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How can I get a 100 % reliable video conference connection each time?

How can I get a 100 % reliable video conference connection each time?

It is really serious and urgent for me to get my video conferences to work asap!

I follow online lessons in Japanese language with my Swedish university (I live in north China, 150 kilometres (about 100 miles) from Beijing. It's China's fourth largest city with 10 million inhabitants, but still not fully developed. But internet is quite common here, there are plenty of internet cafes.

I run a speedtest with www.bredbandskollen.se, and got these results for my laptop and my netbook at home:

receiving 1.90 Mbit/second
sending 0.13 Mbit/second
response time 394 ms
(I received about the same figures when I run a second speed test)

The problem at each of my online classes is that I can not send my voice to the teacher and the class, they can not hear me (probably because of the low sending speed). And very often, I hear only fragments of what they are talking about. My teacher says now that if I can not attend the last three lessons satisfactorily (that is, she is able to hear me clearly and that I can hear her of course), I will fail the whole course! And the first of these three lessons is today at 11am GMT/UTC (Greenwich Mean Time/Coordinated Universal Time), the second  a week later. But I have to fix my problem before 11am GMT/UTC today, otherwise I'll fail the whole course.

Some data:
Laptop: HP Compaq nx7300 with Windows XP Pro SP3 32-bit  English version
Netbook: ASUS EeePC 1000He with Windows XP Home
Video conference software: Adobe Connect

In the virtual classroom there are about 20 persons, and that is a problem because I have no problem when there are few people in the classroom.

And now, for some reason, I can not hear or speak at all in Adobe Connect on my laptop for some reason. I checked audio control in Control Panel, and everything is on maximum, and nothing ticked for mute either. And the external sound control button is turned on also. The headset works well when I play music though, so this problem must be related to Adobe Connect, because it's completely dead, no sound at all).

When I check the settings for Adobe Connect, my headset is selected though in the audio setup wizard.

According to advice from IT-support at my university, I changed settings for Adobe Connect connection speed to Modem (because my connection is so slow, it will work after those conditions from the beginning).

I run a test now for Adobe Connect, and no red flags for anything, everything passed the test:
-FlashPlayer is supported
-Connect Pro Connection Test: connected
-Connection Speed Test: your connection is modem speed!
-Acrobat Connect Add-in Test: installed

When I instead use my ASUS netbook to connect to the online class, it works better for a while but then I hear nothing for long periods, just fragments slip through, and my own sending of my voice does not work at all.

What should I do?

Could one solution be to use www.strongvpn.com? According to them, sometimes the speed increases, but the main reason for using VPN is to access blocked sites through a server placed outside of Asia and China.

Even when I tried on an internet cafe yesterday, it only worked in the beginning, then the sound disappeared. Do you think I should try to use Wi-Fi at McDonald's here with my own netbook? Would it be worth trying? I have not much time now so I can't try every possible solution, only what is most likely to work in the end.
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hermesalpha
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hermesalpha
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4 Solutions
 
B HCommented:
a wired connection on the fastest internet connection you can find... if you have access to anything other than a netbook, use it.  the netbook is pretty junky on processing power.

if you can't get your upload speed up to at least 768k, you're not going to be very happy

if all else fails, nod and act like you're hearing them - hold up a sign that says 'i hear you, can't you hear me?'  (even though you dont - at least you might not get kicked out)

never been to your country, but ideas for fast wired internet connections...

hotels (lobby or business office or a room)
a busy office building where nobody would notice you sitting down and plugging in
a -very- strong unsecured wireless connection at a big business

i wonder if your upload speed is really a choke point from your government filters :/

if you can find a friend in the states or somewhere that will let you use a windows server 2008 R2 remote desktop connection, you can do all this just fine.  2008 R2 allows you to process the video on your local video card (if you have windows vista sp1 or above), and lets you send your microphone down to the remote desktop and eventually out to the video conference.

you could also rent a login on a server 2008 R2 virtual server for like $50/month
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hermesalphaAuthor Commented:
I wish I could just nod back in reply and look almighty and smart, but my teacher wants me to speak Japanese also :( And if I can get my sound out occassionally, the reply doesn't get very impressive  because I didn't hear the question she asked. I just near fragments here and there, and most often can't send out my own voice at all.

I still have a few hours before the lesson: what do you think, should I try your suggestion with renting a virtual  server 2008 R2? But I don't have Vista installed now on my laptop, so maybe it would take too long time to setup? Otherwise, what I've done now is that I ordered the Strong VPN Open Lite for USD 30 for three months. I am about to install it and try to see how it works. Do you think there are any chances that this will solve the problem? The server is in San Fransisco, and I am located in China, and the server with the online class is located in Sweden.

I will also try your suggestion with going to a hotel. I know a nearby hotel with a business center, so perhaps I could connect my laptop there. I'm located inside a campus at a Chinese university now, and I've read earlier somewhere that generally, the internet is slower here than elsewhere outside the  university area.
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B HCommented:
well i dont think you have time to do the 2008 R2 thing at this point... but you need to get a faster upload speed.

if your government filters are what's slowing you down (probably the case) the vpn might do the trick... but if your internet connection itself is the bottleneck, the vpn/proxy isn't going to help at all

most importantly you need to get faster upload speeds
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hermesalphaAuthor Commented:
For my later courses that I have in about one month time from now, do you think the best alternative would be to use 2008 R2? Would this make my video conferences really really stable, without interruptions? But I would need to install 2008 R2 on Vista, right?
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aleghartCommented:
>do you think the best alternative would be to use 2008 R2?
No.  Find a better internet connection.  Remove any software from your computer that may be affecting your internet connectivity.  (File sharing, malware, spyware, anti-virus, content filtering, etc.)  Add back only what you need.

>Would this make my video conferences really really stable, without interruptions?
No.  A slow connection (0.13Mbps up) and high latency (>150ms) will always result in jitter or dropped video and audio.  By using another remote host, you may be able to reduce one side of that latency (for instance, the path from the class to a hosted server might have low latency).  But, net result, you've still got latency between you and the remote server.

>But I would need to install 2008 R2 on Vista, right?
No.  Server 2008 is an operating system.  You can't install it on top of another operating system...as especially on a netbook with limited resources.

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B HCommented:
the machine you connect FROM would need vista sp1 or win7 in order to take advantage of the cool video processing 2008R2 does

you have to get faster upload speeds - the vpn might be your best bet, it would be good to ask around with your friends and see if their upload speed is just as slow when going to hosts outside of your country.  i wonder if your whole country is capped by your govt filters.

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hermesalphaAuthor Commented:
Things are not always logical: yesterday, I thought I would fail this course, went to a small coffee cafe with Wi-Fi to at least give it a last try. Earlier, at a nearby internet cafe (wired connection on their computers), the internet speed was slow and I could not follow my online class.

Now, at a a small coffee cafe with Wi-Fi and my small ASUS netbook with its Intel Atom processor, what chances were there? It worked wonderful! The teacher could hear me all the time, and I could hear her and the other classmates! During 2 hours, and the class was over and I still have a chance to pass it! Nice...
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B HCommented:
wow, get a frequent-buyer-card at that coffee shop :)

the coffee shop must have a different internet service provider OR a lot less users using it
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