Re: Discussion on CU-SeeMe Mac/PC

Jim Harper (
Fri, 14 Jul 1995 12:39:26 -0500

Ok, Ok, Ok,
I usually just lurk on this list, but this one I have to reply to.

Let us get away from conspiracy theories as to why the Mac version is more
advanced that the PC version. Yes, Cornell, especially CIT (Cornell
Information Technologies, the department where CU-SeeMe came from), is
somewhat Mac-centric, but official surveys of the campus show that Cornell
is really a 50-50 campus, just about 50 percent Macs and 50 percent
PC-compatibles (with, of course, a few Unix boxes in the usual places, like
the Engineering School, etc.). This is true across all students, staff and
faculty groups. Most of the computers in the CIT public labs are Macs,
mostly because of demand (and, lets face it, for a young student who has
not used a computer before and is under pressure to produce a paper, the
Mac is still easier to learn). However, many of the academic departments
have put in their own computer labs, and many of these are PC-centric, so
it is hard to say that "Cornell" is heavily biased toward either platform.

CIT has been urging departments for several years to upgrade to Ethertalk
networks, and while the side benefit is to allow "more bandwidth-intensive
applications" one of the main reasons for the recommendation is that it is
too costly for Network Resources (a division of CIT) to mantain many
different types of routers/bridges/whatevers which are required for a
multi-protocol environment. By dropping Appletalk, and standardizing on
Ethernet, they are able to _reduce_ the overhead costs associated with
running a large network like Cornell's.

Certainly CU-SeeMe is also not the only "bandwidth-intensive application"
which is used on the Cornell campus. Among other things, we have had an
explosive increase in the amount of email and web use over the last couple
of years, and the Registrar's office is in the process of putting on the
whole preregistration process for over 17,000 Cornell students
online--something that will certainly help to swamp our bandwidth during
the few weeks of preregistration each semester.

Cornell, like just about everyplace in the nation is having to tighten
their belts, but Cornell is also unusual historically in that half of the
campus is "Statutory" (funded by New York State), and half is "Endowed"
(funded by alumni, grants, etc.) CIT is part of the Endowed side of
campus, and therefore has a different set of budgetary problems from the
Statutory side which is under the budget axe of George Pataki, the new
governor of NYS.

I think (they can correct me if I am wrong) that the original developers of
CU-SeeMe did it on Macs because that's what they were use to (had to be one
or the other, just be glad it wasn't Amigas or something :-) ). I think
that the reason that they have pursued putting it on PCs _at_all_ is
because Cornell *is* so evenly divided between Macs and PCs, and they do
have the other half of the house to keep enfranchised. I believe that many
of the people who are crucial to its development do have other
responsibilities within CIT which keeps them from spending the same amount
of development manhours that a commercial enterprise might be able to
devote. It will be interesting to see what resources White Pine might be
able to bring to this product.
Jim Harper

>Date: Thu, 13 Jul 1995 13:02:12 -0500
>From: "Thomas R. Parker" <>
>Subject: Discussion on CU-SeeMe Mac/PC
>Message-ID: <>
>Let me try to explain something from a 3rd person POV. The following is not
>official from Cornell, however, it may be somewhat of a useful explanation. I
>apologize for the length.
>Why Macs?
> In short, my guess mould be it's just serving their staff and faculty.
> For more info, read on.
> The reason, I would think, is because of the computers at Cornell. My
>mother is employed at a part of Cornell, and among the probably 1,000+
>computers there, everyone I've known (including a sys-admin of their systems)
>can find only one IBM. A 286. (it runs an ancient statistics program - I had
>to use it two summers ago...)
> This is basically an indication of the state of computing at Cornell.
>Anyway, the point is that Cornell is very much a Mac campus, and this is being
>done with Cornell money (at least some of it), and they have to justify it
>every year to keep it a free public program - perhaps you remember their mail
>about a month ago asking users to tell them how people are using it to justify
>the program.
> So therefore, I would think that not only would their programmers, etc.
>be more knowledgeable about Macs, but that they would do everything that they
>could to make it useful for their staff/faculty. Where my mom works just
>installed Ethernet everywhere (as opposed to the old localtalk network), with
>one of the reasons being so they could use "more bandwidth intensive"
>applications. (I don't think that it was a problem of fetching e-mail over
>localtalk being too slow...) Considering most (99%) of the apps run from local
>drives (not run over the network as some do) this would tend to hint at such
>technologies as CU-SeeMe.
> In actuality, they are Cornell staff that (most of them) probably have
>other responsibilities than CU-SeeMe. Maybe UNC has the money to put a lot of
>people into such a program, but Cornell is in deep monetary trouble last I
>checked. They (NYSAES, a tiny little division) were just required to cut over
>a lot of money (I won't discuss numbers) from a budget that had already taken a
>big hit, and while most people that have been hit by the NYS budget crunch
>(disappearance?) can do money saving things with lights and insulation and
>other money saving stuff, Cornell did that years ago. All of the parts of
>Cornell are taking such a hit. The only thing to do is get rid of people. The
>reason I may seen so heated about defending Cornell is that my mom may soon be
>one of them.
>Have a Day
>Tom P.
>Thomas Parker
>Summer 1995:

Jim Harper Cornell Information Technologies
255-8054 Cornell University Ithaca, NY USA