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Web meeting services, which one is good and most of all simple?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Joerg, Jan 27, 2013.

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  1. Joerg

    Joerg Guest


    Looking for a good, simple web meeting service for a startup company.
    Skype and Webex are out, mostly because of IMHO sub-par SW quality and
    unhappiness with support. Requirements:

    _Must_ work without requiring people to disable firewalls or other
    security features. Meaning _no_ Java or any of this. Should also work on
    smart phones if possible (in our case Blackberry and Samsung-Win8".

    If there is a hiccup it must send clear error messages. Not such utter
    nonsense as "Skype has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are
    sorry for the inconvenience ...". I expect a message that says what the
    likely problem is, just like the SW on gear that I design does.

    Must allow entering of any participant before meetings start and allow
    the meeting to actually begin, even if the host is late. Some telecon
    services fail miserably here.

    Must announce which meeting one is in. To my surprise some don't. "Hey,
    let's all welcome Joerg. So tell us, where's your meat packing plant?"
    (BT ...)

    Reasonably priced. For example, I have very good experience with
    Go-To-Meeting but it's about $50/mo. That's ok but AFAIK if the account
    holder is on the road and participate at least one of the others must
    hold an account. That gets quite expensive.

    Audio-only access for people on the road. If a paid service there should
    ideally be a 1-800 number so they can use a hotel phone without paying
    through the nose.

    I've seen offers on the web like this ...

    .... but quite frankly I'd like to get opinions first. Because I am sick
    and tired of loading yet another SW package only to find out that the
    whole thing is a dud.
  2. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Nope, only with software of poor quality. Else how come that LTSpice,
    Cadsoft Eagle, Gerber View, and tons of others never crash on the same PC?

    Classic example: Acrobat Reader crashed hard all the time. Ditched it,
    loaded Foxit -> No more crashes, same kind of docs viewed (actually the
    very same ones after the switch). Now that tells a rather clear story,
    doesn't it?

    Then why does it work for other software? For example, when it comes to
    web meetings I noticed that Go-To-Meeting works every single time.
    Always did, right off the bat. So they must do something right. But
    because there seems to be a requirement that there be at least one
    dues-paying host logged in for every session that is financially out of
    league right.

    I don't know very much about the deep regions of PCs but I know this:
    Some of the stuff I design has telemetry features into the web. It all
    runs with cast-iron performance.
  3. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    It can take only one opcode sequence to crash a computer if it has a
    flaw. Back when I had a computer repair service I once diagnosed a
    computer which wouldn't run Eudora.
  4. hamilton

    hamilton Guest

    Could you share more about this application.

  5. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    It all comes down to quality hardware and proper cooling...
  6. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    When Webex didn't work and after a lot of prodding they finally said
    that pop-up blocking must be unchecked and that I must allow web sites
    to install (!) add-ons. I asked them whether they were kidding. They
    were not.

    Yes, that's what I want to keep blocked. Especially in light of the
    recent security blooper.

    Well, one of the guys uses Blackberry so it would be nice if there is
    support, but not a firm requirement.

    Well, if there is an error log then it shall show up, not be hidden on
    the 7th floor in the 15th broom closet.

    What I really can't stand is when there's just always the same old bland
    crash announcement with no real information about the reasons in there.
    I mean, what would it really take to state "Failed upon calling
    uebercombobulator.dll"? The fact that Skype often remains running is a
    clear indicator that they could have done so but didn't.

    What's really weird is that I can even make and answer Skype calls as
    long as I move the error message window to the side. Usually after 3-4
    start attempts, like with a recalcitrant engine. If I click anything in
    the error message of close its windown Skype blitzes off.

    Some will say that there is no such conference in progress. Others say
    "Placing you in the conference" or so and then I get an email or cell
    call "Hey, where are you?".

    On the bright side, you might end up with a new barbecue recipe :)

    We are willing to pay and it won't have to be HD. In fact, mostly it's
    about sharing documents, pointing things out in there. But it should let
    everyone of a group be the host without charging each one of them. After
    all, even in a hotel venue they don't charge extra because I took over
    as moderator after the other guy caught the flu.

