Towards a better tinyhouse

Inventing to freedom?

Investigation into the possibility of Tinyhouse virtual conference

with 5 comments

I have been looking, on and off, into options for holding a virtual tinyhouse conference. There are a number of options, but none that are by any means perfect. I think video might be nice, even if it seems more like a novelty. Something better than what is out there right now would be peer to peer video chat (except toxbox, which I think might be p2p), but it looks like all the software instead takes ball the video streams and bounces them off a central server. So the server hosting costs are necessarily substantial for actual video.

Anyway, I started searching with the idea of finding something, getting it set up, then then putting up a “Virtual tinyhouse conference is go for launch X o clock, yday the zth – be there!” Alas, it is not to be just yet. I have spent too much time on this already, and there is no reason I, in particular should host it, any other blogger might just as well, so I thought I would stop here, and just post mu notes instead. Someone else can continue looking into it, and if you make money of your blog (which I don’t, nor do I have any intention to), appreciate the increased traffic to their blog that could come from hosting the conference.

I did sign up for Kirzenchat, but it turned out to be nonfunctional, though at least it was free to try. I think there should always be a free trial – gchat, dfor instance, wants $54 usd right off the bat, and if it is just as defective as kirzenchat, you basically just got defrauded.

Bizarrely, other companies want a ~$300 licence fee for the software, even though on their own servers. They usually have a basic free trial, though, and better software.

I don’t know if the expensive services would fly all that well, because they might be too expensive to support through donations, but they could be used to gauge interest in the con, at least.

Then there is paltalk, which the chatter (not the host of the con) has to pay for, if you want video, otherwise the audio and text chatting is free, though it is sign up only. They have a flash based (including embeddable) version, so at least you don’t have to download anything,

Camfrog is just software. However, there are companies (some linked to from the camfrog web site) that sell you a package so you’re up and running pretty fast, and it can be relatively low cost. Camfrog appears to have a web based flash version, so that might be a good option, all things considered.

The quality of the video will vary, of course. Tokbox is interesting, good quality video with a free version, but there is no text chat, so that is no good for anyone without a webcam.

Then there is stuff like parachat, which is only audio and text. Maybe video isn’t worth the trouble. free trial is only 5 users also expensive emailed them asking for better trial, looks like maybe they want server licence first $90 looks like british so prob slow emailed them and they have a15 day trial but only 5 users for it also expensive 183/mo maybe 225 need server
paltalk, seems to be only 10 people for the downloadable, has embeddable chatrooms too, seems to be only limited video capability without each user paying also seems to want user to login, tried the embedable widget and also requuires user to login and have a (free or premium) account, looks good but no trial emailed them, never answered, but after trying the demo more is clear is very shoddy doftware, when join a room all users in the room ask to see you webcam and no way to turn this off, also the user asks themself to view webcam even though you can already see your own camera
could rent a server but cant test easily in toronto call them to clarify details the contact us form doesn’t work camfrog hosts no hosting loks okay trial is only for 10 people tested got free trial actually first month free *need to unsubscribe if don’t use*, admin panel seems to be broken, unsubscribed not useable conferencing omnly few users 1 room just software soo didnnt check sort of free trial has hosting \ but emailed them and they say have to buy software first then can buy hosting demo doesn’t work for version with video, so no good very slow and buggy no good maybe as last resort might be waty too expensive , emailed them to clarify thier pricing schjeme and to ask if can get free trial not sure what they said maybe never answered but looks like they want money for licnece then to rpovide hosting max combined bandwidth for all userd is 512 kbps so not good for video but probably the same as others that way also probably need own server for putting new session ids in the pages only one room expensive for multi room no info on price e free trial only 14 people conferencing tested and seem s to be not very good needs install
digichat just text 9 cents a minute per user probv too much only 6 cams total 1 room has free version 20 people with video and 30 day free trial for better ones maybe invitation only no text seems to smal number of people no lobby just one room looks like just one room and msybe not very good just sooftware no hosting
parachat, text and audio free with lobby

EDIT on 2010/10/20: some more notes each user has to pay $5, is peer to peer download required, could buy a number of licenses and give them to users for free looks like could work okay video and audio workable but not very good useless
flash is capable of peer to peer networking. but there don’t seem to be any multi user systems yet. $5 eachper month per user doesn’t seem so bad for an already established conference, if the software was otherwise good, and the money is going to the software company, not the hosts of the conference, so there is no doubt about the motives of the conference host. But for a conference still gaining momentum it could be a crippling barrier; people are used to free trials, at least, if not free everything on the web, plus more importantly, I would be reluctant to pay before I could even see the what was going on at the con.


Written by gregor

October 4, 2010 at 03:55

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. Would you mind to elaborate why you think sifonr is useless, so we can perhaps make it better?


    November 7, 2010 at 16:29

    • I mean it is useless for my purposes. only one on one, no ability to see what has been typed before now. can’t hold a con lioke that. Have you heard of Vsee? They have a free SKD. You could make something really good with that technology. It would be a good platform if only rooms could be set up, e.g. named groups of users (whos existence persists when there is no one in the group), like the meetings function but more flexible.


      November 7, 2010 at 16:34

      • If you do do that, maybe I’ll be your first customer…


        November 7, 2010 at 16:35

      • Seeing the chat history has been fixed a few days ago.. 🙂
        Actually sifonr is quite the opposite of a one-on-one videochat; there is no limit on how many people can join with their webcams (unlike tinychat, where it’s capped to 12 members per room), and you can switch with anyone into “solo-mode”.
        I’m sad you feel this is a con, as sifonr is completely free of charge. We can provide this because there is very little to no traffic to pay for, since the whole communication happens over peer-to-peer technology.
        I’m also curious about the last point you mention, because I think this is exactly what does – setting up named (and searchable) rooms that persist forever.
        Dont get me wrong, I dont want to talk you into something – since there is nothing I’d wanted to sell you, as I mentioned it’s all free of charge – I just wanted to communicate what could be done better or in a more convenient way. I reckon it’s the not-yet existant tutorials and instruction guides that need to be improved.. 🙂
        Thanks for your feedback anyway!


        November 7, 2010 at 18:08

      • Hm, well maybe I’ll look into sifonr again, then. Also I don’t mean a con as in a swindle, I mean con as in conference.


        November 7, 2010 at 20:33

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