TalkShoe System - Enhanced Performance

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In Announcements, Support, What's New Print This Post

During the past few weeks, the TalkShoe team has implemented a variety of improvements to increase our system performance and reliability including:

Doubled number of chat servers - The TalkShoe chat infrastructure which powers the TalkShoe Live and TalkShoe Live Pro clients was powered by 16 chat servers. That number was increased in two stages, first to 22 chat servers and then 32 total chat servers.

Enhanced Jabber protocol - The open source chat protocol used by TalkShoe, meebo, and other leading companies contains at least one significant bug. The TalkShoe technical team recently identified, isolated, and repaired that bug. TalkShoe put the modified code into production during the past two weeks and is seeing a dramatic reduction in TalkShoe Live Web client issues. Still, for hosts who want the very best performance, we recommend using TalkShoe Live Pro (still free) which does not utilize Jabber. Download and install TalkShoe Live Pro here: TSL Pro.

More reliable voice over IP (VoIP) - Working closely with our audio conferencing bridge vendor, we identified two significant bugs in our VoIP technology that could cause the system to crash under certain types of attacks or other atypical situations. We developed and deployed fixes and have seen flawless performance so far this month.

Protected audio streaming - Again working closely with our audio conferencing bridge vendor, we implemented protection for outbound audio streaming to the TalkShoe Live and TalkShoe Live Pro chat clients. Previously, outbound audio streaming could be disrupted by an overload of inbound VoIP call or by an intentional attack. The live audio streaming system is now protected during such events.

In combination, these major upgrades and numerous smaller enhancements greatly improve TalkShoe service performance. Keep the suggestions for further system improvements coming. We use your reports and recommendations to guide TalkShoe’s system evolution.

WANTED: Two People to Become Famous Friends!

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In Announcements, Host Lounge News, What's New Print This Post

OK, I admit that this idea is a little bit wacky and definitely not for everybody. But it’s amazing what becomes wildly popular in this crazy Facebook-YouTube-Twitter-TalkShoe world, so here goes…

If you have a good friend that you talk with constantly on the phone, we’ll help make both of you famous. How? Just hold every phone call as a public TalkShoe call and we’ll promote it to the world! You need only do what you already do; just talk to each other using TalkShoe. Here’s how:

1) Apply by emailing me at daven@talkshoe.com. Tell me about yourself, about your soon-to-be-famous friend, and about your typical conversations (tip: I like Twitter — keep it short). If you’re chosen, we’ll set up everything for you. Up to 5 pairs of friends will be selected (totally separate and independent). No larger groups will be considered at this time.

2) Pick “stage names” and practice using them (yes, it can be tricky when you’re relaxed). While the world will eavesdrop on your conversations, we won’t reveal your actual identities.

3) From now on, whenever you and your friend want to talk, call into TalkShoe to do it while the world listens along, live and recorded. Yes, your calls will even be available in iTunes! Is that scary or exciting? Don’t apply if it’s the former.

Think about it: if it’s REAL talk, it will be ‘real’ INTERESTING! We all want to learn more about ourselves by learning more about others. And there are so few ways to get true insight into other people these days… other than this one. For those of you born after 1950 (and who wasn’t), there once was something called a party line — not for actual parties but for affordable shared telephone service in rural areas… and great for eavesdropping on your neighbors. Alas, since your grandparents’ time, that’s been lost to the world. Until now; until you!

4) There will be no voice interaction with others; just one-to-one talk as you always do.

5) We’ll help make you famous. Tens of thousands will listen; or maybe millions. Just keep it real… and honest… and you! It will be surprisingly interesting.

Last point: You can be two guys, two gals, or one of each. It can be rated G, or PG, or R, but not more than that. We’ll broadcast you to the world and it won’t scandalize your grandparents. Or maybe it will but just a little…

NEW “On-Demand” Talkcasting

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In Announcements, Host Lounge News, TalkShoe Tips, What's New Print This Post

With the New Year, TalkShoe has launched On Demand Talkcasting®, an enhanced version of the Instant Talkcasting capability released just last month. Thanks to your feedback, now it’s even more like Twittering® with your voice (and optionally, up to 300 friends’ voices too). Grab your cell phone, call into TalkShoe, run your live On Demand Talkcast and — zoom — it’s available to the world. How cool is that?

