Stop Drowning Online During Isolation
Rita Celli and I invited callers on CBC’s Ontario Today to talk about the challenges they are facing stuck inside, physically distant but trying to stay close socially.
We tackled how to play music together, ideas for hosting a birthday party online, how to host breakout rooms during a synagogue service, and more during this engaging lunch hour call in show
Or you can listen to this episode on the show’s site.
[00:00:00] Rita: good afternoon. I'm Rita Celli. This is Ontario today.
[00:00:04] Mark: We're very weird situation where we're completely physically isolated for technology. Offers us a wonderful possibility, but it is very much like you're in the ocean. You're drowning or about to drowning. You need somebody to throw you a life preserver
[00:00:16] Rita: in this hour.
[00:00:17] Are you drowning online? We are going to try to get at some reliable basics. Our guest is an it specialist. He is also hold up with his wife and two kids and it wouldn't, you know it.
He is handy to have around when it comes to all things tech. He's the guy. Friends and family go to when they need that life preserver,
[00:00:38] Mark: but if you've ever tried to connect a bunch of the kids together on a Minecraft game, it's possible.
[00:00:43] When it works, it's wonderful. Wow. That's a mountain that you need to climb. Similarly, you start to look at things like services, like house party. It's by the people who bring us fortnight.
And it's designed to be a fun social media thing. It's also a massive marketing channel and it's just selling to you nonstop.
[00:01:01] Rita: Mark, Nicole, VIN will walk us through the online duds, the time-wasters. He has some good things for us to consider when it comes to privacy. I see.
And security, you may need the life preserver or you may want to throw one to your fellow covert isolated citizens. What is the best thing you have discovered?
[00:01:20] The biggest. Don't bother. Maybe you've discovered what not to do on all these zoom, like get together apps. Surely we could easily dedicate an entire program to the slipups on video chats.
The world is a click away. You can have drinks with buddies, play board games, watch movies, learn music, bake. Pretend to be.
[00:01:38] As an astronaut on board. The Apollo 13 everything is online. Every Lincoln app, it's just too much. It can also sound zip zap snappy, easy until you start fiddling around on a keyboard, trying to get the family or the crew on the same platform.
Our guest is a good captain. He'll help cut through all the noise, give us a sense of direction online, the links that are too much trouble.
[00:02:04] The apps worth the investment. Lots of confusion. He says, but lots of solutions too. He is a technology expert up parent and cooped up at home just like you. This discussion is for all ages, grandma's and grandpa's, the kids, and everyone in between.
A life jacket this hour for anyone drowning online. This is the toll free number one triple eight eight one seven eight nine nine five
[00:02:35] Mark: if you've ever been on a video call, as soon as you get more than four or five people on the call, you get two options.
[00:02:40] You basically descend into chaos where everyone's talking over everybody else, or you end up in this very robotic corporate zone where it's one person after another will share something almost like you're in a support group, and that's not at all what we want to do while we're doing this for our mental health.
[00:02:59] House of Commons Replay: The honorable [00:03:00] minister of health is high. Do please unclick your mute. Oh, got it. Sorry. and I'll, I'll, I'll speak louder. Can you hear me?
Mr speaker? We can't hear him if you're listening to English. I've switched my language to English. I was on on floor, but perhaps to, if I speak in English, people can hear me.
[00:03:24] Ms Vacchio, can you hear me now?
[00:03:33] Rita: That's a, is itself evidence. That was the first virtual parliament and some though womp womp long going on. Uh, so, you know, it's, it's an opportunity obviously.
Uh, but it can also be a source of frustration and lots of streamlining. Um, as I mentioned, Mark Nunnikhoven is with us.
[00:03:45] He's vice president of cloud research and a regular tech columnist on CBC. Welcome to you.
[00:03:51] Mark: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
[00:03:52] Rita: Did you want to jump right in there and help the virtual parliament .
[00:03:58] Mark: I think, first of all, it's great that they're doing that, that they're trying, um, you know, but what we heard in that clip is typical.
[00:04:05] I think everyone who's listening has experienced that as they've started to experiment or expand their use of video conferencing and, you know, virtual calls.
It's not uncommon to have those, you know, somebody talking for a good 15 seconds and everybody's just kind of going, we can't hear you.
And then of course you get that, um, you know, could cavity and people trying to fix the problem, which makes the problem all that much worse.
[00:04:29] Rita: I liked your description of, you know, looking like it as support group. So it's either chaos or really like so mundane that you think, why are we even doing this?
[00:04:39] Mark: Yeah, and that's not what we're going for. But the problem is, you know, we, we think of video conferencing, you know, when you imagine it in your head, it's close to being in real life.
[00:04:49] You can see each other, you can talk to each other, but there is still that disconnect sort of that, you know, that device in between you and your friends or your colleagues and you miss a lot of the clues.
Even what we're doing here is very different than what we normally do in studio where we can look each other in the eye.
[00:05:05] We can read each other's body language, you know, when to jump in. If there's a level of disconnection, even in this connection, and that's understandable, but there's ways around it too.
[00:05:15] Rita: Well, that's interesting because of course I'm broadcasting from home and I normally see my crew on the other side of a glass.
[00:05:20] I'm looking at a window and I wave my arms around like we do all kinds of, you know, the kind of like the umpire, but body language, which, you know, we're, we're trying to adapt to this too, but in any case, we need to go to calls in a moment.
There's lot, there's so many places to go. Um, and I didn't hyper focus it cause I do feel like some of that could be all the missiles.
[00:05:38] But I know you are really good at explaining things for the non-techies, and I think there's real value in that. So I'm expecting we'll have a mashup of storytelling and some solutions in this hour.
One triple eight eight one seven eight nine nine five tell us about some of the or or a life preserver that you have found yourself throwing out a Mark.
[00:05:59] Mark: Yeah. I think, [00:06:00] I think the easiest place to start and the best place for most people is, you know, even though we heard the common stumbling through it and you experienced it yourself, is getting away to see people that aren't physically close to you.
So with your neighbours, you tend to, you know, at least be able to talk.
[00:06:15] Across the street, or you see them walking by and there's some connection. But what about those people who are too far away?
Um, and that's where video calls really come in handy. We have a multitude of technologies, which is the problem.
