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Skype for Business – Audio Conferencing Behaviour

If you have Skype for Business telephony services, including audio conferencing hosted by Microsoft (365), it is worth sharing the current workflow experience, which doesn’t seem to be well documented.

 

From a host, or moderator perspective, you dial into the meeting using your assigned phone number, shown on your Skype for Business invite.

  1. The Skype Meeting Attendant answers the phone, and asks you to enter the conference id, following by the # key.
  2. You enter the meeting number (again, shown on the invite).
  3. You’re prompted to press * if you are the leader – you’d press *
  4. You enter the pin assigned to your account
  5. You’re dropped into the meeting, and your name or number is announced if enabled.

From an end user perspective, the process is pretty much the same, except that if the leader has already joined, they’re not prompted to enter the pin number.

Unlike other ACPs, the control of the service appears to be pretty non-existent, and I think this is by design.  After all, control of the meeting can be done from the mobile app if you’re not near a desktop.
You’re not able to start a meeting recording, as this service is performed by the Skype client, recording into your local computer folder, so if this is required then that is your only option.

I think MS Teams may take a different approach, but I’ve not got my hands on telephony/audio in that product yet.

iPXE Booting OpenElec

Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center (OpenELEC) is a small Linux distribution built from scratch as a platform to turn your computer into an XBMC media center. OpenELEC is designed to make your system boot fast, and the install is so easy that anyone can turn a blank PC into a media machine in less than 15 minutes.

This is a great live image for getting up and running with XBMC, or testing it before committing to installing to a harddisk.   I’ve set it up today to boot from the network to see how well it works on a machine I’m thinking about using for a media centre.  It was a bit of a pain to get it working,  but now that it is,  it works fine.

First of all, download a copy of OpenElec from http://www.openelec.tv/get-openelec/download – I got a the tarballed version entitled OpenELEC-Generic.x86_64-devel-20131026131436-r16293 from the developer sources, but I think stable versions will equally well.

This was copied to my NAS server, and untarred using the command.
 tar -xvf OpenELEC-Generic.x86_64-devel-20131026131436-r16293.tar
This then spat out what I presume to be an OpenElec live-cd or some such (but who cares – we don’t do CD’s do we? 🙂  ).    Within the created folder, there is a ‘target’ folder, which contains the images you need to boot from.  

Make sure the target folder is in a location where it is accessible from both HTTP and NFS.  Note,  I’ve not been able to make this boot using HTTP, and I’m not sure its possible, because it seems to use NFS as a persistent storage location for your configuration.

Next, create a folder for storing your persistent information (I created a folder called persistent within my target folder.

Now update your iPXE menu.

:OpenElec
echo Booting OpenElec Media Centre
echo HTTP and NAS Method 
kernel http://boot.server/openelec/OpenELEC-Generic.x86_64-devel-20131026131436-r16293/target/KERNEL boot=NFS=10.222.222.50:/boot.server/openelec/OpenELEC-Generic.x86_64-devel-20131026131436-r16293/target/ disk=NFS=10.222.222.50:/boot.server/openelec/persistent/ netboot=nfs ssh ip=dhcp
boot 

So this loads the kernel using http from the server, and passes the boot partition nfs and persistent nfs location.  Note, neither of the latter two define the files,  just the folder paths.  The Kernel knows what its looking for when it boots.
The final variables tell the kernel that it is being booted with nfs required,   to enable ssh (if you want it) and to get the IP using DHCP.    There are a number of other modes for debugging, text only mode, that sort of thing, but that is not discussed here.

Anyway,  other than configuring the iPXE menu to call :OpenElec,  that’s all there is too it.

A little Comic Relief

The annual or bi-annual charity appeals are always fun, but also somewhat predictible as to what we’ll end up seeing.  So, whilst I urge you to donate,  you can also have a bit of fun whilst watching.

So here’s the rules of the drinking game we’re playing by:


The rules are simple:
Define your own measure,  be it a shot,  finger’s width or even a whole glass.

