No Joy With iChat to AIM

It really should be easier. (Yes, “Who says?”) I was thinking that it is a problem at my daughter’s school… blocking something. I turned off the firewall on my aDSL modem for a few minutes, and still had no success. I’m looking to test with someone who has a PC with AIM who has successfully video-chatted with a Mac user. My AIM name: fmavolio. (Clever, eh?)

Oh. Yahoo for Mac is now working with video. I have no idea why it started to work. Yahoo Messenger for Mac does not support audio.

Here’s what I’ve done
  • Directly connected my Powerbook to my Westell Wirespeed Dual Connect aDSL modem.
  • Turned off the modem’s firewall.
  • Turned off the Powerbook’s firewall.
  • Tried to video conference with a few different test connections as per http://www.ralphjohnsuk.dsl.pipex.com/ContactTesters.html. I tried appleu3test0, running on Mac/Tiger, ichatavtesting, same, and RjinWI PC, running AIM on a PC.
Connected directly to the modem, I could video confernce with appleu3test01 and with ichatavtesting. In my normal configuration (below) I could not to ichatavtesting.

My current test set-up is a follows:
Internet — aDSL modem (minmimally firewalled and NAT) — Netgear Wireless Router WBG614 (no firewall). Connected to this router is a Linksys VoIP switch and all other computers. (Note, when I tested, the only thing connected to the Westell and Internet was my Powerbook.)

So, it has to do with my router, but what? With no firewall on it, what am I left with? And it is listed as a router that is knwn to work with iChat and AIM. The only thing I have not tried is port-forwarding all relevant services through the Internet gateway to my Powerbook. But, that should not be necessary! That is, it shouldn’t be unless this application is not very well behaved. I don’t want to do it, and not just because it should not be necessary. If I forwarded all of those ports, other AIM Video Chat users on my (home) network would not be able to video chat anymore.

This remains my biggest disappointment with the “Mac experience.” To paraphrase what I said earlier, “It really shouldn’t be this hard.”

Someone IM’ed me tonight. I was away then busy and missed the contact. (Does iChat catalog those sorts of things like Adium does? If not, why not?) He wanted to know how I got things working. Well, I really don’t have things working. Just kind of working. Mostly not working.

I’ver tried almost everything I could find at Ralph Johns’ iChat Pages and MVL Design.com’s Video Conference Tutorial for iChat and AIM.

I’m still spinning my wheels.

I had a nice vido iChat with another Fred, this one in France. He contacted me to discuss this problem and share some of the things he did to get things working. I’m still wrapped around this question, which I will have to test: is the only way to get this to work (AIM Video Chat) to port forward all relevant ports to my computer? I don’t think I should have to. Of course, if I did that no one else behind my aDSL modem (i.e., no one on my home LAN) could AIM Video chat. But, why should I have to? I had a nice video-chat with Fred in France without that.

Let’s take stock of things.
  • Inside my network I can initiate an video chat with a Windows XP user on my LAN
  • I can successfully video chat with others on the Internet who are using Macs and iChat
  • I can video chat with test iChat (AIM) users appleu3test01 and appleu3test03.
  • I cannot with test user rjinwipc (AIM on a PC). When I do I get the error “Failed to start video chat because: Frederick M. Avolio did not respond.”
I just don’t know what this is telling me.

Okay, I tried it with my Powerbook connected directly to my Westell, with no port forewarding. It worked to all the test accounts I’ve previously mentioned. I tried portforwarding the relevent ports to my Netgear router and then on from there to my Powerbook. I restarted iChat whenever I made a change. No difference.

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