Online Meetings Replace Travel? Desktop Video…again

An article on the Laptop magazine site discusses “telepresence”, i.e. holding meetings over the web. What I’m not sure is, whether the hosted solutions discussed in the article are the way to go. At least with one-on-one and small groups, a plain old videoconference works fine. Today I held hour-long meetings with a group in San Francisco, a possible collaborator in Seattle, and my partner in our on-campus office, all from Microdesign World Headquarters (i.e. my spare bedroom).

Fire up an H.323 client, like Polycom PVX ($120US, qty. 1) on a PC (which is supposed to also work on a Macbook using Parallels), or XMeeting (open source) on the Mac, or Ekiga (open source) on a Linux or Windows box.

On a PC, the secret is using a decent camera with a decent microphone. The Logitech Orbit AF is my choice…it includes excellent echo cancellation; so you don’t necessarily have to use a headset. You have to have broadband, of course, and a hard-wired connection works better than a wireless connection.

Ekiga, by the way, has released its version 3.0 as source. I’m trying to get up the courage to attempt to configure, make, and install. It requires two additional libraries which are also not on my current Suse 10.3 box. Either I’m looking forward to some hours of amusement, or I may wait for the O/S specific binaries.  I’m psyched about version 3.0, because it supports up to 30 frame per second video.  

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