Archive for October, 2013

Stunnel does not Startup with Connect

Problem: stunnel does not start up with Connect

Although stunnel can be installed as a service, it doesn’t load the stunnel.conf file(!) one workaround is to not setup the services to run automatically but to auto-run these batch files at startup:

Note: This tech-note assumes stunnel is installed in c:\Connect\9.0.0.1\; be sure to adapt the scripts accordingly.

Origin server startup.bat:

@ECHO ON
net start FMS
net start FMSAdmin
net start ConnectPro
net start CPTelephonyService
c:\Connect\9.0.0.1\stunnel\stunnel.exe stunnel.conf
@ECHO OFF Origins stop.bat:

@ECHO ON
net stop ConnectPro
net stop CPTelephonyService
net stop FMSAdmin
net stop FMS /y
@ECHO OFF

If you have remote Edge servers, use these; they includes cache clearing maintenance.

Edges start.bat:

@ECHO ON
net start fms
ping 1.1.1.1 -n 1 -w 10000>nul
net start fmsadmin
c:\breeze\edgeserver\stunnel\stunnel.exe stunnel.conf
@ECHO OFF

Edges stop.bat:

@ECHO ON
net stop fmsadmin
ping 1.1.1.1 -n 1 -w 10000>nul
net stop fms
ping 1.1.1.1 -n 1 -w 20000>nul
del /Q /S c:\breeze\edgeserver\win32\cache\http\*.*
ping 1.1.1.1 -n 1 -w 10000>nul
@ECHO OFF

Run > gpedit.msc
Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Scripts (Startup/Shutdown)
Batch files are assigned as startup & shutdown scripts. This is in addition to being available to be run manually.

How many Meeting Room Participants May I Delegate to Breakout Rooms?

Issue: Hosts and Presenters must manage Breakout Rooms (BoRs).

Two-hundred participants can be distributed into up to twenty breakout rooms, but BoR use does not add to your meeting concurrency. Check your license: Seminar rooms have more capacity than meeting rooms. Most (named organizer) Meeting rooms allow up to 100 participants by license in a single meeting:

In CPS: Go to the Administration Tab – It will default to the Account Summary where you will see your Meeting capacity per Meeting room:

limits.fw

 

The account summary above shows that, for this account, a single Meeting will max out at 100 participants. Since the Connect BoR technical capacity is to handle 200/20, most meeting room BoR usage will work no matter how you subdivide. For larger Meetings and Seminars, however, you will need to plan and be sure to stick to the limits prescribed.

 

Event vs. Session Expected Number of Participants for Seminars

When you create a Seminar SESSION, depending on your Seminar License quota for the number of concurrent users, it will give you the Expected Number of Participants drop down (to select over or under 600 users).

The values are:

  • Large Seminar Session (> 600 participants)
  • Regular Seminar Session (Up to 600 Participants)

If your Seminar License allows for over 600 concurrent seats, you get this option when you create a Seminar Session for a Seminar Room that exists under that License. If the quota on the License is under 600 for a maximum concurrency, you do not see this option when creating a session and it defaults to a ‘Regular’ session.

sessionload

 

However when creating an EVENT in the Event Management area and point it to a Seminar Room, you do not get presented with an option to select a Large Seminar Session (> 600 participants) or Regular Seminar Session (Up to 600 Participants).  It will just assume the maximum for the License.  So if you select a Room to point an Event to, which resides in a Seminar License folder, which has a quota of over 600, the default for the Event ‘Session’ will be ‘Large Seminar Session (> 600 participants)’ (although you won’t see this referenced in the information for the Event).

 

 

Seminar Room Information Access for Seminar Hosts

In Adobe Connect 9.1, there seems to a misconception sometimes among Seminar Hosts that a user in the Seminar Host group can view and modify any Seminar Room (and their recordings, etc.) on the system. This is actually not the case.  Here is a summary of the permissions and scenarios in which a user who is in ONLY the Seminar Hosts group can view and modify Seminar Room information and related content/recordings.

When the permission of a Seminar Room itself is changed to:

a) Only registered users may enter the room (guest access is blocked) 

Or

b) Anyone who has the URL for the meeting can enter the room

Then we explicitly set “denied” or ”view-hidden” permission for All Users in the database for this Seminar. In that case, a Seminar Host or user performing the operation no longer has any more permissions (as he is also part of All Users) unless that user is explicitly part of the Participant list either as host or presenter OR has Administrator or Limited Administrator permissions.

