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We are learning to telework, and even having fun doing it.

During the all-too-necessary move to more online interactions necessitated by the Covid pandemic, certain truths have come out. We've all become voyeurs.  Well maybe not become, we've always been curious on how their lives. Now we just have a digital way to do it. I do not spend much time in online meetings, but when I do, or watch contributors to television programs coming to us from their homes, I find myself checking out their homes. Don't you? Which is why I've greatly enjoyed following the Rate My Skype Room Twitter Account . It started, I suspect, as a lark by someone with too much time on their hands in April;  the early days of the quarantine.  I understand the author is a Democratic political operative,| B ut don't let that lead you astray.  Even if you ignore his commentary about the rooms,  his scoring and his occasional snark about the individual, the account gives you glimpses  into others homes. He mostly comments on those appearing on TV news program

Talking to your phone, and your computer, is starting to make sense

One of the great boons of smartphones is it brings computing and connectivity to entire populations that couldn't afford it before.  We've heard about farmers in places like Kenya and such that can track market prices of their products where they couldn't easily before. Banking and micro loans have come to populations that didn't have easy access to banking. Now through smartphones and the internet they do. After 40 years with either a laptop or a desktop computer, I don't see myself ever completely weaning myself off of a regular computer. Like those people whose first computer experiences were a smartphone, I am doing more and more with just my smartphone. In fact I'm writing this on my smartphone. No typing on a smartphone is not really conducive to large creation of documents. But I'm getting more and more adept at dictation. My Google Pixel 4A is  good at understanding what I'm saying especially if I'm in a quiet room as, I am now. I can even pu

I was right to wait. Pixel 4a is awesome. And sad news about Automagic.

Four weeks before the Pixel 4a's rumored announcement date my Pixel XL OG died, as I described in my last post. I really didn't want a non-Pixel phone so I waited for the Pixel 4a announcement. Thankfully it was made on August 3rd, the rumored date. I ordered within minutes of its appearance on the Google Play Store and it arrived on 8/19.  This is an awesome phone. At $350 it has 80% of the value of $1400 dollar phones. At that 20%, are things I do not care about. This review summarizes my feelings well. And in adding apps to my new phone, I just found out Automagic has stopped development. That is sad. It was my go-to automation tool for making my own widgets and more.  So I'm biting the bullet and finally learning Tasker. I had bought it years ago, but found the learning curve steeper than I wanted to climb.  It is still steep but there are now videos and more help documents, and I've already had several "ah-ha, that's how it works" moments in the firs

Managing without a Cell Phone

Funny how tech priorities change. In the first 30 years I lived from one PC to another. Starting with a Radio Shack Model I, then an IBM PC, then a long, long succession of PC compatibles; each faster than the last with ever increasing hard drives. The change from one PC to a new one was a sea change. Each so much faster and smoother. Now, I've been content with a laptop built in 2013. It has an i7 processor and 12 gigabytes of memory, so performance wise it is fine. I admire my foresight then to go big.  I do not game play or do high end video processing. I rarely use it as a laptop. Its hooked to two monitors and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.  My sole tweak to my home setup when quarantine and working from home started in March was a docking station so I could switch easily from work laptop to personal laptop. If I covet anything, its more and larger monitors. You can't go too large, or too many. After the fever of wanting a new PC passed from a every two year event, to three

This virus is like the dinosaur killing asteroid

We all know about the asteroid that slammed into Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, igniting an extinction event that killed 75% of the lifeforms on the planet, including non-avian dinosaurs. Imagine what it was like for the lifeforms that survived. Much of their normal food sources would be gone.  The climate would alter. To survive, animals found new, different food sources.  Those that could adjust to the climate survived, even flourished.  Those that could not adjust, perished.   The pecking order dramatically changed as old predators disappeared and new ones emerged. So much changed. Covid-19 is having a similar impact now. As bad as it is, hopefully this will be the most significant thing we witness in our lifetimes.  Millions are out of work. Businesses are shuttering.  Airline traffic is down more than 90%. Workers who can are working from home and finding it works well.  Roads are emptier. We are burning a lot less oil.  The air is cleaner. Wild animals are less

What's your isolation project? Mine is producing television.

A long, long time ago, I earned a BA in Journalism, with an emphasis in television production.  Before I could find a job in broadcasting, I started selling computers; a seductive business I am still in. About 2003 I bought two consumer video cameras and Adobe Premiere, a professional grade video editing application. . I was astonished at what I could do on my PC. I shot videos of my son's plays, productions done at the local Senior Continuing Care facility, a documentary  for my church, and even a few weddings. The cameras are now 17 years old. I cannot trust them to get through an event, so I no longer use them. For these last few weeks, I've been exploring the ability to do live television productions from your home. A lot of us are working from home, and using Zoom and other video conferencing systems.  What I'm looking about goes beyond.  I found a a free, open source program call Open Broadcast Studio (OBS).  It doesn't refer to itself this way, but for

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.