iChat 3

These pages on this site will deal with some of the things you might want ask about iChat, or didn't know you needed to ask.

The menus on the left of this page expand into pop outs. I have decided to keep the layout as it is, even though, to me, it feels dated.

This page is a collection of posts By EZ Jim made not long after Tiger and iChat three came out. It is basically the story of his attempts to migrate from iChat 2 to iChat 3. It formed the basis of the information covered in the top part of Page 16 linked in the next paragraph.

There is some stuff mainly to do with starting iChat 3 up from Panther to Tiger upgrade Here. It also goes on to look at how to interpret the newer OS 10.4.7 Update of iChat that now produes Error Logs when a Video chat fails in iChat 3.1.4


iChat 3 (Tiger)

What iChat can do

EZ Jim's Mock Blog

Hi 3 Chatters --

I decided to post this in the clear rather than posting it separately to several of you who are reporting problems others have reported to me in several (approximately 10) multi-party test chats in which I have participated since installing Tiger on Friday evening. I plan to update it below as merited.

Day 1: By Saturday evening I had learned the following:

1) I have now connected with a G4 and BOTH of us were getting 30 fps. Unable to determine why this ONE is faster than the 15 fps numbers I was getting immediately after upgrading to Tiger, but 30 fps is not NOW limited to G5s with me.

2) Have now connected with a G4 experiencing low (1 fps) frame rates and low bandwidth (15 Kbps). Turning off Virex helped, but still left numbers of 1 fps and 30 Kbps. Permissions Repair, Reinstall Tiger by Archive & Install, and another Permission Repair FIXED the problem. 20 fps and 350 Kbps with me now.

3) My QuickTime Streaming speed was unchanged by the update, and has not posed a problem for my end.

4) Have now tested with multiple party videos and conclude that, at my available bandwidth, approximately 450 Kbps as reported by Connection Doctor, adding the 4th party degrades video quality (fuzzy) more than adding numbers 2 and 3.However, all participants in the multi-party conferences agree it is a WOW !

5) Have chatted with two buddies who did permissions repair, updated, and then repaired permissions again. Both said the upgrade went smoothly.

6) Have chatted with several who had problems getting iChat AV 3 going after using the standard "Update" method to install Tiger without any additional OS X maintenance. Some got going again by doing Permissions Repair after iChat AV 3 failed to launch or connect. Others had to repair permissions, reinstall Tiger using A & I and then repair permissions again to get it working. I do not know whether anything less labor intensive would have corrected, but that seems to have done the trick for those with whom I have chatted.

I used the following method.

a) Backed up my data (on my Panther 10.3.9 Mac)
b) Repaired Permissions
c) Repaired the Hard Disk
d) Forced the Chrons
e) Repaired Permissions
f) Inserted the Tiger DVD and used the standard, easy, fast, 2-Step Upgrade
g) Repaired permissions
h) Restarted my Mac
i) Launched iChat AV 3 and it worked.

Connection Doctor frame and bit rates are still somewhat slower for me than the were in 2.1, but I am getting better rates today than I got when I first upgraded last night. Unexplained as to why.

I later found that I had to reinstall my printer drivers, but iChat AV 3 worked from the beginning.

From the above, I conclude that one should perform OS X maintenance and repair permissions before AND after using the "Update" method to install Tiger. If you do not want to do those steps, I suggest the A & I method instead of Update.

Next entry

Day 2 Status: By Sunday I had learned:

(7) If you use more than one Mic and your chat buddies cannot hear you, check your iChat > Preferences > Video > Microphone: Choices Bar to select the iSight's mic.

iChat AV 2.1 would automatically select whichever mic I had active. When I switched off my desk mic and plugged in iSight, iChat AV 2.1 would automatically select the iSight Mic. However, Tiger's iChat AV 3 leaves the preference set to the desktop mic until I set the preferences manually back to iSight.

(8) My iChat AV 3 Connection Doctor shows a max bandwidth of about 450 Kbps vs the 650 max iChat AV 2.1 reported to me.

