Thursday, December 08, 2005

My mom's bird

Pretty, Pretty Bird

For Thanksgiving, we went to visit my mom in Los Angeles. Star is the newest addition to her personal aviary. She says “peek-a-boo” a lot, but never on cue. Star’s a little camera shy, and I turn out to be the only one saying “peek-a-boo”. Who’s in charge of this situation?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Cornell in autumn colors

High above Cayuga’s colors

One of the highlights of my Fall is my visit to Ithaca. I am a regular guest speaker at the business school, telling the tales of all the things Aron, Toby, and I did to start SightSpeed. The tale seems wilder each time I tell it. The part I like about the visit the most is getting to talk to students before and after my lectures. They have some of the best ideas, and I try to show them that it is possible to go and start your own company. It just takes a lot of work and faith.

Friday, October 14, 2005

She's crazy

Oh, the giggler

My good friend Brian has a beautiful daughter who had way too much sugar. I am sorry the audio on this video didn’t come through (technical error on me). That said, running around and giggling seems to be her standard state. I’m going to save this video and show it to her friends when she is 13 so she can be mortified.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Other Bro, Todd

What, me speak?

I have known Todd since the third grade. He is sort of like a third brother. We lived in the same neighborhood in Charlotte and went to the same schools. Growing up we used to play football in the backyard with all the neighborhood kids. Todd was easily the fastest guy on the field, and made great sport with his novelty tackling techniques. The most famous “Todd Tackle” was the Flying Burrito. I won’t even try to describe this hilarious acrobatic feat, other than to say that (1) it was more like a flying taco, and (2) The taunting that preceded and followed such a tackle was far worse than the injury.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rain in Sandy, Utah

Cold Rain, Warm Coffee

When I travel, I often set up at a Starbucks and work for awhile. The T-Mobile hotspots there have become un-official offices for traveling SightSpeed folks. This time, I am out of the cold rain and sipping hot coffee in Sandy, Utah.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A little chicken pox won't slow me down

Cornell professor, attorney, and venture capitalist Zach Shulman didn't let the chicken pox slow him down. Instead of canceling his lectures, he set up shop in his home office and conducted class via SightSpeed.

Chicken pox or not, we're having class

Zach simply had one of his students connect a laptop to the projector, and he taught class as normal. "It worked well. It really makes a difference being able to see the students. I'm going to use it for all my classes until I am no longer contagious," says Zach, "plus, I can pause the video when I get an itch."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I got a job on SightSpeed

Former SightSpeed intern Sam Tingleff sent me an email today entitled "I got a job on SightSpeed".

Sam relaxing between SightSpeed interviews

Sam writes: "This reminded me that I've been meaning to let you know what I'm up to. Way back at the end of May I interviewed over SightSpeed for a sales job with Novell. I had one more phone interview from Ithaca, then three interviews in San Francisco. You could say that SightSpeed got me the job...

This is my second week. Oh yeah, we moved to Seattle, where I work from home when I'm not onsite. It's a great company and I'm enjoying myself so far. Seattle is perfect.

Let me know when you release a SuSE linux build - I'd love to demo SightSpeed as cross-platform videoconf app!"

Congratulations Sam!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Our little bit for Katrina

As someone who has been through two hurricanes myself (Hugo, Fran), I am most impressed by the community reaction and support that follows these devastating storms. As an example, SightSpeed Chairman Dan Miller has committed to giving free SightSpeed licenses to Katrina victims. All they need to do is create a SightSpeed Basic (the free plan) account, and email Dan.

SightSpeed free for Katrina

Relief organizations are asking businesses to do what they can to help, and SightSpeed wanted to participate. While SightSpeed is not food, water, or shelter, we are able to assist with the emotional connection to your loved ones by seeing and talking to them. This offer is also open to businesses that are going to need help getting back on their feet. I am personally looking forward to the first video mail created from a re-opened New Orleans bar. Cheers!

