About Me

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TsooRad is a blog for John Weber. John is a Skype for Business MVP (2015-2018) - before that, a Lync Server MVP (2010-2014). My day job is titled "Technical Lead, MS UC" - I work with an awesome group of people at CDW, LLC. I’ve been at this gig in one fashion or another since 1988 - starting with desktops (remember Z-248’s?) and now I am in Portland, Oregon. I focus on collaboration and infrastructure. This means Exchange of all flavors, Skype, LCS/OCS/Lync, Windows, business process, and learning new stuff. I have a variety of interests - some of which may rear their ugly head in this forum. I have a variety of certifications dating back to Novell CNE and working up through the Microsoft MCP stack to MCITP multiple times. FWIW, I am on my third career - ex-USMC, retired US Army. I have a fancy MBA. One of these days, I intend to start teaching. The opinions expressed on this blog are mine and mine alone.

2014/02/28

Jabra Speak 410 MS

A while back, I reviewed the Jabra Speak 510 MS – clearly a superior piece of gear.  While at the Lync Conference 2014 last week, I got handed another Jabra speaker phone, this time the Jabra Speak 410 MS with a March 2014 label on it no less. 

Here is the official Jabra Speak 401 MS market-speak.  Note that it appears in many respects to be the same as the aforementioned 510 model.  In fact, to me they look identical.  However, there are differences.  The 410 has no battery, all you need is an open USB port.  No charging means no dead battery at a bad time.  There is also no Bluetooth, so no dongle to lose.

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Past those differences, everything I said about the Jabra Speak 510 MS applies to the Jabra Speak 410 MS.  My laptop went ding! when it connected, then Lync just took it.  With no battery the 410 was instantly operational.  Nice sound, good volume control, excellent microphone, great controls.  And I love how the cord wraps into the base of the unit – right down to some handy engineer designing the USB  connector to be a tad squishy and shaped just so the base and the connector conflate just a tad and the cord stays neatly wrapped.  A great touch for an outstanding speaker phone that works seamlessly with Lync 2013.

Just checked the price and availability for these units. Prices appear to vary depending on where you look.  Some consideration should be given to the feature differences before you choose the 410 or the 510.

YMMV

Kuando Busylight UC for Lync

 

update 2014-0306 – new driver released with the following features:

New Features and Functionality include:

  • IM Alert (you can have it flash or flash with an audible alert)
  • We included some basic FonComfort tools as a bonus:
    • Busy-on-Busy Suppression
    • Hot-Keys (Call Answer and Fast Dial-out)
    • Cleaned up some bugs. (e.g. some issues with docking stations)

Wow.  Such a title for such a little piece of kit.  And it has a serious claim of enhancing workplace productivity.  You can read all the market-speak here.  Specifically the claim is to reduce co-worker/teammate interruptions.  I tried one of these a long time back when they first appeared – and I did not like it.  The required software was unstable; my laptop started crashing and removing the Busylight software solved that – ergo, bad software. Why try it again you might ask?  Well, flat out:  I was asked to.  And why not?  Let’s take a run at this and see how it does this time.

Here is what comes out of the box.

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I installed the unit by plugging it into my USB hub.  And waited.  Maybe I should read the documentation?  Ah.  Download needed.  You can get it here. OK, moving ahead, I installed the software.  While doing that, I noticed a few PDF’s that are available for your edimication.  The datasheet and the quick guide.  The datasheet makes some pretty serious claims. The quick guide has the install instructions (repeats the included slip of paper) and also explains functions like what color means what, how to change the colors, ringtones, and volume.

Once the software was loaded, I set the unit up above my desk at Tsoorad Central.  While I don’t like market-speak, I must say that the appearance of the pulsing red “in a call” stopped several people in their tracks.  The cat still walked across the desk, but I am not sure the feline in question cares too much for human activity except for food procurement.

Ringtones from outside my laptop are most welcome – I usually have the stereo playing and the laptop speakers are not the most powerful units known to man.  The light flashes blue to indicate the incoming call – definitely easier to see than the Lync toast that is usually buried under open apps. All in all, the Busylight did what it advertised it would do for Lync, and while my statistical sampling size was not large enough to represent a large environment, the Busylight did indeed cut down on interruptions.  And the software seems to be fixed.

You can get one right here

YMMV

Kemp HLB as Reverse Proxy

Interested in using content redirects and Kemp to provide Reverse Proxy services on the minimum amount of IP addresses?

I have been using this as a reference:  http://michaelvh.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/publishing-multiple-services-to-the-internet-on-a-single-ip-address-using-a-kemp-load-balancer-and-content-switching-rules/.  Written by Exchange MVP Michael Van Horenbeeck, this article lays out what is needed to get Lync and Exchange operating on a single IP.

