Installing and configuring a webcam

One of the most popular programs available for conferencing over the Internet has to be Microsoft's NetMeeting software. Freely available for download off Microsoft's Web site, this program is also bundled with almost all of the webcams on the market. Chances are that if you have a recent version of Internet Explorer on your machine (such as 5.5), you also have a version of NetMeeting already installed. If not, you can get it from our cover CD.


The first thing you will have to do when you launch the program is enter your personal details such as name and e-mail address. After complying with this request, clicking on Next will bring forth the screen that lets you list your name on Microsoft's Directory Server; this is done so other people can see you and call you if you are logged on to the server. It is up to you if you want to be listed. On the next screen you choose the type of connection you use to access the Internet: select the appropriate radio button and click on Next. You should now be asked to select your primary video capture device. Choose it from the drop-down list (if its not already selected by default). If you don't see it listed, you may have to re-install the camera's driver software. The following screen asks about shortcuts; again, this is up to you to decide.

The audio setup comes next. Test your speaker and microphone levels (as discussed in the camera setup previously) and then complete the wizard.

As well as having Microdsoft NetMeeting installed, you will also need to have a Hotmail address (sign up for one if you haven't already) and to install MSN Messaging Service software. MSN is relatively simple to install if you don't already have it. (MSN Messenger is part of the Internet Explorer package, but you can download it from Microsoft's Web site if necessary.) This program will allow you to log in or out of your session with the click of a button via its little tray icon. Once you sign in, you will be notified if you have any new e-mail and, as well, if any of your contacts are online - essential if you want to conduct a NetMeeting session.

Placing A Call

Before placing a call using NetMeeting, use MSN Messenger to make sure you know the address (e-mail) of the person you want to call. If you don't have an address, you can't place a call. To find someone you know, simply click File-Add a Contact... and search either by name or e-mail address (recommended).

If you don't know anyone else who uses the service but you want to chat to someone, it's time to visit a directory. Launch NetMeeting and click on the icon displaying an open book. This will open the 'Find Someone' window - from here, click on the More Information link, which will launch a browser window. From the displayed Web site you will be able to choose from a number of Directory Servers; click on The NetMeeting Zone link and you'll find a list of servers. Click on one to find out how many people are online. To talk to someone, just click on their link and NetMeeting will automatically call them. If they have a camera you should be able to see them; likewise, if they have a microphone, you can have a talk. Assuming your setup is correct, they should be able to hear and see you. NetMeeting also allows chatting (via text) - all you have to do is click on the icon that looks like a voice bubble at the bottom of the screen.

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