I received an entertaining but sad email the other day. From the email list for the collaborative browser-based VR program of which we’re a part, here’s an email from Bill Pardue who has been heavily involved with the project.
I’m reprinting it here in full (emphasis mine) to illustrate how complicated it can be to get these browser-based VR systems to do what has been promised to us. Bill did an excellent job spelling out the issue and (potential) solutions, but the whole situation is farcical. It doesn’t have to be this complicated!
I was testing VR on a PC that had recently been upgraded to Windows Service Pack 2 (SP2). I noticed a couple of things that everyone who’s contemplating upgrading to SP2 should be aware of. By the way, apologies if this has been covered on the list before…I can’t recall.
1) SP2 has a pop-up blocker that’s “On” by default. Unfortunately, it messes with the session window when you try to pick up a patron. It basically prevents the window from opening but offers you the option to add Tutor/LSSI to the list of sites that isn’t subject to pop-up blocking. Even if you say you want to allow the pop-up, it just kills the window the first time you do it and you have to open it again from the session monitor “Session in Progress” link, so you should try to do it in a practice session first, just to get it out of the way. In my opinion it’s better to just turn off the pop-up blocking altogether. Go to:
Tools > Internet Options > Privacy
Below the slider for your privacy settings, you’ll see an option to turn pop-up blocking on/off. Just uncheck it to turn it off.
2) Upgrading to SP2 may override Explorer’s Java settings that are necessary for “Materials Sharing” (sending word files, power-point, etc.). If you’re having problems with materials sharing, go to http://www.tutor.com/setup/vrt to see if the section of the page that checks your “Java VM Setup” says “Yes” for the “Microsoft VM.” If not, follow the instructions on screen.
3) On the patron side of my test session, I noticed that when I sent a file via materials sharing, there’s something within SP2 that doesn’t want to allow the download on the patron side (even with pop-up blocking disabled). In fact, even when I chose the option to accept the download, it logged me out of the VR session. Gabe at Tutor.Com is looking into overriding this, but I’m not sure how much we can do for a patron that has SP2 installed, since any fix would have to be done on their side. I’ll keep you posted. Just be aware that if you push a file via materials sharing and someone automatically disconnects, SP2 may be to blame.
On one hand I want to give Tutor.com some slack because XP SP2 is lame and it caused some havoc with many pieces of software. On the other hand, XP SP2 hasn’t hampered my ability to do IM reference, so…