Sat, Jun

Virtually impossible

Am I the only person alive who suspects there’s a conspiracy to pretend that Zoom is easier to use than it really is? The young Moles keep extolling its simplicity and yet, when the link inviting me to a virtual meeting doesn’t work, they just give me a patronising shrug of their shoulders, look as if I’m making it all up, and ask if I’ve restarted the laptop.

Such complications are particularly embarrassing because Mole Graphics prides itself on technical expertise. My usual response is to blame the wi-fi which, for its tardiness and all round unreliability, has become the 21st century equivalent of British Rail (but sadly without the individual fruit pies). 

One thing I have learned from working at home is that both broadband and wi-fi are slower than I had previously thought. I even started monitoring broadband speeds so I could complain to my provider. After a few hours and many irritating questions - yes I have tried turning everything off and on again thanks very much - I rejected the contention that I was using too many devices and was promised a new high speed router, which did arrive but made no discernible difference.

Most clients sympathise with such travails, a few offer suggestions (yes, I really have turned everything off and on again), some look scornful and a minority helpfully message me saying “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU” (always in capital letters). 

It’s harder to shift the blame when the camera goes dark, you appear on screen as a grey ghost or are seen pressing the microphone button in panic. And then there’s the key question: how much of the screen should be filled with your head? Some say less is more but, so far, I have opted for more is more.

I find Microsoft Teams easier to manage than Zoom. Google Hangouts is okay although, contrary to Einstein’s famous definition of insanity, you can do exactly the same things and get completely different results. 

One aspect of what everyone is calling the ‘new normal’ - even though none of us agree on how new or normal the ‘new normal’ will be - is that virtual meetings will remain a part of our working lives - and that means I’m going to have to get a lot better at them. Wish me luck. I’m going to need it. 


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