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Online/Virtual Travel Meetings?

We cancelled our March meeting due to Stay At Home/Shelter In Place orders, and our meeting location is closed for an undetermined amount of time. Now we are in April and I think we need to be prepared for this to be a lengthy period of no contact with others. I was thinking it might be good to do an online video meeting. Have any of the other groups considered this? I've never gone beyond FaceTime/Facebook messenger/Skype calls. I am hearing a lot about Zoom and suspect that may be a good solution. I am not great with technology and can use all the guidance people can offer. Is this feasible? Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Posted by
2445 posts

Our son had his 44th birthday party last week via Zoom for about 35 people. It worked pretty well and we are all set up here with an account. It was the first time we’d used it. Let us know if you need help, you could do a test with us prior to the meeting. Our daughter-in-law needed to start virtual teaching with her 100+ HS physics students using Google Hangouts two weeks ago so she made us members of one of her classes so she could test it with us. Let’s try a virtual meeting of some type Andrea.

Posted by
1366 posts

Hi Andrea - my group did a virtual meeting in March. We used Adobe Connect because I've used it extensively at work. I'll probably try Zoom because I know some people are familiar with it, so it wouldn't require additional setup.

The key with Adobe Connect was to make sure anyone on a laptop/desktop was using headphones so that their voice didn't create a feedback loop (basically an echo) when it was replayed through the webinar session.

In the week prior to our session, I opened the virtual "room" so that everyone could test their audio and video. Then when we started the sessions, we had fewer technical issues to deal with.

Posted by
2445 posts

I think the free Zoom has a limit of 40 minutes so that might need some creativity based on the typical length of our meetings. Do you think there needs to be a series of meeting hosts and invitations to have some 40 minute meetings strung “together”. Also when we did our long birthday party via Zoom last week one of our daughter-in-laws set it up with her paid account. However we could use it for more than 40 minutes as a participant.

Posted by
882 posts

Only one participant needs to have a zoom account and be the host. I don't have an account and I can access the meetings, but not host it. All you really need is a computer or smartphone with a microphone and camera. It's pretty fun though if you have a slow internet speed, it can lag the picture or freeze it.

Posted by
49 posts

Andrea, please be aware of the new phenomenon of "Zoombombing". Whether you adopt Zoom or any other videoconferencing tool, get to know the settings for meeting organizers.

Open-access meetings that anyone can join instantly by clicking a link are no longer recommended. Instead, use a setting like "waiting room" in Zoom, that lets you control who can enter.

Prevent participants from sharing their screens. You might even want to prevent them from unmuting their microphones. A participant would then use the "raise hand" feature, and you would unmute that person's microphone.

To meeting participants: another reason that meeting links are bad is that it's easy for a malicious person to e-mail you a link that looks authentic but that actually triggers an unwanted software download or takes you to a site that prompts you for private information.

If you receive a meeting link, don't click it! Instead, note the meeting ID number at the end, manually visit the appropriate Web site or launch the appropriate program, and then enter the meeting ID.

Zoom and many other videoconference platforms let you join meetings by telephone. If you must install a particular program, such as the Zoom client, use the official "application store" for your operating system, or visit the program's official Web site by manually typing the Web address. The name of the company will be at the very beginning or will come directly after a dot. Immediately after the company name will be a dot and a legitimate domain such as "com". If you see a hyphen before, inside or after the company's name, or an uncommon domain such as "in", "biz", or "cc" at the end, the Web site is almost certainly illegitimate. (You may recall a recent thread about a phony "British Airways Reservations" site that someone found after performing a Web search for "British Airways".)

Posted by
1366 posts

I just noticed that 40 minute limit with the free version of Zoom. The free trial of Adobe Connect - valid through July - has no time limit. It allows up to 25 participants. It is a bit tougher to set up a meeting, but I'm happy to help.

I like Mona's idea of stringing together a couple of free meetings on different accounts. Might try that suggestion!

Posted by
2445 posts

Andrea I can think of a couple of people in our group who may have a Zoom account. Maybe you should put out a notice of the April virtual meeting and ask the Sacramento group if someone would like to host with their Zoom account. If you find out that no one has an account we can brainstorm the 40 minute limitations for free Zoom.

Posted by
2445 posts

Lots to think about there, cognac. Thanks for the detail!

Posted by
20553 posts

We belong to a wine-tasting club in our neighborhood that meets monthly. Mostly just a ruse for a party with some "educational" trappings. However, we haven't met for two months. Last night one of the members organized the wine tasting using zoom. It worked very well for our group. We sampled the wines in the security of our dining room and discussed the merits of the wine via Zoom. Everyone had a great time. You have to be creative these days.