When I spit up my 450 Kbps the first two I add are pretty good, but the third one is a bit fuzzy. First one I call is actually BETTER than iChat AV 2.1. When I add number 2, both degrade slightly but are still about on par with iChat AV 2.1 quality. Only the third addition (4-party total) one is fuzzy, and the last (fourth party) addition also degrades the other two AND ME some, too.

(9) I did my first iChat AV 3 chat with a PC using AIM today. Worked fine, picture seemed better than previous PC chats, but audio was noticeably worse than Mac audio. Worked fine otherwise. One-on-one, of course.

(10) My First Problem: I cannot do direct file transfer to iChat AV 2.1 users. According to what I have been told, other iChat AV 3 users CAN do it.

I CAN do direct file transfer to PC users running AIM and to other iChat AV 3 users, just NOT to iChat AV 2.x users.

I have tried repairing permissions, re-starting Mac, checking QT settings, and turning off my System Preferences > Sharing > Firewall -- all to no effect. Problem remains.

I use FileVault (and did while running iChat AV 2.1) and am beginning to be suspicious of that. I have not yet decided to try turning it off to test that. I will post results after trying FileVault "Off".

If anyone has ideas or solutions for this issue, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Next Entry

Day 3 Status: By Monday I had learned:

(10.1) re: my problem with file transfers.

I got Error Messages when I turned FilVault off. I had to do a Safe Boot and restart in order to get past the Errors.

Upon restart after Safe Boot, I repaired permissions and had several corrections reported by Disk Utility.

Subsequent repairs have reported NO CORRECTIONS and NO spurious permission info -- Just "determining correct permissions" and "permissions verifed or repaired". NOTHING ELSE.

After turning FileVault OFF, I was able to direct transfer a file to an iChat AV 2.1 user (a) ! Hooray! (short-lived celebration.)

However, it failed when I tried with another 2.1 user (b). In a later try, user (b) SUCCESSFULLY direct transfered to me. I then tried to reply with a direct file transfer of my own, and, this time it worked. However in a later chat today with user (b), it did NOT work again.

Therefore, my status today is that, having turned FileVault OFF, I can send SOME direct file transfers to SOME iChat AV 2.1 users SOME of the time.

(11) My Tiger Mac seems to be speeding up. I believe that may be due to some Tiger background action, perhaps automatic Disk Indexing ... ? I note that I cannot find the controls for Disk Indexing that I could see in the Get Info window for my hard disks when I was running Panther.

I am now getting 30 fps in iChat AV Video sessions again, but not in any way I can predict. Some chats are 30 fps, some are 20, some are 15.

Although I cannot predict which will be fast or slow, the speed seems set when I establish the connection. Adding new parties to the chat does not change existing frame rates of the parties aleady chatting.

(12) I have found that only the chat initiator can add participants. The "+" sign for adding participants is ALWAYS greyed out for those who have RECEIVED invitations and joined the chat even if they meet all the Mac OS X 10.4: iChat AV system requirements.

(13) I took a bit of time and read the MacWorld Expanding your chats article that has been linked by others in several threads. There is LOTS of good info here.

Next entry Day 4

Day 4 Status: By Tuesday I had learned:

(10.2) re: my problem with file transfers.

Having tried all I could think of, I erased my second drive, did an erase and install of Tiger on drive 2, did a permissions check and EUREKA -- ZERO errors.

I then use Migration assistant to migrate my data from drive 1, let the drives copy and index while I had morning coffee, checked permissions again (still ZERO errors), did my morning email chores on the "new" drive 2, and then launched iChat.

Immediately tested direct file transfer. IT WORKED!

Tested with a couple more buddies. I can now send to all -- whether iChat AV 2.1 or iChat AV 3.

One thing still concerns.-- I can now successfully send a file by dragging it to a buddy's name in my Buddy List, or by using the iChat > Buddies > Send File... menu command. However I STILL cannot send to iChat AV 2.1 users by dragging the file into the message area of a chat window.

Two side effects of the Erase and install of Tiger in drive 2.

(10.2.0) A lot of work hooking things back up and relocating bits and pieces, and

(10.2.1) System restart time decreased from nearly a minute to about 15-20 seconds.

