was told), there is no ability to change bandwidth based on connection speed or quality. This absolutely wasn’t needed though as the video and audio quality was both excellent over the 30 minute call. There were no lip sync issues, even on the iPad. Nor was there lag between the image on the iPad and the image on my desktop. If there is significant lag on any of the devices, there is always the problem of people talking over one another. Not an issue here with my setup.


FuzeBox has a couple of versions of FuzeMeeting listed on their website. The website also has pricing listed for each version. Anything above Pro would be overkill for me as I wouldn’t see myself in meeting with more than four people on video. At $49/month it is about the right pricepoint. I was told by the salesman that it is not sold monthly though, only yearly and that’s a bummer. The host is only required to have a license so you can email invites out for meetings and the other parties only need to perform the install and they are ready to go. The Business version allows for twelve people on video and adds a couple other features not available on the Pro version as well as a couple of enhancements.


One item of note: Salesmen frustrate me. Typically, I like talking to support staff, engineers or owners because they understand that I am looking at products both subjectively and objectively and won’t buy a product because of (insert marketing speak here). He automatically assumed his product was the best out there because it is the most used and even compared the product to Cisco, Polycom and Lifesize hardware endpoints. When I first got connected to the call (I was early, salesman was late) the salesman said “You have 10 minutes!”. I thought; “Seriously?” and went about the demo. Sales tactics aside, their product is top notch in both video, audio and data sharing. I would recommend it.


Old Days

The Bay Shore Kids

It’s Valentines Day, and I am sitting at AltamontCowork just thinking about how technology has changed my life.  MY technology, since I am an engineer (MSEE, University of Kansas) who spent most of his life advancing (or trying to advance) technology….in particular video conferencing and collaboration from a distance.

Truthfully….I am not really sure if we did (or are doing) a great job with technology…sometimes one needs to turn off, and just be within themselves.  But…..the value of continuing old friendships (and making new real friends) even though you may be thousands of miles apart… priceless.  And, as as we have seen in the past month, we now have the power to change the world…hopefully, for the better.

For better or worse…here goes.

The good old days…how much they have changed

When we used to go out bike riding in the woods….woods??? Mostly parking lots and houses.

When we played outside, in the fresh air with our neighbors…..sit inside and play games on the TV, computer, or Smartphone (Robo Defense rocks!), sometimes, with people around the world.

When our friends lived in the neighborhood or town, and we were really friends….Now I have friends from all over the world, some (hmmm, many) of whom are not friends at all.

When you called a friend on the phone and talked for hours… text or FB or Google chat with 500 “friends” all day long (can we say Borg?).

When cars were distinctly different and gas 25 cents a gallon (or less)…..I can’t tell a Honda from a Ford, and gas is going up thru $4.00 per gallon, again.

When Tommy (sorry….Tom, standing in top photo) could tweak his carburetor….tweek the computer.

When we picked up the phone and asked Ruth to connect us to Dr. Friedman, and you had to wait in line at a phone booth to make a call…cell phones, smartphones, everyone has one (or more than one), see if you can find a phone booth that has phones in it!

Modern Use for a Phone Booth (BART Embarcadero)

When I could get concert tickets and actually get good seats (but we had to stand on line at the Ticketmaster location in the music store)….now we get shit seats even though we connect via the Internet instantly.

When I used to send away for product information and wait 2 weeks or more for it to be sent back…..Internet. If a company does not have excellent information on the Internet…I go away.

When I used to sit in the library for hours and hours doing research…..Internet.

When I had to use the xerox machine to make copies in the library…..Smartphone.

When I used to perk a good cup of coffee….now it drips or I just order a Starbucks to go.

When I could read a book and feel it’s heft, and smell the binding…..Nook, Kindle, etc

When we would sit and write a letter to a friend or pen pal….email, text, Facebook, Twitter to the world instantly.

When our TV was color only because of the color wheel spinning in front of it….HDTV

When I was talking to Mr. Alexander over the hedges about how people might use this new thing called a computer…we all know what happened.

When we could drive to work from Tracy, CA to Pleasanton, CA in 30 minutes….over 1 hour.

When getting together with the Bay Shore Kids meant travelling….Facebook and, whooohooo, VIDEO CONFERENCING, video chat, etc.

When I read a real magazine or newspaper (and Sunny looked forward to running outside to get it)….Nook, iPad, and a host of new Tablets.

When I needed a watch, and did not know what time it is in Vietnam…..Smartphone.

When I carried a calendar book and a pen to write down my schedule….Smartphone.

When I needed a calculator in school or for everyday use….Smartphone.

When I needed a camera…..Smartphone.

When I thought of a great idea for an electronic Rolodex, but, Lori told me I was crazy……Smartphones.

When I looked up someones phone number in the phone book….Internet.

When I got Trip-Tiks and maps from AAA……Smartphone, Garmin, Tom-Tom, etc.

When you actually had to go to the movies to see a movie….Internet, VUDU, NetFlix, etc.

When my daughter’s best friend, and one of our part-time daughters, was still alive…

When dictators were dictators and no one dared to question them….Twitter, Facebook, etc.

I’ll give my best shot at the top picture, but, other Bay Shore Kids can comment:  left to right:  Wendy, Ginny, Tommy, Peter, Dennis (Thanks, Chuck!!), Me.