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  • Keeping in touch — from a distance

    Posted on Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Keeping in touch — from a distance

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      • #2223681 Reply
        Tracey Capen
        AskWoody MVP

        SOCIAL NETWORKING By Lincoln Spector Social distancing wearing you down? Consider how much more difficult staying home, possibly for weeks or months,
        [See the full post at: Keeping in touch — from a distance]

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2223702 Reply
        Stephen Yeo
        AskWoody Plus

        The discussion of Zoom’s virtual backgrounds is a bit misleading. There seem to be two situations

        1. You have a powerful, recent vintage computer. In this case your computer can distinguish you from your background and substitute an image of your choice as the background
        2. You have an older, less powerful computer. In this case you have to transform your background so that it is just one colour, and then you tell Zoom what the colour is. As long as the real, physical background is one colour, then Zoom can distinguish you from your background and substitute the virtual background. (Of course this only works you are a different colour from the physical background, otherwise parts of you get substituted out for the virtual background).

        In practice I fall into category 2. All I did was take a piece of string and run it from one wall to the other behind me, and put a blue bedsheet across it (Zoom recommends a green physical background, but other colours will do). After you do this and tell Zoom the colour of the sheet, the virtual background works perfectly. There are other, more professional ways of doing the same thing involving photo background screens that you can purchase on Amazon or Ebay for $25. If you are doing Zoom calls all the time, you might want to invest in such a screen, which comes with a frame or attaches to the back of your chair.

        Once you have a monochrome background behind you, Zoom’s virtual background works perfectly, and you don’ t have to hide the dirty dishes in the sink.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2223704 Reply
          access-mdb
          AskWoody MVP

          This reminds me of a Mad Magazine cartoon from the 70s. They were speculating about video phone calls and what would happen. They showed a man in a pub/bar/inn telling his wife he was delayed at the office. Behind him was a large picture of his office. They may well have had other examples (the 70s was a long time ago!) Where Mad magazine went, we all followed! No personal computers then!

          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2223706 Reply
        Stephen Yeo
        AskWoody Plus

        Zoom has just added a video of a tropical island (palm trees, surf, white sand) which is fun. I created one with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, so I can look a bit like a BBC newsreader.

        It is a strange world we are now living in.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2223709 Reply
        Chris B
        AskWoody Plus

        I agree with Lincoln’s conclusions. We have a social club of older guys and, after checking out the alternatives, also came to the conclusion that Zoom was the best tool for us to continue activities during the shutdown.

        I would add that Zoom have removed the 40 minute limit on meetings until 1 July.

        There has been quite a bit of discussion on security on Zoom on another thread, started by Susan Bradley. My own view is that Zoom is OK for social use, as indicated in this post:

        Patch Lady – should we be concerned about Zoom?

        Chris
        Win 10 Pro x64 Group A

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2223739 Reply
        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        I am thankful that I have the kind of job that allows me to work entirely from home; and that I have reliable phone and internet service.

        My church broadcasts Sunday services via Facebook, so that only a handful of people actually have to be on site.

        Life would be a lot more difficult without the internet in a time like this.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #2223749 Reply
        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        “Social distancing wearing you down?”

        Not at all.  I was social distancing decades before the term existed!  Introverts, ya know… we’re real!

        Not being able to get toilet paper and my preferred grocery staple items gets on my nerves, and the stock of the substitutes I can find for those staple items is limited, so I end up having to shop much more frequently now than I did before all of this, and I really hate grocery shopping, even under the best of circumstances.  That kind of thing bugs me, but socially, there’s no change between what I do now and what I have done for years.

        “Consider how much more difficult staying home, possibly for weeks or months, would have been 30 years ago. Without the Internet, we’d be much lonelier.”

        Mouse in your pocket?  <grin>

        I don’t really get lonely.  I’m not sure whether I’ve ever actually experienced it.  Boredom would be a lot more likely, though I am pretty resistant to that too.

