What the Tech: How to Zoom

Local News

Wednesday night I decided to try our first public Zoom meeting to answer tech questions from viewers. The stations put the link to the meeting on their websites, I shared it on my Facebook page and blog and waited to see how many people would show up. It was a gamble because we made the meeting public without requiring a password. I did this so any viewer could participate. I was aware that trolls or zoombombers might show up to disrupt the meeting but I did not anticipate it would be almost a dozen.

Seconds after the Zoom meeting started we were attacked by trolls or Zoombombers. Crass kids yelling profanities and sharing graphic images. It’s one of the biggest complaints about Zoom and keeps some people from using it. I had to remove each one of the trolls and not allow them back in. This took a few minutes but not quickly enough to prevent images from showing up on the screen. I personally apologize for this happening and future Zoom meetings will have more safeguards in place. Public Zoom meetings are difficult to police.

Here’s how to prevent them from crashing your Zoom meeting. The host of the meeting can ensure everyone joining is put in a waiting room and allowed in with everyone else, one at a time. We didn’t do this initially since we wanted as many viewers to participate as possible. So what happened to me, doesn’t have to happen to your meeting.

One question from a viewer was, “I’ve been in Zoom meetings, how do I start one?” 

Using the Zoom smartphone app you simply select “new meeting”. This makes you the host who can control who comes in the meeting. You can also schedule a meeting. You’ll be given a link to share on Facebook or in an email.

Another viewer wanted to know, “How do you close the door?” or close a meeting so that no one else can join even with a meeting ID and password.

Once your meeting starts and everyone’s in that you’ve invited, you can close the meeting so no one new can join. This is good for work, school or group meetings. You won’t be zoom-bombed by trolls. 

Another viewer had heard about another feature. “How do I improve my appearance?” she asked.

This is a popular feature of Zoom. You can enable a filter that softens the picture and improve your appearance for everyone to see. People seem to like adding their own special effect background. These options are in the meeting settings. Zoom is what everyone’s talking about now, but similar video conferencing apps Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and even Apple’s Face Time. Each of those services lack something Zoom offers. Zoom is easiest to use. With a free account, meetings of more than 2 people are limited to 40 minutes. Paid accounts with unlimited time is $15 a month. So is Zoom okay to use? I think so, if you share the link and meeting ID with only people you choose and use a password. One of the issues with trolls is that they are guessing meeting ID numbers then sharing them online.

Also, enable Zoom’s privacy and security settings. Zoom recently made the “waiting room” feature turned on by default.

If you missed our first What the Tech Zoom meeting, we’ll be having another one soon

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