As before, you can do a movie review as you leave the theater, inform your audience about a breaking news story, or tell your friends about a hot new restaurant while the taste is still on your tongue, and now it’s even easier!

You’ll need a TalkShoe account and an existing Call Series to get started. To configure it for “On Demand” operation, go to the Call Series page (where your recordings are shown):

1) Click the “Update” tab.

2) Check the box labeled “Create Episode on Demand”.

3) Optionally, check the “Automatic” recording choice to have recording start when you connect (and end automatically when you disconnect).

4) Save your changes.

Then you’re set. Just call into TalkShoe normally. Your call will go live automatically each and every time. By the way, you can also control a variety of Talkcasting functions from your phone:

… *2*1 – Starts the recording (if not set for automatic mode)
… 50# - Mute All (except the host)
… 51# - Unmute All
… *6 – Self mute/unmute (works for host and for individual participants)
… *2*1 – Ends recording
… Hang-up – ends audio streaming

Two final tips: a) If you set your PIN to match your cell phone number, you’ll be logged in automatically after entering just your Call ID, and b) If you have your audience opt for text alerts, they’ll receive a text message immediately when you start every On Demand call (have them click the TXT ALRTS - SMASH button on your call page).

Thanks. Keep the great ideas and suggestions coming and we’ll keep improving TalkShoe!

Step-By-Step TalkShoe Instructions

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In Announcements, What's New Print This Post

We’ve seen many new hosts show up on TalkShoe recently. As company founder, let me be the first to welcome you! Below are simple step-by-step instructions for a variety of basic actions on TalkShoe. First, here are some of the strengths of TalkShoe:

1) TalkShoe is built on the best conferencing technology on the planet, same as used by NASA and 80 telcos worldwide for their best business teleconferencing customers. On TalkShoe, you can have 300 simultaneous callers while being in complete control just like a radio talk show host.

2) TalkShoe allows Voice-over-IP (VoIP) callers from its own integrated ShoePhone application (download and install TalkShoe Live Pro) or any SIP-standard alternative including Gizmo, SJPhone, and X-Lite. Skype is not SIP-compliant but you can use SkypeOut to call TalkShoe at 724-444-7444. You can find more details here: TalkShoe & VoIP.

3) In addition to VoIP softphones, TalkShoe allows callers from “landline” telephones and cell phones. That enables a whole world of participation.

4) For participants who don’t want to call in, they can listen and text chat live without downloading or installing any software. They don’t even have to be members of TalkShoe. These folks will show up as “Guests” in your TalkShoe Live display.

5) TalkShoe calls can be recorded and distributed as podcasts (listed in iTunes) automatically each time you do a new call episode. This will increase your audience by 20X on average.

6) All TalkShoe features are free. If you’re not using VoIP, please check with your phone company to see if they charge you to call 724-444-7444. Many people have flat-rate calling plans (Vonage, etc.) or free cell phone minutes.

Keep in mind that like a radio talk show, TalkShoe is built on the philosophy of dictatorial host control. You can enable or block any text chatter and mute or unmute any caller; you may do so individually or all together (e.g., mute all).

Here are step-by-step instructions for a variety of tasks. Start at www.talkshoe.com, then:

Sign-Up:

1) Click the white “Sign Up” button in the upper left header area.
2) Fill in the six mandatory fields, hovering over the “?” next to each field for more detailed instructions.
3) Complete by clicking the green “Create User” button. Click the Continue button when the system indicates “User created successfully”. Downloading the TalkShoe Live Pro client is optional at this point (see topic below).

Sign In:

1) Click the white “Sign In” link in the upper left.
2) Enter User Name and Password and click “Remember Me” if you are working from your own computer.
3) Complete by clicking the white “Sign In” button.

Recovering Your Username and/or Password:

1) On the Sign In page (as above), click the link that says “forgot username or password” and enter the email address you specified at sign up.
2) Complete by clicking the green “Send Password” button.

