Saturday, April 24, 2010

Virtual Delphi Users Group

On April 20th, 2010 SLCDUG conducted an experiment on a virtual meeting.     The results were much better than expected.   This concept worked!  I have work to do to improve the overall experience.  We had several minor problems, but overall we can improve.

One thing I realized needed to improve was it needed  to have a central place were we could announce meetings and store recordings.   The SLCDUG site is just a blogger account and would not support files of the size the recordings.

So I setup a new domain and website just for the "Virtual Delphi Users Group"

Now, I find myself personally using Delphi Feeds most of the time so I want the VDUG Feed listed there, if you want to see it then vote for my submission(UPDATE: It's listed!)

The replay of the first meeting:   Component Development / Tips & Tricks has been posted on the the new site.

If your interested in sponsoring this group in any way let me know: rlove at peakbiz dot com

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Virtual Delphi Users Group Meeting

I will be presenting at a Virtual Delphi Users Group Meeting Next Week.

Everyone is invited and it's free of charge.   It's not going to be a marketing show like a typical Webinar, it just plan free training on Delphi.

Date: Tuesday April 20, 2010
Time: 6:00 PM MDT (UTC - 6 hours)

   Delphi Tips & Tricks - Phil Gilmore
   Delphi Component Development - Robert Love

Pre-Registration is required:

I have more material on Component Development than time will allow, as such I will poll those attending the meeting to decide on the direction to take.

This will be the first of hopefully several, it really depends on participation levels, i.e. don't want to prepare and have nobody show up :-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Personal Outlook #1

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Virtual User Group Options

The SLCDUG (Salt Lake City Delphi Users Group) is going to do some of it's meetings on-line.  

I started researching many options of what technlogy to use, with the following factors playing into my decision:

  1. Cost, since we don't collect dues the cost needs to be small enough that I can personally handle it if there is not a sponsor willing to pick up the tab.   
  2. Options are available to make this more like a local users group meeting than pre-scripted webinar presentation. 
  3. We have attendance in the past year at anywhere from 4 people to 50 people.    Because our virtual meetings will be available to everyone on the Internet, we need a solution that supports at least 100 people.

I was surprised to find that there is not a ton of un-biased reviews.   For example the most compressive review of GoToWebinar was done by a Cisco employee the company that produces Webex.    With that in mind I knew I could not depend on others research.   So I setup multiple computers in my home all signed up for the trial offers of the following companies and this is what I found in my comparision.

Price: $99/Month
Max Attendees: 100 @ $99 * 500 @ $399  *  1000 @ $499
OS Supported: Windows, MAC
Trial Length: 30 Days

  • Interface was easy to use.
  • Control windows are not broadcast
  • Ability to view only one application instead of the entire desktop.
  • Support for VOIP and Telephone conferencing for presenters and/or Attendees
  • May unmute either option quickly via software.
  • Up to 25 People could be unmuted.
  • Good registration and Tracking of who attended.
  • Was able to show a small video clip without slow down.
  • Ability to share or hide Attendees List
  • Easy to schedule future meetings
  • Ability to make someone else the presenter without reconnecting
  • No support for Web Cams
  • No Support Linux
  • Can not be run from a virtual machine
Price:  Contact Sales (Scared here as 25 users is $49/Month but I have sent an email request)
Max Attendees: 500 (Meeting Center Product) 3000 (Event Center Product)
OS Supported: Windows, MAC, Solaris, Unix, Linux, 3G Enabled Smart phones (IPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, etc)
Trial Length: 14 Days (Meeting Center) unable to trial Event Center

  • Control windows are not broadcast
  • Optional support to allow attendees to chat with each other.
  • Ability to Share or Hide Attendee List
  • Ability to make someone else the presenter without reconnecting
  • Easy way to schedule future meetings
Cons: (Based on Meeting Center)

  • No way to register for a meeting.
  • No way to see reports on who attended after meeting.
  • Interface seemed to get in the way more than I wanted.
  • Had Problems starting a 2nd Meeting after first trial meeting.
  • Users Joining meeting were prompted to join 14 day trial (Our attendees are not their customers!)
Price:  $22.50/Month  ($4.50 per user per month min 5 Users)
Initially this was confusing but figured it out.  Each Organizer need a license, attendees don't so the minimum license count will work for our situation)
Max attendees: 250 (Can get up to 1250 if you pay $16 per User)
OS Supported: Windows, any Java supported OS (Java Version does not support VOIP)
Trial Length: 30 Days (It's all of Microsoft on-line services, not just LiveMeeting)

  • Price is very good.
  • Ability to Show or Hide Attendee List
  • Ability to allow Users to Create own Personal Recording
  • Optional Pre Registration 
  • Embarcadero Uses it for CodeRage so people are familiar with it.
  • Organizers are required to use a Sign In Application, that reconfigures Outlook.
  • Most Difficult (As an Organizer) to get setup initially
  • Web Version does not support VOIP / Clients must Download Live Meeting to get VOIP
  • Only supports External Phone Conferencing Providers, not provided by Default.
  • If I allow all attendees to have MIC access, I can't control the Mute.   They can unmute themselves at will.  You can mute everyone but yourself but they can turn around and unmute immediately.
Price: $75/Month (DimDim Webinar Version) (There is a Free version for 20 or less attendees)
Max Attendees: 1000
OS Supported: Windows, Mac, and Modern Browser that supports Flash.
Trial Length: 30 Days

  • Optional Public Group Chat
  • Poor Support for Question and Answers, Private Chat was the only option.
  • Registration Support
  • Phone or VIOP Support
  • Price for smaller meetings
  • Cool count down timer and Registration Widget to embed on site later
  • Open API for setup of Meetings. (although: Lacked in Meeting API controls)
  • Will host Recordings
  • Shared Browsing Feature
  • Speed of switching content views.
  • Only can share whole desktop.  Annoying Red box around screen.
  • No built in Polling
  • Registration Required Field are not changable (I don't care about phone number but DimDim makes it required)
  • Several Support Forums, with no clear direction where to go.  They were confusing at best.
  • Recording will not record everything, currently does not support white board or shared browsing

Common Problems regardless of option:
  • Unable to Broadcast PC Audio without setting up, Sound Mix and disabling your Mic or using a second PC/Mixer Board.   
Right now I am leaning to LiveMeeting because of price, but my favorite is GotoWebinar, its features are far more robust and would go along way in making the session seem more like a local user group meeting.

I am interested in feedback on those that have experience in using these technologies or other options I did not review.

Update:  Added DimDim to the list of products reviewed