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100th Blogiversary

I know I tell a lot of stories about the old days, but this doesn't mean I'm 100 years old.

Just wanted to get that cleared up for those of you keeping a tally of how many times I mention 1" tape and CMX edit controllers.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress...



For those of you just joining us, welcome to the Mike Cohen Creative COW 100th Blogiversary.

"100 blog posts? So what," you might be saying.

Well I try to put a little bit of my personality and philosophy into every post. For me it's a big deal. It's a big deal not that I have composed and published 100 entries about my job and my life, but that in doing so I have gotten involved in other aspects of the Creative COW community. As a result of blog entries, I have had the opportunity to write magazine articles, to be interviewed in podcasts, to make friends and business associates and even to obtain potential clients for my company's services. Something that is good for the soul and good for business is, well, a good thing!

And from what I hear, the blogs in general are good for the Creative COW's business. Google searches often lead people to the forums. If I Google myself or certain keywords I have used in my blogs, these blog entries come up in results. Presumably I can't be the only one searching for "CMX edit controllers" or more likely "AVCHD editing in Premiere. If new first-time visitors to the COW get in via the forums, the blogs, the services or the video reels - that too is a good thing.

And speaking of good things, have you seen the wide selection and amazing displays of creativity in the video reels section? You could spend hours there getting free inspiration for your own projects. I've actually started taking notes as I browse the reels. Go ahead, click "VIDEO REELS" in the main menu..I'll save your seat.

So back to the 100 blog retrospective. The best thing to do is to browse back issues going back to 2007. It is educational for me to see what I was thinking at the time. So rather than regurgitating my favorite posts, I think I will regurgitate my favorite images as used in past posts. I get a kick out of grabbing a quick picture with my phone when inspiration strikes. I send the picture to myself with a note and then, often on a long airplane ride, fill in the gaps to try to tell my story.



This first one takes me back to my first position as a professional editor. The Ampex ACE 25 edit controller. For those of you who have only used digital nonlinear editing, lucky you. Back in the day, you had to have some engineering know-how in order to perform basic editing, assuming you were in a facility without in-house engineering expertise. For more on the subject check out this link:

http://blogs.creativecow.net/blog/777/cash-in-the-attic

Now back to our show:


This image brings back some memories. A surgeon I work with on a regular basis needed to do a live powerpoint presentation to a medical conference. He was in Vegas, the conference was in Portugal. Thus, he was scheduled to go on at about 4am Vegas time on a weekend. At that time of day, we couldn't get a local video conferencing suite, so we had to think way outside the box. WebEx is advertised and used as a great tool for corporate meetings, but using it in multiple locations including in front of a live audience can be a bit dicey. So we came up with a stop gap solution. This picture depicts our audio transmission system which included VOIP and two telephones.



Speaking of medical conventions, back in early 2009 we managed a conference on obesity surgery. Our company arranged the venue, the audiovisual and catering, invited the faculty, reserved hotel rooms and managed registration for about 500 attendees. Think of it as a mini-NAB for surgery. One of my roles was managing a day of live surgery. We streamed 9 surgical cases from NY, San Francisco, Miami, Michigan, Brazil, Chile and two other locations. Some signals came down ISDN, others via the internet. Everything went through a skybridge, and there was audio and video from our location going back to each location. To be even more clever, I created roll-ins for each surgeon and location, run off DV tape. This acted not only as a nice transition but also as a place holder in case of technical difficulties. It was a fun fast day with lots of audience participation.


My other jobs at this meeting were to document the proceedings for posterity (ie, transcription, publishing articles about the proceedings and possible future on-demand webcasting)...


And drinking a lot of coffee and tea.



2009 was the year I finally traded up to a smartphone. I went with the blackberry because most of the clients and doctors I work with use this device. It has made a huge difference in productivity while traveling and even while in the office. For example, if I have a hot and heavy editing session planned, I may not even boot up the laptop (e-mail computer) and just check the berry periodically. This can save an hour or more per day. You'll note around April 2009 the quality of my blog pictures improved significantly. Still underexposed and grainy, but certainly bigger!



Sometimes (a lot) I add pictures and anecdotes about food, restaurants and eating or cooking to my blogs. What the heck does this have to do with the multimedia business? Everything. If I am fed I have energy to do my job, or I have rewarded myself for a busy productive day.