    Doesn't work. There are sometimes people who just don't have a web
    connection at that particular moment. In some area you can be lucky if
    you get a phone line with better than 10dB SNR. Other times, like on
    some not so customer-friendly airports, you have to pay lots of bucks to
    become member of some network, else no web access.

    Those are the two that have behaved the worst here.

    I actually have used web conferencing quite a bit. Except for Webex and
    Skype they've all worked well. To my utter surprise even Adobe Connect
    worked flawlessly, which I hadn't expected because their Acrobat Reader
    is behaving so poorly. But ... same thing, if the guys aren't always
    available and sp everyone has to be able to host it's arond $50/month
    per host. Too much right now.

    In our group punctuality is a given. If someone can't make it the rest
    of the gruoup knows before the meeting. So the meetings always start
    exactly on the hour.

    Doubtful that's going to happen. I've gone through many lengthy layout
    sessions using web conferencing. Nothing is faster when optimizing a
    layout with a group that is scattered across thousands of miles. "That
    inductor 20% north-east, turn that 90 degrees and re-route the blue
    trace, that'll fix the coupling".
  7. Sylvia Else

    Sylvia Else Guest

    Such messages usually mean that the program has performed an invalid
    operation (access violation, non-existent memory, etc.), or has violated
    some internal constraint. It could give you details, but you'd be none
    the wiser.

  8. Guest

    Microsoft stuff only becomes stable the day after you uninstall it.
  9. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Nowadays users do want meaningful error messages because for most there
    is no support team. Instead of throwing the usual "Re-install everything
    and see if it helps" sort of advice at the user and then see what
    sticks, it would be much more helpful if the Skype guys would say "Send
    us the error35682.txt file from the ... folder".

    Ok, but isn't that a sorry state of affairs for software?

    Then it's out for us anyhow, we will not use it in our group.

    Ok, but nobody can tell me that $50/mo/moderator reflects the real
    underlying cost. It can't be because Skype offers same for $4.99/mo,
    except theirs is hit or miss in terms of reliability here. But the
    bandwidth can't be much different from the others.

    Right now delays are ok. Once we get into the design phase it has to be
    realtime. Same in other situations. For example, there is not much to
    analyze when optimizing a layout. I pretty much work like a seasoned
    surgeon while on those, after doing this for decades there usually isn't
    much to think when you see a sub-optimal loop in a switcher. Just like a
    cardiologist doesn't ponder the angio display forever, he takes one
    quick look and says "Bring me a number so-and-so stent".

    Not at all. I have 1.2Mbit/128kbits/sec. Go-To-Meeting and Adobe
    NetConnect work great. So does Skype, after kicking it 3-4 times and
    moving the error boxes partially off-screen so they don't get in the way
    (can't close them or Skype will immediately crash).
    The folks on trips are usually happy just dialing into the audio. That's
    why there absolutely must be a POTS path as well. In some areas you
    simply won't find a hotel room with Internet.

    Then why can Skype offer $4.99/mo/host and AFAIK that's without ads and
    it even includes some sort of flat rate phone deal for one country?

    Well, at least three of us have served, maybe that's why :)

    Just had two back-to-back conferences. One started exactly on the hour,
    the other about three minutes late because there was a last minute
    change in venue and an impending fire drill at one location.

    I never need to see heads. But I do need to see the CAD screen of the
    other guy live. "No, not there, take the route south of the inductor ...
    yeah, right there".

    It really can't in some of my cases. Online you find R17 in one second
    because the other guy's cursor hovers above it. And formulating an
    alternative routing strategy that you can execute in 15 seconds online
    can easily take 15 minutes of back-and-forth emails or doc exchanges.

    Please do. I really have to find a service that works and won't break
    the bank.
  10. Guest

    You should check out FuzeBox. they work great on mobile and don't require Java. They tweet under @fuzebox and have great customer service!
    Hope this helps
  11. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Thanks! Now that looks like a promising service. Doesn't need IE and no
    Java. Best of all they have a sort of "scholarship" for start-ups

    So I've sent this to the CEO now.
  12. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    what if it's the oil filter that blows out?
  13. Tauno Voipio

    Tauno Voipio Guest

    No need. The English cars just drip the oil out.
  14. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Yes. That used to be part of my job especially in the med biz. It is
    still my job in self-employment. One of the questions on my list for the
    first architecture meeting is about error indicators.

