That's what the webcam is for.
I switch it on and stand up when the meeting time ended 10 minutes ago and someone is repeating the to-do's for the fourth time. It's a great visual way to wrap up.
I am going to expose myself. My apologies to those who may be jolted by my sudden shock tactics. As a regular reader, you understand how out of character it is for me to draw attention to myself. Normally I would shy away from such a thing as revealing all and laying it on the table. But now is the time to drop the drapes and …
One of the guys I work with has an excellent bluetooth headset, the kinds of which are denied to us mortals using Linux*. He always has the cam on, and will often just wander off to do other things around the house (no, not that), make a drink in the kitchen, answer the door etc. It's a little disconcerting, he looks like he's not there anymore, just an empty desk, and then a right on the point question as he simultaneously makes a smoothie.
* I'm pretty sure its got some proprietary codec that allows high quality audio + microphone at the same time, a codec that is just available for Mac and probably Windows. Me, even with my fancy Sennheiser cans I'm stuck with A2DP, which gives great audio but no microphone, or HSP, decent microphone but the audio sounds like I'm in 2002.
I just mute my mic, make sure there's no reflection visible, and then go browsing websites. Video-conferencing is the least information-dense way of communicating ever, short of an in-person meeting with five people who have no idea why they're even there.
During the first lockdown, nothing of value was ever done in the video meetings and they were there purely to "see people face-to-face". I used to STOP WORK in order to have them. And then someone would have to email round the meetings and/or meeting recording anyway, so I didn't even have to make notes when my name was mentioned.
As I've claimed for years, and have managed to prove definitively this year, many people work better from home because you don't have that kind of nonsense, and everyone's recording what they're saying so there's no backtracking, lying or ambiguity. You just ask them live "You know I said that would do X, you want me to still do that anyway?" and they can't wriggle out of giving you either an answer, or a time by which you can have that answer.
I got more done, in less time, with less objections and hassle, and less stress when working from home than ANY OTHER TIME I've ever been working. And that was literally the period of the most upheaval, turmoil, rapid-training of staff, unusual situations, new software, different systems, etc. ever.
But though I have Bluetooth headsets, if I was using them I would mainly turn on their secondary feature - they can play music from an internal card at the same time as they do Bluetooth audio from the computer.
Hmm - would love to know which BT headset that is, it might be compatible with Teams, which (apparantly) has yet to acknowledge the existence of bluetooth headsets with microphones.
(why the **** MS saw fit to give Teams it's own sound settings, and make them (apparantly) incompatible with the Win10 OS, I have no idea).
Don't get me started. I have a very nice Jabra folding headset that gets a firmware update about 3 times a month to try and keep it's hardware buttons working along with the rate of change of Teams. Right now I can join a meeting with the hardware button, but not leave it. Periodically the mute button doesn't work with Teams and I end up in "double mute" having to unmute both Teams and the headset to talk.
I've got a pair of Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones with a built-in microphone and bluetooth connection. I've successfully used them on Teams calls (on the Linux version of Teams), so some things work. I didn't try using the mute button on the headphones though.
I've had similar success with a cheap pair of MPOW BT noise-cancelling headphones. They're fine for calls, where there's a certain amount of lag anyway, and listening to podcasts, but far too laggy for gaming / watching movies. Because they're noise-cancelling they have a mic in them for the NC feed, which is surprisingly okay for using as a headset.
I have a pair (Alas in brown) of Plantronics Voyager 8200 (handy for meetings & journeys by plane (Not that anyone gets to fly anywhere these days - Icon departure lounge drinkies) that I neglected to bring back to work after Christmas & WFH.
I've got a bizarre ongoing issue with both Teams and Zoom where I (apparently) sometimes sound like a chipmunk. This was funny the first couple of times in April, not so much now. Almost certainly sample rate related, but very hard to diagnose as one-to-one or echo calls are usually fine, suspect it's partly caused by other people's setups (reliably happens in meetings where certain people are involved and not in others). Switching microphones (from webcam to soundcard) usually fixes it. Don't know if it's pulseaudio or buggy software (the soundcard is envy24 based, wouldn't be too surprised if something is getting set up for 96kHz and then being surprised to get half that).
The first time I saw this in action was standing at the urinals in the Ziff-Davis toilets next to Guy Kewney and he began talking to me in an uncomfortably friendly way, a little loudly I thought. I only realised he was wearing a (pre-Bluetooth) cordless headset when he zipped up, walked to the basin to wash his hands, dried them and walked out while still talking.
I remember when a guitarist I knew got his first wireless connection. He would walk off the stage and have a stroll round the pub.
One day he wandered in to the Gent's while playing, and realised that with a pull door he had to stay in there until either the song ended, or someone let him out.....
Two words: drum solo!
I was in the restroom at a tiny dive bar years ago. Suddenly the music of the insanely loud band got even louder. I glanced over my shoulder to see the lead singer walk in, cordless mic in hand, still wailing the end of a verse. Apparently he found a guitar or drum solo to be ideal bathroom break time.