Friday, September 16, 2005

SightSpeed and Creative Labs

Whew! We announced yesterday SightSpeed's partnership with Creative Labs. SightSpeed will now come with every Creative webcam sold globally. Since Creative sells more webcams than anyone (even those "L" guys), that's a lot of webcams. This deal has been a long time in the making, so it's a relief to be able to talk freely about it.

In Motion, with SightSpeed

The first SightSpeeed camera with the bundled offer is the Creative Live! Motion. They are available right now at Circuit City, and will soon be in all stores. This camera has a motor and moves. Creative Labs even sent a SightSpeed video mail to their entire newletter audience showing the camera in action.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Blogger Adam

Blogger Adam Kempler recently wrote about SightSpeed in his blog:

Just the title itself is flattering: "SightSpeed Gets It".

Thanks Adam!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Gilroy Garlic Bobblehead

I recently went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I bought this bobblehead:

The Ultimate "Yes" Herb

Watching the bobblehead video is both relaxing and amusing. I am not sure why it's funny, it just is.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Coconut Telegraph, SightSpeed style

SightSpeed CTO Aron Rosenberg is on holiday in Mexico. He was kind enough to send a video mail from the beach to make us all jealous.

See this and that

Aron is connecting to the internet wirelessly from the beach at his hotel. You can almost smell the sea from his coconut video mail telegraph. Jimmy Buffet would be fond to know that now you can see it on the coconut telegraph.

Friday, August 05, 2005

DonorsChoose can get it done for you

In a brief diversion from SightSpeed , I want to talk about a wonderful organization called DonorsChoose. is a website that allows people like you and me to fund projects that make meaningful impact on public schools.

I recently funded a project to send local first graders to the Berkeley bird aviary. The project cost was $150. Normally, a $150 donation is ignored and dumped in the the eponymous "General Fund". DonorsChoose is different. The teacher and students sent me thank you notes, photos, and drawings from their trip. With DonorsChoose, I get to know that I made an immediate and relevant impact.

According to their letters, the highlight of their trip was seeing a blue heron. One student really drove it home in her thank you letter:

"Dear Mr. Treat, Thank you so much for funding our field trip to the Berkeley Marina. I learned a lot about birds nests and bird eggs. My favorite part of the trip was when we saw a great Blue Heron. I really like birds. Sincerely, Maria" (with a ♥ dotting the i)

You are welcome, Maria.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tennes-See Scott's Video Blog

SightSpeed user and blogger Scott Merrick has added video mails to his blog.

What, Me Blog?

I don't know what conference he is talking about, or who this video mail if for, but Scott sure is interesting. Click here to go to his blog.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Walsh in the Windy City

SightSpeed customer service representative Aaron Walsh is mobile again. He is taking live calls via SightSpeed from various cafés in the greater Chicago area.
I have had A LOT of coffee today

Walsh is having a lot of fun exploring the city while on the job. He even sent us all a fun video mail. Click here to view it.

He simply goes to a café, picks up their wireless connection, and logs into SightSpeed. He's mobile, wireless, and full of beans! (coffee beans, that it is)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Oh Those Crazy Kids

Canadian comic troop Kids in the Hall just released Season 3 of their classic series onto DVD and are using SightSpeed to promote it.

Live From Canada, On DVD, It's Kids in the Hall!

As a way for their loyal fans to express themselves to the world, they are accepting and posting SightSpeed video mails to the Kids in the Hall online scrapbook. Get those videos in, eh.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

At the End of the Day in the Life

I was asked to write a "Day in the Life" article about SightSpeed for Business Week. Included in that, I embedded a video mail that is equally appropriate for you, my avid readers:

Hello Mom, Hello World

And goodnight. This jet lag thing makes me dizzy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Half a World Away

This week we are on whirlwind trip of pacific island countries. Today we are video calling and sending video mail from Singapore. Even though we are on the other side of the world, we can still have great quality video calls back home.

Singapore skyline as seen from the USA

Singapore is on the complete opposite side of the globe and exactly 9 hours and a time zone away from California. It makes figuring out the time zone thing tricky - add 9, subtract a day, or something like that.

