Solicited Review: Clickshare from Barco

I recently had the opportunity to test out the Clickshare group screensharing system, sent to me by Noel Bellen of Barco. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the premise is fairly simple: sharing screens is harder than it should be. If you’ve ever sat in a corporate conference room and watched as someone struggled to find which of the cables (Thunderbolt? HDMI? VGA? DVI? DisplayPort?) fit into their laptop, you’ve questioned two things:

1. Why is this so hard?

2. How did the human race survive?

Once you get the cable of choice plugged in, you hope it continues to work. On top of that, if you need to change laptops for any reason, you get to do the entire dance again.

Barco’s ClickShare promises to make the process less difficult. When you get the unit, it’s shipped with comparatively few directions, making it a fairly decent challenge to anyone not already technically savvy. Once you install the base station, get it hooked up to a display, and turn it on, the process gets slightly easier, but it definitely needs more and better documentation in the box.

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Once set up, it’s effectively a new Wi-Fi point on your network. To share a screen, you plug one of several USB remotes into the laptops that will be presenting, or connect a mobile device via Wi-Fi to the ClickShare. Push the red button on the USB remote and you’re live, or transmit files from Dropbox on your mobile.

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That part in and of itself is handy. It simplifies getting a meeting started, and you can even run network screen sharing apps like GoToMeeting on your laptop while still transmitting to the ClickShare, for combination webinars and in-person seminars. Got more than one presenter or machine to share information from? Tap the button and the screen shifts instantly to the other display. Super handy. I’ve used it with my iPhone and laptop and it works well for sharing files. One limitation on the mobile version is that you have to present files – PowerPoints, PDFs, etc. It doesn’t present a live view of what’s happening on the mobile device.

Now, where this little device is going to shine isn’t the corporate boardroom per se, though it certainly is handy and easy for people to understand once you get it set up. No, where the Barco ClickShare is going to shine is at conferences, because inevitably there’s the guy (and yes, sometimes it’s me) who brings his or her own laptop, iPad, mobile, etc. or the laptop provided by the venue or conference organizers blows up or can’t project. There’s the inevitable “my slides are 4:3 and the display is 16:9″ to contend with as well.

The ClickShare would be ideal for conference organizers because it streamlines much of that, and with multiple USB remotes, one speaker can be on stage presenting while the other is prepping their laptop. Because the device is wireless, the laptop doesn’t have to be with the AV guys in the back of the room, thus causing the clicker to either not work or rely on the manual clicker (which does nothing but turn on a “next slide” lightbulb in the back of the room, the remote I despise the most). The ClickShare would let presenters sit anywhere in the room they wanted, run their decks from their laptop, and not have to spend 25 minutes rewiring the room just for their slides to work.

The Barco ClickShare is available on Amazon. (no surprise, all my Amazon links are affiliate links)


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Video amusement: Instagram Hyperlapse

On August 26, Instagram debuted a new app for iOS devices called Hyperlapse.

Hyperlapse_from_Instagram_on_the_App_Store_on_iTunes

Hyperlapse is beautifully simple: record video with it and it will accelerate it between 6x and 12x, add motion stabilization, and publish it for you. You can use the Instagram platform or simply pull it off your mobile device for other purposes. I took this video of a portion of my commute to work at sunrise and fed it to Hyperlapse:

This video was shot using my iPad and a dashboard mount (hands-free for safety!) over the span of 15 minutes. The app did a wonderful job of smoothing out the many, many, MANY bumps in the road (because taxpayer dollars pay for the existence of roads, but not necessarily their quality) and then I added Matthew Ebel’s “Drive Away” in post-production.

For marketers, Hyperlapse offers some easy potential to take long snippets of video and then condense them down, from conferences to trade shows to events. It’s full motion video, as opposed to time-lapse (which will make its debut in iOS 8 natively), so if you need additional smoothness (in exchange for only 12x acceleration), Hyperlapse is a good choice. It’s absurdly simple to use, and I foresee some neat uses for it. For example, the Parrot and DJI drones can have iPhones attached to them (typically by a Joby mount), so imagine combining a drone’s flight abilities with a Hyperlapse video.

The only limitation I see right now is that Hyperlapse can’t import existing video – you have to shoot raw video with the app itself for it to process the video and apply its signature stabilization and acceleration. The price is right (free), so get it and see what you can do with it.

Click here to download in the Apple App Store.


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Why you might want to keep blog comments on

MarketingProfs B2B Forum

My good friend Chris Brogan is the latest in a series of bloggers who are turning off comments. That’s a personal preference, and I respect that choice.

Here are three reasons why comments are staying on any property that I have responsibility for, as a sort of counter-perspective.

1. Rent vs. own: Chris makes the valid point that many conversations are happening on social networks. That’s unquestionably true. However, as I’ve said for years, you own nothing in social media. All those conversations that people are having about your content aren’t yours, and if Facebook goes the way of MySpace or Twitter goes the way of Friendster, all those conversations go away. If you intend to do things like mine your conversations and comments for insights, owning the data makes that much more convenient. This blog has survived the rise and fall of MySpace, LiveJournal, Xanga, etc. and the rich comment history remains – data I can use for future research.

2. Comment spam is controllable. On here I use Disqus. At work I use Livefyre. Both are excellent at controlling outright spammers and self-promoters. The catch is, it does take up a couple of minutes a day to moderate them and respond, but that’s a small price to pay for their excellent services.

3. Comments feed your database. Take a quick look:

Moderate_-_Disqus

In comments, you get digital identity information like name and email address. Now, let’s be clear: you can’t just subscribe every commenter to your newsletter. That’s bad, and in some places, illegal. But you do have that database, and you can use in other ways. Export all of the email addresses from your blog comments and now you have a custom audience you can show social media advertisements to – and you KNOW it’s on target because they commented on your blog.

Can you take your Facebook conversations and show them Twitter ads, or vice versa? Nope. Email is at the heart of social advertising, and if you’ve got something like a keynote talk, a book launch, a product launch, or any kind of big announcement, you want the email addresses of your best fans – your commenters – to be able to reach them with digital advertising tools. You can’t reach your fans on one platform from another platform in social media.

Before you go “No more comments!” – a perfectly valid choice and strategy – understand what you might be giving up.


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