Saturday, December 13, 2008

Online Application Demo Using WebCamMax

I have just set up and used WebCamMax to stream my desktop screen up to ustream. I found the application to be VERY easy to use and very intuitive. I needed something to do demonstrations of applications that I use in wood working. I use SketchUp for setting up and dimensioning my designs and to accurately get all my angles and measurement in almost like a blue print format.

I brought this application to the notice of some of my wood working bretheren at TWW but many people didn't understand it use, thought it was too complicated, or, for the most of them, just found that there wasn't a fast way to learn how to use it. They asked if I could do a demo of it so they could learn a bit. Slight problem, unless I turn my camcorder on my laptop it couldn't be done. In steps WebCamMax.

The installation of WebCamMax was very smooth and as it launched I didn't bother to set the program as defaults to anything because I didn't know whether the program was going to be worth it or not. I quickly found that it was a great asset to use.

I really didn't get into the bells and whistles of the application, the effects, the masks, and the like. I wasn't really interested in that. But I found the ability to either do Full Screen, a Selected Window, or a Selected Area to be a very useful tool. Also it allows you to integrate audio into your video stream to ustream. This is a great plus when you are streaming to chat room of 20 plus people all posting question upon question about how and what you are doing.

Unfortunately, ustream is still the biggest bottle neck in the process. Ustream has a limitation of 640x480 resolution. A lot of the detail of your desktop is lost because of this.

The pricing is reasonable but odd. There is a 6 month license for $20, 1 year for $30, $40 for 2 years, and $50 for a lifetime license.

I did have one issue that I am going to put more on vista's head than WebCamMax's. Once I started the application and brought up ustream, if I changed any of the settings in WebCamMax, first ustream would lock up, then WebCamMax, then Firefox, then vista. All ran great until I altered the way that WebCamMax was streaming to ustream, switching camera feeds, adding audio components, or manipulating the feed amount. After that it was a slow degrade to system failure. Not even a Ctrl+Alt+Del worked or would allow you to close out the failed app and the only way to recover was a cold forced shutdown. As of the time of this writing vista has so many issues that it should have never been released, and I am saying this as having been a computer engineer for more than 20 years.



Take everything I have said in this posting and throw it out the window. Thanks to Nicole Spagnuolo, wife of the famous and world reknown Marc Spagnuolo (aka The Wood Whisperer)and fellow wood turner, I have found da bomb in desktop sharing. My new application of choice is YuuGuu, The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. It is FREE! (always #1 on my list, if applicable)
  2. The client is relatively small and doesn't max out the CPU on most up to date systems.
  3. The viewer side is web based. This means that it is open to all platforms with no viewer side dependancies (except for maybe flash).
  4. It is secure. The "broadcaster" must have the client running and must enable sharing. The viewer must go to a known URL and enter in that broadcaster's PIN. It is then up to how the broadcaster setup the client as to allow with access with or without authorization.
  5. You can set it up to connect with all the major (and even not so major) Instant Messaging clients (Yahoo, MSN, ICQ.....)
  6. It has it's own chat window.

A GREAT tool for anyone wanting to demonstrate computer based graphical real time information.