It is a bit of effort getting here. After hours and hours of plane, trains, and taxicabs driving on the left side of the road, it sure is nice to see a familiar smiling face.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Video Blog

Hello World! In this installment, I am using SightSpeed Video Mail to post to my blog. Want to see a nice little tour of my office? Click here.

Pretty Video Blog Machine

Due to popular demand, SightSpeed is now storing video mails for the life of a subscription. The new SightSpeed service plans give new options for video bloggers.

It's the next next thing.

Friday, June 03, 2005

SightSpeed Rated World's Best, Again

Normally I would save this space for cool user stories, but this time I get to toot the SightSpeed horn a little. This week PC World announced that for the second year running, SightSpeed is PC World's World's Best Video Instant Messenger!

SightSpeed July 2005

PC World has given this award twice, and SightSpeed has won it twice. It's a unanimous decision!

All that said, the most flattering part of this award is that the fine folks at PC World use SightSpeed to talk to their own family and friends. Editor Laura Blackwell reviewed SightSpeed by bringing her father and siblings together in a virtual family reunion using SightSpeed Multi-Party.

Thanks PC World!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Meet the Parents, SightSpeed Edtion

SightSpeed co-founder and CTO Aron Rosenberg is off to Seattle to visit the parents of his girlfriend in person for the first time. For him, he's meeting them for the second time.

Your Mother Will Like Me

When I asked Aron if he had met the parents before, he simply said "Yes, I've met them on SightSpeed". This was a completely honest reaction, with no mirth intended. As someone who is a regular user of video calling, Aron felt like he had already had a personal interaction with the parents. Meeting them in person was simply the next logical step.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Torah Tale

Shimon moved to London 10 months ago. Since then, he has been using SightSpeed to study the Torah with his friend Nissim in Israel.

Read it, Know it, Right back at ya'

The study of the Torah often results in vigorous banter. It's all part of the learning process. Hand waving and facial fortitude also helps when you have a particularly important point to make.

Shimon and Nissim tried some other software options, but none were fast enough for the quick back-and-forth discussions that they found so important when studying the important nuances of the Torah. Shimon also adds that that the picture quality on SightSpeed is the best he has ever seen. Shalom!

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Laughing Professor

The future of modern society has often been predicted to include video telephony as a regular part of our daily lives. One of my former professors boldly declared that that time is now.

Show me the grandkids!

Professor BenDaniel has been a student of technology's impact on society his entire life. He is particularly interested in how advances in technology will have an impact on major shifts in society. With video calling he predicts, the world will shrink again. Most importantly, he says with a laugh and a smile, "Now I can see my grandchildren every day".

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Digital Dad takes on video calling

Digital Dad highlights a common problem faced with Apple users: How can I have a useful video call from Mac to Windows?

Is this mouse pad for Windows or Mac?

Many Mac users run iChat, which works fine for text messaging to Windows, but video calling is a whole other issue. His solution is to use SightSpeed (thanks for the plug). Shameless self-promotion aside, his dilemma highlights a real issue: How can we make all of this easier?

When I ask a dad - digital or otherwise - if they would like to see their children every time they talk to them, the answer is always an emphatic "YES!". So why isn't every dad having video calls every day? Simplicity, or more precisely, the lack thereof.

Andreas Kluth from the Economist has become the recognized voice of reason on this subject. While many technology reviewers are gushing over the next wave of speeds and features, Andreas focuses on simplicity. For a new technology to be widely adopted, Andreas posits that it must not only deliver the needed functionality, but is must also be "Mom Simple".

So what does this mean for those of us "in the business"? It means we have to continue to make our fancy technology easy to use. I can wow the best engineers around with SightSpeed's performance numbers, but at the end of the day, dad wants to see the kids laugh, and grandma wants to see the baby smile. To make that a daily reality for millions of people, the technology must be simple to use. Or in this case, "dad simple".

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Watch Me Laugh at Your Video Mail

Fellow entrepreneurs Megan and Serge recently came to Berkeley for a visit. They have become big fans of SightSpeed, and have come up with a curious new use.

Megan, is this a funny face?

