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Netmeeting - before we had Skype and MSN
And lots of this - eg. remote desktop sharing still works with Windows XP
 
A meeting on the Internet is an intriguing idea. It costs no more than the connection you used to read this page and the software is free. With it you can talk and hear like a telephone, send files, work with a colleague or fellow student on a document, and sketch things out on a 'whiteboard'. If you have a video camera connected to the computer the other party can see you too. If you've no microphone or video you have to 'chat' by typing text.

Of course people say 'why'? You have the phone and you have email and this 'live' or instant messaging must  seem superfluous. In fact, over time it finds some great uses as shown by the millions using MSN, AIM and Yahoo. You tend to find uses as you go. As examples, it was excellent to link up with a friend who had moved away and it seemed like the  friend hadn't been lost. And when my son went away to college, he used his camera to show me round his digs. The downside is that only a minority of folk seem to have a webcam ready to work.     

By far the easiest way to proceed is to use Microsoft's MSN Messenger - version 6 or better. And these days, although you do need to sign up an MSN Passport, you can do so with a regular email address. You don't even need to have a Hotmail account.

The last bit is that both parties sign into MSN Messenger, start to chat and start their web cameras. The comparison with Netmeeting - which most Windows computers seen to have - seems perfectly fine. 

Netmeeting is free conferencing software in Microsoft Internet Explorer. I've used it to chat with relatives around Europe and I've taken part in a lesson at Monash University in Melbourne. Using the collaborate feature, the teacher there could use data logging software running on my machine. I spoke and told him what to do, he took over the mouse and did it. The only problem was that it was 11pm at night over here, but otherwise it was awesome and certainly 'kewl'. This page may help you get up to speed with the idea
New feature in Windows 98 Special Edition Update (Released 7/99)

Version 3 of Netmeeting allows you to use another computer on your network or indeed one that is somewhere on the Internet. This is handy for using software on other computers - now it's setup I use it to do a bit of management on another machine without having to go to it. Eg when the noise from one machine was bothering me I called it using Netmeeting and got it to shutdown. What to do: run Netmeeting on each machine in turn and switch on desktop sharing and maybe the system tray icon too. You have to set a password and you can use the same in each. Close Netmeeting, right click the icon and ensure the sharing feature is enabled. Now go to any machine, open Netmeeting (it must not be running on the other machines), go to File / New Call, type the network name of the computer (eg the one set by the Network properties icon in Control Panel) and check the security box. The machine should answer with a password dialogue. Type in the password and you'll get a window of the machine's desktop. You can make this full screen with a menu option. The machine is now all yours.       


How to set up your NetMeeting
  • You need Microsoft's NetMeeting; MS Messenger and a headset.  For cameras try www.Logitech.com - these are good enough for the web and offer huge convenience over video cameras.
  • Install MS Messenger (From www.msn.com) and register your Hotmail address. Put your colleagues Hotmail address in your 'Buddy list'. That's the key bit. To see if you have Microsoft's NetMeeting (click Start, Programs and go look). Otherwise look Microsoft's Web site www.microsoft.com/netmeeting. (The file is 2.5Mb and takes 10-15 minutes to download. The software mostly sets itself up and takes you through entering your details. You might want to check the speaker volume, the microphone level (a 'full duplex' setting gives two-way speaking), and the camera if you have one. These settings are found in NetMeeting under Tools / Options. 
What to do to use it for real - this has changed for the better:
  • Arrange a meeting with your colleague - e.g. send them an e-mail arranging a time when you will both connect. Tell them to be sure to have MS Messenger and NetMeeting and to have registered your Hotmail address with MS Messenger. 
  • At the agreed time, you connect to the Internet in the usual way. MS Messenger will tell you that the colleague is online. You can communicate with them using text, voice and with the help of Netmeeting, camera.  

Other features (harder work)

Networks

The system, especially the video feature, works well over a network. The network manager can set up a ULS directory on the server that allows people to meet across the network - i.e. without connecting to the Microsoft directory. Pick up the network software from the MS site.

Modems

You can also (in theory) connect direct to a person via a modem. Of course there is no big cost saving, but the quality should be better. One person needs to set up their dial up networking as a server ready to pick up the phone. (Click My Computer, Dial-up Networking, Tools, Dialup Server, Use a PPP server, Answer the call after x rings). The other uses Dial-up networking to establish a connection. Then both run NetMeeting and talk. Well that's the theory anyway - check out whether it really can work at www.netmeet.net Visit www.meetingbywire.com to read about the ins and outs of the technology.

 
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