Artists Lane: High-tech for the high-waisted


By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist
I have taken a deep dive into the world of cloud-based technology. I was lost in the weeds and challenged in the beginning. As time has gone on, I suddenly felt like I am being lifted up in a hot air balloon. It is something that I could only describe as exhilarating and scary at the same time.
Due to the need for social distancing, my writer’s group decided to postpone our weekly meeting. The decision was met with disappointment although it had to be made.
I told my Sweet Al that I had an idea. I wanted to turn the writer’s group into an online video conference.
He, of course knowing me all too well, said, “Your ideas are like a wild hair that needs to be plucked. And, you won’t rest until you do it.”
I have been a part of webinars and video conferences for a couple of years. I haven’t, however, had to orchestrate an entire team’s attendance and agenda until recently. This goes beyond mere talking points. As a host, I would need to be ready to field questions about cameras, microphones and virtual etiquette.
Most of the members of my writers’ group are of a certain age. There were some apprehensions when I first presented the idea of having a virtual meeting. But if I could do it, anyone could.
It is one thing to experience your own learning curve. Magnify that by 200 when you are trying to walk someone through their own. Of the 20 or so attendees in my weekly writer’s group, only a small handful have attended an online meeting.
Before my first video call, I had to ask my son how to install the application. Now I know how to share my screen. But please don’t ask me to tell you how to do it unless you want to see my impression of a deer in headlights.
I felt like such a grownup as I turned on my computer the Monday morning of our first online meeting. I had tidied up my office and made sure my makeup was camera ready. I knew that there were some first-timers, so I made a list of potentially asked questions and had an expert in attendance.
It was 9 a.m., time to open the meeting. Being on a Web camera is new for some. It made me wonder how many people would show up while eating their breakfast. Who would be in their pajamas or running through their house after an obnoxious pet?
Thankfully, everyone joined just as if the meeting were in our usual public space. Although there were a few hiccups as we got underway, it wasn’t before too long that everyone seemed to be interacting and participating like old pros.
They say that you need to care for your own house before you worry about someone else’s. Perhaps I should have remembered that before I started my video conference. About half way in to my meeting, there was my Sweet Al. He was standing in the background in his camouflage pajama bottoms and his straw woven cowboy hat.
He decided this would be the day that he took inventory of his guns. Then there was Whiskey. Each time Al passed by, his beloved dog followed.
Pajamas, gun, dog, repeat. How did this happen? With all my preparation to host a virtual meeting, I had forgotten to tell my Sweet Al that he would be on camera if he wandered around while we were in session.
There is certain etiquette in being on a Web camera. Who would have thought that the host would have missed a cue from her own lesson plan?
Final brushstroke: The idea that our writers followed through to take part of emerging technology is a big deal. We made things happen, even for those who were out of their comfort zone. It is important to note, however, that there are some who may be more comfortable than others. Just ensure they don’t look like they are bushwhacking in the background. If they are, tell them to smile for the camera.
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