Quick Links

Master Schedule
The complete schedule of upcoming OPAL public online events.

Auditorium
Most OPAL programs are held in the Auditorium. After clicking on the link above, type in your name and press Enter. First-time OPAL users need to install a small, safe sofware plug-in.

Archive
Recordings and other documents about previous OPAL programs.

Podcast
For information on listening to previous OPAL events on your portable MP3 player, visit the OPAL Podcast blog.

image of a triangular opal stone



Tips for First-Time Users

Welcome to OPAL, a collaborative project by libraries, library-related organizations, and other organizations to use webconferencing software to advance their missions.

This webpage contains some basic tips for first-time users of OPAL. If you need additional information, please see the OPAL Help Page

Ways to Access OPAL:

  • 1. Download and run a safe software plug-in. A link to get this sofware is contained on every entry page to OPAL online rooms, such as the OPAL Auditorium. This will give you the most functional OPAL experience. The plug-in currently works only on computers running the Microsoft operating system. For users of Apple, Linux, and other operating systems, please try Option #2 below. An OPAL plug-in for Apple computers is being developed, but is not yet ready.

  • 2. Use the "no-software-download-required" web browser interface to OPAL. This allows you to hear and see most of what is going on in an OPAL room. You may text chat into the OPAL room, but you cannot speak and see some of the advanced OPAL features. Option #2 should work with most operating systems. You need to have Adobe Flash 8 or higher running on your computer to make Option #2 work. A link to the "no-software-download-required" OPAL interface is available on every entry page to OPAL online rooms, such as the OPAL Auditorium.

  • 4. If you are using a Mac, you can click on the "Mac users click here" link that is available on every entry page to OPAL online rooms, such as the OPAL Auditorium.

  • 4. Listen to the recording of a previous OPAL online event. If you missed a live OPAL online event but would really like to listen to the recording, visit the OPAL Archive.

Minimum Hardware and Software Requirements for Full Access to OPAL:
  • Windows 2000, XP, Vista (XP or Vista recommended) (May work with 98 Second edition and ME -- very minimal testing has been done)

  • Pentium 3 500 MHz or better CPU

  • 512 MB RAM

  • Internet Explorer 6 or 7, or FireFox

  • JavaScript and cookies enabled in the browser

  • Soundcard and some sort of audio output method (e.g., speakers, headphones, earbuds--to hear what others in the online room are saying)

  • Microphone (for voice-over-IP communication) (Please Note: Many laptops contain embedded microphones. For desktop computers, the inexpensive microphones available for less than $10 at discount stores and online usually work well and reliably.)

  • Internet Connection (of course): a 56K modem connection should work reasonably well.

How to Actually Enter an OPAL Online Room:
  • Consult either the OPAL Master Schedule or the list of OPAL Online Rooms.

  • Click on the link to a room, then click on the link called "Click here to enter the room."

  • A pop-up dialogue box will appear on your screen. Enter any User Name you wish. To enter an OPAL online room as a regular participant, please leave the Password field blank. (If you need to enter an OPAL online room with moderator status, enter the password provided to you by the event organizer.) Click on the Log On button and wait to be connected to the OPAL server.

What Can I Do in an OPAL Online Room?
  • To text chat, move your cursor into the text chat input box located in the left center area of your screen. Type your message and press the Return or Enter key on your keyboard. Your message will display in the text chat display blox located in the upper left corner of the screen. Everyone who is in the OPAL online room will see your message.

  • To speak using voice-over-IP, press and hold your control key. When you hear a "doink" sound and the little microphone icon in the lower left corner of your screen turns red, that means you have the floor and can speak and be heard by everyone in the online room. When you have finished speaking, release your control key. (Remember: To be able to speak in an OPAL online room, you need to have a microphone connected to or embedded in your computer.)

  • In the right portion of the OPAL online room you will see an embedded browser window. You may move your cursor into the URL input line at the top of the browser window, input a URL, and be taken to that webpage. Only you will see that webpage. Note, however, if a presenter has co-browsing turned on and goes somewhere on the web, everyone in the OPAL online room will be taken to that webpage.

More Start-Up Info: The OPAL Getting Started Guide:
Help and Information about OPAL and Talking Communities Software:
  • If you experience problems as a first-time user of OPAL, please feel free to either email or call (816.616.6746) Tom Peters, the OPAL Coordinator.

  • The OPAL Getting Started Guide contains more information about using OPAL.

  • The server port number used by OPAL is 443. A webpage full of technical information about the web conferencing software used by OPAL can be found at the following URL:
    http://talkingcommunities.com/tcuman

  • The website of Talking Communities contains FAQs, guides, and tutorials to assist you with your use of their software