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December 09, 2010

Thoughts about the Xbox Kinect

I said I would follow up with a post about the Microsoft Kinect, but Dave Michels beat me to it with a very comprehensive article about what this device might lead to for microsoft and software in general.  Check his article out on his blog pindropsoup.com

It's being reported that the device has outsold the iPad for the number of days its been on the market.  It helps that it makes a great gift, but then again the iPad is on a lot of people's wish list too.  What is certain is that the Kinect has exceeded a lot of people's expectations. 

Many people are saying the Kinect will change how we interact with computers, not just game consoles, and there is a hacker community hard at working making the Kinect do things that Microsoft never intended for it to do.  Drivers have been written for the PC, the Mac and Linux, it's been embedded in an R/C helicopter that can fly around obstacles because of it, and all sorts of new applications are being written for all sorts of crazy things beyond games for the Xbox.

Dave mentions in his article that some Microsoft people aren't happy that the device has been taken beyond the Xbox, but I've heard a different story.  I think that Microsoft gets that it is a great thing that people are coming up with new uses for what was supposed to be a high end toy.  I believe Microsoft themselves will take it beyond the living room if the Lync launch was any indication.

If you still aren't convinced, you have to watch this video.  The real magic is in the software, but still - this is amazing!


December 9, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack

December 06, 2010

Lync in real life

There are a lot of case studies about how people might use Microsoft Lync, but here is a real story of how it made my life easier just this morning.

I was working on a demo this morning and needed some help from IT.  Normally I would open a ticket by sending an email to our help desk, but in this case I knew that Ned was the guy who could help me.  I could see by his status in Lync that he was available, so I IM'd him.


The following IM conversation occurred:


Terry Gold [10:25 AM]:

Hi Ned - I'm starting to work on a new demo, similar to the Personal Attendant, but this time it will be a tech support line demo.  Is it OK if I add it to the web server on gsi-sc?

Ned [10:25 AM]:

Sure, no problem

Terry Gold [10:26 AM]:

OK, thanks.  Hopefully this will be easy.  :-)

Terry Gold [10:58 AM]:

Hi Ned, we'll I'm stuck adding the application to the IIS server.  Do you have a minute to point me in the right direction?

Ned  [10:58 AM]:


Terry Gold [10:58 AM]:

want to go to voice?

Ned  [10:59 AM]:



At the beginning of the IM above, I told Ned that I was working on a new demo and I got his permission to add the new application to the server.  Thirty-two minutes later I ran into trouble.  At 10:58, I went back to the same IM window and asked if he could help.  Ned had been off doing something else, but he had the context of our earlier conversation in front of him.  It turns out that Ned was working from home today, but it didn't matter, we connected as if he was just down the hall.

I thought it would be easier to tell Ned what I had tried rather than typing it into the IM window, so I asked him if he wanted to go to voice.  He said yes, and I clicked the Call button, highlighted in yellow in this clip of the Lync communicator.


A moment later we were talking, all without looking up or dialing any numbers.  Lync just found him and connected our conversation and it was much better than cell phone quality.  Ned didn't have to tell me his home phone number or even say that he wasn't in the office.  It just worked.

I told Ned what I had tried, and what wasn't working for me with the demo, and he decided he wanted to see what I was seeing so he asked if I could share my desktop.  I clicked the Share button, and gave him a view of my first screen (I have two - I could have also just allowed him to see a single application or both screens.)


Ned could see my desktop, but I wanted him to be able to control it, so I offered him control and he accepted with two button clicks.  Then I sat back and watched him explore what I had done.  He quickly found the problem, fixed it and we disconnected.

You can see that we connected at 10:59 and disconnected at 11:13.  It really didn't even take 14 minutes to connect, give him control and then have him fix the problem, because we spent some time talking about the weekend and how cool it was that Lync made this so painless.  Ned told me this scenario happens about five times a day where someone IMs him, he goes to voice, and then they share their desktop and he solves their problem.

Here's the point of Unified Communications - I could have IM'd him with any IM client.  Then I could have picked up the phone and called his home number.  Then we could have used some desktop sharing application.  But with Lync, it is all right there and it works with just a couple of clicks.  THAT is Unified Communications.

We're a small company, so multiply this scenario about 100 or 1,000 and the savings really add up for a large enterprise.  And that's just what you get when you install the basic infrastructure.  At Gold Systems we're starting to build applications on top of Lync that are really cool.  And I'll show that to you as soon as I get my demo done. 



December 6, 2010 in Unified Communications | Permalink | TrackBack