OK Zoomer: My Zoom Pro Tips

I’ve been using Zoom on a daily basis for a while now. If you’re already a seasoned video conference user, these may help! These pro tips are focused on Mac OS use of Zoom, other platforms have similar functionality.

Gallery View

The default view in Zoom is called “Speaker View”. This keeps your view focused on whoever is speaking. Gallery View shows all participants at once. I prefer Gallery View for brief, informal team meetings.

In order to use Gallery View, you have to go to “Side by Side Mode” first. Then, you’ll see a button labeled “Speaker View” that toggles between Speaker View and Gallery View in the top right hand corner.

Speaker view, image taken from Zoom’s documentation
Gallery view, image taken from Zoom’s documentation

Keyboard Shortcuts

Judicious use of mute is essential for effective use of video conferencing. Don’t be the person who doesn’t mute!

The only two shortcuts I use on a regular basis (Mac):

  • Command(⌘)+Shift+V: Start/stop video
  • Command(⌘)+Shift+A: Mute/unmute audio

Zoom’s website has a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts.

Appearance

For the vain users, Zoom has a snapchat-esque filter for touching up your appearance.

Zoom’s claim:

The ​​Touch Up My Appearance option retouches your video display with a soft focus. This can help smooth out the skin tone on your face, to present a more polished looking appearance when you display your video to others.

Touch Up My Appearance  (Zoom Documentation)
Settings -> Video Touch up My Appearance, image taken from Zoom’s documentation

Office Ergonomics Review

Recently, I had a fair amount of back / neck pain. This surprised me since at $PREVJOB I was measured by a certified ergonomist and given measurements that were suitable for that setup.

I realized that it’d been several years since I was at $PREVJOB, and my desk and its contents have changed considerably. It was time to remeasure!

Some sites that helped me regain some comfort:

Ergonomic Office: Calculate optimal height of Desk, Chair / Standing Desk: This site has loads of graphics, calculators and details setting up a traditional desk as well as a standing desk.

Standing Height Calculator: While the Ergonomic Office site had recommendations for standing desk height, they differed from this site’s. This site had a better desk height calculation for me.

CBS News: Standing desk dilemma: Too much time on your feet? This article has lots of standing desk specific information that was useful about how to stand (and how not to stand). (via r/standingdesk)

The most surprising change for me was the 20 degree monitor adjustment that a few of the sites mention. This is a bit more important for folks that wear specific types of glasses like I do.

Finally, don’t forget about ergonomics in the car. During the holidays I had a lot of back pain but I wasn’t at my desk… I was driving a lot more than normal. I found this illustration by Lee Sullivan to be useful:

Remote Work Update

My desk.
My setup at home. Logitech Camera not pictured.

 

Over a year ago, I left San Antonio and started working from home in Lexington, KY. (previously)

AV Tools

Microphone: Still very happy with the Meteor microphone.

Camera: Purchased a Logitech HD Portable 1080p Webcam C615 with Autofocus. Works with OSX 10.9.4 well enough. The only pains were reconfiguring various VC software to use the new camera. Hangouts users, beware: every Flash update you must to set your non-default video/mic.

I enjoy the dedicated camera instead of using the one on the MacBook. I work with dual displays, and having to properly position the Macbook or worry about looking into the camera on the Macbook was a bit awkward.

Chat Tools

The majority of my collaboration is on IRC every day. My basic setup uses the Textual client connecting to a ZNC instance running on a server.

I like being very upfront with my status. The usual way I see this done via IRC is ‘nickname’ and ‘nickname_away’ or ‘nickname_zzz’. Don’t do this – it’s the digital equivalent of bad manners. IRC has /away builtin, just use it. Lots of clients are aware of ‘away’ status. ZNC has a nice module called ‘simpleaway‘- when you are not connected to ZNC, it sets your status away.

Turns out you can overshare. After I returned from being idle, help vampires sent messages nearly instantly. ZNC’s ‘antiidle‘ module helps counter this by hiding your real idle time.

Finally, our team worked on IRC bots. Some examples:

  • Single bot command to launch a telepresence/VC session with the entire team
  • Music player control
  • Fun sounds playing in the conference room
  • RSS feed streamed to channel for the team’s Redmine/Jira projects

Overall

Remote work is awesome. I’m thankful Rackspace gave me the opportunity for remote work. I’m also thankful the team I work made remote work painless and rewarding.