Um, but they're there and they're accessible and they're almost all entirely free, which means as long as you have some sort of camera and microphone, and whether that's your smartphone or a laptop, you should be able to.
[00:06:42] Uh, make, you know, touch base with people. So I'm thinking like, you know, for, for me and my family, my sister is out in Vancouver with my niece and my brother-in-law, and you know, we still want to see them.
They were supposed to actually be here soon, and obviously that travel's not happening. So our video calls are a great way.
[00:06:58] Challenge there is getting it all set up, getting an agreement on what service you're going to use because is many services are there out there.
The person you're calling needs to be on the same service. They're not cross compatible. We all kind of got spoiled with a hundred years of telephone development.
[00:07:15] As long as you have a number, I can call you. The video conferencing doesn't work like that.
[00:07:19] Rita: So a quick suggestion if I might, and we'll start taking calls, but is there something that when you prefer more than others or something you would point to for people.
[00:07:29] Mark: Yeah. The, so here's where it gets interesting.
[00:07:32] Normally in my day job, I am focused on security and privacy. And one of the things that a lot of people assume is always you, you're always going to pick, um, you know, the most, um, secure.
You're always going to pick something that offers the most privacy controls.
In this case, the priority is really connecting because especially for personal connections, you're not dealing with state secrets.
[00:07:52] Right? Even with the house the other day, it was a public session. So the security and privacy concerns are lower.
So. The goal here, your first choice out of the gate is whatever everybody's using. So checking with people.
If everyone's on the Apple ecosystem, if everyone's got iPads or iPhones, FaceTime's already built in, you're already have accounts.
[00:08:10] Um, that's the best route. If everybody's on Facebook, go that route. And it's really, from a technology perspective, they're very similar.
You're going to get that same experience with a couple of little minor feature differences, but nothing significant.
Um, and if you're picking a platform, make sure you pick the same one.
[00:08:28] Rita: Okay. Uh, I have lots of questions too, but so does the audience, so let's just dive in and see what comes of it. Karen, you're on the line in Toronto.
Do you have a story about how you might feel like you're drowning online and the kind of help you're looking for? No, I have a, I have a question. I'm trying.
[00:08:43] Karen: I realized that my synagogue has been fabulous about being online, and I'm, I'm. Trying to set up an initiative where upon, we could do a group of breakout rooms like five and an hour, 10 minutes each, but have different people in each room instead of the same people, you know, randomized alphabetically.
So we keep seeing the same people every 10 minutes.
[00:09:11] I'm wondering if there's a way to do that so that we could connect and catch up with more of the people in our congregation.
Actually before we get the answer, can you paint us a picture a little bit of how your synagogue is using it? I can infer a little bit, but to talk a little bit about how it's what you're doing now.
[00:09:26] Can I shamelessly plug us? Of course. It's shitty shool, downtown Toronto and our rabbi and our, our whole. Technical team and staff and volunteers have created online.
We have services, we have learnings, we have study, we have connections. We are doing watching movies together. And during the course of our services, we often have two breakout rooms for, you know, five or 10 minutes each.
[00:09:58] But I'm finding that. When the second break, you know, the first one is great. We come in and we catch up really quickly, and then by the second one with the same people, we sort of have covered that very basic.
And we're wanting to do that with more people. So I kind of came up with the thought of making it a social hour to have that personal connection amongst our group.
[00:10:20] And, uh. No, maybe doing again, 10 minute breakout rooms with different people so that we can connect with each other in a smaller group, face to face online, and we've been using zoom and it's been huge amount of work and hugely successful.
[00:10:39] Rita: Well, first of all, congrats like that. It sounds like a big initiative, but at Mark Nicolson, what are you thinking for Karen and her synagogue?
[00:10:48] Mark: Yeah, I think it's, it's a, it's fantastic. Um, places of worship have really, over the last few years, even before all of this, really gotten on the, uh, on the ball and push the envelope on live streaming services out to reach more people.
Um, so they already had a leg up, and it sounds like Karen, uh, you know, your synagogue was already well on this path, which is great.
[00:11:07] Um, I love the. Really?
[00:11:12] Rita: Oh, they have put, I agree. Kudos. And yeah, greatly respect with everybody who's done this.
[00:11:19] Mark: Yeah, that's amazing to get it up and running and it's, you know, it's exactly what we're aiming for, which is to keep that social connection while staying physically distant.
The idea of having a breakout room, um, actually ends up in sort of the weakest area of where all this stuff is.
[00:11:34] A lot of the video conferencing and streaming technology is designed to have sort of one main area. Um, however. Zoom has this concept of sort of a personal ID.
So instead of setting up a unique meeting, you as a zoom user have an assigned ID that you can allow people to come into. So what your team could do is you could have the, um, you know, at the synagogue you have the normal services and the normal stuff, but you can also set up basically two new meetings.
[00:12:04] For these rooms or however many you need. And you simply share that meeting ID with a group of people in the password and then invite them in.
And then after 10 minutes or however long you want that discussion, you can just ask those people to log out or as the host, you could remove them and you can invite a new set of congregants in.
[00:12:23] So you could have these sort of permanent rooms. Think of them like physical rooms in the, in the synagogue. I'm only now they're virtual zoom rooms and you can just ask people to come in and then to leave.
Just make sure that you've got the password in place, which is now mandatory from zoom. And also a feature, a feature called waiting room.
[00:12:40] And that is also now mandatory for public meetings. And what it does is it allows you to be in control of the room to make sure that you can pick who can come in.
Um, so that not just anybody can jump in because you probably want to keep some of these conversations within your community.
[00:12:56] Rita: Okay. So, I mean, that sounds so sophisticated in, in so many ways.
[00:13:00] Um, one triple eight, eight one seven, eight, nine, nine, five and we're asking if you're drowning online, you've been a refined something. You want to help your fellow citizen with a life preserver.
Um, give us a call. I should mention that at one o'clock we will transition. Hopefully it's on time. The news conference, this daily news briefing from the Ontario government, Stephen Lecce, the injector.
[00:13:21] Education ministers scheduled to be there. Typically these last little while. I mean, it is a briefing.
What you get to hear, uh, that's also a value or is where what the journalists are asking and certainly with the education minister, what's going on in Quebec, uh, we can pretty much predict what that will be like for this hour.
