Re: White Pine Support -- Was: I made a mistake and wish to apologize

Jason Williams (streak@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu)
Thu, 23 Oct 1997 15:39:07 -0500 (CDT)


On Thu, 23 Oct 1997, Gary Dietz wrote:
> Some things I ask all CU-SeeMe listserv readers to note:
>
> - CU-SeeMe 3.1 is getting better all the time. The audio is starting to
> REALLY rock. Even Digitalk and Voxware work better in the upcoming
> release. I've personally had two way conversations, point to point, using
> G.723 audio on 3.1 pre-releases on a 33.6 modem (on a Pent 133 w/32Mb w/Win95)

I've heard G.723 audio works better because it can use RTP for audio
traffic. But with reflectors, that only works on MeetingPoint reflectors.
I didn't know it'd use RTP on point to point connections as well.

As far as I know, the G.623 codec hasn't made its way into the 3.1
versions on the Mac. So as of right now, it compares the same with
NetMeeting (win95/NT only).

> - The idea that CU-SeeMe 3.1 is a system hog is a relative thing. For
> better or worse, our appx 9Mb installer footprint is comparable to other
> live audio/video Internet products. (Don't forget, we must install the
> appx. 2.0Mb ActiveMovie component, so really we are closer to 7Mb). Also,
> we have multipoint capabilities, multicast, and have a slew of CODECS for
> backwards compatability. Unfortunately, they take room.

The main reason I've seen people using any of White Pine's clients is for
the support of color. Perhaps this is changing as the notions of
acceptable audio through a modem become more down to earth. I remember
Cornell touting off "audio doesn't work through a modem at all"...This was
back when the only codec supported was the Intel DVI 32kbps codec and up.
Multicasting will (IMHO) be the key to future video conferencing.

>From what I can tell, it's a difference in White Pine's marketing goals.
A large part of the advantages to using White Pine's Enhanced CU-SeeMe
comes only when you are on a higher speed connection. I've had another
employee of White Pine tell me that the WhiteBoard wasn't meant for modem
users. As of 3.0, the WhiteBoard is a 4.5 Meg file..a rather large
external program. I haven't seen a comparable WhiteBoard out for the 3.1
preview versions but I imagine this will change at some point. White Pine
isn't out to market CU-SeeMe to current users of the program but to new
users who are on higher speed lines. While White Pine may listen to the
current userbase, they continue developing the program for corporate
users. It then turns to money since corporate users have the bandwidth
(either on a LAN, or high speed internet connection) and the money for it.
It just seems to me White Pine has shifted from the home users who built
up White Pine (for the means of getting color support primarily) to the
corporate users to sustain their position.

I've yet to talk to anyone that's used the WhiteBoard or multicasting
successfully on dial up modems. It remains to be seen whether the partial
H.323 compatibility will mean much in the long run. Looking towards the
future, H.323 is a definite plus. I know corporate users definitely
desire H.323 support.

> iVisit says they require 16Mb "free" (whatever that means). Intel requires
> a P133 w/32Mb RAM and 70Mb free hard drive space (seven zero Mb).
> NetMeeting requires a fast Pentium (and won't work on a Mac ;-) You get
> the idea. For better or worse, we compare favorably with other
> commercially released products for size footprint.

size footprint as for required computer..perhaps..
from what I remember:
iVisit 1.0 = little more than a meg to download
NetMeeting 2.1 RC = around 2 megs
CU-SeeMe 3.1 preview 9 = 9.3 Megs or so

Videoconferencing in general is requiring more and more computing power.
People expect to successfully communicate using audio AND video over a
little 28.8kbps modem so you HAVE to have heavy duty compression.
Compression eats up the CPU (not to mention parallel port cameras which
eat up a large portion of the CPU to begin with).

I've heard about Robert Scoble's adventures on comp.dcom.videoconf getting
10-15 fps on NetMeeting because both parties use MMX processors and
NetMeeting is optimized for MMX. The days of running CU-SeeMe on my 386
are pretty much over :)

> I personally believe that White Pine's conferencing products are
> competitive with any comparable clients, we lead in the server arena, and
> we will bring the Internet conferencing future to many markets who may have
> otherwise not been aware of it or been able to afford it.

The server arena perhaps. I've always been a big supporter for what White
Pine has done with the reflector scene. The reflectors have improved
drastically over the Cornell reflector. But as far as the client goes,
that's debatable. If you could stick some of 3.X's improvements onto the
interface of 2.1.1/2.1.1, you'd make a LOT of people happy. I've slowly
begun to tolerate the interface when I have a desire to torture myself.
Though I've yet to use a lot of the extra fluff (Contact cards simply get
in the way..I have no need to save contact cards of dynamic IP users,
multicasting isn't used, whiteboard doesn't come in handy).

> We are a *public* company and will do our best to bring value to our
> customers and stockholders in the best way our team sees fit. These
> decisions will not please all, but we will stay the course and bring you
> the best solutions we can.

Stockholders = those with money to invest = not your average home user
connected up to the Internet through an ISP.

White Pine is doing its best at expanding who can use CU-SeeMe but it
seems to me it's at the expense of those that have watched the CU-SeeMe
department at White Pine grow and expand.

I can see the advantages of the current client for the future..perhaps in
a few years when everyone has T1s in their home and multicasting/bandwidth
reservation is widely used and supported. Right now, we make do with what
we can.

> As always, your humble servant trying to do 27 things at once,

So far, White Pine is doing fairly good in the business arena. But I've
also heard a few rumors about competing H.323 Multipoint Conferencing
bridges coming out soon. Time will tell what happens.

<end of rambling...> :)

--
streak@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu    * Jason Williams -- Austin, Tx.  |     |
streak@mail.utexas.edu       * University of Texas at Austin  | ___ |
streak@cs.utexas.edu         * BS Computer Science             \_|_/
*************** http://ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~streak/ **************|