Old Technology Gets a New Boost

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Somewhere back in the early 2000’s, right around the time that Apple came out with video chat, the use of desktop video conferencing took off. Or, I should say, tried to take off.

I was commanded by my leadership at the time to procure a camera (laptops didn’t come equipped with cameras like they do now) and to begin having meetings in video form.

And I did. For a while.

It was a new toy and we all played with it and then, we got bored. Suddenly no one was logged in. Cameras were quietly disconnected and stowed in a drawer. And we went back to the usual phone call, chat or email way of communicating.

Fast forward to this week. My new leadership has commanded that I procure a camera (because our company security demands that the one on my laptop be disabled) and sign up for a brand spanking new desktop video conferencing service.

Per the long winded training I was required to complete, using this “new” technology will promote productivity (oh really? When we’re wasting precious minutes in meetings fiddling with cameras and asking “can you see me ok?”), enhances cost savings (because I just spent $100 of the company’s money to buy the “approved” camera) and reduces carbon emissions (except when I’m taking antibiotics).

The Good Man and I have been debating why video conferencing doesn’t catch on. While it’s nice to see the other person in a conversation, it’s not natural. Everyone just feels a little awkward.

Last evening, I was watching an edition of BBC World News and as they went to field reporters in many far flung countries, it became quite clear that they were using Skype or something similar to do these televised reports. No more camera and a camera operator.

As I watched these reporters, I began to realize why video conferencing is awkward. No one knows what to do with their eyes. Instead of face to face, eye to eye conversations, you get a lot of shifty eyes, and shifty eyes make for uncomfortable conversations.

The most natural fix for this is to look the camera square in the eye.





However, that’s natural for the people on the other end, for the speaker, it feels weird to speak to a lens. You are inclined to look at the screen to see the person you are talking to. That’s how humans communicate.

So you get this instead:





And then, of course, there are the multitaskers. Not only are they not looking in the eye of the camera, but they are also not looking at the screen where the other image is located.

It’s something like this:





And this:





And this:





*sigh*

Well, whether I think this is a good idea or not, I’ve been commanded to video conference, both in my one to one sessions with my boss and in our staff meetings.

And so I will.

This, however, severely limits my ability to wake up fifteen minutes before my 8am staff meetings, shamble down the hall, fire up my home machine and take the meeting on the phone with frazzled hair, still in my nightgown, while eating breakfast.

Damn you UK-based Boss Man! : shakes fists toward London :

(I’m reminded of an episode of the Jetsons where Judy had a videophone mask for those very bad hair days. I need that.)





Image is a screen grab from a YouTube clip of the Jetsons




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Vaya Con Bye-Bye

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Whew. Yeah. Okay. Unh huh.

My tireless boss has been in town for the past three weeks. I swear the guy doesn’t drink coffee, soda or energy drinks and he can outlast everyone. The man is relentless.

He’s been in a bunch of meetings. I’ve been in most of those same meetings. In that slight half hour before the next meeting, he’s in my office wanting to plot and plan and strategize. There’s a lot going on. Marker boards were used. Action items were assigned.

It has been non-stop. I’m punch drunk and overwhelmed.

Today, at noon, he put on his battered leather jacket, picked up his computer bag, and left town.

It is wrong that I offered to drive him to the airport?

I mean, I dig the guy. He’s brilliant and funny. He hates my iPhone case, told me “you’ll never make it to the boardroom with that case” which makes me want to send him one. Every day. For a month.

He knows his stuff and has a lot of respect from everyone, including me.

I am fortunate to have him for a boss.

I’m also fortunate that he on an airplane until tomorrow sometime.

Wheeeeeew. This is the first 30 minutes I’ve had to just sit at my desk in weeks. I like it.






Image from CentreFlow.


Themeless in Theattle

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Today I rose from my bed and dashed down the hall (with yowling cat underfoot) to look at this week’s Theme Thursday webpage.

I was excited to get started on my blog post for the day. But as the page loaded, alas, no updates.

I fretted, I hit refresh, I worried. What will become of me if I don’t have a Theme Thursday prompt!

About an hour later, I decided “screw it, I’ll make my own theme.”

So I hit my favorite random word website.

The first word offered up was: reactionary

This made me think of chemical reactions things that go *BOOM*

But then I actually Googled the word and it was a lot of blah-blah-blah political stuff and people being mad.

Well that’s no fun.

So after checking the Theme Thursday site again, I went back to the random word site.

This time I got: wipe

Which made me go “ewwwwwww.” Yeah, I know, wipe can be used in non-ew ways. So I considered it. 600 words about wipe? Yeah, no.

Back to the word well.

Third try: Zoom

Ok, that’s a spicier word, and a blog post would allow me to drop the word onomatopoeia in conversation. That part rocks.

But for some reason, onomatopoeia or not, the word zoom wasn’t really inspiring me.

So I checked the Theme Thursday site again, cursed, and went back to the random word site.