[00:13:38] Again, are you drowning on line and we're going to go to Mike and Chatham. Do you have some hopes and dreams of what you would like to be doing online?
[00:13:46] Mike: Hopes and dreams. I like that. Very positive. Um, well, I didn't, I'm a musician and I've been doing, uh, alive, uh, weekly, uh, kind of a two hour concert every
[00:13:57] every week.
[00:13:57] And, but what I want to do is I want to play with other musicians. And you see all these videos posted with, I just saw Doobie brothers one yesterday.
The whole band is playing a song. And what I want to do is be able to play at least with one other musician and record it. And, and, and then be able to play it on social media.
[00:14:15] You know what I'm getting at? Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and obviously controlling the, you know, I don't want one, one instrument to be, uh, one person's microphone beat to be louder than the other.
Just is there some sort of app or, or, uh, or tricks to, uh, duplicate what the, what the big guys are doing. Yeah.
[00:14:36] Rita: So before we get to that, just quickly, is there a song in particular that you're just itching to do with a buddy.
[00:14:41] Mike: Well, yeah, a friend of mine, Scott, he, he's a, he's a fantastic vocalist and uh, yeah, he and I want to do a, uh, old nineties rock song, uh, called more than words.
And then we've been, I've been trying to figure out the best way to do it. Google Hangouts might have, might be a, a method, but to record it as a different, uh, different, uh, issue.
[00:15:02] So live with somebody, but to record it is another.
[00:15:07] Rita: Uh huh. Well, I hope so, but let's, uh, I don't wanna put you on the spot, but can you help Mike concerto.
[00:15:16] Mark: Yeah, Mike. Uh, absolutely. So there's a couple of things. I got good news and I got bad news for ya.
So what you're seeing from a lot of musicians, and that is an absolutely wonderful area right now, there are so many musicians who are streaming free concerts or donation-based concerts on all sorts of Facebook, on Instagram, on YouTube, and check out your favorite artists if they're streaming online.
[00:15:36] Great time to be a music fan. Um, but when you see them working together. There's actually a little trickery going on. Um, and this is where we're probably going to get into the most technical part of the show, um, to try to play live together.
You're actually running into a problem with how fast light moves…crazy, I know.
[00:15:56] But if you try to play live on a video conference, you're actually going to be out of sync. So I had this problem with my mother-in-law and her choir, um, and they were trying to practice as an entire group on a zoom call.
They were all logged in and they were talking, and as soon as they started to sing and perform.
[00:16:13] They noticed that even though they swore they were on time, they were actually getting out of sync. And it's true, and it wasn't them who was out of sync. It was the network.
So the internet won't allow for that level of, um, sort of real time interaction without a huge amount of technology behind it. So what you're seeing from like the Doobie brothers from, uh, the big concerts that have been going out.
[00:16:37] Is the musicians will actually record themselves locally. So take your smartphone out. Um, if you've got anything more complicated than that, you already know how to run it.
Um, record yourself, and then you send that to the next musician in line and they play, uh, they record themselves playing to you as a backing track.
[00:16:54] So they're playing back your recording and adding theirs on top of it. And then you go down the line to figure out how much, how many musicians in your band.
If it's just you and your friend, then it's pretty straightforward and then you publish that out. So unfortunately you're running into this technical problem, but that's the way to get around it is record yourself, send it to your friend, he's going to record on top of that.
[00:17:14] And then you have a finished product that you can push out.
[00:17:17] Rita: What do you think Mike.
[00:17:19] Mike: I never thought of that delay. A delay aspect. Yeah. But, uh, uh, that makes perfect sense. You want, uh, that, that advice is awesome for the audio portion, but is there some way to, like if I, I, I do my weekly show solo with the camera on me, like if it's a video and audio, so that's,
[00:17:40] that's the easy part.
[00:17:41] But is there some way to record myself doing my part, audio and video, giving it to my friend and, and having him. Uh, do like a split screen of him doing his, his audio and video.
[00:17:54] Mark: For sure. Yeah. So, uh, old school trick here. Um, if you've ever watched movies [00:18:00] or TV when you're, uh, they're recording movies or TV, they have a clapboard, um, for us at home, that's simply just clapping your hands.
[00:18:07] Um, so you do that before you start. Your friend will do that before he starts. And that's to help sync up the audio. Um, because that's going to be your problem is that you want that to be coordinated.
Um, but if you're on windows or Mac, there are free software available. So on Macintosh, it's going to be I movie on windows.
[00:18:25] There's, um, Microsoft's movie maker as long a well with some other free software out there. If you want to try some different stuff. And basically you just import both clips.
You can sync up the audio because you have that clap at the start. And then you can play around in that software to put you both side by side playing at the same time and spit that out as a new movie and you're off to the races.
[00:18:45] Rita: So, Mark, do you know this because you're a musician. I mean, you told us your 19 specialists, mostly security and privacy. That's very detailed explanation that you've given the color and the audience to think about.
[00:18:58] Mark: Yeah, I, uh, I am not, uh, the rest of my household is very, very musical. Um, I'm a big music fan, but if I started to sing or play an instrument, uh, you would be crying in a very bad way very quickly.
[00:19:09] Uh, but I do, I do, do a lot of video training and coaching, um, because, uh, I reached students and, and organizations around the world and obviously online through video. And the audio is the best way to do that.
[00:19:20] Rita: Okay. Let's go to Gavin in Toronto. Hi, gavel. Hi. Hi. Tell us about yourself and the question you have for a guest.
[00:19:30] Gabo: So, um, I, uh, well I've been kind of doing music as was this guy does, but, um, I'm like a bit doing it different. I'm going to be doing it live and, you know, on urgent or whatever.
Yeah. So whatever. But, um, my question is that I, my birthday is June and I don't know what to do. Like I don't have a lot of social media.
[00:19:54] I don't really talk to my friends cause I like, I'm only 11 and I, what do I got to do? Please tell me. So hold on. You're loving. You're going to turn 12 when, uh, in a week and one day.
Uh, and you would normally have some kind of gathering with your friends, with a few buddies. What were you hoping? Yeah.
[00:20:16] Rita: What were you hoping for.
