Audio Interview: Mozilla's Nils Ohlmeier about Firefox and WebRTC

Iit nils podcast

Want to learn the latest about WebRTC inside of Firefox? Nils Ohlmeier from Mozilla sat down for an interview at the IIT RTC Conference last week with Mark Fletcher of the Avaya Podcast Network. I found it quite a useful explanation of what Mozilla is doing with Firefox and how different aspects of WebRTC come into play in different parts of Firefox. Give it a listen...

Heading to Romania to ION Bucharest for DNSSEC, IPv6, routing security and more

ION Bucharest template 660px

This week I will briefly be in Bucharest, Romania, for the Internet Society's ION Bucharest conference. We've got a great set of sessions on the agenda, including:

  • Deploying DNSSEC
  • Romanian DNSSEC Case Study
  • Let's Encrypt & DANE
  • Mind Your MANRS & the Routing Resilience Manifesto
  • The Case for IPv6
  • IPv6 Success Stories
  • What's Happening at the IETF? Internet Standards and How To Get Involved

I will have two roles in the event tomorrow:

I enjoy doing the production of live video streams and so this should be a good bit of fun (it's also intense work in the midst of it).

You can WATCH LIVE starting at 14:00 EEST (UTC+3, or 7 hours ahead of the US East Coast where I live).

The sessions will also be recorded for later viewing.

It will be a short trip for me. I'm currently (Tuesday morning) writing this from the Munich airport. I land in Bucharest tonight. The event is tomorrow - and then I fly home Thursday afternoon.

Despite the short visit, I'm looking forward to it - it should be a great event!

An audio commentary on this topic is also available:

Photo credit: Nico Trinkhaus on Flickr - CC BY NC

Facebook Messenger's "Instant Video" Lets You Simultaneously Use Video and Chat

FB instant video

The messaging wars continue! Today Facebook Messenger added "Instant Video" to it's iOS and Android app, allowing you to easily share live video while still in a text chat. Facebook has had "video calling" since back in May 2015, but that requires both parties to answer the video call in the same way that Facetime, Wire and every other video app does it.

"Instant Video" is different:

  • VIDEO STARTS OUT ONE-WAY - Only the video of the person initiating "Instant Video" is shown. The recipient sees the video of the sender, but their video connection is NOT enabled. Now, the recipient can start sending video, but they don't have to.

  • AUDIO IS OFF INITIALLY - When the sender starts their video, the recipient receives the video without any sound. They can easily start getting sound by tapping on the speaker icon on the video, but this is great because often you are having a text conversation precisely because you don't want to use audio.

  • YOU CAN STILL SEE THE CHAT - The video overlays the upper right corner of the chat window, but that's it. You can still see the chat messages and continue having your chat.

This last point is quite important and useful. This "Instant Video" lets you add video to a chat, while still allowing chat to be the primary communication medium.

Predictably, there was a great amount of media coverage of this launch today. Some noted that this was yet-another-way Facebook was cloning Snapchat. Others called this an answer to Google Duo.

Regardless, I immediately saw a personal use case. Occasionally I will go to a local coffee shop to pick up muffins for my wife and I. The flavors are always changing. If I don't see one I think she'll like, I often wind up calling - or texting her with the flavors. But it would be actually a bit easier and faster if I texted her "which one do you want?" and then sent her a live video stream where I panned back and forth across the choices. Sure, that may seem a silly use case... but it immediately sprang to my mind.

For "Instant Video" to work, a couple of conditions need to be true:

  • YOU BOTH NEED THE LATEST MESSENGER APP - You need to have the latest version for either iOS or Android.

  • YOU BOTH NEED TO BE *IN* THE CHAT - This is key. You can't just open up Messenger and start sending video to someone who is listed in your contacts. You need to actually be in communication with the other person.

Once this second item is true the video icon on the top of the screen starts pulsating - at which point you can start sending "Instant Video".