Fourth time’s a charm? No, not really. I got: row

As in, the boat? Or have a? (in the British use) Or sit in the?

Nah. Boring.

Pull the magic lever again!

This time I got: advertising

What? No. I got nothing for that….

Feeling a bit frustrated and unable to find a suitable theme for today, this sunny Thursday, I sighed.

Then my brain went screeeeeeetch as though someone had applied non-ABS brakes too firmly. My mind skidded out to the side and off into a bar ditch**.

And that little voice inside my head said, “Hey, ding-a-ling, it’s Wednesday.”

So we’ll see you again tomorrow with the officially sanctioned Theme Thursday post.

Until then, forty lashes with a page a day calendar!



This awesome Fail Whale rendition is by Ed Wheeler and found on deviantart.com. Follow him on Twitter @EduardoWheeler

**I dropped the phrase “bar ditch” on The Good Man yesterday when he called to report he’d experienced a flat tire while in the heart of San Francisco. I said “are you ok?” he said “Sure, why wouldn’t I be?” I replied, “well, you’re not off in a bar ditch somewhere, right?”

And then my dearest paused. This is one of those times where a Brooklyn boy and a New Mexico girl are not linguistically on the same page.

I filled the awkward space by saying, “Yeah, not that San Francisco has bar ditches.”

He replied, “Uh, yeah….so anyhow…I called AAA and they should be here in about ten minutes.”


Time, Time, Time, See What’s Become Of Me

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Remember back in the day when computers were brought to the desktop of every office worker? These funky machines came with the promise of less manual tasks and thus, more time!

More time! What an awesome benefit.

You know how when you get a good raise, you first think to yourself, “This is great! My expenses will stay the same and I’ll bank the difference of this new paycheck.”

But then you don’t. You manage to find a way to expand to use up every single dollar of that new pay.

Yeah. It’s like that with all the “found time” that computers brought to my world.

Right now time is the scarcest and most valuable resource I have.

There are only 24 hours in a day to spend.

I use eight of them sleeping.

Another three or so on getting ready, eating, travel time between destinations, dealing with a yowling cat, hugging The Good Man, etc.

And twelve sitting in front of a computer screen working my buns off on a massive project at work.

Let’s see…twelve plus eight is twenty…plus three is twenty three….

That leaves, uh, yeah, one hour in the day where I can just skive off (as the British say) and have some fun.

One hour to write, and craft, and think, and read a book, and just sit for a moment and look at the sky and daydream.

One hour. Sixty small minutes.

That’s not very much. I’d best use it wisely.

What got me thinking about this today?

The ten minutes I sat, waiting, on an open conference call bridge waiting for my perpetually absentminded sales rep.

I only gave it ten, then I got back to work.

I’m a little bit aggrieved about that ten minutes. Especially since I wolfed down lunch in order to make that call in time.

And now I’m indigested.

*sigh*

This should get better by end of April. That’s a looooong thirty days.





And for all you smarty pants out there, yes, I found time to write this blog post. I used the hour I WOULD have spent on that conference call. Found time! Yesssss!


Photo by Chris Gilbert and used royalty free from stock.xchng.


I Need Some Cheek Salve

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Yeah, so I’ve talked a lot here on the blog about my job and working with folks around the globe. I am having a lot of fun and getting pretty gosh darn smart about the different cultures in the regions where I’m working.

But there’s one thing I’m having a LOT of trouble with.

It’s the kiss-cheek greeting thing.

The Euro folks seem to favor this method, and it’s not one cheek, but both. Shake hands, smooch one side, smooch the other side.

Suddenly, I become VERY rigid when I see these supplier reps coming in for a landing on my face. Gah!

Just this week, we had a VERY large meeting where there were, I kid you not, eight people who flew in from London for a meeting. I greeted them in the lobby and had to kiss-kiss all eight of these sumnabitches.

I don’t even know all of them. Hell, I don’t even LIKE most the ones I do know.

But they all stood in line to smooch-smooch me.

Then…when the two hour meeting was over, it was time to leave, and they all lined up to smooch-smooch me on the way out.

I felt a little…mauled…by the time the day was through.

Might I add that I was the only girl in the room of eight external people and five coworkers. There was no kissy-kissy between the guys. No, I got the brunt of the moist greetings.

Damnit! I’m an American! We like a little bit of space in our greetings! Also, I’m no good at the kiss-kiss. I never know where to land the thing. Do just sort of kiss the air? Or do I actually place it? And what if, horror of horrors, I miss and land it wrong?

I did accidentally bump noses with one of the dudes. Is that bad form?

All that aside, it just seems…wrong…to get to get that intimate with a freaking supplier. They aren’t my friends! They aren’t in my confidence! THEY ARE SUPPLIERS and therefore need to be treated at arm’s length to be sure they remember their boundaries.

Then again, maybe this is all a negotiation tactic to throw me off my game. Ooh, if I think about it that way, this kissy-kissy crap seems diabolical.

Mostly it just makes me uncomfortable.