Video and Voice calls over the internet.

Very Previous date. 2007

I am on a Lego League team this year, as I have been the last two years and I have moved twice. Going on three Lego League seasons, last year I moved from southern MN up more northerly. This year, Before the season even starts, I will be moving to FL. I will be doing a exchange team with the rest of my FLL (First Lego League) team in Minnesota. We will be using Webcams and Skype. You can download Skype here: Download Skype Here This will be Skype 3.2 you will download. Skype 3.2 is very good, It looks very advanced. Though you can use Skype for chatting like Windows Live Messenger, AIM, Google Talk etc etc. You can also Video call, As you probably know, But to do this you will need a webcam. Me and my team bought two Logitech QuickCam PTZ for $60 each, They were on sale, They are normally $130 each. Like in Wikepedia, Go ahead, Post comments, Make this site better, feel free to put your email for further contacting.

Previous Date. 2007
It’s further into our lego season now. We have been using Skype, Windows Live Messenger, and we tried to use NetMeeting. Skype works most of the time. Windows Messenger works as we use Remote Assistance to program. Netmeeting didn’t work at all, But since NetMeeting and Windows Messenger are both from Microsoft we tried the other, (Windows Messenger) It worked fine. The only reason we tried using NetMeeting was because we wanted to use the Remote assistance. At the time we didn’t know Windows Messenger supported Remote Assistance, We tried NetMeeting, It didn’t work so we used Windows Messenger. Remote Assistance is where you can share control of another computer screen through Windows Messenger. To setup windows Messenger (It should already be on your system) Just go to “Start” “All Programs” and scroll up and down until you see Window Messenger. To log on though you have to have a Hotmail or AOL account. If not go to aol.cocm or msn.com and sigh up. Then sign in, Add some contacts. Once one of your contacts is online then start a chat (double click on the name) click “Actions” the click ask for remote assistance. The other user should accept you invitation to start remote assistance. now you should be all set.
October 13 2007.
We’ve been having problems with remote assistance for awhile now. It seems that the problem is that Hickory Tech, Our internet Provider, Doesn’t let us use remote assistance for reasons I can’t remember. But anyway. We can’t get Windows Messenger’ Remote Assistance to work. That’s a huge problem. As I’m reading up on this, Okay actually looking up a new program. I found out that you should try this before you give up on Windows Messenger’ Remote Assistance. Do the following.
  1. Click Start

If you don’t have a My Computer icon in your Start menu then ignore the 7 steps and go down until you get to step 1. again.

  1. Right click on My Computer
  2. Scroll down until you see Properties and click Properties
  3. Now you should see a window called System Properties
  4. Now click the tab Remote
  5. Now there should be a check box with the text Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer directly off to the right of the check box. If that check box isn’t checked check it.
  6. Now there should be a button that reads Advanced… Click the button.
  7. Now check the check box under the text Remote control The text reads Allow this computer to be controlled remotely

If all those check boxes are already checked then just click the button Cancel until both windows close.

  1. Right click Start Menu and scroll down until you get to Properties, Click Properties
  2. Under the tab Start Menu there are to check circles. Make sure the check circle Start menu is checked
  3. Now click the button Customize…
  4. Now there’s a window open called Customize Start Menu now click the tab Advanced.
  5. Now there’s a little box where you can scroll up and down. Scroll down until you see the section My Computer now check the check circle as Display as a link
  6. Now click OK
  7. Now click Apply

Now follow the following steps.

  1. Right click on My Computer
  2. Scroll down until you see Properties and click Properties
  3. Now you should see a window called System Properties
  4. Now click the tab Remote
  5. Now there should be a check box with the text Allow Remote Assistance invitations to be sent from this computer directly off to the right of the check box. If that check box isn’t checked check it.
  6. Now there should be a button that reads Advanced… Click the button.
  7. Now check the check box under the text Remote control The text reads Allow this computer to be controlled remotely

If all those check boxes are already checked then just click the button Cancel until both windows close.

November 5 2007

Well that didn’t work. It turned out that it was something to do with the internet provider, so we moved everything to our coaches house. If that didn’t work for you then your either 1. doing something wrong (more likely) or 2. it’s your internet provider. If it’s your internet provider the only thing I can suggest is that you change internet providers. If your doing something wrong then I don’t know what it is.

November 17 2007

We’ve been using Skype and Windows messenger, not Windows Live Messenger, to do our voice calling and out video feed, among other things. I’m disappointed with Skype! There’s a echo whenever I unplug my headset to hear better so that’s not an option. and the sounds delayed. It’s like saying something into a recorder and then playing it back again. This problem isn’t all that much persistent but it’s bad enough to be annoying. Why can’t Windows Live Messenger have Remote Assistance too? I mean, it’s kinda dumb that I have to use Windows messenger that looks like it was from windows 98 to do high end screen sharing. So why make another version and leave some great features? The video streaming isn’t easy to use either, I haven’t got it to work through Windows messenger yet! Cords cords cords, I hate them! I just got a Wireless mouse from Logitech so that’s one less cord than I had before but when hooking up two headsets up to the computer it’s really confining to have to stay within about two or three feet in the compute, I can’t even stretch my legs. I did buy a wireless Bluetooth headset from Plantronics just to find out that my Bluetooth dongle from Abe that I bought form Lego.com wont work on anything but my NXT robot! Yea I know! Stupid! I paid $40.00 for that too! on top of $40.00 for the Plantronics headset! I sent the headset back but kept the Bluetooth dongle because I’ve had it for about a year or so. I tried to contact Abe but their contact page came up as invalid, how convenient!

