Friday, March 6, 2009

Conference Calls and Remote Team Members

Today was a mixed bag. My code was surprisingly more performant than I expected once we moved a save point. The database handled my subselects better than I expected. I learned a bunch of stuff. I gained application perspective. That was all good.

The bad part of the day wasn't bad, so much as frustrating. We tried a conference call for planning. My audio was simply awful. It broke up so that I was missing phonemes from the middles, starts, and ends of words. The mic was not located close enough to all the speakers. I had to try to catch up from the context of people responding. Everyone was really quiet, except the other remote member who had a very strong signal (and thankfully a pleasant voice). It is an unfamiliar app, so I was not able to contribute much to the overall conversation and was a little stymied in trying to learn from the conversation.

One thing that bothered me was that my phone handset is not nearly as nice to work with as my computer headset. In the conference I was not hands-free.

I've always suspected that dialing into a meeting was almost like not being there. Now I know it's true. When people refer to "this" or "over there", you have to hope you can figure out what they're about. You're not visible in the room, so your expressions have no impact on the subject matter.

On the other hand, in my house the window is open and the weather is very nice. The computers are familiar and the bathroom is private. I have control over the brightness of the lighting and office space is my problem not someone else's perogative. There is a lot to recommend it.

So I guess what I need is a better way for us to do remote conference calls. I've tried it with computer A/V and with conference phone, and the computer a/V so far is much better. The only problem there was placement of camera and mic. I think I'll see if we can arrange an n-way call so that I can hear individuals better and maybe even see the room from various angles.

I'm interested in new ways. Time to go find some.


  1. You might take a look at the mVox m100 - it is a USB speakerphone that is absolutely fabulous. Works great as a speakerphone, requires no drivers, and has a headset connection as well.

  2. Microsoft Roundtable conferencing camera+speakers do a pretty neat job - the 360° auto focus is impressive.

  3. do the roundtable conferencing bits work with Linux okay?