Friday, March 31, 2006

The holy grail of synchronous communication

synchronous communication tools have been the flavour of the month in the TALO eGroup lately. Sean FitzGerald has been getting us organised to meet every second Wednesday night. So far we have met once in Skype and then Active Worlds.

Personally I've never been a big fan of synchronous communications online, much preferring the more considered and flexible asynchronous, but after experiencing the communications with the healthy TALO community I'm just about converted.

Last night we followed Sean into Active Worlds and it totally blew my mind! I took loads of pictures with my print-screen button, and have loaded them to Flickr. About 6 of us went into many different worlds, using the instant messaging tool to communicate. Active Worlds has quite a few virtual worlds to go into, offers standard avatars and instant messaging for free, and targets educational users. Straight away I can see great potential for it. Imagine if you could go in to an Active World, walk around before hand as a teacher, click signs and objects and get prompted to upload your own images and slides around the place! It would be easy to do from the Active World developer perspective, but probably not something they're going to offer for free :( Any game developers out there wanna build this for us?

But the search for a free, voice over the internet tool that can support conference calls and run on low bandwidths continues.

Shaggy may have found the grail with TeamSpeak. Its freeware for non commercial use and apparently is proven popular in the online gaming communities. Unfortunately it does require a server to host the conference, and for users to download and install the Team Speak client (5 Mb) but if it can handle a group conversation then we have it!

We'll be able to go into Active Worlds, use Team Speak to communicate vocally, and skype as our emergency backup. TeamSpeak even has a record feature, so we'll be able to record our group's conversations too. Here's hoping it will work for more than 5 users... join the TALO eGroup to get announcements of the next meeting, download the TeamSpeak and ActiveWorld clients and get ready...


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1 comment:

Tony Forster said...

Teamspeak can handle more than 5 users but an ADSL line host is limited to about 5 because of bandwidth. You can run the server from home but I havent been able to get port forwarding to work on my ADSL modem. Skype is limited to 5. Ventrilo free server is limited to 8 but again I cant get it working at home. For 8+ users you need a commercial server. There is only one Australian agent for commercial servers and they are currently full up.
I would be interested to hear if anybody has worked out the port forwarding thing
Tony