Main thread = Video over the Internet -- August 15, 1996

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, August 15, 1996.

These sessions are scheduled for noon-1 PM US Eastern Time (GMT -4) every Thursday.

These sessions are hosted by Richard Seltzer. If you would like to receive email reminders of our chat sessions, simply send a blank email message to or go to and sign up there.

For transcripts of other previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here.

For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here.

Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):


Richard Seltzer ( - 12:00pm -- The scheduled chat is on Business on the WWW. If you are here for that discussion, please identify yourself.

We're here to share experiences about doing business on the Internet -- particularly the World Wide Web. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What are the trends that matter? How can you/should you adapt to the Internetculture and environment? I work for the Internet Business Group at DigitalEquipment in Littleton, MA. In that capacity, I end up talking to people from large companies about how they can use the Web for business. I also have my own personal Web page -- which is content rich and no frills -- which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic andattention. And I'm also a member of the Boston Computer Society. The Web is a place where both big companies and the tiniest of operations can thrive.

In a chat session like this things can get pretty frantic. It's sometimes difficult to follow the threads of conversation. And there's no time to write down interesting URLs and facts. So last week, I took a copy of the raw transcript and edited it to make the threads clearer and posted it at my own little Web site so anyone could take a look. You can see it at I plan to do the same today. Barring technical difficulties, I hope to have a transcript up within two hours of when this ends. I'll post it at the same site, naming this one /chat6.html

Moderator ( - 12:05pm -- Hi Richard, if I may interrupt a minute, your transcripts are also now accessible at as well.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:06pm -- Heidi -- Thanks for making the transcripts available at

Warren Agin - Law Solutions ( - 11:57am -- Hello all. Law Solutions provides part-time and contract in-house counsel legal services to smaller businesses, especially high-technology start-ups.

Bruce Platt ( - 11:56am -- Bruce Platt from Comport Consulting Corporation is here.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions ( - 11:58am -- Bruce, what does Comport do?

Bruce Platt ( - 12:01pm -- Comport does Internet/Intranet implementations. We are a Digital Value Added Reseller, and I'm here as an invited "expert" (Not necessarily my choice of adjective ;-)

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:03pm -- Hello, Bruce and Warren. Glad to see you back. If there are others out there with questions, please identify yourselves and fire away. ( - 12:12pm -- Hello. Gordon Benett here, editor of Intranet Design Magazine(sm). Looks like has spruced up the chat space a bit.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:15pm Gordon -- Yes, this space does seem "spruced up" quite a bit. I like it, but have to get used to it. ( - 12:18pm -- Hi, sorry I'm late. ... I do web site design and development.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:19pm -- Welcome, Nora. I gather that the Boston Computer Society had some difficulty getting messages out yesterday. I hope that the word has been spread in other ways and that there are others out there in the background listening in.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:18pm -- Others out there, please step forward and identify yourselves and your interests. We want this discussion to go in directions that are useful to you.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:04pm -- The last couple weeks we focused on Intranets -- the use of Internet technology inside companies and for secure commerce between companies. You might also want to check a couple of on-going Forums on this subject. Intranet Soundings Forum at: Intranet Exchange at: And also check "The Complete Intranet Resource"

This week we'd like to continue our discussion about intranets (including secure business-to-business transactions as well as what happens inside company firewalls). In that regard, we're particularly interested in war stories -- successes and failures; what's working and why? what isn't working and why? Also, given that intranets are by definition private, what steps are companies taking to learn from one another. In addition, we'd like to follow up on some other questions about the public Internet thathave arisen over the last few weeks, such as -- implications of the latest Internet usage stats, -- market research vs. privacy on the Web (e.g., cookies and junk mail) -- looking for analysis of expected return from Internet advertising (e.g., cost per lead) -- who is making money on the public Web and how?