I'd note that this is the same icon used to initiate a "regular" video call. However, when you are in a chat with someone else the pulsating icon means you can do this new "Instant Video" style of chat.

I found I really liked the overlay aspect. Here's the view I saw on my end:

FB Messenger video overlay

It worked very well to continue the text conversation while having the video right there, too.

It's an interesting addition as Facebook continues to try to make Messenger be THE tool that people use for messaging. Facebook has this advantage of having an absolutely massive "directory" of users (see "the Directory Dilemma") and so we may see this helping with keep people inside of Facebook's shiny walls.

What do you think? Do you see yourself using this "Instant Video"?

Facebook Messenger Launches Group Conference Calls (Audio-only)

Continuing their efforts to be THE communication platform you use, the Messenger team at Facebook rolled out "group calling" this week within the Messenger app on iOS and Android. The new feature was announced by David Marcus, head of the FB Messenger team. Right now this is audio-only (i.e. not group video) and per media reports is limited to 50 participants.

I had to go to the AppStore and upgrade the Messenger app on my iPhone to the latest version, but once I did, I suddenly had a phone icon in the upper right corner of a group chat:

FB groupcalls 1

Tapping that phone icon brought me to a screen where I could choose which of the group members I wanted to bring into the group call:

FB groupcalls 2

After tapping "Call" in the lower right, Messenger launched the call and gave me feedback about who it was connecting, etc:

FB groupcalls 3

It then connected those who were available and four of us were in a group conference call:

FB groupcalls 4

As you can see in the screen captures, I had the standard buttons to mute my microphone and to activate the speakerphone.

AUDIO QUALITY - The audio quality was quite good. I couldn't find any technical info about what they are doing "under the hood" but one of the folks on the call understood that it was WebRTC-based, which would then imply the use of the excellent Opus audio codec. We experienced a couple of audio hiccups but nothing outside the normal VoIP experience and nothing that really detracted from the call. It certainly sounded like a rich, wideband-audio connection.

We didn't stay on the call for long as I didn't want to take their time (or my own), but exiting the call was simple and brought us right back into the group chat to continue our communication.

MOBILE-ONLY - One concern noted by a couple of folks was that the incoming audio call only rang on their tablet or phone, i.e. the iOS or Android app. It did not ring inside of Facebook in a desktop web browser or in the website.

Beyond that, though, it seemed a very straightforward and positive experience.

Now, Facebook Messenger is not the first to do this, of course. Skype has had group audio and video calls for years. As Venturebeat noted, in March of last year Line launched group calling for up to 200 people and WeChat added group audio and video calls in September.

Still, this is Facebook Messenger, with its 900 million users, providing yet another reason to NOT use traditional audio conferencing solutions.

I would suspect, too, that video conferencing can't be too far off, either, given that Facebook Messenger currently does let you do 1:1 video calls - and also that competitors offer group video calls.

It continues to be an absolutely fascinating time to watch the severe disruption of traditional telecommunications... and this move by Facebook is yet another example of how the ways we are communicating are changing.

What do you think? Will you use the group calling within Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Takes On Snapchat With Launch of "Messenger Codes" To Easily Connect Users

On the eve of Facebook's major "F8 Developer Conference" happening April 12-13, the company has launched a clear attack on Snapchat's "Snapcode" method of connecting users with their new "Messenger Codes". If you go into the newest version of Facebook Messenger on iOS (which is the only platform I have to test right at this moment) and click on the gear icon in the lower right labeled "Settings", you now see a brand new profile screen:

Facebook messenger code settings

There are two things to note here:

  1. The circular shaped code around my profile image; and
  2. The new short URL of which brings me to a web version of Facebook Messenger. (More on that in a different post.)

