Re: Some general observations

Bill Ryan (
Wed, 18 Feb 1998 15:11:41 -0500

Hi all,

I'm coming off the sidelines for this one :)
Here's my 2 cents as one of the Mac CU-SeeMe engineers :)

>On Wed, 18 Feb 1998, Wayne Fisher wrote:
>> Funny, but it seems as if I may be one of the few people on this
>> listserv who actually LIKE White Pine's CUSeeMe version 3.x. With 3.x,
>> White Pine has added smoother and faster video based upon newer and
>> improved codes, enhanced audio, and better support for color.
>3.1 has its advantages... It improves a few things but makes a lot of
>things worse as well. (Ever listened to some of the installation
>nightmares people have had with 3.1?)

I don't believe this is a problem with the Mac preview release.
Not to start platform wars, but aren't Windows installations of a product
which does Networking, Video display, Video capture and audio play and
audio send sort of a complex thing (many flavors of hardware to support)?
NOT AN EXCUSE, we should make this as simple and intuitive as possible!
Are we heading in the wrong direction on Win installation????

>Im not so sure smoother vid is a direct result of 3.1 (The MeetingPoint
>reflector has a lot to do with that as well as quality settings on each
>end). Since I can't get audio to work with 3.1, I can't comment on the
>better audio support. H.263 color is fairly nice (though they should tell
>you a 20% quality setting for H.263 is horrible looking...60% works much

A combination of both actually (MPCS and Clients).

What's the problem with your audio?
I talk with with Win 3.1 clients all the time (have to inorder to ensure
x-platform compatability).

>> Granted, the interface is a little different and takes some getting used
>> to, but I actually like it.
>Given enough time, you can learn to like anything :)
>I've found it's not nearly as intuitive as the previous versions. Doing
>what was quite simple in 2.X was made quite a difficult task in 3.X.

Change always pleases some and displeases other.....
I also like some things and dislike others wrt to the new GUI (I always
liked being ablle to see local video when I first start-up the app).
A little background here...we did a LOT of GUI prototyping and controlled
user studies prior to 3.0. The users were a mixed bag consisting of new
users and Cornell users. The GUI went through a lot prior to 3.0 based on
user response. Believe you me, there were many a GUI war within engineering
itself, but when push came to shove..the user studies prevailed (hey,
software engineers are usually the worst designers of GUIs).

>> but, I would like to be able to float the windows as was available in
>> version 2.x.
>A little trick I learned to try to make 3.1 tolerable: Set your display
>windows to only show one window. Put your local window there. Then any
>other windows you click on pop up outside of the main CU window. You can
>also undock the participants window for a more 2.X-like experience. (Why
>ou can't undock the chat window, I have no idea).
>In fact, I got to see Eric Ochoa's desktop that made it appear a lot like
>2.X (get rid of all the title bars, enlarge the chat window to the full
>length of the CU window, and undock the participants list).
>But again..why should the user HAVE to go to all the work to do all this?

We're kicking around the following (parts of it will probably make it into
Mac 3.1 release).
Using a setting of 0 in the video layout will mimic the old Cornell window
layout (i.e. individual chat, participants, audio, and video windows)

>> And, not, I do NOT work for White Pine... I'm just tired of seeing their
>> excellent procut getting bashed on this listserv....
>I agree, 2.X is an excellent product. Why they redesigned it, I still
>haven't figured out.

See above.....

>So tell often have you used the contact cards with people you
>connect with? How often have you setup multicast conferences or used the
>Whiteboard? White Pine's recent advances have been towards the business
>users which need a videoconferencing solution. I've "tried" the multicast
>stuff..just doesn't work on a modem (not on mine anyway). I've tried the
>whiteboard but it's way too slow and cumbersome.

We're trying to please multiple types of users (corporate, small office,
hobbiests, mom&pop).
Tough thing to do...
Suggestions welcome...but remember, we can't do what you want just because
you want has to please multiple groups/types of users (or minimize
displeasure :) ).

>> granted, it does take some additional system
>> resources, but these days, so do MOST upgraded products.
>Perhaps you can answer one of my questions then...what's wrong with 2.X
>and why couldn't the features of 3.1 be wrapped up into 2.X's interface?
>3.1 has some nice things (resizing windows for one) but it's the interface
>and all the extras that people don't need/want that drive people away
>(from what I've seen). Would you buy a mainframe to use as a simple

See above.
In reality, it has NOT driven people away, but in fact has brought greater
numbers to the product.
I believe it HAS displeased some hardcore Cornell GUI lovers, but hopefully
this will be addressed in future releases (see above).

Hey, it's a $69 don't like the feature (whiteboard,
etc....)... don't use it :)

>> C'mon guys.... give the people at White Pine Some credit.... their
>> customer support has always helped me when I needed it
>The credit I give White Pine is to their reflector. They were the first
>ones to make reflectors easy to use and setup with multiple conferences
>and low bandwidth consumption. They definitely know what they are doing
>in that realm. (Though I question their pricing schemes on it.. $350 for
>a 50 client WP 2.0.X reflector a couple of years ago while $5000 gets the
>10 client MPCS reflector now).

Yes, we see real value in the MeetingPoint Conference Server (aka Reflector).
I myself would like to see a low cost low end version of it....
Wrt our client technology. On the Mac, we have the best (and only :) )
multipoint VC client. On Win, I like our client much better than Intel or

>> Just my own humble opinions... if you MUST flame me, please do so in a
>> private email... no sense wasting bandwidth....
>I don't consider this a flame :)
>I use the 3.1 version occasionally myself though I mostly just
>videoconference with other Cornell users, so the color capabilities (and
>the other "features") aren't really need.

Odd....nowadays I see less and less Cornell users...mostly Win M-JPEG users.
I'm an old timer and can remember when everyone was a Cornell user :)
Then again, I don't get around like I used to (damn work takes up all my
time :) ).

>Whatever works for you...If you enjoy it and get use out of it, that's all
>that really matters.


Take care,


Bill Ryan (
White Pine Software, Inc.
542 Amherst Street PH: 603-886-9050 x351 Tu/Fri
Nashua, NH 03063 603-529-5070 Mon/Wed/Thur

"I have no comment at this time"
- various politicians or their lawyers