        Thirty years ago, I was a member of QuantumLink (on my Commodore 128), then when I built my first PC that same year, I switched to Q-Link’s sister service, PC-Link, which was soon merged with the (then) Mac-based service America Online, years before AOL became an internet provider.  The things I use now to keep in contact with people (email and talking by voice on the phone) were available to me then also.  I’d managed to cajole the people I was interested in communicating with to join AOL so that we could use that to exchange email.

        As never before, video chat services such as Amazon Chime, Apple FaceTime, Facebook, Google Duo, Skype, and Zoom are helping to keep us together. Your family and friends might be spread all over town, the state, the country, or even the world, but thanks to the Web you can still talk to them all face-to-face.

        The only two of those I had ever heard of were Apple FaceTime and Skype (obviously I’d heard of Facebook, but I had no idea they had a video chat function), and the only one I ever used was Skype (for Linux), twice, to cheer up my father in the hospital when I was not able to be there personally.

        I’ve seen some of those “introvert life” quips about how the “stay home” thing was driving introverts nuts, not because of the isolation, but because now their other (extroverted) family members NEVER LEAVE, and they’re constantly wanting to talk, hang out, or do something, all the time.  When they get a call on one of these video chat services, they can’t not take the call and pretend they’re not home if the person on the other end knows that they are!  Once the call starts, they can’t just do the perfunctory chit chat and then cut it short by claiming to have somewhere to be if the person knows that they don’t.

        They’re presented as humorous, but I don’t doubt for a moment there’s more than a grain of truth in these anecdotes.  I’m fortunate enough to live alone (four-legged household members excepted), and to have never started any of these services in the first place.  Same’s true of SMS text messages… I never started accepting them, so no one who knows me expects to be able to use them.  Gotta nip that stuff in the bud!

        Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.18.5).

        4 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2223947 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Back in the Eighties and early Nineties, besides attending to personal family matters (spouse, children…), there was: reading books, magazines, listening to the radio and to one’s favorite music with record players, having conversations with friends and relatives over the telephone, watching TV, exchanging ideas with people of similar interests through electronic bulletin boards, having letters written and sent, letters received and read, learning to play a musical instrument, solving acrostics and other puzzles, playing cards with fellow inmates, or else solitaire… Also whatever one had to do to earn a living working from home (already possible for some, myself included), and doing one’s taxes and all the other annoying but necessary things one has to deal with week in week out… Given all that and assuming weeks spent mostly indoors (not the case in those days for reasonably healthy people) that probably would have been no more annoying and tedious than it is today. Maybe less so? Who is to say?

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2223771 Reply
        pHROZEN gHOST
        AskWoody Lounger

        30 years ago people watched TV and used the telephone wired to the wall.

        Byte me!

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2223853 Reply
          Charlie
          AskWoody Plus

          Yep, and back when there were a lot of good TV shows to watch and not remakes of those shows that the networks are trying to pass off as something new, or even better.

          Win 7 Still Alive, x64, Intel i3-2120 3.3GHz, Linux Mint 19.1

          • #2223862 Reply
            AmbularD
            AskWoody Plus

            If this happened then, I imagine we’d see a huge upsurge in interest in technologies like walkie-talkies, CB and Ham radio.

            Also, dial-up BBSes already existed in the mid-1980s, and precursors to them were in use as far back as the 70s.

            i7-4790k - Z97X-Gaming 3 - DDR3 2133 x 32GB - GTX 1070 FTW - Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1 ESU

            1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2224007 Reply
          The Surfing Pensioner
          AskWoody Plus

          I can still remember listening to my grandpa’s crystal set. Don’t laugh!

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2224012 Reply
            Chris B
            AskWoody Plus

            What do you mean – your grandfather’s crystal set? I listened to my own when I was a kid!

            Chris
            Win 10 Pro x64 Group A

            2 users thanked author for this post.
            • #2224024 Reply
              Charlie
              AskWoody Plus

              Me too.  My grandfather had a big beautiful wooden console vacuum tube radio that picked up AM and many shortwave bands.