The circular code clearly reminded me of Snapchat's "Snapcode", where mine is:

Snapcode dyork

And sure enough, when I clicked on the "People" icon at the bottom of the Messenger app, the first option on the top is "Scan Code":

Facebook messenger scan code

Since I had learned about these codes via a tweet from Chris Messina, I pointed my phone at my laptop screen where his Messenger Code was visible:

Fb messenger messina

As I got closer to the code, the Messenger app automagically recognized the code and put me into a message window with Chris:

Fb messenger messina success

I didn't chat with him as I didn't have a reason to do so and I don't recall us actually meeting. But I could ... it was this easy to get connected.

In a similar way to Snapchat, from the "Scan Code" window there is a symbol in the lower left corner that lets you access your phone's photos. So if you receive a Messenger Code via some other method (such as Twitter where people are already posting their codes using the #F8 hashtag) and save that image to your photos, you can access it from the "Scan Code" page and connect with the person.

From that same "Scan Code" page you can also tap "My Code" to see your code. Here's mine:

Fb my code

I can now share that Messenger Code out through the icon in the upper right and get it out into other social services (as I did on Twitter), or via text message, email, DropBox or anything else.

(Amusingly, while I could share the image out to Snapchat, the image is shared as square and since Snapchat uses full vertical images it cropped the image... meaning that the full Messenger Code would not be displayed and presumably would not work.)

So What?

At this point you may be saying "so what?" and wondering what value this really brings.

As I wrote about last year, messaging is all about "the directory dilemma", i.e.

People will only USE a communication application if the people they want to talk to are using the application.

It's all about having the most massive directory of users and growing that directory.

As Snapchat has demonstrated, the use of these "user codes" takes away the friction of figuring out how to connect with someone.

Over the past months a number of people I know have changed their Twitter and Facebook profile images to be their Snapcode. All I need to do, then, is point Snapchat on my phone toward their image and... ta da.. I can send them a connection request. No worry trying to look up their name... or figure out which of the many "Dan Yorks" I am if they are trying to connect to me.

Simple. Easy.

In many ways it's the proprietary version of QR codes... although focused on connecting two users rather than (as is often the case with a QR code) sending you to a web page or other site.

I expect we'll start seeing people change their Twitter profile photos to include their Facebook Messenger Code.

If people do, Facebook can steal the messaging from that rival platform. If you advertise your Messenger Code as the profile on another service, you are effectively saying "I prefer to get Facebook Messenger messages".

Take away the friction of connecting and let users advertise how to connect on your messaging platform.

If I were the organizer of an event, and I wanted to use FB Messenger as my primary messaging app, I could very easily see adding my Messenger Code to the event website, or even to printed flyers that might hang in a local coffee shop, library, gym, school or wherever...

Simple. Easy.

What About Brands? Facebook Pages?

I could see a huge benefit to brands to be able to publish these Messenger Codes, particularly with the expectation of "chat bots" being unveiled at F8 this week.

Again, from Facebook's point of view, this would keep the messaging within Facebook's walled garden, and continue to keep Facebook having the biggest directory of active users.

Tonight I couldn't discover anything similar in the Pages app or any other place. But you would think it would be coming... we'll have to stay tuned to F8 coverage this week to find out more.

What About Messaging Spam?

But if you publish your Messenger Code everywhere, what about spam?

Another good question... and since I published my Messenger Code on Twitter, perhaps I'll find out the answer over the next day or so! :-)

Perhaps Facebook will filter them all into the "Message Requests" that was very hard to find. I don't know! I have to think they will do something to ensure Messenger doesn't descend into the spam pit as email has.

How Else Can Messenger Codes Be Used?

We'll have to see what they tell us at the "F8 Developer Conference" this week... stay tuned!

What do you think about these Messenger Codes? Do you think it will help in connecting you with people? Will your promote your code? Or do you think it is all a waste of time? Let me know in the comments or on social media...

Audio Recording: My SIPNOC 2014 Talk - "Is It Time For TLS For SIP?"

Is it time to use Transport Layer Security (TLS... essentially what we used to call "SSL") to add a layer of trust and security to Voice-over-IP (VoIP) that uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)?