Sometimes I take my pictures to the next level and make them into useful illustrations. Here for example I was talking about preparing for a trip. Charged batteries, extra tape stock and tightened wingnuts on your equipment make a big difference.



As mentioned, several posts talk exclusively about travel. I don't go to the ends of the earth or to exotic locations (with the possible exception of Cleveland) but I have been known to go to the ends of the airport terminal for a Mocha Chip Latte!



I also used the blog to follow our entry into high definition production. What better venue for HD imaging than surgery? Of course you can get plenty of discussion about formats, editing workflow and playback issues in dozens of forums, so I'll just wow you with some imagery:



Sorry if that was gross, but this is my business!



Just thought I'd take this opportunity to mention 1" tape, for those of you keeping track at home.

All that travel also affords the opportunity to snap some quality pictures with a real camera, and sometimes I like to share those images as well - and if you're lucky, a story to go along with it.





This was a unique venue for a meeting - Jackson Hole, WY - in August.


In 2008 I attended a convention in Toronto. Since my hotel was about a mile from the convention location, I got to see some of the sights morning and night.


This week I took the train down to Philadelphia for a meeting, took the train home, then two days later went back to Philly with the gang for a meeting. Sometimes conventions are in cities with things to see and a wealth of good places to eat.



Vegas is a weird town. The Strip is full of amazing sights and some shady characters - sort of an odd mix of themes. NAB and the Bellagio fountains are two of the highlights.



Post-Katrina, New Orleans remains a popular destination for meetings and the occasional video shoot. Just stay on the main roads.



Think I'll hang this one in my office.



How many times do you find yourself in Moline, IL with a few hours to kill? Those tractors are huge.



Another good reason to carry around a proper camera. And with that, we'll let the sun set on the first 100 blogs of my blogging activities.

I appreciate all the feedback and the readers. If this is your first time on the COW, welcome. For my old friends, thanks for coming back. I look forward to coming up with new stories, anecdotes, learning experiences, recollections and images in the next 100.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen


Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jan 27, 2010 at 3:58:10 pmComments (6) blogs, cow, video, technology, editing, streaming, conferences, travel, food, memories

Ready for Takeoff

The past 7 days have been spent preparing for a big convention that we participate in every year. our responsibilities include processing roughly 150 videos, mostly produced by outside entities (doctors) and about a dozen from our shop. We decided this year to finally do away with DVCAM tape and do all of the projection in about 15 half-day sessions via MPG2 files on hard drives. We created a simple html launcher and carefully organized the files by session.

The next step was to review the MPG2 files to ensure that they are appropriately representing the original quality. The original formats range from video DVD to DIVX, h.264, WMV and MPEG-1, with a handful of DV tapes, AVI or DV files. The lowest common denominator of MPEG-2 can be a good or a bad thing, depending upon the relative quality of the original. Thus, about 50% of videos did not re-compress adequately, so we decided to show the originals. Other MPEG-2 files looked ok, but needed audio or color correction, or correction of other assorted problems. The end result of this review process was a color coded excel file listing things to fix, things to know and things that are out of our control.

here's the detail:


In any project, organization is the key.

Our job is to help doctors look the best they can look before an audience of their peers. Thus the extra time spent, while invisible to the audience, makes a difference, however subtle.

With that task done, we sent a new hard drive to the venue, for cloning to about 15 computers throughout the vast convention center.

By the time Friday arrived, despite the mental exhaustion and repeated viewings of such classics as "Single Incision Colon Surgery" and "Abdominoplasty" the final step was to get the house ready for my week long absence. This is primarily cleaning the kitchen, doing some laundry, filling the litter boxes and replenishing the fridge. I despise doing the dishes, but, it can be fun if you make it into a fun activity.

While the cleaning was going on, I was rendering the final edit of the last video for one of the sessions. I had to visit the office to get some raw footage and transfer it all to my laptop (a 160 gig laptop drive holds a lot, but gets incredibly full. I had to delete my WMV of Empire Strikes Back made from the original letterbox pre-special edition VHS tape to make room - now that's self-sacrifice).

Editing in the office on a Saturday is not so bad - it was mostly rendering, which gave me time to tally up the most visited places for my job. Here are the winners by number of visits:

New York: 33
Chicago: 18
Boston: 15
Florida: 14
LA: 6
Dallas: 5
San Fran: 4

Final step of the night is to pack my bags. The rolling garment bag saves my back - usually. On this occasion I have my laptop in a backback, along with 3 terabytes of video files, drive bay, power supplies, cables, a small library book (Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - probably won't have time to read it) and numerous DVD-R burns of various projects and demo's.