Creating and Scheduling Your First Call:

Keep in mind that TalkShoe uses the term “Episode” to describe an individual call, and “Call Series” to refer to all episodes that are part of the same group or theme. Think about a TV “series” (Gilligan’s Island) and individual “episodes” (Gilligan finds another way to screw up their rescue). To create a call episode, you must first start from an existing or new call series as follows:

Creating a New Call Series:

1) Click the green “Create” button in the upper left header area. The first time through, you’ll see a short overview of the process on the first screen. Click “Get Started” to continue.
2) Enter a title for your Call Series or use the default title selected for you. This can easily be changed later.
3) Set the desired options or accept the defaults. Notice the orange link for “Advanced Options”. Again, these can easily be changed later.
4) If you’re ready to do a call immediately, click “Start Now”, otherwise select “Schedule” and fill in the episode options.

Regarding Start Time and Episode Duration, these are just to set audience expectations. You may actually start any time during the scheduled window or up to 15 minutes early; once started, you may run as long as desired up to 5-hours of recording or 24-hours of talking. You’re in total control.

Accessing Any of Your Call Series (and accessing recording archives, scheduling episodes, etc.):

1) Click the white button labeled “myTalkShoe” in the upper left area.
2) Click the title of the desired Call Series. You’ll be able to access a wide variety of call-specific activities from this “Call Series page”.

Scheduling an Episode:

1) When “Signed In” to TalkShoe (notice your user name in the upper right), you will see a white button labeled “myTalkShoe” in the upper left area. Whenever in doubt, click it. Notice the nine tab topics down the left side (lots of good stuff here). By default, you’ll see a list of “My Calls” (meaning your various “Call Series”).
2) Click the title of the desired Call Series.
3) Across the top, you’ll now see four tabs. Click the second one to “Schedule Episode”.
4) Complete the fields and click “Next”. Click “Complete” unless you want to “invite guests to your call” using TalkShoe’s email engine.

Setting “On Demand Operation” (Unscheduled Episodes):

1) Go to your Call Series page (as described above).
2) Across the top, click the first of four tabs titled “Update” and check the setting to “Create Episodes on Demand”.
3) Click “Update Call” to save changes. After that, any time you call in, an episode will be created for you instantly. All functions and controls will operate just as if you’d scheduled the episode via the website. One minor note: You won’t see the TalkShoe Live “Start My Call” button on your Call Series page until you refresh it (after calling in).

Starting Your Call:

1) If you are using TalkShoe Live to manage your call, go to your Call Series page (as above).
2) Click the green upper “Start My Call” button. To use the more feature-rich downloaded client, click the green lower (and smaller) “TalkShoe Live Pro” button. Note: These buttons will appear 15-minutes before your episode’s scheduled start time. Using TalkShoe Live to manage your call is entirely optional. Phone-only operation is also allowed.
3) Use a telephone (preferred for hosts) or voice-over-IP client (SJPhone, Gizmo5, X-Lite, etc.) to call into your show (note that all dial-in info including your PIN is presented on the TalkShoe Live client). The “recording” and other control buttons will become active (AKA “color up”) only after you call in. Hosts, please note: after entering your Call ID, you must enter your PIN in order for TalkShoe to recognize you as host and activate your host controls.

Running Your Call Using TalkShoe Live:

The are a wide variety of functions to allow you to manage and control your call. Please view the videos available here: TalkShoe Live client how-to videos.

Running Your Call Using Just Your Phone:

The are several telephone keypad (touchtone) functions to allow you to manage and control your call entirely from your phone. Please see this post for details: Telephone Keypad Commands.

Telling Callers How to Reach Your “Shoe”:

1) Call 724-444-7444
2) Enter Call ID [your 5-digit call ID here] followed by the # sign
3) Enter their TalkShoe PIN or press 1# to join as a guest (do not share your PIN; it can be used by just one person at a time)

As mentioned in Item 2 at the beginning of this post, TalkShoe supports SIP-compliant Voice-over-IP (VoIP) callers. The calling address for Gizmo is 123@66.212.134.192; the calling address for SJphone and most other VoIP clients is 66.212.134.192. As far as we know, all “pure VoIP” calls are totally free from anywhere on the planet to TalkShoe. Skype is not SIP-compliant but you can use SkypeOut to call 724-444-7444 (note: Skype charges for this).