Way back in June 2014, I gave a talk on this topic at the SIP Network Operators Conference (SIPNOC) in Herndon, Virginia. I recorded the audio of the session... but then lost track of the recording. I recently found it and, since much of it is (sadly) still relevant, I decided to release the recording as one of my The Dan York Report audio podcast episodes:

The slides that go with the presentation are available on SlideShare:

You'll see in the slide deck that I also provide some tutorials around DANE and DNSSEC along the way.

Coincidentally, I learned on Facebook over the weekend that my friend Olle Johansson was speaking on this exact topic at the FOSDEM 2016 conference in Brussels this weekend. His slides about SIP & TLS are also available on SlideShare, and he has more recent information - and also the conclusion that we need to use "SIP Outbound" for any of this to work:

Olle's last slide about what we need to do hits on the key points - and I agree with his conclusions.

Let's look at how we can get more TLS used within SIP to bring about a more secure and trusted VoIP infrastructure!

Talko's Purchase By Microsoft Shows The Challenge Of The Directory Dilemma

Today Microsoft announced that they acquired the technology of Talko, a communication app created by Ray Ozzie and launched back in September 2014. Fortune has an article on the acquistion, as do a good number of other media sites.

After Talko first launched, I wrote about my initial experience - and the problem I had of Talko working through my home firewall. But I was intrigued by the possibilities laid out in a Medium article about how Talko could change communication and integrate voice, chat and messaging in interesting ways.

The reality, though, was that Talko was a classic case of suffering from the Directory Dilemma - as I said in that article:

People will only USE a communication application if the people they want to talk to are using the application.

And that was true for me... I tried out Talko, as I try out many apps. I used it for a while. And then... I stopped.

The people with whom I communicate were not regularly using Talko.

You can see the recognition of this dilemma in today's front page of Talko's web site:

However, as engaged as many of you have been, the reality is that the broad-based success of communications apps tends to be binary: A small number of apps earn and achieve great viral growth, while most fall into some stable niche.

For all the value and enjoyment it's delivered, and for all the team's listening and perseverance, Talko was largely on the path to filling a (passionate) niche. We're in this to have great impact, so it's time for a change.


We deeply appreciate the commitment that so many of you made in betting on Talko. You invested your time and your reputation to convince your friends and co-workers to use the product with you.

This is the reality that messaging / communication apps have to face today. Either somehow build that massive directory - or be happy (and financially stable) within the certain niches and communities in which your product can thrive.

What's next for the Talko team (minus Ray Ozzie, who has said he will not be re-joining Microsoft) isn't 100% clear. Both the Microsoft and Talko posts today are vague, with the latter saying:

As part of the Skype team, we'll leverage Talko’s technology and the many things we’ve learned during its design and development. We'll strive to deliver the best of our product’s innovations far more broadly than on our current path.


Looking forward, we hope to hear from you again as we find ways to deliver the best of Talko in Skype.

We'll have to see what pieces of Talko they bring into Skype.

Congrats to Ray Ozzie and the Talko team - and to Microsoft - on this acquisition. I hope it does work well for all involved.

Meanwhile, we can look and wonder which of the zillion new messaging apps out there will be the next to fold into a larger player...

P.S. There's a thread on Hacker News about today's announcement and there was a really long thread on HN back in 2014 when Talko was announced that may still be of interest.

Giving Up On The iPad2


I finally gave up. After months of trying to continue to use my older iPad 2 with first iOS 8 and then iOS 9, as chronicled in several blog posts, I finally gave in and bought a new iPad Air 2. These two blog posts, and the many comments left both on the posts and on social media, show I am clearly NOT alone in wanting to continue using my iPad 2:

What finally did it for me is that after the iOS 9 upgrade, I was no longer able to use a specific application that I use all the time.

To explain a bit more, I coach a competitive girls Junior Curling team that my daughter is a member of. As part of that, I've been using an app call "iCurlStats" to track the actions and statistics in curling games so that we can be able to go back over them afterward. When I tried to use it in a recent curling tournament (a "bonspiel") it kept crashing all the time... and at terrible moments when I'd entered half of an "end" of a curling game.