Once in bed, it seemed to be mere minutes until the pesky alarm sounded, and off I went.
While checking in for my flight, the pesky Blackberry tells me that while the video from last night is great, can I please update some other slides. Sure, no problem, I'll just do it on the plane. But first I have to work on an article for an upcoming issue of the COW Magazine. With most of that written, I opened Premiere, made the edits and set to rendering again.

Editing on a plane is not great unless you are a t-rex with tiny arms. I look for an aisle seat with a skinny person or child in the middle, giving me those few extra centimeters of elbow room.



Only problem is the flight to Chicago is relatively short, so I had to shut down while the tractor beam pulled us into docking bay 1138.

Upon arrival in Chicago Sunday AM, we headed to the convention center to setup our display. A medical convention is like NAB for doctors. The technical exhibits display the latest medical devices and in our case, our collection of surgical DVD's and medical text books. This year our booth resembles a mini Borders book and DVD store, complete with credit card reader and video kiosk. Sorry, no latte bar.

Once the shipping vendor located our crates, we setup the video racks, back-drop and book displays. I split my time between the booth and the video review stations, updating video files with last minute changes, including the previously described last minute edit once rendered.



By this time it is 5pm, and I have yet to find 5 minutes to eat anything. A non-quick taxi ride to the Hyatt (not the Riot House, but I have stayed there), hit the business center for $21 worth of copies (18 pieces of paper - I need to open a business center!), finally check into the room, drop the bags, splash water in my face (missed the $21 worth of papers with the splash of water - whew) and back downstairs to join my colleague for a kickoff meeting with some docs for a new endeavour. The kickoff meeting is an essential step in the process of any project. Check out my appearance in the Creative COW Podcast for more on this. http://podcasts.creativecow.net/creative-cow-podcast/episode-084-july-13-20...

Finally it is 7pm and food might be in the near future. Luckily there was some Halloween candy in the biz center. For only $5 I enjoyed a roll of Smarties! Manna!

Once we got to the restaurant, the bar provided my first sustenance - beer - better than nothing but not good on an empty stomach. Finally we are seated and hot bread, stuffed mushrooms, calimari - life was going to be ok. The chianti helped my stiff neck and is sure to help me sleep off a busy day that would make Richard Scarry cringe.

Thanks for traveling with me.

Mike Cohen


Posted by: Mike Cohen on Oct 11, 2009 at 10:13:39 pm conventions, video, organization

Live from Miami, it's Thursday Morning!

Cue announcer.

This week we are holding a medical conference - live from the Miami Beach. We started planning this meeting 18 months ago.

Many doctors, both presenting and attending, giving lectures, doing panel discussions and showing videos.

What's all this have to do with Video Production? Let me count the ways.

5:30am

Woke up. Felt pretty tired. Too much Sake maybe? The ocean view room (iMac in every room!) helps get me motivated.

6:30am

Arrive in Fontaine Ballroom. This ballroom previously hosted Elvis, Sinatra and the rest of the Rat pack. It is a natural conclusion that a surgical meeting would follow in those foot steps! We have a video conferencing vendor, Stratosphere, managing our live surgery feeds, and the in-house AV crew running sound and projection.

8:00am

We prepared in advance a 3 minute roll-in, featuring an aerial shot of Miami Beach, courtesy of iStockVideo.com - followed by a brief intro to our three day program, and thanks to our sponsors, all narrated by Dave Calabrese, our local narrator in Oxford, CT. After the video, the moderator takes the stage, welcomes everyone and off we go.

We also prepared intro slides for each surgeon - basically static text and a headshot over a digital juice jumpback. We play that as the moderator introduces the surgeon. Then we switch to the live feed and everything works great...sometimes.

First case from Chile is ready to go live. The operating rooms send video and audio over ISDN to New York, then the feeds come over the internet to Miami. We send video of the moderator at the podium and our local mix-minus audio back to the OR. "Hello, Chile, come in? Can you hear us? Mork calling Orson, come in Orson?"