              Win 7 Still Alive, x64, Intel i3-2120 3.3GHz, Linux Mint 19.1

      • #2223798 Reply
        geekdom
        AskWoody Plus

        May I suggest creating email “round robin” information where everybody in the “to” or “carbon copy” receives the same mail. It’s slow, but lends itself to writing precision, reflection prior to answers, and avoids the current visual media difficulties.

        G{ot backup} TestBeta
        offline▸ Win7Pro SP1 x64 Storage
        online▸ Win10Pro 1909.18363.836 x64 i5-9400 RAM8GB HDD Firefox78.0b2 Windows{Image/Defender/Firewall}
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2223861 Reply
        AmbularD
        AskWoody Plus

        On the topic of staying in touch, I do think Discord merits a mention.

        I haven’t played around with whatever video capabilities it has, but not everyone is comfortable being on camera (or owns a webcam) anyway, and it has familiarity going for it.  I and most people I’ve talked to had literally never heard of Zoom until the pandemic hit, but even if I wasn’t already using Discord, I know at least three or four people in the face-to-face world who are, and who’d be able to help me set it up.  We recently helped an isolated friend with some learning disabilities who’d never used a computer before get up and running with it, and he’s doing pretty well.

        i7-4790k - Z97X-Gaming 3 - DDR3 2133 x 32GB - GTX 1070 FTW - Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1 ESU

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2223929 Reply
          Mele20
          AskWoody Lounger

          I’d never heard of Discord. I went to the website on my computer. Why in the world would anyone want to visit DEATH in a time like this? The site is HIDEOUS. Black is the color of death and I can’t stand black backgrounds with white font…those stupid sites think it is “cutesy”. It isn’t even in better times. Black backgrounds (even what is at this site since this site is still not designed for wide screen monitors) make my eyes sting and burn. I can tolerate it here because it is just two wide black columns and the middle part here is white with black font and a goldish color for where the lists of recent replies, etc are.

          • #2223932 Reply
            AmbularD
            AskWoody Plus

            Some folks find white text on a black background easier on the eyes than the reverse.  But the app has a nice cheerful white background theme available, if that works better for you.

            i7-4790k - Z97X-Gaming 3 - DDR3 2133 x 32GB - GTX 1070 FTW - Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1 ESU

            • #2224052 Reply
              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              (1) About what helps one use a computer screen without tiring one’s eyes: I tried it for a while, white on black; then I tried black on light gray. Then I went back to black o white and a slightly dimmed screen, because, it turned out, this tires my eyes less than the two other alternatives.

              What has worked for me always, but the applications I have seen for changing colors do not offer, has been: (1) gold letters on black background; (b) black letters on a light orange-beige background that I can adjust myself with a color wheel.

              (2) On keeping in touch at a distance: has anyone been playing chess or checkers with others over the phone?

              Or online?

              https://cardgames.io/checkers/

              Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2232733 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        Word of advice on video chats when calling your older relatives: Call on a voice-only line first to prepare them for the video call, as they may be indisposed and not realize that an incoming video call is going to turn on their front-facing camera. Trust me, what you see next can stay with you pretty much forever …

        • #2232786 Reply
          wavy
          AskWoody Plus

          Oh oh yeah avoid the unintended video call. I managed to do a facetime accidentally with someone with a severe case of Shingles.

          🍻

          Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
        • #2232810 Reply
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          That depends on the application. With Skype, for example, there is a notification of an incoming call, and then the person receiving it can choose to answer the call or not; if the former, the call can be set up by the recipient as audio only, or as audio and video. Also there is a voicemail for the callers to leave messages if the would be recipient is not around to answer, also forward the message to another number. I imagine that Skype is not the only one like this, but not all are; so it is better to keep also in mind Anonymous Guest’s advice when choosing the application:

          https://support.skype.com/en/faq/FA34859/how-do-i-answer-a-skype-call

          In any case, it is better to have a pre-arranged time for making those calls to relatives or friends, so the called party can be ready and waiting; for unexpected things, particularly urgent ones, a regular telephone call works.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

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