[00:20:17] Gabo: I was hoping like maybe it would be a little less like bad, and then I invite like just one of my, my best friends and we just hang out in the backyard. Not too close to each other.
Like she said she had a part, but I guess I can have that. Yeah. Oh, I feel for you. I've got a guy who's got a birthday coming up and the Nerf party is not going to be happening.
[00:20:39] Rita: Okay, Mark, Nicole, VIN, can you help gavel? Who's got his 12th birthday coming up? What could he do online with some
[00:20:46] Mark: Happy birthday. Uh, you know, save that, bring that out in a week. Uh, you know, congrats buddy. Um, I've got the same problem here in my household.
I've got two birthdays for my kids coming up in the next month and a half, or over the next month and a half, and we've been racking our [00:21:00] brains for the same kind of thing.
[00:21:01] Cause obviously. A lot of that stuff is, you know, in person you want to play, you want to have fun, you want to go have that Nerf battle. Um, the challenges, you know, you're not going to be able to do anything physical.
Um, the other challenges, unless you guys have like a favorite video game that you want to play and that you like to play, you're going to have to get a little creative.
[00:21:18] Um, and this is where it can be a little old school fund, um, in a new way.
So, uh, we've been working with friends and with, uh, whoops. You know, kind of going around the horn and seeing who's doing what, um, but having a video call with a couple people, you got to keep it small, otherwise it kind of gets crazy.
[00:21:35] Um, so get a couple of your friends on a video call and you can do some fun stuff. You said you're a musician, if your other friends are musicians as well.
There's a bunch of fun music games that you can play in turn. So unlike Mike who's trying to perform live, um, if you do sort of like match the, the riff or I guess the lyrics, um, there's a great free service called Kahoot.
[00:21:56] …ah… kahoot.com. It's got a whole bunch of, um, group trivia stuff. Everybody can log in using a code. And you can play a trivia games, um, together. There's a whole bunch of that focused around music. There's some that focus around sports.
Um, that's kind of fun. A friend of ours, uh, they actually dropped off, um, cake mix, uh, and ingredients to each of their friends that they wanted to the party, and they had everybody create something and then show it off and explain what they had made on the video call.
[00:22:27] So it's never going to reach what you would want, but there are fun ways and creative ways that you can use some technology to get some level of connection with your friends until you can see them in person again.
[00:22:39] Rita: Gavin, do you think that might work? Something along that line. Yeah. Kind of maybe, actually, yeah.
[00:22:44] Gabo: I'll try to go to the Kahoot thing. And I, I hope that I can see a lot of people, cause I don't have a lot of my friends numbers I guess have like maybe four or five.
But. And that's more than better than none. So then I can say that. So, but also I have a PS4 I can use to talk with other people too. So yeah,
[00:23:07] Rita: Kevin Gavin, I'm going to hold you there.
[00:23:09] You have a good birthday's going to be 12 I think he said in a week. Maybe we can, we'll tweet out if we can. You were talking about Kahoot.
Maybe in the next half hour we can make sure to talk about, because our first caller, Karen talked about being able to watch a movie online. Maybe that's a way to also get together.
[00:23:23] We brought someone in. I'm calling him the cat. 10 of your online ship. He has 19 specialists, but he is a go to guy. He's already helped Mike and Chad and figure out how he could record some music with a buddy.
He's got gavel, try and tee up something for his birthday. If you're feel like you're drowning online and could use a good captain, one triple eight eight one seven eight nine nine five.
[00:23:59] Welcome back to Ontario. Today I'm Rita Celli.
[00:24:02] Mark: We're very weird situation where we're completely physically isolated. Technology offers us a wonderful possibility, but it is very much like you're in the ocean.
You're drowning or about to drowning. You need somebody to throw you a life preserver.
[00:24:15] Rita: Are you drowning online? We have brought in a captain to help navigate the online ship. He knows his stuff.
He gives jargon free, easy to follow solutions. Mark Nunnikhoven is an IT specialist. He has been super busy doing tech support, sorting out everything from online learning at home to online pub night and kids games.
[00:24:38] Mark: If you've ever tried to connect.
[00:24:39] A bunch of the kids together on a Minecraft game. It's possible when it works, it's wonderful, but wow, that's a mountain that you need to climb.
Similarly, you start to look at things like services, like house party. It's by the people who bring us fortnight, and it's designed to be a fun social media thing.
[00:24:55] It's also a massive marketing channel, and it's just selling to you nonstop.
[00:25:01] Rita: Are you drowning online? This is the toll free number one, triple eight eight one seven eight nine nine five. Our Twitter handle is at CBC Ontario today.
[00:25:15] Mark Nunnikhoven is Vice President for Cloud Research. Uh, did you want to quickly talk about the idea of how people can watch shows or movies together.
[00:25:25] Mark: Sure. There's a bunch of different ways to, to accomplish that. Um, you know, the, uh, Facebook has a for their watch program and a videos page on Facebook itself.
[00:25:35] Um, there is an easy button that says, watch with a friend and that gives you a private chat with the people you've invited to watch that video at the same time.
Um, a lot of the time what people end up doing is actually using, um, sort of that core, GoTo video service. Like a zoom, like a FaceTime or Skype or messenger to talk while they're watching the same thing that they've started at the same time.
[00:25:58] Um, so kind of doing it very, uh, you know, jury rigged, rough and tumble. So, okay. Rita, let's both watch, um, you know, uh, Turner and who?
Join Disney+ and, okay, we'll start it now and we'll, we'll keep going. Um, you know, and then at least you could talk about it. And there, I find for, for that one. That's kind of really hard to pull off because you're trying to manage two different screens at the same time.
[00:26:21] Um, you know, the chat with your friend as well as watching the actual content. It works much better with smaller things like YouTube videos or video shared on social media.
Um, just because of that experience, though, it is pretty straightforward for feature length movies, you just don't end up talking during the movie.
[00:26:38] It's pretty similar to being in the theater.
[00:26:41] Rita: Okay. That's pretty good. Uh, we're watching a lot of seventies TV shows, including mostly the Hardy boys in the last two weeks. So, irony, free TV, uh, for the family. Uh, where are we going to go get next to, I think it's Heather.
You're in Burlington. Do you have, do you feel like you're kind of drowning online and need a captain.