Two missionaries found themselves in a bit of a pickle after they were captured by cannibals.
As they were tied up, the drums started, Two hours later the drums were still going. Into the night and the drums kept going.Next morning , the same, and on into the evening.
"Don't the drums ever stop?" one of the missionaries begged in exasperation.
"The drums must never stop." one of their captors replied.
"Why? What will happen if they stop?'
I got myself a very nice bluetooth headset which includes a cable for those times when the meeting lasts longer than the battery. Unfortunately what I didn't realise was that the cable only includes connections for the headphones and not for the microphone. Now when the battery runs down I have to sign out of the meeting, what a shame...and amazing how often that 'last gasp' of the battery comes in when people won't take 'shut the **** up' as a hint to stop talking
I splashed out and bought a wireless gaming headset (non-bluetooth), because (A) I wanted something more comfortable than the budget call-centre plastic tat one-ear wired headset supplied by my work, and (B) although you might not notice it in a call, BT has a noticeable delay which can be several hundred milliseconds. Enough to really screw with your head if you actually using it for gaming.
It uses some proprietary wireless dongle which does require plugging into a spare USB socket, which given the preponderance of things to plug into USB these days (mouse, keyboard, phone charger, etc. etc.) may exhaust the measly number of sockets on some laptops. However, with the amount of time everyone seems to be spending in skype/teams/zoom/whatever "meetings" it's a godsend to have something that doesn't make your ears sore and has decent sound quality.
It plays nicely with Teams as well, and apparently works under Linux.
As with such things, it wasn't cheap, and some might balk at spending £100 on a headset. You could probably claim the tax back on one if you could claim it was for work though...
edit - it comes with a 1.5m charging cable (micor-USB) as well so you can plug it in to charge and still move around for those really long meetings.
There is a doughty chap writing support for them into Pulseaudio right now. The poor bloke has had to stare down some right wankers. It is a bit involved but he is gradually getting it sorted out. Also I think some needed kernel changes have or are about to be merged.
For a flavour of what is going on:
The icon is what I feel like doing to a remote atoll in the Pacific after reading about 1/10th of that merge request.
Seriously, why do people cling so tightly to their broken dead code, then demand everyone else fix it???!!!
The bloke proposing and coding the changes in deserves a medal for dealing with that amount of hot garbage nonsense.
Now where did I put that time machine and SHRIMP...
The codec will be LDAC and it is available on Linux. In fact the best implementation is on Linux. It's an open source high resolution audio codec produced by.......Sony.
You just need a fucking expensive set of headphones for it.
Like the Sony WH-1000xm4.
I have those and use them on Linux. It's mind bogglingly good.
Needs some tweaking though as by default it's geared up to use "best effort" levels of quality for stabili...people with crap phones (I believe the Linux implementation of LDAC is based on the open source Android driver).
I've read a lot of tests of the LDAC codec and quite a few people that reviewed LDAC devices failed to also crank up the frequency range / bit rate on their devices before declaring it "not as good as AptX".
Firstly, your Bluetooth codec doesn't change the frequency range / bit rate for you...even for AptX...secondly you need an audio device capable of reaching high resolution settings.
I.e. if your machine can't do 24-bit audio, you aint gonna hear 24-bit audio. You're going to hear the quality your machine is capable of.
Same applies to the capabilities of your Bluetooth chip. If it can't do 990kbps solidly...you won't get high res audio.
The yang to the yin of meetings is the do not disturb status. In Lync and S4B it stopped people talking to you. As far as I can tell in Teams, it's just yet another status colour and doesn't actually do anything, so you can still get sucked into meetings anyway and have people suddenly jabber inane questions at you with no preparation because you're somehow regarded as the domain expert (i.e. you might have looked at it once). Yeah, thanks for badgering me on Teams, I was in danger of getting something properly finished.
On our work systems we have Skype for business (old set-up for internal IM's and calls), Teams (for customer support, although we can only join their meetings, we can't host external ones) and Webex (for customer support which we can host for externals).
The problem is everyone is so used to Skype and checking that, that we keep getting interruptions of people IM'ing and calling on Skype when we're in Webex or Teams calls as they of course don't change the "available" status on Skype.
I'm now getting to the stage of permanently settings Skype to "do not disturb" just to get anything done with the other two and actual customers...
I worked long ago with three generations of Linotron laser typesetters, but remember only the 202 and the 300. The ones I was acquainted with used photo paper, so a courier would have had to wait for the paper to be run through the developer. I guess the 300 might've output directly to paper, but it seems like a mighty expensive device to have used as a laser printer.
I was on assignment in Beijing in 1993 for the launch of a Chinese computer mag and there were no independent repro houses, only those in government-owned newspapers. So they had to buy their own Linotron filmsetter from a supplier in Hong Kong. It turned up accompanied by a pair of installers who spent the week shitting themselves because their parents were among those who had escaped the mainland and they were worried they might have trouble being allowed on the flight home. As it turned out, they were fine. They simply spent the week shitting themselves literally because the Mandarin food didn't agree with them.
I was stunned to see them here!
