As you probably know, Tokbox’s main chat service is dying. Yup, they’re closing it down on April 5. This was cause for some concern on my part, since the main reason we’ve been able to enjoy the “video chat awesomeness” of VirtualDS is that we had software that was inexpensive, worked on most platforms, and would support many video streams at once. Tokbox did give us that, but it was flakey, unreliable, annoying, buggy, and sometimes just plain broken. As most of you know, I HATE TOKBOX. (insert animated gif of me dancing on it’s grave)
But I am no longer concerned. I am ecstatic! Thanks to J.D. Mack, a fellow DC area skeptic, NCAS member, and regular VirtualDS attendee, we’ve discovered Adobe Connect. This flash based (with special plug-in) meeting software seems to be very much worth the $45/month (paid yearly) according to our preliminary testing. Not only does this package allow me to host meetings with up to 100 people, but like tokbox, as many people can be on video/audio as bandwidth allows.
Using their free 30 day trial, a number of people helped me test the software today. Although there were a number of the usual glitches related to flash based video chat (variable video performance, echoing and variable audio performance, problems setting up cam/audio, etc) mostly it performed head over heels better than tokbox. The one major glitch is that on some machines (mostly apple), in order to get the video working, they had to download the Adobe Connect Plugin directly (here or here) or they had this problem. Even with these issues, Adobe Connect is a huge step up from Tokbox.
The only real downside to this wonderful discovery is the price. Although it is by far the most affordable, professional solution that I’ve found, it is a bit of a financial commitment on my part. (Trust me, it is totally worth the price) Therefore, I’m going to ask anyone and everyone: If you enjoy VirtualDS and want it to continue, please consider donating a little something to help, or buy some of the super-cool VirtualDS-logo emblazoned stuff. Not only will it be going toward paying the cost of the service, but also thank-you swag for the special guests, the registration of the domain name, promotional materials, and everything else that makes VirtualDS so great.
The TokBox website uses the video, camera, and microphone features in the Adobe Flash browser plugin to do its “magic”. This seems to work well for most but apparently there have been some problems with muted microphones and/or missing cameras, especially on Linux. These problems may stem from the fact that Flash needs permission to use these resources.
1. Check your flash plugin settings using the “My TokBox > Cam & Mic Settings” and make sure my “allow” access to camera/mic.
2. If this doesn’t work you can use this link to check flash settings: Web Privacy Settings Panel
It seems that some linux users still can’t get the microphone to work after trying the above, so if you are in that boat you aren’t alone. It seems that linux support in tokbox is still sketchy.
Here are some relevant articles: