Video calling with Vidtel

Self serving interest on this post. BUT!! Something that I have wanted for a long time. A better way to do video calling. See my post from this past summer. About a month ago we met with a company called Vidtel that is taking a new approach to building out a consumer video calling service – I am now very happy to state that we are working with Vidtel. Happy because it is both an interesting story and this is something that I have wanted.

With family back on the east coast and two small children, video calling is an excellent way to stay connected. iChat is great and Skype is fine but other family members back east don’t have a Mac and using Skype just isn’t convenient. I find that we would have to try to schedule times to connect via Skype or iChat.

Vidtel changes that. It is a lot easier to just pick up the phone and call, if they are there – great. If not, leave a VM as usual. That’s convenience.

Vidtel isn’t just about video conferencing. It is a regular phone too – and the service is cheaper than most local/long distance services. And because the phone is connected to the Internet there are features like RSS news feeds and other net applications that will be available. Vidtel is working to build the first consumer video conferencing service – and to do this they know it needs to interoperate with other video chat services like Skype and iChat. After all what good would a phone be if you could only call people that have the same service provider. The same holds for video calling.

My mom has a Vidtel and it has been a lot easier to do video calls so she can talk with my son and the other day she was able to watch my 11 month old slither around (her version of crawling). We won’t be going back east for the holidays but at least we will be able to “see” everyone on Christmas morning.

Tech this tech that

Slow down
Melt down
Bail out
Feak out

Chill out.

Some times I am stressing even before I get out of bed, thinking how tough this economic environment is. And it is. But on a day like today, I am also reminded how frigg’n easy the majority of us have it. I am not getting shot at. I am not packing 100 pounds of gear in the desert. I am not cold, starving and sitting in a prison camp.

Thank you veterans. Anyone who took the time to serve.

Thank you to my grandfather a P.O.W. of WWII.

Here is the Western Union telegram that was sent to my great grandparents, went my grandfather went missing.

Pragmatic Early Adopter

As mentioned earlier... I am definitely a “Pragmatic Early Adopter.” I think this keeps me honest in my views of tech and helps provide a level of perspective for clients. And being a Pragmatic Early Adopter.... I finally got an iPhone. I waited for two reasons, 1. (and probably most importantly) My contract with Verizon just expired. No reason to pay to get out of it. 2. When it launched it was obvious that they would have to come out with a new version for 3G . Even though it has Wi-Fi, I couldn’t see using it without 3G and not too mention the rumors of the new version would have GPS was worth waiting for. Too bad the camera wasn’t a tad better because with two small children I find myself shooting a lot of picture messages to the GPs and to the family blog.

As for the GPS – I am stoked to be able to use it with my client’s EveryTrail iPhone app – here is what the end product looks like.

Morning hike

Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

I must be in the 10%

I definitely don’t consider myself an uber early adopter... More of a “pragmatic early adopter” :-) But according to WSJ via this Read/Write post – I am one of the 10 percent that logged into while watching coverage on the TV.

My take away was more around the future of Interactive TV. It seems this scenario is more of likely glimpse of the future of interactive TV.

For the most part if you are watching TV with at least one other person, this shared experience doesn’t do so well if it is an interactive experience. Just think about the fights that occur for the remote control. Sure there might be some examples (TV Game shows...) but for the most part – it is a lot easier to sit next to your couch mate with your own laptop and to peruse what is of interest to you. We still had the shared experience of watching TV together but I was able to check out more info and watch some streams without annoying my wife.
Mission accomplished.


In working with a lot of new companies and technologies - we often have to figure out how best to describe or position a product. Sometimes this is best done through analogies - wish we would have thought of this one in describing eBay opening up its platform :-)
Like an aging matron sporting Juicy tracksuits

Putting the Public back in Public relations.

As a “PR professional” in the high tech sector I spend the majority of my time doing media outreach. But as we all know the emergence of social networks, be it simply a comment section on a web site to a full blown online community site like [insert your favorite social network example here] or the rise of conversation tools like meebo (our client) and twitter are giving people more of a voice. While some [insert name of person who still uses copy machine here] might be confused, scared or frustrated by this – it makes the job more interesting and more importantly gives me as a Public Relations “Pro” ;-) a way to interact directly with the public. And with some cool new tools, we can closely follow who is saying what about who. One of the coolest that I have seen so far (and it is still in its infancy) is YackTrack Chatter – the potential here is pretty amazing. Good Luck YackTrack.

Digging into spring

Spring is a time for new beginnings and growth. Here at Three-Forty Communications, we are excited to share some news about a little growth of our own. As you already know, we have been a sister company of Dig Communications (based in Chicago) for quite awhile. Dig represents such well-known clients in consumer PR as Miller, Wrigley, Sara Lee, and Spectrum Brands (which includes brands like Rayovac batteries and Remington Shavers).

