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Vid conferencing
with NetMeeting

ClarkeBird has never adhered to the old adage: be seen and not heard.


Let’s say you have a brother in Ohio, a wife’s brother in Virginia, a son in Chicago, a daughter in West Texas, and many friends scattered around the country who all have PCS. For less than $50 per PC, you can not only talk to them over the Internet, you can see them too! It’s called several things but video conferencing is the best description that I can give it. PC users with a yen to use cutting edge technology and visit (I mean visit as if they were sitting in the same room) with friends and relatives are venturing forth into this new medium. 

Dick Gibbons, one of my neighbors showed me his neat setup the other day. He has a Kensington vid camera atop his PC and by using Microsoft’s NetMeeting software, he is able to video conference with his relatives around the country, several of them at the same time! Gibbons bought the Kensington vid camera for about $39. His microphone and speakers came with the PC. He downloaded free (let me repeat that: free, without charge, cost nothing)  NetMeeting software from Microsoft’s web site. Gibbons says the only restriction to using the software is that it will work only on Windows95/98 and you will need a Pentium or equivalent CPU chip. 

He has been using NetMeeting for about a year and, needless to say, loves seeing/talking to his relatives. When you log onto NetMeeting, a window pops up showing a list of who’s online in NetMeeting. Gibbons restricted his list to chosen friends and relatives. If he sees one of his contacts is online, he signals them to "chat." He can then chat with that person by typing in short sentences as people do in chat rooms or, video conference with them. If another person on his contact list joins in, there can be a 3-way chat. He says as many as six relatives have been online at one time. 

A host of tools are available within NetMeeting: a shared whiteboard in which you can transfer images, photos and graphs. There is a pen tool, a highlighter, a text tool and an eraser which everyone in the NetMeeting conference can use. Application sharing in which you can open a software application and everyone in on the NetMeeting conference has the ability to see exactly what you are seeing as you work, whether or not that application is loaded on everyone’s PC. If you do not have audio or video on your PC, Chat offers the ability to "chat" (typing messages) with other members of a meeting. 

After seeing Gibsons’ video conferencing setup, there may be vid cameras in some of my relatives Christmas stockings so we can have a family reunion. . .online! If you should have questions regarding MS NetMeeting, go to <microsoft.com> or search for keyword NetMeeting on your browser. If you have questions for Dick Gibbons, you can e-mail him at rgibbons@swbell.net.


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