Some comments

Larry Chace (EST)
Wed, 7 Dec 1994 15:20:58 -0500


A large portion of the CU-SeeMe development team is attending the Internet
Engineering Task Force meeting this week; as you might imagine, there is a
good deal of interest in CU-SeeMe at the IETF, both as to the program's
design and as to its use. Many recent postings to the cu-seeme-l mailling
list deserve responses and I'd like to venture some. Please note that
these are the opinions of just one member of the CU-SeeMe development team
and are not "official".

1. The general mailing list, cu-seeme-l@cornell.edu, has some 937
subscribers. That is, everything posted to this list goes to a lot of
folks. We have intentionally set the "reply" to go to the entire list so
that it is more like a discussion group, albeit a very large one.

Recently, though, there seems to have been a great deal of "private"
communication taking place via the entire list. There have also been a lot
of "me, too" or "I agree" postings, many of them with long copies of some
other posting. Suggestion: be *sure* that you are replying appropriately.
If the list turns into a lot of "private" discussions and contains little
more than "noise", then no one will take it seriously.

(The announement list, cu-seeme-announce-l@cornell.edu, currently has some
461 additional subscribers, by the way.)

2. Some alternate mailing lists have been set up, independent of Cornell.
That is fine, and I hope that the participants there will also be careful
and considerate.

3. There has been a lot of discussion of the QuickCam; some of it has been
clearly related to CU-SeeMe and some has been rather unrelated. We
probably do not need many more reports about the camer'a cost and
availability at each of the major retailers. We do need reports on how to
best use it with CU-SeeMe.

4. QuickCam's microphone and the MacRecorder have been mentioned (in the
context that they don't work with CU-SeeMe). This matter is under
investigation. Just as CU-SeeMe is NOT a QuickTime application, neither is
it a typical audio application. Its use of devices like camera and
microphones is not always what those devices' developers imagined, and so
please be patient as we try to test and recode as necessary.

5. To the question "is a 28.8 kbaud modem connection better than a 14.4",
the only real answer is "yes, just as it is easier to carry 100 kilograms
in a 4-kg bag than in a 2-kg bag". No matter what we do, the Laws of
Nature will make it difficult to use CU-SeeMe with slow-speed (modem)
connections.

6. There is work in progress to provide additional data compression,
although some experiments have suggested that the current compression
scheme is actually very effective, given the nature of the video input.
Many folks with slow-speed connections also have slow-speed computers, of
course, and that makes the job much more difficult.

7. Concern has been raised about the "massive amounts of bandwidth needed
by CU-SeeMe", and we are sensitive to those concerns. At the same time,
the program only uses bandwidth when it is being used, and how it is used
is determined by the human being in front of the camera, so maybe there is
a need for more education. (Perhaps an analogy to automobiles and their
drivers is appropriate here.)

8. Remember that there are both Mac and PC (Windows) versions of CU-SeeMe.
When you report something, be sure to mention your environment, and be
appropriately specific. If you say "I downloaded CUSM and it doesn't
work", then you haven't told us much that we can use to help you (and you
have insulted us by using the wrong name!).

10. (I can't avoid a personal gripe -- we do not need those fancy
"signatures" that some folks are so proud to append. They just eat up
bandwidth. Your name and e-mail address are enough.)

9. The Cornell "listserv" processor has been set up to honor "unsubscribe"
requests, if possible, even when they are sent to the list rather than to
the listserv processor itself; they still must be in the text of the
message and not in the subject field. This should cut down on those
annoying postings to the whole group when someone doesn't follow the
instructions for unsubscribing.

10. If you have specific program errors that you'd like to report, please
send a note to cu-seeme-bugs@cornell.edu if you want the fastest response.
These go only to the development team and will not bother the other 936
list members.

11. (I can't avoid a personal gripe -- we do not need those fancy
"signatures" that some folks are so proud to append. They just eat up
bandwidth. Your name and e-mail address are enough. For me, at least, the
"cuter" the signature, the less I'm inclined to take the author seriously.)

12. It is exciting to be involved in a project that has had such tremendous
response, even though the program is still in BETA-test! Your
well-considered comments and suggestions to this list are read and are
appreciated. Thank you.

Larry Chace (rlc1@cornell.edu)