TechHui

Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

What are your experiences using one or a complement of technologies to communicate remotely with other project team members or with clients? What's the current state of your favorite product or service? Features change rapidly in this competitive space; what features do you find essential?

Do you use different technologies for local rather than trans-ocean communication? If you work on a distributed team with all of the participants on the Islands, do you use different communication strategies than you do when interacting with someone on the mainland or overseas? 

Was it easy to agree on a common platform? Many (perhaps most) long distance communication strategies require that participants in distributed meetings use the same client software. How did you come to agree on what would be used? Was the product dictated by the strongest, wealthiest, or more savvy partner? Were there any instances where you couldn't communicate because there was no agreement?

How reliable have communications been? Fifteen years ago, communications between Hawaii and the mainland degraded all the time. The new submerged cables that were installed around 2000 seem to have contributed significantly to smooth real-time interaction. On the other hand, we want to pass more data over the wires now than back then. What quality of service do you regularly experience today?

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Replies to This Discussion

I am currently working pretty much exclusively for a large oilfield services company with headquarters in Houston and their primary internal method of communication is now Microsoft Lync.  While it is video capable, I have never participated in a video conference with it.  We mostly use it for phone calls and instant messaging (i.e. instant interruption) and screen sharing.  When I am communicating with my peers who also work remotely for the same consulting company, we use Skype pretty much exclusively.

While MS Lync may be an excellent product for internal use, I find that it is pretty miserable to use over VPN (Juniper Network Connect).  Oddly enough, when an internal employee wants to share their desktop with me, or vice versa, I generally have to actually disconnect from the VPN due to the bad routes that the VPN client adds when I connect. 

I have the Oceanic "Ultimate 100" service at home and I spend a signifanct part of every day remotely operating Windows servers in Delft & Eindhoven, NL.  I find that the experience of working on those servers from here in Honolulu is a far better experience than working from within one of the client locations that I occasionally visit in Houston and Dubai.  When I lived in Houston, there were times that I would actually go work from home so that I could avoid the network congestion at the office.

I work for Backblaze from my home in Laihaina.  Most of the company is in San Mateo, CA.  

We use Google Hangouts for text chat and video conferencing, and have had no problems.  I do a couple hours of video conferencing a week, and it's always worked great.  We tried a couple other technologies, including Sqwiggle and Skype, but settled on Hangouts because it works well on all platforms.  Also, because the company uses Google for e-mail, everybody already had an account.

Each of the conference rooms in the office has a Mac Mini hooked up to a big TV for video conferencing.  They're also used for presentations.

My development work is done on my laptop here, but I deploy code to servers in Sacramento and San Mateo.  It takes longer than it does with the 1Gb/s connection available in the office, but it's not bad.  Incremental deployments just take a minute or two, although pushing all the code can take 5 or 10 minutes.

I have the 30Mb service from Oceanic, and it's been pretty reliable.  I think there have been two short outages since I moved here 6 months ago.

I spend roughly half a year telecommuting to my CA based startup from Princeville, Kauai.  These days most of the company employees work in Berkeley, although we have several people in Copenhagen as well.

In Kauai I use Oceanic cable and find I have to occasionally tether from my AT&T smartphone when weather or other accidental outages occur (about every month or two).  My work-style is pretty flexible and have not yet needed a DSL dual-WAN router.  My development work is done primarily on EC2 servers through ssh connections.  For me the latency is not noticeable and if necessary I can just do my work in docker containers on my local laptop.

For videocons with customers and for scheuled meetings we use zoom.us which has generally replaced GotoMeeting for us.  These two options allow fast platform independent installs.  The decision to use the current technology was driven by sales/exec experiences during customer/potential-customer calls.  For one-on-one chats we often use hipchat's video option and less often we use google-hangouts.  When we founded the company we initially used google-hangouts for everything, but there was a serious pain point getting customers to set up google accounts.  We tried sqwiggle and although I don't mind it - most employees found it invasive.

Our primary form of realtime communication in the company is done using hipchat.  We phased out using google-chat pretty early on since the forum, privacy, unlimited filesize sharing, logging, and account management options in hipchat made it a more versatile solution.   Otherwise, we are a pretty google-app heavy company (gmail, google docs/spreadsheets).

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