Setting Automatic Recording (or Manual Recording or No Recording):

1) Go to your Call Series page (as above).
2) Across the top, click the first of four tabs titled “Update” and click the desired recording option.
3) Click “Update Call” to save changes. If you have selected manual recording, be sure to click the “Start” recording button in TalkShoe Live or press *2*1 on your telephone keypad when you’re ready to go.

Changing a Call Series from Private to Public (or Vice Versa) and many other options:

1) Go to your Call Series page (as above).
2) Across the top, click the first of four tabs titled “Update” and make the desired change.
3) Click “Update Call” to save changes.

Changing an Episode Date, Start Time, Title, or Description:

[You must do so before it goes live; in other words, at least 15 minutes in advance]

1) Go to your Call Series page (as above).
2) To the right of the Scheduled Episode, click the “Update” button
3) After making the desired change(s), click the green “Update Episode” button to save changes

Please comment with suggestions for additional step-by-step instructions and we’ll expand this document. Thank you, and have fun talking.

System is Functioning Normally

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In What's New Print This Post

Call recordings (MP3s) are now posting normally. Most delayed recordings from the past 24 hours are now available. The few remaining stragglers will be available within about an hour (by 3:30 PM EDT on 9/30/08). MP3 file upload is also now working normally.

Temporary System Problems (Minor)

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In What's New Print This Post

TalkShoe is currently experiencing a problem posting recordings. Calls are recording normally but resulting MP3 files will not be posted until late evening on 9/30/08. Further, MP3 file upload is also unavailable until that time. This problem may also affect your ability to edit call descriptions.

Power Failure Recovery

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In What's New Print This Post

Yesterday, 9/28/08, TalkShoe’s data center provider suffered some type of power system outage that we are still working to understand. Since this data center maintains redundant power feeds, battery back-up, and on-site diesel generators, in theory this should never happen. However, when it comes to electronics, theory does not equal practice. As CEO of TalkShoe, I have asked to meet in person with the president of our data center provider to understand what happened and how they intend to prevent from recurring it in the future.

All TalkShoe functions were restored last night (Sunday) between 9 & 10 PM EDT, with a few minor exceptions. RSS regeneration is not yet operational, nor is pre-recorded episode UPLOAD. Please bear with us as we bring these last few functions back on line. My sincere apologies for any impacts on your shows. With the improvements of the past several months, TalkShoe’s service has achieved best-in-class reliability. We intend to keep it that way.

Lots More TalkShoe Phone Ports; and Two BIG Milestones

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In Announcements, What's New Print This Post

Today, TalkShoe activated 33% more telephone voice ports in our system. It’s a big step forward because lately on about one-third of all evenings our system was reaching full capacity (not the whole night mind you; but occasionally for a several hour stretch). Who knew so many online groups would want to talk. So now even more people can do it – up to 300 people simultaneously on every individual call (try it; it’s amazing to join a call that big).

Which got me to wondering, how many people are we talking about? I checked the TalkShoe system stats and guess what? Since the start of last year, there have been more than 12 million minutes of phone callers. This number is measured by an independent third-party and doesn’t even include voice-over-IP (VoIP) or ShoePhone callers. And during that same period, there were more than 16 million unique listens. That is to say, we never count the same person listening to the same recording twice (advertisers appreciate this kind of credible reporting).

Keep up the great work everybody. By the way, my favorite new call series on TalkShoe is… 81342 (Parkinson’s Disease Talk Live). What a cool use of TalkShoe.

Dave Nelsen, Founder

TalkShoe Show Wins NATIONAL Contest as BEST PODCAST!

| Author: Dave Nelsen | In Announcements, In The News, What's New Print This Post

Congratulations to hosts Heidi and Fanshen and their participants in the Mixed Chicks Chat, a weekly Community Call on TalkShoe which was selected today by judges as the BEST PODCAST in the country (out of more than 9,400 entries; WOW!!) in the fourth annual national Black Weblog Awards competition!

Check out the podcast here: Mixed Chicks Chat and the official announcement here: 2008 Black Weblogs Awards. Or visit their homepage here: Mixed Chicks Website.

Like the rest of us, Heidi and Fanshen are just “regular” folks. They’ve shown what can be achieved with a little passion and planning. Amazing, and well done!!!








Close
E-mail It