It was so frustrating.

And unfortunately I discovered that the makers of that "iCurlStats" app seem to have gone out of business. The app is gone from the AppStore and the developer's website is completely gone. (In the little bit of digging it looks like the company may have been acquired by another company who then shut down different parts of the acquired company.)

So the chances of me getting an updated version of the app from the developer that would still work with an iPad 2 running iOS 9 were basically non-existent.

So I gave up. I gave in to the "planned obsolesence" and forked over more money to Apple for a iPad Air 2. This is the latest iPad in this size and so one would hope that Apple will keep it around for a while. Because I have come to heavily use a number of apps that are only on iOS, I'm right now locked into Apple's shiny, pretty walled garden. And I'm reluctantly okay with that because the apps are useful and help me get things done.

But I will also now be VERY CAUTIOUS applying future iOS updates to this iPad.

Had I not "updated" the iPad 2 to iOS 8 and left it running iOS 7 it probably would still be quite workable. (At least until I was forced to upgrade to newer apps that only ran on iOS 9 or later.) Now the iPad 2 will become something I use for an extra web browser screen or for some of the music apps... at least while all of those continue to work.

So that's the end of the saga.

No more glacial slowness for me - the iPad Air 2 is a remarkable and fast tablet. I can chart my curling games extremely easily and it works great for all the other apps I use, too.

Hopefully I can get a good run of years out of this one.

An audio commentary on this topic is also available:

P.S. There's another part to the story, too. After getting all set up on the iPad Air 2 and having iCurlStats work great - and getting all set up for the curling bonspiel all this past weekend... I decided that I wasn't comfortable with using an app that was no longer supported at all. In my research I had stumbled upon Curl Coach, a newer iPad app for curling coaches, and wound up using it for this past weekend's bonspiel. It is an amazing application! It's not cheap ($40 USD), but it's well worth it for how well it helped me work with our team! I don't know if this would have run on the iPad 2 (removing the need to buy the iPad Air 2), but I'm sure it wouldn't have run as fast as it did... and that is key when you're in the midst of recording a game.

Video and Slides Now Available For My AstriCon 2015 Keynote: Open Source and The Global Disruption of Telecom

If you're interested in what I said last month at AstriCon 2015 in my keynote on "Open Source And The Global Disruption of Telecom: What Choices Will We Make?", the video and slides are both available.

As I wrote about previously, the context for this discussion was to talk about the changes that are happening all around us in terms of the ways in which we communicate. Here was the abstract:

There is a battle raging for the global future of telecommunications and the Internet. Taking place in networks, board rooms and legislatures, the battle will determine how we all communicate and what opportunities will exist. Will telecom support innovation? Will it be accessible to all? Will it give us the level of security and privacy we need to have the open, trusted Internet? Or will it be restricted and limited by corporate or government gatekeepers?

The rise of voice-over-IP has fundamentally disrupted the massive global telecommunications industry, infrastructure and policies. Open source software such as Asterisk has been a huge driver of that disruption and innovation.. but now what? What role do platforms such as Asterisk play in this space? And what can be their role in a telecom infrastructure that is now mobile, increasingly embedded (Internet of Things) and more and more using proprietary walled gardens of communication?

How well I delivered on that will be up to you to decide... but I felt good about how it all came out and received many great comments and feedback throughout the rest of the event and afterwards. And, as a speaker I could see from the crowd (about 500-ish people) that they were NOT looking down into their smartphones or laptops... which is always a good sign! ;-)

A key point of what I aimed to do was to bring people up to a higher level to think about how their own actions fit into the broader context of what is happening in the world today.

It was fun to do! And I loved all the questions I was getting after that. My goal was to make people think... and it seemed that at least for some I did.

My part of the video starts after 15 minutes of introductory items (this was the opening of the event), so if you watch in the embedded video below you'll need to move forward to the 15:00 mark. You can also follow this direct link to the start of my segment with an introduction to me from Mark Spencer, the creator of Asterisk.

