[act-ma] Virtual Meetings

Nate Goldshlag nateg at pobox.com
Sat Mar 21 04:22:30 PDT 2020


People with desktops can use Zoom video.  It downloads an app.


> On Mar 20, 2020, at 11:52 AM, Cole Harrison <cole at masspeaceaction.org> wrote:
> So here's my story: MAPA started to use Zoom in about September.  At the
> time many people just dialed in and did not bother with the video.  But now
> since the social distancing started, we see that the majority of activists
> are joining by video.  This makes the interaction more interesting, and
> also allows screen sharing and a chat window which can help the meeting as
> well.
> Zoom costs $15/month for up to 100 participants (and can pay more for 500
> or 1000 participants).  You can convene meetings using the free plan, but
> they cut out after 40 minutes.  When you connect to Zoom it lists a bunch
> of phone numbers to try.   You install a zoom app or program on your phone
> or computer.   Change the id number to your phone number to make it easy to
> remember.   (As soon as coronavirus started spreading, my colleague Brian
> turned to me and said " Buy Zoom stock".  He was too late - the share price
> had already almost doubled.  There are not too many stocks that have gone
> up this month.  When Harvard announced it was shutting down the campus a
> couple of weeks ago, they mentioned that everyone was going to use Zoom for
> remote learning.  Stop and think how much Harvard is paying Zoom for
> that.   So far Zoom has not had capacity problems, although it has
> installed additional phone lines as the original ones can be busy.
> Comment: Capitalism at times can allocate resources to address problems,
> just like the Chinese government can on an even larger scale)
> People with laptops and smartphones can use Zoom video; the only ones who
> can't are those who have desktops.  However, desktop people with no webcam
> can still share their screens (i.e. for Powerpoint or for demonstrating
> something on your computer, or for showing a video).  When you join or
> start a conference using the Zoom app you'll see a button to share your
> screen.
> A few years ago I added webcams to my two desktops for $20 each, but today
> I see that they not only cost at least $50 (for higher resolution, 1020p vs
> 720p) but also are out of stock, shipping form China and arriving in 4-6
> weeks.  So that is a bit of a problem.   Here is one that claims they will
> have them in stock in two weeks:
> https://www.amazon.com/UNZANO-Webcam-Microphone-Camera-Desktop/dp/B082X3H824/.
> Therefore, as organizers we cannot expect everyone to be on video any time
> soon though the majority will be.  As I mention above, those who don't have
> a webcam can see the speakers and slides on their computer, but themselves
> will only be heard, not seen, though their computer screen can be shared
> with no extra equipment.
> Skype and Google Hangouts, or Apple Facetime on an iPhone, are two other
> free video conferencing systems, alternatives to Zoom.  As I see it there's
> no difference in the technology but more in the way calls are initiated.
> For Skype or Facetime you can just call someone and they pick up.  For Zoom
> you schedule the call at a certain time and people have to pro-actively
> call in.
> Making a simple Zoom call using a laptop, smartphone, or a desktop with
> webcam, you may find, as I have, that your audio is tinny, or cuts out.
> (You won't notice this yourself, the people listening to you will.)  That
> happens because your bandwidth is limited.  So my practice for Zoom calls
> is to use internet video but make a land line phone call for the audio
> portion, and I use a headset with my landline phone so I don't have to hold
> the handset up to my ear.  And, I when I bought my cordless phone system a
> couple of years ago, I made sure it was one that has a headphone jack --
> most of them don't now because they are using bluetooth headsets instead.
> (Maybe I should get with the program on that!)
> Enjoy
> Cole
> On Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 9:38 PM Charlie Welch <cwelch at tecschange.org> wrote:
>> What does an event announcement list do when events are not happening
>> because of the current situation?
>> We hope to facilitate a discussion about how to organize events virtually.
>> Today I heard the podcast of the Personal Computer Show.  Very early in the
>> show there is a extended review of about a dozen conference calling
>> systems.
>> The Personal Computer Show was on WBAI/Pacifica in NYC for many years.
>> The hosts have grown older and a little more inflexible but I think they
>> did a decent job of listing and reviewing the competing systems.  The
>> one thing I wished they would have explored better is the hidden costs
>> to privacy of free programs.
>> There are a number of reviews on line from commercial websites.  The PC
>> radio show had the advantage of growing up on non-commercial radio and
>> being less tainted by commercial interests.
>> One of the ones they spoke favorably about towards the end is
>> Zoom.
>> I have had some experience as a participant with Zoom but not an
>> organizer.  I've done much more with Free Conference call.  I am going to
>> organize a meeting with Zoom to try that for
>> Sunday.  It's only an initial assessment not a final decision.
>> Zoom allows both computer/webcam participation or just phone call in.
>> Another issue in the back of my mind is that there will be heavy demand
>> for these services which might effect the quality.
>> The link to the show is
>> http://pcradioshow2.org/2020/pcrs_2020_march18.mp3
>> A commercial review from PC-Magazine is linked below as point of comparison
>> https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-video-conferencing-software
>> This is intended to kick off a discussion.  If anyone has experience with
>> these systems  or has reviews to recommend you might put in your 2
>> cents to move this discussion along.
>> Charlie Welch
>> for Act-MA
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> -- 
> *"Not one step back"*
> Cole Harrison
> Executive Director
> Massachusetts Peace Action - the Commonwealth's largest grassroots peace
> organization
> 11 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138
> 617-354-2169 w
> 617-466-9274 m
> www.masspeaceaction.org
> Facebook: facebook.com/masspeaceaction
> <https://www.facebook.com/masspeaceaction>
> Twitter: masspeaceaction <https://twitter.com/masspeaceaction>
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Nate Goldshlag      nateg at pobox.com (replace at with @)
Arlington, MA       https://www.veteransforpeace.org

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