to broadcast or not

Dennis L. Gallagher (GALLAGHER@gobo.msfc.nasa.gov)
Wed, 5 Jun 1996 9:51:31 -0500 (CDT)


I am looking for someone sufficiently familiar with the Cornell and the White
Pine products to advise me in the viability of a use for CU-seeMe that I am
considering and in the best Mac configuration (hardware and software) for the
task.

I am considering the use of CU-seeMe to broadcast a science workshop that we
will host this September. The workshop will run over 5 days, involving 100-150
scientist from around the world. Current research involving our experimental
and theoretical understanding of the processes that occur in space near the
earth will be discussed. Remote participants may be researchers who cannot
travel to the workshop, graduate students, and any other student, educator, or
just John Q. Public who has an interest in space science. I anticipate that we
will provide our own reflector (maybe more than one reflector would be required
for distribution and maybe that isn't supported).

I have used the Cornell product (version 0.83b3 PPC) from a Mac connected to a
robust institutional intranet, that has high bandwidth to the Internet. The
Mac was a PowerPC 8500 series A/V Mac. Upgrades were made to the operating
system, MacTCP, Open Transport, and everything else that is advised. I have
found the performance somewhat flaky; video sometimes freezes in and out and
audio doesn't always come through. I have worked with bandwidth configuration
and other available options with only limited success in improving the
performance. I gather that sessions sometimes work well and sometimes do not
(perhaps influenced by Internet backbone loading?).

Are one of these products now or will one soon be sufficiently mature to be
used as a practical tool for educational and public outreach over the Internet?
What bandwidth to the Internet is a "must", given that 28.8k is a minimum?

The CU-seeMe product shows much promise and I expect wonderful opportunities in
the future. I realize that there are several well organized efforts already
using the product for educational outreach, but these may be as much at the
"bleeding" edge as at the leading edge of Internet usage. I would be happy to
hear anyone's opinion about whether this technology is mature enough to make
its use in my application worth doing for the remote participant.

Dennis Gallagher

Space Plasma Physics Branch, ES83
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, AL 35812
(205)544-7587
dennis.gallagher@msfc.nasa.gov