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It just became easier for HipChat customers to get some face time with each another whenever they want it. The company has launched new group video calling and screen sharing functionality that lets up to 10 other people share a virtual face-to-face meeting.
Users can spin up a call in a HipChat channel, or bring additional people into a one-on-one video call. That way, people who work in far-flung teams can get onto the same page face-to-face, using the same software that they count on for text chat during the day.
HipChat’s announcement Thursday is a move to compete with both consumer services like Skype and Google Hangouts, as well as workplace videoconferencing systems like Lifesize and Skype for Business. The launch is particularly important for HipChat’s competition with Slack, which recently added group voice calls and has video calling on its roadmap.
Reaching 911 can mean the difference between life and death. But just connecting to the 911 center is only half the battle. Determining your location is the other half.
Despite the cool technology we see on TV and in the movies, when you make a 911 call from a cell phone, in actuality you are the proverbial needle in the haystack—and that haystack is in a dark room, and 911 has no flashlight.
+ Also on Network World: Why smartphones struggle with 911 +
Each year in the U.S., citizens make about 240 million 911 calls, with an estimated 192 million of them originating from cellular phones. With 911 Public Safety Answer Points (PSAPs) reporting inadequate location on these calls, it is no surprise that this presents a unique problem for public safety officials.
Not me, at least not in this instance. The self-described doofus here is a contributor to Reddit’s section devoted to networking, who says he acquired his doofus bona fides while troubleshooting his company’s VoIP system. Mr. Doofus explains:
I’ve been struggling with nasty packet drops occurring on VoIP calls at our data center for a few weeks now and for the life of me I couldn’t find the source of the issue. I thought at first that the servers I have running our custom VoIP applications were just overloaded, but the issue would show up on just a single active call. Restarting the VoIP servers didn’t help, all of the QoS markings and switch/router prioritization were spot on, the ISP was returning a clean bill of health on the circuit, etc., nothing was making sense. I made a few internal VoIP calls that stayed on the LAN which were crystal clear, and made some calls that also traverse the router to another internal subnet which were also clear, so I now knew the ISP connection was where the trouble was beginning.
I recall my first conversation with Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager of Internet of Things (IoT) and applications, back in 2012. He joined Cisco to head up the companies Collaboration Business Unit, and it was clear from our first conversation that collaboration under Trollope would be markedly different than it had been.
The calling card for Cisco Collaboration has always been great technology, but the usability of the products has been mediocre. So, this became one of the primary focus areas for Trollope. For example, when a user receives an invitation for a WebEx meeting, he or she used to have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the email and look for a hyperlink to click. Now there’s a big button at the top of the invitation that says “Join WebEx,” making the product significantly more usable, particularly for mobile users.
During a typical week, I attend five to 10 video calls, typically using Google Hangouts or Skype. Frequently, these calls are international. Video collaboration is preferable because the other participants’ expression and attentiveness can be observed and data or code can be shared. Except in the United States, where often the group of video callers turns off the video stream due to bandwidth limitations.
The high quality of international video calls compared to choppy domestic video calls has me wavering between anger and the verge of total despair. I admit that my story and data are personal and anecdotal, but I don’t think I’m alone because I’ve had many people turn down offers to connect with a video call in favor of plain old telephone service (POTS) calls.