No audio. Go to the tape backup. We have an unedited mini DV tape from the same surgeon, whose colleague is here in the audience with a wireless mic to narrate. He does this for about 10 minutes while we troubleshoot. Turns out the catering department unplugged some cables last night when they were dressing the table. Obviously! Ok, we have audio and go live to Chile. This is a regular sleeve case - staple and remove the 2/3 of the stomach and get out. Took about 45 minutes. All the while we had live commentary from the local moderator, the surgeon in Chile and questions from audience members.

At the conclusion of the case, we punch up the intro video for the next surgeon, then switch to a live shot of the operating room floor! Nice.

9:00am

The next surgeon in Chicago is ready, we switch to his feed, and off we go again.
This image is much better - not sure if this is due to the shorter distance compared to Chile or just luck. IMHO the very fact that we can have two-way video and audio in real time over the internet is pretty amazing. Reminds me of the scene in 2001 where Dr Floyd talks to his daughter over video phone from the Pan Am Spaceport before he heads to the moon to check out the monolith.

10:00am

Coffee break. One of the most important parts of a conference, especially one involving lots of standing up and early mornings is the coffee break. The Fontainebleau has a standard layout for coffee, tea, cream, milk, sugar, cute little jars of honey, lemon wedges and to-go cups. Meanwhile we punched up the next feed from right here in Miami. We went live to Miami as the crowd (300+ people) trickled back into the ballroom...in Miami.

10:28am

Right now, we have a split screen between Miami and Chicago, so we can flip flop back and forth. The switch happens in NY - we have an open phone line going so we can relay the moderator's spoken cues back to control in NY.

While all this is going on, i am trying to get two WebEx meetings scheduled for tomorrow, which we plan to show live before our audience. One presenter is in Mumbai, the other in Leeds, UK. The time differences give us two options - do testing during a limited time window, or stay up late and get up early. My colleague Jake is back at the plant in CT doing these tests and keeping in phone contact with the two presenters. He and I were text messaging at midnight last night trying to coordinate times for testing today. Regular working hours are 24/7. Hey, that could be a cool tv show. Events happening in real time over the course of 1 day.

10:32am

Ok, I just learned that the tv show idea has been done already. Never mind!

10:43am

Never discount the usefulness of having an internet connection. I have Firefox, WebEx, Skype, Powerpoint all running something important.

And the most important app of all:


This is like the Land-o-Lakes Butter box. Me blogging about me blogging showing a picture of me blogging. There is about a 2 minute delay between the photo and the time it was taken. Life does not get too much more exciting than this!

sorry - computer network interruption - I guess this is correctly termed "cow-itus interruptus."

10:56am

While we are switching in NY between operating rooms, we are switching on-site between the video feed, a DV deck (my beloved VX-2000 actually), a Powerpoint Safety slide and occasionally a black screen!

But there is more switching going on at each hospital OR. Right now we are watching surgery from Miami. We sometimes see the overhead view, sometimes a camera pointed at the surgeon, sometimes the laparoscope (inside the abdomen - the patient's abdomen, not the surgeon's) and if you want to get closer we can also see inside the patient's stomach (what's left of it)).



(PIP view coming down from the hospital - inset is a scope down the gullet, the main image is inside the abdomen)

This is where the value of in-house media services people in hospitals is most important. Each OR has its own video capture and transmission system - no two are exactly alike. Thus, you usually have very few people in the hospital who know how it all works. The in-house resources, mentioned in my article, Surgical Video: The Cutting Edge, are especially important on days like today. Thanks for your good work!

11:33am

Things have been running smoothly. Time for bathroom and coffee breaks - one leads to the other.

We are just about done with the current case - not sure if this is Miami or Chicago - actually, while I was out of the room we switched to another location in Florida.

Another task I have is to collect powerpoints from about 40 people for Friday's events. We have 3 concurrent sessions with lectures and panel discussions. My 4 gig flash drive mysteriously went missing, so I am using the 1 gig micro-SD card from my cell phone. I have won the award for world's smallest flash drive. I guess that's a good thing!

1:21 pm

Had to pause the blogging. We had some down time between cases, so we showed some unedited surgery off DVD - call it a tape delayed live surgery. Things were going great until the movie Heidi randomly started playing.

Anyone get that?

Seriously, I am handed DVD discs of surgery, recorded in the OR using proprietary recording systems. As described in previous blog posts, these systems do a good job recording video, however you cannot play the DVD in a DVD player. That would be like not being able to play a video tape in a video deck. "I have a VHS tape here, but you need to play it using a microwave oven." A DVD by any other name should smell so sweet. (that enough pop culture references for you Ron?)