[00:27:00] [00:27:00] Heather: Hi. Um, yeah, I guess I'm learning is actually one of the things that I do. I'm a teacher, um, in the Burlington area and, uh, so I've been involved in e-learning for a number of years.
I've actually, one of the courses that the ministry of education put up. Um, earlier in March, to be able to help her parents was actually one of the courses I was involved in putting together.
[00:27:23] But even with that experience, it's still been a big thing because one of the other, um, things that I do is I also teach food students with special needs.
And, um, when this happened, all of a sudden, all of the. Work that we normally do. Very kind of one-on-one, hands-on, um, teaching now has to be online.
And, um, it's, uh, we've been building up skills with our students, um, and trying to make those connections with all the students so that they can, as we mentioned earlier, making those social connections and not losing all of those good skills that the students, we've been working with the students for so long.
[00:28:04] We don't want. To be able to lose that. And when you say special needs, like is there something there in particular the profile of the student that may be not adopting online in the way you were hoping or are hoping?
Yeah, so with, um, with our students, we have, uh, some students that are nonverbal, um, tech skills, uh, fine motor.
[00:28:24] Uh, I guess can be, you know, can sometimes be some issues. But we've also got, um, kids that are really missing. They're very social, and they're really, really missing their, their friends.
Um, and what, uh, I guess. You know, at the start we were trying to figure out what are we going to be doing? And when I was making some phone calls to the students, they said, we really miss friends.
[00:28:46] I'm starting to kind of lose my communication skills. And I said, okay, we're going to do social games. And so what we've been doing, um, for our students is that we, I put together a bingo cards that have themes to them.
And we actually just finished one of our bingo games. It was an outdoor activity bingo game.
[00:29:06] Had a whole bunch of different ideas on the cards. I post up the bingo cards on our little website that we put together, a little Google website.
Um, the kids can either make their own bingo cards or the printout of bingo cards and we all go on the Google Hangouts together with our, um, our teaching, our EAs are also on there.
[00:29:25] And the other teachers. And we all have a book, social bingo game altogether. Um, and it's been a great, it's been great for us because we can see our students, we can see how they're doing.
Um, it, uh, we miss them a lot and the students can see each other. They can talk with, you know, the people that they're, they're used to seeing in their, their everyday lives.
[00:29:48] And we're going to try to do some other social games. Um, as times goes on.
[00:29:53] Rita: Well, listen, let's set to Mark, Nick coven, jump in because actually you've given a good description of what you're at and maybe some of the, the vulnerable spots. What a thought for a color.
[00:30:04] Mark: Uh, yeah, I love it. Um, fantastic. You've, you, you know, you've already identified the biggest challenge is that, you know, even seeing each other and having that interaction, it's not the same as being there, especially for the more extroverted students.
[00:30:15] Um, I know I, I've lived with a couple extroverts and they are very much, you know, uh, getting edgy at this point. As an introvert, having extroverts in my space is making me edgy.
Um, and you know, any sort of connection you can provide is awesome. So bingo is great. Um, I know, uh, groups that are doing scavenger hunts as well.
[00:30:32] Um, uh, doing art or craft projects around a key, uh, like a one theme also works really well. So saying, you know, tomorrow's theme is dinosaurs.
Uh, can you make your own dinosaur and then show, um, on the video it works really well. You know, I like your approach to the bingo, um, because that, you know, really.
[00:30:50] Works to the strengths of the video chat while avoiding some of the weaknesses, right? Because especially because of teacher controlled environment, you have a little more organization.
And the challenges, I'm sure you guys have already found out is when you get a lot of kids on the S on the call at the same time.
[00:31:04] Um, so some of the solutions I've seen from schools here in Ottawa is that they're scheduling basically the same session in repeats. So the kids can pick a time that works best for their family.
So they'll do the same session maybe three times in a day. So you'll have a smaller group of kids, maybe eight to 10 at a time.
[00:31:22] Rita: uh, you know it, we'll have to go at this, I think as an open line now that more people are getting into these Google classrooms and see how kids are even adapting.
I think it will depend on ages and if they feel comfortable in front of the screen. I had a friend who said, you know, every time now that the iPad goes off and the kids actually don't like that.
[00:31:40] It could be up and the video's running all the time. I wonder, Mark w I did play some of you alluding to some of the risks. What do you want people to think about maybe in terms of privacy and security?
Do you want to give something specific that people might weigh as they're, you know, adapting to new ways of doing things online.
[00:31:59] Mark: Yeah, for sure. So the good news is from the school's perspective, most of the schools in Ontario are already Google schools, so they have the infrastructure in place to make sure that, um, the Google meets, or the video calls that they're using are locked down to only verified students and verify teachers and staff.
[00:32:16] So there's very little risk there. Uh, that's a great thing. So that school boards definitely should be sticking with the tools right.
They already have as opposed to signing up for zoom. In fact, when this all started, you saw there was a big article that New York state had said, no school is allowed to use zoom.
[00:32:31] It's because they had no way to make sure that it was only students in Ontario. We already have a way through the Google school, a software.
To make sure that it's only kids, but, uh, you know, your point, Rita, about having the camera on and people being aware of it, um, is really something that I don't think a lot of people think about when you're turning on the camera and the microphone, you're inviting the people on that call, into that space in your house.
[00:32:54] So let's take a non, uh, confrontational example, which was, uh, you know what? We played off the top of the hour, which is the house of commons.
The, there is an entire, uh, dissection on social media about what the MPS were wearing, about what's in the background of their photos, right? And some of it funny and in good, uh, in good conscience, but there's privacy risks there as well.
[00:33:17] Do you have things that are on display that you don't want people to know about? Um, are you concerned about, uh, you know, for the MPS, uh, are you concerned about your kids coming across for a public broadcast?
And that's something to be aware of. So just looking around you before you go on camera, um, and seeing what's in the shot and making sure that if it's a sensitive or a public broadcast that the people around, you know, not to come in.
[00:33:38] Um, whereas there are other times if you're on just with your teammates, uh, from work that, you know, if the kids are coming in, that's not a big deal because there's no real risk there.
[00:33:46] Rita: Okay. I should mention that around one o'clock when they use briefing at Queens park begins, we will gently move from this to Queens park.