    Because they usually are :)

    The effect of such dumbing down is often a backfiring. Grandson tries to
    fix aunt Brunhilde's computer, sees numerous meaningless error messages,
    says to her that the software (or the whole computer) is junk and she
    should return it for a refund, then get one that works. No joke, this
    has happened in our neighborhood. The whole computer was returned and
    they bought a new one, which successfully connected them to the Internet
    (that's all they wanted).

    I think we may live in different worlds. I (and pretty much everyone I
    know) tend to call if some important or expensive piece of software
    doesn't work. The service guys at the other end of the phone line often
    become rather desperate when error messages are bland and
    non-informative. Because then they can't diagnose. I've had them say
    things like "Wow, we've never seen that one before" or exclaiming "I
    can't believe this is happening!".

    Except you may get into a major crash if that blown 4th tire shreds up
    and locks up some stuff that was supposed to remain moving.

    Fixing ... trusting a fix, two very different things :)

    If a web site wants Java I just move on.

    Again, then how does Skype do it for $4.99? AFAIK that is the
    non-ad-supported plan where this payment becomes the only revenue source
    for them. After a year it pop to maybe arlund $10 or so, still not $50.

    The challenge is to bring whatever your first guess is over to the folks
    at the other location. Without live desktop sharing that can be quite
    cumbersome when dealing with complicated matter (like a switcher layout).

    I'll have to call them again on this but the line to the next box is
    rather long. But I do not need to broadcast a ballgame in HD, the
    display of my desktop (but mostly that of others who need my advice) is
    what's needed. For example, I have recently coached a team of mechanical
    engineers to use an oscilloscope for the first time in their life,
    diagnosing a fairly tricky timing issue across roughly 1000 miles. It
    worked, and fast.

    I've done that. It no work :-(

    Sure, if necessary I will do that.

    Hmm, that would explain it. But not quite, because there are other
    services that MS doesn't own that offer a simlar price range. For
    example, Fuzebox was pointed out by one participant in this thread and
    their basci service starts at $15/mo (if you don't need mobile hosting).

    Actually. CAD software doesn't need a DSLR camera :)

    I got an Olympus PEN camera plus adapter so I can use my classic Rokkor
    lenses. Works great but no auto-focus. Doing it by hand is often better
    anyhow because the autofocus can't possibly know when what I want in
    focus. What irks me is that such modern cameras don't have a high-pass
    focus helper. It would be so easy but ...

    Dropbox is nice but too slow for that. Went through this very exercise
    yesterday around 10:30am. The file was 12MB so we had to discuss the
    next topic and then go back once it had made it into the PDF reader of
    all the others.

    Doesn't have to be cheap. $50/mo is ok, but should allow switching
    saddles with the host account holder because of frequent travel. We
    can't buy four accounts at a grand total of $200/mo just because of
    that. At least not in this start-up phase.
  15. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    That depends. Had that happen in front of me except it was your example
    of a blown tire. Happily motoring eastbound on the San Francisco Bay
    Bridge ... *KAPOW* ... now where the heck did that come from ... saw the
    little Chevy Aveo in front of me swerving a bit, then stopping. There
    are _no_ emergency lanes and San Franciscans always seem to be in a
    hurry. Woman stepped out, me too, tire had begun to shred dangerously.
    There was no way she could get to safety across the bridge with that.
    She looked scared. We had to cross five lanes of traffic (with very
    impatient city drivers) to get off the left-turn exit onto Treasure Island.

    That was one of the most scary moments I ever had on an Interstate.

  16. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Not on the Bay Bridge. The new span has some AFAIR but this was on the
    old part that hasn't been replaced yet.
  17. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    On bridges, too? AFAIR the old span of the (long) Carquinez Bridge
    doesn't have them either.

    You have to pay between $4-$6 at each bridge depending on time of day,
    but usually only in one direction. Incomes in the Bay Area must be
    pretty high because commuting is so expensive. Anyhow, no ten horses
    will get me to live there.
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