Tuesday, May 5, 2020

How to Avoid Zoom Bombing

Zoom bombing: Maybe you have heard this term but aren’t really sure what it means. Zoom bombing occurs when individuals enter a Zoom meeting for no other reason than to wreak havoc. Due to the nature of Zoom, where all you need to join a meeting, for the most part, is the meeting ID number, some people try to get into meetings by typing in random numbers until they find one that works. Once these people get into a meeting they are as disruptive as possible by sharing inappropriate images or by just being rude and vulgar. What motivates them to do this? Perhaps we will never know, but, there are a few things we can do to mitigate the problems that they may cause.

Randomize the Meeting ID

When setting up a meeting, you have a choice to use your own zoom ID number (which never changes) or to generate a random one. The most secure option is to go with the random one every time. First, it is harder for someone to guess a number that changes from meeting to meeting, and also if your personal number gets leaked out to undesirable people this offers an additional layer of protection.

Using a Meeting Password

This probably would not apply for a meeting meant to be open to a large number of the public, but anything more private should require some sort of a password. This can be enabled when sending meeting invites and it would be a wise move to send the password out either via a different email or other means of communication to help mitigate any sort of unwanted individuals receiving the meeting information and password at the same time.

Use the Waiting Room

When the meeting host enables the waiting room feature, each incoming meeting participant is placed into a separate space and has to wait for the host to let them into the meeting. If someone is not supposed to be there the host can just not let them in, as simple as that.

Limit the Capabilities of Participants

When setting up the meeting, hosts have the capability to disable the video for all participants besides the host. This will eliminate the possibility of anyone in the meeting displaying inappropriate content. Once the meeting has started hosts also have the ability to determine who has permission to share their screens and they can also mute the microphones for all meeting participants as well.

Sometimes, people can be unpredictable, but now that you are aware of the tools in place to help, you can protect your meetings and stay on task. So let’s get back to work!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Lighting Options that Won't Break the Bank

     In our last post, we discussed a little bit about video conferencing. One of the most important aspects of video conferencing, or even for just making videos, is the ability to be seen, and that means having adequate lighting. Probably the most common mistake, when working from home through a camera, is using a room’s overhead lighting. This sort of lighting is really not intended for any kind of videography. It can wash out certain parts of your face, create odd shadows that make viewing difficult, or it might even not be bright enough for your camera. So, what is someone who is now working from home to do? Of course, there is the option to purchase professional-grade lighting systems and use them at home, but we are here to discuss some free options by using things that you probably already have available.

Utilize Natural lighting

     The Sun is probably the best light source for video making. Within your house, position yourself near an open window. Sunlight registers wonderfully with most digital cameras and has a way of eliminating much of the need for other light sources. Ideally, you would want the light shining directly on your face, meaning that you would position your computer directly in front of the window. If that is not possible, having an open window to your left or right can work well as long as you have another light source to fill out shadows caused by this. The most important aspect though is to ensure that there are no light sources behind you. If there are, your face will be effectively hidden from the camera.

Eliminating Shadows

     If you have a window to your side, you will also likely have shadows on parts of your face and on your background. There are two very easy steps to help eliminate these shadows. First, you will need an additional light source that can be moved around. A shop light with a clamp or even a desk lamp that can be positioned on a shelf could work well. The important thing is that it focuses the light in one direction. From there, find a spot on the opposite side of you from the open window and adjust its positioning until it gets rid of the unwanted shadows on your face and body. Finally, there is a really easy way to break up those shadows on your background. All you have to do is to create some separation from whatever is behind you. Instead of sitting with your back to a wall, see if you can increase that to a few feet and see how that helps the frame of the shot.

     No matter what options you choose, the important thing is that you do what works best for your situation. Personally, I have two desk lamps sitting on my bookshelf, but whatever works, works!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Zoom Tips for Beginners

How do we continue to communicate and remain productive while working from home? Well, the answer is with a lot of emails, messages, and video conferencing. If you are unfamiliar with instant conferencing, there are a lot of programs out there that get the job done. Here at the Center for Digital Engagement (CDE), we use Zoom.

Zoom allows for digital meetings that enable users to join with both video and audio. It is a really simple platform that is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android operating systems, so just about anyone can use it. For the most part, the controls and layout are remarkably the same no matter which platform you are using, with minor exceptions for mobile versions.

There are two different tiers of the Zoom platform, Zoom Basic and Zoom Pro, that offer various features based on your needs. Zoom Basic, is a free version that meets the needs of many users. Zoom Basic offers unlimited meetings with up to 100 other users for a duration of 40 minutes and unlimited minutes for one to one meetings. If the meeting has to go over that, you would be required to start a new meeting. The paid version, Zoom Pro, offers services such as unlimited group meeting minutes and custom personal meeting IDs.

Once you have the app downloaded and have decided on your tier, it is really easy to start or schedule a meeting. At the CDE we schedule them regularly and send the calendar invitations over Google Calendar so that the link to join is easily accessible. Otherwise, you would need the unique 10 digit meeting code to access it at the right time. Every scheduled meeting has a distinct meeting code.

Once you start getting to know the program, adjusting the settings and sending invites tends to be really intuitive, although, be aware that at times a double click may be necessary when it seems that only a single click should be used

We will do another post about some additional features of Zoom in the near future. In the meantime, if you are looking for some helpful shortcuts within the program, check out our info-graphic!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Digital Summer Clinic : What is all the Buzz About?