We’re proud to announce a full integration with Dig and a new name: Dig Communications.

To our clients:
What does this mean for you? Basically, very little. The level of service and representation you experience currently will not change; only our name will. We will be phasing out our Three-Forty e-mails and switching to Dig e-mail.

You’ll be able to contact us with our first initials followed by our last names, at

We can also be reached at our old emails for awhile and we will definitely keep blogging here.

A complete transition to a solid company with household name clients, and nothing changing on your end… the question is, can you Dig it?

VideoEgg: Quality is Remembered, Cheap Prices are Long Forgotten

The writing was on the wall. VideoEgg, one of the first user generated video publisher/hosting companies is shutting down its doors of its My VideoEgg Service. The company has been pursuing the online advertising network side of its business which has shown more success.

I have been working with start-ups in the tech space for 13 years now on the PR/Marcomm side of things. And I love working with and trying out new technologies. As we know some times the up starts don’t make it. But still for me – this closing is a bummer.

Many of my first child’s first moments were captured and shared with family via VideoEgg. Over the last several months I have been using YouTube b/c it was clear that VideoEgg was probably going to shut its doors. So now I must begin the process of uploading these old videos to my new YouTube account.

A few thoughts...

Thankfully, VideoEgg is going about this the right way and giving us time to get our house in order. (May 31st). Two months will go by fast but VideoEgg is doing the right thing by communicating to its customers as early as possible.

I wonder if VideoEgg missed out. While its pursuing the advertising network side of its business. I believe people will pay for a good product or service.

While I was driving through a very very small town in Pennsylvania yesterday (I am back east visiting family) I noticed a sign on little furniture shop that we breezed by. It read “Quality is Remembered, Cheap Prices are Long Forgotten.” Yes – I understand that you need to aggregate people to a service and from there you can prove out or work out business models. But if you have a service that is of value (in this case a place where many valuable memories are being stored and shared) this is a worth a price. Not to a potential advertiser... But a price to me that I am willing to pay.

Besides backing up...some times it does makes sense to go with a leader or an established company if you are trusting it with your most important digital data. That said... without the start-ups – chances are the big guys wouldn’t think about or wouldn’t offer some of the more compelling services (be it copying or acquiring).

So thank you VideoEgg for a great service and for at least giving us the time to take care of things. And thank you to the companies that go after the big guys or are trying new things to make our lives a bit better, more easier or more enjoyable – I’ll be out here willing to give your service a try or perhaps subscribe.

If this thing works... could be just the thing I have been looking for to take advantage of the commute in. Podcasts are great but I wish there was a way to listen to all the blogs that I track - my own personal morning radio show. And if we could get celebrity voices - even better. Ha - pretty funny to hear Walter Cronkite reading the morning posts from Venture Beat.

Life with no TV

A lot of the coverage and comments coming out of CES were to the extent of “there was nothing new” and there were only marginal updates to products. I think you need to look at some of the blogs to find the really gee-whiz fun or weird stuff - although AP video managed to find a device that Texas Instruments is developing that will project high quality images/video from your mobile phone. I guess this is what they mean by marginal updates... it’s a projector and there are plenty of projectors out there... but it seems pretty cool to me. Not too mention the fascinating science & technology development that goes into shrinking this projector down to fit into your pocket. (no TI is not a client :-)

Another theme that was talked about was content (over hardware) being more prevalent at CES and the partnerships to bring more content to internet enabled set-top boxes. Coincidentally, my first experiences with connecting my computer to the TV happened this past week when the storms blew DirectTV out. DirectTV informed us that we would have to wait 12 days until someone could come out to realign our dish.

We pretty much went through all of our saved shows on TiVo and finished season 1 of Heroes on DVD.... so it was time to connect the computer to the TV. Simple enough to do because we have a LCD TV – so no different than connecting my laptop to a monitor.

It is impressive the amount of content and first run shows that you can access (without downloading from iTunes or being part of the Hulu or Joost club). We streamed Desperate Housewives one night and the next we started making ground on season 2 of Heroes. I was amazed at how well my simple 802.11b Wi-Fi router did in streaming.

This experience definitely made me even more of a believer in the IPTV future as well as making evident the improvements that are needed.

Even if the TV is suppose to be the “sit back” experience - I can see the potential and fun for interacting with the show as a family (and dare I say the fun of interacting with commercials). The interaction might not be as active as one would do while watching a show alone but there were still enough content extras that were worth clicking on without causing a coup d’etat for the remote control.

So... here is to more marginal improvements in 2008.