Is CUSeeMe ready for "real" work?

Dennis J. Streveler (
Wed, 10 Apr 1996 19:34:25 -0700

At 07:05 PM 4/10/96 -0400, Jatuporn Chinrungrueng wrote:
>Hi all,
>I just downloaded CuSeeme V. W0.84, and subscribed to this mailing list last
>night. Most of the mail I got so far were about asking for help. So I just
>have a trivia question for you guys whether anyone can use this software to
>do conference without any problem at all. I just don't want to invest my
>money for a camera before the software is kind of complete. Also is the
>software supporting Win 95?

Sawasdee Khun Jatuporn,

You know you ask a very important question. (I was hoping that, since you
are at Cornell, YOU might have the answer to it!) "Is CUSeeMe really a
commercial product?" "Can it do 'real' work?"

I spent the afternoon discussing this question with my local ISP. I would
like to (one day soon) set up a reflector dedicated to a particular topic
(in my case: telemedicine issues) and have regular discussions with a group
of movers-and-shakers on this topic from around the world.

I have mixed feelings about pressing CU into "professional" service. Even if
one could control the computer setups, make sure that the internet lines
were wide enough (ISDN or better), I am not sure whether CU is ready.

I say this for a couple of reasons:

1) The audio still stinks. I don't know why. I don't know how to remedy it.
I just know it stinks. (After trying on a Lan, on ISDN, on 28.8 and with
every imaginable 'codec'.) It just is not up to a "comfortable" standard (I
guess we should define this as something relatively close to an
international telephone call, or in our case, an international conference

2) The user-interface is, well, inadequate. That is the kindest word I can
use to describe it. I (after several months useage) am still occasionally
stumped as to what a "green slash" vs. a "red X" means. I am always typing
into the TOP of the chat window (in the case of Enhanced CU) before I
realize that that is NOT the place I should type. I am (in the case of the
Mac version) typing to find out that the talk box is not active and
therefore my typing is going into the video window... Well, I could go on
and on about this, but hopefully that will give you some sense.

So just what is CU good for? How should it be marketed? To whom should it be
marketed? How can one set reasonable expectations for the product's
performance? These are all questions which need to be answered BEFORE CU
will hit the "big time".

I guess to answer your original question: if you $100 for a camera and want
to experiment with the future of videoconferencing on the net, then
certainly CU is worth the effort. If you need to RELY on the product to
transmit REAL information among REAL people whose margin for frustration is
relatively low, then it seems we must give CU rather low marks. It is rather
a pity because surely the potential for CU (or one of its competitors) to
become a gangbusters product is evident.


Dennis J. Streveler, Ph.D.
Systems Consultant
San Francisco, California, USA
CIS: 71036,1645
My job? To send the appropriate electrons hurtling around the globe.