November 27 2007

Well our tournament is in a couple days. We’re flying out in two days. This’ll be fun. Now to get to the technical part. We had problems with Skype at our open house on Sunday. We couldn’t even connect! When it did connect for about one sec it froze up. I’m really not happy with Skype whatsoever. It takes up 99% of the computers precess! So I get about 1% to try to connect on Remote Assistance. We could, theoretically do video and voice on Windows Messenger but we can’t get the to work! I don’t know if it was the internet connection or the lack of processing power but Remote Assistance wouldn’t even connect last time we tried to use it. I’m fairly happy with Remote Assistance though, not Windows Messenger since the voice and video part don’t work for us. Depending on weather we advance to the state tournament or not will decide if I write more about this. Though I would not recommend doing this exchange team thing with the short tempered (ME) because you have next to not control on what goes on over there. Sure they’ll try to incorporate you and all but it’s not the same. I guess I would say Skype could be good if you have a extremely high end computer to run it, or next to nothing on your computer to use any process. Even then Skype has inconsistent sound quality and inconsistent video quality depending on Internet connection. Maybe that could happen with any program your using but Skype takes up to much computing power. Same thing with Remote Assistance. It’s good and all for it’s purpose but if you have are sharing control the other computer responds slowly as will yours. I wouldn’t try other internet computer sharing programs though, who knows who’s on the other end? sure it could be the person you want it to be but what if it isn’t? major system crash! private data gone! pictures and everything gone or accessible to the hackers liking. You don’t have to be over cautious though, but if you are just buy a Mac. You definitely wont have as much applications at your disposal, you wont be able to download all the things you find on the internet…. (See my page PC V.S Mac for details on the subject) But at least you wouldn’t have to worry about all those scary virus’s and who knows what else anymore! Your Call.

November 28 2007

We’re flying out tomorrow so I wont be able to write this entry until after our tournament so I’m doing it now. Skype worked today, the first and second time we tried to log on it didn’t work out. The third time though it worked out fine. The first and second time Skype froze up when I tried to start my video. Same thing with the second. But the third time I just said I wouldn’t start my video so it worked, partially. We didn’t use Remote Assistance today so I don’t have much to say about today other than I really don’t like Skype.

December 13 2007

Well we advanced to state placing 1st over-all. The tournament was, I though, low key but everyone says it’s just that I’m comparing it to the State tournament. I would like to tell a quick story about communication.

Two companies were building some planes, one company from France and the other from Germany. Each company would build half of the plane, (they built them one at a time) Now they spent millions building about four planes, these planes have miles and miles of cords running through them and if you make a mistake it could, in this case, would cost billions to fix. So they finished both halves of the plane and one guy went to hook the planes cords together. One plane had circle connectors. The other had square connectors. As he tried to hook them together he found they wouldn’t hook together, as they were circle and square. His reaction was “Oh ****!” (Use your imagination) Now they had to pay billions to re-wire all the planes. People lost they’re jobs. Life went on.

Well Lego was yesterday. Skype took up 90%-95% of my computer process, remote assistance wouldn’t work, it wouldn’t connect and my computers been ruining slow. I’ve been running CCleaner, AdAware when I didn’t have problems with it (I’ve had to re-install it about 3-4 times. I still think it’s a good program but it’s getting annoying) I’ve been scanning my computer with Symantec AntiVirus. I’ve been running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter. But it refuses to speed back up. I have no idea what’s wrong.

About 30 minuets later. Same day.

Mozilla Firefox was taking up 70%-95% of my computer process, Weird.

December 18 2007

We had Lego yesterday and will have it tomorrow so you can expect another post before Christmas. Skype made my computer slow as usual. Remote assistance didn’t work the first time. But it did work the second time. I forgot how frustrating it is to program using Robolab 2.9 over Remote Assistance, when I move the cursor there’s a delay so I have the cursor at one place and the icon is in another. Skype calls dropped a couple of time and then it froze up once or twice. It recovered and we were able to resume our call but still, it was frustrating that after taking up that much usage I would think it would be able to at least be able to give me good call quality, I guess internet connection contributes some though.

December 22 2007

We had lego last Wednesday and Skype, as usual, was problematic, and next to useless. I would have thought that if I had only voice going it wouldn’t take up as much CPU usage? Nope. Still the same amount. We didn’t use video on our side because whenever we tried Skype would freeze and then drop the call. I will be giving a first term review (the second term review will come at the end of out FLL year, or before and then, depending on what I feel like) this post. We also had problems with the sound, but it was easily fixed. It’s just the presence of the problem. One good thing about problems is, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish the good things if there weren’t problems to compare them with.

My review.

This enabled us to communicate fairly efficiently and it wasn’t worth trying to switch during the middle of the year. If I was just using this program for personal use I would have ditched it and tried Windows Live Messenger, AOL, Yahoo! messenger or something else. It isn’t for the less tech savvy of us, it’s fairly hard to find out where your Ad-ons are if you don’t know where exactly they are, and the button to check for updates is fairly hard to find. It takes up too much computing power for a older computer, and even if you have a new computer it probably will put lot of stress on your system. I have a Intel Pentium M Processor, 512MB RAM and Microsoft XP home edition XP SP2. I will give this program a 3 star out of 5 stars.

January 3 2008 5:32 PM

I’m on Skype right Yahoo! messenger and about to be on Windows Live trying to find an alternative to Skype as it wont work at the FLL state tournament. It remarkably only used about 23% to 93% (about once it made it to 93%) I was shocked! After all this time. It must be a fluke.

January 3 2008 5:42 PM

I’ve acomplished a video call with Windows Live Messenger and it works great. The quality isn’t great so far but neither was Skypes. It only takes up less than 20% of my CPU usage! that’s so good. Yahoo! hasn’t worked so far though. Be back with more soon.

January 3 2008 5:48 PM

Actually Windows Live messenger takes up more than I thought. Not comparable to Skype. But I don’t know yet.

January 3 2008 6:01 PM

You might see a screen with text like this: You cannot place a call because Messenger is not currently connected to the voice service. This is either because you are behind a restrictive firewall or because we are fixing a problem with the voice service. You like me might be having problems with any messenger/voice call service if you’ve downloaded it. Here’s a guide to help you out.

  1. Go to the Control Panel under the Start menu
  2. Click Security Center
  3. Click Firewall

You will see a list congaing the programs that are allowed to work through the Firewall. Select the program that your having trouble with if it’s unselected.

