Older blog entries for dsandras (starting at number 27)

GnomeMeeting and Instant Messengers

People are often comparing GnomeMeeting to the Instant Messengers concept which is, I believe, a wrong approach. I guess it is the result of the marketing efforts of Microsoft and Apple for that kind of solution, but I think that it is time to react to that situation and give a clear view of what GnomeMeeting is and what GnomeMeeting is not.

Most of the commercial implementations of Instant Messengers offer the possibility to send and receive video and voice using a myriad of different protocols and codecs, most of them being proprietary. In my opinion, although it is something good for the average user, I also think that people need more serious and complete solutions if they want to replace the phone they are using every day by something more powerful and more ... modern.

GnomeMeeting is thus a modern IP softphone, with the aim of replacing your classic POTS (plain old telephone set) or your cellular, and use the Internet instead of classical phone lines, even though it can of course be used to call normal phones too. An Instant Messenger will only have very few features compared to a cellular and will very likely be unable to replace it one day.

GnomeMeeting is based on H.323, an IP telephony, Voice Over IP, and videoconferencing protocol. It permits interoperability with H.323 compatible software and hardware (see for example: http://www.swissvoice.net/ww/htm_ww/07_products/ds_ip10.html, that is an H.323 IP phone). You can use GnomeMeeting to call other IP softphones, or hardware based IP phones, but also to call normal phones on condition that you have the required hardware and/or software infrastructure. A few companies are starting to use such solutions. Imagine a company having appropriate hardware and software connecting the classical phone or ISDN lines and the Internet. When a customer calls the company for support, he is confronted with a vocal menu asking him to do a choice to either contact the commercial or the technical support service. Once the choice is done, a technician answers and helps him. The technician can put the call on hold (you hear the music), or transfer it to another technician with more competence in the field of the customer's question. Those technicians will be using IP phones or softphones (like GnomeMeeting for example) connected to the LAN of the company and it will be transparent and efficient for the customer. You could not do the same with an Instant Messenger like iChat or Windows Messenger, both types of software are not comparable and should not be compared because they do not have the same purpose.

To summarize, GnomeMeeting has many required VoIP features permitting it to transparently replace classical phones and cellulars in VoIP infrastructures : compliance with standards, Call Transfer, Call Forwarding, Call Hold, possibility to register to gatekeepers managing calls, possibility to be controlled by classical phones plugged into Quicknet hardware, dialpad simulating the dialpad of phones (if you are presented to a vocal menu and have to make a choice)...

GnomeMeeting will never be a simple Instant Messenging solution with a few videoconferencing features, because I still believe in the day when people and companies will use IP phones and softphones like GnomeMeeting instead of their normal phones to save the costs. Of course, all of this does not prevent Instant Messengers from interoperating with GnomeMeeting to offer the same kind of "simple" features as in the Windows and Apple worlds, but we do not have the same goals.

It is my birthday again... 27 years old, I begin to feel old.

It is a great day, not because of my birthday, but because plugins are finally fully supported for audio and video devices in GnomeMeeting. A great step forward to 1.00.

Chema, we are all thinking to you...

New work

I started working for IT-Optics at the beginning of this week. IT-Optics is a Belgian company focusing on Open Source services. I enjoy working there because what I'm doing is fun, but also because people are very nice and there is a great atmosphere.

GnomeMeeting

There has been much code rewrite inside GnomeMeeting during the lastmonth. Not because it was needed, but because I want to have the cleanest code possible for the 1.00 release. This is the difference between proprietary software and Open Source software. In the proprietary software world, you code things that just work (when they do), but in the Open Source world, you can take time to code cleanly. I spent most of my time rewriting the configuration assistant to make it nicer, faster and better.

Matrix 3

I just can't wait to watch Matrix 3 tonight. I didn't particularly like the first movie, but the second one came as a good surprise to me. We'll see if the scenario will keep its promises.