The Virtues of Plain Text

Bruce Platt ( - 12:04pm -- If you haven't visited Richard's page,, all should. It's a perfect example of no-frills, low bandwidth comsuming, content full work

Warren Agin - Law Solutions ( - 12:05pm -- Actually Richard, I noted that your page features a couple of family members in the entertainment business. Why don't you have any pictures?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:07pm -- Warren -- The no graphics is part choice and part necessity. I do that little page of mine on a shoestring -- using the 10 Mbytes of free Web space I get with my PPP account at TIAC. We're talking tiny shoestring. I don't use space unnecessarily.

I also do my pages that way to demonstrate the power of the Internet -- what you can do with plain text. People seem to have forgotten. It's so easy to get caught up in the latest frills and technology for technology sake. I like to keep the emphasis on content. And I believe thatthat is particularly important for intranets -- where there often is no justification for expensive fancy approaches when the aim is simply to convey information. (That's my soapbox speech for today.)


Warren Agin - Law Solutions ( - 12:08pm -- Richard, one of the legal concerns regarding Intranets is unauthorized access. How do you see the risk of unauthorized access of an intranet compared to a standard network configuration. Does this change if you have an Internet connection involved.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:11pm -- Warren-- I believe that the security technology available today -- firewalls, tunnels, etc. -- is sufficient to take care of business needs today. In exceptional cases, maybe you might want to go another route, but it would be a real exception.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:13pm -- Warren, Unauthorized access can be protected against at various levels. The level depends on the value of the information not getting into the wrong hands. Simplest way to protect is by obscurity, next is using forums like Workgroup Web Forum to required password logins, next is using a firewallto keep people out by IP filtering, etc, next is by virtual private netowrking, each tsep up is more costly, but also more safe. The decision is one which depends on how much one is willing to spend to protect proprietary info.

Usage Stats

Bruce Platt ( - 12:09pm -- I have mixed feelings about useage stats. On the one hand, I recognize their value for market research, selling lists, etc. On the other hand, Idon't like records of what I do. Just a privacy issue. There is an interesting site, the anonymizer, which will proxy a request for you, they claim to preserve anonymity.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:13pm -- Bruce -- I agree. I do not like the invasive kind of stats, based on cookies etc. When I visit a Web site that's my business and no one else's. I liked the good old days where all the info the site provider had was the domain name of users. I'd like to see cookies etc. go away. (But that's highly unlikely).

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:17pm -- Richard, It's stats like that that keep the business growing. My privacy concerns are a throwback to my living through the 60's (barely). If I was truly paranoid, I wouldn't shop in the supermarket where they keep track of every piece of food I buy. There is real value to companies in these usage stats. A smart company can analyze their logs, query the browse for e-mail address, do a latitiude and longitude lookup on the IP address and get ton's of market information. Given that I-net browsers tend to have money to spend, that's why companies do it.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:14pm -- Bruce -- On the other hand there are some interesting new stats. I gather that the latest CommerceNet Nielsen survey shows "24% of people 16 years of age or older in the US and Canada now have access to the Internet."

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:17pm -- More from the CommerceNet/Nielsen stats: Internet access was up 50% from Aug/Sept. 95 to March/April 96. And more than half of Internet users were new since the last study. And the user profile has broadened considerably. ( - 12:19pm -- Richard - do you know how those stats account for proxied users, for example those behind AOL's web gateway?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:21pm -- Gordon -- I don't have the details on how they conducted the survey, but I suspect that as they do with TV and radio, it is based on a statistical sampling. They sell the full report. You can get details from Nielsen at