January 4 2008

The reason we can’t use Skype at the State tournament is because the school is paranoid about security. They won’t even let us have a LAN connection. The only thing they’ll let us connect with is Yahoo! Messenger. Weird. True some IM or voice call services are more secure than others but Yahoo! IM? I don’t think they’re renowned for their IM security. Not that it’s bad but they’re not renowned for it. It’s weird though. I’m having huge problems with Yahoo! Messenger. I can’t get it to put a call through to my friend in Minnesota. At least Skype let me connect regardless of the call quality. If I started my video I could only see it, not my friend in Minnesota. If he started his I saw his fine but sound wasn’t built in to that feature. Windows Live Messenger worked fine. It did slow my system sometimes but not as much as Skype. I think though when the rest of my team is there is a lot more sound to transmit so that would make it a lot harder on my system. His system was really slow though. When I first tried downloading Yahoo! Messenger the file was called something like msgbus8.exe or something like that. I though it said wingub8.exe (Windows Bug 8.exe) and rejected it the first time. Then when I tried downloading it again I read it more carefully and found it to say msgbus8.exe. Cheers.

January 7 2008

Skype was miserable today. I was using Microsoft Word and it kept freezing up along with my mouse. It wasn’t using as much CPU usage though. My mouse kept freezing too. It wasn’t only from Skype though; the System was taking up CPU usage in the double digits. Skype’s sound is horrible today, a bunch of beeps and other in comprehensible noises. It might be because there’s a lot of sound being transmitted, another one of my theories. File transfer is okay, not to slow when I’m sending files. Really slow when they’re sending files though. The Skype call dropped and I watched the CPU usage. Skype’s CPU usage went to 00, when I answered the call again it jumped to 11 then 21 to its normal rate. Its CPU usage is better now (I’m writing this is real time) something is taking up a good amount of CPU usage though; System is in the low double/single digits. Something called Apoint.exe was taking up CPU usage in the lower double digits a minute ago. Skype isn’t the only program to slow the computer down out there. It sure does a good job though. Skype’s still in the lower double digits. This is probably because it is having less sound to transfer at the moment as only about three people are talking and a robot running. It might not be taking up as much, though, because I don’t have my video on. It was dropping the call earlier when I tried to start my video. I’m going to start Remote assistance.

Remote Assistance is being started now. I t didn’t work the first time. Oh well, Try try again. It worked the second time. I can’t figure out what’s Remote Assistance is because it’s not taking up enough CPU usage, maybe I was wrong, Remote Assistance isn’t a bad system clog. It’s Skype and all the petty little processes, although Skype’s not taking up a lot of CPU usage. Note to self and anyone who’s trying to find Remote Assistance in Windows Task Manager. It’s probably called HelpCtr.exe; if I’m wrong please tell me. I like being right. Skype’s little messages are so annoying! “Skype can hear high background noise levels. Move away from noise sources if possible” Well I can’t. It runs throughout my whole house. I know! I’ll pick up my laptop/desktop, webcam and all the other necessities and move! Not. Some error messages are so impractical.

The right side is reserved for personal comments.

I think this work out much better in real time. Much more content. (I think everyone’s edgy today)

The ultrasonic sensor is so so unreliable.

Hardly practical for FLL, along with the sound sensor.

Cats are so annoying when you’re trying to concentrate.

Comments are so important in programming.

HelpCtr.exe is definitely Remote Assistance.

Trying to run Skype, Remote Assistance and Robolab 2.9 is hard but awesome.

Robolab 2.9 hardly takes up any CPU usage except when it’s starting up, and then it’s bad. Being very heavy on the CPU usage. Robolab is so much harder to use and learn than programming languages such as NXT G and Mindstorms. Though it is much more powerful and it has many more options than the latter options.

I might delete some users to save some computer memory,

Though, right now I’m not hurting for computer memory.

Skype’s video quality is bad; I don’t even have mine on! It’s all pixely. Tsk. Sound quality is good though.

Doing this in real time is definitely more gratifying.

It’s frustrating when Lego is supposed to end at a certain time but it never does.

It’s so frustrating when no one is paying attention.

I hate it when people are edgy, exaggerate the point and overreact on problem.

It makes everyone feel bad and makes for a bad practice.

It then it just comes back in a vicious cycle. Tsk Tsk.

Robots are so geniusly stupid before, after and while you program them, it’s only when they are running perfect that you really start to like them.

As long as I don’t have to concentrate to hard on one thing I can do this in real time.

Maybe I’ll do this more often.

Skype’s using a fairly good amount of CPU usage but it’s not laboring my system.

Odd. Usually it freezes, slows down my system and everything.

I have a whole lot of personal comments. Jeez.

Remote Assistance is really slowing the other system down though it’s not laboring mine at all. I guess it just depends on a few things to decide how much CPU usage Skype and Remote Assistance are going to use.

1. Internet connection. 2. Amount of data being transferred. Based on these two factors, I would hate to have Dial-up connection. Imagine, especially if you use Skype and Remote Assistance.

January 8 2008 January 7th recap.