You need to open a folder within a folder within a folder within a folder to get to the 4 gig MPG2 file. Luckily VLC player plays this with ease. The moderator narrates live, then asks me to fast forward to the next important point. Let's call this live editing.


Having never seen the video before, I need to randomly advance the video using the slider bar, estimating, based upon experience, where the next important part of the operation may be.

Video conferencing can go over ISDN or IP. Some of our hospitals today are using one or the other. The current case uses IP. The only problem with IP is you are using the internet. Internet traffic picks up around mid-day, presumably because millions of office workers around the country are logging onto the internet simultaneously to check out the latest wacky videos or to see if they won that used Wii controller on eBay. Thus, the current IP-based feed, even though it is coming to us via ISDN, is a bit choppy.

1:45pm

Yet another task is to document the meeting, not necessarily for post, but for documenting. We capture on mini-DV - mostly pointed just at the moderator. We also have a DVCAM tape of the live feed, so we could marry the two together at a later date - TBD. Primarily we will have the video transcribed and send the transcript to someone who will summarize the meeting and determine what the consensus actually is.

3:28pm

Business as usual has continued so nothing new to report for a while, not to mention lunch buffet. Just enjoyed a nice cup of tea to get me through the home stretch.


Just finished the 3rd to last case - transvaginal surgery - look it up.

Another good reason to attend a meeting like this is networking. I can interact face to face with people who I normally, and sometimes exclusively, talk to only via e-mail or the phone. Clients, customers and colleagues.

I should mention that I brought my wife along to this meeting. We got nice ocean view rooms so she gets a quick little vacation on the tail end of an awful New England winter. For the three people who may not know this, the Victoria's Secret fashion show was held here back in November. Have not seen any lingerie models yet(aside from my lovely wife of course ;) ), but there are still two days to go. Lots of eye candy in this hotel! I am of course talking about the furniture and interior design.

3:34

Now finishing the 2nd to last case. This one from San Francisco has the best image quality yet. They have a proper broadcast camera on a jib, plus the usual laparoscopic view. Nice.

One more case from New York and we are home free, for tonight. Probably will have another hour to get setup for tomorrow, sort out and clone the Powerpoints for tomorrow and maybe have a swim.

4:25pm
This last hour went quick. Did I pass out? No, the tea was not spiked. Not yet.
I think this will do it.

As always, thanks for reading. It has been fun.

Mike Cohen


Posted by: Mike Cohen on Mar 19, 2009 at 6:50:20 amComments (1) video, conferencing, live, events

The Following Takes Place Between 3:00pm and 7:00am. Events Take Place in Real Time.

Friday - 3pm

I'm sitting at my desk minding my own business (a rarity).

Cindy-Loo (not her real name): Mike, can you call Carmela (not her real name) on her cel, she needs you to help with a video conference.

Me (my real name): Sure, do you have the number? By the way, what video conference is this? The one at 4am tomorrow?

Cindy-Loo: I don't know, and I don't know. Just call her.

After getting the number, I enter it into my cell, then call her from a land line.

Carmela: Hello?

Me: Hi, it's Mike. What's up?

Carmela: Oh him Mike. Yeah, Dr. Schmooziewhatzie (not his real name, we'll call him Doc moving forward) has to do a video conference tomorrow morning with a conference in Morocco (not the real city either. Getting the hang of this? Assume every proper name moving forward is made up, except mine). The vendor at the hotel raised the price at the last minute.

Me: Bastards.

Carmela: Huh?

Me: Nothing. What hotel are you at?

Carmela: The Big Outlandish Resort in Las Vegas (the actual city in this case).

Me: Well, one can except to get taken advantage of there. Do you have any details?

Carmela: No, you can call Doc, he's at lunch.

Me: Ok, I'll call you back.

3:15pm

Doc: Hello?

Me: Doc, hey it's Mike. I talked to Carmela. Do you have any details?

Doc: Let me e-mail you. Bye.

3:17pm

I actually tried to set this up 2 weeks ago, but the hotel said they could do it for $600. Thus I had some contacts already. First call is to Generic Video Conferencing Vendor with 1st Google Ad Position (GVCVw1GAP).

Person: Hello, GVCVw1GAP services. How can I help you?

Me: Hey how ya doin'. I need to setup a video conference for early tomorrow morning in Vegas. Can you help me?

