Pings & Packets from eWEEK Labs - 28

Arel Plug-In Allows Meetings Anywhere ... Matrox Widens Work Area ... Illuminating Debian.

Arel Plug-In Allows Meetings Anywhere

Arel Communications and Softwares well-designed videoconferencing and audio conferencing technology has been part of an integrated Web conferencing tool, Arel Spotlight. Now the company is making the video and audio service more broadly available through a plug-in architecture called Arel Anywhere.

I looked at Arel Anywhere in an unlikely place—embedded in Microsofts Live Meeting 2005 Web conferencing service. Although Arel Anywhere adds value to Live Meeting, the more interesting aspect of the service is the other places the company wants to put it—namely, on company Web sites as an interface for service and support and IM services.

Arel has two pricing models: one for collaborative sessions where concurrent sessions are priced starting at $50 per user per month and another for one-to-many seminars with a base price of $150 for three two-way connections and $15 for each additional connection.

While most Web-based videoconferencing and audio conferencing technologies get bundled into a given solution, such as H.232 conferencing systems or Web conferencing system, Arel Anywhere can function as a service that runs in the context of any interface, such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)-based phones, H.232 conferencing systems and Web applications.

Arel Anywhere supports as many as 16 video channels with controls for managing video streams to deal with low connections. For example, presenters can choose from three window sizes, with a large one in a broadcast mode and two smaller ones for collaboration settings where bandwidth is limited. For more information, go to www.arelcom.com.

--Michael Caton

Matrox Widens Work Area

The tiny DualHead2Go hardware device from Matrox Graphics provides multiple monitor support when using compatible laptop and PC systems. In my tests, the $169 device neatly displayed large spreadsheets and generally gave me a spacious work area where I could open multiple windows to more effectively work on projects.

The drawbacks, like the hardware device itself, are small. The DualHead2Go uses an external power supply, and Im running out of plugs in my office. (The Lab has plenty of outlets, but who wants to work all day in a room filled with fan noise?)

Aside from this little drawback, the DualHead2Go is a charmer. Sales and marketing types will love the ability to display tens of columns of data from a spreadsheet without having to scroll back and forth to see their work.

The device differs from dual-display software tools such as UltraMon in that DualHead2Go provides the analog video ports needed to add the additional monitors to a laptop or PC. The patent-pending technology divides the 256-by-1,024-pixel-resolution Microsoft Windows desktop and then manages display properties and mouse movement across all displays.

I used the monitor on my Lenovo ThinkPad X31 running Windows XP and added two ViewSonic 17-inch flat-panel monitors, and I was able to use all three screens.

Although users might be surprised at the number of applications that are designed for single-screen displays—for example, the expense report template used by Ziff Davis Media, publisher of eWEEK—it didnt take me long to figure out cool ways to use the additional screen space to make my workday more productive.

Now, if I could just keep both the ViewSonic monitors instead of returning one to Technical Analyst Andrew Garcia ...

For more information, go to www.matrox.com.

--Cameron Sturdevant

Illuminating Debian

Debian is a great Linux distribution thats growing in influence and prominence, both on its own and as the core of spinoff distros such as Ubuntu and Knoppix.

Users and administrators of Debian or one of its descendant distros looking to delve into the tools and processes that have driven Debians success will find "The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques," by Debian developer Martin F. Krafft, to be an effective and comprehensive guide.

This 600-plus-page tome from No Starch Press isnt the place to start if youre out to learn Linux basics, but its coverage of Debians software management system and administration concepts, and of the way the Debian development project itself is organized, is impressive. The book sells for $44.95 and comes conveniently bundled with the Debian DVD for the i386 platform, which contains a ton of software packages and will save a lot of time waiting for downloads. For more information, go to www.nostarch.com/debian.htm.

Jason Brooks