Lego went well yesterday between people exagerating and having fits about every little mistake. Skype didn’t use very much CPU usage, neither did Remote Assistance (HelpCtr.exe in Windows Task Manager) I had Robolab 2.9 open. Robolab 2.9 doesn’t take up much CPU usage unless it’s starting up, then it makes everything slow. Remote Assistance jumped from somewhere around 11% CPU usage to 90% somethin CPU usage. Odd. I shouldn’t jump like that as it doesn’t have much to transmit besides images. Which brings me to a new idea. Make a program like Skype (but that’s much more reliable, has better sound and video quality etc,) where you can switch between seeing the other person to seeing their computer screen or do both at the same time. It would have features such as dropping and dragging files between two screens, saving files to internet hosts such as box.net or somewhere such as Yahoo! Briefcase. Before you would be able to do this you would have to enter a password and then the other person your going to exchange files with would have to agree. It would look like their screen was yours, if their screen was smaller or bigger than your screen it would shrink or enlarge without out getting all pixely to fit your screen. The video quality would be excellent, you would also be able to see their background as you can’t do that in Remote Assistance. There would be an extra tool bar at the bottom of the screen that would let you switch between seeing your screen, seeing the other persons screen or opening a chat, or dragging and or dropping files between the computer(s) or adding other people to a conference. I say computer(s) because you would be able to do a conference with two or more computers. This would help greatly if you and or the other person didn’t know how to do something or if you would like to have more than two people on there. You would be able to use video in this new program unlike in Remote Assistance and voice much easier than in Remote Assistance. It would combine many little features instead of using one huge package to save you CPU usage so that you could be managing other programs besides this program. It could also be mostly internet based so that there would be little strain on your computer because most of it would be internet based. It would take pictures of the others screen at about 200 FPS (frames per second), perfect for gaming, you would, of course, have to have high speed internet connection as it wouldn’t work with Dial-up connection. This extreme frame speed would greatly increase your productivity because you would 1. be able to see the other persons pointer or arrow so that you could see where you are pointing. 2. There wouldn’t be any delay between the time you move your mouse and the time you see your friends mouse move on his or her screen. You would be able to open all the programs (I have had problems opening certain programs in Remote Assistance) without problem. There would be various safe guards for you to take control of the other persons screen such as multiple passwords and an automatic internet encryption once you’ve connected to another’s computer. The other person would also be able to immediately stop you from having control over their computer by pushing a select key as they would decide what it would be. Only a person you’ve invited to come help you or work with you would be able to see your screen, if you wanted to have more than two people in your conference everyone would have to give their consent so that someone couldn’t just ask some one to come in. It would be great. And you would make millions.

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January 9, 2008 written. Posted on January 10, 2008

Well Lego is going okay (I’m doing this is real time again) Skype is back to taking up to much CPU usage, I’m about to start Remote Assistance so we’ll see about that. I think the rest of my Lego team figured out how to do Remote Assistance with Windows Live Messenger, I wish I knew how. Skype doesn’t always take up a lot of computing power, just when 1. I have a slow internet connection 2. I have a weak internet connection 3. There’s a lot of sound to transmit.

Some people are so un-observant; no one’s noticed my team mate is outside and the video’s on!

Well now I know how they did it. They logged on in Windows Live Messenger and asked for Remote Assistance through Help & Support center. Simple.

Well Remote Assistance isn’t very reliable. They had a stop-watch on their screen for 2.5 min. It went through 2.5 min but it still had 40 seconds on the view of their screen over here. Tsk Tsk.

January 10 written text.

Well I can’t believe I didn’t figure out how they were doing it with Windows Live Messenger! It was as simple as:

To log onto Windows Live Messenger or Windows Messenger if you don’t have Windows Live Messenger do the following steps.

1.Click Start and open All Programs. Scroll down until you see Windows Messenger and open it.

2. Log in using one of the following supported types in Windows Messenger: @hotmail.com, @aol.com account or a .edu account. These are the only email types I know that are supported in Windows Messenger. For Windows Live Messenger you will Have to have a @hotmail email address. Log on to one of the Messengers.

3. If your logged on in Windows Live Messenger follow step 3. If not then skip to 3.5. Once you’re logged on open Help and Support and click Invite a friend to connect to your computer with Remote Assistance. Click Invite someone to help you.

3.5. Double click on the contacts name that you want to connect to THIS computer. If you want to connect to your friend’s computer then they have to follow these steps. Once you’ve opened the chat window under Actions click Ask For Remote Assistance… Once your friend has accepted by clicking the link that asks them to accept you should be fine.

4. Click the online contacts name and click invite this person.

That’s it. It should work. If not try again. If it still doesn’t work check back for more solutions.

You can also save the invitation as a file and email it or send it over IM. You can require the recipient to use a password. If they don’t know you want to connect then un-check the box.
4. If you chose to save it as a file, once you’ve un-checked or confirmed a password then click Save File. Save the file to your Desktop or My Documents or some other easy to remember place, open up your email or IM client and send it away.

January 16, 2008

Today Lego started out great, as Skype didn’t use all that much CPU usage at first but it went to a climax about halfway through. I think Skype closed on it’s own about twice, dropped the calls about three times and hit 100% to many times to count. I decided to take a picture of the CPU usage as a graph. See the graph and other pictures below:

005.gif When it goes from nothing that’s when it was opening. The second dip was when the call dropped or when Skype closed momentairly. The third dips were when Skype closed and I took this and other pictures. As you can see Skype takes up about 100% (That’s when it’s all the way at the top) almost all the time. At first it was below 50% then it got bigger and bigger. When we go to the state tournament we might get access to a internet connection via Sprint or AT&T. This is isn’t for sure but it might happen.

January 21, 2008

It’s very frustrating when you only kinda know the problem and you can’t really see the piece that’s causing the problem. We’re supposed to be up to date but it’s hard to be when you have to make sure you know what you’re telling the judges and what you’re supposed to be saying but I guess it’s partly my fault. Partly. Partly because I’m 1. Not there. 2. Not there so it’s not as interesting 3. Not there so it’s harder to participate. 4. I still love doing it. Frustrating but fun. Lots and lots of fun. I learn so much every year and a bunch about technology.

January 22, 2008

Well as I look back Lego went okay yesterday, I was only on for about thirty to forty-five minuets although Skype still, in that little bit of time, managed to be a pain. It didn’t drop the call as far as I can remember, it had a hard time handling me starting my video though, it would get really slow, there would be no sound and then it would all come in a rush. I think it would be better if I had Skype start my video when I answered a call. Like I wrote yesterday “…It’s very frustrating when you only kinda know the problem and you can’t really see the piece that’s causing the problem and then it gets solved without you knowing what happened…” So. Well I have been having some problems with technology outside of Lego so I’m going to go into that. I recently downloaded TrueTransparency which let’s me make my window borders look like they would in another OS (Operating System). Anyway. I was running it while watching a video in Dell Media Center and whenever I made the window smaller I couldn’t see the image anymore. I’m also a little disappointed in Firefox. It’s odd that when you leave a(some) window(s) open it will start taking up more and more CPU usage. Well I guess no browser’s perfect. I got a close up look at the iPod touch yesterday, it’s pretty nice. Big screen, much better than the iPod but more expensive. I now have Virtual Machine on my computer, I haven’t tried it yet but I hear it’s nice. It’s said that you can run another OS on there, that’s common knowledge but you have to install the OS on your computer. Running Virtual Machine it is supposed to only take up MB (Mega Bytes) not GB (Gaga Bytes).