What this means is that if you select any of the two above access levels for the Seminar Room when you create it (so NOT ‘Registered Users AND Accepted Guests’), then ONLY admins, limited admins, and users who have been added to the meeting as a Host or Presenter can actually edit that meeting (and change recording access levels, etc.).

The bottom line is the person who is modifying Seminar Room access should be either part of Seminar Participants or should have Administrator / Limited Administrator permissions.

So in a nutshell, these are the scenarios where Seminar Host Group members can change recording access for a seminar:

  • Creators of the Seminar Room (who are obviously the host) – no matter what the access level of the room is set to.  If they created it, they can edit/change things in that Seminar Room.
  • A Seminar Host Group member who has been added to a room (that they didn’t create) ‘s Participant List as a Host or Presenter of the room – no matter what the access level of the room is set to.
  • A Seminar Host Group member who doesn’t have any Host permissions for the room but if the room is set to ‘Only registered users and accepted guests may enter the room’.
  • A Seminar Host Group member who is also a Limited Administrator.
  • A Seminar Host Group member who is also an Administrator.

Here are the scenarios where a Seminar Host Group member can NOT edit a room or change recording access, etc.:

  • A Seminar Host Group member who is NOT also in Limited Admins Group or Admins Group and who is not a Participant (Host) in the room and the room is set to “Only registered users may enter the room (guest access is blocked) “
  • A Seminar Host Group member who is NOT also in Limited Admins Group or Admins Group and who is not a Participant (Host) in the room and the room is set to “Anyone who has the URL for the meeting can enter the room”

Providing Diagnostic Data to Expedite Solutions for Connect Meeting Issues

Issue: Anything that may happen during a meeting which has a pejorative effect on end-user experience.

Solution: In Connect 9.1 we have a great diagnostic option in the meeting room. You can immediately pull logs from any meeting to diagnose:

If you click Help>About Adobe Connect, while holding down the Ctrl key, the debug logs will appear int he meeting room and you will have the option to copy them to your clipboard.

log-mtg.fw

 

log-mtg1.fw

Sending me these, along with the RTMP string  Help> About Adobe Connect, while holding down the Shift key – this will be most helpful from the client experiencing the extreme latency.

rtmp-mtg.fw

Now if you want to take it even one step further and provide a client-side view of the meeting:

The instructions for enabling client-side logging are here: http://helpx.adobe.com/adobe-connect/kb/enable-logging-acrobat-connect-professional.html

Providing all this data along with the date and time (including timezone) and Meeting URL of any issue, will greatly expedite analysis and solution.

Creative Offline Recording Options for On-premise Connect Deployments

Issue: The new 9.1 MP4 recording feature is available only for Adobe Connect hosted customers and the download FLV option provides a lower resolution output.

Solutions: There are some creative alternatives that on-premise Connect customers can try that will provide a higher quality offline recording than that offered in the standard FLV download.

1. Turn the recording into an on-demand Presentation manually using Presenter 9.

  • Upload a PPTX into a meeting room and record your Presentation (either live to an audience or to an empty meeting room)
  • Be sure to record audio in some manner whether VoIP or telephony.
  • Download the recording files in a zip (requires account administrator rights or ownership of the recording) append: /output/recording.zip?download=zip at the end of the recording URL and save the zip file locally
  • Extract the recording zip file and pull out the  UVAudio.flv (if using UV for audio) or the MP3 if using the PGI adapter
  • Convert the UVAudio.flv to an MP3 using a conversion tool of choice.
  • Edit the MP3 file in Audition or a tool of choice as needed. You will also be able to edit it in Presenter once you have imported it but it is possible to create an individual mp3 for each slide in Audition or other audio editing tools (there are timing clues for this in the  ftcontent.xml file).
  • Import the MP3 or MP3s (depended on how you edited the audio) into Presenter using the original PowerPoint presentation as a base for editing.
  • Edit the Presentation and polish it removing any coughing or integrating questions into the actual slides, etc.
  • Upload the polished recording that is now a full-blown on-demand presentation to the Connect Content Library or Training Library, or Curriculum or Meeting room share pod for rebroadcast (perhaps with the instructor popping in at the end to answer questions live, etc.)
  • Note: You can also simply download a zip, edit it (carefully) and re upload the zip to content as well. For tips and caveats around this technique, see the tutorials on the Connect User Community website by searching on the keywords: edit recordings

2. There are other methods that may be less laborious and will also get the meeting recording offline out into a different format. There are many tools to record the screen and give you an MP4 or other output.  Changing the screen dimensions will be prudent in many cases when using a screen recording option:

3.  Re-encoding Options are also a possibility:

Resource Constraints cause Connection Read Error in Logs on Clustered Connect Servers

Issue: FCSj_IO:4 (x) – Connection read error: -1 LP: 5345 RP: 8506 URI: rtmp://localhost:8506/meetingapp/7/12345678

I have seen that in some VMWare environments that are very overtaxed for resources, latency between/among the clustered Connect servers on ports 8507 (and also 8506 though 8506 does not cause this error), can cause problems. Intra-cluster latency should never exceed 2-3ms. When it does we see intermittent errors and can also see crashes.

