• I don't use video conferencing software myself, but I thought some discussion of it might be in order. Everyone suddenly seems to be using Zoom, which appears to be highly intrusive and exploitative software, like so much else at the moment. I imagine the other widely-publicised options are not much better. Obviously, people may not care much about the nature of Zoom, but I suspect a fair few don't realise quite what it does and wouldn't use it if they did. There's lots of easily-findable info on-line, but here's Bruce Schneier:


    Privacy first: Zoom spies on its users for personal profit. It seems to have cleaned this up somewhat since everyone started paying attention, but it still does it.

    The company collects a laundry list of data about you, including user name, physical address, email address, phone number, job information, Facebook profile information, computer or phone specs, IP address, and any other information you create or upload. And it uses all of this surveillance data for profit, against your interests.

    I wouldn't use it for this reason alone.

    This is a fairly up-to-date chronological list:


    Here's a list of video conferencing software:


    I think my pick, recommended by a friend, would be Jitsi, if I did any video conferencing.

  • Everyone suddenly seems to be using Zoom, which appears to be highly intrusive and exploitative software

    Yes though easy especially for older family members who can't even what's app ffs

  • Sure, but are the other conferencing programmes as listed above really harder to use than Jitsi, for instance? Obviously, I haven't used any of them, and there will always be edge cases of people whose needs are primarily geared towards simplicity, but especially in the case of (presumably) vulnerable family members I'd see if they couldn't be put on a less intrusive solution. (Not trying to suggest you haven't tried.)

  • After the initial novelty of being able to see colleagues etc I'm finding I prefer to look away from the screen and pretend it's just an ordinary phone call.

  • I don't use video conferencing software myself

    Why not?

  • No need, no inclination, no equipment.

  • I think my pick, recommended by a friend, would be Jitsi, if I did any video conferencing.

    Hmm. From the comments on the Bruce Schneier blog you posted:

    While Jitsi's open source nature is great for privacy and whatnot, having used it for the better part of a year at my employer before abandoning it, I can say that its functionality and reliability is among the worst of any video conferencing solution I've used.

    The other problem is getting people to switch software is hard. Zoom and Skype have critical mass, nobody has heard of Jitsi.

    Free software harvesting your data isn't new of course, but what annoys me about Zoom is it's actually paid for above 40 minutes, but it still does all this shit. If I was going to pay I'd expect software not to do that.

    Google knows everything about me already so I might try persuading friends to use Google Hangouts as they've all got Google accounts too.

  • Teams. Everything is Microsoft universe at work. It's nowhere near as calm an experience as zoom. I miss things like space bar temp un-mute and gallery view. The audio is quite glitchy. All the attached Microsoft apps are useful but clunky.

  • I prefer Teams to Zoom. Streamyard is good and has a lot more capacity to broadcast multiple channels to YouTube or Facebook live for a streamed seminar or similar.

  • Same at my work and I wish it had space bar temp-unmute too.

    There are some improvements on the way apparently, although I don't know how long they'll take.

    I definitely find Zoom better quality and nicer to use.

  • paid for above 40 minutes

    I, too, had 'heard' of this.
    It would seem if the nature of your video meeting is sufficiently mundane*,
    the Host will receive a pop-up window** allowing a further free 40 minutes.

    *I hosted the quarterly RWMAG, (Ruislip Woods National Nature Reserve Management Advisory Group) meeting this week.

    ** I found the pop-up window, late, as it was concealed by Zoom, a couple of Libre Office documents, some pdfs and a Firefox window.

    On terminating the meeting I was also offered a foc hour long meeting, as long as I scheduled it 'then'. I tried, but the response pop-up window never resolved.

  • That may be so--as I say, I haven't used any of them. However, free software is definitely better politics, and, needless to say, the more people adopt it, the better it's going to get. A bit of initial inconvenience is a perfectly appropriate price to pay for that. It's certainly better than the ridiculous levels of data exploitation that people become victims of.

  • Personally I've used video call features on

    -Skype for Business
    -Google Hangouts
    -Microsoft Teams
    -a number of university-run course/seminar/lecture software
    -other proprietary tools for webinars.

    My go to now are:

    one to one social - Whatsapp / Facetime
    group social - Houseparty on mobile up to 8 people / Zoom on laptop if more
    one to one or group work - either mobile or laptop Microsoft Teams

  • No need, no inclination, no equipment.

    Don't you have family abroad?

  • from memes thread

  • Did I read that Zoom has tightened its security?

    A colleague of mine attempted to download Zoom this afternoon to her domestic
    (no IT Dept. to 'help' her),
    laptop and declined as Malwarebyte told her not to due to PUP.

    Should I encourage her to ignore this warning?

  • I work for a security company, we have a lot of threat researchers, we use Zoom.

  • That said, where's she trying to download it from?

  • Thanks.
    Who knows,
    she is not tech-phobic,
    but nor is she an early adoptor.
    So if I send her a link direct from Zoom's website she should avoid raising Malwarebytes ire?

  • Zoom has been really useful for attending yoga classes and other meetings until today.

    Has anyone else had problems? I have been participating in a two hour yoga class on Sundays but today the host/instructor can't let people join the class. Have had a phone chat and he said his wife was participating in a zoom class earlier today in which all the participants were booted out and unable to rejoin.

  • https://status.zoom.us/ seems to think things are OK
    Sunday not a zoom day here :-)

  • I've been doing bits and bobs of remote live stream mixing for work while 'normal' video production is on hold / in lower demand. Basically people dial into us and we do vision mixing/add graphics etc and broadcast out an event / discussion / show etc.

    Currently doing a tech event with some quite high profile bay area people.

    One of them is quite an historically important person in devops stuff. Apparently.

    He appeared very late and then with a generated background of a cartoon tree behind him. We asked if he could just show his actual environment so he switched it off. He revealed the kind of Bacchanalian horror show you hope you'll never witness. Utter detritus everywhere. Literally shit-stained kecks (he's in his 70s) strewn over bookshelves lined with boardgames, empty bottles, a (I think) wine stain adorning a white wall. Really next level mess. He's now walking around looking for books to stack underneath his laptop (we gave all contribs a really thorough but not daunting document showing best practice for appearing on stream like this). I'm fairly sure he's not wearing trousers but I can't be sure.

    It's been a few minutes since I typed and the latest is he had to go live but he's shutting his eyes so tight. Like so tight. And he won't open them while he speaks. People on the stream are asking if he's OK and he says he just prefers to imagine people in the room with him. He's scrunching them shut so hard he's going to give me a haemorrhage.

  • Did you ask him to put the tree back?

  • Thankfully not my call. He is, in fairness, warming up and slowly blinking/looking off screen.

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Video conferencing software (during the crisis and perhaps afterwards, too)

Posted by Avatar for Oliver Schick @Oliver Schick