Jim ( - 12:20pm -- What is your viewpoint on video on the net? ( - 12:23pm Nora - Hi. Jim - poor fit at present. Decent video wants prioritized delivery, which the current Internet Protocol (IPv4) lacks. On switched LANs it's okay, but on the 'Net at large ... wait for IPv6 or ATM.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:23pm -- Jim -- Today, video on the net is an interesting and fun gimmick. It's the kind of thing that is useful for getting the attention of your boss and impressing your neighbors. But except in rare instances, I don't think itis yet a business tool. Audio is further down the pike -- there's some very good implementations of RealAudio. Future-wise though, I think there is tremendous potential for video on the net -- both in intranets as an inexpensive way to do video conferencing and in the public world whereanyone can become a broadcaster as now anyone can become a publisher.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:24pm -- Video on the net is a mixed blessing. It makes for a richer multimedia experience. It also consumes lots of bandwisth, and may not be useful to people with low speed connections and low-resolution monitors. Not everyone has 24 bit video cards and 133+ Mhz machines and T1 connections. It can beuseful in Intranet applications like training, etc. ( - 12:25pm -- On the video, is anyone out there excitied about cable modems and the much broader bandwidth that will mean? ( - 12:26pm -- Richard's right that audio is further along, but that's because it's 100x less consuming of bandwidth.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:26pm -- Jim -- I guess the question is not "video" so much as "when". As Bruce points out bandwidth is an issue (though I'm very impressed with what can be done over a 28.8 modem with VDOLive). Sooner or later the audience willbe there, properly equipped and it will take off. For now, I just love what you can do with plain text.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:28pm -- I sure am. I know that TCI and other cablecos are piloting this. It depends on several things. A low speed dial-up back-channel from the home to the cablehead for "your" responses is one that's been looked at for a while. Real high-speed 2 way is waiting on upgrades of the cable head end systems to deal with the type of traffic and also deployment of video server diskfarms so the cablecos can give you near video on demand of pay per view along with the internet traffic.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:29pm -- Nora -- I've been hearing about cable modems for about 2 and a half years now. It sounded like a great idea -- cable delivery of Internet signals, high-bandwidth at low cost. But it doesn't seem to have materialized. Iheard that the issue was more a matter of the business mindset of cable companies rather than one of technology. They just didn't know how to deal with the new environment and didn't have the right kind of trained people. Has that changed? Is the logjam finally being broken? Perhaps it might happen sooner in an intranet environment where public cable companies wouldhave minimal involvement. ( - 12:31pm -- Nora - I've heard pros and cons on cable modems, and haven't formed a final opinion. But the obstacles to quality implementation are sizable. The coax network is presently one-way; bandwidth will be asymmetric. Neighborhoods share a single feed, so the network will scale poorly. And then there'sinfamous cable reliability. I don't think the RF modems are the limiting factor here.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:31pm -- Nora -- Another piece of the problem with the cable modem approach in the past was that the people driving it were the same ones who had been pushing interactive TV. Their motivation was to provide a high bandwidth pipe intohomes and a very tiny pipe out -- just enough to let people choose among various products and services, but not enough for real interactivity which is the heart of the Internet. Has that changed?

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:32pm -- Gordon your point about reliability is also a good one. The cablecos are working very hard to get to where the telcos have been in terms of reliability and customer service. That's why telco and clableco mergerswere hot. I'm gettig far afield here now.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:24pm -- Jim -- Where are you from? What's your company? What's your main area of interest?

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:32pm -- We currently have a video product for the Web, and CNN is using it on their homepage to cover the convention.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:32pm -- Does anyone know of implementations of cable modems on intranets? If implemented as two-way, that kind of high-bandwidth could make desktop videoconferencing very workable. ( - 12:33pm -- Richard - I agree. "Asymmetry" is a code word for "inequity." I have the same problem with the telco's ADSL.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:34pm -- Jim -- What's the name of that product? What do you need to receive the signals? (hardware requirements, modem speed, client software [and where to get it]? ( - 12:35pm -- Richard - it's called 10Base2!

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:35pm -- Jim -- Do you have any stats on how many people are connecting to that broadcast from the convention?

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:39pm -- We should be getting some stats early next week, but CNN did like the increase in access after they implemented Vivo video.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:35pm -- Richard, not with cable modems. We have done some work though with video over fibre and atm. Not for an intranet, but for video distrbution overseas. This is the eay I would advise people who wanted an intranet with rich video to go. ( - 12:36pm -- more on cable/internet - (I'm having problems with the new reverse scroll of our talk) Cox Cable out in California is launching a major initiativeand has fiber optic widely installed. When I was in Texas earlier thissummer, I talked to a major ISP that was piloting it, and figuring on offering unlimited cable internet access for $50/mth. I think the gating item for everyone is the compression chip which Motorla, Sony and others are racing to get out. .... My impression is that broadband into our homes and offices is very close, but outbound will still be complements of AT&T.