One Measure
– A disease is mentioned
– An African Child is seen with a fly on its face
– Every time a celebrity does something ‘exciting’
– A giant cheque is produced
– A celebrity holds an African child
– A celebrity crys
– The Phone Number is read out
– Man dressed as a woman, or a woman dressed as a man

Two Measures
– The total so far is read out
– We see the phone call takers up BT Tower
– When the guest presenters change
– When the presenters look confused because they don’t know what they’re going to next
– If we’re shown a picture of BBC TV Centre

Three Measures
– When the presenter runs his/her fingers along the screen as the number is read out.
– When someone mouths the number at the back of shot
– When someone makes the ‘phone call’ symbol
– News Presenters doing something ‘wacky’
– When an African child is made to wear a red-nose

Four Measures
– Wogan or Pudsey Appears

Penalties:
Penalties require a CR donation
– Spillage – £1
– Fall Over – £1
– Vomit – £5
– Pass-out – Whatever you can shake out of their wallet/purse.

Remember Kids, Drink Responsibly,  as little African Kids often can’t.   Give Generously!

Sugru – A Brief Update

I just wanted to provide a brief update on my thoughts of Sugru.  Its a wonderful product, ideal for fixing and personalising things.  However,  the biggest bugbear of all is the shelf-life.

Unlike duck/duct tape,  superglue,  epoxy resin, putty  and other more commonly known fixing materials and methodologies,  Sugru ‘sets’ after about 6 months,  whether you’ve opened it or not.  This means that one of the big bags I had became useless as I wasn’t able to use the sachets before they’d all set.

And because Sugru isn’t available in most shops,  you can’t just pop and get some more – you have to wait for the postman to bring it for you.  This is fine if you have a non-urgent fix, but when you need to do something straight away,  you either have to ensure you have some fresh Sugru in,  or find an alternative option.  Its often the latter.  So reader beware!

One final point,  Sugru reckon if you keep it in the fridge, it will keep for 18 months;  I’ll have to pick some up and try it.

Re-Re-Tune (when the crowd say Bo Selecta?)

Hopefully it won’t have escaped your attention, but Freeview watchers will need to retune your freeview box/TV tomorrow afternoon/evening (Wednesday 30th).

The BBC have put together an excellent overview of what’s happening:-

What’s happening and when?

On Wednesday morning, 30 September, the Freeview service is being updated. Some TV and radio channels will move position. If people don’t retune their equipment they will no longer receive them. The move involves around 25 million Freeview TV sets, set-top boxes and digital recorders, including TopUp TV and BT Vision boxes. It doesn’t affect satellite or cable systems such as Sky or Freesat or cable.

Why is the change needed?

To make channel Five available in half a million more homes and to prepare for high-definition broadcasts.

What happens if I don’t retune?

On the affected channels, you’ll see a message telling you the channel has moved and asking you to retune. Anyone who needs help can find it at www.tvretune.co.uk or via a telephone helpline – 08456 01 11 22.

Which channels are mainly affected?

Five is moving, and so are ITV3 and ITV4. There will also be a new TV channel called Quest.

Some BBC radio stations will be affected in areas that have already gone through digital switchover. Listeners in the Border TV region, the West country and some parts of Wales will lose these stations unless they retune.

Will some channels disappear altogether?

Around 460,000 homes – which get their TV signals through relay transmitters – will no longer receive ITV3 or ITV4. That means they will lose some European football matches and classic TV dramas such as Cracker and Poirot.

The Community Channel will no longer be available on Freeview in areas that have gone through switchover.

Can all Freeview equipment be retuned?

Around 22,000 older set-top boxes may no longer work.

If you’re not sure how to retune your Freeview, there is an excellent website www.tvretune.co.uk which has instructions for many devices – its something to make a note of as you should be doing a retune every couple of months to make sure you get the latest channel changes, especially in the run up to Digital Switchover.  And tuning digital equipment is much easier than the days of analogue – its usually a case of selecting an option from the on-screen menu and letting it run through.  Plus, a reminder to Cable and Satellite viewers (including Freesat), you don’t need to retune those set-top boxes.

Dress less for the Environment…

The weather forecast for this week is warm warm warm (upto about 32c, not a heat wave as the media suggest) and perhaps it is time that we start following the Japanese example to keep cool AND save the environment.  Their Government has issued an edict to employee’s of the nation’s companies to stop wearing ties, long sleeve shirts and coats, and dress for the summer.  In turn, Government departments are being told to turn UP their air-conditioning to 27c (82f) rather than the more common 25c (77f). It doesn’t sound much, but is forecast to save 81 million barrels of oil per summer.  In THIS article from 2005, it shows a certain amount of resistance from what is stereotypically seen as the straight laced Japanese worker.  But by issuing guidance on how to dress ‘smart-casual’, this resistance is waning slowly but steadily.   Its a clever approach by the powers that be to cut consumption by a decent margin, and its idea’s like this that will gradually reduce our demand for fossil fuels.  I suspect it also means that power stations aren’t running at full tilt and means that spare capacity is available, unlike many forecasts that say some countries will be required to enforce switch off’s of regional area’s to prevent brown-outs due to the demand for energy from air-conditioning units.

