Last Thursday, at the invitation of Rob Martin from the North East Leeds City Learning Centre in Leeds UK, I gave a talk about the Inkscape class I worked on as part of a Red Hat outreach program earlier this year. The occasion was the National City Learning Centres Conference 2010, which very excitingly had an open source track.The National City Learning Centers are organizations that help the area schools around them make use of technological innovations: providing training programs and workshops and supporting and developing solutions for technology use in the schools. Our Inkscape class seemed quite appropriate a topic! Here’s the thing, though: The conference took place in Leeds, UK. I gave my talk from Boston, Massachusetts. Take that, Atlantic Ocean! After numerous failed yet valiant attempts with Skype (no video, only audio and screensharing worked), Rob and his colleague Paul Bellwood gave empathy a shot – and it worked! Now, let me give you some caveats here: The call dropped two times during my talk. While Paul was very quick to reconnect the call, it was a little disorienting. We’re not sure why it happened.Screen sharing would not work in empathy. Sometimes it would be greyed out in the menu. Sometimes, it would not be, and we tried it, but on the Leeds end they just got a black screen. It worked right away in Skype.Audio feedback seemed to be more of a problem with the audio in empathy than it was with Skype. What I did was press the mute on my computer when I spoke and unmute when folks where asking questions. It was kind of annoying though. That being said, how cool is it to talk about using free & open source software to teach kids, via an openly-licensed and free curricula, at an open source track of a educational conference, using open source video conferencing?! That’s the way I like to roll 🙂 By the way, much of the content of my talk is available as an opensource.com article – you’ll find links to all the worksheets and lesson plans there as well as a run down of the class mechanics, what worked, what didn’t, and suggestions for improvement in running your own. I haven’t filed bugs on any of the issues we ran into because I’m not sure if I really have any useful debugging information on them. 😦 I believe we both used empathy-2.30.1-2, vino-2.28.2-1, and vinagre-2.30.0-1. I don’t know about their version of gstreamer but I have gstreamer-0.10.29-1. If there is any way after the event useful bug information could be tracked down let me know and I’m happy to provide whatever info I can.