back to article Trust Facebook to find a way to make video conferencing more miserable and tedious

Facebook, a company perhaps not top of mind when it comes to enterprise applications, trust, or privacy, sees an opportunity to make the unloved video conferencing experience more convoluted, costly, and cartoonish. On Thursday, the social ad giant's Oculus division, having recently recalled millions of itchy foam inserts in …

  1. b0llchit Silver badge
    Facepalm

    VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

    I'm sure that FB will include some nice small print to the tune of: a) you must register your device with FB and be logged in when conferencing; b) continual quality assurance requires you to allow FB to monitor your device. Probably some additional terms apply, all in favor of FB, of course.

    Then, when all board members are distributing their lunches on the floor, a new targeted commercial will appear in the meeting, of course. After all, you did agree to the EULA and TOS by clicking through the mumbojumboblabla.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

      You can barely install the drivers / runtime for the headsets without a bunch of DRM disguised as the Oculus Store (and Steam for the Vive side of the camp).

      I had a medical VR project and it was all so horrible I decided to chuck all that scum away and leverage a much lower level technology called OpenHMD for a decent offline solution with a more deterministic lifespan.

      The OpenXR standard is also using OpenHMD as an underlying base these days. The fact that Facebook and Valve are even allowed to be members of the OpenXR group is criminal. These basta*rds have been an absolute disservice to the VR community.

      Microsoft isn't much better. The Hololens artificially over consumers the dying Windows-only UWP API making it a non-starter too for industrial / medical use. Even in sodding streaming mode. Absolutely pants! Bunch of clowns.

      So ultimately, if I wanted to chat, just give me an IRC client any day. None of this broken VR crap until these arses have gone on to something else they can suck dry.

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

        Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

        "and leverage a much lower "

        Leverage?

        Oh, you mean "Use"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

          Oh yes, he even came danegerously close to "utilise"

          :)

          1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

            Thankfully not a hint of "mindshare"....

            1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

              This just underscores that no one at Facebook actually does anything productive, so they don't have any concept of what it takes for a meeting to be of value.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

                "This just underscores that no one at Facebook actually does anything productive, so they don't have any concept of what it takes for a meeting to be of value."

                Their watchword is "sharing" when the watchword for corporates is "violate that NDA and you're toast, buddy boy". The first time a meeting is hijacked or bugged, the tech will only appeal to people that have "nothing to hide". I'm meaning besides FB who will keeping copies of the meetings to "share" with their "partners" and also have available in case of a subpoena from just about anybody that doesn't already have a pipeline into the backdoor.

                I would never want to discuss important company business via any network operated by an entity that is already known for doing dodgy things when it comes to privacy. VR doesn't add anything to the mix that makes that risk any more palatable.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

                  I would never want to discuss important company business via any network operated by an entity that is already known for doing dodgy things when it comes to privacy.

                  I would recommend avoiding any Microsoft communication products then. As far as I can tell, they've gone full throttle on intercept since they bought Skype.

        2. karlkarl Silver badge

          Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

          Hmm, "use" is quite a strong word ;).

          It needed significant work back then to use directly. It didn't provide a compositor and oddly enough all the signals it was sending to turn the headset on were quite scrambled.

          So I am going to go with "provided a solid foundation".

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

        if I wanted to chat, just give me an IRC client any day

        A _LOT_ of open source projects do just that!

        1. karlkarl Silver badge

          Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

          IRC just happens to be the most popular fully open source chat system.

          I feel that Discord and Slack have unfortunately eroded away the others to virtually non-existence.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

      But what happens if Fa[e]ceBAN decides to... BAN your company from their service, because you make rifles, or let certain kinds of speech go uncensored on your service, or gave money to politicians and causes they do not like... (etc.) ?

      Yes, this NEVER happens to ANYONE, right? I'm sure people in the board rooms of defense contractors and certain news organizations are just WAITING for this kind of heavy-handed EULA/TOS *LAND* *MINE* which can (potentially) have a negative impact on your JOB.