January 23, 2008

Well Skype hasn’t dropped any calls today; it’s stalled a couple of times though. It appears that on some computers don’t register the CTRL+S to save docs etcetera. We have found this out the hard way. None of our programs got saved since last Wednesday, January 17, 2008. I suppose taking your time does 1. Pay off. 2. Taking the short cut doesn’t always cut time. Skype doesn’t seem to be taking up to much CPU usage but the computer was really slow earlier, to the point that I had to restart it. Skype is so miserable. Between updating Dell Support Center and running Skype my mouse kept freezing! I hate Skype. It’s so so incompetent. Yahoo! Messenger and MSN messenger, which aren’t made especially for VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is better than this. Using TrueTransparency makes XP look so much better. It doesn’t have the 3D desktop of Vista but using TrueTransparency it just about makes it like Vista but with better functionality. We have to use phones for communication on the tournament because we wont be able to get Internet connection. Another thing I only partly understand is why do I have to see a program if it’s going to change by the time I get it downloaded to my computer and open it with Robolab 2.9? Here I go to open the file which made Word close and the Robolab and maybe Skype. Yep Skype closed. Jeez. I now have a Dell Support Center icon stuck in my notification area with no apparent way to get rid of it. You know that there’s a problem with Skype when you have two little icons in the notification area. Dell’s new Support Center is great! Lot’s of different info and it’s very easy to navigate through it.

Later the same day

Lego went okay I guess, we had major problems doing a conference call with three cell phones. It took us fifteen minuets to half an hour to get it to work! It’s ridiculous. It’s the only way we know of to get communication even if we had a cellular Internet card this would still be the way we would have to do this. We can’t use cellular Internet cards because there are cement wall which block the signal enough so that we can’t get enough signal to support Skype, the blood sucking program. Oh well. It can’t really be helped.
Oh but it can. We could use MSN messenger or Yahoo! Messenger but no. It’s got to be this. I’m not saying I know how to do it with Yahoo! Messenger and that it wont take up more or less CPU usage if we used a different program but I’ll go out on a limb and be optimistic. I know how to do a call on MSN and it worked our fine when I tried it on a previous date but I guess, after this short of time, and because it’s the very least of our problems with the tournament in two days, we’re ”set in our ways”. Well oh well. It’s really bad when you 1. get the same alerts about the same thing again and again and again. 2. You hear adjfkhvjdfhgjhafhdaghmjfhg (I’m not kidding!) instead of understandable English. 3. When a program (Skype) uses a ridiculous amount or CPU usage. I guess it’s understandable that it uses a good chunk of CPU usage but still. Why not have the camera stream video to a web address? Or use Twitter or whatever it’s called? Then use something simple to transmit voice? Then we, 1. Wont have dropped calls 2. It should not take up as much CPU usage. 3. Less CPU usage means less dropped calls, less problems, more productivity less time re-opening Skype once it’s closed. Well. I suppose, as I’ve said before, if the computer was new then it might use less CPU usage. Might. But maybe not. This computer was state-of-the-art two years ago. I know technology changes rally really fast but it shouldn’t force someone to buy a new computer for, possibly, a programs incompetence. Oh well. It can’t be helped.

January 24, 2008

Well Lego is great fun but everything has to come to an end sometime. Our state tournament is on Saturday so this is probably the last post until after the national May tournament. Look back on what I’ve said about Skype. Umm, bad, bad, bad-darn! I don’t think there’s any good things about Skype in here after November 17th! And it only lasted that long because it took us that long to get to use it in depth! Well then. It’s to bad. I think if I do it next year we’re definitely going to try other programs. I think I’m the only one besides my brother that thinks this way! because we’re the ones that have to sit in front of the screen for 2+ hours! I will, if not everyone, try out AIM, MSN messenger and Yahoo! messenger. We’ll see.

February5, 2008
Well I don’t know what to write about. I’ve done a lot on my page PC V.S Mac and I don’t know what else to do right now.
March 2, 2008
I’m not exactly doing Lego rite now, I’m using Skype to help build a website for the Lego club. Skype is taking up it’s usual, about 97-100% CPU usage, and guess what? THE CALL WAS DROPPED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
March 2, 2008 after I cooled down.
Now that the call has been re-connected Skype is still taking up the same amount as it was when it wasn’t connected. I had some difficulty’s with Skype earlier though, it wouldn’t connect at first then when it did the call dropped. Fun fun! and now guess what? I CAN’T HEAR ANYTHING AND THE CALL IS “STILL CONNECTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
March 2, 2008 I needed to cool down again.
Well. This is going great.
March 28, 2008
Well yesterday I tried connecting to some of my cousins in Ohio over Skype, and wouldn’t you know it, Skype didn’t work! surprise surprise! we were trying to get a connection and I think it was their internet connection. I wasn’t running else besides Skype and it still didn’t work. Tsk tsk.

