If its internet communication, we’ll give it a go.
Between October 2009 and February 2010 we held our meetings in the training room of a large company. High speed wireless internet connection, a large screen monitor and professional telephone conference facilities were all available. However, the offices were high security and we had to be inside the building by 6:00pm. This created some difficulties for those running late or unable to find nearby parking. Another problem was the set up of our equipment and testing of applications which eroded our meeting time. A moment-of-truth came when we discovered that the dial-up telephone conference facility was far superior to our computers for video and voice over internet communications.
Our physical March meeting was held at David’s house and included Mark who participated via Skype from his home. Back to our hodge-podge of technical equipment working through a wireless home network. It all worked well and the meeting was very successful. A great lift in spirits for the members.
Internet video meetings – not yet practicable?
Netmasters has persisted with Skype video to include remote members in our meetings. It works, but it is not very satisfactory. Members have Skype versions installed for Macintosh, PC and Linux computers, each with different qualities of sound and vision. Quality of two way video communication is not consistent enough for immediate interactive meetings. Skype audio conferencing was briefly tested with a third party joining from Tasmania (thanks Damian and Hilary!). Communication was clear with no hint of breaking up. I think we may use Video Skype for establishing social contact, but switch to audio only for the formal meeting. (See www.skype.com ).
In previous months we conducted video meeting trials using the DimDim webinar (web seminar) process. While DimDim provides an amazing service, it did not prove to be suitable for an interactive meeting. The severe line delay for audio and vision was the biggest drawback. (see www.dimdim.com ).
Pre-recorded podcasts a great success.
Perhaps Netmasters has turned a full circle. At one of our 2008 meetings, Michael recorded a speech on his computer webcam which was played to the audience via a USB memory stick. Netmasters pursued other internet options including interactive video meeting techniques for the next year. At the March 2010 meeting pre-recorded video speeches from Alan and David were presented. Bill demonstrated an audio iPod recorded speech.
Audio quality is the most significant criteria for a successful podcast. The home-made video recordings (using webcams and built-in computer microphone) were of fair quality. We will test a video from a HD digital camera next time. Members will need to check technical specs for their microphone for future recordings. Sound level and audio quality from an iPod or iPhone audio recording taken at a “live” presentation was not really suited for playback to an audience. Still, we are learning fast. Podcast results have been very encouraging and we will persist with both video and audio speeches.
A key feature was the use of Dropbox to share the files between members enabling the videos to be viewed at different locations. Playback at David’s house was straight off Dropbox. This is an excellent application for file transfer and sharing, but not all members could install the software. We will continue to use and recommend Dropbox. (see www.dropbox.com ).
Next meeting will be on 8th April at Alan’s house.