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:36pm -- The problem with video conferencing over a LAN is protocol delays and bandwidth for all endpoints. H323 works fine using isochronous ethernet,because of the channeling of the bandwidth to 64k streams. ( - 12:37pm -- Jim - Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a two-year technology out of Bellcore. It's an attempt to squeeze the last drop of bandwidth out of the existing copper infrastructure. Something like 6MB/s downstream, but only 50kB/s up.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:38pm -- Bruce -- A couple years ago Digital had some very promising pilot projects going -- one in Pittsburgh and one I believe in Arizona. There were others as well. The technology looked great. But for some reason the business sideof it -- the necessary partnerships with cable companies etc., nevermaterialized. The barriers appear to be more mindset and business model rather than technology. And meanwhile compression techniques keep making plain old dialup connections faster and better.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:40pm -- Jim -- what's the client piece? where do I get it?

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:42pm -- is the place to get Vivo Active, an HTTP streaming video client. ( - 12:41pm -- ps. A lot of internet startups are betting the farm on exploding bandwidth comming soon. My intuitive sense of the whole thing, is that it's kind of a "sleeper." A couple summers ago, all this stuff was all over the front pages of the WSJ. Then nothing happened. .... I think it's about too, and could check into it further if anyone is interested.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:43pm -- Nora -- I'd appreciate any info you can glean about that. The Internet today is very well suited to text. Meanwhile some really good software has come along that can do neat multimedia things. But until high bandwidth is widespread and cheap, the neat stuff just isn't going to take off the way it could. So what's a reasonable timeframe? How many innovative software startups are going to be able to survive until that great promised land of tens of millions of potential high-bandwidth users is there? ( - 12:50pm -- Richard. We're near the end of the hour. I'll do an update (I know some people in California who are totally immersed in this stuff) ... and send a summar. Anyone else who wants one, send me an e-mail, and I'll cc you on it too.

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:41pm -- Vivo's expertise is in engineering codecs, regarless of the transport mechanism.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:41pm -- Richard, There are still tests going on. I believe the cablecos are trying to figure out how to make the most money out of the bandwith they have. We will see at least the one way fast one way slow that Nora mentioned, and I alluded to in the next 6-12 months, though. ( - 12:42pm -- Jim/V - are you working with or competing against Intel?

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:43pm -- Both, I guess. They keep bothering us to do things for them. Then they stole a few of our group.

Marianne@nethorizons ( - 12:43pm -- Cable modems and intranets aren't really an issue. Intranets are already running at ethernet and faster speeds for the most part. And all of them are still asymetric in speed (generally 10mbs down and 768K up). People know who participated in the Continental Cablevision trial loved it. Their service will be available in the Boston metro area starting late in September. I believe the pricing is about $60/month and includes complete cable access. As someone else mentioned, there are potential saturation and security risks since your whole neighborhood will be on the loop. Will Biedron, Continental Cablevision's Director of High Speed Networking was on one of our Life on the Internet Chats a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I don't think there was a transcript that particular week.

Marianne@nethorizons ( - 12:46pm -- Oops, the "them" in my last post was cable modems running asymetrically, not intranets ;( The problems with only being able to see your last five words!

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:45pm -- Marianne, our contacts with the Fortune 500 revealed that not one company would allow video conferencing on their intranet due to the total bandwidth demand. ( - 12:49pm -- Well, for a topic every agrees is largely irrelevant to intranets, we've sure used up some "bandwidth" in this chat on video!