      As for me, I remember a room with a speaker phone only a decade and a half ago, and our meetings went just fine. No cameras, no distractions, just actual discussions between international participants.

      I do not trust Fa[e]ceBAN for a GREAT MANY reasons, not just those already mentioned by others.

      (aside from the Matrix-like imagining or WoW-like avatars being a major anti-work distraction)

      1. batfink Silver badge

        Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

        Bob - for once we're in total agreement!

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

          (see icon)

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

        "I do not trust Fa[e]ceBAN for a GREAT MANY reasons, not just those already mentioned by others."

        The same goes for companies such as PayPal. When companies take a moral stance and lock you out arbitrarily for not having the same views with no notice, that's a problem. I don't want a financial company telling me what perfectly legal goods or services I can or can't buy through banning me and making me work to retrieve my money from them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: VR meetings with an EULA and TOS

          That's why I am about to ditch Revolut. They've been hammered so many times on AML problems that they now go overboard, I assume to generate enough clamour for financial supervisors to lay off.

          I rather leave the company - now they have enough users they no longer seem to care about them.

  2. DS999 Silver badge

    Who is the target market for this?

    Young hip companies don't have anything to do with Facebook, that's their parents' social media. The people who use Facebook the most likely have zero interest in "VR meetings". Not sure anyone really does - how is that an improvement over Zoom other than not having to make your upper body and face presentable?

    If they had done this 10 years ago I could have seen some Silicon Valley startups using this, or if we had covid-09. They are too late, this will disappear without a trace by next summer.

    1. A. Coatsworth

      Re: Who is the target market for this?

      Wow, that "art" provokes an irrational fit of rage in me. It is clearly how a corporate waste of imagination (mis)represents what is hip[1] with the kids today.

      But on the other hand, even though Second Live's fad was short lived back in the day, it got some traction. As you put it, this abomination will be dragged behind the barn and shot pretty soon.

      [1] do kids still say that?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Who is the target market for this?

        "do kids still say that?"

        Whenever someone asks that question, you can virtually guarantee that the answer is "no, not for decades"*. So in this case, no, not for decades.

        *Common variations are linked with slight modifications:

        "do kids still use that [tech platform?" -> "No, not for years."

        "do kids still think that [insert straw philosophy]?" -> "No, if they ever did."

        "do kids still do that?" -> "Yes, of course."

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Who is the target market for this?

        do kids still say that?

        never try to be "Lame Dad" and speak like a teenager, because it will always come out wrong [at least it did when OUR Dads did it].

        I still like using hippy jargon on occasion... but mostly 80's. Totally!

        [so if you use YOUR generation's jargon, they'll get it and may actually use it themselves when you aren't looking]

        1. doesnothingwell

          Re: Who is the target market for this?

          "Lame Dad" is great when used sarcastically. That look on their not so little faces as they begin to grasp, it sounds ridiculous when anyone says "fo shizzle my nizzle."

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Who is the target market for this?

        "But on the other hand, even though Second Live's fad was short lived back in the day, it got some traction. "

        A comparison with Second Life was my first thought too. But on a much smaller scale. Just a meeting room instead of an entire world! Facebook seem to have lost their imagination when the best they can come up with is a small scale reinvention of a failed virtual world :-)

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Who is the target market for this?

        "But on the other hand, even though Second Live's fad was short lived back in the day, it got some traction. As you put it, this abomination will be dragged behind the barn and shot pretty soon."

        The VR thing might not make any sense until the technology is there to have something like what's described in "Snowcrash" or "Ready Player One". Until then, it's not even an interesting toy. Couple it to a privacy problem such as FB and it's really a loser.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Sucker's bork

    Why would you wear a helmet from Facebook? They are going to download all your thoughts.

    1. gobaskof

      Re: Sucker's bork

      Do you find the slight lag of video calls and the inability to effectively pick up on physical social cues makes online meetings unproductive and exhausting. We can solve this by replacing the video of someone's actual face with an avatar controlled by facebook. You can still work equally productively because we have projected a keyboard into your vision that is somewhat close to where your keyboard is. Good luck if you locate the home row with a glance rather than those little raised nubs.

