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OK this is the place to find Video Conferencing resources for CAN-UK, Aus-UK or even just local comms!

What is it?

A little window on your screen shows the video of the person you are speaking to (if they have a webcam) and they have the same set up at their end! You can speak and the other person hears you and vice versa. It's a PC based video phone

What does it look like?

It looks like this....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot taken 05/11/05. Type in the white box, hit return and it appears in the grey box above it. Handy when the audio drops out!! You also get the small local window showing YOUR camera view so you can see what you are transmitting. Handy if your camera gets twisted and is pointing towards the wall!

 

OOo sounds expensive.....how much is the software?

Free...yes er.....free....

 

What software do i need?

SQUIDCAM! This is the standard! It works on PC and Mac with Audio and Video and is easy to use.

Tip: PC users...when you have installed Squid, make a shortcut to Squidcam.exe and place the shortcut on your desktop. This is needed because when Squid is installed it does not automatically generate desktop or Start menu shortcuts like some programs do

The shortcut should point to something like this:

C:\thefolderyou installlesquidcamto\squidcam_159b1\SquidCam\SquidCam.exe

If in doubt, ask John!!

But alternatives are: Net Meeting (for PC comes built into Windows), Ohphone or GnomeMeeting for the Mac but don't use these until you've tried Squidcam.

 

Ok so what needs to be connected to my computer?

A Microphone, headphones (or a combined mic/headset) and a webcam. Some webcams have built in mic's which means you just need to plug headphones in.

 

Can I use speakers rather than headphones

Not really, think about what you are setting up. Your mic is sending your voice down to the other persons computer, if it comes out of their speakers it will be as loud as speech....this will therefore get picked up by their mic and transmitted back to you...delayed...echo....very annoying and if both parties have speakers then a loop of amplified sound will occur....we techies call that 'feedback' and it sounds like a high pitch scream! YUK, Neine Danke!

Either a seperate mic, cam with built in mic, or desk mic can be used with headphones or a wired headset (stereo or mono) with a built in boom mic can be used and are all good solutions.

 

What if i don't have a webcam?

That's ok, get yourself a microhone and some headphones (even old personal stereo types!) and you can just chat away, free telephone! If the other person has a cam, you can see them though!

 

What sort of Webcam should i get?

Most available USB Cams should work with this software. For the record Dave J and I both have Logitech USB cams (Quick Cam Zoom and Quick Cam Sphere) and they both work fine. A good UK online shop is ebuyer.

 

Is it really complex?

Install the software, don't faff with any of the settings, run it and voila! So no not really.

 

How do i test it?

Phone Dave, Jenn orJohn and arrange a time to give it a go!

 

What if i'm camera shy?

Take a big, deep breath now Marsha! (Scrubs ref....sorry)

 

Can it really be so simple?

Yes!

 

Why didn't you do this before?

Did but there was no affordable Broadband back then so Modem connections were sloooow! It did work though but it was more of an accessory to typed chat.

 

What if i can't think of any more questions?

Wait and see what people ask you next...then add it ot the bottom of the list!

 

General waffle about testing it etc.

It's not a new thing at all, indeed i ran this with two way audio and video over dial up in the last century! How very old fashioned. SO all this VOIP hype got me thinking "Pah! Nothing new there"....but then....why the hell aren't we using these broadband connections to their full potential? So to have a chat overseas or indeed in the next town, with friends and family all you need is a computer connected to the internet, a mic and headphones. A webcam is optional (or for some, de rigeur!)

After a number of hours experimentation with NetMeeting and my cam/mic and Ophone, the Mac equivalent of NetMeeting, Dave J and I have decided to ditch NetMeeting(PC)/Ophone due to problems with audio and my mic. Whilst not insurmountable, Ophone also required an additional video patching software to get the video from the camera driver to Ophone. Not very user firendly and altogether a bit of a pain. Whilst trying to sort these issues out DJ discovered SquidCAM. We installed it, ran it and BINGO! Instant success! Audio and video! So this is the latest standard.

 

NETMEETING STUFF

If you want to set up a NetMeeting link and want more info, i have left it here for reference

I can't find Net Meeting on my computer, I run Windows XP, what is wrong?

Nothing! it just doesn't set itself up straight away. To set it up, hit START, then RUN then type CONF.EXE any problems contact John

How do i connect?

Each computer is assigned a unique address when a connection is made to the internet (on many connections this is dynamic in that each time you switch on, you are assigned a new number!). To receive a call, you need to give the caller your IP address. You can do this by email and is very easy to do with a little widget i found called IP assistant. (for PC's only, sorry guys) Download that, install it and when it runs in your tray (near your clock) put your mouse over it and it will display your current IP address! Easy!