Cu-SeeMe and the LAN

Robert D Prociak (rprocia1@tampabay.rr.com)
Mon, 27 Jul 1998 09:27:42 -0400


OK I don't get much time to write to this list but I got to thinking on this
one.
They call Cu-SeeMe"Desktop video conferencing software" .
One problem it won't work on most desktops connected to a LAN.
If you have a modem you can connect at 28k-56k, if you have a cable modem
you can connect at up to 700k, if you have a LAN you can connect at whatever
speed your router and connection (T1 etc.) allows. if your LAN will route
registered Internet ip numbers you can route up to the number of ips you
have. Though if you have 300 computers you may not want 300 ips so you may
have a proxy server on your LAN with private IP address. Currently Cu-SeeMe
will not work through a Windows NT proxy. Linux works but just one machine
at a time, this would not be good with even 5 users. So Cu-SeeMe will not
work on the majority of desktop computers out there. Maybe someone like
White Pine may find a way to use a proxy with there 10mb client. If anyone
out there knows of any proxy servers or other information, strategies to get
cu to work on the LAN Please let me know. If anyone is doing work in the
area of Cu-SeeMe routing or proxies I would like to hear about it.

Microsoft net meeting will work through the proxy but will only be able to
call out from the LAN.. Applications that allow an operator to switch
incoming calls to private internal ips for calling in to the LAN with net
meeting exist though and will get better with time .
Cu-SeeMe is video confercing software Net meeting is not.
Cu-SeeMe is better.
Net meeting is given away by Microsoft Cu-SeeMe is given away by Cornell..
Ways to Workaround this problem with Cu-SeeMe on the LAN usually revolve
around putting a Cu-SeeMe reflector were it can see both the Internet and
LAN. You can't call out that way but if you have a fast connection you can
get pretty good communications. Unfortunately the best reflector for the job
is also lot of money.

(cut from an e mail sent to me from White Pine Software)

January 98

>Pricing is as follows: MeetingPoint Server (10 user) - $3,995
>> Maintenance & Support - $998.75
>> (includes 10 copies of CUSeeMe vers 3.1)

If you are like me and running a windows NT server Network you would
probably look for a lower cost alternative. Especially if your application
for video confercing is not proven and is experimental. ( I don't know if I
will even want to use the thing until it is deployed and someone actually
uses it). Brian's Eref seems to be a very good reflector but I have never
been able to get it to work on two IPs at once. There is another reflector
port to NT . The
UCSC Reflector. It will bind to multiple IPs but is limited in some of the
other features as compared to Brian's Eref.
I saw the "refractor" and thought I would look at it when it first was
posted here. So I obtained the files from Frank's web site and ran it
through it's paces.
I really did not like some of the things that Frank had done with the
program like recording people's chat logs. The cgi scripting and web
interface aside I was imprest with the reflectors executable's performance
and the fact that it could bind to two IPs at once but it sure seems like
Eref in the way it works. Except it binds to two IPs.?
I've read on the list that Frank allegedly plagiarized Brian's earlier
version of Eref source code. I'm fairly new to Cu-SeeMe and never saw an
earlier version of Eref. Can anyone tell me if a port to NT ever exited
(binary executable) ? Can anyone tell me if it did ever exist can it still
be obtained ? Brian? I would love to get a copy of the executable to test
for binding to two IPs.

The other problem with Cu-SeeMe from the desktop is you can't call the
Internet just your reflector on your LAN/Internet (Will Call You).

I've been able to work around this problem in win95, 98, NT by using a
pool of unused IPs at the NT server ( not bound to network card of server)
clients can dial to the server using Virtual Private Networking pptp
tunnels over the LAN and be temporarily assigned a valid Internet IP
number. This allows sharing of a few IPs by many users like a business
telephone shares lines This allows Cu-SeeMe to behave as if it were
connected to a really fast modem instead of the LAN. This is a very stable
setup and behaves much the same way as using your modem . Windows98 usually
installs pptp by default if you have a LAN card in your system pptp can be
added to Win95 and NT. Unfortunately this only works if you have a pool of
fixed IPs to allocate and you do not have a dhcp server assigning your IP
like a cable modem often will. Under those circumstances I know of no way
to bind two dhcp assigned IPs together on the same machine. If one of the
IPs can't be assigned to the server So VPN networking will work, how will it
be possible to log on to the network as many cable system require you to do?
Looks like a reflector is the only way to get through a cable modem
network/LAN. at this time.

I am currently evaluating strategies for instant online customer assistance
on some of our online automated sales web stores, (we sell computers and
parts). Ideas such as ICQ corporate and the icq web panel, active server
pages and cgi scripts etc. are being evaluated. One of the strategies would
be to let customers call in to our sales and tech support departments using
Cu-SeeMe to make inquires on product and under some conditions technical
questions , when a face to face conference may help. Currently we use
multiple ISDN lines bundled to give our DNS server.
mail server and Cu-SeeMe out lines. The DNS sever redirects domain names to
our cable modem equipped severs for web pages ICQ VPN and Cu-SeeMe
reflectors.
When one of our sales staff would like to return a call in theory they
should be able to do so with VPN . When a customer would like assisatance
and conects from there phone book or a web link the fixed ISDN DNS server
redirects the request to the current IP address of the appropriate cable
modem equipped reflector. In the near future we anticipate addition of ASDL
modems to replace our ISDN modems to increase speed of dial out.
We believe that soon most of our online competitors will be offering some
form of live web assistance on there web stores. We are also evaluating the
final beta of our total integrated on line business / web sales system. This
system will combine all our databases floor sales mail order etc., with our
web stores in effect allowing our customers to write there own orders over
our web sites with Active Server Pages and 128 bit security. Phone order
customers placing orders with our phone sales staff use the same databases
seeing the same part numbers pictures and quantity on hand. Walk in
customers in our showrooms make purchases from sales staff who use the same
database and interface.

Data supplied to us suggest that cable modems, or ASDL service will be
available to a full 2/3 of American households within 1-2 years. Video
confercing with Cu-SeeMe over cable modems was capable in our test of up to
15-32 frames a sec video. With Intel DVI 32 kb audio sound is very life
like, average frame rates varies with number of participants and your desire
to really burn up your cable companies ATM network.

With Color video cameras capture kits going for $69.95 the availability of
cable modems /asl and sound cards going for $19.95 there is no reason not to
believe that true cheep video conferencining for the masses may be just
around the corner.

I was just thinking about who's software was going to be on the desktop on
millions of LAN connected computers out there?

///////////////////////
Disclaimer :All software mention is copyrighted by there respective owners.
I do not speak on behalf of anyone but myself I do not speak on behalf of
any Computer company including any I may have or currently work for. No
offer is made to sell products or provide a service. Mention of the
consideration or evaluation of various software pack ages does not
constitute an offer to purchase any products at this time. No guaranty is
made that any service will ever be offered and if subsequently offered will
not constitute a requirement that said service will be as described here.

Cu-seeme reflectors mentioned here are currently for closed private
evaluation. No Public access is permitted at this time.

Robert Prociak

robert@craftpc.com