This is my take on the attitudes and actions that are prudent now and for the coming months of widespread contagion. First, adhere to the guidelines of the CDC.Continue reading
Here is an excellent overview by Johns Hopkins…
In my original post under this title, I may have been guilty of contributing to the “Epidemic of Armchair Epidemiology” described in the article linked below.
[Original Post is below]
I’m posting the following links with a caveat: it’s opinion, it’s the author’s viewpoint. Although it appears that the author has done his homework, the article was published in Medium, which is an open forum not subject to editorial scrutiny and vetting. It’s not peer-reviewed science and may not stand up to rigorous scrutiny. When you open the article you will see this statement: “Anyone can publish on Medium per our Policies, but we don’t fact-check every story. For more info about the coronavirus, see cdc.gov.”Continue reading
Misinformation is circulating on social media and in viral emails. This article provides links to credible sources for information.
Why “Social Distancing” is critical.
The Washington Post published three graphic simulations that clarify what a strategy of social distancing does to preserve our ability to cope with a pandemic. Slowing the spread flattens the peak load on medical facilities so that severely ill people can be treated effectively thus reducing fatalities. Reducing the percentage of people out sick on any given day is another benefit of flattening the peak of an outbreak.
If you click here you can view the animations that show how mitigation works.Continue reading
For most people, making zoom work is merely clicking the link in an invitation to a meeting. The rest happens automatically, all you do is follow the prompts. Easy?
Not always. Particularly for those who infrequently use the internet. The symbols, gestures, and words that are required to interpret and interact with a computer constitute a foreign language that’s not familiar. The glossary below demonstrates my point.
|Screen||The entire surface that displays computer images|
|Cursor||The arrow, pointer or place marker that moves with your mouse or follows the movements of your finger.|
|TouchPad||A touch-sensitive surface that controls the cursor. (Sometimes the screen itself)|
|Window||A rectangular region of the screen that can be resized, moved about, or stacked in layers on a screen.|
|Web Address||The location of a particular page of information in the World Wide Web of Internet information. (e.g.: https://zoom.us) Technical name: “URL”|
|Address Bar||When using web browser software, the region of the window that accepts or displays the web address the browser seeks to access. This is not the “search” bar which interprets typewritten keywords and initiates a search for relevant web sites.|
|Enter||The act of pressing the “Enter” key on the keyboard. (This key may be marked “Return” or may have a bent arrow symbol tracing a line down and to the left.)|
|“Click”||The act of tapping the left mouse button to select whatever the cursor is pointing to.|
|“Right-Click”||The act of tapping the right mouse button to view options related to whatever the cursor is pointing to.|
|Drag||The act of moving a graphic object on the computer screen by pointing to it with the cursor, holding down the left mouse button, and moving the mouse.|
There are many more of these terms, and many of them refer to an action originally performed with a mouse, but now refer to gestures performed on a touch-sensitive surface with the finger(s). We stroke and tap, not point and click.
It’s not realistic to think that people will take a course to learn how to use their computer or tablet to access Zoom. Coaches or guides are needed to help them acquire minimal familiarity and skills to get started.
Here are some useful links to use when installing Zoom.
The US CDC and the rest of us didn’t understand the contagion parameters for COVID-19 in the early weeks and masks were not thought to be effective unless they were N-95 masks that trap most of the virus when the wearer inhales or exhales. Now we know better.
We noticed that the intensity and duration of exposure to virus was related to the severity of infection. Healthcare workers who spent long shifts almost constantly in the presence of infected persons were at high risk. People exposed briefly, or at low levels, less at risk. So it appears that a guiding principle is to do all possible to reduce the time we are exposed, and to reduce the concentration of virus.
Problem is, about 40% of those who are shedding virus don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are contagious. If all wear masks, those silently infected are containing a large percentage of the contaminated droplets they exhale in the mask. Likewise, those who are not infected, are trapping some of the virus before it reaches their nose and mouth.
Add to these precautions careful hand washing, care not to touch one’s face, and social distancing measures and you have a very effective strategy for reducing contagion.
We cooperate to the common good of all concerned. Wearing a mask is a badge that says I care.
Read my opinion piece in The Generalist.
I’ve been doing larger Zoom events and this series of posts will document my experiments and discoveries and failures. A quick tour of Zoom’s website will reveal that Internet meetings are now a routine part of doing business because the pandemic has made in-person gatherings too risky.
For corporate clients Zoom offers not just the meeting platform, but also fancy meeting room gear to upgrade the quality of visuals and sound. Home users and financially strapped nonprofits have been scrambling to assemble similar functionality using free or cheap cameras, software, and studio gear.
This article will explain how to manage the logistics of presentations, performances, and mixed media productions using easily affordable gear. Here is a list of things I’ve accomplished on a shoestring budget. You may be surprised at what’s possible.
