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Do you want to rock your video conference?

With thousands, millions? working from home, video conferencing is the glue holding what office productivity there is, together.  Thankfully at my job, we do not do video, only chat and screen share, but many are doing video.

People are using the built in camera in their laptops, and the lighting in the room.

And they look horrible.

I watched an episode of TWIT.TV's now cancelled How-To series where Fr. Robert Ballecer, SJ, and Megan Morrone show how to setup an affordable video/audio streaming system for under $300.

Some of the products they show are no longer available; they made the episode in March of 2018.

They cover the fundamentals of setting up an environment that will make you look good to your colleagues.  Their pointers start with the most critical thing, that most do not think about, good lighting.

You can see the show here, and also links to the products they mention.


It's 2002 again! I'm back in the home office.

"Hey son", I yelled when I came in last night, "do you remember the working-from-home rules?"

"Fire & blood" he answered.

My team went 100% teleworking beginning today. For me, it was 2002 all over again.  Back then, my group was spun off from the larger company when the founder sold it. He retained my small group.  Being the only person on the East Coast then, he asked if I was willing to telework.  I did it from my utility room because that is where the internet line came into the house.  Wifi did not really exist then.

Little did I know, I'd be in that utility room, I mean home office, for eight years.

My son was 12 at the time. The first day he was home from school while I worked, we worked out the rules. He could come in and if I wasn't on the phone, he could say hello, ask a question etc. If I was on the phone, he could not interrupt me unless it involved fire or blood.  A simple enough test.

It worked well. He never had to interrupt. Al…

Don't charge your phone at the free charging stations at airports and other places

It is tempting, when low on battery, to take advantage of the free charging stations at airports and cropping up elsewhere.

The problem is, that USB cable that charges your phone, can also be a data cable pulling your data out of the phone. Passwords, credit cards, photos, location history and more can go to who knows where.

I'm not saying airports are evil. Those stations they so generously offer may have been compromised by a bad actor.

Instead, take a power block and look for a regular outlet. Or, and I'm a huge advocate of this, buy a portable charger.  A portable charger is just another battery, a large one as big or bigger than the phone itself you carry in your bag and use when necessary.

The New York Times warned of this in November 2019. (behind a pay wall).

Want UTC displayed on your Android phone?

The clock on Android phones does not have a setting for UTC or Greenwich Mean Time.  Yet so much of our global community now use it to tell time of events enjoyed across time zones.

Simple trick: Iceland uses GMT/UTC and does not have daylight savings time. Set your clock to Iceland or Reyjavik time and you're set.


iPhone 11 as an interview tool

I'm not an Apple fan by any means, but something Leo Laporte said on Sunday's "This Week in Tech" aka TWIT, got my attention.

As Android Central described it :

with the new iPhone 11 and "with the popular third-party app Filmic Pro. You can film with all three rear cameras and even the front camera at the same time, saving each feed as a separate clip to then edit at will in post-production. "

Laporte mentioned that would be awesome for interviewing.  I think he is right.

I'm in the Google camp these days. And I don't need this feature currently, but maybe the Pixel 4 might have something like this as well.  Here's hoping.

Update : Looking at this a day later, I realize I failed to clearly state the use case. Imagine you were a journalist covering breaking news, and all you had was your phone, no crew, no fancy video and sound gear.  You could hold the phone up to an interview subject and record them, as you can now of course.  But the other camer…

The adventure of the Pixel OG Speaker that was always on

One intent of this blog is to record issues I've encountered and solutions I've found for future suffers of the same issue who find me via search.

Issue : Original Pixel XL in speaker phone only mode
Resolution : resolved

My original Pixel XL manifested a new issue lately. The speaker phone was always on except when hooked to Bluetooth.  If someone called, and I answered, it was in speaker, and would not switch to private.

Googled for answers and found none. So I chose to do a factory wipe. Always a good idea from time to time.

Checked to make sure I had a current backup to my Google Drive. Nope, and the "Backup up now" button was grayed out. Googled for an answer.  Found it. Basically, turn off the lock screen security.  Oddly, that worked. If that is by design, the logic escapes me.

Backup completed, I started the factory wipe.

It is still going on 18 minutes later, installing apps now, but the speaker phone issue is resolved.