[00:33:55] The education minister is joining the premier for that daily news briefing. So whether it's an announcement or not is kind of a mugs game, but it is certainly a media availability.
So given especially the, uh, the reopening of schools targeted in Quebec. And the closure that was announced on the weekend to least, uh, the end of may.
[00:34:15] There will certainly be some discussion about school. So if you're interested, uh, stay with us because we will bring you that live. Uh, Caitlin, you're on in calling us from London, Ontario. Are you drowning online?
[00:34:27] Caitlyn: Well, it seems a bit dramatic to say that I'm drowning in this, but I'll relay my scenario and then my solution.
[00:34:33] So, um, I'm one of five kids. We're all grown up and we all live around the world and we feel like it's very important to stay in touch with one another and with our parents.
But, um, there's not a lot of new things to talk about. So how was your day? Well, the same as the last 19 days, right? So then. To avoid the drowning and awkward silences or having no new information or experiences.
[00:34:55] Um, we started playing Euchre online with a fantastic app called trickster. So it's an app. It's free. Um, it's also a website and you can video chat while playing.
There's about 14 card games bridge. They Euchre different ones. But my family loves Euchre. So we go on, we turn the video on, we play whoever wants to.
[00:35:17] We have friends join us too, from different places and it allows you to catch up. But I would having to talk a whole lot. Um, do you feel connected and you're having fun but you're not kind of on the slot to share any new information cause there really isn't any.
[00:35:32] Rita: I'm smiling at you cause I get what you mean.
[00:35:35] And all the little boxes on the screen. And then this thing, just after all that work, um, Mark Nunnikhoven, what do you want to weigh in with Caitlin's suggestion of trickster? An app.
[00:35:47] Mark: Yeah, I think, I think it's great. I think it's a great example of a bunch of stuff that's out there.
And it's interesting cause you know, while while Caitlin's at adult and her siblings are as well, I see this difference between my two kids where I've got a grade six have a grade four and the grade six is more capable of having conversations with friends where the grade for all the social activities around doing stuff.
[00:36:07] So going and saying, have a video chat with your friends is exactly this problem. Um, you kind of, there's no discussion. Um, so it's, having an activity is absolutely key.
So playing cards is great. Um, there's a lot of great ways to play. Um. Chess. Uh, some other examples that I've seen that aren't actually don't require going on a site is doing like book clubs.
[00:36:28] We definitely have enough time to read a book, um, or sending around something to talk about ahead of time. Um, but yeah, I love the idea of playing cards together.
It's definitely, you need some sort of a digital tool to do that. Um, but there's also plenty of board games that don't require people to be physically all around the table that you can do as well.
[00:36:47] And in that case, somebody just either has an extra. Device joined your video chat pointed at the board game, um, or they just aren't on camera and everybody's looking at the board and you can still have family game night just spread across the world.
[00:37:01] Rita: Um, and similar suggestions too. So she talked about trickster and I mean, we, we played a couple of times, he's sort of saying the Minecraft kids of a certain age, I mean, I hear you say, don't try this.
[00:37:11] Parents cause you might check yourself crazy, but what do you do with the kids who have nothing to say to each other but want to play maybe something, something that's simple.
[00:37:21] Mark: Yeah. And that's where sort of the board games really help out. Um, the, there are services that you can use. So a lot of the, if you're on PlayStation or Xbox or Nintendo, um, a lot of those have online components.
[00:37:34] Um, there are parental controls to make sure that they're. Only connecting to approved friends, which is what I very much recommend, as opposed to random people on the internet, which has always trouble. But the nice thing is, is that those systems already have the ability to talk while they're playing a game.
[00:37:48] So if they're into sports and want to play NHL, they could do that. Um, if they're playing, um, you know, if they're a little bit older and playing something like fortnight, there's the ability to, to talk while you're playing that game.
Right. Um, and they turn into, um, exactly what Caitlin's talking about here is you're still having that social connection, but you're doing something together, um, which helps really build that connection and feel like you're not as alone.
[00:38:11] Rita: Dennis, you're on the line in Toronto. Um, what's the scenario that you'd like some, like, you know, you want to make a connection but haven't found that perfect bridge yet
[00:38:20] Dennis: on, yeah, basically, um. A community outreach initiative with frontline workers that are working with the homeless and that are working with senior citizens.
[00:38:30] They can't get enough sanitizer in, and I found a company in London, uh, that will make sanitizers available.
Then I found a chocolate company that will make chocolate award-winning chocolate here in the city of Toronto at wholesale cost to the frontline workers. And I want to create an outreach community where the frontline workers can.
[00:38:52] So to communicate and be online with their relatives and their friends so that we can get, uh, uh, [00:39:00] sanitizers. Uh, so the wholesale chocolate company has agreed to put special rates on buying award-winning chocolate food.
They bring the beans in right from the indigenous communities in the jungle. And the sanitize, your company has developed a biodegradable sanitization, but the technology, it seems with people.
[00:39:19] It's a little too complicated, um, to begin with. And I need some counsel and advice on how to bring this all together so that we can get the two of us into the hands of the frontline workers on the streets and into the homeless communities.
[00:39:33] Rita: Wow.
[00:39:33] What an effort. Yeah, it's a lot, but what, what, what? Our guests might fit in at least some, a little bit of a path for you is you want to use online to sort of reach the right people so they can get this Mark Nunnikhoven. What are your thoughts about Dennis? Is.
[00:39:50] Mark: Yeah. I love the initiative. Um, fantastic. Um, you know, that's exactly what we can do to help frontline workers.
Obviously they're going out on a limb for us, um, and everything we can do to support them. Uh, you know, beyond staying home and staying safe, um, is really valuable.
[00:40:05] Uh, the good news here is I think you're looking at the problem, um, much larger than it needs to be. So you've already done the hard part in finding something to be able to provide them, to help them out. But you don't need to build a community.
These communities already exist, so you're going to have to do a little legwork checking into social media.
[00:40:22] So things like Facebook's the best place to start, um, to find where these frontline workers that you're looking to target, um, already, uh, are communicating and already have groups set up.
So a lot of this happened. Early on or was already in place during the isolation measures. So you don't have to repeat that work.
[00:40:41] You just need to be able to enter into those existing online communities, um, to, in order to present what you've been able to pull for them and the work that you want to offer 'em or the products you want to be able to offer.