I had one unnamed customer who had a particularly weak infrastructure and  I could predict his crashes; he was doing back-ups and running other tasks at a certain time weekly that would severely hamper network connectivity for about an hour; these tasks were so all-consuming on the network, they turned every Connect cluster resource into an individual asset on its own island. The Connect logs bore this out and we knew with precision what was going on and could predict his call or email based on his maintenance schedule. He knew he needed to upgrade his infrastructure and in the meantime we worked out a reaction plan to deal with the issue; it included:

  • Place a higher than normal percentage of cache on each server to limit invoking shared storage during maintenance (see page 57)
  • Set the JDBC driver reconnection string for Database connectivity robustness
  • Plan heavy Connect usage around network and server maintenance activities and when possible, do your Connect server maintenance activities at the same time as well.

Connect & Unified Voice (UV) Traffic Flow Diagram

Issue: Plan for the flow of traffic to enable UV among the various components in any Connect deployment: Connect, Flash Media Gateway (FMG), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)

There are numerous documents on the topic of Unified Voice (UV) with Connect:

This diagram shows the flow of traffic and the protocols used for UV with Connect and is offered as a planning and a troubleshooting tool; click on the diagram to expand it for viewing:

 

Connect_FMG_Flow

The Adobe Connect Deployment Guide on the F5 Website needs Updating

Issue: Be careful when following the Adobe Connect Deployment Guide posted on the F5 Website. While the article is be helpful, there are some ambiguities that can lead to trouble. I have tried to update their deployment guide but have not succeeded; the LTM is the most popular load-balancing device and SSL accelerator in the Connect niche and when it is set up properly it works splendidly. Here are corrections, updates and things to watch out for when deploying Connect behind an LTM:

1. Do not use an HTTP profile for an RTMP VIP. An HTTP profile for RTMP VIPs may affect playback of video as well as break remote Edge connectivity. Remember that you have two servers running on each box, a Tomcat application server and an FMS server. Do not treat the FMS server as though it were an application server; RTMP is a streaming protocol that requires a TCP profile at the HLD VIP.

2. Use the health monitor documented here for LTM.

3. Do not use session-awareness or stick-sessions even if you use SSL. The Round Robin algorithm should float freely to the Tomcat application pool.

4. Do not use Nagle’s Algorithm with SSL; it will have a negative effect on performance.

Review this general Connect pool/cluster configuration tutorial before configuring BIG-IP LTM with Connect: Adobe® Connect™ server pools/clusters and hardware-based load-balancing devices with SSL acceleration

Which remote clicker/mouse will work to advance slides in a Connect Meeting room?

Issue: When stand up training in front of a live audience is done in tandem with a remote audience in a Connect Meeting room, it is effective and fun to advance the slides in the Meeting room while dancing around your live audience instead of being tethered to a podium.

Problem: Some pointers will not advance slides in a Connect Meeting room!

Solution(s): Some advice from a celebrity panel of  Connect Presenters:

  • You must make certain the Meeting room is highlighted and in focus.
  • This cheap one is a favorite and works fine as long as the meeting is in focus. There is no need to have a mouse hover over the advance button or anything more than having the meeting room in focus http://www.rakuten.com/pr/product.aspx?sku=219974233
  • One of the Senior SEs suggested that once you click on the forward or backward arrows in the pod, (and then don’t click anywhere else!) the clicker should work.  He  always used the remote  McAlly Mouse.
  • Another team member suggests that the clickers only work when the PPT has focus. He will typically move the first slide ahead with the built-in track pad to move the cursor over the right arrow, then use the clicker for the rest of the deck
  • Another said that the Share pod needs to be “in focus” when using a clicker for presentations which have been uploaded.  When sharing the desktop it should work as you’d expect for a standard presentation.

My preferred option is the first. It is tiny and fits in my travel bag. It comes with a small zippered case and I keep the lithium battery out of it when not in use.