30 Sep 2003 (updated 1 Oct 2003 at 14:00 UTC) »
  • Talk: I gave a talk about GnomeMeeting and the advantages of Open Source when coding applications in a Belgian company organizing formations. The manager was very enthusiast about Linux and GnomeMeeting. He had seen another talk I had given earlier this year for another company and wanted me to do the same for his company. Unfortunately, people there were not very enthusiast about Linux itself even though they were impressed by GNOME and GnomeMeeting.
  • Jonita and I: We went to the restaurant today because it is a very special day. We are together since 6 years now! That sounds a lot and it is, especially when you know that Jonita is not fed up with my geekiness yet, but I think she has become a sort of a geek herself.
  • Belnet: I need to get up early tomorrow because I have to go to a meeting about videoconferencing's use in Belgian universities and about the infrastructure to deploy to achieve this goal. I'll try to push GnomeMeeting as a solution as much as possible. I know that some American universities are using it for remote courses with other tools.
26 Sep 2003 (updated 26 Sep 2003 at 16:42 UTC) »
Sad day
Today is probably the worse day this year for me. I definitively left the office where I worked as a researcher during 2 years. Leaving was my own decision, but seeing professors and colleagues so sad that I'm leaving is really difficult for me. I don't know what to add... Very difficult day...

I'm now officially unemployed. I've had several propositions but I don't know yet what to do.
22 Sep 2003 (updated 23 Sep 2003 at 10:14 UTC) »
Tassian

Jonita and me met Christian Strauf, aka tassian on #gnomemeeting, in Brussels last week. Christian was present for a 6Net meeting organized at Cisco. It seems that GnomeMeeting is very often used in such meetings to show typical IPv6 application porting. We discussed about IPv4 and NAT, but also IPv6, and multicast. It seems that multicast is a "must have" on the long term in GnomeMeeting.
Here is the a link to the picture.

GnomeMeeting

I recently added IP detection in GnomeMeeting using seconix.com and not anymore ILS. That permits to have IP translation easily working even if you don't register to ILS. I also added support for the iLBC codec that should be soon standardized by the IETF. It gives very good results especially when there is packets loss.
Holidays

I spent one week of holidays with Jonita in the North of Belgium. We spent time traveling in Belgium, North of France, and The Netherlands. It was pretty fun and a way to relax, but also to be far from the usual stress. However, I managed to release GnomeMeeting 0.98.5 for GNOME 2.4 from there and to cope with an important bugfix thanks to the help of DV.

VeriSign

I'm very worried that a company like VeriSign can hijack the Internet the way they are doing it. If people permit things like that to happen, I wonder how our future will be.

GnomeMeeting

Despite the new release last week, development on GnomeMeeting has been very quiet lately. That is because I have been busy doing other important things. I will have more time again soon since I'll be unemployed in two weeks. I feel very frustrated by that though.

I finally decided to start looking for a new job, it will be hard to find work on something I like.

Coding on GnomeMeeting 1.00 has continued, I cleaned and improved some code. Having so many threads and mutexes inside GnomeMeeting's code requires deep understanding and you need to pay attention to what you are doing, otherwise crashes and random behavior are to be expected.

Julien has finished his plugins system for PWLib. It means that things like Firewire support can now work as dynamically loaded and optional plugins, it also means less dependencies. I've written an ALSA plugin, it seems to work well. I think that moving to ALSA is the best thing that can happen to Linux distributions.

6 Aug 2003 (updated 6 Aug 2003 at 14:28 UTC) »
Holidays
That's unfortunately the end of the holidays for Jonita and me. Both of us went to Florence, in Italy. The weather was superb, and the city was wonderful. That was also a good opportunity to relax and think about my future and what I want to do of my life. Of course, I could resist to the temptation, and I didn't connect to the internet during 3 weeks. That resulted in several thousands of mails, including spams which were not detected by SpamAssassin.
GnomeMeeting and GNOME 2.4
GnomeMeeting will be included in GNOME 2.4 and thus the development will focus on a better integration with other GNOME components. I'm already dreaming of a full interaction with Jabber clients (there are a few), Evolution (addressbook, appointments, ...), Web browsers, and such things with the possibility to initiate a VoIP session from any software... VoIP is becoming more and more important, and I think that having a good VoIP client is the key to the success for a desktop environment.

The GNOME 2.4 release is approaching and murrayc did another review of GnomeMeeting focusing on improving the usability. I fixed what was needed, but the main conclusion was that GnomeMeeting 0.98 improved much in terms of usability compared to the previous release. That is a good news and it shows that some people noticed my continuous efforts focussing on the production of a better product. We hope to be close to perfection for the 1.00 release.

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