So that's, that's a lot simpler than trying to build out a community. Because honestly, building out a community takes a lot of time.
[00:40:58] It's a huge amount of effort. Um, and the frontline workers are busy working and don't necessarily have the time to find that.
So it's sort of working against your goal, but because they already exist, doing the leg work to find those communities and then getting yourself into those communities is much simpler.
[00:41:12] I'd start with Facebook and expand from there.
[00:41:15] Rita: Okay, Dennis, good luck. It does sound like, wow, what a lot of legwork. I really hope you can pull that all off. Good for you. Uh, Lisa, you're on the line in Toronto.
What's, what's your scenario and the kind of, you know, situation you'd like to maybe use online in a better way?
[00:41:32] Lisa: Okay, so, um, I'm in Toronto. Um. I think back to tomorrow, uh, after being in Los Angeles 32 years, three years ago, and my mother, who is on a wait list to get up here, she just got coated.
So she's been moved to UCLA, Santa Monica hospital. She's 91, and she has a flip phone. So my son still, they're going to college and I was just wondering what would it be the fastest, user-friendly way to say either get her an iPad or his laptop or an, you know, something so that she can see us to talk to us.
[00:42:04] Please say so. They have wifi at UCLA, Santa Monica. So that's the good news. And then I'm sure I can ask the palliate this would be good.
Cause maybe they, you know, I can tell the palliative care how to do this, cause I'm sure that she's not the only one that has people that can't see her. Their, their loved ones.
[00:42:20] Yeah. And are you able to talk to her on the phone or is she, yeah, I can talk to you on the phone, but it would be really nice for her to be able to see people.
Preferably on a big screen cause she's got macular degeneration. So just wanted to know the fastest way to do that. Cause I could start doing it now.
[00:42:37] Getting maybe my son to, you know, um. Did the Navy seal thing on some kind of, you know, chat thing where she can see people when she talks. Right. Yeah. Well, Mark Nunnikhoven, what about helping Lisa here with her family? What a situation.
[00:42:53] Mark: Yeah. First of all, I'm tremendously sorry to hear, uh, the situation. Lisa, you know, our thoughts and prayers are with your mother.
[00:43:00] Um, the challenge here is with the remoteness, obviously you want to make this as. Simple as possible. So a tablet is going to be the best way to go. Um, they're durable.
They can be wiped down and disinfected really easy. Um, but it's going to be a two hop. You're going to have to send, you're going to have to get a tablet yourself or to your son, configure it, and then send it because the onsite staff is going to be busy.
[00:43:24] Um, they're not going to be able to set up all the technical side. And obviously, um, you know, for any seniors who are out there, you want to just one button click to go through.
You don't want any education. Um, if you're an Apple family already, uh, go that route, um, get an iPad. Uh, if you're Android, then go that route.
[00:43:40] Um, both of these tablets allow you to configure what's called kiosk mode. So that's a really fancy term to basically say, this tablet can only run one thing.
Now, that thing should be your video conferencing call, uh, app. So, um, FaceTime on the Apple ecosystem or Skype or Facebook messenger or whatever you pick on Android.
[00:44:03] The reason why you only want it to lock into that one app is because then there's no way it can go wrong. There's nothing there where they're in the wrong app or the clicking on the wrong button.
There's literally just that one interface. And you want to pre-populate your contacts. So you want to make sure that you know the address or the contact ID for the person you want to reach.
[00:44:23] So, uh, in the home, uh, and then, uh, add yourself, your son, any of the family members in. So the idea is you get that and set it up, then send it, um, uh, to the, to the hospital or to the care facility.
And then when they take it out of the package, they can easily disinfect it. But it's also just one. They configure it to the wifi and they're done.
[00:44:42] That's it. They just see the interface to click on a button to say, you know, talk to son, talk to daughter, talk to whomever, and it's as simple as you can get it.
You're still going to have to walk them through it. It's still going to be tricky, but at least you can minimize what will go wrong.
[00:44:56] Rita: You know, as I hear you describe this, and certainly in the situation, I remember even a few years ago, our family being in this situation, there's almost like, you know, every hospital and nursing home retirement home may actually create positions where they can facilitate, you know, more of these kind of, uh, visits.
[00:45:12] Um, it's really creates kind of an opportunity. But Lisa, good luck and, uh, all the best to your family as well, Harriet, that you're on the line. Sudbury. To your question for our guest.
[00:45:22] Harriet: Okay. Um, I've been using a Chromebook and I'm in a number of, uh, volunteer groups in town. And so we've had meetings on zoom or on Skype.
[00:45:33] And in either case, my video freezes up, my audio freezes up. If I use my phone, everything works fine. So I'm wondering if there's a problem with pro book and using, um, social networks.
[00:45:48] Rita: Hmm. Go ahead, Mark.
[00:45:51] Mark: Yeah. Good question. Um, so the nice thing here in this scenario is we have a verification that, um, it's probably not a network issue because you've got your smartphone that's working just fine.
[00:46:01] Um, I assume connect up to the same wifi. Uh, the challenge here is the two things you mentioned. Skype and zoom are very heavy. They're, um, very, they take a lot of power to work properly as opposed to a web based solution like Facebook messenger or Google meats.
Um, something like that. Now, um, I know on Chromebooks they're normally….
[00:46:25] …lower cost devices that have less, uh, hoarser like less computing power, um, because they're designed for schools, for sort of mass market.
So the challenge may be just the software that you're using. If you try on the Chromebook with something like Google meet it. I know it works very, very well because that's what our entire school infrastructure is using right now.
[00:46:45] And that's what we're using to connect all the kids with the teachers. So it's likely. Just the choice of a software. So Skype and zoom are very heavy, and the Chromebook just doesn't have enough power where your phone is several times more powerful than the Chromebook.
[00:47:00] Rita: Hmm. Okay. Harriet, hope that helps.
[00:47:02] I thought if you might just briefly even, but I think we had calls come through whether I don't think they're in the queue here.
Again, we'll be shifting away to use the news conference, but if you're in a place that just doesn't have much bandwidth, is there, Hey, what would be a best choice of using some of these apps or to connect with people.
[00:47:21] Mark: Yeah, and that's a huge challenge.
