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How to Set Up a Videoconference

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How to Set Up a Videoconference

by Elisabeth Parker,
author of The Little Web Cam Book

richardVIDEOCONFERENCING IS NOT ONLY FUN, it can save you money, too. With a cam, a microphone, and speakers, you can talk with friends, family, and coworkers face-to-face--even if they're thousands of miles away. And since you connect over the Internet for the price of a call to your local ISP, videoconferencing will cost you far less than a long-distance phone call or plane ticket.

elizabethAnother advantage of videoconferencing? Not only can you keep in touch with old friends and acquaintances, you can make new ones, too. Once you're hooked up (see "How to Set Up a Web Cam" for hardware how-tos), you can explore the large and growing videoconferencing community. There are lots of online conference rooms, broadcasts, and events out there, so what are you waiting for? Let's get started!


There are lots of videoconferencing programs out there. But after taking a few for a spin, I found White Pine CU-SeeMe ( to be the most reliable and easy to use. Plus, it's feature-packed, runs on both Windows and Macintosh, and works with most types of cams and video cards. Also, remember that you can't videoconference alone! CU-SeeMe boasts a vast community of millions of users. (To find out where the action is, go to CU-SeeMe World at and sign up for a free membership.)

Web conference

White Pine CU-SeeMe (Pro Version 4.0 for Windows or Version 3.1.2 for Mac OS) costs $69; you can download, register, and pay for the program at White Pine's Web site.

On a budget? No problem. There are also some good freebies out there:

  • Microsoft's NetMeeting A user-friendly program with all the bells and whistles. Alas, NetMeeting is only available for Windows, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone whose friends, family, or colleagues use Macs.

  • BoxTop Software's iVisit Advantages: iVisit runs on Windows and Macintosh, and lets you "videotape" your conferences. Although it lacks some of White Pine CU-SeeMe's and NetMeeting's features, it's is still worth checking out.

  • Cornell CU-SeeMe CU-SeeMe started off as a freeware program developed at Cornell University. Now it boasts millions of fans and versions for just about every type of computer, including Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and even the now-defunct OS/2 and Amiga. However, I found it difficult to set up and use compared with White Pine CU-SeeMe, NetMeeting, and iVisit. Also, freeware CU-SeeMe may not be around much longer because White Pine has acquired the rights to it. But hey, go ahead and try it if you want.


You'll find everything you need to know about setting up your videoconferencing software and connecting to people and conferences in The Little Web Cam Book. Chapter 11 tells you how to use White Pine CU-SeeMe, Chapter 12 covers NetMeeting and iVisit, and Chapter 13 shows you how to troubleshoot problems and points you to helpful videoconferencing Web sites.

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