Not my cup of tea musically but we're close family friends with the drummer's family. He spent a lot of time hitting me over the head with a red plastic helicopter when he was a toddler. His mum likes to go to Glastonbury with him and his bandmates. :-)
I get the pleasure of asking everyone to turn off their video because it blocks me from the meeting and, seeing as they are waiting on me to complete development, they don't have much choice.
I have been in one meeting where some dimwit wouldn't turn his off and I kept saying, "Sorry, I cannot hear you, it is either see you or hear you, which would you prefer?" ...
As long as there's been meetings there's been monomaniac idiots who ask questions when everyone else just wants to get the Hell out of there and get lunch/go home/do some proper work.
Even the letters AOB on an agenda send shivers down my spine. Because they'll have some.
And if you have a crap chair running the meeting the AOB/questions/plenary can last longer the the actual meeting.
It's Friday and I now need a lie down.
Icon. For me. I deserve this now.
I did once accidently enable the cam after rushing out of the shower to take a skype call. Realised and turned it off almost immediately. The other person remarked later that it had been too quick to properly see what I was wearing, but whatever it was, it definitely needed ironing.
You've all seen him. He walks into a meeting with That Look on his face. He might be a bit overweight, and have a mustache. But one thing is certain: it's all about Him.
Usually it's a guy on the make. He'll write furiously when the presenter speaks, interrupt everybody else, and fire questions about why his project/team/company isn't getting a fair shake. He might say or do something that would get an ordinary mortal in hot water, but the brass don't know what to do with him so he gets away with it.
If and when it's all over you either feel inspired or scared. Some start checking the job listings. Others just shuffle back to their work and hope the fallout doesn't land on them.
"it involves crawling on the floor (where I keep my laptop, clamshell closed, of course)"
Why not use the laptop monitor? Even if you have a gadzillion pixel monitor on your desk, the laptop monitor can be a handy piece of real estate to hold things like you skype window, the attendee list of a meeting, your email, whatever. The screen's paid for, might as well use it.
It's complicated. I often use software that is processor-intensive and this sets the fans off at full blast. As well as being annoying, it means I have to shout over the noise when delivering online training or participating in a meeting. The optimum place to keep it is at my feet under the desk, raised on heat-resistant stilts to let air flow underneath and prevent it from burning through the floor like face-hugger blood.
I always find trying to use multiple monitors as well as the laptop screen is almost impossible. Either the monitors end up in an odd resolution, sometimes even a square monitor aspect ratio, or the laptop screen looks like a 640x480 EGA monitor from the days of playing Sierra Software games where I had to save every 14 seconds to avoid dying horribly or rendering the game impossible to complete.
Working from home full time now. Manglement LOVES Teams.
When we do TEAMS, most people turn off the camera. I like to blip it on and off once in a blue moon, and I do so wearing some sort of ridiculous headgear* and I effect to be distracted by something off to one side. Then I turn off the camera and whip off the headgear. If anyone says anything I re-engage the camera and act puzzled about why they are obsessing about "hats".
* I have a small collection of Elope soft'n'squishy hats: A pith helmet, an artful dodger floppy top hat, a wizzard hat[stet], plague doctor mask c/w wide brim hat etc
One of my graphic design colleagues streams his webcam feed via one of those 3D character apps and then into whatever vidconf software is required for the meeting. So we can see and hear him just fine, scratching his head, talking in all seriousness etc but it's an animated cartoon wolf or something.
Or the rare occasion I use a webcam, I use a greenscreen to set my background. The live background is variously the hog pen, one of the ponds, a very long distance shot of the Golden Gate (from a friend's place in the hills above Berkeley), my IBM 1401, PDP-11 or other old iron (depending on what is fired up and doing work at the time), a shot between a couple rows of tomatoes or grapes, one of the fish tanks, one of the many CalTrans traffic cams or cell tower cams, a street view of Sonoma's Plaza, or anything else that catches my fancy at the time.
Had this in hmmmm 2019.... All of IT going online from 3am Monday Morning for an external vendor migration of their system (Primarily to start sending out emails upon the successful migtration - A task I already automated & ready to run with powershell).
Having decided to catnap rather than outright go to bed & being fully dressed, there was great deal of hilarity over my choice of t-shirt (Ironically accurate) as it saved them all from having to email users individually, whereas my script did the job in about 45 seconds & really negating the need for them to be up half the night.
Why did you need a script to do a simple mail merge? Most reasonable MUAs (and a few unreasonable ones) have been able to do that since the early '80s, at least. The fact that your colleagues were planning to induhvidually send emails suggest to me that they be removed from computing devices until they have received at least a little bit of remedial training ...
I'm wondering when we are going to just go gamer, and have the meetings in Second Life or World of Warcraft. At least that way, we wouldn't have to present our monthly data in shabby house clothes and have entitled cats wandering about, all over the keyboards of various participants.
One company I consult for apparently has a private minecraft server that is partially used for meetings. I declined the invitation to participate, citing a couple of quick telephone calls being a much more accurate and concise way to send and receive information.
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