11. I tested with several new contacts today. Based on this experience I suggest that, especially if you are using single processor G4, you should quit all apps other than iChat AV when attempting multi-party chats. Your Mac will reward your thoughtfulness with the best video it can process for you.

Those who joined us with lap top G4s running multiple apps never really got adequate connections until they turned off as many apps as possible. Generally, with multiple apps running, neither they nor we could see each other clearly and we could not get useable audio AT ALL until they turned off the extra apps and rejoined us.

Thanks very much for the help from several of my previous multi-party session participants for the short notice tests!

12. During the chats from the past three days, I have also learned that it seems a BAD idea to apply the bandwidth limit in Video Preferences. Take all the bandwidth you can get.

I would suggest setting the bandwidth limit to "None" and not changing it unless you cannot connect using that setting. Then you can try reducing your bandwidth if you like. However, ALL our test chats were better when the bandwidth was unlimited than when limits were applied.

13. I am going to do more reading during the next couple of days. Perhaps I can find some answers for the things that still puzzling me. Perhaps you can post back some suggestions that will help. In the meantime, I will check out this fresh install and read the directions (for a change.) Thanks again to all my multi-party chat buddies today -- and to my iChat AV 2.1 buddies who had to keep looking at my little flower picture over and over in my interminable tests. :-))

Day 5

Day 5 Status: By Wednesday (LATE) I had learned:

(10.3) re: my problem with file transfers. Erase and install worked so well (followed by Tiger's Migrate Assistant from my other hard disk) that I repeated the process on my original Boot Drive, then cleaned out my data (#2) drive. I think that Tiger's Migrate Assistant saved about half the time it took me to do a complete erase and reinstall when I was still running Panther.

All is now working well, EXCEPT that I still cannot do successful direct file transfer via drag and drop into the text entry line of a Text Chat window. Doing so results in an AIM error or "rend" error.

File transfer via the "Send File..." menu command or by dropping a file on name in my Buddy List works fine. This makes me wonder if there is a problem with AIM, or, perhaps, with my ISP. Dragging to the text line should not use AIM at all (except to establish the direct connection.) Perhaps things are not yet fully debugged. For now, I will use the two methods that DO work.

14. BANDWIDTH PROBLEM: Based on my reading, test trials with several of you (sorry to Christina and others that I could not help get going), and chats with others, I think that those posting in the big insufficient bandwidth thread may be narrowing the issues and starting to zero in on the real cause of this maddening problem.

It may be that some ISPs are working OK while some others are having difficulty with packet loss or something. Serious packet loss at one ISP COULD result in insufficient bandwidth for some users while other ISPs' customers have no problem.

If this is turns out to be the problem's root cause, it may be too early for the ISPs to have specifically identified the problem because iChat AV 3 has been in use for so short a time. Some ISPs may not even know the problem is theirs yet. It may take lots of customer calls for a given ISP to establish a trend.

If the problem IS with some ISPs but not all of them, a quick fix by ISPs is probably unlikely. It may take weeks of experience under iChat AV 3 traffic to identify, trouble-shoot, and solve such a problem.

The only way I can currently conceive that would prove this hypothesis is for a few people who have a choice of ISPs in their areas to change ISPs and see whether their problem goes away.

Day 6

Day 6 Status: Thursday

15. More chats from around the world reveal that iChat AV 3 seems to be a power user's app. (No surprise after reading Apples Mac OS X 10.4: iChat AV system requirements, I suppose.)

Some users who could not connect to me via video (even one on one) have still not been able to connect with me. Most of these users are afflicted with the "insufficient bandwidth" problem (14.) mentioned above. Sadly, I have no new info for them. Happily, Mountan Mac (see post above) and the others posting there are offering all the help that is available for those of you effected.

However, some other users who could not connect to me via video (even one on one) could do so after quitting iChat AV 3 and launching it again. Most of these users had included iChat AV 3 in "Login Items" in System Preferences > Accounts. When they removed iChat AV 3 from Login Items, restarted their Macs, and manually launched iChat AV 3, they had no trouble getting video connection on the first try. This seems more prevalent on G4 users, but happened once or twice even on single processor G5s.