(And yes, this was the first time I had ever given a presentation wearing a ponytail in the long hair experiment I've been trying this year... I'm still not 100% sure I'm going to keep this style. This may be the first and only presentation you see with me like this.)

Unfortunately, the video only shows me talking on stage and doesn't show the slides I was using... so you don't understand what I'm talking about when I reference the slides.

I've posted the slides to my SlideShare account but as you'll see without the video or audio they aren't of much value. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to present in the very minimalist style I prefer where I only use images or a few words - and I thoroughly enjoyed doing so.

However, syncing the slides to the video is not something you'll probably find easy. At some point perhaps I'll create another video showing both my speaking and the slides... but I don't know that it will happen anytime soon.

Meanwhile, here they are...

Some of the links I reference in the presentation include (in the order of their appearance):

If you enjoyed this presentation and would like to have me potentially speak at your event, please do contact me. I've been speaking for many years and very much enjoy giving these kind of presentations at all types of events.

My First RFC - 7649 On "The Jabber Scribe Role at IETF Meetings"

Rfc7649 jabber scribe role 660px

Last month the first Request For Comments (RFC) was published where I was one of the co-authors. Ironically, this RFC 7649 had nothing to do with SIP, VoIP, telecom, IPv6, DNSSEC, security... or any of the other open Internet standards I've been working on in recent years!

In fact, it's not a "standard" at all but rather an "informational" document.

This document collects together a series of best practices for how someone can fill the role of the "jabber scribe" at IETF meetings, such as the IETF 94 meeting about to happen in Yokohama, Japan, starting this weekend. (Which I will not be attending due to scheduling challenges.) You can read RFC 7659 at:

As the abstract states:

During IETF meetings, individual volunteers often help sessions run more smoothly by relaying information back and forth between the physical meeting room and an associated textual chatroom. Such volunteers are commonly called "Jabber scribes". This document summarizes experience with the Jabber scribe role and provides some suggestions for fulfilling the role at IETF meetings.

The document came about because over the years that I've been involved with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) I've come to both value the critical role the "jabber scribe" can play - and I've also tried to do the best I can to perform that role when I'm in working group sessions at IETF meetings. I typically volunteer as a jabber scribe in any of the sessions I'm in and try to make the experience as good as possible for remote participants.

Largely my interest is because I spent many IETF meetings as a remote participant and I knew how poor that experience can be.

A few years ago after one of the IETF meetings, I made a comment to a couple of people that we ought to write down some of the suggestions and best practices so that people could easily get some ideas for how they could help out in the role. If they were new to the idea... or even if they had been around but were interested in doing the role better.

I kept track of some ideas ... and a small group of us kept occasionally bouncing ideas around... but none of us had the cycles to write the actual document.

Then last year at, I think, the Toronto IETF meeting in July, Peter St. Andre and I were talking about it again - and this time we actually got it off the ground! More precisely, Peter kicked it off and then he and I went through several rounds of revisions and comments.

Given that Peter's authored 35+ RFCs and countless Internet-Drafts (I-Ds), he knows the IETF process inside and out and so was able to guide the document through the publishing process, including having it move through the "independent submission" stream of RFC documents. I've written a number of Internet-Drafts over the years, but none have yet progressed to an RFC. I learned a great bit from Peter through the process and look forward to using that knowledge in the future.

I greatly appreciate Peter's leadership on this - and I hope that this document will be helpful to many folks out there who are helping involve more people remotely in the IETF's standards process.

Given the timezone difference with Japan, I'm not sure how many of the IETF 94 working group sessions I'll actually be able to attend remotely... but if I do, I'll be hoping that whomever is acting as the Jabber scribe will help include those of us who are remote.

Meanwhile, it is kind of fun to have my name on an RFC, even if it's an Informational one. I look forward to being able to play even more of a role in the IETF standards process in the years ahead...