Archive for December, 2017

The Importance of Bandwidth for Video Conferencing

December 30th, 2017

Does your video conference glitch? Probably the cause could be poor bandwidth. Let’s examine the importance of this factor in video conferencing quality

Video conferencing is not exactly as the videos that you enjoy on YouTube. While internet video clips are reproduced by downloading some portions of the footage ahead of time, in video conferencing data are sent in real time in small chunks.

So, why bandwidth is important? According to Wikipedia, bandwidth is the information capacity of your system expressed in bits. In other words, bandwidth measures the capacity to process data of your network by quantity. Imagine your network as a hydraulic system made of pipes and valves, where the data streaming through it are like water; bandwidth is similar to the capacity of pipes expressed in liters per second.

Now, what happens in a physical hydraulic system, when the pressure (the quantity of liters per second) is too high? Usually, a pipe breaks down somewhere and the water spills out. In IT, data networks (the IT equivalent of pipes) cannot break (luckily); therefore, the solution cannot but stop the data stream and keep it waiting while your system processes the first chunks of data that arrived. The analogy could be with a traffic tail; the drivers in the back of the tail have to wait that the drivers ahead go past the traffic light or the road junction before moving on.

Obviously, the larger the road (or the pipe), the higher the quantity of cars (or water) it is able to hold without traffic tail (or breaks in the pipes). Same in IT: the larger the bandwidth, the bigger the quantity your network can process without data delay. When bandwidth is set properly, the result is smooth video conferencing, without frame-stops, jerking images and glitches.

How to understand what is the right amount of bandwidth for your needs? Actually, there is a formula that can help: video Bandwidth (in MB per second) = Users + conference room system capability X 2 Mbps (max call rate) x concurrent utilization in % + 10% (protocol overhead).

For example, let’s imagine  a scenario with five simultaneous calls for every 100 users that share an internet connection. It means a concurrent utilization of 5%. If the capacity of your room systems is 10 Mbps, the formula becomes: 100+10 x 2 x 5% + 10% = about 250 Mbps of bandwidth capacity.

When the bandwidth allowed is too much, we have what it is called over optimization; your video conferences will fly, but you will spend too much money, as bandwidth costs. When it is too little, your video conferences start jerking and the stream slows down.

Naturally, bandwidth is not the only parameter to take into account when deciding how many resources to assign to your video conferencing system. Furthermore, some factors like cloud based video conferencing services can affect in some way our calculations. However, bandwidth requirements of video conferencing tools are usually written in their user manuals.

If you are interested in video conferencing and its best practices, you are going to find further resources and useful articles and posts in R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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How to Prevent Hackers from Spying your company’s Web Conferences

December 29th, 2017

Your video conferencing equipment can be actually used by hackers to spy your virtual meetings.  Luckily, it is quite easy to secure your systems and stop intrusions. Let’s see how

Security is that kind of issue that must never be underestimated. According to the security researchers of the team of Rapid 7 (https://blog.rapid7.com/2012/01/23/video-conferencing-and-self-selecting-targets/ ), there are some vulnerabilities in video conferencing systems that can be exploited by hackers in order to listen to participants’ conversations, read the documents that are shared during a conference, and even steal the passwords that participants would possibly digit to access a program or a file on their desktops.

Why are web conferences so vulnerable? First reason, the lack of firewall in many web connections. Second reason, your equipment is usually configured to automatically answer incoming video calls.

How to solve these two issues? First step, put andenable a firewall between the Internet and the LAN of your organization. Video conferencing solutions like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) are expressly designed to be used together with your firewalls.  If you utilize properly this kind of video conferencing tools, you should not have any problem either in terms of security or bad receptions of the calls through the net.

Another advantage of TurboMeeting servers is that they are self-installing and self-configuring, and they can be easily integrated with your existing systems. The directions given are quite simple and you should be able to follow them even if you are not an IT expert.

The second step is to properly configure your firewalls and your video conferencing equipment, so that they do not answer automatically any incoming video call. The best solution is to set your system on “mute” (not in auto- answer).

It is necessary that someone press a button to start up the reception of any incoming call that way. Special care must be devoted to the configuration of the port of the firewall that is devoted to video calls, as a mistake here can create a vulnerability that could be immediately exploited by hackers.  You’d better spend some money and call in a specialized technician to have this kind of job done, instead of trying to set the firewall port yourself. “You buy cheap, you buy twice”, they say.

Last, it is also helpful to unplug your system and cover up the cameras when they are not in use. A switched-off machine cannot be utilized by any hacker, even if its software leaks; the same consideration is applicable to covered-up cameras. This is the reason why it is better to place and keep the pcs for video-conferencing in a devoted room, and ask your team to video conference only through some few special pcs and not from their own ones. Naturally, enforcing the last suggestion implies that your team is trained to respect some few security standards and rules.

In conclusion, securing your company’s video conferences is quite easy and affordable, on the condition to use the right technology and to train your team adequately. On the other hand, affairs like Panama papers have taught us all how dangerous data leaks can be. So, learn the lesson!

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How to Successfully Speak in front of a Camera?

December 26th, 2017

Four golden rules to speak to your audience in an effective way while sitting in a video conference

The spreading of virtual places (like video conferences) has made our virtual presence even more important than the real one.  Now, voice is not a secondary detail of our virtual presence, as it highly impacts on our audience together with other factors, like our appearance on the screen and our facial movements. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to spend some time to learn some best practices to speak in front of a camera efficiently.

First rule, speak to the camera. The camera you have in front is your audience, because during a conference your guests can look only at the screen, and nowhere else. In other words, video conferencing compels participants to be attentive and focused along the whole event, without many opportunities to get distracted.