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:50pm -- Gordon -- Yes, we have stayed on a single subject for quite a while -- unusual. I do believe though that this will be very important for intranets in the future,and that cable modems may be a way to make that happen faster.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions ( - 12:50pm -- IMNSHO ("not so humble opinion") :> I think video over the Internet is very relevant to Intranets. The greater ability in an Intranet to control bandwith makes the technology perhaps more feasible. And the apps are there. Training sessions, public presentations, video conferencing, etc.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions ( - 12:42pm -- I understand ISDN is getting cheaper. I know some people planning to get it for their homw offices. Certainly, this will open up some additional applications, if only for a limited target audience. But lets face it, some sites don't target home users.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions ( - 12:44pm -- Jim, I recall visiting a while ago, and was very impressed at how well it worked over my 28.8 connection. Are many sites now employing the technology?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:45pm -- Jim -- How does your video software differ from VDOLive? (From a user point of view). Why would I want to use the one rather than the other? Why would I want to save on my hard disk more than one video client?

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:47pm -- We do not have any firewall problems because we use HTTP and a mime type. We do not require any specific web server. We have the highest compression ratio available.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:50pm -- Not needing a firewall proxy is a real plus for using VIVO on an Intranet. I'm defining Intranet here as members of an organization or groups who may not be all in the same building or on the same LAN, and therefore need the Internet backbone for access. ( - 12:46pm -- Jim/V - any opinion on how the announced "multimedia" Pentium's (MMX) due year's end from Intel will impact PC video?

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:47pm -- Gordon -- what will these multimedia Pentiums be able to do that can't be done now? And what's the anticipated price range for such systems? At the same time, we continue to hear about low-cost Internet appliances that are likely to have no multi-media capability at all. The industry is pulling in opposite directions. ( - 12:50pm -- Richard - MMX (MultiMedia eXtensions) will speed the computations used to process digital signals, both audio and video. There's also support for 3D. Radical speed improvements, to hear Intel tell it.

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:48pm -- MMX is an improvement, but only for those who can afford it.

anonymous ( - 12:48pm -- Jim/vivo, How many people have downloaded your viewer?

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:51pm -- Our player has been out for a couple of months, and I believe we are over 100,000. (I am in engineering, not marketing.)

Marianne@nethorizons ( - 12:49pm -- Jim, I think that you're right about the desktop conferencing. Just like point cast on intranets, people worry that it will run amok and shut everything down. There is also a learning curve we will all have to gothrough when it is realistic to figure out when it is appropriate to use desktop conferencing, and what kind of tasks can best be accomplished. The same curve we've gone through with regular video conferencing.

anonymous ( - 12:53pm -- Jim/vivo I'm impressed with your product. Is it available for the Mac?

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:55pm -- Yes, we have a MAC version. ( - 12:55pm -- Parting thought - popular technology and usage always ends up forcing upgrades and modernization on internal corporate applications and systems . ... see you all next week.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:57pm Nora -- Amen. And the public Internet probably moves ahead faster than intranets because of different timeframes for budget decisions. But once major corporations catch on that high bandwidth is likely to be animportant corporate advantage in the future, they are likely to begin major upgrades even before all the applications they'd want are in place.


Richard Seltzer ( - 12:50pm -- All -- We're nearing the end of our time. Please let everyone know your email addresses and URLs for later followup.

Warren Agin - Law Solutions ( - 12:51pm -- ( - 12:52pm -- Intranet Design Magazine(sm), a biweekly resource for web professionals, is at Love to see some of you posting on our discussion board, Intranet Exchange.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:52pm -- or

Jim - Vivo Software, ( - 12:54pm -- Jim Dorval, engineer (Manager) Vivo Software

Mikle Smith ( - 12:55pm -- good after noon ( - 12:54pm -- Thank you, Richard. Always a pleasure.

Bruce Platt -- Comport Consulting ( - 12:56pm -- Richard, Thanks for hosting this. See you next week, Nora, Jim, gordon, warren, marianne et al. thanks for your thoughts.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:52pm -- All -- I'll post an edited version of this transcript, with threads added, at in a couple hours. I believe that will also point to/post that.

Richard Seltzer ( - 12:53pm -- All -- Please send any followup comments, questions, and suggestions for topics for next week to me at and I'll add those to the transcript.

Meanwhile, please help spread the word that we do these sessions every Thursday. Whatever you can do to help us build a broad and active audience would be appreciated.

Thanks to all for your participation. I hope that you will be back next week. And please do followup with email.

Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats --

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