Investigation into the possibility of Tinyhouse virtual conference
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.
http://www.fcschat.com/ 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
http://www.chatblazer.com/order_now/pricing.aspx emailed them and they have a15 day trial but only 5 users for it also expensive 183/mo maybe 225
userplane.com 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,
http://www.gchats.com/products/24_visichat.html 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 http://mwtnetworks.com/camfroghosting.html in toronto call them to clarify details the contact us form doesn’t work
http://frogfriendshosting.com/ camfrog hosts
http://avchat.net/buy-now no hosting
http://www.kirzenchat.com/demo/livecommunity 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
http://www.virtualconferenceonline.com/index.html conferencing omnly few users 1 room
http://www.videoflashchat.com/ just software soo didnnt check
http://www.flashcoms.com/products/community_video_chat/demo/?act_mode=general&mode=3 sort of free trial has hosting \http://www.flashcoms.com/services/hosting/ but emailed them and they say have to buy software first then can buy hosting
http://www.bummerhosting.com/chat_rooms.php demo doesn’t work for version with video, so no good
http://www.123flashchat.com/demo.html 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
userplane.com 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
hearme.com only one room expensive for multi room
https://www.lotuslive.com/en/campaigns/sesimple.php no info on price e free trial only 14 people
http://www.dimdim.com/features/dimdim_compare.html conferencing tested and seem s to be not very good needs install
digichat just text
http://lypp.com/conferencing/how-it-works 9 cents a minute per user probv too much
http://www.persony.com/smb.php only 6 cams total 1 room
https://www.tokbox.com/signup?p=conference has free version 20 people with video and 30 day free trial for better ones maybe invitation only no text
http://vawkr.com/ seems to smal number of people
http://flashmeeting.e2bn.net/fm/flashmeeting.php?pwd=demo-demo no lobby just one room
http://www.camfrog.com/ 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
http://www.ivisit.com/plans 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
http://www.stickam.com/chatRoom.do looks like could work okay video and audio workable but not very good
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.