They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

Phoning It In

Skype, actually.

The trees outside are caked with great gobs of snow. The wind is enough that I keep seeing armfuls of snow crashing through the branches. Good decision to let the weather and the road crews have another day. Meanwhile, it's hilarious to see The Weather Channel worrying about the snow in Atlanta -- I can still see your footprints and the sidewalk -- and Savannah -- completely bare and green so far.

But with Western holding classes, I needed to do something with my 10am class. I'd given this some thought during my enforced time at home, while not knowing what kind of winter we'd get. ANSWER: over 70" here -- three times what we had this time last year -- and over 222" of snow up in the Keweenaw, where even Michigan Tech closed from what I've heard.

So... the plan was to field test this operation early on, except there hasn't been the time. Which means the field test had to be for reals operational.

Asus Eee PC (KATNISS) running Windows 7 set up with Skype. TWO Skype accounts, so that the remote laptop won't use someone else's Skype account and this one only had the link to my Skype account. I have a studio grade microphone, but didn't set it up. If there's a next time, I will have to see if Audacity can record the audio simultaneously while Skype-ing.

I called our lab supervisor who got a better laptop than his from our computer tech guy. They installed Skype -- and then couldn't connect. I had my Bluetooth Borg ear implant running on my cellphone, so we could talk and troubleshoot. Turned out that Skype was still logged into the 2nd account, not my first account. Easy fix. Then move into the lecture hall and hook up to the video projector.

NOTE TO SKYPE: It would be nice if you displayed the account name and not just the person's name.

Sound turned out good, even with the piddly laptop lid microphones. Lighting was an issue. A murky, but bright sun was coming up and we closed the nearest blind, but I forgot to turn on the halogen torch lamp. So I was lit from the side and backlit from the wall behind me. Next time.

The silly little webcam on the Asus did a really good job with reading equations I wrote on a small pad and held up close to the lens. Had to change the way I held them so as to not block the inset mirror view of my outgoing picture. I think I can change which corner the inset resides, too.

Whatever the remote laptop was, I could see pretty much the whole lecture hall or the board, but not both -- I chose the students. I suppose if there were two remote laptops I could use my Kindle as a muted monitor as the other remote looked at the blackboard. But that's getting complicated.

Overall it was an intense and productive hour. I estimated at least 60 of the 96 students were there.

We're living in the future. Now excuse me, I am going to record audio files of today's lecture for those who couldn't come...

Dr. Phil

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