If you look directly at the camera, your participants see you as looking at their eyes and become immediately attentive. If you look somewhere else, the result is dramatic: on the screen, everybody sees a guy who turns right or left and does not speak to them but to somebody else off the screen.

Second rule, keep your hands away from your face.Unfortunately, cameras magnify everything, and even the smallest and insignificant movement becomes automatically well visible and noticeable. The effect is that your moving hands distract your audience, as your guests start immediately to follow your gesturesand lose focus on your words or – which is worse – your presentation.

Third rule; don’t miss the importance of body language. Your shoulders, neck, face and half-bust is well shown during a conference, and anyinvoluntary movement gets magnified. However, natural gestures are useful to make your guests feel comfortable and you look human.  Nobody likes talking statues. The only precaution to take is to maintain the seize of your gestures appropriate (not too large) and avoid your arms/hands flailing outwards, because it could scare your audience.

Last rule, adjust your microphone. If your microphone is too high, your voice is distorted and it sounds not human; if it is too-low, your audience cannot hear. You’d better make some trails before your conference. usually, video conferencing platforms allow you to speak to the microphone , hear your voice and adjust the microphone consequently. It is also important to remember to keep your head not too far while speaking.

Are you interested in virtual conferencing? You are going to find more resources and interesting articles on video  conferencing best practices on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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Are Webinars more Efficient than Physical Classrooms?

December 24th, 2017

Yes, they are. Read this article and discover why

How many times have you asked yourself whether webinars are more efficient than physical classrooms or not (apart from the usual considerations about time and money savings)? Now, there are at least six good reasons that support webinars against traditional classrooms:

  • Webinars make you an expert in your field. This medium spreads your words much faster and to a larger audience than traditional meetings. In other words, if you offer a couple of free webinars to a targeted audience, the participants will start to take you as an expert almost immediately. The fact that your webinars are free does not decrease their value, as the perception of worth of a webinar is connected with the information your participants receive, not with the cost of the possible ticket to get in.
  • Webinars are a great way to sell. It is sufficient to add a smart call to action at the end of the event to turn your webinar into a way to present and sell a product at one time. In a nutshell, webinars allow you perform the so-called soft selling, a less-stressing approach than the usual individual visit to a potential customer.
  • The engagement of your audience is higher. This is much due to the new possibilities offered by the technology. Solutions for video conferencing like R-HUB`s TurboMeeting (http://www.rhubcom.com) allow you to create engaging contents and memorable on-line events through the use of tools like screen sharing, document sharing, presentations, polling and telepresence. Moreover, during webinar participants feel more at ease and ask questions more naturally than in a real meeting, with consequent higher level of engagement.
  • Webinars makes it easier to generate new leads. Participants must register to your webinars, which implies that you can easily obtain their emails and names. According to the level of interest they show, it is then possible to perform activities of marketing, upselling or remarketing.
  • The return of investment on a webinar is easier. This is a mere consequence of the fact that webinars cost much less than in-person meetings. Therefore, your investment returns quicker.
  • Webinars make life easy for your participants. Participating to a webinars is easy, as guests do not need to travel and organize themselves accordingly. Consequently, expect to find a larger number of participants to a webinar than the traditional meetings in hotel halls. Webinars are also smoother to organize, as you do not need to take care of many annoying details mostly concerned with the logistics.

In conclusion, webinars are a more effective way to gather your audience than the usual meetings in a classroom or in the hall of a hotel. In addition, they allow you to exploit the many features of today’s video conferencing products, in order to offer your guests real engaging contents with high value.

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Top Recommended Best Practices for Web Conferencing Security

December 17th, 2017

What safeguards should we put in place to secure our data?

In a word where WikiLeaks has been able to break even the defenses of Pentagon, you can never be too careful, especially when working through a service of the type of web conferencing that is necessarily exposed to all the gaps and vulnerabilities of the web.

It must be also said that, unfortunately, there is no web conferencing tool that can be regarded as 100% safe; yet, it is also true that the adoption of some common sense practices can really decrease the risk of data leaks during a web conference at a very low, if not negligible, level.

So, what shall we do in order to have safe web conferences? In order of importance:

1.) Target your sensitive data.

The fewer the sensitive data you share, the better it is for you and your organization. But first, you must know what data are sensitive. Usually, the types of data that are deemed to be handled with special care are:

– Credit card numbers, passwords / credentials to access bank accounts and email accounts;

– Designs and plans of new products; industrial or commercial know-how of any kind;

– Revenues, and other relevant information for the tax man;

– Your customers’ information (like addresses and phone numbers);

– Information on someone’s state of health.

2.) Be aware of the legislation on privacy.

Especially in Europe, there is a huge set of legally binding dispositions on the storage, protection and preservation of sensitive data that impose specific measures on firms and users. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to ask a lawyer for help, as your organization could be required by the law to work out a specific code of conduct to handle with certain categories of data.

3.) Work out a code of conduct and build awareness among your team.

Human mistakes are often the real cause of dramatic data leaks, as it happened in the famous affair Panama leaks. Especially law firms, hospitals and manufactures should create awareness of the importance of keeping some types of data secret among their teams and work out a detailed policy of data security that includes all the practices that everyone has to observe when dealing with a specific category of data, especially while utilizing technologies like web conferencing, emailing and phones.

4.) Keep sensitive data secret as much as possible.

It is not necessary to disclose certain data to every member of your team. The more secret the data are, the more protected they are: organize then your data on a hierarchical structure on concentric circles where only few people can have access to the inner core that holds the most sensitive data.

5.) Technology matters.

The transfer of data through the web must be encrypted in order to avoid middle man attacks. However, this is not sufficient to sleep well at night; it is also important to set properly firewalls, computers and devices, as data can be stolen at either end of the transfer process.

If you are interested in the topic of safe data transmission and web conferencing, you are going to find other useful resources and interesting posts on R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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