April 24, 2008
I’ve been skimping on these posts, we’ve been having Lego but I really haven’t logged on and added anything. Now I’ll hopefully start again. I have Lego in less than 1 minute so we’ll see how thar goes. After Lego, at 6:30 EST I have a Lego class through Adobe Connect on using MLCad. MLCad is pretty cool, you can build robots etc. I wanted to build a robot and then run it digitally but that didn’t work. I figured out that I could build a Lego robot and simulate the friction etc and then run it using Microsoft Robotics Studio. So I downloaded MRS (Microsoft Robotics Studio or MRS) and I couldn’t find a way to run it. There was no option to put a link on my desktop, quick launch bar, start menu-anyplace! I searched my computer and even went in to the program files and webt through every folder looking for a shortcut. And low and behold, there was none! So anyway. I was reading an email from somewhere and it had a blurb about a website called Diddim.com. Dimdim was a free web based meeting program, like Adobe Connect I think, but there is one huge distinction. IT’S FREE!! That’s huge. It’s really cool too. I think maybe we’ll start using that someday instead of remote assistance. It would sure be a lot better!
I’m running yet another search for the Microsoft Robotics Studio icon and it’s got a few results so you can listen to me yap while that’s doing what it’s doing. So what do you think about the attempt that Microsoft’s making to buy Yahoo!? I think it’s stupid. Though I would like to see what Microsoft does to Yahoo! mail and the other great Yahoo! services. I think that some of the Yahoo! services are kinda stuck in the past though, not necessarily in functionality but in looks. You log into Windows Live Spaces and you see this glossy interface. When you log onto Yahoo Geocities you see this interface that’s a little to close  to clunky to call it good looking. It’s functional, but a little ugly. Not that that matters but it’s just an observation. I do prefer Yahoo! Geocities over Windows Live Spaces all the way. Well it’s time for Lego so I’ll be back later.
April 24, 2008 later the same day
Well Skype was miserable. I had to mute my microphone to hear anything on the other rend. It was totally miserable. When I searched for Microsoft Robotics Studio I didn’t find any links that would let me run the program. Well.
April 24, 2008 later the same day
I just got off o meeting through Adobe Live Meeting.  It was pretty nice. I’ve been to meetings through Adobe Live Meeting before and they were cool but every time the sounds been only OK. I asked if the meeting hosts had ever though of http://www.dimdim.com they said they hadn’t so I elaborated. So now it looks like I will be testing dimdim.com with my fellow FLL teammate to check it out. So we’ll see how that goes.

May 9th, 2008
The High Tech Open was awesome! Me and my team got to meat a bunch of kids on a FLL team from Brazil and Idaho. We played soccer with the Brazilian team. We played three girls younger than 15 against me and my team, six boys, and got creamed. It was so much fun. I got to share our go strait program and our conversion program with the Brazilian team, they thought it was really cool. Soon, since our go strait got programmed for the NXT, I’m going to change it so that they can run it. How I’m going to do that is going to be hard on account of the fact that they run Robolab 2.0, we run 2.9. 2.0 doesn’t have “Equal To” container loops which is a fairly big part of our program. We’ll have to think of something. Dimdim was success and will probably replace Remote Assistance and maybe eventually Skype. It didn’t “drop” any calls. Unlike some program I know. SKYPE! Me and my team have been doing this FLL year for about 12 months. I don’t think we’re going to get a break between last years FLL season and this years FLL season. More to come as the next FLL year starts.
May 23rd, 2008
Well DimDim turns out to be not that great. What do you know! a seemingly great program that turns out to be only and OK program. Where have we seen this before? (For you people that haven’t been reading this page the answer is Skype) so we tired another place called Vyew. Vyew.com is a great place supposing that you have enough time to go through and familiarize yourself with all the features! there’s way to many features. Normally there can never be too many features in a program but there’s a fine line between functional and exceedingly confusing. Vyew is on the exceedingly confusing side. Way over on the exceedingly confusing side. This was the original email from my coach that went to a meeting with some engineers about communicating over the internet:

This is a utility for the Mac. Most amazing screen recording software ever. Records your screen real time (video and everything) AND records from your video input (i.e. The built in video camera or any other video device) then after recording has a great simple editing program.
This is great for doing training videos, presentation videos, demo’s etc.
http://vyew.com/ I sent you this below.. but a decent collaboration space, shared whiteboard, and even screen sharing.
http://www.gotomeeting.com, primarily a screen sharing program. You buy one account ($49/month) and all viewers can watch your screen for free. Includes ‘free’ audio conference bridge (in a USA area code, not 800 num) has nice features where you can allow others to control your keyboard and mouse, or switch the presentation to a viewer (i.e. hand off the screen sharing capability to an other) viewers are cross platform, the biggest drawback to gotomeeting is that the presenter must be a PC (mac’s can’t present)
http://livelook.net Since I moved to a mac. I couldn’t use gotomeeting anymore to share my screen for presentations. So I found livelook.net.
cheaper than gotomeeting, allows me to do presentations to others easily.. The big advantage is that it loads no software (completely browser based) the disadvantage is I can not allow others to control my mouse and keyboard (the reason I used to like this, was I could bring up a spread sheet on my computer and have others type into the spreadsheet collaboratively.. )  oh well.. the cross platform nature of livelook coupled with the fact there is no downloading makes it pretty good.
Out of these suggestions we considered Vyew.com only.
June 13th, 2008
Well today I got on Skype (which wasn’t all that bad this time) to try out RemoteX and Mikogo. Both Mikogo and RemoteX are supposed to be screen sharing programs. I’m writing this in realtime so I can say that Mikogo is the only one that’s worked so far. RemoteX is supposed to be easy to use but, and we both can’t figure it out!!! Mikogo is great though, light on our system and pretty good quality. Another feature that I like about Mikogo is that I can let my other participant have control of my screen and also switch the presenter whenever I want. Overall we’re still trying to get RemoteX to work and Mikogo is great.
Later.
Well my computer just crashed. I was apparently running too many apps. So anyway. I download “the real version” from the RemoteX website, which was a compressed zipped folder. The file the folder was holding was the same Skype add-on I had downloaded earlier.
June 18th, 2008
Well It seems that we’ve found the software we’re looking for. Mikogo is supposed to work with Skype as a plug-in, But that didn’t work when my teammate ans I tried to do that, so we downloaded the full program. Mikogo, like I’ve said before, is great. Skype, I guess, is the best program for transmitting audio and video. If we had a dual-core processor we would be able to get better video but I don’t have a dual-core processor and neither does anyone else on my team as far as I know. So it looks like Skype and Mikogo.
P.S
This is going to be a huge page.
June 19th, 2008

We’re trying YuuGuu. YuuGuu is a chat/screen sharing program. YuuGuu isn’t as good as Mikogo but probably better than Remote Assistance. YuuGuu is a little slow, and the picture of the other persons screen is a little pixely. Another thing that’s annoying is whenever you move a window, minimize it or close a windows the whole program has to reload the picture. We’re trying LogMeIn right now. LogMeIn is pretty cool, the picture is pretty good, and the lapse between when I do something to when I see it happen is pretty small. LogMeIn looks pretty good too. I can’t really program on another computer though, I can but not comfortably. Overall Mikogo is the best for PC to PC but if you have to do PC to Mac then the program for you would be LogMeIn.

