Thursday, June 04, 2009

DimDim web meeting disappointing

Last night I was scheduled to give a talk about how to use ICT to reduce carbon emissions. One technique is to telecommunicate and so I tired using the DimDim web meeting tool to allow people to participate online. It did not work well.

I was disappointed with DimDim. While it worked in test, it failed on the night. The major problem was with the audio, which for most of the time just produced a hiss.

There are confusingly several sets of controls for the audio and video with DimDim: one in the DimDim software itself and one in the Flash plug-in used for the audio and video. I tried to set these to minimise bandwidth use, but suspect I ended up with a conflict between the settings. I may have been better off leaving the defaults set.

What made the problem worse was DimDim's limited support for accessibility. Because I have trouble reading the text on the screen with the default font, I increase the size. DimDim's text then starts to overlap, making it hard to read. Also the Web 2 interaction is a bit problematic. I found pop up windows for setting parameters which did not fit on the screen and some times I found myself chasing the popups around the screen with the cursor. There are a lot of windows on the DimDim screen and it is hard to follow what is going on and give a presentation at the same time, even without the overlapping test and runaway popups.

Also I was using a desktop relay facility which I am not entirely happy with. With this you install an application which copies everything from your screen to the remote users. Apart from the security implications, the copy process slows down the host computer and there is the problem of the quantity of data to send. DimDim has a more efficient facility to share a web page, but at the last minute I found it is not compatible with the HTML Slidy web based presentation tool I use.

You can nominate a web page in DimDim and that page will then be opened in a window on the remote viewers computer screens. When you scroll down the web page their copies also scroll. When you click on a link, the new web page is opened on their screens as well. However, I found that JavaScript based navigation is not relayed to the remote user. So while I was clicking down through my slides on my screen, the remote viewer was stuck on the first slide.

2 comments:

alber said...

Hi,
have you ever heard about TeamViewer? TeamViewer is a remote control and desktop sharing solution of the TeamViewer GmbH in Germany (http://www.teamviewer.com). TeamViewer establishes connections to any PC or server all around the world within just a few seconds. You can remote control a partners desktop to give online assistance, or you can show your screen to a customer - all without worrying about firewalls, IP addresses and NAT. TeamViewer also has a lot of other features. All this is free for personal use. Find out why more than 15.000.000 users trust TeamViewer!

All the best,
Jasmin
TeamViewer GmbH Germany

Kevin Micalizzi, Dimdim Community Manager said...

Tom-

I'm sorry to hear of your challenges. I'll let the product management team know about the accessibility issues.

On the audio, one thing I find helpful (especially if people may be on slower or inconsistent internet connections) is lowering the overall A/V Quality in the meeting. For audio the change usually isn't noticeable to the listener, but it reduces the amount of bandwidth required. When you open your meeting room, click Tools, then Settings at the top of the meeting space. Under settings you can change the AV Quality for the meeting.

Thanks!

-k
Kevin Micalizzi, Community Manager
Dimdim Web Conferencing
e: kevin@dimdim.com
twitter: @dimdim
facebook: dimdim.com/facebook

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