Person: Sure. Do you know what location in Vegas?

Me: No, that's why I called your company. Something near the Strip.

Person: Well, i don't know what's near the strip. I'm in Dallas.

Me: Mmm, hmm. Ok, how about the Howard Hughes Blvd location.

Person: Is that near the Strip:

Me: Yep. You don't have the internet there?

Person: Ok, let me check on availability. When did you need this?

Me: 4am local time, connecting to Morocco.

Person: So you are connecting to Morocco at 4am their time. What time is that here?

Me: 4AM in Vegas, 12noon Morocco time. You with me?

Person: Ok, I see. Our rate is $350/hour. How long is the meeting?

Me: About 45 minutes.

Person: Well I'm sorry but there is a 1 hour minimum.

Me: Whatever.

Person: Oh I'm sorry but because it is after hours it is $450/hour. Is that ok.

Me: Yep.

Person: Oh, it seems all of our rooms in Vegas are booked. Sorry. Bye.

It was not really that abrupt but it should have been.

3:30pm

I found the next listing on Google and called them:

Person: Hello Smack Daddy-O Conferencing and Bait Shop, this is Dave.

Me: Hey Dave, got any nightcrawlers?

Dave: We sure do. They're sold by the ounce, with a 2 ounce minimum, priced at $2.50 an ounce.

Me: I need them at 4am.

Dave: Oh, sorry but at that hour nightcrawlers are most active, so the price goes up to $3.50 an ounce.

Me: Ok, forget it.

Ok seriously now:

Dave: Hello Smak Daddy-o Conferenceing, this is Dave(not really).

Me: Hi Dave. I need a last minute request. Can you get me a video conferencing room for 4am Saturday morning in Vegas?

Dave: Connecting to where?

Me: Morocco (not really).

Dave: Let me get your number and call you back.

4:05pm

Me: Hello this is Mike (really).

Dave: Hi Mike this is Dave from Smack Daddy-o Conferencing. We spoke a few minutes ago.

Me: Yep. What can you tell me?

Dave: Well, due to the time, you pay time and a half, so that's $450/hour.

Me: Good.

Dave: However, we may not be able to get a technician at that hour, so if there are any problems you're on your own.

Me: Uh, huh. Ok, thanks for trying.

Dave: I'm real sorry about that. Let me confirm that and call you back. I can tell you the best fishin' spots in Vegas however(not really).

4:30pm

I could see where this was going. I switched gears and called a vendor that has been trying to get my business, BigHonkingMeeting.com (actually megameeting.com - really!).

Basically like WebEx but cheaper and I could get setup in an hour.

5:45pm

Me: Hello this is Mike.

Natalie(really): Hi Mike, this is Natalie from the meeting website.

Me: Hi thanks for calling me back. Can you sign me up?

Natalie: I just e-mailed you a link to our signup form. Did you get it?

Me: Actually I'm in my car. Can we do this over the phone?

Natalie: Absolutely (when was the last time you heard anyone on the phone say "absolutely" ?)

I pull over into a parking lot and exchange payment information.

Natalie: Ok, Mike. You are all set. You should get your confirmation e-mail and password by the end of day.

Me: Is that end of day like midnight, or end of working hours San Jose time?

Natalie: I put a rush on this, so probably in an hour.

Me: Great. Thanks for your help.

Natalie: My pleasure.

I'm in love! (not really, but she must have read my Customer Service blog).

6:15

Me: Hello?

Dave: Mike, this is Dave from...

Me: Yes i know who you are. What's up?

Dave: Well we can get you a room but no technician. It's up to you.

Me: Ok, thanks. I actually have made other arrangements. Maybe some other time.

Dave: I'm real sorry about that (I doubt it).

6:22pm

I happened to stop at BJ's to take this call so I went in for a gallon of Milk and some Tylenol (7 or 8 pills ought to do it).

6:40pm

Picked up a few grocery items. Making Chicken and Dumplings tomorrow (really).

6:59pm

Completed the shopping trifecta with a spin around Costco. The strawberries are like candy at the moment, so we have been eating a lot of fruit!

8:05pm

Got home, setup laptop, logged into megameeting and tested it out. In order to see if this works as advertised, I invited myself to a meeting and logged in from another computer. I get video (webcam), audio (headset) and PowerPoint broadcast from my laptop to any other connected users. Pretty nice.