Officially Adult…

Well, it had to happen at some point, I think I’m now classing myself as an Adult.  A number of events recently, culminating in my ordering of a subscription to National Geographic Magazine, and switching from Moyles to Wogan in the morning.  I shall have to fetch out a pipe and slippers soon.  Anyway, this list will help you identify if you’re no longer ‘of the youth’.

  • You have friends who have kids.
  • Naps are a good thing.
  • You actually buy scarves, gloves, and sunscreen.
  • Driving a car doesn’t always sound like fun.
  • The only thing in your cereal box is … cereal.
  • Your idea of the best Friday night out is one out in the Garden with a nice beer/glass of wine.
  • The local supermarket no longer asks for ID when you buy alcohol.
  • When snacking out, you choose Starbucks over McDonalds because it has a much calmer atmosphere.
  • Your parents treat you as an equal.
  • Financial matters consume several evenings a month.
  • You look in the surveillance camera monitor at the convenience store, wonder who that guy is standing at the counter with the bald spot, and then realize it is a shot of you from behind.
  • Its not a surprise that politicians philander.
  • You use the term ‘The Youth of Today’.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments box below – I’ll try and look out for them on my own meandering journey through life.

Universal Phone Charger Plan

Good news from the MWC today reported by the BBC:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7894763.stm

The world’s biggest mobile phone makers and network operators have backed plans to create a universal phone recharger.

Most manufacturers now produce chargers which work only with their own devices.

The re-charger will consume 50% less stand-by energy than today’s cables, the GSM Association (GSMA), an umbrella group for the industry, said.

Firms to back the plan include Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Orange, 3, AT&T and Vodafone.

The majority of new handsets will support the re-charger by 2012.

"This is a broad agreement that will move the industry to a single, energy-efficient charger for all mobile phones," said Michael O’Hara, marketing director for the GSMA.

In a statement, Mitti Storckovius, director of environment, devices at Nokia said: "By supporting this industry initiative on common charging solutions, and enabling consumers to choose if they need a charger with every new device or can re-use existing ones, we can contribute further in improving the industry’s environmental footprint."

The mini-USB connector will be used as the common charging interface.

Manufacturers had been under pressure from the European Commission to produce a standardised charger.

EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told German radio station Deutsche Welle last week that there were more than 30 different kinds of charger in use across the 27-nation European Union.

The GSMA estimates the new charger will mean the potential elimination of up to 51,000 tonnes of duplicate chargers.

Tis the Season…

I love this time in mid February when all the mobile phone manufacturers get together in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress,  their ‘trade fair’ where they get to demonstrate their lovely new wares for the year ahead.

My favourite manufacturer HTC held its press conference this morning, and as ever, they’re certainly setting an example to the other manufacturers. 

htc-touch-pro-2-ofc

First off is the HTC Touch Pro2 featuring 3.6" 800×400 screen, 512mb ROM, 288 RAM and a 3.2mp camera.  One feature which sounds cool, but we’ll see what its like in operation, is the Speakerphone, which automatically turns itself on when you flip the phone whoops upside down its head.  This seems to be the flash business phone,  where as the

htc-touch-diamond2-1

HTC Touch Diamond2 – an evolution of the existing Touch Diamond.  This time around, its got a 800×480 screen, 5mp camera and the same 512mb ROM/288mb RAM as its bigger brother, the Touch Pro2.

Which is annoying, because Id decided on the HTC Touch HD, but now I can’t see how that model fits in with the current lineup.  I’ll have to wait and see which one, T-Mobile (my current phone vendor) offers in the next few months.

Also coming up this afternoon from the MWC is the Windows Mobile 6.5 official announcement (hopefully).

Birthday Belly Buster..

As part of the Birthday tradition where the celebrator treats his or her fellow colleagues to some excess foodstuffs, so today it became my turn to gift upon them, some lovely lovely breakfast.

IMAGE_397 IMAGE_398
IMAGE_400 IMAGE_399
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All from Busters in Darlaston, THE place for breakfast in the Wednesbury Area.  We’ve not taken any statistics, but its likely that the BMI of the office has risen several factor points this morning.