- Powerpoint slides on Zoom
- Video playback on Zoom
- iPhone as a live wireless camera for a PC
- Canon Rebel DSLR as a live webcam via USB cable (no overlays and not limited to 29.9 minutes uptime.)
- HDMI output of one computer as camera/video input to a second computer.
- HDMI output of a Verizon set-top box (STB) as camera input to a PC.
- Screen capture to video for instructional purposes.
- Live streaming of Zoom meeting/event to YouTube.
This is a list of hardware and software items you will want for your studio lashup kit.
- Zoom Pro account ($15/month).
- YouTube Studio account. (Free)
- Free conference call account (for crew intercom)
- Broadband Internet Connection(s) – Minimum speed = 10 mbs.
- Computers (2) with dual core 64 bit processor and Windows 10 OS.
- Zoom monitor device (iPad, iPhone, modest laptop, chromebook.)
- External camera with USB interface. (See Canon and iPhone options below.)
- Directional Microphone, lavalier, headworn, etc — any performer mic that rejects ambient sounds.
- 3.5 mm microphone extension cable 25′
- USB cable with powered repeater 30′
- Extension cord, powerstrip.
- HDMI cable 20′ (for performer monitor)
- Cam-Link HDMI to USB converter (Creates HDMI input for a computer)
- HDMI active splitter — one in two out.
- Open Broadcast Studio software (free download)
- Virtual Audio Cable (to pass AVio sound to Zoom or OBS.)
- 24″ x 48″ folding table and stool.
Where to get certain tools
This is an inexpensive iPhone App that transmits video from an iPhone to a PC with the free companion PC software. Your computer see it as an external camera.
Install and launch this software on your PC and then connect the USB port on the camera to a USB port on the PC. Set the camera to movie mode. Bingo, you have a high quality web cam with optical zoom. No, the camera’s mic does not work. Autofocus does work and the camera’s touch screen lets you pick what’s in focus. Most other settings don’t work – you must live with automatic settings the camera does.
Virtual Audio Cable [https://vac.muzychenko.net/en/]
I learned the hard way that the internal signal paths in a PC are not simple. Logically I assumed that audio that comes in on the HDMI to USB connection should be as available as the video signal. It’s not. The video connected immediately and instantly, but after initial success, I couldn’t make the audio connect reliably. Internet research revealed that this is a common problem easily solved with a virtual patch cable. This is a driver program that grabs the audio from one device and assigns it to another. Since you can’t predict when you might need it, buy it.
More to come
For the techies who read this, not much more explanation is needed. The tools themselves suggest how you accomplish the tasks I listed at the outset. I’ll provide some diagrams and narrative in a later post for those not inclined to experiment or willing to endure the frustrations of trial-and-error approaches. Stay tuned.
Your Cannon DSLR, and your phone can double as “web cameras” meaning that the video from the camera or phone can be used instead of the video from the camera perched atop the screen. This means that you have the flexibility you enjoy with those devices for shooting video.
Whether you are recording, live streaming, or hosting a Zoom meeting call, the ability to have a camera with digital and/or optical zoom lets you frame the shot properly and follow a performer’s movements.
You will probably need a separate microphone. There are many options. I use an inexpensive lavalier microphone or the shotgun mic I normally attach to my Canon Rebel.
Clean Image from a DSLR
Canon recently published software that camera owners may download from the Canon website free of charge. It strips away the overlay of menus and metering you normally see in the camera’s screen to leave only the image. Here’s a link to the download pages:
Should you have another make of camera, try a Google search to find software for the camera you have.
Phone as Wireless Video Camera
Actually it can be either wireless or connect via the USB port of your computer. What you need is a pair of programs — an app for the phone and a companion program for the PC computer. Though it’s not free, it’s far cheaper that any new camera you might buy.
If you add some free software, you can create a vidoe studio on a budget. Check out the following free video downloads:
Here’s a how-to video on live streaming with YouTube:
Here is the abstract of a new study. It concludes that COVID-19 is much more contagious than we believed.
“This is the first major medical voice to express this opinion. Dr. Shapiro is not just expressing a personal opinion, but that of the largest academic medical system in the country…over 40 hospitals (3 in Italy), 36 senior living facilities, #5 in NIH funded research, and 3.8 million insured lives in its health plans. We have a lot of data.
Only 5 minutes. https://wdrv.it/06fe241fb
He is careful not to claim this applies to already heavily infected areas on the east coast.” — Mark Laskow, Key West
Here is a review of free alternatives to the pricy Adobe subscription line. Though I still rely on my vintage Creative Suite 5.5, the state of the art marches on and some of these offerings have advantages that interest me.
This interview of a veteran reporter who has studied epidemics and knows the experts well reveals the scientific effort to fight COVID-19.
After surveying many YouTube videos for face masks, I condluded that I could design a better cloth mask. Many designs I viewed did not seal the gap between the mask and cheek bones — particularly when worn by someone who has a prominent nose, like me.Continue reading