Time to call Doc. Better e-mail him first in case he's eating.

8:10pm

Doc: Hello?

Me: Doc, It's Mike. We have a solution. Not perfect but it should work.

I tell him the details. His eyes glaze over.

Doc: Ok, does Morocco know about this?

Me: No, it's 1AM there. We'll just pray.

Doc: Baruch atah adonai, elohenu melech haolam, asher kidshanu bamitzvotav, vitsivau lahadlikner, shel Hanukkah.

Me: Nice! He's not even Jewish. I'll do the motzi.

Doc: I'm at dinner, will call you when I'm done.

10:10pm

I e-mail the technician in Morocco (not really) the details and invite him to the web conference.

10:15pm

Doc gets back to his room. Carmela loaned him her laptop so he could use her webcam. However he does not have a headset (what he doesn't play WofW during his down time between surgeries?). So the conference website account comes with a conference call phone number. We'll have the Morocco guy call into this number and patch the telephone into the audio board (unlikely).
Doc and I successfully test the conference. He transmits his slides and we get his audio over the phone. He has to go to a meeting (in Vegas - 3 hours earlier).

12am

Doc calls me back, we do a final test. We agree to meet up in a few hours at 3am his time. 6am on a Saturday is not great, but not that bad.

3am Saturday

"Mike, wake up," my wife shouts at me. "Didn't you say you need to check something at 3am?"
She's always looking out for me!

Me: Thanks, but 3am Vegas time. Snore.

5:45am Saturday

I wake up, splash water in my face, and get back online. I left everything running while I slept so as to defeat Murphy's Law.

6am

Armando(not even close) from Morocco(not really) is already logged in, I can see him and hear him over the web. For the next 35 minutes he and I make sure everything works. One caveat, he cannot patch the phone audio into his sound board. Well even in Vegas Radio Shack is not open at 3:30am, so we will have to find another way.



I call my home phone from my cell phone, to simulate Doc calling into the conference call line. I hit speaker on my home phone and place my headset mic near the speaker, and the headset speaker near the speakerphone mic. Richard Dean Anderson would be impressed. Sometimes the simple solution is the best.

It actually worked. Next Armando routed the house audio into his computer's mic input, to attempt two-way audio (full duplex in geek). It was a bit distorted, but I could hear it through my computer speaker, but not through the speaker phone. I would have to relay messages from Morocco to Doc. Call me Garrett Morris.

With Doc on the conference call line, I called the conference call line from my home phone. I then called Doc's cel from my cel, so we have a front end and back end phone call going. When Morocco asks a question, I will interpret it for Doc over the back end and he can respond in the front end.



7am (4am Vegas, 12noon Morocco)

Distorted local audio coming over computer speaker (I held my cel to the computer speaker, but that was really asking for a miracle): Professor Whatchamahoozie, thank you for waking up so early to join us for this auspicious occasion. Senhoras e Senhores Deputados, o ilustre professor irá agora dizer-nos sobre o seu trabalho no tratamento da obesidade futurista utilizando novas técnicas. Professor...

Me (into cel): Doc, he is being gracious. Say thank you and get started.

Doc (into cel to me): Ok.

Doc (into land line to conference call line to speakerphone to headset microphone to computer to internets to computer to audio board to audience in Morocco (might as well have been the Moon): Hello, can you hear me?

Morocco: Yes

Me: Yes

Doc: Yes?

Me: Yes

Morocco: Yes.

Me: They said yes. Go ahead.

Doc: Thank you. Here I go.

Doc gives a flawless presentation. The videos do not play but what is this the Jetsons?

Periodically Armando and I trade text messages via a web chat window.

Is it working?

Yes

How is the audio?

Good

Are the videos playing?

No.

I know.

7:45am

Doc finishes his lecture. There are no questions.

Morocco: Doc, thank you once again for taking time from your busy schedule and so early to join us and present this important information to our esteemed audience. Congratulations.

Me (to cel to Doc): Say Thanks.

Doc (to me): Ok.

Doc (to Morocco): Thank you.

Morocco: Applause

Me (to doc): Applause.

Doc (to me): Laughs. Thanks for your help. I got a plane to catch. I gotta get a Mac.

Me: Good idea.

End of call. End of conference. End of this blog.

All names have been changed to protect the innocent. Except mine:

Mike Cohen


Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jan 24, 2009 at 10:57:11 am video, conferencing



I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

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