                The 2020 Digital Summer Clinic is almost here and there are many potential interns who are excited for it to get underway.  We’re happy to be able to offer the Clinic, even under the current state of quarantine.  Depending on prevailing conditions in June, we’re prepared to run the clinic either remotely or in person.

                Over the course of this internship, students and recent grads will be paired up with 24 separate startups in the tech industry.  These students will be assigned to the startup that needs their specific skills and they will be put to work, gaining real experience in the process.  Interns could be creating content, crafting blog posts or videos, running ad campaigns, or assisting in programming. All of them will see the real fruits of their labors over the course of 9 weeks.

                In addition to the experience that interns get, there are so many other pay outs as well.  First and foremost, this is a paid internship at over $15 per hour.  On top of that, one of the main focuses of the clinic is professional development.  All of our interns walk away with certifications that will aid them in their future careers and with a much more established network of connections that will pay out in dividends.  But one of the most valuable aspects are the mentoring sessions.  On a weekly basis, interns will get together to present professionally on the projects that they have been working on and what results they are seeing.  On top of that, every week, experts are brought in to speak regarding their fields and what the newest developments are. Interns are afforded the opportunity to pick their brains on where the future lies for all involved.

                No matter which way you look at it, the Digital Summer Clinic is a recipe for success and a good call for any young professional.  Apply today at https://digitalsummer.clinic and get your career kicked off in the right direction!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Working Remotely : Touching on the Basics

               When it comes to working remotely things can seem exciting because of all the freedom you now possess and yet it can also seem daunting due to maybe not knowing where to start.  So, let’s start with the basics.  When you are working from home, you have much more control over your working environment.  In order to get the best results, it stands to reason that a little experimentation may be in order.  Find the location in your house that works for you.  Personally, I prefer to be in my office, where I have a door that can block off the distractions that may come with the noises from the rest of the household.

                Depending on your situation, your hours may even be more flexible.  If this is the case, experimentation should also involve this aspect.  For example, if you are an early riser, perhaps you should do more of your work in the morning and into the afternoon.  However, for someone who is more of a night owl, it could make since to do more of your work into the evenings, so long as your employer is okay with it, the most important thing is that all objectives are met.  Personally, I prefer to do any work that requires creativity in the late morning hours when I find myself most alert and my objectives that are more administrative for other times in the day. 

                In my experience, I have found that your choice of attire can completely change your mindset.  Many are tempted to wear sweatpants all day or other comfortable attire, but if you wear somewhat more professional attire you may find that you are in a much more productive headspace to get work done efficiently.  I like to stick to my normal tech-business casual with more comfortable footwear.  The most important thing is that you find what works for you, but for the love of all things good, at least wear pants!  (You never know when you may have to step out in a video conference)

                It can be really easy, when working in a non-traditional setting to lose track of your work life balance.  Establish set office hours where you turn social media off and are able to work like you would at the office.  It would also be a good idea to share these hours with your household, so that they know that you are not available at those times. 

                The most important take away from all of this is that you find the situation that works best for you.  Set yourself up for success by choosing the options that help you contribute the best work that you can and let this remote working opportunity build up your quality of work instead of detracting from it.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Working Remotely : An Introduction

                With all of us under quarantine, there is a lot of uncertainty about when we can get back to business as normal. Because of this, we seem to have been thrust into the world of video chatting and conferencing in order to get much of our activities complete.  If you are anything like me, perhaps you only have limited experience with this realm and find yourself a little unprepared.

                Well, we will be exploring this together, and I will be providing you with helpful tips and tricks along the way in order to improve your streaming and videography abilities and all things related to working remotely.  All of this will be accomplished with budget in mind so we will be trying to achieve adequate solutions without purchasing all sorts of costly equipment along the way.

                Through the course of these articles, we will be discussing the ins and outs of all things related to working remotely successfully, this would include software options, microphones, cameras, lighting and all sorts of other aspects that go along with this new normalcy of business.  So tune in for new posts and lets all get back to work!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

CDE Information Session Recap

The Center for Digital Engagement hosted an information session to let students know all of the ins and outs of the 9 week digital marketing internship.
The Executive's in Residence such as Jenn Hayman, Director of Marketing for Zingerman's, and Eric Wortman, Account Executive at Google, introduced themselves and expressed the value they believe students will gain from this experience.

We heard from a panel of past interns who have successfully completed the internship and have now launched themselves into careers in digital marketing. Makenna Giles, who worked with LawnGuru, continued to work with them after the internship. She says that she never would've given this company a look if it weren't for this opportunity. She loves the creative freedom she has to do graphic design and content creation and loves how the opportunity has grown her confidence in her skills.

Gabby Miller worked with TrueJob and learned the importance of the 'fail faster' method we preach in the internship. She quickly realized that she doesn't enjoy writing blogs or articles and would rather spend her time producing content for social media. She now works at Nachi Robotics as a Marketing Specialist.

We also heard from some of the companies that got to benefit from our CDE interns. Sam Chuisano, from LiquidGoldConcept, expressed she loved that the interns brought in skill sets that were different from one another and she even ended up learning things from them! Dave Morin from Impellia said that his interns did a great job adjusting to start-up life culture. At Impellia, it is important to be self-directed and work independently, and his interns did just that.

The CDE is looking forward to gaining 48 new interns this summer to provide a great experience as mentioned above. Are you interested in being a part of this unique experience? Apply now.