Help my AOL—illiterate parents connect to me for a video chat.
February 3, 2006 11:29 PM   Subscribe

Help my AOL—illiterate parents connect to me for a video chat.

My parents just bought their first computer, which (I think) is a new Dell Laptop. New as in released within the past year.

I live in S. Korea and they live in Oklahoma City, so I convinced them to download AIM so we could chat for free. I use and iBook G4 and I was given an iSight camera which I'd like to use to video chat with them. I also have an AIM account but I typically sign in via iChat to chat to anyone.

I have been able to text chat with them no prob, and I have had video (and voice) chats with other Mac (iChat) users with absolutely no problem. However, when I try to "call" them using either AOL voice chat or video chat, the connection takes forever and though they'll tell me via text chat that they've accepted, it never connects us. Sometimes my screen says I have failed to respond, sometimes it says they have, no matter who is "calling" who.

Most recently, I have been able to connect with them via voice chat, and they could hear me but I couldn't hear them — I'm assuming since their built-in mic was not turned on.

If I were in OKC I could easily diagnose the problems myself but it's a little hard to do this from 6,000 miles away. Plus, they know almost nothing about computers, and I'm pretty Mac-centric so I don't know much about this Dell laptop. I'm assuming it has a built-in mic, but I don't even know that for sure.

I'd appreciate any help, as the AOL site is practically useless.
posted by Brittanie to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
AOL has been giving me trouble in regards to that. What I've just been doing (and I know this will end up as a hassle more than anything else) redirecting all visual communication through MSN Messenger.
posted by itchie at 6:13 AM on February 4, 2006

Most Dell laptops do not include a built-in microphone. This would explain you not being able to hear them.

You could try using the AIM client instead of iChat, and then establishing a direct connection and giving it another shot, but until they get a mic (usb or otherwise, they're under $20), you won't be able to hear them, unless there's one built into their webcam.
posted by disillusioned at 7:12 AM on February 4, 2006

Best answer: There are very few built in microphones on PCs. So, assume they don't have one.

IM software:
AIM - On the Mac side you have to use iChat, as the AOL client for the mac doesn't support audio video. I do this with my brother all the time - it works great.
Yahoo has video chat on both Mac/PCs. It's slower, doesn't do voice, but you should download it.
MSN only works for video on the PC side.

So, you have two problems, the mic and possibly the firewall(s) on everyone system.

Have them pick up a USB mic - as disillusioned said, they're pretty cheap.

Firewall issues:
At least initially, have them (and you!) directly connect to their point of connection (the DSL/Cable modems).
Then try to connect. In other words, remove anything that may be blocking the protocols.
In theory, they're all supposed to 'figure out' any firewalls, but this isn't always the case.

AOL document on a possible missing component of XP and firewalls

A good tutorial on how to solve these problems (mac/pc AIM protocol video conference)

A huge freaking list of router specific instructions.

Last, you might want to try downloading Microsoft's Remote Desktop - because if you're trying to configure their PC (using your parents) they may frustrate you.
posted by filmgeek at 7:41 AM on February 4, 2006

Your only hope is to have someone walk into their living room and do it for them. This person should try to make a cheap local connection first, and should try to make the Korea connection only after the local stuff looks good and your parents are comfortable with it.

Think of your friends and family back in OK -- do you know a trustworthy and computer-literate person near them who you could get to do this (as a favor or for a little cash or for dinner with your parents)? Get out your address book or year book or whatever and think about it.
posted by pracowity at 10:09 AM on February 4, 2006

why don't YOU help them if you're not illiterate?
posted by jadanzzy at 9:02 PM on February 4, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for such an insightful answer.
posted by Brittanie at 5:01 AM on February 5, 2006

Response by poster: Filmgeek's second link solved the problem, thanks! FYI for future searchers, there is very small priint that AIM Triton does not work with iChat, only 5.9 does.
posted by Brittanie at 4:55 AM on February 12, 2006

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