That was one of the initial challenges with the house of commons getting up and running was the rural MP's didn't have the bandwidth, and that's where if you're on a video call, you'll see that blockiness and sort of the choppiness is there's just not enough network to get this through.
[00:47:35] So you can think of like a car of a highway that's down to like one lane. Um, so just not enough to get the traffic through.
Uh, there are lighter, um, applications, but in general, the video apps try to make smart choices and what they'll do is successfully just reduce the quality. So you'll look worse and worse.
[00:47:53] Um, but it'll still make the call through. But if you're really having a hard time, um, you just have to turn off the video and go audio [00:48:00] only audio can be done compressed quite a bit to make it work like that.
And whereas video is really hard. Um, also. Don't move around so much. That's a really weird tip, but the way it works under the covers is if you're not moving around, it doesn't send as much information.
[00:48:14] Rita: Hmm. Okay. Pedro, you're next. You're in Toronto. Go right ahead.
[00:48:18] Pedro: Yeah, I'm in broadcasting. And actually the question, I think more for Rita than for Mark. I'm wondering, because you sound, Rita, you sound like you're just in the studio, and I know it has to do with your microphone, but I'm wondering if you're also broadcasting through the internet or to a phone line.
[00:48:32] Um, and what is the best platform for either audio broadcasting and video broadcasting? We've been doing interviews using Google meet mostly.
Um, but I find that depending on, again, what. What app, sorry. What device you're using, internet speed, all that. It varies from place to place. Um, so I'm wondering what suggestions you have.
[00:48:54] Rita: Well, again, I'll give you what I know and then Mark can jump in, but so I have something called little complex unit, which is a very small device that is a hardwired into my router at home through a laptop as well. I have a floor stand microphone and a pedal to mute out.
I have an aircard as a redundancy.
[00:49:12] There's a redundancy and you're right about bandwidth. I'm just just at where you're supposed to. To be, because my family can't, uh, be on at the same time.
Uh, and for these news conferences, for example, I don't have a TV, so I, my cell phone is functioning as, um, you know, uh, a video screen for me to see when the news conferences start.
[00:49:32] The bad thing is I can't check Twitter with it and I get it in delay, but I know Mark, uh, none of coven do you want to?
Do you want to, I don't have something to add there in terms of audio broadcasting, we'll tweet out the picture and we had one, I think my colleague Marco was sent it out yesterday. You can see how simple.
[00:49:46] It's a very analog setup, which is why I understand it. But Mark, do you have a thought for Pedro?
[00:49:52] Mark: Oh yeah, yeah, for sure. First of all, does that mean I sound bad?
But. A couple of things here. The biggest challenges we have when we're broadcasting is actually upload. Um, and that means sending information out from your computer, um, over the internet.
[00:50:08] Most of the internet connections you get when you buy them, or when you sign up with bell or Rogers or Telus or whomever, they tell you the download speed, but they don't tell you the upload speed.
And most of the time, those are not the same. So while you can have a very fast download right. You may have a very slow upload, and when you're doing a broadcast, it's the only thing that matters is your upload speed.
[00:50:28] So a speed is definitely part of it. Uh, the quality of the equipment, um, you know, a builtin webcam or even your smartphone, uh, microphone are not nearly as good as a third party microphone that you can get.
Um, the problem there is that since everybody's in bit isolated, everything is backordered from medium, low end stuff to high end stuff, trying to get Mike's cameras, um, all the equipment you need, and you're going to be waiting several weeks because obviously we're all at home.
[00:50:53] Uh, the biggest thing is really, um, picking your service as well. So not only your upload speed. But, um, Google meats is very much designed for reliability, not quality.
So it will sacrifice quality to get, make sure your connection stays stable. There are other services like Microsoft and mixer that has a special mode where it is low latency, which means super fast.
[00:51:15] Um, and make sure that the fidelity, the quality is still there. So picking your service choice, looking for your upload speed, if you're curious about your upload speed, go to Google and type in internet speed test.
And Google will actually run an upload and download test on the current connection. And you can see how strong it is so that you can avoid a situation like radios where everybody has to stay off.
[00:51:38] Um, in order to make sure that this works well. Uh, but there's lots of little tips and tricks. Uh, but really it's that upload speed. That's the biggest key part of all this.
[00:51:46] Rita: Mark Nunnikhoven is our guest. He's Vice President for Cloud Research, and I'm giving your name now in case we have to slip away very quickly to the news conference at Queens park.
[00:51:56] But we'll continue taking questions until that happens. Again, the premier will be there.
The minister of health, who is a daily companion, as you've noticed with the premier today, also, Steven Lecce, the education minister, will be joining that media availability. Dana, you're in Hamilton. Um, what's going on?
[00:52:14] Dana: A Lake, a lot of Canadians. I'm trying to work from home and not terribly successfully. I'm on video calls all day and I seem to be dropped.
Uh, probably more often than I'm actually on. A friend suggested to me that a wifi extender would help. And I'm just wondering what you think about that.
[00:52:31] Mark: Yeah. So a wifi extender, for those of you that don't know, um, takes your existing wifi network, and instead of just trying to communicate from one box that normally came from your internet provider, it adds a second one that has an intent.
[00:52:47] To connect to the first one. So for larger houses, or if you're in the situation where I am, where my internet connection comes into my basement and all the concrete in the basement is really bad for wifi.
Wifi essentially works in a sphere around, um, your, uh, the first part where it comes in your router, where it comes in from the, uh, from the internet.
[00:53:08] So you can think of it as like a bubble. And if it's in your basement, you're already lost half the bubble, if not more.
So an extender lets you, um, put a device up on the second floor of the main floor to increase the quality of your signal. They're a good idea because they avoid having to set up two wifi networks and then trying to balance all that headache.
[00:53:26] Um, they are a bit of a challenge to get up and running though they're getting better and better. And the idea is basically, if you're seeing on your device that you're not at full wifi strength, you know, that little.
Triangle sort of baseball diamond shaped icon that gives you your signal strength if you're at half or lower and extenders is probably a good idea.
[00:53:45] There are some challenges. If you're an apartment building though,
[00:53:49] Rita: I didn't have to leave it there. Mark Nunnikhoven. Thank you for being with us. You've tweeted out some amazing stuff.