Posted by
7537 posts

Wow, so many responses so quickly! Nigel (hi Nigel!) FaceTimed me earlier in the week. Or maybe it was last week? Who can keep track of time anymore? Anyway, we discussed Zoom and how to deal with the 40 minute time limit. He said his work around was to end the meeting, then after a couple of minutes people could reconnect and a new 40 minute period would begin. We have 2 weeks to figure this out. Mona, we can do this!!

Posted by
23243 posts

Getting around the 40 minutes is easy.

10 minutes, and 2 minutes prior to timing out the host gets an on screen message. Agree to “End” the meeting just after the 2 minute warning. The host ends the meeting and after a minute restarts the meeting with the same meeting number - and password if used - and everybody rejoins, and you are good to go for another 40 minutes.

That’s all legal and above board.

Posted by
4494 posts

Andrea,

Consider ‘Google Hangouts’ which I believe doesn’t give you a time limit.

I’m not tech savvy, so can’t help you with details. One of my sons helped me set it up and it works great!

Stay safe everyone!

Posted by
16563 posts

I have read (but not confirmed) that the time limit on Zoom meetings may not be imposed if the demand is not heavy at the time of the meeting. It's possible that travel-group meetings held outside business hours may be able to run longer.

Posted by
5304 posts

It's possible that travel-group meetings held outside business hours may be able to run longer.

Just a reminder that Zoom is being used worldwide, so “outside business hours” in the States may well be during business hours elsewhere. Maybe it doesn’t matter for example if they have set up different regional servers, I have no idea.

Posted by
12 posts

I have been using Zoom to keep in touch with my students. Since most schools are closed, Zoom has eliminated their 40 minute time limit. They have also enabled the virtual waiting room feature for added security. I would also recommend using a password.

Posted by
7537 posts

Thanks for your replies everyone. I've been sewing masks all day so I have had a chance yet to look into the various possibilities. I appreciate all the the advice.

Posted by
239 posts

Hey Andrea and Mona, hope you and your families are doing well in midst of current events. I can web-host our Apr 18 get together; there's no time restriction on my Zoom account, so we won't need an egg timer. ('40 minutes' ???? It usually takes us that long to order coffee and chit-chat while finding a place at the table!) 😄

If you want to PM me with email addresses of our usual suspects I can send out Mtg Invites to the group . To attend, everyone would just need to download Zoom app ahead of time and have their account set up. Europe thru the back channel... such are the times.

Posted by
945 posts

I've used Zoom a bunch recently and it works pretty well.
I'm an irregular attendee in Sacramento but would be interested in seeing everyone.
Andrea, can you send Matt my email? Thanks in advance.
And stay well everybody!
SharYn

Posted by
7537 posts

Hi Matt, we are doing well and keeping relatively busy around the house. I hope you and your family are doing well. I will take you up on your offer to host our meeting. That way we won't have any worries about time restrictions. I can give you the emails I know. Others that are interested can PM you their emails. Since we missed Ms. Jo last month she might be interested in joining. For that matter there might be others from afar that would be interested. I'll post the meeting announcement ahead and you can give me instructions or you can give instructions in a reply. We might have more months of this and since we are all stuck at home there are no excuses why people can't join us.

How are you feeling about your September trip? I won't be surprised if Oktoberfest gets cancelled.

Posted by
239 posts

Sounds great, Andrea. Yep, with each passing week the reality is setting in that the beer we had planned to enjoy at Oktoberfest (and in Bruges/Ghent beforehand) will be quaffed at home, courtesy of BevMo. Maybe our dog can dress up as the Münchner Kindl and parade down the driveway. 👀

Posted by
7537 posts

Matt, I haven't given up on our trip...yet. We won't save any money by canceling now. A decision will have to be made by early August. I have an idea. If we both have to cancel our trips we can do Oktoberfest together here!!

Posted by
12 posts

Due to COVID-19, I started using a free version of zoom but subscribed to their paid account because of session limitation. The zoom’s free session is a maximum of 40 minutes. But recently, I read an article about zoom’s vulnerabilities, and after that, I started using Google meet. I would suggest people use Google hangouts because it is more reliable and effective for a meeting.

Posted by
4351 posts

But don’t all of these platforms require only One Person At A Time to speak? That’s not our group! With our regular 20-30 attendees (plus possibly more from farther away), a virtual video chat sounds extremely unwieldy and unrealistic...

I’ve only seen these used for business meetings where only one person at a time is speaking; when 2 people accidentally speak at the same time, you can’t make out what either one of them is saying.

One thing I can say about our group - whenever we reconvene in person (and most assuredly with social distancing in place), we will ALL return! We'll need even more tables, though... ;-)

Hang in there, Everybody, stay safe and Stay Home (if you can; if you can't, Thank You for the work you do!)!