June 10th, 2008

Well after yesterday it will probably be LogMeIn or PC to Mac or vise-versa, and Mikogo for PC to PC. Skype will remain as the Audio and Video program though.

July 19th, 2008

So right now we, that is, my teammate and I, are looking into buying some wheels on Bricklink.com. How that relates to technology is this: He wanted to let me see the wheels, on his screen so we ran Mikogo, with Skype. Guess how that went. Well the first try didn’t work. I couldn’t understand him at all and my computer was running really slow. On our Second try Skype and Mikogo worked together.

December 31, 2008

Well it’s almost 2009 what could be the last of FLL year, or an opportunity o extend it. We placed 1st in the regional tournament, and are going to State. We got the highest board score at our tournament, but we didn’t get the highest board score of all the regional toruanments. If we get first place in our state tournament, we go to the national tournament in Atlanta. This year there is also a lottery for another team to go to the nattional tournament. That means two team are going to nationals, we want to be one of them. I haven’t been writing about any tech problems related to VoIP, otherwise know as my Skype calls to the rest of my team in Minnesota. I haven’t been writing in here because there really haven’t been any major problems, or at least nothing that we can control. There has been dropped calls, no internet connection, which forced me to listen into practice with a cell phone, and the occasional problem that has forced me to restart my computer, and be at practice twenty minutes later. As you probably don’t know, we are using Mikogo officially for meetings, so that I can program on  my teammates screen. Skype has seemed to be taking up less CPU usage, which is pretty amazing to me. Mikogo has never really given me a whole lot of problems, and it doesn’t take up a whole lot of CPU. Mikogog has also been pretty reliable, It’s never dropped a meeting, and besides the fact that it’s a little laggy, and it’s hard to program with, it’s good. LogMeIn only gave us 30 hours of a free trial, which we would have used in a month easy. Skype has served it’s purpose well, except for the odd time where I can’t hear anything and the slightly more frequent dropped call, due to system overload, or a bad internet connection.

March 29, 2009

I’ve still been meeting for First Lego League, because we won our state tournament! We are going to the world festival in April, actually in about 2 weeks!
Skype’s still be about the same, acting up as usual, but I’m starting to think that it might not be Skype’s fault that my computer get’s really slow, but my computers fault. My computer is getting old.

July 8, 2010

Well it’s been quite a while since I’ve made any revisions to this page, and looking back I wish I could have mode these posts as actual separate articles, rather than simply different paragraphs on the same page. If I had done that, this page would be much easier to change, read, and follow. Since I’m thinking about it, I suppose I would have created a separate blog in order to have each paragraph on here as a separate post without it appearing on my homepage as such. Then all I would have needed to do was add in a link to this website and wha-la!  (whoola, whoo-la?)

Anyways though, I suppose I’m here to give some sort of update on the state of the union my latest experiences with Skype. So if you’ve seen the blog my family will be keeping on our trip to Africa, aptly named “Braving the World“, you would know that I will be traveling to South Africa this coming September for 6 weeks. During this time I will be traveling the country with my family, as well as participating in FLL once more. Let me explain. FLL, which you are familiar with if you’ve read this page, is a program with an age limit of 15. In the U.S, that is. In other countries though, the age limit is 16, this enabling my participation in FLL for one last year.

I will not be on the FLL team alone though, that would be suicidal. No, I will be joining an FLL team with my teammate and partner in crime for the past 5 years called JINX-JINX. (Jinks-jinks). The plan we have for this year is to complete our research project before we arrive in South Africa so that once we are there we can devote all of our time to work on the robot. Because of this we have been meeting over Skype and employing Google Wave to begin and work on our research project so far. I’ve gotta say, Google Wave is a pretty awesome service. I suppose I will write an article on it in the near future, so hopefully you will check back and read it.

Moving on. I suppose I didn’t fully realize how hard it would be for two teams to work together if they hadn’t known each other in the past as my team did. Now I’m realizing this as I work with my new teammates in South Africa. Without knowing the people on the other end of that Skype call, without having some connection with them, it’s hard to function as an affective team. Hard, but not impossible as I am beginning to see. It is difficult to convey ideas across effectively though, especially if they may come off as negative. I suppose working with teammates whom I have never met before is a bit like meeting someone new; I’m not really sure how to act, I watch out that I don’t make too many mistakes. Take an event a few days ago for example: One of my teammates from South Africa posted a link to a specific (Google) Wave of which nobody else was a participant, and thus the link was ineffective because we could not view the wave. My coach made a reply asking what the problem might be, and for a possible solution. My response went something like this:

“I think he posted a link to a specific wave, not a website, and because of that we are unable to view the wave. I would guess that this would be because we are not participants in the wave.”

Later when I opened Google Wave back up, I saw that someone had edited my Wave so that the “he'” were written as “she'”. I thought I had made a mistake, so I quickly fixed it and thought nothing of it. Later on when I opened Google Wave again I saw that my Wave had been edited once again, this time striking out the “she” and replacing them with “he”. I was confused, and apparently I was right the first time in referring to him as a he, someone had unnecessarily changed my he/she references, and I was wrong once again. Truly not a big deal, but it displays a breakdown in communication that would not have happened had I known my teammates as I do my teammates in Minnesota. Hopefully this will be the last error of this kind, and the rest of the year will go smoothly.