      Zoom is fatiguing, Teams is clunky, JitSi is sometimes unstable, Google meet is a joke and doomed in 2-4 years. But whatever, I'll join a call if I have to. But this hellscape? Not a chance, not even if someone gave me a free VR jobby.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Sucker's bork

        Zoom is fatiguing, Teams is clunky, JitSi is sometimes unstable, Google meet is a joke and doomed in 2-4 years.

        All this makes me happy that I'm retired and even though I do some free-lance work, I'm not buried in all the corporate BS like this.

        I'll be looking for another article on this to say either it died or it's now pure ads even in meeting.

        I'll be damned if I'll go anywhere near Faecebook even with a 10 foot pole.

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: fatigue

        Zoom is fatiguing

        And then you go list the negatives of all the other teleconference systems.

        Based upon my own experience, teleconferencing is, and will ALWAYS be, inherently "fatiguing". Why? Because human nature: IRL people can move their bodies and show discomfort, and this can be perceived by the speaker to speed up the presentation.

        Teleconferencing misses all that. Plus, PLUS, people have a habit of blabbering and extending a teleconference topic under the belief that they have everyone's welcome attentions.

        Teleconferencing will ALWAYS be tedious because there will always be people who can not focus their discussions and be terse. Say what you need to, and get out.

        That works IRL because of the physical presence; in teleconferencing, people feel no need to rush, we have the time. Because we scheduled you for an hour, even though our data can be exchanged in 20 minutes or less. Since you promised us that hour, we have lots of time to kill

        In other words, you are all doomed. Cut the network cables now, folks, it will only get worse from here.

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

      Re: Sucker's bork

      Faecebookers don't have thoughts. They get told what to think by Faecebook.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Sucker's bork

        Oh excuse-moi. I should have said "they are going to download your new thoughts directly to your brain". You will suddenly have ideas what to buy...

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Sucker's bork

      Considering this is a free download, it is certain that you will be made to pay one way or another.

      With the facehugger eyeball tracking and the announced hand and keyboard tracking they may not be literally downloading your thoughts but may be using the app to provide a lot of behavioural data for an ML project.

      FB are at pains to make clear there will be no targetted ads or data used to inform FB ads but the detail is in what they haven't said it will be used for.

      To Feaceborg all data has value and is their 'Precious'.

      The bottom line is having paid 2.4 billion for OR they want it to provide some kind of return.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Sucker's bork

      "Why would you wear a helmet from Facebook? They are going to download all your thoughts."

      And still interpret them incorrectly.

  4. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Yay, second life is back

    It worked so well the first time. Can’t wait to see footage of the first meeting invaded by hundreds of of flying pink cocks!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yay, second life is back

      That would at least enliven some of the meetings I had to sit through. I must investigate how I can record an hour of myself looking interested and feed that insted of the camera, I'd probably end up looping a lot.

      That said, THAT would be a deepfake project worth considering. Rig it to a remote headset so I could still talk if needed (and so animate my "avatar") but I could do all sorts of useful things in or around the home, with 4G I could probably even go shopping without anyone the wiser.

      Hmm..

      1. JamesTGrant
        Happy

        Re: Yay, second life is back

        This guy!: https://youtu.be/b-VCzLiyFxc

        And he works for a tech company and they still didn’t realise!

        Also, what’s the point if no one looks like themselves, there’s surely no point?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Yay, second life is back

          That video was brilliant! Although, as he points out in the end, only really useful if your are very unlikely to be addressed directly, otherwise you spend more time preparing for and monitoring the the meeting ready to trigger the relevant clips :-)

          Now, if only we had real AI and proper, good quality, speech recognition. The no one would ever have to do another online meeting ever again! Just leave the automated AIs to have meetings for ever more.

          I believe at least one civilisation came to an end because the AI meetings just got bigger and bigger 'till they took over the entire worlds comms bandwidth and ate up all the available power, resulting in traffic lights failing, aircraft falling from the skies and the local equivalent of MTV shutting down causing the people to return to the stone age.[*]

          * One of the many quotes from The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy never actually written by Douglas Adams and therefore never actually seen in print before.