Moreover, some iChat AV 3 users who could connect via one on one video, but whose camera icon was flat (as opposed to iChat AV 3's new "stacked / shadowed" icon) could, therefore, not be included in multi-party conferences. After quitting iChat AV 3 and launching it again, their multi-party icons and multi-party conference capability returned.

Some of these users, too, had included iChat AV 3 in "Login Items" in System Preferences > Accounts and got improved results by deleting their iChat AV 3 Login Item. Some others, however, particularly some dual processor G5 users who encountered this issue, were running several (up to seven) applications while trying to do iChat AV 3 video conferencing! Closing the other (not iChat AV 3) applications did NOT remedy the problem. However, when they closed the other apps, quit iChat AV 3, and relaunched it, the problem went away.

From this testing experience, it appears to me that iChat AV 3 makes decisions about whether and how much video chat power is available when it launches. It apparently does not change until iChat AV 3 is launched again.

To give iChat your processor's maximum capability, I suggest that you:

15.1 - Do NOT include iChat AV 3 as a Login Item, and

15.2 - Close other apps BEFORE launching iChat AV 3

I have not actually tested this, but a couple of people have asked about making video recordings of their multi-party chats using iChatRecorder or SnapZ Pro.

(Trying to use QuickTime 7 Pro to record iChat AV 3 results in a "Camera in use by another application" error in iChat AV 3.)

I have not hear back any reports (positive or negative) yet, but this, too, would seem to me to be a substantial load on your processor.

15.3 - If you try recording an iChat AV 3 video session, be sure to test to see whether your Mac has enough processing power to run the recorder app and iChat AV 3 simultaneously.

Please post back and tell us whether recording the session works for you.

Matt King's Aside

I find it requires all the resources of my lowly G3 iBook to run iChat under Tiger. I had desktop picture set to change randomly and found that when the switch occurs my framerate would drop to 1 and my bitrate to around 60. After the switch it would gradually pick up to 15fps again. On the plus side iChat 3 handles high bitrates inbound better than the Panther version, where I had to have the person I was talking to throttle their bitrate to maintain smooth video (15fps).

Day 14

Day 14 Status: Friday#2

I have been testing with many users and reviewing several threads that deal with bandwidth and connection quality. Because these are so easily quantified, they are always a topic of discussion. However, bandwidth is largely outside the user's control. Therefore, I am still of the opinion that OS X system health and the quality of the install are better candidates for things USERS can do to improve their iChat AV 3 operation.

Notwithstanding my stated belief, I have received many requests for my connection information. Those following that lead could as easily be right, at least for the problems they are trouble shooting. For those who are interested, I offer the following info about MY connection.

My cable download speed is about 3,850 Kbps, but my upload speed tests only about 475 Kbps. These are average speeds over MANY tests measured using Speed Test or UK Broadband Speed Test and following their instructions for conducting the tests.

Currently, on conferences I initiate using my measured bandwidth, iChat AV 3 Connection Doctor gives numbers in the range of 225 - 450 Kbps, with the great majority being in the range of 300 - 400 Kbps. Because the numbers are so variable, these are just my best estimates rather than averages based on recorded data.

My iChat AV 3 Connection Doctor reports local bit rates lower and more variable than those reported in iChat AV 2.1. (I have assumed that is due to the bandwidth sharing techniques that iChat AV 3 applies to connections, some of which are experiencing more problems than I.) Also, I note that my reported Bit Rates seem generally LOWER when I accept invitations than when I initiate the connection. (This may be a result of or influenced by the fact that people needing to test their connections are those who are having problems.)

My iChat AV 3 Connection Doctor audio and video quality bar indicators are currently showing 100% most of the time for me. Quality percentage seems unrelated to differences in reported Frame Rates and Bit Rates from one video conference to another, whether I or someone else initiates.

I am not certain whether ANY of this information is meaningful. I only offer it for your consideration and comparison.

All ideas about how to improve connection and picture quality are certainly welcome!

Green and Balck Bar

iChat Discussion Pages. Choose Forum. or The Next page or Top of Page