It began when Megan's brothers Jeremy, Jeff, and Adam, started to create and send out funny video mails, and then immediately call Megan via SightSpeed so that they can watch her reaction as she viewed the video mails. They were laughing themselves silly. Now Megan and Serge are teaming up to create their own comedic routines, and it has become a contest to see who can come up with the funniest video mail. May the best SightSpeeder win!

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Enlightenment of the Video Resume

SightSpeed recently posted a series of job openings on Craig's List. The more clever applicants submitted video mail testimonials along with their resumes. The best ones focused on what made them unique as a person. This made a tremendous impact on me. First, I was obviously impressed that they had taken the extra effort to use SightSpeed to create and send a video mail. But more importantly, I felt like I got a much better understanding of who they were as a person. Their paper resume stated what they had done; their video resume showed me who they were.

With all of the noise in the job search arena, the video resume is a new way to identify the great candidates. I anticipate the best candidates will continue to use tools like video mail to highlight their personal strengths.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

No bad tie goes un-noticed

In the monthly SightSpeed Newsletter, I write a short greeting that includes a picture of me taken from my webcam in my office. The intention is to have a friendly graphic to accompany the introduction. I receive more comments about that photo than any other part of the newsletter.

Was it the bad ties that killed the plant?

Some of the more clever comments:
"Lose the glamour shot with the ties draped over the plumbing"
"How about watering that plant? It's not going to make it to next month"
"For next month's newsletter, comb your hair first"
"You look like you have a spike coming out of your head"

Peter Jennings once said "No matter how good or bad a job I do covering a story, I always seem to get the most comments when I wear a bad tie". So true Peter, so true.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

You Were Admitted!

On the eve of my return to my alma mater, I was pleased to learn that the Johnson School at Cornell University used SightSpeed Video Mail to let student's know they had been admitted! Not only do you hear the news you have waited so long for, but you get to see and meet Associate Dean Cathy Dove for the first time:

Dean Dove Tells the Good News

I remember how excited I was to hear the news. To hear that you were admitted from a smiling Dean Dove is all the better.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Who says technology analysts aren't funny?

Wainhouse has the most respected independent research analysts in our industry. Each week, they publish an informative and well written newsletter about the state of rich media communications. I never miss an issue. Today, they decided to play a prank on their loyal readers by scaring us with the April 1 newsletter. Among the inside jokes that only techy industry nerds like me would laugh at, they heap praise onto the latest invention out of China from Nuawei Telekom (say it out loud to get the joke):

The latest in communications? Yes way!

The last time we had analysts this funny was when Enron had a "Buy" rating. Thanks guys!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Lawyers keeping us honest

Today SightSpeed Customer Support Technician Aaron W. is in Chicago for the American Bar Association TechShow. Lawyers like to see people when they talk to them. Lawyers are masters at diving into not only what you say, but what you mean. It's like Perry Mason used to do - he could tell when you are lying just by looking at you. Video calling keeps people honest. Lawyers like that.

Meet SightSpeed User #4

One of the more interesting questions I get about SightSpeed is "who was the first person to sign up?". Now that SightSpeed has a humongous number of users, it is interesting to see who was here first. To answer that question, let me introduce Andy, SightSpeed user #4 :
Andy Raising Money for his Company, Digimo

Andy is a friend of mine from Baltimore who signed up for SightSpeed in August of 2002 when we were still in "alpha" mode. It's fun to see how far SightSpeed has come since then. Now that I am in California, and Andy's in Baltimore, SightSpeed remains our preferred communication tool.

Addendum: If you are wondering - and I know you are- the first three SightSpeed account holders in order are: Jeff, me, Aron

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Our friend at the Weather Channel loves his hat

In the March SightSpeed Newsletter, I wrote about SightSpeed user Matt De Ganon. As a thank you, I sent him a hat.

This Hat Rocks!!

Not only did Matt send me a picture of himself, he sent me a Weather Channel hat. Thanks Matt!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Interesting Stories

This will be my forum for posting interesting stories about how people are using SightSpeed. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is hearing about how SightSpeed is changing peoples' lives. There is a communications revolution going on here, and we're going to chronicle it.

Stay tuned...