      2. doesnothingwell

        Re: Yay, second life is back

        "I must investigate how I can record an hour of myself looking interested"

        Film yourself watching a porn flick, something shocking you've never seen before.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yay, second life is back

      >>>flying pink cocks

      Did Farage have a Second Life account?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Yay, second life is back

        I thought he died years ago! Is he still around?

  5. Falmari Silver badge
    Devil

    Add on

    I wonder how long it will take before someone comes out with an add on/hack that will have naked Avatars.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Add on

      naked avatars " Toobin' "

  6. tel2016

    Zuckerberg had a reasonably good idea once

    and that was to create a simple website where people could chat with each other. Every idea he's had since then has been bad (for anybody who's not him).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zuckerberg had a reasonably good idea once

      Bill Gates v2?

      1. EatsRootsAndLeaves
        FAIL

        Re: Zuckerberg had a reasonably good idea once

        As Brian Glanville wrote of Sepp Blatter... 50 new ideas a day, 51 of them bad.

  7. EricB123

    Overly Polished Video

    I am so sick of seeing hyper slick videos promoting worthless products! It (almost) seems to me the more money they spend on the promotion video the less useful the thing it promotes is.

  8. FozzyBear
    Trollface

    I'm fine with the cartoonish quality

    To be honest most meetings I have to attend are a mix of looney tunes and WWE. As long as I can be represented by Yosemite Sam in the meeting I'm good

    1. John Hawkins

      Re: I'm fine with the cartoonish quality

      Heck yeah - my avatar'll be Yoyo Dodo

      Dunno what should be done with the Foghorn Leghorns of the workplace though; rooster soup perhaps?

  9. anonymous boring coward Silver badge
    Gimp

    Sounds good to me

    It it can make me look like I'm there, when I'm not (I already have plans for a nodding dummy head), I'm all for it. Perhaps the dummy will relay everything to my phone so I can be anywhere.

    I will also look really good, being about 33 yo, and a hunk with a six pack.

    What's not to like?

  10. Richard Jones 1
    WTF?

    Illusionary Crap for the Delusional?

    For some reason, I kept reading Horizon Workrooms as Horizon Wormrooms, need I say more?

  11. Warm Braw Silver badge

    itchy foam inserts

    That's my next password sorted - thanks!

    As for VR meetings - most meetings seem to strive to reach a point somewhere between the unreal and the surreal, so I'm not sure how the experience will be materially changed. I find most of them are only survivable by watching Gardeners' World with the subtitles turned on - so I tend to opt-out of screen sharing lest the other participants feel slighted to learn they are rather less interesting than potted plants. Though I suspect most of them are doing the same thing.

  12. anthonyhegedus

    Dreadful

    ...in the words of Marvin the Paranoid Android: "Sounds dreadful!"

  13. PhilipN Silver badge

    Enjoyed that

    and did not know American journalists did (British-style) irony.

    Learn something new...

  14. macjules Silver badge

    A suntanned Mark Zuckerberg

    You mean "Zucklizard who had just shed his old skin"

    FTFY

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "your table dynamically scales"

    I've been in Teams meetings with more than 20 participants.

    How exactly is that going to scale usefully ?

    It won't.

    Another "product" destined right for dustbin.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: "your table dynamically scales"

      How did you manage that ?

      It goes unstable for me above 4

    2. John Browne 1
      WTF?

      Re: "your table dynamically scales"

      Reminds me of Wallace and Gromit's "dynamic sofa scaling".

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPhuz8J9QuA

  16. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Joke

    typo

    Not Trust Facebook, I think it was supposed to say Strut Facebook ...

    Facebook walks around "with a vain, pompous bearing, as with head erect and chest thrown out, as if expecting to impress observers. noun. the act of strutting. a strutting walk or gait."