Up on NextHop, as of 14 February 2014, we also have this:  http://blogs.technet.com/b/nexthop/archive/2014/02/14/configuring-reverse-proxy-access-to-microsoft-lync-server-2013-using-kemp-loadmaster.aspx

Of note in the NextHop article is the little blurb at the top mentioning the certification process – nothing like having a reference to the OIP to make customers happy!  Also, the official Kemp configuration guidance for Lync 2013 is referenced in case you have a hard time finding that piece of arcana.  “If you need details steps or would like to manually create these services, you can refer to detailed instructions provided in “LoadMaster Deployment Guide for Microsoft Lync 2013” located here: http://kemptechnologies.com/files/downloads/documentation/7.0/Deployment_Guides/Deployment_Guide-Lync_2013.pdf

YMMV

2014/02/23

AudioCodes software E-SBC now certified

I had a great time at the Lync Conference 2014 last week.  Among other news, AudioCodes tells me that their Mediant Virtual Edition and Server Edition SBC is now Lync OIP certified.  AudioCodes tells me that it will take a bit for the OIP to get updated, but I think this is great news – especially for those who are doing straight SIP trunks.

YMMV

2014/02/13

Windows 8.1 Store app with local account

Playing with the Windows App Store and Windows 8.1.  By default, the operating system wants to push you into the cloud.  I am not a fan of that.  I don’t want my stuff being synced to Microsoft so they can share it with whoever they want or dissect my usage patterns or look over my shoulder.  They do enough of that already.

I wanted to download a simple free app.  Yet the default was to convert my Surface Pro 2 to a microsoft online account.  NOT!  I did not run into this before as the 8.1 install was an upgrade from 8.0 – which apparently does not do this so nefariously.

After a bit of searching, I found this blog article that explained how to accomplish what I wanted.  A local login, which uses my live.com account to access the store, but never try to convert my local account to a Microsoft online account with everything syncing to the MSFT cloud.

I understand the push to the cloud, I really do.  But I don’t think I should be gerrymandered into accepting what appears to be an underhanded policy to make the cloud the default.  As a suggestion for Microsoft – if they ever read this and actually think it through – please make the options outlined in the reference blog more visible as options instead of ASSuming that we all want to jump into the cloud and let you own my data and information.

YMMV

2014/02/07

Sennheiser SC 660 USB ML

Toys! I like toys! I match the “children” part of the top definition, and #3 also applies…

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But I digress.

The object of desire – at least for this article – is the Sennheiser SC 660 USB ML.  I also have an SC 630 USB ML, which appears to be, and functions just like, the 660, except that it is only a one ear (monaural), while the 660 is a stereo.  As mentioned here, monaural headsets are NOT my favorite.  Give me stereo or give me….uhm….silence?  At any rate, I have actually played worked with both the 660 and the 630 and comments on the 660 should be applied to the 630 also.  Except of course, for hearing things in only one ear which drives me crazy.  Also, musack through the 630 was decidly less good due to only one ear getting sound. It’s hard to enjoy Green Day or Johnny Winter if only one ear is getting rocked.

Manufacturer Market-speak

SC 630 USB ML – hear what’s going on around you – “A premium single-sided wired headset optimized for Microsoft Lync, with built in call control unit for quality-conscious contact center and UC professionals requiring outstanding sound performance while maintaining contact with their surroundings.”

SC 660 USB ML – stereo sound for maximum focus – “A premium dual-sided wired headset optimized for Microsoft Lync with built-in call control unit for quality-conscious contact center and UC professionals requiring outstanding sound performance in noisy environments and best quality stereo sound from dual-sided neodymium speakers.”

660 OOB:

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630 OOB:

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Build Quality

Face it.  In the world of headsets and stuff like that, Sennheiser has a pretty good rep.  And the 660 just reinforces that rep.  Cables were solidly attached to the headset, the inline module, and the USB connector.  Nothing flimsy here.  The microphone boom had a very clever (and obvious?) solution to swapping the lefty-user to righty-user which was tight without being loose.  Overall, the test units I had were most excellent in build quality terms.

Lync Functionality

Sennheiser is claiming “Optimized for Microsoft Lync” on these units.  So, in theory, I should be able to plug in and go. Which is exactly how it went down.  I did see a quick blip as the drivers installed, but in general, a seamless integration into Lync.  The inline module has the expected controls and they function as you would expect.  Audio quality was excellent.  Noise cancelling appeared to be outstanding.  I made several calls while in a noisy cafĂ© environment and the far side of the call did not hear the usual background clutter.  IMHO, the marketspeak is spot on.

What I did not like

The cord on the 660 must be 7-8 feet long.  That would be 201 – 244 cm for the EU folks.  What a tangled mess. No matter how neatly I wrapped up the 660 before it went into my backpack, when it came time to take it out, I spent the next 5 minutes getting it straightened out.  It could be that with some more usage the cord will lose the ‘every three inches’ bend it has from coming out of the box, but I am not holding my breath waiting for that.  I would rather have a more substantial piece of wiring and put up with the bulk than have this mess each time. 

What I did Like

The 630 is only one ear, so this comment does not apply to it. 

The 660 has some serious audiophile roots.  Flat, balanced, realistic, great response.  Wow.  No frequency band overpowered another.  Excellent spatial distinction.  WOW.  All while sounding excellent with Lync Voice. I did not try the 660 on anything but Pandora, but my Catfish Blues station sounded absolutely excellent.  FWIW, everyone should listen to the Jelly Roll Kings once in their life. This lead to Meat Loaf and Journey and Indigenous; all reproduced in a most excellent fashion! <RantOff/>

You can get the 660 and the 630 right here.

YMMV

AudioCodes 400HD firmware v3.04

Those fine folks (and apparently busy beavers) at AudioCodes have popped a new IP Phone firmware release out into the wild. Brings a nice ne...