Much in the news these COVID Days, has been a computer program, called “Zoom”.
What on earth is Zoom?
This system is one of a number of different devices that allows a group of people to “meet” from the comfort of their own homes. It’s called Conferencing Software. Another well known one is Skype. Microsoft Teams and Jitsi are also players in this market.
Every member of the conference will log in to a central computer using a unique code. To communicate, you’ll need at least a microphone. A camera is an additional option – but it’s not strictly necessary – and if you only have a slow broadband connection (as quite a lot of us do, out in the sticks), it can slow things down quite considerably. A pair of headphones or earbuds is also useful. Some earbuds actually come with a microphone built in; you often get them bundled with your new smartphone. Have a look in the drawer!
That central computer will then broadcast your pearls of wisdom to all the others who have logged in. Ruby and the Cononley Singers have used this quite successfully. She says,
“We had a Zoom and next week we will have a virtual sing-in which could be a laugh seeing as there’s a lag on Zoom.”
Jill and the Skipton Choral Society have a regular Monday rehearsal which seems to go quite well. A number of bell ringing groups use the system in conjunction with another program to ring together.
Recently, Zoom suddenly got a fair bit of negative publicity on security issues.
Security is always an issue, especially with any application that is sharing data as we are doing when conferencing. There is always a possibility, if you are sharing material on the InterWeb, that someone can get hold of that information. Problems can arise when organisers don’t keep tabs on who has logged in – and if participants share sensitive details. There is far more danger, in fact, in a standard straightforward email. Most of the problems with Zoom really boil down to that old acronym; PICNIC. Problem In Chair, Not in Computer. For these reasons, a group I’m in use Microsoft Teams rather than Zoom; I think that’s only available to some MS users; I prefer another program called Jitsi, which has not attracted the same negative comments.
Any of these programs, properly used, will make a great tool for communication. Why not set up a family “conference”? It’s much better than peering at a small mobile phone screen! Many groups of people are finding how useful it can be to be able to meet without travelling.
Today, that’s a necessity, but when restrictions are lifted, several of those groups may well decide not to burn petrol but to continue to meet in this way.