Category Archives: Video

More hints for Zoom

Quick tip to optimize video, start Zoom and click your account at the top right followed by settings neat the top. Click on Video and ensure that Enable HD is clicked if available. That will make you nice and sharp.

Change where you are: do as above but choose Virtual Background to see some standard options or add your own. You can choose a default virtual background, or change it during a call by clicking the up arrow by the stop video button at the bottom-left of the call.

Change who you are. Most of us have one account for Zoom but may use it for multiple purposes (work, friends, club, etc.). If you want to change your name for a call, start a meeting and then click participants. Hover over your name and click More to be able to rename yourself.

Making better video calls

We are all making many more video calls to our suppliers and customers. I’ve seen a lot of bad examples, so here are a few tips on presenting yourself better:

  • fill the screen;
  • think about what is behind you – does it reflect your image?;
  • get the lighting right – maybe get a desklamp to get out of the shadows;
  • look people in the eyes by looking at the camera not their face on the screen.

More details here:

If you like it please add a comment!

Private video conversations

I have a number of customers who are consultants, therapists, etc. Due to the virus outbreak, I did some looking into working over the internet with other people to stay in business.

Some of the accrediting bodies are quite rightly very cautious on customer confidentiality. This can be compromised on a number of methods that we all use. The issue is that other people can intercept the audio and video streams going past.

To prevent this, we need End to End Encryption (E2EE). Fortunately, there are several excellent open-source (free) tools. Another benefit to open-source is that the code is available to anyone to review and comment, potentially making it better than proprietary solutions who can build in secret monitoring.

Before we get to them, Skype itself claims to offer e2e as an option: select ‘new private conversation’ from the new chat menu as long as you both have versions of Skype that allow e2e, however commentators claim that there are records of the call, but not of the content of the call.

Skype’s Private Conversations is based on Signal, a rather good tool from Open Whisper Systems. Signal is even supported and trusted by the famous or infamous Edward Snowden.

With Signal, just install the software at each end (phone or PC), allow certain permissions and off you go.

Subtitling Skype

Video calling applications have really helped hearing-impaired users communicate by sign language or lip-reading.

Skype has now added assistance to voice calls. During a call, tap the three dots at the bottom of the screen and then use the slider by ‘turn on subtitles’.

It also means that you can turn the volume down to avoid annoying others nearby or to keep your conversation private.

Blur backgrounds in Skype

Sometimes we may wish to disguise what is behind us during a Skype call – maybe to make the bedroom that we are working in look more like an office or hide our taste in wallpaper. Maybe you just want the fashionable ’Bokeh’ effect that you can get on smartphone cameras.

Now PC versions of Skype have that capability. So Android and iOS versions are out of luck. Right-click on the video button and select ‘Blur my background’.

It’s a software effect so the good news is that it will work with all webcams, but the bad news is that some computers may not have the capability to process it.

Find all those duplicate images

One of the good things about film cameras was that we thought much more about taking pictures and we made few copies. Now with digital cameras and phone cameras and everything we are deluged with photos.

Then we put copies into folders, forget where they are and we just fill our hard drive up.

Currently, I’m analysing some external hard drives and have found seven copies of the same folder and contents. So I need an answer.

Mots of the programs that detect duplicate images just give a list of what they have found so I have to check the results out by hand. And it won’t find rotated and other adjusted images.

I was pleased to come across Find.Same.Images.OK which is designed to locate duplicate images as well as any that are rotated or mirrored and more.

It works by analysing the images down to a pixel level, rather than just relying on file names and file sizes. This means it can find altered and edited images

Not only that but it has image previews so that you can be sure about what it has found before you delete them. All in all a very powerful tool.