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Ed Tech Thoughts on the Space Coast

iChat

Troubleshooting Video Chats

Rock Our World Round #13 is closing out with their culminating Family Night Events and Carol Anne asked if I could put together a troubleshooting list for those preparing for this final party.

This list assumes that your network engineers haven’t blocked the key ports that iChat uses for communication. And while I keep referring to ‘iChat’, most all of these troubleshooting techniques will work for Skype and other video chat programs. Keep in mind, this is a complicated task that you are asking your computer, your friends computer and the network in between to accomplish. There are a lot of variables and potential weak links. I have tried to list the ones that are under your control.
Some are actually kinda common sense things, but I tried to be thorough – when we are under pressure, sometimes the obvious isn’t.
  1. Use your fastest computer, with the most RAM and open HD space. Especially if you are hosting (initiating) with several others.
  2. Unless there is a compelling reason to go wireless (for mobility), ALWAYS use the fastest ethernet (wired) connection possible. You may ask your local tech specialist- sometimes one location on campus has a faster network connection than another.
  3. Obviously, you should test your connection prior to your big moment. Test to make sure you can connect with your partner.
  4. If there are issues (unable to connect or poor quality) Minimize or eliminate other network traffic locally- ie, ask colleagues to refrain from streaming video or audio, downloading updates, transferring large files etc. If possible, ensure that other computer labs on the local network aren't browsing the web.
  5. If you still can't connect, close out of iChat on at least your machine, relaunch, & retry.
  6. Try and video chat with someone else. See test accounts below.
  7. Check your System Preferences (under Apple Menubar), select Sharing (third row end), and make sure all of your options are deselected (no sharing) especially Internet Sharing!
  8. Restart your computer and make sure that only iChat is launched. If you don't need other programs, don't have them running.
  9. You may even need to reset your switch and or router in the network closet.
    The last two choices sound extreme, but they may help reset or renegotiate the speed or duplexing of the port that your computer is connecting to.
  10. There are test accounts you can check with detailed in this article:
    http://bit.ly/vidichat
Some other guidelines-
  • Check your lighting. Soft, diffused, even lighting is preferred. Watch out for a bright window in the background.
  • Simplify your background. The more objects, colors etc, the harder it is for the software to compress the video stream.
  • Minimize movement in the camera view while streaming your video.
  • Beware of background noise sources (air conditioners, fans, custodians blowing off the sidewalk Happy )

    By all means, if you have some other tips or troubleshooting suggestions, leave them below in the comments or email them to me, I will add them here and acknowledge your contribution.
  • Have a great time!
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