There are a number of blogs I follow (via RSS of course) and the new 'blogger on the block' is Maren Bennette who has years of experience in the telecoms industry and has certainly seen and written about many technologies that have come and gone.
The reason I am introducing Maren on my blog is that he recently made a post about a bad experience he recently had when trying to join a conference call which made me smile.
The conference call first started off with confusion over the conference bridge to use and then a mixture of latency, mobile phones and Skype made things worse. It took a while but eventually they got there :-)
This post highlights three points for me
1. The technology sometimes doesn't work well when you have a mixture of vendors. We can try and fix this problem over time but I think this is always going to be an issue. Making codecs available and opening up the correct APIs helps but its only useful if other vendors want to use them and implement them correctly. I think we need to make sure software works well with other vendors but not to the detriment offering more/better features and experience on our own stack.
2. Once again, its apparent to me that we need to make it as simple as possible for people to use technology and this situation is a prime example of technology getting in the way of communication.
3. A communications system is only as good as the weakest part. Someone joining in from a mobile phone or someone not understanding how to use the technology will make even the best system break.
Key learning for me here, when I speak to Maren on the phone next time I need to make sure its all working perfectly ;-) (I don't think it was a call with me he is referring to by the way)