I believe I will make a quick mention of Skype here, just for old-times sake. Skype, as I have said before, is a good program that accomplishes its task very well, albeit using a great deal of CPU while doing it. That was my main concern with Skype as a program, but that concern is beginning to recede in my mind. As you may know I received a new computer for Christmas this past year. Specs include 3 GB of RAM, and a Dual Core processor. Because of the great leap in computing power Skype has been able to run very smoothly lately on my new computer, allowing me to do other tasks easily while participating in a Skype call. So Skype isn’t such a bad program, I just wish conference calls would be able to handle video for each participant.

But anyways, there’s one more feature of Skype I would like to mention. You may be familiar with the Screen Sharing feature that is now built in to Skype, either from personal experience, or from posts in which I may have mentioned it. I would just like to say that it truly is a great feature, allowing for easy screen sharing during Skype calls without the hassle other programs present.


Comments
  1. […] asking that person to put me up there again but I just want to voice my opinion that my page Video and Voice Calls over the internet and my page XP V.S Vista should be up there too. I mean, look at those two pages! especially Video […]

  2. Karen says:

    I have a Logitech webcam when I first install it, it gets a internet connection as soon as my computer restarts. I lose the connect and my vidieo calls do not go through I do not know why this is happening. Is it my firewall Or DSL??????. I think I’ve uninstalled it and installed it number of times.

    • zachdude1094 says:

      Okay, let me make sure I know what you’re asking and telling me.
      You have a Logitech webcam. Whenever your computer starts, it get’s a good connection to the internet, but when you try to do a video call, the calls don’t go through. You want to know why this is happening, and you think it might be your firewall or your DSL, right?
      Now I’m assuming that you are using Skype, as that was the VoIP program that this page has been talking about, so I will base my answer from there. You probably have read some or most of this page, so you will know that I’ve had problems with this, and here’s what I recommend you try:
      1) First I would recommend that you check and see if you have the latest version of Skype. This can be easily done by clicking the Help menu once Skype is open, and then clicking Check for Updates. Either Skype will tell you that you have the latest version, or that you need to upgrade. If you need to upgrade I would recommend doing so now.
      2) Make sure your Logitech Software is up to date, which I am sure you have done, but just double-check anyway.
      3) Make sure Skype is recognizing that your webcam is in fact a webcam, and that your webcam is the one recognized by Skype. Now Skype can sometimes make a mistake and think a certain part of your computer is actually another part, which if you’ve been a long time Skype user, you probably know. So go into the Tools menu, and click Options. Now under the General Section you will see a part labeled Webcam Settings. Go into that space and see if Skype is recognizing the correct webcam.
      4) Try again to make a call. If it doesn’t work post back, and I can look at some more in-depth troubleshooting ideas for you.
      5) Check the Skype Help.
      I hope this helps!

  3. deSouza says:

    Hi there,
    I have a problem while doing video calls. Everytime i’m doing video calls, me on the webcam often freeze while the other party has no problem at all and it is visible (that I’m frozen) to my friend as well.

    Notes:
    – I’m using Logitech webcam and its software are updated.
    – Using Windows Live Messenger
    – firewall checked

    btw, while on web cam without video calls, everything went on smoothly and fine.
    Any idea why this is happening and how to fix it?

    Thank you

  4. zachdude1094 says:

    Hi there,

    Before I go in and try to help you out with your problem I want to give you a recommendation: Use Skype. I know I’ve complained again and again about it, but even though it has its flaws its the best choice out there right now. Skype even has its own IM feature, which is comparable to Windows Live Messenger, except you just don’t have winks.

    So now we will more on to your problem. Your problem, as I understand it, is that you are using Windows Live Messenger to handle video calls, and that’s not working for you. Specifically, your video freezes.

    In my experience with video calls over Windows Live Messenger and Skype, your video freezes because too much information is attempting to be sent out of your computer, while at the same time your computer is trying to receive a great amount of information and handle it all. Thats what I would say your problem is, but I could always be wrong, so keep looking around for another solution.

    My solution to this problem would, as much as you may not like it, is to buy some more RAM. That’s what I did to solve my problem, and it helped a lot. Other than that I would recommend moving to Skype for your video calls, as it works so much better than Windows Live Messenger in that aspect.

    I hope that helps.

    Thanks for reading.

  5. sarah says:

    Haha, I saw this and thought “now he doesn’t have any experience with this at all.” 😛

  6. Dear My iPC

    I have had this problem, I am working with an old pentium 3 XP Dell OptiPlex GX110, I have Windows Live 2009 working with these same problems and being a novice I fear losing my conection, as I am using my PC for online study (unemployed) and other work. It used to work on my pentium 3 MESH PC but I can’t remember it working here. I also get freezing but after quite a while, but when I click back on the webcam icon it resumes, my video calls wont go through

  7. zachdude1094 says:

    Jeffrey,

    So your problem is that during your online classes, your call freezes? Only to be restored when you click on the webcam icon?

    If that’s your problem, as far as I know, there isn’t something software-wise that you can do. In my experience these kinds of problem are caused by insufficient hardware, so I would recommend that you upgrade your hardware; at the very least the RAM.

    I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, but like I said, it’s not a software problem, it’s with the computer.

    Thanks for reading.

  8. Thank you for your reply, I read something that was said on the said page but though it might be different in some way but you have shown me it is just the same, possibly I didn’t read into it as much I I should of.

    Thank you for your answer.

    Yours Faithfully

    JTValerie

  9. I usually don’t post on Blogs but ya forced me to, great info.. excellent! … I’ll add a backlink and bookmark your site.

    Robert Shumake Fifth Third

  10. […] got plenty planned. If you’ve ever been on an FLL team or read my not-so-aptly-named page Video and Voice Calls over the Internet on my home blog you’ll know what an experience, and a time consuming activity lifestyle FLL […]

  11. tewOffipt says:

    Inseparable feels at in days of old that he wrote a keep under well versed in this feeling

  12. Hey, wonderful blog you have here! Keep up the excellent job

  13. max says:

    thank you for useful post

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