[vmeet] Experiences with remote participation at IETF76 via unofficial webex

Brian Rosen <br@brianrosen.net> Fri, 13 November 2009 18:33 UTC

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Date: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 13:34:11 -0500
From: Brian Rosen <br@brianrosen.net>
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Subject: [vmeet] Experiences with remote participation at IETF76 via unofficial webex
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I, like many, was unable to attend IETF76.  First meeting I have missed in a
while.  There were three sessions I really wanted to attend, one of which
was p2psip where I am co-chair.  That session had no Webex.  I used the
traditional tools of streaming audio and jabber.  I felt very disconnected:
I knew what was being said, and I could more or less follow the slides I
downloaded, but it really was one way.

In geopriv and ecrit, there was an attempt to provide better service.  I
even gave a presentation remotely in ecrit.  A webex session was
established, and slides were available to remote attendees as they were to
attendees in the room.  Unfortunately, no coordination was made with the
secretariat, and as a result, we had poor quality room audio from the room
to remote participants, although the quality from the webex bridge to the
room was reportedly okay.

The result was much more satisfactory.  It was much more of a two way
street.  I gave a presentation, answered questions, and "went to the
microphone" several times in both sessions.  It's good enough that I think
we should have Webex available in all sessions at IETF77.

I was not able to attend any of the "official" webex sessions, so I don't
know how much different it was.

There are two things that we should do, one of which is obvious: we need
phone patch connections, or some equivalent, in every room.

I'd prefer "or equivalent", specifically an IP connection to the bridge with
a wideband codec.  That takes a VoIP bridge and a VoIP patch to room audio,
which is probably pretty hard to come by. I'll take a regular phone
connection.  We might even try Skype.

The other thing we need is a way to get in line for the mic that works.
Nothing, which is what we had, doesn't work.  The best we could do was that
I asked for the floor over the bridge, which was either annoying to the
participants, because I was coming over someone else speaking, or I had to
look for an opening in the audio and try to break in at a more opportune
time.  We need something better.  I keep thinking it's an LCD screen with a
light on a pole in the middle of the room.  Any of the tools in the webex or
similar mechanisms don't seem to work: the chairs and other people in the
room are quite naturally trying to follow the discussion, and are not
looking at chat sessions, hand raise queues, etc.  It has to be more
natural, and more like the line at the physical mic.

I do want to send props to the streaming audio crew.  The quality of the
streaming audio was quite excellent.  Its problem is delay, which they say
is mostly in the client.  Dunno, but with every client I tried, it was
around 10 seconds.