Hack 32. Join Conferences on the Move
If you have your Treo with you, you can participate in conferences anywhere. With a few simple techniques, you can feel as if you are in the room with everyone else.
The basic idea for conferencing is to combine a phone call with either a web session or a VNC session.
5.5.1. Web Presentation
If the conference call is basically some sort of presentation, then it is trivial to get set up. The presenter makes the presentation available over the Web (on a secure web site if needed). You can download the document from the Web and save it to your Treo before you switch to the phone, as you can see in Figure 5-14.
Figure 5-14. Viewing a downloaded document
Use your standard voice conferencing (or just call the conference room if you are the only one calling in). After you have called in, switch back to the web browser to view the document that you downloaded. That way, you can follow along during the presentation.
5.5.2. VNC Conference
The web presentation method works well when information is mostly going one way (e.g., for a presentation). It doesn't work as well when you need to collaborate or work interactively. A method that allows for collaboration is to use VNC [Hack #40]. This method requires that you be able to access the Internet while having a phone call active. A recent patch allows Sprint Treos to use Bluetooth to access the Internet while on a phone call. You can use this (or an equivalent patch for other providers, as they become available) to run PalmVNC. You see a desktop example of VNC in Figure 5-15.
Figure 5-15. Sharing desktops in VNC
UltraVNC (http://www.ultravnc.com) provides a chat capability, as you see in Figure 5-16. You can use this to communicate instead of using a phone. This allows you to use VNC even if you can't connect to the Internet while making a phone call on your Treo.
After you have connected to the desktop machine with VNC, then call in using your standard conferencing capabilities. This sort of conference works best if someone is sitting at the desktop computer that is acting as the VNC server. This person can easily launch programs and open documents that everyone else can see.
Figure 5-16. Chat window in UltraVNC
WebEx (http://www.webex.com) provides a web-based sharing capability. One computer acts as the host for a meeting, somewhat similar to VNC, except you have to explicitly share applications in WebEx. WebEx has native clients for Windows, Linux, Palm, and Mac. You will need to be able to browse the Web while a phone call is active, as with VNC conferencing.
You can use your regular phone conferencing setup while using WebEx to share applications. If you are looking for a phone conferencing capability, WebEx also provides phone conferencing.