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The anticompetition aspect seems unfair. If it was anticompetitive then it shouldn't have been approved in the first place. So much money and time spent on correcting things that put people off creating a competing company.

  18. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Devil

    I actually quite like the idea.

    So long as I can virtually get out of the chair and give the 'production engineer' a big fat hug... around the neck with both hands....while using a darth vader soundbox saying "You have failed us for the last time"

    Wondering about making modifications to the VR headsets.....

  19. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    First, before I post this, I have an Oculus Quest 2, and am happy to use it.

    I don't think it's a good fit for most business though. Facebook's much touted business mode offers very limited multitasking , and can't currently multitask VR apps (surely the major reason one would buy a VR headeset). You can access your PC desktop, but while this is handy, it requires a specific logitech keyboard if you don't want to use the controllers to type.

    This horizon thing is an interesting idea badly executed. I prefer in person meetings. Why? Because you can see how people are reacting to you, often including a lot of signals that are obvious in person and possibly wouldn't show up on a camera (things like the way they are sitting and whether they are tapping their feet or fingers). You may not even be aware you are noticing these signs.

    Any kind of online meeting system (e.g. Teams) will hide most of those signals from you because they are probably occurring in a part of the other person's body that isn't on camera, and any noise they are making is probably filtered by the noise cancellation software.

    The Oculus software goes one step further. From what I can tell, it hides the *entire* person from your view, not just their body. You have no idea what they are doing unless they are doing it with their hands.

    Actually, I fail to see what value VR offers to meetings. If the graphics were good enough that if you (say) looked at a chair, and it looked like there was a person sitting in it, attending the meeting, that would be generally useful, and even cool. What facebook is offering is ,at best, a cartoon avatar for your. Can you imagine (say) standing up giving a presentation outlining the latest sales figures for whatever product to a bunch of cartoons?

  20. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff
    Trollface

    Remember Zoom Bombing?

    This will be way worse.

    See, "Judge Richard Posner visited Second Life to give a lecture on civil liberties in the post-9/11 era in a Greek amphitheater, ended up befriending a furry, and was attacked by a fireball." (https://twitter.com/slhamlet/status/1428502160241688577)

    Still, that is WAY cooler than Zuck's vision.

  21. steviebuk Silver badge

    Never seen the point of this

    I watch Tested on YouTube, have done for years when it was just Will Smith (not that one) and Norm. Then Adam Savage joined and it became even greater with his one day builds. Not many people took to Will for some reason but its not the reason he left. He left to start up his own business in the new VR world. What was it? It was/is essentially what Facebook have now done. VR for meetings or TV shows. Why? It really is a shit idea. People hate meetings. We've even developed standing meetings (never been to one) to stop them lasting so fucking long. Add the gimmick (and it is just a gimmick) VR they'll be even more dull.

    What would you do in office? Require everyone joining to own a VR headset? Or the company pays then everyone has to share. You're require to put it on (sharing) after greesy ted who hasn't washed his hair in months just used it. And you can't clean it as the wipes are out.

    Just no. Never understood why Will thought it was a good idea. But no doubt he'll end up making millions are FaceCloth will buy them out.

  22. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Is it just me?

    Or does anybody else wonder what happens when people need to don and doff their VR headset every 5 minutes to do things in the real world while on the meetings? I'm old school and find it useful to take and refer to hand written notes when in meetings if they aren't just done so somebody can feel important and talk about something that has nothing to do with me or my department. Even as an outside contractor I'd get dragged into these snoozefests until I made it very expensive in my contracts for me to attend unless absolutely required and only with a very small group.

    I get that knowing what's going on is important. The last real job I had, we held a company meeting every Monday morning. That was around 15 people on a conference call and it was kept very short. All of the department heads, and most of us were one person departments, gave a quick brief on where we were with projects and what we expected to accomplish that week along with asking for the input we would need. The company directors would let us know what the current priorities were and if anything has changed or might change. If those meetings were an hour, it would have been a long gab. 45 minutes was pretty common. We then all went back to work and got things done. Every other "meeting" was quick and to the point.

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